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Smokey Knoll is an exciting place to live, but for Aud and Sage and their kids, it’s just… life. Harpies, centaurs, and tiny people in the walls; kidnappers, magic-users, and strange poisons in black jars… Aud just wants to get through the latest parent-teacher meeting, and nevermind the mayor’s latest problem.

The ogres next door have moved out, but the new neighbors have a joyriding teen and a new infant whose cries can wake up the neighborhood. Sure, the wee little thing is adorable, but he belches fire when he’s colicky and needs asbestos diapers.

This series of short pieces follows the mostly-human family in their interactions with their magical neighbors.


Best Places to Start
Get Off My Lawn!
Backpack Gremlins


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Snacks

Originally posted on Patreon in August 2019 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.
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(with the note: oops, there’s no arts & crafts in this one, but then again, I’m behind on last month’s stories, sooo…)
This is a story in a long series about Audrey (a witch, a dweomer (magical humanoid) passing as human but living in Smokey Knoll, a magical-creatures neighborhood, and her children, Jin – her oldest, Junie, her middle child (Juniper), and her youngest. 

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If I  had thought Girl Scouts was difficult, I  had not remotely been prepared for summer camp.

Jin had not cared all that much when younger, preferring to spend the days at the neighborhood pool and the evenings with his friends.  Junie…  Junie was more of a belonging  sort than Jin — or, truth be told,  than either Sage or I.

All her friends at school were going to summer camp.  Junie wanted to go  to summer camp.

Easy?

Easier said than done.

Places that were eager for my money and Junie’s enrollment were suddenly full with a long waiting list when our address came up.  Some places wouldn’t answer my calls.  One place hung up on me. Continue reading

MicroGreens

The Tinies of Dragons Next Door can be found here.  The Tinies are generally around 4-6″ at the tallest, usually shorter, and live in the walls of human (Big) and dweomer (humanoid fae, also Big) dwellings. 

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“They’re called ‘microgreens.’”

Oka looked between her parents, trying to be defiant, feeling defensive, and looking nervous.

“We are – micro.”

Her hands were full of the seeds, which she had gotten when the Big whose house they shared had spilled her groceries.

Wud cleared her throat. “We are, but these are – we don’t grow, Oka.” Continue reading

Discovery

Originally posted on Patreon in March 2019 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

This is a story of Audrey and Sage of Dragons Next Door,  after Rule One but before they leave their schools. 

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The door to Sage’s lab burst open.  Victor Puddington strode in, waving a piece of paper in his off hand and a book in his good hand.  “They found a new herb!”

Sage ran both hands over the cantrip he was working on, casting a stasis spell that hopefully would hold it until he could get Victor out of his office.  “Found?  They?  Herb?  Puddles, you’re being dreadfully inspecific.”

“Don’t call me that.”  It was habit by now; Sage wasn’t certain that Victor even knew he was saying it.  “All right, all right.  If you want to be specific, here we go.  While exploring some of the narrow passes in dragon territory – the ones that are untouched for the most part because the dragons can’t really get in there – they – they in this case being the Tower’s Deep Exploration Team, you know, Smitty and his boys -” Continue reading

Beyond Rules

Originally posted on Patreon in February 2019 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

This is a story written to @Eseme’s prompt to my Valentine-day Prompt Call. 

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There were things that had rules, rules they had established through the years of their relationship.  There were things that were too small for rules, or too mobile, or simply too unpredictable — they had a Rule about neighbors but not one that encompassed the entirety of living next to dragons, for instance.  And then there were things that were too big for Rules.

Their Time was one of those.  They didn’t call it date night, because more often than not, neither of them wanted to deal with crowds or even quiet, intimate restaurants.  They didn’t call it parents’ time, the way some of their friends did, because it was time to not be parents, or a warlock and a witch, but simply Aud and Sage.

Jin had agreed to watch the younger children, as he did most weeks, for a reasonable going rate that meant they didn’t have to try breaking in a new babysitter — a situation always fraught with difficulties when one lived in Smokey Knoll.  Aud and Sage took their dinner up into the tallest tower in their house, into a room they saved for times like this; the children were instructed to only interrupt in the direst of emergencies.

Sage lit the candles.  Aud poured the wine.  They sat together on the divan and looked out over the city, watching the lines of magic flow through the enchanted viewing-glass in their observatory.  They held hands, each of them eating one-handed, and smiled, letting their own private magic flow between them.

They didn’t talk much.  There was plenty of time for talking, and they had said many of the things they might need to say already. They simply were, and when it was Their Time, that was enough.

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What The Rent?

Written to Eseme’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  Dragons Next Door ‘Verse, definition(s) at bottom. 

You heard things about this city, moving in.

People from nearby cities would whisper about the dragons and the ogres and other, darker creatures.

They’d talk about the pixies dive-bombing cars, or something their mother’s cousin’s wife told them about living near harpies.

All cities had some magical-creature presence.  But in most places, it was completely distinct from the human presence.

Sure, this city had Smokey Knoll, but there was no wall.  There was no dividing line, even, keeping the races separate.  There was just a hill you went up and then there were dragons.

Violet  hadn’t been worried. She’d never had a problem with magical beings – her best friend in high school had been half-dweomer, after all. She’d done her thesis on the integration of the magical with the mundane.  And the job paid really well. Continue reading

A Different Stripe

Written to Anke’s prompt. 

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When you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you and working on finding the best in all of them – sometimes by viewing them by your cultural standards, sometimes by theirs, sometimes by some neutral third party – and then you find them using a kind of casual racism against creatures you think of as being the same as them, you tend to find yourself a little shocked or, if you are like me, a little stupefied.

I was, I’m afraid to say, used to the casual racism of humans towards the magical races, especially the categories we called The Small (or Tiny) Races and The Beast Races – Tinies, Pixies, Gremlins and the lot in the first category; centaurs, harpies, fauns and such in the second.  But I spent a lot of my time talking to Zizney, and thez, it seemed, treated all smaller races as, well, smaller but not particularly lesser, just curious. And the worst I had ever heard any of the Smiths say about another dragon was a sort of personal insult, along the lines of “messy and untidy scales.”

Now, I full well know the danger of extrapolating such experiences out.  Not only is one dragon different from another, a dragon is inherently different from a harpy, and so on.  “We are all people” is a good way to treat people but not a good way to try to understand behavior patterns.

But knowing the dangers of something is different from remembering and internalizing those dangers. So when I encountered Leeland, the dapple Bay centaur from down the street, passing by the new neighbors’ stable, I was stunned to hear him mutter “ugh, Zebra-centaurs.”

I was actually stunned enough that I stopped and stared at him.  He was several steps along before he stopped to look back at me.  “What?”  He flicked his tail at me.

“’Ugh?’” I quoted back at him.  The family moving into the stable was, indeed, zebra- looking, the stripes going up into the clothing they wore over their humanoid torsos. “Really?”  I didn’t even have the words for I thought you were one of the good guys, come on.

Now that I think about it, those would have  been the words.

“They’re not centaurs.  Everyone thinks they are, and, I mean, in English the word is just zebra-centaur, but they’re no more centaurs than zebras are horses.  They’re pushy.”  He wrinkled his nose and pushed out air in a very horsey gesture.  “And that’s the problem.  They’re going to come in.  They’re going to be loud and pushy and in everyone’s faces, and everyone’s going to say ugh, centaurs, and it’s not us, it’s them.”

I didn’t really want to interfere in intra-species – or inter-species – troubles, but I couldn’t help myself.  It’s what I do, after all.  “So you know these zebra-centaurs already?”

“I know about zebra-centaurs.  We’ve been through this before. They’re loud.  And messy.”

I lifted up an eyebrow.  “And all centaurs are brilliant scholars and great aims with an arrow,” I added, as if I was agreeing with him – with Leeland, who was a blacksmith.

“That’s not true!  That’s…”  He huffed at me.  “That’s not the same.”

“Well then.  Perhaps I’ll have your family and the new family over for dinner, and you can all explain it to me.  In detail.”

“…With tea?”  He looked at me out of the side of his eye.  I smiled at him.

“Yes, of course, with tea.”

“… I can handle loud and messy for that long.  Fine.”

I hadn’t solved anything.  All I’d done was planted a seed, and it might never take root.

But when you spend your time trying to learn as much as possible about the other people around you, sometimes you have to spread that back out a little, like collecting manure, and hope it doesn’t stink up the place too much in the process.

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I had been watching: https://youtu.be/DEaWFX5nzg0?t=174 over my husband’s shoulder. (Ignore the part on cats; they’re wrong). 

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Dragons next Patreon


“Fore!… Damnit! I don’t know what’s up with me today, Jim, I just can’t swing a damn stick!”

Open to all Patreons!


Originally posted Aug. 10, 2011

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I think it’s fair that I thought Farnah was male.

Read On!


This week on What an Old House, we’re doing some exploratory demolition in our 1860’s farmhouse’s bathroom.

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Now this bathroom has some interesting features right from the get-go. You can see from the photos that the entire bathroom was covered in these 50’s-era Masonite panels.

Take a Peek!

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