A Texas Cousin Adventure: The Christmas Blues

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Eight Cousins sat around Grammie’s empty Christmas tree and sighed. All around them sat toys, books, and the last of the Christmas snacks.

“The day after Christmas is always so hard,” Grammie said.

“It looks like everyone has a bad case of the Christmas Blues,” Aunt Abby agreed.

“The Christmas blues?” Constance asked. “What’s that?”

“I’m not blue,” stated Imogene. “I’m a ginger.”

“Sometimes words can mean two things,” Aunt Abby explained, sitting down in the middle of all the cousins. “Sometimes a word like blue can mean a color, or sometimes it can describe a feeling. Being blue doesn’t mean you’re the color of Joshua’s eyes, but that you feel sad.”

“I do feel sad. I must be blue,” Jules said.

“Let’s see if a story would help,” Aunt Abby suggested.

“I think it won’t,” said Bruce.

“We should try anyway,” Aunt Abby advised.


 

Once upon a time, twas the day after Christmas, when all through the house, not a cousin was smiling, not even a mouse.

“We don’t have mice,” Ellie said.

“I know. It’s just a story. I’m making it up.”

The stockings were no longer hung by the chimney with care. St. Nicholas had come and gone, yesterday. The children stared at their piles of open presents all the visions of sugar-plums dashed with the holiday’s finish. And, Grandpa and Grammie never got their long winter’s nap.

Out in the pasture there arose such a clanging and banging, all the cousins sprang up to see what was happen’n. They rushed to the window on steady and tottering feet, and pushed through the blinds with fingers and noses.

The sun hid behind big stormy clouds, covering the earth with a sense of early night. The wind blew and blew with a frightening might.

What to their wondering eyes did appear, but snow falling from heaven to the pasture below.

“It’s like Christmas all over,” sang Jules with a smile.

“It’s a White Day-After Christmas,” Constance agreed.

More rapid than eagles, the cousins got on their coats, and Grammie, shouted and called them by name:

“Now, Julie! now, Constance! now Bruce and Joshua!

On, Ellie!, on, Imogene, on, Jude and Rook!

Out on the porch! Out out!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

Like dry Texas leaves caught in a wild wind fly, the cousins flew out the door tumbling and laughing into the yard. In a twinkling, they built a sweet little snowman with white snow mixed with sleet. Grandpa drew the door shut behind them and hurried off the porch. He dressed in winter clothes, from his head to his foot, and they were all worn from yard work and splitting wood. He bundled the cousins, one after the other, on his back, racing through the After-Christmas snow like a pedler with a pack.

Grammie, her eyes how they twinkled, her smile, how merry! Soon everyone’s cheeks were red like a rose and their noses like cherries. Uncle Price even peeked out at the snow, the stump of a pipe held tight in his teeth, and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.

Everyone laughed and played until their bellies shook. They were all right jolly old elves. The After-Christmas snow had chased the blues away and reminded them they had nothing to fear.

Grandpa laid his finger to the side of his nose, gave a nod, and sprang up on the porch. To the cousins, he gave a whistle. Up they all dashed, tumbling over each other like the down of a thistle.

Grandpa spread his arms wide and exclaimed: “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good day!”

“And God bless us everyone,” Imogene added.

“AND GOD BLESS US EVERYONE,” everyone chanted.


 

“The End” Aunt Abby said. “Feel better?”

“I wish it would snow?” Joshua said with a loud sigh.

“Now, now, you can’t have the blues after Christmas!” Grammie exclaimed clapping her hands. “We have lots of good food, lots of fun toys to play with, and even better we have each other!”

The cousins looked to one side and then to the other and saw that Grammie was right. They did have quite a few cousins each. With a laugh and a smile, the jumped up out of the blues and ran off to play with the boxes their toys had arrived in.

(This silly story is obviously a rewrite of the traditional Christmas Poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. Thus, the odd wording and the silliness.)

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Rook, the Pumpkin!

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Jude, my special puppy!

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Ellie, the fairy, Jules, the princess, Imogene, the Owl, and Bruce, the ghost!

 

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A Texas Cousins Adventure: Stockings

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Aunt Abby, did they have Christmas when you were a little girl like me?” Jules asked.

“Of course,” Aunt Abby sputtered almost choking on her eggnog.

“What part was your favorite part?” Constance asked climbing up on the couch next to Jules.

“Are we talking about Christmas?” Imogene yelled.

“YES,” Aunt Abby, Jules, and Constance yelled back.

Imogene ran in the room followed by Ellie and the boys: Bruce, Joshua, Jude, and Rook. They piled on the couch around Aunt Abby who had to help a few of the shorter ones up. As soon as they got all their fingers, toes, arms, noses, and legs sorted out and settled in, Aunt Abby shared a Christmas memory.


 

Once upon a time, Grammie and Grandpa didn’t have very much money. In fact, they were quite poor. While this caused no end of stress for Grammie and Grandpa, for their five kids—your mommies and daddies—life seemed magical and amazing. They lived on a farm with more land to roam than one could imagine. All their friends lived within walking distance, and they had so many animals.

“What kind of animals?” Constance asked.

“We had goats, chickens, geese, ducks, a cat, and a dog,” Aunt Abby said.

“You were there too?” Jude said, his blue eyes sparkling.

“Yes,” Jules said. “Remember, Grammie and Grandpa have five kids: Uncle Matt, Aunt Abby, Aunt Emily, Uncle Jason, my daddy, and Aunt Liz.”

“Oh . . .” Jude said still confused.

For the five kids, life was a perfect adventure. At Christmas time, they had to go cut down their own Christmas tree—

“Aunt Abby, you already told that story,” Ellie said.

“I know. I’m giving the context.”

They had to save up to buy little gifts for each other and often just had to make them. Aunt Liz was an expert in drawing pictures as gifts.

One of the five kids’ favorite things about Christmas was the stockings. Grammie, being the amazing Mom that she was, made each of the kids their own stocking. She cross-stitched a picture to go on front and then designed the body out of fabric. Matt and Jason’s stockings had matching snow scenes with sleders and skiers. One of their trees was only half-finished. Abby’s stocking originally had a girl with a sled full of puppies on it, but it didn’t work right. Grammie had to make her a girl in a green dress with a howling dog. Emily and Liz both had girls too.

But, the magical, most Christmas thing about the seven stockings hanging on the wall was their size. These were no little stockings meant to hold a few pieces of candy and tiny toys. No! These were giant stockings. Why you could fit a small child in one of them, they were so big.

“Would I fit in one?” Ellie said with a laugh.

“Nope, you’re too big.”

“What about me?” Joshua said, smiling his mischievous smile.

“Nope, you’re too big too. Rook might fit in one.”

Rook found this to be a delightful idea.

When Grammie and Grandpa were so poor, they had very little money to fill both the extra-large stockings and the empty spaces under the tree. That’s when the tradition was born. Grammie and Grandpa would only worry about the stockings. Everyone else worried about the tree. All the presents from grandparents, siblings, friends and especially Auntie Laurie covered the tree skirt in bright paper, ribbons, and bows. They never lacked for presents under the tree. But it was the stockings the five kids loved most.

And what did they find in those huge stockings, you ask? Oh, lots of amazing things. They found rope, calendars, their favorite chips, their favorite candy, fabric for new dresses or comforters, books, movies, hair clips, toys. Why, anything could fit in those stockings. Sometimes they even found socks.

“Socks? Jules said.

“Yep. When you’re poor you get socks for Christmas and you’re happy about it,” Aunt Abby said. “We also walked to school in the snow, up hills both ways.”

“What?” said Bruce. “I thought you were home schooled?”

“We were, Bruce. It’s an old family joke.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I know.”

Over the years, as the Lord blessed Grammie and Grandpa, the stockings held less socks and rope and more movies and video games and toys. But, no matter how old the five kids got, they never lost their love for those extra-large, magical stockings their Mama made by hand.


 

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“The End.”

“Aunt Abby!” Jules gasped. “Are those the same stockings hanging over the fireplace?”

She jumped up off the couch and darted for the front room. The seven other nieces and nephews charge after her. There, hanging in front of Grandpa’s fireplace, were two stockings—one with a snow-covered bridge and the other with a horse-drawn sleigh.

“Look, they are giant,” Bruce said.

“They’re the magical stockings,” Constance said. Imogene and Ellie echoed her.

The eight nieces and nephews gingerly fingered the stockings of such legend and lore.

Grammie and Grandpa came into the room and saw them all gently touching.

“Grammie, your stockings are amazing,” Jules said.

“And so pretty,” Imogene said.

“And perfect for holding rope and socks,” said Bruce.

“I want socks for Christmas,” Joshua said.

“Can we be poor?” Jude asked

“Oh yes,” Ellie said. “Let’s be poor.”

“My mom’s always giving me socks,” Rook said happily. “I think I am poor!”

Aunt Abby and Grammie both stared at the eight little cousins. Aunt Abby burst out laughing. “Oh my, no no, you don’t want to be poor. What have I done?”

“I guess you told a good story if they all want to be poor,” Grammie said with a chuckle.

“Well, since they want to be poor,” Grandpa said. “I guess we’ll just take all their presents back to the store.”

“No!” All eight cousins said. “We don’t want to be that poor.”

Aunt Abby gathered them all up in a big family hug. “Merry Christmas, everyone!”

The End

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Rook the Pumpkin!

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Jude the Puppy!

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Ellie the Fairy, Jules the Princess, Imogene the Owl, Bruce the Ghost, and Aunt Abby as Ichabod Crane.

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Finding the Perfect Tree

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Eight cousins stared up up up at the tall evergreen trying to see the star on top.

“Can we turn on the lights?” Constance said itching her nose. Her frog umbrella, better known as her umbrella cannon, lay on the floor beside her.

“Yes, can we?” Bruce asked pulling his silly lumberjack hat off.

“Of course,” Grammie said. “Ready Aunt Abby?”

“Ready,” Aunt Abby said from behind the tree. She fiddling for a few moments and then Suddenly! beautiful lights lit up the tree. They sparkled and gleamed.

“Ohhhh!” the eight cousins said together.

“Hey look,” Aunt Abby said, “we didn’t have to use gloves to decorate the tree.”

“Why would you need gloves to decorate the tree?” Jules said.

“Well, when me and your Uncle Matt, Aunt Em, Uncle Jason, and Aunt Liz where kids we had to go cut down our own Christmas tree.”

“You did?” Joshua said.

“It didn’t come out of a box?” said Ellie.

“Nope. It came out of a field. It came out of Great Gran’s field.”

“Great Gran’s field?” Jude said. “Great Gran doesn’t have a field.”

“She doesn’t any more, but long, long ago, when the five of us were all little kids, Great Gran had a huge field. Many many times bigger than Grammie and Grandpa’s field. And that’s where we got our Christmas trees.”

“How?” said Imogene.

“Come on, let’s get some eggnog and I’ll tell you.”

The eight cousins gathered around the tree each with a cup filled with sweet eggnog. The Christmas lights twinkled and the decorations sparkled.


 

Once upon a time, Grammie sent the Five brothers and sisters out to Great Gran’s pasture with a saw.

“What’s a saw?” Rook asked.

“It’s a tool to cut wood.”

“Oh.”

The Five brothers and sisters bundled up in sweaters, scarves, gloves, and rubber boots. They hiked up the hill to the gate taking Heidi their dog with them. Passing through the gate, they decided to go to the very back of the pasture to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Pretty evergreens with long needles didn’t grow in the pasture, itchy sharp cedar trees did. That was just fine with the Five kids. Cedar trees looked like Christmas trees and smelled like Christmas trees. That was all that mattered to them.

With Matt in the lead, they hiked up hills, down hills, past several cow ponds, past the ravine where there was lots of interesting trash, over a stream where Heidi found something to sniff, and out into the back pasture. They loudly sang Christmas carols as they hiked starting with Jingle Bells and finishing with Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

In the back pasture, cedar trees grew everywhere. The Five kids made their way through the sharp and sticky branches. First, Emily found a tree, but it was too skinny. Abby found one next, but it had strange branch coming out the back. Jason found one, but a close inspection reviled a brown spot on the back. Liz liked the short round one, but Matt said it was too short.

They kept looking. Christmas depended on the perfect tree and they didn’t give up easily.

Deeper and deeper into the cedar trees they hunted still singing Christmas carols. A cotton-tailed rabbit rushed away from their noise and a hawk watched them from high in the sky.

“Look!” said Liz.

The four old siblings turned and saw the perfect tree. It was tall but not too tall, green all the way around, round but tapering to a perfect point for Auntie Janet’s angel.

“It’s perfect,” Abby said.

The others agreed. Matt took the saw, while the girls held the branches carefully back, and cut it down.

“Timber!” shouted Jason as the tree fell over.

The Five kids hefted it up on their shoulder and took the easiest path home with no barbed-wire fences to cross.

Reaching their house, they carried the tree to Grandpa to let him set it in the tree stand. It stood straight and true as they carried it in the living room.

“Get your gloves,” Grammie said.

Donning their gloves, the Five brothers and sisters decorated the itchy, pointy Christmas tree with lights, and all their favorite candy canes, sleds, Santas, reindeer, and snowmen. Matt, being the tallest, put Auntie Janet’s angel on the top to finish it off.


 

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“And that’s how we used to get our Christmas trees,” Aunt Abby said drinking the last of her eggnog.

“Aunt Abby, did you live in the olden days?” Jules asked.

“Yes Julie-bear, before internet, in the olden ’80s and 90’s.”

“Wow. You’re really old,” Bruce said.

“Thank you, Bruce.”

“Are you older than 19?” Jules asked.

Aunt Abby laughed. “Aren’t we telling Christmas stories?”

“Yes, tell us another Christmas story.”

“How about the time we lit the backyard on fire on Christmas eve?”

“Yes! I like fire,” Bruce said.

“Me too,” Constance said.

Aunt Abby settled back to tell more stories about many magical Christmases long long ago.

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Rook, the pumpkin!

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Jude, the puppy!

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Ellie, the Fairy, Jules, the Princess, Imogene, the Owl, Bruce, the Ghost, and Aunt Abby as Ichabod Crane.

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Thanksgiving

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Do you know what holiday is coming up?” Aunt Abby asked the eight expectant cousins.

“Christmas!” shouted red-headed Imogene.

“Well, it is coming, but not next,” Aunt Abby said.

“Halloween! I’m a ghost!” yelled Bruce.

“I’m a princess,” said Jules.

“Nope. We just celebrated Halloween, remember.”

“What then?” said Constance.

“Thanksgiving,” Aunt Abby said.

“Thanksgiving?” asked Joshua.

“Yes! Thanksgiving.”

“What is Thanksgiving?” said Jude and Rook together.

“How about a story?”

“Yes!” shouted all eight cousins.

“Inside voices,” Aunt Abby hushed them. “Grandpa’s taking a nap.”


 

Once upon a time, eight cousins, four cowboys and four cowgirls, slept soundly in their beds at Grammie and Grandpa’s little ranch. Outside Clyde the Donkey and Hobbes the golden Labrador raised their heads and sniffed the fall wind. Trouble was coming.

Twisting and turning, the grumbling gremlins rode wild autumn leaves down into the cold yard. They ignored the warning bark from Hobbes and the loud bray from Clyde. One by one they crept up on the porch and slipped in through the windows. With naughty giggles, they went to each of the children and sprinkled grumbles all over them. Full of disobedient winks, they hurried back outside to visit other homes and other cousins.

The sun came up and Grammie made a big batch of waffles with blueberries, eggs, and bacon. The coffee brewed filling the house with wonderful morning smells. Jules and Ellie stumbled from bed first.

“Grammie, the house smells funny,” Jules complained.

“I don’t want waffles,” Ellie said.

“Well, aren’t we grumbly,” Grammie said going to wake the others.

One by one, the cousins tumbled out of warm beds, and one by one they complained.

“Jude took my spoon,” Imogene whined.

“No one gave me a fork,” Jude said.

“I don’t like eggs,” said Rook.

“I don’t like this morning,” Joshua said with a pout.

Constance crossed her arms and said, “Grammie. I don’t want this food. I want a cake.”

Grammie sighed. “You can’t have cake for breakfast,” she said.

“I don’t want any of it!” Bruce declared.

“I do like waffles,” Bruce said.

“I know you do Bruce, but remember this is a story about the grumbles. Do you ever grumble?”

“No I don’t.”

“What are grumbles?” Constance said.

“It’s when you complain and are unhappy with things.”

“Oh, I’ve had the grumbles before,” Bruce said.

Things did not improve as the day continued. Complaints were voiced about movies, toys, chores, and each other. Grammie tried to sooth everyone. She tried and tried to help the little ones and challenge the big ones. She prayed and prayed for the eight grumbling children. Nothing seemed to help.

“Hobbes is too big.”

“Clyde won’t let me pet him.”

“A bug bit me.”

“A don’t like this dress.”

“You can’t play with that, it’s mine.”

“He took that.”

“She told me what to do.”

Hobbes and Clyde hid from the grumbling children. Grammie and Grandpa wondered what had gotten into them. Finally, Grandpa had enough. He called all the cousins into the living room.

“There is far too much complaining and grumbling going on today and not enough thankfulness,” he said.

“What’s thankfulness?” Bruce said.

“Thankfulness is when you are happy for what you have. It is when you realize you don’t deserve what you have and you are glad someone gave you what you don’t deserve.”

All eight cousins looked at Grandpa.

“Let’s try this,” Grandpa said. “Bruce, what are you happy for?”

“Nothing,” he grumbled.

“Well,” Grammie said. “I’m glad all of you are here.”

“I’m not,” said Jules.

“Nope, you have to be thankful,” Grandpa said.

“For what?” Constance said tears filling her eyes.

“Do you all have Mommys and Daddys that love you?” Grammie asked them.

“My Mommy loves me,” Jules said.

“Mine too!” the others chanted.

“Well, are you glad she loves you?” Grandpa said.

“Yes,” said Jude with a hint of a smile.

“What else?” said Grammie.

“You love us,” Imogene said.

“Do you know other kids don’t have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that love them?” Grandpa said.

“That’s sad,” said Constance.

“It is sad,” Bruce said. “Does anyone love them?”

“That’s why you should be thankful,” Grandpa said.

“I love Jules!” Ellie said.

“Yes,” Grammie said. “You have each other. How about a ‘let’s all be loved’?

The cousins all gathered together and surrounded each other in a big hug.

“LET’S ALL BE LOVED!” they yelled together.

One by one, all the grumbling gremlins fell away.

“I’m thankful for cranberry relish,” Bruce said.

“I’m thankful for puppies,” said Joshua.

“I’m thankful for Mommy and Grammie,” said Jules.

“I’m thankful for this house,” Ellie said waving her arms.

“I’m thankful for Clyde and Hobbes,” said Constance.

“I’m thankful for Grandpa,” said Imogene.

“I’m thankful for toys!” said Jude.

“I’m thankful for food,” said Rook.

“See,” Grammie said. “We should all be thankful, not complaining and grumbling. We have so many things. We’ve been blessed by God. We shouldn’t have grumbles.”

The eight cousins agreed. They rushed outside to give Clyde and Hobbes a hug.

The grumbling Gremlins floated away, unable to stay in a thankful family.


 

“The end,” Aunt Abby said.

“I complained this morning,” Bruce said. “I don’t like this shirt. Did the grumbling Gremlins come to me last night?”

“No, they’re not real Bruce, but the Bible says complaining is wrong. You need to be thankful. Be thankful you have a shirt to wear when it’s cold.”

“Is that what Thanksgivings about?” Jules said.

“Yes, it’s the day we’re thankful for all the Lord’s given us and we have a big feast to celebrate His generosity.”

“I’m thankful for you,” Constance said.

“I’m thankful for you too, all of you.”

Let’s all be loved,” sang Imogene.

“And God bless us, everyone,” Aunt Abby said.

“AND GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE!” shouted Jules, Constance, Bruce, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, Jude, and Rook.

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Ellie, Jules, Bruce, and Imogene with me!

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

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Rook the Pumpkin!

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Jude the puppy!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Fan Fiction: Space Cowboys and Cowgirls (Part 3)

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Aunt Abby! You have to finish the story,” Ellie said. “We need to go rescue Bruce and Jude.”

“Yes, we need to rescue me,” Bruce said.

“I guess you’re right. It wouldn’t do to leave Bruce and Jude captured by the Flies.”

“No it wouldn’t,” said Jude.

“Okay, are you ready?”

“Yes!!” screamed eight cousins not using their inside voices one bit.

“Once upon a time . . .”


Once upon a time, the brave crew of the Texas rescued a group of settlers from the clutches of the evil Flies. But! Bruce and Jude were captured. Now, Constance must lead a rescue mission.

“Everyone gear up,” Constance said reloading her umbrella cannon.

“We’re going to save them, right?” Jules said.

“Of course we are,” Joshua said handing her a gun. “We are right?”

“We wouldn’t leave them to the likes of the Flies,” Rook said checking to make sure his potato cannon was loaded and he had plenty of potatoes.

“Everyone ready?” Constance said.

With grim faces, they all nodded.

“Aunt Abby,” whispered Imogene, “what’s a grim face.”

“It means they’re serious, not smiling.”

“Why aren’t they smiling?” asked Jules.

“Cause they’re worried about Bruce and Jude and fighting the Flies.”

“We are too,” said Ellie. “See,” she pointed at her face, “no smile. I’m grim.”

“You folks stay here and guard the ship. We’ll be back shortly,” Constance said to the settlers they rescued before she jumped on their four-wheeler. Joshua jumped up beside her and cranked it to life. Rook, Jules, Imogene, and Ellie piled in behind them. Imogene pulled on an oversized pair of goggles and held on.

Joshua drove out onto the planet in the direction of the Flies. The four-wheeler kicked up a great cloud of dirt as he drove faster and faster. Constance held up her hand and Joshua pushed the break. The four-wheeler stopped.

“What is it?” whispered Ellie. “The Flies?”

“Yes, everyone out,” Constance ordered.

They tumbled out of the four-wheeler and slithered on their tummies up a little hill. When they reached the top, they peeked at the swarm of Flies. In the middle of them sat Bruce and Jude all tied up and blind-folded.

Jules pressed her hand to her mouth and Rook patted her back. “Don’t worry, we’ll get them back.”

“Listen up,” Constance whispered. “Jules and Imogene, you go back to the four-wheeler and you keep it safe. If the Flies take it, we’ll have to walk all the way back to the ship with them chasing us.”

The girls nodded and slithered back.

“Rook, you and Ellie take the left side, keeping your aim high so you don’t hit Bruce and Jude. Me and Joshua will take the other side. As soon as we reach Bruce and Jude, we run. We’re not here to fight the whole swarm, just to get our cousins back.”

Splitting apart, they stood up and yelled. All the Flies turned to them. Constance led the charge around to the right with Joshua right beside her. Constance fired her Umbrella cannon over and over into the swarm while Joshua used his Dragon’s Breath Flame Thrower on the Flies. Rook and Ellie charged the other direction firing the potato cannon and Lego guns. They caught the Flies completely off-guard. Flies fell this way and that way from the flying bullets, fire, and potatoes. In just a few seconds, Joshua, Constance, Rook, and Ellie reached Bruce and Jude.

“About time,” Jude said as Ellie took his blindfold off and cut the ropes around his wrists and feet.

“Let’s get off this planet,” Bruce said.

While the others freed Bruce and Jude, Imogene and Jules guarded the four-wheeler.

“What if some Flies come?” Jules said.

“We’ll shoot them.”

“Are you sure we can?”

“Of course,” said Imogene. “Their big and ugly Flies.”

Just as she said this, a small group of angry Flies flew right up over the hill and straight for them. Jules’ raised her gun. Imogene copied her. The Flies came closer. Jules fired and missed. She fired again and one Fly dropped from the swarm. Imogene closed her eyes, smiled, and fired five more shots. When she opened her eyes, the flies were dead.

“How’d you do that?” Jules asked.

“Practice,” Imogene said. “No power in the ‘verse can stop me.”

Aunt Abby stopped and giggled to herself.

“What’s funny?” Rook said.

“Nothing,” Aunt Abby said. “I’ll tell all y’all when you’re older.”

“Are we older now?” asked Jules.

“I am,” said Bruce.

“Not old enough yet,” Aunt Abby said.

Bruce, Jude, Constance, Joshua, Rook, and Ellie came charging over the hill. Behind them came an angry swarm of Flies.

“Go, go, go,” yelled Bruce.

The girls jumped on the four-wheeler and Imogene pulled on her goggles. Everyone else piled on and Joshua roared back towards the ship.

“Shoot them!” Bruce said.

Everyone, but Joshua, turned and fired at the following swarm. Flies dropped left and right as umbrella and potato cannons tore through them. Flies littered the ground as Lego guns fired.

“There’s the Texas!” said Joshua.

“We can make it,” said Jules.

The raced across the planet with the black swarm behind them. Without slowing down, Joshua plowed right onto the ship. The settlers they rescued dove out of the way. Bruce took a flying leap off the four-wheeler and hit the button to close the ramp and the doors.

“Get us out of here,” Bruce said.

Joshua rushed up to the bridge and cranked the Texas to life. Three Flies darted past the closing doors into the ship. Imogene fired one, two, three. The Flies died.

“Good shot,” said Constance.

“Thanks.” Imogene smiled.

The Texas rose in the air leaving the Flies behind on the dusty planet. They returned the settlers to their ship and made sure they were safe and well on their way before heading back out into space.


“The end,” Aunt Abby said.

“Wow, I’m glad I was rescued,” Bruce said.

“Yeah, I don’t like flies,” said Jude.

“Imogene,” Jules said. “You’re a good shot.”

“Okay, everyone go play, story time is over. Aunt Abby needs some coffee.”

“Let’s go play we’re Space Cowboys,” Constance said scooping up her frog umbrella.

“We need some Lego guns,” said Rook running towards the Lego boxes.

“And a space ship,” said Ellie said.

“I get to fly it!” Joshua hurried off after everyone else.

“I need a gun and goggles,” Imogene yelled.

Aunt Abby smiled, watching the cousins run off to play in a small world she’d opened to them. Grammie put her arm around her shoulders.

“Starting them young, don’t you think?”

“Of course.”

The End

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Welcome to the gang, Rook!

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Fan Fiction: Space Cowboys and Cowgirls (Part 2)

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

Part 1

Still snuggled in close around the fire, the remains of their hot chocolate gone cold, the eight cousins stared pleadingly up at Aunt Abby.

“Please,” said Bruce. “Please tell us more of the story.”

“Are you sure?” Aunt Abby said. “I’m not sure if I like this story.”

“We like it,” Jules said grabbing her arm and giving it a gentle tug. “We do!”

Everyone else echoed her pleas.

“Well, if you’re sure you like it, I guess I could tell you the next part. But, it’s gonna cost you.”

“What’s it gonna cost?” Joshua asked.

“A big bear hug from everyone,” Aunt Abby said.

Eight little cousins jumped to their feet and eight cousins threw their arms around her squealing with delight as they knocked her over into the pile of pillows.

“Okay, okay,” Aunt Abby said, coming up for air. “Enough hugs.”

They settled back in their pillows and blankets with their stuffed animals.

“Once upon a time…


 

Once upon a time, brave Bruce and his crew aboard the Texas discovered a broken-down ship just floating through space. They boarded the ship but found no people. Joshua scanned the nearby planet and much to his horror found the lost people surrounded by flies.

“Gear up,” shouted Constance reloading her Umbrella Cannon while Jude got his high-powered BB gun and two more Lego guns.

“What about us?” Jules said.

“I want Jules, Rook, Imogene, and Ellie to stay here with Joshua,” Bruce said.

“It is mathematically unlikely that only three of you will be able to take out the Flies,” Imogene said dancing in a circle around Bruce, Constance, and Jude.

“That’s reassuring,” Jude said.

“I want the three people who fight the best down there first,” Bruce said.

“I can fight,” said Jules.

“That’s why you’re staying here,” Bruce said. “I may need you to come rescue us.”

“I have everything ready to take those people in,” Ellie said holding up her med-kit filled with brightly colored gummy vitamins.

“Good. Joshua, you drop us down on their heads and then stay close by to pick up those people.”

Joshua hurried off to the bridge. “Starting descent down through the atmo now.”

“What’s at mo?” Jules asked.

“Yeah? What is it?” Bruce said.

“At mo!” Ellie yelled.

“Atmosphere,” Aunt Abby said. “It’s what surrounds a planet that protects us from space debris. It’s high, high over our heads.”

Jude looked up. “I don’t see it.”

“It’s out past the sky.”

“Wow, that’s really far,” Constance said.

“Yep. You can only reach it in a space ship.”

“Like the Texas?” Imogene asked.

“Like the Texas.”

Texas shook as Joshua drove her, like a leaf on the wind, down to the planet below.

“Ready?” Bruce asked cocking his laser revolver.

“Locked and loaded,” Jude said grinning as he hefted his BB gun up on his shoulder.

Constance matched Jude’s grin and pointed her rifle at the ramp, ready as soon as it opened.

The Texas touched down, the ramp opened with a groan, and Bruce, Constance, and Jude rushed out. The spread out keeping each other covered. Ahead the Flies buzzed and bobbed in the air. The people from the other ship huddled in the middle scared and crying.

“Are we going to rescue them?” Ellie said.

“Listen and see,” Aunt Abby said.

“Of course we are,” Constance said.

“Get them!” Bruce yelled, leading the charge.

Constance came up on his right and Jude on his left. They shot the flies swatting them from the air, one, two, three. The people from the other ship cheered as they rushed forward.

“Get to the ship!” Jude yelled waving the people towards the Texas.

No one moved.

“Come on,” Bruce shouted.

The people were too scared to come. More Flies flew towards them.

Bruce, Constance, and Joshua fired again and again until all the Flies around the people had dropped dead on the ground. They grabbed up mommies and daddies and little kids rushing them towards the Texas. More Flies were coming.

“Hurry, hurry,” Jules said holding out her arms to bring in all the people.

“We don’t have much time, Bruce,” Joshua said over the radio.

“Doing the best we can,” Bruce said.

“I was thinking a picnic would be nice,” Jude said joking.

“Constance, get them inside,” Bruce ordered. “Jude, help me protect them.”

Jude stopped and turned with Bruce beside him. They pointed their guns at the coming swarm of flies. There were so many.

“Constance?” Bruce said over the radio. “You on board?”

“Just about!”

“I don’t have time for just about,” Bruce said.

The swarm reached them. Bruce and Jude fought very bravely firing at all the Flies. They fired and fired their many guns. Bruce reloaded while Jude pulled out two Lego guns and shot seven Flies died.

“I’m almost out,” Jude said grabbing his last gun.

“My battery’s running low,” Bruce said.

“We’re all on board,” Constance voice crackled over the radio.

Bruce glanced back at the Texas. It was too far away. A Fly grabbed him and flew off with him. One got Jude.

Constance watched from the Texas now full of frightened people.

“They just got Bruce and Jude,” she said.

“What do we do?” Jules said pressing her hands to her face.

“We rescue them,” Rook said.

“I like how you think, cousin,” Constance said. “Can you track them, Josh?”

“Got ’em,” Josh said over the radio.

“Come on,” Constance said to Ellie, Imogene, Jules, and Rook. “Let’s plan a rescue mission.”


 

“Dun, dun dun,” Aunt Abby said dramatically.

“No,” Jules said. “I know what that means.”

“What?” said Ellie on the edge of her pillow.”

“It means,” Bruce said. “That Aunt Abby needs another break.”

“But I’m captured,” Jude said.

“Don’t worry,” Constance said, “I’m going to save you!”

“Me too!” said Ellie.

“Do you need a hug?” Bruce asked.

“No, I need a hot chocolate refill.”

“Let’s hurry then!” Joshua said.

“Hurry, hurry,” Rook chanted.

“Stop that chanting,” yelled Grandpa.

“Grandpa’s funny,” Imogene said.

…to be continued…

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10606529_10100278505850864_8221284218819867349_n 10561769_10203168287182885_6863548318268493843_n

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Fan Fiction: Space Cowboys and Cowgirls

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Will you tell us a story?” Constance said snuggling close next to Aunt Abby.

Aunt Abby wrapped her arms around the little girl with long hair and stared into Grammie and Grandpa’s fireplace. Outside the wind gusted and the rain poured down on the dry Texas earth. In the background, Aunt Liz’s Christmas music warmed the room.

“I think this is perfect story weather.” Aunt Abby said. “But we need some supplies first.”

“Like what?” asked Joshua squeezing his well-loved puppy, Cicero.

“Like . . .pillows, blankets, teddy bears, and maybe some hot chocolate.”

“And everyone else?” Constance said.

“Of course!”

With a flurry of activity, comfy blankets were piled on pillows in front of the fire. Water was heated in the kettle until nine perfect cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows were settled in little hands. Jules, Ellie, Bruce, Jude, Rook, and Imogene were gathered and herded onto the pillows by Constance and Joshua.

“Ready?” Aunt Abby said.

“Ready!” the eight cousins chanted. “Ready. Ready. Ready.”

“Stop that chanting!” yelled Grandpa from his office.

The cousins giggled and settled in adjusting bears, bunnies, puppies, dollies, and blankets.

“Once upon a time . . .”


 

Once upon a time, eight cousins flew through the heavens on a starship, Sparrow Class, named Texas.

“A starship?” whispered Elle.

“Yes, a starship,” Aunt Abby said.

“What’s a starship?” Jude said.

“It is a ship that sails in the sky up among the stars instead of on the ocean.”

“You can’t sail around the stars,” Jules said. “There’s no air. Daddy says your blood will boil.”

“You blood will boil?” gasped Bruce and Joshua at the same time, fascinated.

“Not here,” Aunt Abby said. “This is a fantasy story. It’s make-believe.”

“Ohhhh,” Jules said.

Once upon a time (Aunt Abby started over) eight cousins flew through the heavens on a starship. Being from Texas, seeing as their Sparrow Class Starship was named Texas, they were of course Space Cowboys. They had many wild and crazy adventures avoiding pirates, saving damsels in distress, herding space cattle, and defeating the evil King of Tyranny who tried to make everyone equally poor and always dressed exactly the same.

“He sounds evil,” said Constance.

“He was,” said Aunt Abby.

On one of their adventures, Joshua called everyone to the front of the ship.

“Look what I found,” he pointed off the front bow.

Another ship sat, unmoving, off to the side. None of its lights gleamed in the cold chill of space. None of its thrusters burned hot and golden. It sat in the empty vacuum, alone.

“It looks empty,” said Jules, “and sad.”

“We should take a look,” said Bruce.

They all agreed.

Joshua brought the good ship Texas to a full stop, while Bruce, Constance, and Jude geared up. Jules helped them get all their gear on while Ellie got all her medical supplies out in case they found anyone who was hurt. Rook and Imogene cleared out the storage bay so they had room for anything worth salvaging from the dead ship.

In a few minutes, Bruce, Constance, and Jude were hopping out of the Texas and floating across space to the other ship. Everyone waited, hushed and nervous to see what they would find.

Bruce, Constance, and Jude opened the outer hall doors and stepped into the ship. Constance readied her Umbrella Cannon while Jude drew one of his Lego guns and aimed it down the empty hall. Bruce led the way watching for traps. The dead spaceship was empty. They searched it high and low, up and down. There was not a person to be seen. No parents. No Mommies. No Daddies. No brothers and sisters.

“No cousins?” Imogene said, worried.

“Not even any cousins.”

Bruce radioed the ship.

“Did you check the escape pods?” Joshua asked.

“Yes,” Constance said. “They’re gone.”

“Maybe that means they all escaped?” Jules said hopefully.

“Maybe,” Bruce said, “but we better make sure. Joshua? You getting any signals from nearby planets?”

Joshua pushed a red dragon with gold wings off his consul and searched the heavens for any signal, no matter how weak, indicating that the people had made it off. While he did that, Jules, Rook, Ellie, and Imogene joined Bruce, Constance, and Jude on the empty ship. Constance put her Umbrella Canon away and Jude slipped his Lego gun back in his holster.

“Alright,” Bruce said “While Joshua searches for the crew of this boat, let’s get everything of value off it. If we find them they might need their stuff.”

“Or if we don’t, we could sell it,” Jude said.

Everyone glared at him. “Well, we could.”

“Look,” Imogene said skipping down a hallway, “someone left their dolly.” She scooped up the blonde-haired doll from the floor and gave it a hug in case it was scared. “Don’t worry dolly, we’ll see you home safe and sound.”

“You notice something funny?” Constance said following after the skipping Imogene.

“Besides the fact that Jude brought three Lego guns to an empty ship?” Ellie said giving him a wink.

“Hey now,” Jude said. “It pays to be prepared.”

“Like the fact that there’s still food on the table in the dining room?” Rook said.

“Yeah like that,” said Constance. She fingered her Umbrella Cannon.

“Who leaves food just sitting around?” Imogene said in a sing-song voice.

“They don’t,” Bruce said tugging at his brown coat.

“Guys,” Joshua’s worried voice came over the radio. “I got a signal . . . but I also got Flies on the radar.”

“Flies!” Imogene squealed grabbing Ellie’s arm.

Rook herded Imogene, Ellie, and Jules back towards their own ship.

“Grab what you can of value and move, cousins,” Bruce shouted.

“Might I suggest hurrying?” Joshua said over the radio.

“Doing exactly that,” Constance quipped back as she grabbed a crate labeled ‘freeze-dried food’ and hustled after Rook.

Bruce was the last off the dead ship making sure everyone was safely back on Texas.

He hurried up to the bridge with Constance and Jude. Joshua, surrounded by dragons, gave them a worried smile.

“Where are they?” Bruce said.

Joshua pointed at the consul. Small blinking dots showed a group of people surrounded by buzzing green dots.

“What do we do?” Jules said coming up the ladder with Imogene, Ellie, and Rook.

“We go help them,” Bruce said.


 

“Dun, dun dun,” Aunt Abby said dramatically.

“What does that mean?” Jules said.

“It means ‘oh no! What’s going to happen’?”

“Are you stopping there?” Constance said.

“You can’t!” Imogene said. “We have to save those people from the nasty Flies.”

“Well, you’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

“No, that’s not fun,” said Ellie.

“Please!” begged Jude and Rook.

“Nope,” Aunt Abby crossed her arms. “You will just have to wait.”

…to be continued…

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Welcome to the gang, Rook!

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Rook is Here…and he’s Huge!

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

The wind whipped up the leaves tossing them across Grammie and Grandpa’s pasture. It tugged at scarves unwinding them from around little faces. It played with the pom-poms on top of hats and at the end of strings.

“Get more leaves!” Aunt Abby said swinging her arm. “Make a big pile.”

“Aunt Abby,” Bruce said. “It’s a very blustery day. Is it Winds-day?”

“No, today is Sunday. It’s Family Day, Bruce.”

“Aunt Abby,” Jules said. “Why are we gathering all these leaves even though the wind doesn’t want us to?”

“Look at me!” Ellie screamed dive-bombing face first into the growing pile of leaves.

“Wait!” Aunt Abby said before everyone else also jumped in the pile. “We have to make it bigger before we can jump in it.” She fished Ellie, giggling delightedly, out of the leaves.

“But, why are we making it?” Constance repeated Jules’ question.

Aunt Abby squatted down in front of them, eye to eye with seven inquisitive faces. “Because Rook is coming.”

“Who’s Rook?” Joshua asked.

“Yeah,” Jude said crossing his arms and trying to look tough. Imogene threw a handful of leaves in his face spoiling the effect.

“Who IS ROOK?” Aunt Abby straightened up and put her hands on her hips. “Dear children, do you not know you’re own cousin?”

“OH! Is he Miss Fizzle’s baby?” Bruce said pushing more leaves in the pile.

“If by Miss Fizzle you mean Michelle, then yes.”

Constance took Aunt Abby’s hand. Wide-eyed she asked, “Did she have her baby?”

“Yes! And he’ll be here soon!”

“Is that the only thing we’re celebrating today,” Jules asked.

“Why no!” Aunt Abby said scooping her up in a big bear hug. “We’re also celebrating your birthday Julie-bear.” She set Jules down and gathered Joshua up. “And Joshua!”

“And my Daddy!” Imogene squealed as Jude dumped a huge armful of leaves on her head.

“And my Dad, too,” he declared.

“That’s right.”

“It’s all of our birthdays?” Jules gasped.

“Yes.”

“What a busy month.”

“Yes.”

“When will Rook get here?” Constance said.

“Soon, so let’s finish the pile.”

“He can play with my Cicero if he wants,” Joshua said. He held up his favorite puppy with sad blue eyes.

“Oh Joshua, that’s so sweet,” Aunt Abby kissed his freckled face. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate that, but you may need to wait until he’s a little older. Now, how about we finish this pile.”

The seven cousins raced against the wind gathering as many leaves as it would give up and made a Texas-sized pile of leaves in Grammie and Grandpa’s yard. Before too long, James and Michelle arrived carrying their new little bundle wrapped up tight against the chill. Michelle, positively glowing, brought him over to the children. She unwrapped him to let them take a look.

Constance and Ellie immediately started cooing and stroking his chin. The boys—Bruce, Joshua, and Jude—gave him a cursory look and turned back to the pile of leaves. Imogene kissed his head of dark hair. Jules studied the baby.

“Michelle?”

“Yes Jules?”

“How old is he?”

“He’s almost three weeks old.”

“But he’s almost as big as Imogene.”

Aunt Abby laughed. “Yep. Rook is huge!”

“He is.” Jules said. “Does that mean he’s gonna be bigger than all of us?”

“You’re Daddy was about this size when he was born,” Aunt Abby said, trying to help give her perspective.

“He’s gonna always be huge!” She said, her eyes wide.

“But so was your Uncle Price.”

Jules cocked her head. “Maybe he won’t be.”

Michelle laughed. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Aunt Abby, is it time to jump in the leaves?” Bruce said.

“Rook can’t,” Constance said. “He’s a baby.”

“You’re right,” Michelle said. “But he can watch.”

“Ready?” Aunt Abby said.

“Ready!!” screamed seven crazy cousins.

They dove into the extra-big pile of leaves. Hats flew off. Rubber boots tangled. Giggles and screams of joy came from the intermixed faces peeking out of the leaves. Blonde and brunette hair went flying free of braids and clips and pony-tails. Pockets of rocks and sticks emptied to mix with the leaves. They tumbled free covered with the sheddings of trees. Rook jerked, awakened by the wild screaming. A slow smile spread over his face. He had heard these voices before.

“Again,” yelled Ellie.

Until Grammie called them in for dinner as the night came early over the family gathering, the seven cousins jumped in the leaves, rebuilt the pile, and jumped again. They covered each other, they battled with fists of leaves, and they hid deep inside in little caves. Aunt Abby watched over them tossing the little ones in, covering the bigger ones, and gathering more leaves.

Lights came on on the porch. Grammie called everyone in for dinner. They sang Happy Birthday, slightly off-key, to the new Rook, Brian, Brad, Joshua and Jules. Rook slept in his Mother’s arms surrounded by just a small number of the people who loved him already and sharing a birth-month with some of the most wonderful people in the world.

The End

Welcome to the family Rook!

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

Welcome to the gang, Rook!

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What a mess of trouble! Love all my nieces and nephews. (L to R) Imogene, Constance, Me, Joshua, Bruce and Jude. Lord willing, I’ll get one of all of us together at Christmas.

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Jules and Ellie. My two beautiful, smiling nieces! And the stars of many a story!

 

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Talent Show

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Aunt Abby!!!!” Bruce yelled at the top of his lungs. Jules, Ellie, Constance, and Joshua chimed in until there was a high-pitched cacophony of little boys and girls yelling Aunt Abby’s name. Imogene and Jude looked up from their coloring books, surprised by the noise. They rushed over with shouts and giggles to make sure they weren’t left out.

“Inside voices,” said several Moms at the same time.

“Look what I can do!” Bruce whispered loudly.

“What? What? I’m watching!” Aunt Abby said.

“No, look what I can do,” Jules said.

“No, what I can do,” Ellie said.

“Wait,” Aunt Abby said before anyone else could start yelling. “Why don’t we put on a Talent Show.”

“A Talent Show?” Jules said raising her eyebrows. “What’s a Talent Show?”

“It’s when you show everyone you’re talents,” Aunt Abby said with a smile.

“Oh,” Constance said still confused.

Aunt Abby hurried the cousins into Grammie’s nursery and had them stand in line.

“Okay, Bruce, you start. What can you do?”

Bruce blew a very loud and wet raspberry. All six of the other cousins did the same. Ellie linked her arms around Aunt Abby’s neck and said, “Look what I can do?” Aunt Abby turned away from the inevitable spray of saliva.

“Look! What I can do?” Ellie said.

“I’m looking,” Aunt Abby said, her face still turned away.

“Look! What I can do!” Ellie said again and again until Aunt Abby looked down into her eyes. Elle blew a huge raspberry spraying Aunt Abby.

“Eew! Gross!” Aunt Abby said wiping spit from her face.

Everyone crowded around her, tongues out and lips pursed.

“Wait!” Aunt Abby said. “You can’t all have the same talent. We need to find specific talents for each of you.”

“Why?” said Jules.

“Because you’re each different people with different skills and different gifts from God.”

“What’s skills?” Imogene said.

“Is it something bad?” Jude said.

“No! It’s something very good. Now let’s sit down and think. There’s still lots to do if we want to put on a Talent Show.”

“Like what?” said Jules.

“Like flyers and we need a stage and a curtain.”

“I want to fly,” said Ellie.

“No, not flying. Flyers are pieces of paper used to invite people to a show. Let’s go ask Grammie for some construction paper and crayons, and let’s go ask Grandpa about using the porch as a stage.”

“I bet Grandpa can make a curtain,” Bruce said.

“I bet he can. Let’s go!”

(Several Hours Later)

Aunt Abby stood on the steps of the front porch. A curtain hung behind her hiding giggling cousins. Arranged before her was two rows of chairs. Great Gran, Grammie and Grandpa, Matt and Ruth, Emily and Brian, Jason and Joy, Liz and Brad, and Price all clapped loudly with their different colored fliers in their laps as Aunt Abby introduced the first cousins.

“Ladies and gentlemen, ” she said in a loud voice. “Please welcome Jude to the stage here to impress you with his perfect and award-winning smile.”

Jude toddled out from behind the curtain after a gentle push from Constance and stared at his family. His mamma, Emily, gave him an encouraging smile. Jude grinned from ear to ear. Everyone clapped and Jude smiled even bigger. Everyone clapped agreeing that Jude had a wonderful smile.

Aunt Abby announced Imogene after hurrying Jude down to his waiting parents. Imogene bowed to the audience, ran out around them and leapt at the tree in the flower bed. With nimble fingers and toes she climbed the trunk. Clinging to branches, she made her way to the very top where she waved at the family. Every one applauded while she climbed back down and ran to her Mom and Dad.

“Next up,” Aunt Abby said, “We have Joshua.”

Joshua came out from behind the curtain with Aunt Liz’s dog, Violet, at his side. His blue eyes sparkled.

“Sit Violet.”

Violet licked his face with a big wet tongue and sat down.

Everyone cheered.

“Lay down, Violet.”

The dog laid down, resting her huge head on her paws.

“Bang!” yelled Joshua pointing his fingers like a gun.

Violet rolled over on her side.

The family laughed and laughed, clapping at Joshua’s trick. He gave them a deep bow and took Violet down to Aunt Liz before climbing up in his Daddy’s lap.

Ellie came next with her perfect smile. She bowed to her family and then said, “I’m not afraid.”
With arms flung wide, she jumped off the porch, over all three steps, and landed perfectly in Grammie’s path. Several Mommies gasped and then everyone cheered. Ellie giggled and sat down.

Constance followed her out with a handful of flowers clutched tightly. She smiled shyly and held the flowers up for everyone to see. “This is a Bluebonnet, the state flower of Texas,” she said. “And this is a rose, and this is a daisy, and this is an Indian Paint Brush, and this one is yellow.” Then she reached in her pocket and pulled out a rock. “And these are rocks. They’re very pretty.”

“Woot woot!” cheered Aunt Liz. Everyone joined in clapping loudly. Matt even stood up to clap louder.

Constance blushed and hurried to her Mama.

“Bruce, please come share your Talent,” Aunt Abby said.

“No!”

“Please,” Aunt Abby said.

Bruce peaked around the curtain at the audience. Uncle Jason yelled his name. Everyone started chanting, “Bruce. Bruce. Bruce.”

Stepping out, he held up his fist, closed tightly.

“Do you know what it is?” he asked.

“NO!” everyone answered at once.

He opened it to reveal a four-inch long grasshopper. It leapt from his fingers off into Grammie’s flowerbed.

“And I have this,” Bruce reached into his pocket and produced a long earthworm. It slithered to the end of this fingers and he dropped it in the dirt.

“Last, this,” he reached behind the curtain and produced a jar. Inside sat a large yellow and black swallowtail butterfly.

“It’s so pretty,” Constance said from the audience.

Bruce opened the jar and the butterfly flew away while the crowd oohed and ahhed.

“Yay Bruce,” Aunt Abby said clapping to send him off to sit with his parents.

“Last, but far from least, we will end this most impressive Talent Show with Jules.”

Aunt Abby waved her hand at the curtain.

Jules stepped out and clasped her hands in front of her.

“For my Talent, I’m going to recite a poem:

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

Jules bowed. Jason stood, applauding loudly. Everyone else stood cheering, yelling, and clapping.

“What was that?” Aunt Em said.

Jason bopped her on the head. “Tolkien of course.”

Em sighed. “Of course.”

Aunt Abby waved all the cousins back onto the porch and they all bowed to their adoring audience.

“Watch what I can do?” Bruce said. He blew a giant raspberry.

Jules, Constance, Joshua, Ellie, Imogene, and Jude took one glance at him and all blew a raspberry as loudly and slobbery as they could.

“If you can’t beat them,” Aunt Abby said. “Join them. ” She blew a raspberry too.

The End

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Jules and Ellie! Sisters forever!

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The rest of the cousins. Lord Willing, I’ll get a picture of all of us at Christmas!

A Texas Cousins Adventure: Fall is Coming, We Hope

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“It’s HOT!” said Aunt Abby.

“No it isn’t!” shouted Bruce with that sparkle in his eye that said he disagreed to tease.

Aunt Abby scooped him up and tickled him until he screamed.

Joshua laughed and laughed. “Tickle me, tickle me.”

From the front steps of the Grammie’s porch, Jules and Constance watched while they blew big, beautiful bubbles.

“Aunt Abby. Aunt Abby,” Ellie said tugging on Aunt Abby’s jeans. “Tell us a story.”

“Yes!” said Imogene dancing through Grammie’s pumpkin patch.

“NOOOOO!” squealed Bruce almost unable to speak through his giggles.

“Yes!” said Jude unsure of what he wanted but knowing it was the most fun to disagree with Bruce!

“Oh no! Bruce and Jude disagree!” Aunt Abby said theatrically with her hand to her heart.

The seven cousins stopped every busy thing they were doing and stared at her.

“What?” Aunt Abby said.

“You’re silly,” said Bruce.

“So are you!” said Aunt Abby.

Once everyone who wanted to be tickled was tickled and even a few who didn’t, Aunt Abby herded them all inside for some cold water and a story.


Once upon a time, there was a drought over the land. It seemed like summer would never end. It seemed like the long hot days that bleached the sky white and trapped every Texan inside would continue forever. Seven cousins sat on the back porch looked out over the brown grass, the giant grasshoppers, and the wilted trees. Jules, the oldest, sighed.

“I wish it wasn’t so hot.”

“Me too,” said Constance, the second oldest. “It’s too hot to even go find bugs and things.”

“No it isn’t,” said Bruce who couldn’t believe there was ever a time when it wasn’t a good idea to go find bugs. His baby brother, Jude, completely agreed.

“I don’t think it’s too hot to go find bugs,” Jude said.

“Me either,” said Joshua, Constance’s little brother.

“Let’s go bug hunting then!” said Ellie. “It can be an Adventure! Adventures are the best!”

Imogene leapt up ready to go. The sun glinted in her red hair. “I’ll go with you!”

The giant scramble off the front porch didn’t result in any injuries, but did produce quite a few yells and screams and laughter.

Out into the grasshopper infested yard, the children ran wild. The hot sun beat down on their fair skin. Jules wiped the sweat out of her eyes as Bruce charged up with a three-inch grasshopper wiggling in his fingers.

“Look! I got one!”

“Me too!” said Joshua.

Constance, Imogene, Ellie, and Jude danced and dashed after their intended prey but the grasshoppers stayed a few hoops away from the cousins.

“Gross, Bruce!” Jules said.

“I don’t say that,” Jules hissed. “That’s what Aunt Liz always says.”

“I know,” Aunt Abby said. “But since this is a story about all of you and not about Aunt Liz, you get to say what she always says.”

“I guess that’s okay,” Jules said.

“Good,” said Aunt Abby.

Imogene stopped chasing her grasshopper and stepped under Grammie’s tree.

“My skin is warm,” she said holding out her arm for Constance to inspect.

“It’s a sunburn,” Constance whispered.

“My eyes hurt,” Jude said squinting up at the bright sky.

“Don’t look at the sun!” Jules said. “It will make you go blind.”

All the cousins immediately looked down at their toes and only peeked up at the sky.

“It’s too hot to chase bugs,” Ellie said, her face red and warm.

Bruce brushed his hair back out of his face. It stuck out heavy with sweat.

“We should go in,” he said. “It’s just too hot.”

“Look!” Imogene shouted. “A butterfly!”

A huge orange and black butterfly fluttered by the seven cousins. It headed back towards Grandpa and Grammie’s shaded porch. The seven children chased after it. Just as they came up on the porch, the butterfly twisted in the air and flew back out in the yard. Grammie came out the door with a bucket full of ice.

“Look Grammie,” Constance said pointing. “It’s a butterfly.”

“It’s a monarch butterfly,” Grammie said. “Do you know what that means?”

Seven serious cousins shook their heads.

“It means fall’s coming.

“Fall?” Imogene said.

“Yes, and after fall, after pumpkins, leaves, and cold east winds, comes Christmas!”

All seven cousins cheered!

“Christmas is the best,” shouted Jules.

“Yes it is,” Grammie said. “Now, who wants to play in the pool?”

“Me!” A chorus went up. Grammie turned on the hose, filled the pool, and added the bucket of ice to keep everyone cool.


“The End!” said Aunt Abby.

“Is it true?” asked Constance.

“What?”

“That fall’s coming?”

“I hope so,” Aunt Abby said. “And I did see a Monarch butterfly the other day.”

“No,” Constance said. “Not today. Maybe fall can come tomorrow.”

“Oh,” Aunt Abby said. “Okay. Maybe tomorrow. But today is still summer.”

“Yes!”

“Then fall,” Aunt Abby said.

“Then Christmas,” Imogene, Jules, Constance, Ellie, Joshua, Jude, and Bruce all said at once.

“Then Christmas,” Aunt Abby agreed.

And the seven little cousins did just like their make-believe selves and hurried out to play in the pool singing Jingle Bells all the way.

The End

Just a few Notes:

1) I’ve been on vacation and realized half way through writing this short story that this post was supposed to be about the Secret Agents. My sincere apologies to anyone I left hanging who has patiently waited for the next part and now must wait for another week. I’m very sorry.

2) A very very happy birthday to my baby sister Liz who is not only one of my truest and dearest friends in the world, but also one of the most beautiful mothers I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Love you! This Christmas story is for you.

Imogene with a friend looking a bit like she aims to misbehave.

Imogene with a friend looking a bit like she aims to misbehave.

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

One of my favorite faces!

One of my favorite faces!

Jude, our littlest man!

Jude, our littlest man!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

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My muses! I hope at Christmas to get me with all seven of the cousins!