Tag Archives: Dragon

The Dragon Biographer

Christian (The Dragon Biographer) with OUR fireworks last night…

Our son Christian (age 11) was feeling rather expansive yesterday evening about the firework-making job of his invisible dragon (descriptively named “Dragon”—Christian’s companion since he was 2 years old), and the use of fireworks in Dragon culture.

As soon as I realized he was on a roll, I grabbed for the keyboard and began typing a transcript as he chattered! (Evidently I accidentally hit “Publish” on the un-edited transcript, so those of you who received that by email will see that I haven’t changed his wording, just cleaned up my hurried typing-errors!) Here it is, word-for-word as delivered by The Dragon Biographer: 

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[we enter mid-sentence, as I began to type:]  …fireworks once a month on the first, except in July when they do it on the 4th.  Dragon is apprenticed to a firework-maker. I learned most of this last night—which is why I didn’t go to sleep until 1:30… He’s been busy preparing for 4th of July.

Dragons can go for a few days without sleep, easy. Older ones can go for more than a month. But of course they might sleep for a full year after that. What I remember, the oldest dragon on Dragon Record—no one even has a guess how old he is, no idea whether he was born MORE or LESS than a million years B.C…. but they say he once slept for a year, and then didn’t go to sleep for a century. Must have been some very special 4th of July.

‘Cause firework-maker is not an easy job, but in high demand. And apparently each dragon, when he becomes an apprentice, he gets to make fireworks, but mostly just basic fireworks. But when they become more than an apprentice–not a journeyman, it’s more of… put it this way. They start out as pretty much a well-treated slave. they don’t get paid, but once you get all the way up, huge payback. But at first they don’t get paid anything; they’re given room and board, and that’s when they start learning, mostly just history. Depending on who the master is, he might allow them to make a few firecrackers, but not actual fireWORKS.

And then you become a Pupil, which is… you can make firecrackers, no matter who your master is, except for some of the more conservative ones, but most do. And the you learn less history and more of the actual… this is where they start to learn HOW to make fireworks, smaller ones. the master may or may not allow them to make some of the little ones, you know the ones that spin really fast. Often times those are allowed to be made, and then apprenticeship, you are allowed to make fireworks, pretty much almost any, but you’re not allowed to design your own.

When you get to Disciple, that’s where you get to start designing them and experimenting, and—you don’t have full reign. You have to get your own resources. They’ll provide the very basics, mostly just the fuse, and like the gunpowder-y stuff that does most of the sort of explosion, if you need that. But other than that, all the colors and everything, you have to find.

You can sell your own fireworks. Any fireworks you make and they sell, you get a 50% profit off those, and you can pay them for the colors. And then when you’re a.. I don’t know what it is after that that they call it, but you’re allowed to design your own signature firework. You’re allowed to come up with designs for it, in your discipleship, but you can’t really make one and have it be your signature one until you’re past that level.

A lot of dragons if they like their master and the master likes them–not always–sometimes they choose to work together, but that doesn’t happen too often. But yeah, every dragon depending on the master, you can start designing your signature one as far back as…  if you’re really lucky when you’re a pupil. During your apprenticeship you’re allowed to test it, provided you can come up with the resources.

And a lot of times, ’cause they do, their Business is a lot like ours, except it’s a lot easier to… the economy is never bad. At times it’s gotten to the point where the, I don’t know, the Dragon Powers That Be, I guess—like the dragon government—just says that for a period, until the economy gets better, everything is free. To a point, there’s a limit on how much is free, so you can’t go and buy 500 pounds of gold or whatever for nothing. But at least the necessities, things like that are free. Most of the time their economy is really good. They’re peaceful. That’s really the big difference from humans.

So firework makers can turn a big profit, and not only fireworks on the first of the month. Not only that, but sometimes dragons do them at parties, for big events, like when someone completes their apprenticeship, there is a big huge party and they’re allowed for the first time to do a full-scale model of their signature rocket, and they get to light it. Generally they light it by breathing on it, but for that, no. They have to use flint and steel.

They have to—’cause they don’t have hands—for making things, they have these sort of… it’s sort of arms that have thumbs, they’re robotic and controlled psychically. Yeah, they’re very advanced, and have been making high-end electronics that are still fancy today since we were going OOG OOG and banging our heads on rocks.

But yeah, so to start, ’cause it’s a huge party, it’s a big step because a lot of dragons drop out before they get to pupil, and then a lot drop out over time because, depending on how good you are, how fast you pick things up, how your master is, how your attitude is—all that can change how long it takes to get between the steps. I mean, it could take two decades if you’re slow, and if your master doesn’t kick you out (’cause they do), so it’s a huge ceremony because there aren’t very many.

So how it works is at the party, they have to light the fuse with the flint and steel, not with the robotic arms, but with their biological stuff, so they light the fuse, and that’s the first firework they light, and that starts the party. It can last for like two weeks.

[Mom asks what kind of party food]  Dragon fruit? I don’t know. [Mom: "So does Dragon get his own food? Because I assume otherwise you'd know."]  I don’t really know. I’ve never really met his parents. I think it’s like… you know how some fish just lay their eggs and swim away, maybe it’s like that. I’m guessing that it’s more like, they have more independence than most kids now, there’s a strong bond, but they build their own nest.  The parents don’t just abandon the egg, though, they wait till it hatches.

Dragon is at Apprentice now. It took me a while to understand the whole system, because dragon-speak is a little different from ours, just a little-little bit…  sort of like Ent-speak. Not as slow as the Ents, where by the time you’re finished saying “good morning” it’s night, but yeah.

[Mom: "I assume Dragon will be busy tonight?"]  Yeah. ‘Cause if you get lucky and you’re at that particular stage around fourth of July, pretty much all studying gets off, and it’s just… you make as many fireworks as you can, maybe design a few ones that you think will be great. Some dragons sell the value packs–they don’t call it value packs, but—they usually sell their signature one and a bunch of the ones that everybody makes. A dragon can have a bunch that only he makes, or maybe his master as well, but yeah–they’ll sell those and a few of the more traditional ones. Just like ours, pretty much.

[Mom: "Do they have celebration or songs for the 4th of July?"] I don’t know, I really don’t think it’s an Independence Day for them. Just something they picked up from the humans: launch a bunch of fireworks, you know. He got that one from his parents, who said that’s kind of recent.

He said that someday I can meet some of his brothers. Or sisters, maybe? He wasn’t born in the first clutch, but he was the firstborn of his clutch. I don’t know how many, I know he has at least 3 sisters and at least one brother, I think two. He and one of his three sisters are pretty much exact twins, but for some reason in dragon society in that case male is still considered firstborn. And if they’re both girl-dragons I guess they draw straws, or maybe they share the title. I’m not sure if that’s allowed.

[Mom: "Is there any sort of privilege or responsibility with the title?"]  Only the first- and second-born are allowed to go into the firework business. Don’t look at me for any questions about that, about dragon society I don’t really know much. That, and you’re supposed to look after your brothers and sisters, I think.

So he’s like me, I guess. Maybe that’s why I can really talk to him. Over the years I’ve sort of developed it, so I could probably talk to other dragons. ‘Cause we were born at exactly the same time, and we’re pretty much exactly alike, except for he’s dragon, maybe that’s why.

[Mom: "Is this a common arrangement, your friendship with Dragon?"] I don’t think so, I think it’s actually pretty rare. but we WERE born at exactly the same minute and everything. I’m not sure, but from what I’ve heard I don’t think it sounds like it happens too often. And I’m just guessing at why it might have happened.

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Shakespeare with a Pre-Teen (& a dab of Kitchen Chemistry)

fool squad

The warm-up Green Show–Idaho’s “Fool Squad” in its 20th year

The warm-up “Green Show” before last night’s production of Romeo & Juliet let slip a spoiler about the ending: Romeo & Juliet end up dead.  “Oops,” the Fool-Squad fool exclaimed. “If there’s anyone here who didn’t pass ninth grade English, we just ruined the surprise.” I had a laugh at that, given that I was sitting at the time between Keoni, who (though not born before Shakespeare, as he jokes) did go through high school before R&J was required reading, and Christian, who’s a couple years shy of reaching ninth grade.

romeo & juliet

Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s 36th season under the stars

Christian saw a few scenes of Hamlet at school a couple months ago, and came home chattering about the satisfying carnage at its end. His enthusiastic verdict: “They putteth on a good show!” Fueled by his interest, we got online to see what offerings would be found in this year’s season at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and he expressed an interest in Romeo & Juliet. “Yeah, it’s a love story—but it’s also a tragedy, so that’ll be okay.” With the proceeds from an e-Book on vitamins I was writing that week, we purchased three tickets for the show.  (Elena Grace, at 8, is too young; Kapena, at 16, is uninterested. The two of them stayed home and had a movie night.)

tickets

picking up our tickets at Will [Shakespeare?] Call

Christian has always been an interesting challenge when it comes to matching him with reading material. He reads at a post-graduate level, but he’s still an eleven-year-old boy, with the interests (and aversions) attendant on that particular age. Along the same lines, he’s a kid who has no trouble following the flow of Shakespearian English (because he often thinks in that kind of language in his imagination, he told me), but whose pre-existing knowledge of the plot-line comes from Disney’s Gnomeo & Juliet (in which the cartoon-bust of Shakespeare holds forth on how the story is supposed to end)…

Shakespeare picnic

arrived early to picnic

Several times during the play when the lovers went into their monological rhapsodies on each other’s perfections, he rolled his eyes and jokingly mimed hitting an imaginary “fast-forward” button (eww, mush!)—although when Juliet dissolved into very real sobs upon hearing of Romeo’s banishment, he leaned over to whisper the solemn observation, “She’s good!” (I’ll be curious to see if he has any interest in the Drama Club, now that he’s heading into Junior High.)

He’s wise enough to follow not only the language, but also the humor—he leaned over after one of Mercutio’s bawdier riffs of sexual innuendo and confided cautiously, “I probably understand more of this than I should.” And I’m okay with that. Yes, Shakespeare should probably carry an “R” rating–but then, so should some conversations among eleven-year-old boys, as I know perfectly well.

enjoying Shakespeare

I forgot to “warn” him that Shakespeare had a NAUGHTY sense of humor!

Last night I had as much fun watching Christian watch the production as I did watching the show itself. And I did enjoy the show. One of the dangers, I think, in a too-well-known story, is forgetting that it’s full of very real moments of emotion. (Just as with clichés in language—when a phrase becomes too familiar, we forget to notice the cleverness or evocative power of a word-combination because it has become too familiar…) Juliet’s agonizing imagination of what might await her when she awakes in a tomb, for example, is nothing less than heart-wrenching (when performed well—as this was) and her determination to overcome those fears for the sake of the chance of a happy-ending… Wow.

stage

“All the world’s a stage…”

Christian didn’t have the tears on his cheeks that Keoni and I did at the end of the final scene, but he was fully absorbed. And (as always, with him) I got a kick out of his peculiar mix of kid-ness and adult-ness. At intermission he offered some insightful philosophical observations on the characters (in particular, drawing parallels between Friar Lawrence and myself) and then withdrew, turtle-like, into the depths of his oversized hoodie for “some alone-time with Dragon,” re-emerging briefly to announce with delight that he could see inside the sweatshirt because of the glow-in-the-dark jellyfish on his T-shirt.

I love this kid.

itch remedy

baking-soda paste for bug bites

Unfortunately, so do mosquitoes. The outdoor amphitheater by the river does come with a side-serving of bugs, and Christian woke this morning wondering if we had “anything for itches.” Not in the medicine cabinet, but… “Mom’s doing a Kitchen Chemistry series on her blog,” Keoni told him, “and I bet she can come up with something.”  A little research, and here we are: simple baking soda mixed with water to form a paste. Our victim guinea-pig reports that  his new itch-paste works just as well as “Dad’s pink stuff” (Calamine lotion), so I’m declaring this one a Kitchen Chemistry win!

Shakespeare tickets

a worthwhile extravagance!

Of course, the absence of “pink stuff” in our medicine cabinet is directly related to the general paucity of “green stuff” in our bank; it goes without saying that in the context of our uber-frugal budget, these three tickets were an extravagant expense.  But… so worthwhile!

Nor was it squandered on an unappreciative audience. Christian enjoyed having “his grownups” all to himself for an entire night. He asked if he could keep his ticket as a memento, and he buried his nose in the fifty-page program. He enjoyed Keoni’s picnic of chicken katsu and fresh strawberries and chocolate pie. He pointed out the first few stars becoming visible above the stage as dark dropped its blanket over the amphitheater. He chattered all the way home about the staging and the fighting and the characters and the plot and the Green Show jokes… And he is thoroughly pleased that the expedition arose from an interest HE had expressed. He was wired and wound up about Shakespeare—and his English-teacher-mommy was loving every minute of his enthusiasm.

I don’t yet know if we’ll be able to splurge twice this summer, but I’m keeping in mind that The Winter’s Tale is being staged in August—and that Christian wants to go. And that if we do manage to return, I’ll go prepared this time with some preventive Kitchen Chemistry in the form of some insect repellant! (Stay tuned—I’ll let you know what I find.)

summer solstice

Summer Solstice in the Sun

If a second Shakespeare-excursion doesn’t happen—well, that’s part of the Balance in our family life. A main contributing factor to the scarcity of “green stuff “was the decision (voted unanimously by the three kids) that having Mommy with them throughout the summer was preferable to having Mommy in the entrance-booth of the nearby State Park (last summer’s seasonal job, which I was offered again this year), even though Mommy-in-the-booth would have meant more resources-in-the-bank. When Christian observed at seven this evening that the weather was perfect for a walk to the lake, we were free to grab our towels without a second thought and stroll (past the unoccupied-by-Mom park-entrance-booth) to the beach, where the kiddos spent the last couple hours of this longest-day in the water and the sunshine.

Keoni and I were just reflecting that we’ll continue to enjoy whatever adventures and experiences do come our way. Writing the “Vitamins” e-Book not only paid for the Shakespeare tickets, but provided us with some informational resources for family health. When Elena Grace arrived this week with a mouth full of canker sores, we knew that those might be related to stress (their dad’s wedding last week?) OR might be due to vitamin deficiency. With the knowledge I’d gained in vitamin-research, we evaluated and switched the kids’ multi-vitamins. (Some things you don’t skimp on, even with a tight budget!)  And the Evening Out that was funded by the vitamin book led, in its own turn, to a little more Kitchen-Chemistry wisdom. As the kids say, “That’s how we roll!” Or, as Christian said this morning—stretched out beside me with a good book and no schedule-obligations marring the day ahead of us—”THIS is Summer, the way it should be. Family family family!” Even Shakespeare couldn’t top that wisdom.


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