The Six and the Dragon Realm – Excerpt 1 (The Six, Book 2)

This excerpt is from the working draft of The Six and the Dragon Realm, the sequel to The Six and the Magic Circles. The book is still on the drawing please be aware that this is a draft and may or may not appear in the book as is presented (and may not be in the book at all, in fact). As a book is written it evolves, so not only is it possible this passage will change, but the working title may not even remain the same. Nothing is definite until publication.

Excerpt, The Six and the Dragon Realm:

“Wow! Look at us.” Leyton was wide-eyed. “We age shifted again. What’s going on?”

The kids examined each other. Then Mady looked at Anusha and said, “When we picked you up, you already looked little older than you did on our quest for the golden flowers, but you haven’t changed after going through this portal. Why did the rest of us change?”

Magus explained, “When you went through the faery portal to Falhaven, you became ten years old. That’s what faery portals do. Coming into Falhaven you become ten, leaving Falhaven you revert to your actual ages. You not only left Falhaven but traveled through a unicorn portal to reach Ormorlin, so you returned to your actual ages.”

“But Anusha . . .”

“Anusha is an elf,” interrupted Magus. “The ages of magical beings are not affected by portals.”

“Okay. So now only Garrett is 10,” Leyton said. “I’m 9, Mady is 12, Grayson is 16, and the Will and Grant are 13.”

“Yeah, Sherlock. Just like Magus said, same as at home,” said Grant.

Garrett nodded curtly. “Just checking.”

Gray grabbed him and knuckled his head. “How will I be able to concentrate on the problems of this realm if I have to babysit the rest of you?”

Garrett laughed and said, “Babysit! Hah! We all have powers and none of us need babysitting.”

A chorus of “yeah” and “he’s right” came from the rest of the group.

Grayson grinned and said, “Just kidding. I know you have powers, and I remember you saved my bacon more than once on our last quest.”

“Last quest? Don’t you mean our only quest?” laughed Grant. “I remember only one.”

With the age question resolved, the kids began to notice their surroundings. They all stared wide-eyed as they slowly turned, taking in the healing camp in Ormorlin. A river ran through the center of the cavern allowing boats to pull right into the middle chamber. That is, when the huge flow-through gate protecting the entrance was opened.

As in the camp they had just left, ornate lamps similar to old English gas street lamps lit the cavern as brightly as daylight. This was dragon land where magic is powerful, so the kids wondered if the lamps were gas lights or magic lights.

Bridge-like stairs wound up both sides of the cavern leading to doorways, some with actual doors and some without. Along the river in the central chamber were lovely resting areas, like comfortable indoor parks. Bridges with ornate railings spanned the river. Fancy, decorative carvings and columns added to the splendor.

“Looks like a river, but that big body of water we flew over looked like an lake or a sea,” said Will. “If it is, this is not really a river but a sort of inlet.”

“This can’t be a temporary healing camp. It seems more like an ancient village,” said Grant as though he’d not heard Will’s remark.

“You’re both right,” said Magus. “We call it a river, but it is not. And this really is a healing camp, but it’s in the Hidden Village of the Nabolians. I believe the village has been here for centuries. I think perhaps larger creatures than the Nabolians built it and lived here in the past.”

Just then a group of hairless round people came out of one of the upper doors and paraded down the stairs on thin legs, smiling from ear to ear, tall ears twitching and wiggling. It looked like Nabs had cloned himself. Even the females looked like Nabs.

“Welcome, welcome,” they said, each speaking over one another.

Immediately the kids felt comfortable. The Nabolians were friendly little people.

“Follow us to your rooms,” they said, speaking over one another again.

“Rooms?” questioned Mady.

“Yes,” said Magus. “We’ll camp here for a short time. In the morning, the War Council will meet with you and explain some things. Meanwhile, you should get some rest. Oh, and the mountain elves have made warm, mountain outfits for you. They’ll be in your rooms.”

“Will it be that cold?” asked Mady.

“If you go up into the mountains, and I believe you will. But that has not been decided. Still, you must be prepared.” Magus nodded at the smiling group of Nabs. Half of them escorted the kids and Anusha to adjoining rooms on an upper level. The other half led the critters away.

It was late and the kids were exhausted after their trip, and all fell asleep even as they were wondering if they were capable of whatever was expected. Could they do what was necessary to save Ormorlin and stop the evil wizard?

The Red Pearl (Excerpt 2)

This scene from The Red Pearl involves the evil wizard Horobah and the captured prince.  Disclaimer: this is an unedited draft and may or may not appear in the completed work.

“Come now, Princling. Have you no manners? Is it not customary for a guest to greet his host and thank him for his hospitality?”

Staring into Horobah’s colorless eyes was like looking into translucent ice in which small black bugs of pupils had been frozen. Malik dropped his gaze only to stare into the empty eye sockets of a small, fanged skull suspended from Horobah’s neck. The sight loosened his tongue.

“Are you not aware of the curse that will befall you if I am harmed? Surely you do not think having your minions do the deed will absolve you. The onus will be on your head. The curse will find you.” Malik wasn’t sure of this, but it seemed likely that the curse would have such provisions.

Horbah laughed, or at lest Malik thought that’s what is was. It sounded more like the mating cries of the ornigress than human laughter. But then, he reflected, Horobah may not be entirely human.

Princling, Princeling. That curse is only activated upon your demise. My hospitality does not include your assassination.”

“Your minions spoke of the Prince Vicus Kador assuming the throne upon my father’s death. If I live, he cannot become heir to the throne.”

“You err, Princling. He will assume the throne if you have disappeared.”

“Do you propose to keep me prisoner for the rest of my life, then? I promise you I will make your life miserable.I will continue attempting to escape until I become free. Then I will make your life even more miserable. I will be the Rijar Dominus and I will return — with all the power of the Rijarik Realm behind me.”

“You will not escape me, Princling.”

“I will. And what do you gain from taking this risk? What benefit to you putting Prince Vicus Kador on the throne?”

“I will gain power,” Horobah said as he spread his arms. The flowing sleeves of his filthy raploch burnoose hung from his upraised arms like wings. With his large, sharp nose, colorless eyes, and malicious grin, he looked like an immense bird of prey about to swoop down from the dais to attack Malik. “I will have control. I will have Rijarik Realm. And when I have Rijarik, I will take Rhitwizah Queendom.”

The Six and the Magic Circles (Excerpt 4)

In this excerpt, The Six are just entering the caverns and tunnels through the mountains. They are accompanied by the elf princess named Anusha, the young dragons named Ardopla and Parmaka who are the size of horses, and Griff, a young griffin. Again, a disclaimer – this is an unedited draft and may not be exactly the same in the published version.

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The kids and the animals fell in line with Anusha at the lead. With all the twists and turns around blue stalagmites and stalactites and various blue knobs and stones, the kids were already worried about losing their way, but Anusha assured them they were headed in the general direction of east.

Soon they arrived at a huge arch that Anusha said they would pass through. Standing beneath it, Grayson looked up and estimated the thing rose at least two hundred feet.

He turned to look at Grant. “Arches are inherently unstable. Architects have special forms, special patterns to construct arches to make them steady and secure. You think nature knows the rules?”

Grant raised his eyebrows, “You worried it will collapse on us? It looks like it’s been here for a few years, like thousands. Chances are it won’t decide to collapse just as we pass under it. Just don’t cough, anyone!”

With a warning like that, of course, every one of them got a tickle, even the animals. Trying to speed along and ignore their tickles, they became more and more tense. Suddenly, Griff coughed long and loud. The whole group came to a standstill and peered upwards.

Grant laughed, “I was only joking about the coughing.”

The others just stared at him. Finally, Mady threatened, “You wanna get kicked off this team? You wanna find your way through this maze on your own?”

Grant merely grinned. He knew they wouldn’t kick him out of the group. Would they? His smile faded, and he mumbled, “Sorry,” just in case.

Passing through the arch brought them into a massive hallway or tunnel. Suddenly the blues were gone and the light was dimmer. Everything looked a gray-green

“Kinda dark,” Grant mumbled, still a little worried about being kicked out of the group.

“We’re now past the light from the cavern mouth, and this dim light is the lichen I told you about. Like I said, not bright but you can see where to put your feet – and no jokes, Grant,” said Anusha.

She looked at Grant as though expecting him to make a joke, anyway. He looked back with big, innocent eyes.

“We need to be alert. You never know what may be lurking behind the big rocks or in the crevasses in the walls,” said Anusha. “Will, maybe you can tell the animals to be alert, too.”

Now that was scary. Put on alert already! They were barely into the cave. And the dim light was hardly brighter than moonlight in the woods. Will glowed and went unfocused. He was mindspeaking to Parmaka, Ardopla, and Griff. He nodded to Anusha, and she led them forward.

Tense and worried after Anusha’s warning, they continued on their way, looking all around for monsters. It was hard to continue to concentrate on being alert, though. They were not yet accustomed to the dark and the floor of the tunnel was not smooth. Not at all. Stones, large and small, littered the path they were walking on. So although trying to be alert, watching their steps took part of their concentration. Walking through that rubble was noisy, too, so they were straining to listen for anything that might be sneaking around in there.

Suddenly, a loud screech echoed through the cavern! As tense as they were, the kids jumped, spun around, and shrieked. The dragons and Griff made weird noises and plastered themselves against the kids. Being bigger than horses, the dragons knocked the kids down. Seven kids on the ground yelled at the animals.

“Get away!”

“Don’t step on me!”

“Move off me!”

After a few minutes, it was hard to know if they were yelling at the animals or at the each other. And the animals were still making frightened noises. The cavern echoed with all the yelling and stumbling around. Finally everyone was sorted out and back on their feet.

“What was that noise?” asked Leyton. “It was horrible.”

“Screechers,” Anusha said. “They can be mean and dangerous, but they may not be so near. Their screeches travel a long way.”

“Well, we made so much noise anyone within a mile now knows we’re here,” said Grant. “It was sort of like ringing the dinner bell. Dinner’s here. Come and get it.”

“Not funny, Grant,” said Mady. “I’m warning you. I’ll throw you out of the group with my ring.”

“So I’ll go invisible. You won’t be able to find me to throw me anywhere.”

“Come on, you guys,” said Will. “We’re all tired and tense. Ragging on each other isn’t going to make this trek any easier.”

Grant and Mady looked at each other sheepishly. They hung their heads. At the same time, like a duet, they said, “Sorry.”

Their heads shot up, and they grinned. Then they started laughing. Soon the whole group was laughing. Except the animals.

Garrett thought they were grinning. But it’s hard to tell when an eagle beak and two dragon snouts are grinning.

The Six and the Magic Circles Excerpt 3

Again, a disclaimer. This is a first draft so it may change before publication or may be omitted entirely. Nothing is certain with first drafts.


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Garrett may have sounded a bit apprehensive when he hollered down to ask what he should do, but now Leyton looked up into the tree and saw he was sitting on a branch swinging his legs.

“Garrett, what are you doing?” Leyton called, worried that his cousin wasn’t being careful.

Garrett grinned as he looked down. “Just waiting for you guys to decide how I should get down.”

Grant looked up. “Garrett! Are you secured to the tree? It’s dangerous up there.”

“Nope. Just sitting here. How dangerous could that be? Don’t need to be tied to the tree.”

Grayson sighed. “Garrett!” he called. “You secure yourself right now. Don’t be so cocky. You never know when you may slip.”

“Not me. I’m a good tree climber.”

Suddenly a raucous “Screee!” sounded loud and close. Garrett startled and slipped, “Whoops!”

Everyone on the ground caught their breaths and peered upwards.

“You okay?” Leyton called in a shaky voice.

“Yeah.” Garrett still sounded confident, although his confidence had slipped a bit. “Oh, oh. That feathered giant doesn’t seem happy with me.” With shooing motions, he yelled, “Get away. Go on.”

But the bird continued to fly directly at Garrett, actually flying against him, knocking him off his seat.

“Oh, oh,” said Leyton. “He slipped. He’s falling! Mady, do some magic!”

Thumbs playing nervously in her loose fists, she replied, “Leyton, I don’t know how to do magic.”

“Well, you did some last night. You have to save Garrett. He’ll break his neck!”

“Garrett! Don’t fall!” screamed Mady. “Hang on. Don’t fall.”

But it was too late. Garrett was already plunging through the air.

Suddenly Mady’s ring flared a bright blue, burning a path upward toward Garrett. Then her eyes flared a matching bright blue streaking toward the falling kid. Garrett’s downward progression slammed to a stop; he hung in midair with no discernible means of support!

He grinned down at Mady. “Hey, Mady, let me down easy, will ya?”

Still not quite believing she was making magic happen, Mady looked astounded. Shrugging, she held out her hands, palms up, making motions as though she would catch him in her cupped hands. “Come down, Garrett. Come down slowly and land gently.”

Now bathed in a gentle blue light that emanated from her eyes, Garrett descended slowly and lit as gracefully as a bird, still grinning. “Knew you’d do it, Mady.”

Leyton threw his arms around his sister and said, “Mady, that was great! You’re the boss! You can make magic happen!”

“Yes,” said Mady. “It appears I can, at that. But how?”

“Dunno. But you had scary blue streaks coming from your eyes.” Remembering that, Leyton dropped the hug and stared at her as if she were some sort of ghoul. The others were looking at her with some evidence of trepidation, as well.

Mady didn’t notice. She was moving her hands and appeared to be whispering to herself.

Magic Spell Jar Post Eleven (41-45)

41. Tear, Tear, Tare

Tear with an ear sound TEER is a droplet of moisture from your eye. I laughed so hard a tear ran down my legs.

Tear with an air sound means to rip. Don’t tear the page from that book.

Tare is also pronounced with an air sound. It is the weight of the packaging of an item. If you are weighing a steak, you need to deduct the tare weight before pricing.

 42. Right, Write, Rite

Right means correct. Or it can mean a position: The right answer can be found in the first chapter. Your right side is opposite your left side. I have seen the left side referred to as the sinister side.

Write is to mark something down on paper or other substance. You can write in steam or frost on your window pane.

Do you write right on the wet cement with your right hand? Confusing?

Rite is a ceremony, often religious but not always.  Baptism is a rite. Use this spelling in the common phrase “rite of passage” referring to a coming of age encounter or act.

43.Peak, Peek, Pique

Pique is also pronounced like peek. It means slight anger or a bad mood or a snit. Or to put someone in such a mood or create an interest in something. The song piqued an interest in bongo drums. In a fit of pique, he threw the pen to the floor.

Peak is the uppermost, like a peak of a mountain.

Peek is to look, usually furtively.

Early in the morning the sun will peek over the mountain peak.

44. Shoe, shoo

Shoe is what you wear on your foot.

Shoo is to chase out, usually gently.

Recently I read a line that went, “He was a shoe in.” It conjured a picture of a boot thrown into a circle. Of course, the writer should have said, “He was a shoo in,” meaning an easy win of a contest or election.”

45.  Site, Sight

Site is a place, like a contstruction site or a web site.

The site had a long and goofy address;

Sight has to do with vision.

The sight of the snow made me shiver, although I was in a nice warm room looking through a window.


Thank God for Mama! (The Polio Story)

Deborah & Alvin Sather 1938

Deborah and Alvin (Taken 1938)


Thank God for Mama!

 Mama – Deborah Graff Sather 

10-15-1917 —- 11-05-2010

This child has polio.

Just after the school term began, Deborah’s children became ill.  Being farm children, exposure to circumstances conducive for contracting infectious diseases was very limited. When she learned that polio was endemic in the area in the fall of 1946, Deborah further reduced the risks by keeping the school-aged child out of school for the term and the entire family as isolated as possible. Only necessary trips to town for supplies were made.  Still the three children, approximately 8, 4, and 3 years of age, became ill.

The first to fall victim to the dreaded poliomyelitis was Dean, the youngest of Deb’s children at the time.  The family had visited Deborah’s brother and his family the day before, where the children had played on a pile of gravel/sand. Dean, young and a little unsteady in the sand, had fallen and bruised his face on a wheel.  The next day, Monday, he complained of neck pain.  When Deborah noticed a decreased ability to rotate his head, she worried that he had injured his neck in the previous day’s accident and decided he needed to see a doctor.

“The fall against the wheel turned out to be a lucky thing,” she said.  “Otherwise we may not have realized it was polio so quickly, and early diagnosis was important.  Some children in the area were not diagnosed immediately, and their treatment was not as effective.”

Since there was no doctor in Greenbush at the time, Dean was taken to a doctor in Thief River Falls.  After a quick look at the child and lifting his limbs, the doctor said, “This child has polio.”

The Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis was the hospital of choice for polio victims from Northern Minnesota, but they were overwhelmed with polio patients and at the time of Dean’s diagnosis had no beds available.  Deborah was told to take the child home, apply hot packs, keep the room temperature at 80 degrees, and give him the pills the doctor supplied.  So, the family, including Dean, returned home.  It was the beginning of a winter of woe.

The next day, the middle child was cranky and complaining of flu-like symptoms.  Deb immediately made her own diagnosis, and Eunice was promptly subjected to the same treatments Dean was receiving.

The following day, Wednesday, the oldest, Alvin, was startled during his morning routine.  “Mama,” he called in a voice filled with surprise, “I can’t tie my shoes.  I can’t reach.”

Mama knew her third child had succumbed to the dread disease.  All of her children now had polio.  This was later confirmed by the doctor who came out to the house to check on the family (a housecall!).  “He told me that all three children had polio.  I already knew that,” Deborah said.  With all three unable to move, there was little question.


The children experienced pain as the muscles contracted, pulling their heads back and arching their backs.  The doctor had recommended hot packs, preferably 100% wool, kept hot by changing them every three hours and pills that apparently were either sedatives or muscle relaxants or perhaps both. Soon the children could lie flat on their backs, but were unable to change position.  In a matter of a few days, Deborah’s feisty, active children had been reduced to motionless, bedridden patients who could move only their eyeballs, and breathe and speak.

“But they didn’t say al,eunice,dean,dogmuch,” said Deborah. “They slept a lot. The doctor gave me pills to add to their food.” She doesn’t remember what kind they were, but along with the hot packs, the pills seemed to make the children both drowsy and more comfortable.

The neighbors

Like the majority of their neighbors, the family had no phone.  Still, the news traveled quickly.  Reluctant to expose themselves and their families to the dreaded virus, the neighbors wanted no close contact, but they were concerned.  They’d drive into the yard, stop near the barn, and call across the yard to ask how the children were doing. When they learned the family was in need of things easily supplied without exposure to the disease, the neighbors rallied.

The Sathers needed 100% wool for hot packs.  Did anyone have blankets that could be cut into strips?  People had blankets, but they weren’t 100% wool.  Who had woolen cloth?  The ultra-conservative wife an old farmer who wore only 100% woolen underwear had packed his old, worn-out, woolen underwear away. Though everyone wondered why she’d kept the old ragged things, the underwear solved the problem! They were brought out, cut up, and pressed into service for hot packs. Other neighbors gathered up old shirts for “hospital gowns” for the children.  Uncle Ove, whose wife had died, supplied a bedpan he no longer needed.

”So the children were dressed in men’s old shirts and wrapped in old Charlie Haug’s ragged underwear,” said Deborah with a chuckle.

Doctor’s orders

As per the doctor’s instructions, the hot packs were wrapped around the muscled areas of their bodies, avoiding the joints.  Although the children were completely paralyzed, their joints were mobile, enabling Deborah to lift and move limbs when applying the packs.  She also could prop their bodies at a slant to feed them soups and liquids. “They couldn’t lift their arms or even curl their fingers around a cup, so they had to be fed like little birds,” Deborah said.  To avoid choking, no solids could be fed, but with Deborah’s cream soups, the ever-ready cod liver oil, and lack of exercise, the children more-or-less maintained their weight.

A couple of days after Dean’s visit to the doctor in Thief River Falls, Deborah received a call informing her that a bed was available at the Sister Kenny Hospital.  By that time, her other children were sick.  “I didn’t want one sick child in Minneapolis and two in Greenbush.  I thought I may as well keep them all at home.”


“Old Home Hospital”

The family lived in a tall old house with a small footprint — only a kitchen, pantry, living room, and one bedroom on the first floor.   The house had no bathroom because there was no running water (as some wag said, we only had running water when someone ran out to the well to fetch it). The kitchen boasted a wood-burning range with a reservoir where water was stored and ‘‘automatically” heated when the range was stoked.  For larger amounts of hot water, an oblong copper tub that spanned a two-burner area of the range served as the “water heater.”  Someone, of course, had to carry buckets of water to fill the reservoir and the tubs.  Someone also had to carry wood to heat the water.  Since Alfred, the father of the family, avoided dealing directly with the illness, the fetching chores fell to him.

For nursing convenience after the polio struck, the children needed to be on the same floor and in separate beds, which limited choices.  The oldest was given the bed in the downstairs bedroom.  For the youngest, a crib was placed in the living room, and the middle child was placed on the living room couch.  By default, Alfred was relegated to one of the upstairs bedrooms – the only “non-hospital quarters” remaining. With the kitchen being the water-heating and hot-pack-prepping center and the living room and bedroom patient rooms, the entire main floor of the house was essentially a medical center/hospital with a medical staff of one.

Medical staff

Deborah dedicated herself entirely to the children for the duration.  The doctor had recommended hot packs and the pills he’d given her.  Deborah felt pressured to keep to the hot-pack schedule to reduce the chances of permanent paralysis.

And the hot packs were hot!  Deborah used a stick to remove the packs from the copper tub.  “When applying them to the children,” she said, “I’d handle them with the tips of my fingers, and they were very hot.  I worried that the children would blister, but the field nurse told me not to worry, because they wouldn’t blister. She was right, none of the children blistered.”

Deborah diligently prepared and changed the packs every three hours, often completing a round of changing packs and feeding just in time to begin again.  When she could finish the round with a little time to spare, she’d collapse at the foot of the bed of the oldest child to nap for a few minutes.

Household staff

That’s if she had the time, because clothes had to be washed.  This wasn’t a matter of throwing a load into an automatic washer.  “We did have the convenience of a gas-powered agitator washer, though,” said Deborah.  And soup had to be made. “For the first time, Alfred had to make coffee and sandwiches to go with the soup, if he wanted a meal.  I didn’t have time to prepare meals.”

Surprisingly, the family was not officially quarantined, but there was no household help, hired or volunteer, to be obtained.  Still, without quarantine, Alfred could go to town for supplies so they did not have to rely on people dropping off supplies.

Deborah avoids answering questions about her fears for the children’s futures.  She says she didn’t have time to think about that.  But she couldn’t know what the outcome would be; she couldn’t know if the children would be crippled for the rest of their lives. So we can only imagine the fears, tears, and prayers that had to have accompanied the difficult routine of caring for her three paralyzed children.


In the spring, Deborah was wearily changing packs on the oldest child yet again when she noticed he moved a toe!  She couldn’t believe her eyes!  She asked him if he could do it again, and he complied!

Alfred was in the kitchen having a cup of coffee.  “Alfred!” she called, “Alfred! Alvin moved his toe!”  Alfred rushed in.  He wanted to see it for himself, so they asked Alvin to do it again. Again he complied, so Alfred saw it, too!  Although he could not move his leg, he had actually moved his toe!  This was an exciting day!

As time passed, the children began moving more and more, and the hot packs gave way to tub soaks. The children sat in a galvanized tub of hot water for twenty minute intervals, which soon became a boring stretch for them.  When Alfred made a run to town for supplies, Deborah asked him to pick up something to entertain the children while soaking in the tub.  He brought yellow rubber duckies.

Soon the children were moving around enough to look for entertainment outside the tub, as well.  Because warmth was a consideration and the floors were cold, the couch was put into double bed position so Dean could be removed from the crib and placed with Eunice where they could crawl around and play.

The doctor from Thief River Falls made another house call one day when the children were crawling around on the couch.  He took one look, grinned, and confirmed Deborah’s assessment, “Yup, they’re getting better.”

By the end of the school year, Alvin was doing well enough to be taken to his little country school to take his exams to determine whether he had passed his grade. After he was sufficiently on the road to recovery, Deborah had been home-schooling him.  He passed, of course.  Mama had tutored as she did everything else – effectively.

Alvin, the oldest polio child, remembers

Al, the oldest, remembers the children falling ill, but remembers nothing of the time of paralysis. He recovered first and remembers being brought in to see his sister after all those weeks of illness.  “This may not sound very nice,” he says, “but I remember looking at her and thinking, “Oh, yuck!”

He cannot recall what prompted the comment, but agrees that it may have been that she looked ill – or that after all that time, he’d forgotten he had a sister and wasn’t thrilled about it.

Eunice, the middle polio child, remembers

Eunice remembers nothing of the time of paralysis, but does recall riding in the car and mother exclaiming over Dean’s inability to turn his head properly.  In this memory, it seems that the moment is quite intense.

She also recalls the long soaking baths in a round galvanized tub and the yellow rubber duckies they were given to entertain them in the tub.  These were perhaps the first toys the children had received in months. Deborah says these soaks were twenty minutes each time, but Eunice remembers that they seemed long, hours long!

Eunice remembers learning to walk.  She has a snapshot memory — they were in the kitchen in front of the door leading to the upstairs near the kitchen range.  Mother was holding her up and Father kneeling in front of her coaxing her to come to him.

“Eunice had the most trouble learning to walk again.  It seemed her legs were disconnected from her brain and no messages were getting through,” said Deborah. “I held her hands to keep her upright and her father crawled along pumping her legs trying to show her what to do.”

Dean, the youngest polio child, remembers

Dean, too, remembers the incident in the car involving his inability to turn his head normally.  The time of paralysis is a blank to him, too.  But he does remember the oblong copper tub upon the space heater in the living room.

The space heater was a new one.  “We got a new heater so we’d have better control over maintaining a constant 80 degrees as the doctor recommended,” said Deborah.  The tub full of water for hot packs sat there simmering day and night for months.

And he remembers learning to walk.  “Mom held me up and Dad pumped my legs,” he says.

Exercises and tears – the children remember

All the children remember the exercises–the horrible dreaded exercises, the painful   stretching of the cords.  Oh, how we hated “exercise time.” Every night we’d have this wonderful “family experience” with the three kids complaining and crying while Mama encouraged and enforced. Daddy apparently hid out somewhere.

It was discouraging; we didn’t seem to make any progress.  We’d stretch and stretch those cords, and they seemed to “shrink” before the next evening, because we had to stretch them again. Growing exacerbated the problem—as our bodies grew the cords either didn’t grow or didn’t keep up.  And that stretching hurt!  Oh, the tears!

The leg exercises were the most painful.  One of the hated exercises consisted of standing with legs straight–no knee bending—and reaching down to touch our toes. It hurt; we’d cry, Mama would try to encourage us by exercising with us.  She could do the most amazing thing!  She could reach down and put hands flat on floor!  None of us could do that, and Mama was old (or so we thought).

The most horrible of all the exercises, though, was to sit on the floor with legs outstretched–no bending of the knees–then bend the torso until the head touched the knees.  We’d try and try, and it would hurt so much.  We did not get an A for effort.  We did not get excused for pain. If we couldn’t do it, if we couldn’t get that head all the way down, Mama would push until we got there.  Oh, how it hurt!

Without Mama’s daily encouragement and enforcement there is no doubt that we would have skipped the exercises.  Even as we grew older and knew, without the exercises, we could end up with useless, crippled limbs, I believe we would have found excuses to avoid exercising.  We didn’t want to be crippled, but oh, it hurt to exercise.  We hated those exercises so much!

Thank God for Mama!  Mama knew about tough love before it was a catchphrase!  Mama cared about our futures more than she cared about being popular with her kids!  But as I recall, Mama’s unpopularity usually lasted only about as long as each exercise session.  And not one of us entered adulthood with crippled or atrophied limbs. And all of us learned to deal with pain.  And I like to believe that our exercise sessions built character, too.

Post-polio syndrome

Alvin PPS

Only one of the children had any visible after-effects from the polio; Alvin had a barely discernable limp when he was tired. The limp was so slight, it’s doubtful anyone other than family noticed.  Though none of the children seemed as agile and limber as other children, this was not really noticeable either.

Deborah had asked the school to excuse Al from football when he returned to school.  At some point, though, Al did participate in football – and the next morning he required help to arise from the bed.  “I was so mad,” Deborah said. “After all the effort to get all the kids past polio, he was back to being unable to get out of bed.”  However, from this, too, Al recovered with no ill effects.

Al does not admit to post polio symptoms, but his gait seems to indicate leg muscle problems.  However, he has experienced severe back problems much of his life, which could also affect his gait. He also has some palsy in his hands as he’s grown older, and has some vision problems. He’s had cancer and a stroke, which may account for his symptoms.

Eunice PPS

In her twenties, Eunice found she could not tolerate dressing her long hair, which required holding her hands above and behind her head for sustained periods of time.  At the time, she thought little of it and merely did what was necessary – cut her hair.  Only recently, she’s begun to suspect it was the first onset of post-polio syndrome.

As Eunice edged into middle-age, late forties, early fifties, she began experiencing fatigue and pain in her legs that seemingly could not be totally explained by cardio-vascular disease, and some of her doctors began mentioning post-polio syndrome as a possibility.

Then over-all fatigue became a problem, enough to interfere with her routine.  It would often take two or three days to recover from a clinic visit or a shopping day; any unusual activity, trauma, or anesthesia seemed to exacerbate the problems.  As she continued to age, the over-all fatigue increased, as did the muscle fatigue – now moving into her thighs, hips, and lower back.  There were some issues with intermittent mental fogginess and visual fogginess, as well as memory problems.  Because of early onset of heart disease (she had artery by-pass heart surgery at about age 46, with placement of stents and carotid surgery about fifteen years later, a heart attack at 64, and a stroke at 65), it is difficult to pin-point these symptoms as post-polio syndrome.

Dean PPS

Dean also admits little regarding post polio symptoms (it seems to be a guy thing).  He does, however, have problems with his legs, which seem very similar to Eunice’s leg problems, albeit with a later onset.  He also seems to struggle with fatigue.  He is a long-haul truck driver handling a big rig, and the driving seems to have become more difficult for him, and he, too, is experiencing some issues with vision.  Dean also had early onset heart problems having had by-pass heart surgery at age 44, so again there is a question of whether the symptoms are due to post polio syndrome or cardiac disease. He has had strokes (TIAs), which may account for some of his symptoms.

Post Polio

It seems that many of the symptoms of post-polio syndrome mimic premature aging, in a way.  Muscle fatigue and the resulting pain seem somewhat normal in old age – the same symptoms at early middle-age and middle-age are not normal. Similarly, over-all fatigue, mental fogginess, and visual fogginess are more expected in old age.

How did Mama do it?

But the greatest difficulties of the Sather family polio episode lay not with the children, but with the caretaker.  The children remember little of the experience and the memories they do have are fraught with love. Thanks to Mama!

For Mama it was a different story – hard times, exhaustion, worry, tears, and prayers.

Deborah was asked, “How did you manage?  How did you get through it?”

Her pragmatic reply, a lesson for us all, “You did what you had to do.”

Magic Spell Jar Post Ten (36 – 40)

36. Wait, Weight

Wait means to hang around until someone has time for you – or until something is about to begin – or to serve people, as a waiter

Weight is what most people seem to be battling.  It measures how much gravity pulls on you.  This weight has an eight in it but it in a perfect world, it would have an ate in it. Sorry, bad pun.

37. Wined and Whined

Wined is often used in the phrase “wined and dined.” It means someone treated someone else to a fancy dinner served with wine.

Whined is to fuss and moan – He whined over the loss of his glove.

38. Stalk, Stock (Pronounced similarly)

Stalk is the main stem of a plant, but can also mean following someone, usually stealthily and with bad intentions. The lion stalked the antelope hoping for dinner.

Stock can mean cows or other domestic animals (as in live stock). It can also mean goods (usually for sale). Used as a verb it means to place good somewhere (She stocked the shelves with toothpaste and other dental products)

39. Feint, Faint (pronounced similarly)

Feint – I saw this misused in a book recently – Feint is to make a misleading (feigned) move usually when boxing. Feint with your left, then lead with your right.

Faint – Is unclear, not distinct or it can be passing out (He fainted from dehydration)

40. Your, You’re, Yore — Probably the most commonly misused words on web sites are your and you’re.

Your is a possessive pronoun. When talking about something that is owned by the other person use your. This is your bat. Your answer is incorrect. Your activities are amazing.

You’re is a contraction meaning you are. You’re acting silly. If you’re going with  me, be ready in ten minutes.

Yore is not used as often as the other two spellings. Yore refers to time gone by, usually far in the past. In times of yore, knights jousted with lances. Though dangerous and often fatal, jousting was a form of entertainment.

Should you use your or you’re in the comment you’re typing? Usually it is  easy to decide. Just read your comment saying you are. If that doesn’t seem correct, you probably want to use your, not you’re..

Magic Spell Jar Post Nine (words to describe words)

Words to describe words

Synonym –(sin-ah-nim) words that mean similar things and can be used in place of one another, depending on the sentence.  Like hot and warm.  They are synonyms and are similar in meaning, but cannot be changed in certain sentences without changing the meaning of the sentence.  You will find synonyms in a thesaurus.  That can be helpful if you just cannot think of the exact word you want but do know a similar word.

Synonym and Cinnamon – Some people have trouble with these – pronouncing them the same and sometimes interchanging the when writing. They are not promounced the same and the meanings are very different – synonyms are words of similar meanings – cinnamon (sin ah mon) is a spice that Norwegians like on their romegrat. A;though it is true that Norwegians like cinnamon on a variety of foods, it is not true they  eat cinnamon on everything!

A common synonym joke is, “What’s another word for Thesaurus?”


Antonym (ann-tah-nim)–Words that are opposites. Like hot and cold. Sometimes when you are writing only the exact opposite word of what is needed will come to mind.  Usually a thesaurus will have a list of antonyms after the listing of synonyms.

Homonym (hah-mah-nim) This one is a little bit sloppy.  A true homonym is a word with a totally different meaning depending on the sentence but it is spelled the same and pronounced the same like this:

(The unadorned cake looks plain.  The buffalo was pictured on the plain.) Or  (The plane flew low over the trees. The carpenter used his plane to smooth the wood.)

Those are two pairs of words spelled alike and pronounced alike and are what I consider true homonyms.  Strictly speaking, that is the true definition of homonyms: spelled alike, pronounced alike with different meanings

But most people would also pair Plane and Plain as homonyms. They are spelled differently but pronounced the same with different meanings.

Also, most people include words spelled the same but pronounced differently depending upon the sentence: Like this: Our neighbor is Polish (poe lish) and he will polish (pah lish) the car.  Or another example in mind is this – The grocer doesn’t produce (pro doos, with the accent on pro) the groceries he sells, but he sells produce (pro doos, with the accent on doos0.  Or here is another – The wind is blowing from mountains in which the dragons lived, but you must wind up your power cord before putting the saw away. Spelled the same, pronounced differently with different meanings.

Homonyms are confusing. But the thing to remember is that for most people words that share the same spelling or share the same pronunciation are homonyms.

Palindrome  A palindrome is easy to recognize and the mosr fun.  It is a word or phrase spelled the same forward and backward.  The thing is the poor word cannot know if it is coming or going!  The whole family has palindromic names – Dad, Mom, Sis, Bub, Tot.  Palindromes can be phrase or a sentence or even a whole verse.  Probably the most well known palindromic of more that one word is, “Madam, I’m Adam.” Of course you have to omit the comma and apostrophe as they do not come out in the proper place on the back read.

Madam is a palindromic word. Madam, I’m Adam. is a palindromic phrase.

Knowing what a palindrome is can come in hand y.  Crosswords sometimes have a clue like “an actress with a palindromic name.  Say you’ve filled in an E as the last letter from another clue.  Well, guess what? It is a palindrome, therefore the first letter must also be an E.  This actually was in a recent Sunday crossword.  Turned out the name was Eve.

How many palindromes can you list?

Oxymoron – Yes, this is a description of a word (or phrase) even though it sounds like a made-up word, and a goofy one at that.  An oxymoron is a contradiction of terms.  Some are in common use and no one really notices the contradiction – like bad luck, big baby, alone together, awfully nice, pretty toad, and my favorite – honest politician.  As you can see by my favorite, sometimes the contradiction is a matter of personal belief.  For instance if you hate dogs and think they never behave, good dog would be an oxymoron, although I don’t see it as one.   Can you think of an oxymoron?

Spell Jar Post Eight – I/E Mnemonic Aid

 A common mnemonic (memory aid) goes:

I before e, except after c, or when sounding like A, as in neighbor or weigh

Well, here’s an eye opener.  Although this mnemonic may be helpful for some words, it really isn’t very reliable as there are more exceptions than words follow the rule. 

Here’s another one about the I before E rule.

I before E except when you run a feisty heist  on a weird beige foreign neighbor.

I read that 923 words do not follow this rule while only 44 actually do!   I haven’t actually made the count myself.  

Don’t understand that goofy sentence feisty means something like frisky; heist is a robbery, generally something of great value.