Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Hallelujah Christmas

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a merry Christmas. I'm sure that I did. I recently played this song at our annual Christmas Party Talent Show and thought I would share it with you. This is a re-recording of it which I took later because I thought it was such a beautiful song. I don't recall who did the original, but the Christmas version was revised and sang by a band named Cloverton, from which I got the idea. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Hobbit!

I hope all of my readers are as excited about the Desolation of Smaug premier as I am! I will be there in full costume along with a bunch of my other crazy friends! To all of my other readers though, be at your theater 12:01 AM Friday morning! Comment if you plan to be there!

Games? Games? Does it like to play?

Wait for me!
"I will use this, if I have to."

"Fili and Kili, at your service."

(Disclaimer: Pictures courtesy of and They are the property of New Line Cinema Inc. I do not own the pictures and am in no way affiliated with New Line Cinema Inc.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Iron Will-Chapter 3

I continue my postings of Iron Will to whoever may be interested. I hope to finish his book by December 31st, which will make it the first one I have actually taken to a satisfactory conclusion. I have written considerable amounts in four or five different stories so I will be excited if I finish it. This book would actually be the 5th in a series of six books. Three more of the books in this series have proceeded fairly decently, but the other two will need a bit of serious rewriting, having been started when I was nine and ten years old. I do very much love this series though, and hope to finish them sometime. The series all takes place in a world of my own imagining and the stories are meant to represent the weaponry and culture of different periods in history, all within the free boundaries of my own world which allows my own imagination to run whither it wishes. I hope someday to publish them when they reach the state of perfection I am aiming for. Time is a cruel foe when it comes to writing, and a high-school schedule along with the responsibilities of a farm don't help :D I would very much appreciate any input, questions or comments concerning the book.

Chapter III- By Draft
In the morning the soldiers were up early and on their way. The rebels’ location was about thirty miles due west of there and they could reach it by nightfall if they marched at a fast pace, provided the rebels didn’t run. Lucas had no doubts Jakin could keep up, but he did wonder in what condition Jakin would be by nightfall. He need not have worried although. The wound was a mere scratch to Jakin but his bandage was soaked with blood by the time they made camp. The rebels had flown of course, retreating southwards along the River Ryn. They received the news at around noon, when Captain Richard Wilson reported to Garfield. Garfield directed the course south west and quickened the pace. It was impossible to even catch the rebel infantry; much less the light and elusive rebel cavalry. The rebels had withdrawn to the town of Acacia which was twenty miles from the place Garfield’s men had stopped for the night. Chasing them would be useless, but nevertheless, the chase began again on the morrow, with different parties branching off from the main body to try and surround the rebel troops.
            At about noon the second day a scout from Wilson’s company which had left as a scouting party came in and reported to Garfield that the rebels were cut off in a valley at the foot of Cedar Hill. ?? The Captain halted the troops for a moment while he withdrew with his two lieutenant captain into a grove of tries at the head of Garfield’s force. Jakin and Lucas waited patiently outside under the blazing summer heat. After awhile, Lucas said, “What’s taking them so long?”
            Jakin plucked a piece of grass up and began chewing on the end. “They are stuck. They have two options. They don’t know whether to try and attack the rebels or to besiege them in the valley and wait for reinforcements from Willow. If we attack without surrounding them, they’ll slip through our fingers like sand. If we besiege them and wait for reinforcements, they might make a surprise attack and flee in the panic of midnight.”
            “What’s the third?”
“Well I doubt the third has occurred to them. They should surround the rebels completely with light infantry and then charge them with their heavy cavalry. Then they’ll be trapped.”
            Lucas thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, and then the heavy infantry could follow the cavalry in and the baggage train could also provide a blockade manned by pike-men.”
            “My thoughts exactly, well, except for the baggage train. I had thought of pike men but not of putting them behind the baggage. It should still work although either way.”
            Lucas clapped Jakin on the back. “They should make you a captain. Then the war would be over in no time.”
            “It’s not a war yet. We haven’t even met on the field of battle yet. I would never take a commission anyway.”
“I couldn’t ever take a commission. It’s against my principles.”
            “How?” asked Lucas, quite puzzled.
“As a soldier Lucas,” Jakin began explaining in a patient voice, “and much more so as a draft, I am commanded to fight, kill and destroy on the battle-field. As an officer I would hold responsibility for the lives of not only my own men, but the enemy troops. No longer am I the ordered, but the one giving orders. I would be accountable for every patrol or scout I sent out, for every skirmish party, for every order to battle and for every decision I make. That responsibility is too great an honor and too great a burden for me to bear. My conscience is uneasy as it is.”
            Lucas thought for a moment. He could not understand this speech of Jakin’s, (for indeed it was a speech for Jakin who excelled at one word answers or orders.) For four years he had seen Jakin slaughter men on the battle-field with pike, sword, pistol and bayonet, yet when this subject of being an officer arose, Jakin shrunk back into a defensive shell and began talking of principles and morals the like of which Lucas had never heard. So my friend does have some principle, he thought to himself. Lucas had lived with Jakin during the past years with some difficulty for Jakin had always exhibited the utmost zeal in war. Now Lucas was encouraged by this sign of conscience and principle in Jakin’s speech.
            “This is all very strange,” Lucas said with a winkled brow. “Forgive me, but I never thought you really had much of a conscience. I always knew you would prefer not being in the army, but I never guessed that you had any qualms over killing men in battle.”
            “You do me an injustice Lucas. You have established a false opinion of me and cut me down. I had thought that you understood me and my principles, but it appears you do not or at least did not until just now.”
            Lucas was a bit ashamed of his previous words for he held Jakin in such a high position in not only his mind but in his heart that he felt Jakin was right when he accused him of doing an injustice to his character.
            “I did not realize the depth of your character. But I guess it is hard when one is as reclusive and defensive as you.” he felt a strong urge to say this. Jakin had been so reclusive in the past years Lucas had known him that it had not been very possible to break Jakin’s defensive outer shell. But he still said it with great respect, his eyes on the ground and his voice quiet.
            Jakin nodded, “Of course. That is how I survive. If I spoke my thoughts more often I would be killed for treason.” He paused and added with a gentler and quieter tone, “I do not like war, Lucas. I fight only because I was drafted and a strong watch is kept on me at all times. I was I have felt their eyes, Lucas. I know they are watching me. Many times I have considered escaping, but I am always watched. I would light out for the hills at the first opportunity, they could never find me, but for some reason they watch me. Not just Parson, but the captains, the lieutenants; different people in the army from high position to low. Their eyes are on me Lucas. At all times.”
            “Why would they watch you?”
Jakin was silent for a moment and then said quietly, “Even if I knew I wouldn’t tell you.” For Jakin had developed a theory as to the reason why he was watched. An accurate theory, but one that did not yet have all the evidence required to make it complete.
            “What is that supposed to mean?”
But Jakin was not able to reply for the captains came out of the grove and announced their intentions to drive the rebels out of the valley and over the ridge to the town of Quince where, if all went well and a messenger got through, reinforcements from Willow would be waiting. Jakin shook his head and shouldered his pack muttering, “They should have surrounded them.”
            Lucas smiled at his grumbling against the captain’s incompetence and followed Jakin.
The rest of the day was spent in a rapid march circling back eastwards to drive the rebels towards Willow. The forests and greenery of eastern Glasgow had slowly risen into grassy, sloping hills crisscrossed into a maze of interweaving dirt roads traveled by farmers and merchant bands on their way to the capitol. When the army was seen approaching the merchants stepped grudgingly off the road. As in most countries governed by tyranny, the army was not well liked, but it was feared and that fear demanded respect.
            When Garfield reached a merchant band he signaled to Parson and others to inspect the merchant’s goods. In every instance something was found ‘wrong’ with the merchandise and their goods which would be profitable for the army were confiscated and the merchants fined. Jakin set his teeth and Lucas realized that this was one of those occasions he had spoken of where it was best for him that he did not talk.   
            When the army proceeded along its way, the baggage horses bore an extra load and extra coins jingled in the pockets of certain favored officers. Jakin was disgusted.
            They continued on though, with the sun beating down on them and dust signaling to anyone atop the hills that an army of some size was traversing the plains. Jakin held the officers in all the more contempt for this. They should have walked in the grass and proceeded in a single column to hide their numbers. For a while they marched in silence, sweat dripping down their backs and necks and drenching their clothes. After some time Jakin felt a growing sense of uneasiness. He moved along the marching lines at a fast walk which broke into a run towards the officers leading the battalion. He ran to the front and held the bridle of Garfield’s horse. “Sir, we’re walking into a trap.”
            Garfield was indignant at Jakin’s lack of respect and pulling back on the reins, attempted to rear his horse. But Jakin held onto the reins and the horse would not move. Garfield kicked it with his spurs but under Jakin’s firm hand the horse only snorted and kicked up its back heels. Garfield was not unseated, but he stopped kicking the horse. “What do you mean?” he asked sharply.
            Jakin saluted and replied, “The small canyon we’re entering is lined with rebels sir.”
“Impossible. I was assured they would run.”
            Jakin gave a scornful smile. “They didn’t. Their numbers are easily as large as ours and the canyon affords adequate protection for taking on a force twice their number. As a captain you should be very well aware of that.”
            The lieutenant captain raised his pistol and struck Jakin on the head with it. Garfield reproved him harshly. Blood ran down the side of Jakin’s head but he was indifferent.
            “It would be best if you either skirted the canyon or proceeded with great caution.”
A smile flickered at the corners of Garfield’s mouth. “What’s your name and rank?”
            “Jakin, Private.” Jakin saluted and clicked his heels. He knew how to behave in the presence of officers although often his indignation prevented him.
            “How long have you been in the army?”
“Four years.”
“I was a draft,” said Jakin. “War was not my first choice.”
            “But you are proud to serve your country nonetheless.”
“Sir, time is wasting,” said the lieutenant, saving Jakin from an uncomfortable position wherein his principle would force him to say ‘no’ to the Captain’s last statement.  
            “I agree with your lieutenant.”
The captain gave a shocked expression at their audacity to speak to him in such a way, but he knew they were right. “What would you have us do, young Private Jakin? Since you seem to know so much. ”
            “I would have surrounded the canyon with the light infantry, thereby cutting off their escape over the ridge. Then I would have formed up two wings of heavy infantry to follow in the heavy cavalry in a charge into the valley. None of the enemy would escape. Or at least very few if the attack was carried out properly. But it may be too late now.”
            “How can you be sure the rebels are even there?”
Jakin realized that he could never convince the captain the he had ‘felt’ their presence and the minute signs he had seen along the way which confirmed his theory could not be accepted by a man of logic. For the signs that will convince one who believes do not always convince those who trust their reason over their heart.
            “You will have to send a scout to ascertain that fact. But if the scout is seen the battle is lost. I will go if you order me.”
            The captain although for a moment and then asked, “Are you so sure you will not be seen?”
Jakin gave a slight scoffing smile, “There is no guarantee of that, but most of the men in my company will affirm that I am the most suited for the job.”
            “A little proud are we not?”
“No sir, I simply state the truth. No man has spent more time in the mountains of Carrock then I and no man has spent more time tracking animals and enemy troops through the plains, mountains and valleys than the one who stands before you.” This was not Jakin’s usual manner of speech but he knew that pride and confidence was the language of the mighty. (Although in Jakin’s mind the ones who were mighty were not the ones who held high positions. Mighty here refers to captains and the like who considered themselves as mighty.)
            “Very well, you may go. Do you require a companion or a pistol?”
Jakin moved aside the grey army cloak tucked into his belt and revealed the brace of pistols. “As for a companion, I work better alone. I will be back in an hour.”
            Although the captain knew that the valley was wide and the ridges difficult to surmount and travel along, he felt that that would not change the mind of the young man before him and he felt that the man was perfectly indifferent to that difficulty. “Go then, and return speedily.”
            Jakin felt a thrill of excitement and longing rush through his body as he reached the edge of the steep wall of the canyon to the right of the entrance. This canyon wall went nearly straight up for about fifteen feet and then sloped slightly to decrease the angle of the climb as it ascended past straggly cedars and brush which struggled to maintain the survival of its roots foundation, placed so precariously in the loose dirt and gravel which made up the sloping sides. Jakin spat on his hands as he reached the wall, and placing his hands in two crevices in the rock, pulled himself up. His feet found a firm place to support his body and they came up also. His hand sought another jut of rock which would aid him in his climb and his feet walked vertically up the side as he pulled himself up by the strength of his arms. The work was hot and sweaty for he wore his grey cloak to better disguise his movements but as the time passed and the sweat poured down his back and neck he was less and less sure if it was worth it. At last he surmounted that first cliff and began crawling up the second one, grasping at roots and outcroppings as he progressed up its side. Once he was close to the top he crouched and moved along the outside of the ridge cautiously to avoid being seen by anyone on watch in the valley below. It would have taken a keen eye to spot him from the valley. His movements were jerky and stopped altogether after a few seconds, just like a squirrel or a rabbit trying to cross a field without attracting any attention from the dog lying half-asleep on the porch.
            It is important before we go any further to explain how this valley was situated. On the provided map that was given you at the beginning of the book you will see the town of Willow, approximately 50 miles south-west of Kenneth. To the east of the town is a valley surrounded by sloping rocky hills, not of any considerable height, which sloped up and down and spread out in a haphazard fashion. These are the slopes which the army had passed to the north of the day before and were now retracing their steps, but instead of skirting them, they were now proceeding through the heart of them towards Willow. The valley or canyon so often referred to lay straight between them and Willow and it lay right at the heart of three overlapping mountains. Two ran nearly east-to-west and one ran north and south providing a barricade between the rebels and Willow.
            Jakin traveled along the left hand, east-to-west ridge, crouching at some places, sprinting in others and leaping over steep and narrow cracks which provided a path for springs or creeks. The valley was not more than a mile wide and a mile long so it was not long before Jakin sighted the rebels. He pressed on however, urged by a wild thrill of adventure which caused him to approach the rebels in a manner which was unreasonably dangerous. The rebels appeared to making camp, and since Jakin still had thirty minutes to get back he stayed on and watched, scooting closer and closer to the officers’ tents. The guard around these was quite slack and Jakin could have run up and touched the tent without being noticed. He almost did just for the fun of it, but just as he was ready to spring for it, a man who appeared to be the rebel commander came out of the tent with a tall young girl by his side.
            Jakin was surprised to see her there but even more surprised to see her with a gun slung on her shoulder. They walked away from the tent and the camp and Jakin followed. It was a rash deed at the very least but Jakin thought he could manage. The commander stopped behind one of the other tents and Jakin got a good look at them both from the cover of a group of horses standing tied beside each other. The horses reminded him of the one he used to have when he was up north in Carrock Range. He had left the horse in one of the mountain valleys and hoped to reunite himself with it once the war was over. He turned his attentions to the commander and his daughter though.
            The commander was evidently her father, for their talk was very affectionate and he was certainly old enough. His hair was streaked with grey but his face showed a lightheartedness that Jakin was not accustomed to. He wore nearly the same uniform the Glasgowian commanders wore and the only real difference was the dark red badge he wore around one shoulder which indicated he was a rebel.
            His daughter wore a light green dress with a dark red sash around the middle. Her hair was of a dark brown color and hung about her shoulders in wavy folds. Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a young commander who Jakin assumed was one of the two captains, Nathaniel Greene, or Richard Lindsey. At that moment the rebel general spoke, addressing the young man. “Captain Nathaniel, anything to report?”
            “Horatio’s army is camped outside the canyon. His soldiers have not yet started making camp. By some strange stroke of luck they were dissuaded out of entering the canyon. We have a watch posted on them at this moment.”
            “Hmm,” said the general doubtfully. “It’s too bad they didn’t enter the valley, but I guess it’s just as well. Perhaps there is another fate prepared for them.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Hobbit Trailer!

Here is the latest Desolation of Smaug trailer! I really like this one, but I am not too pleased with Legolas' friend...They better be careful! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Iron Will-Chapter 2

Here is the next part to the story I'm working on right now. Sometime in the next two weeks I hope to get another guitar video up. It will be about the muting technique in the song, 'The Lord is My Strength'.

Chapter II
Jakin stayed up all night. When the fires died down he did not build them back up. His goal was not to keep spies and enemies away, but to draw them in. The night was uneventful however, and when the camp began to stir in the morning he woke Lucas and stole a few minutes sleep. When he awoke he saw a plate of biscuits and gravy with a tin cup of strong black coffee beside it. He was somewhat refreshed after the meal and began striking camp with the rest of the men. Lucas joined him in a few minutes and he said, “Thank you for breakfast.”
              “Thank-you for watching all night,” said a soldier who was helping taking down a tent beside them. “It was supposed to be my watch.”
              “He knew you’d fall asleep,” said Lucas with a smile.
Lucas was generally well liked among the soldiers. He was too kind and conscientious not to be liked. Of course, Parson didn’t like him, but Parson was an exception.
              “Jakin didn’t fall asleep did he?” asked the man humorously.
“Of course he did,” said another. “Lucas had to wake him up three or four times.”
              Lucas didn’t see the need to respond. All the soldiers knew that Jakin could go without sleep for days. Jakin did not respond either, but rolled up the tent and moved on. Lucas followed him and before long the camp was struck. The soldiers fell into line and Brigadier General Garfield ordered the march. They proceeded eastwards down the pass back into Glasgow. They had crossed the first range in double barrier presented by the Carrock Range in a fruitless, but well-grounded search for the rebels, thinking they may have retreated to ask for aid from the Dracians. Dracia was a mysterious place. Few people went there and out of the people who did go few came out.  Dracia was lined with outlaws and mountain men who wished to escape the troubles of life or live secluded from people. This also kept people from entering Dracia. Jakin had never been to Dracia. It was his dream to go there someday, not only to brave the dangers of criminals and mountain men but also to face the wild crags, spurs, canyons, steep ascents and descents, wild animals and all the accompanying physical trials such as cold, hunger, pain, fatigue and thirst. He loved adventure and although he hated everything else about war, he was able to appreciate the trying circumstances the army was placed in and he took joy in the trials which tracking the rebels presented. He hated war. Ever since he had left the Duke of Orland, he had hate war and tried to avoid it. He had even tried to run away from Glasgow’s army before but he had failed and had been brought back by Parson and a few others who had been sent to get him. It was then that he had received the slash which ran from right to left in a diagonal on the other side of his right eye beginning at his hair all the way to the tip of his ear. It was an ugly scar, and it did much to override the handsomeness of his face, but anybody who could imagine his face without it would see a very handsome young man. (If he could learn to wash the dirt and blood off of his face and dress in some decent clothes).
              The march was long and toilsome. The soldiers, disappointed at finding the rebels had not withdrawn to Dracia, but had retreated eastwards towards Xenith, were not in the best of moods. They talked little and their entire bearing communicated utter fatigue and disgust. Consequently, the march was not a very bright one, (especially since the sun was beating down on them so hard), and when Garfield called the troop to a halt once they were in the foothills, the soldiers set up camp grudgingly and not without grumbling. Once the tents had been pitched and the camp set up, the soldiers withdrew to different tents to gamble and play at cards, filling the tents with smoke from their cigars and pipes. Although the sergeant called lights out, Parson and his company stayed up till one or two with their gambling games.               Jakin took first watch, as usual, and Lucas stayed up with him till Jakin, tired from the lack of sleep the night before and the long march, turned in. Usually Jakin took the second watch, the one from two to four, because it was the most dangerous of the watches. During the time from lights out till two, the camp had not yet been quite enough for wild animals or enemy troops to approach and therefore it was a relatively easy watch. The night before he had stayed up because he was meditating the charges of desertion and his plans of escape, but tonight he had stayed up to watch Parson. Parson was not only ruthless, cruel, mean-spirited and morally deficient, he was also mysterious, strange and unpredictable. He often disappeared for several days and then reappeared somewhere along the trail. The others didn’t usually notice his absence until long after he had left or when he returned suddenly, but Jakin always knew when he left and when he returned. His eyes observed everything and scarcely anything went by without him noticing it. Parson’s disappearances were not very alarming although, for the captains never addressed him about it or brought forward charges of desertion. This inclined Jakin to think that Glasgow was sending him away on private missions, which made him wonder if Parson was a member of the Intelligence Corps. Parson did not seem physically good enough for the Intelligence Corps. Jakin never took much of an interest in it although. His plans were not to defeat Parson by degrading him and bringing charges against him, but by destroying him physically. Jakin was not strong enough for that now. Although Jakin did not think Parson physically strong enough to enter the Intelligence Corps, Parson was still strong above average, and he was always surrounded by his friends, which made beating him much harder.
              Jakin’s watch passed uneventfully however, and when he handed the watch over to Ralph, Parson was asleep which gave Jakin the necessary ease to fall asleep also, but it was the light sleep of a hunter, not the deep, drunken sleep which Parson enjoyed.
              In the morning the camp was struck and the army proceeded down into the gentle valleys and plains at the foot of the Carrock Range. The army reached Kenneth before the afternoon had passed, and took up lodging there until the necessary information could be received of the enemy’s location.
              This took some time. He questioned Brigadier General Garfield when he returned from the army headquarters and Garfield said that the General, Rupert Collings, had not yet discovered the rebels’ location. Scouts had been sent out two days before and the army hoped to receive intelligence of the enemy’s whereabouts in two days. Jakin strongly felt that he was viewed suspiciously when he entered the army headquarters. He could not discover what it was about him which excited their attention. Perhaps he was too inquisitive he shrugged, as he returned to the barracks. Lucas met him in the room where he and Lucas, together with Ralph and six others, shared a room in the northern wing of the army barracks.
              “I’m going to the tavern,” declared Jakin as he sat down on his hard cot and laid his rifle in the rack above it. He laid his grey cloak on the edge of his bed and went to the door. “You coming?” he asked just before leaving.
              Lucas shook his head and Jakin walked out. He went between the wide alley between the north and south barracks till it joined the large road leading between the storehouses and armories and the barracks where he turned off onto street running down the middle of the town. Being a garrison town, Kenneth had several taverns, blacksmiths, saddlers and tailors shops under contract to produce uniforms, shoes, saddles, gun parts, swords, cloaks, helmets and other trappings for the army’s use. Since the garrison had just returned home, many street corners were occupied by young girls and soldiers and as Jakin passed them he noticed Parson standing with a young girl about sixteen on one of the corners. Jakin shook his head in disappointment and breathed a quick prayer that the girl would gain some sense and avoid the likes of Parson. 
             There was a large tavern on the main street down the town, and another on one of the back streets which he preferred because it was quieter and was not frequented by Parson, but tonight Parson was on a street corner with a girl he had sweet-talked and wouldn’t dare show his face in there among the rest of the soldiers. Jakin walked in and was immediately enshrouded in a cloud of grey smoke from pipes and stoves in the back of the tavern. Jakin pulled his grey cloak about him and took off his hood as he sat down on a chair in the back of the room where he commanded a good view of everything in the tavern. After a minute or two, the bartender’s boy came over and asked quickly, “Whiskey, ale or…” he stopped as he recognized Jakin’s face. “Why, it’s you.”
              Jakin nodded.
“You don’t come here often,” the boy explained. Jakin had formed a relationship with this young boy after saving him from Parson one late night at about two in the morning. Parson and some others were being waited on by him when they got a bit more drunk then usual and began throwing him about. Jakin had been sitting unnoticed on the opposite side of the room, in the chair he sat now. He had stood up and told Parson to stop and when Parson refused, he had kicked them all out of the tavern. He had worn a hood then and not many people had been in the tavern which contributed to the fact that he was not very well recognized by anybody in the tavern.
              “The ale’s better at the Last Star,” said Jakin.
The boy shrugged, “Perhaps. My uncle thinks his ale is best but I guess tavern owners always do. What do you want?”
              “Red wine.”
The boy nodded and hurried off to get the order. When he returned Jakin took the glass and said, “I would have got it myself, but the tavern is crowded tonight.”
              “Yes,” said the boy, “With the soldiers’ return the place has filled back up.”
Jakin took a sip of the wine and asked quietly after a moment, “Have you been getting on alright?”
              “Fair enough. My uncle’s not a very kind man but I earn a few pence a week and that keeps me happy.”
              “Happy? Really?”
The boy squirmed under Jakin’s gaze. “He only beats me once a week, honest.”
              Jakin laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “Keep your courage up, wait till times change.” He gave a wry smile and added, “Find yourself a sweet-heart like Parson did. It seems the thing to do these days.”
              The boy laughed, Jakin ruffled his hair and sent him back to the counter with the price for his drink and eight pence to keep for himself. The boy whispered a heartfelt thank-you and ran back to serve a new group of men coming in. Jakin took another drink of his wine and said without turning, “You can’t catch me unawares Lucas.”
              Lucas sat down beside him and handed him a pipe. Jakin took it and blew a ring out to mix amongst the smoke which filled the tavern.  “I’ve tried for four years to sneak up on you, Jakin. It never, ever works.”
              Jakin bought Lucas a drink and said, “I’ve tried for four years to understand why you follow me around. I never have.”
              Lucas smiled, “You always buy me drinks.”
Jakin gave him a friendly shove, “That’s not the reason.”       
              Lucas didn’t reply immediately so Jakin changed the subject. “Parson’s got himself a sweet-heart.”
              “Really?” said Lucas with an unbelieving expression.
“Yes, although I doubt he feels anything towards her.”
              “You can’t be serious.”
Jakin drained his glass, “Why do you think he’s absent tonight?”
              Lucas looked around. Jakin was right. Parson was nowhere to be seen. Jakin leaned back against the wall and blew another ring of smoke through the hazy tavern. Just then the back-door opened and a darkly clad figure seated himself a few chairs over from where Jakin and Lucas sat. Jakin observed him for some time out of the corner of his eye. The man was very fidgety and nervous. His hood was drawn about his face and he never looked directly at anybody. Jakin looked at Lucas and raised an eyebrow. He shrugged and Jakin stood up to go. Lucas followed him and they left through the back door, jus tin time to see Parson come in the front. They walked back to the barracks in silence until Lucas said, “I think that man was a spy.”
              “He would definitely fit a description of one,” Jakin remarked.
Lucas gave a smile, “You would know of course, you were one yourself.”
              “Yes, and I wouldn’t want to be one again. I’m not very smooth at playing a part I’m not, nor am I good at getting information out of people through sly conversation.”
              Lucas laughed, “That would be hard for you. You can barely even carry on a normal conversation.”
              Jakin whirled around, “When I have something good to say, I say it.”
“Yes, and often very vehemently too; especially when you disagree with someone else.” Lucas’ smiling, boyish face communicated perfect humor and under it the wish to always lighten Jakin’s spirits. Jakin’s spirits were fairly high at the moment, but his mind was troubled by the appearance of the strange man in the tavern. However, the card games and drills soon filed those thoughts away into a subconscious file reachable when necessary. After the card games and drills, Jakin left the barracks and walked slowly down the darkening streets, still full of people and noisy groups of soldiers. They grew silent after a while, and Jakin proceeded down the dark and quiet streets, performing an unordered patrol of the city. There were several occasions where he felt like he was being followed and watched which made him increasingly uneasy. He kept his right hand on the butt of his pistol and the other rested on the handle of his bayonet. No one jumped on him in the dark alleys though, and he reached the barracks in safety. He slipped quietly past the sleeping men to his own bunk where he chained his rifle to his feet and laid his pistols beside him on the bed along with the two cumbersome belts of ammunition he wore. From the top bunk he could just see out of the barred window into the dark sky where a crescent moon was rising. The wind was blowing whisps of cloud across it that reminded Jakin of the tides that were sweeping him along from battle to battle. For what? He asked himself and then gave himself over to sleep.
              In the morning there was still no word from any of the scouts so the army enjoyed another day in relative quiet and merriment. Jakin spent most of his time exercising and practicing his sword skills and his aim with the brace of pistols he had bought himself in Carrock. Lucas came in and out, now exercising, now shooting Jakin’s pistols whenever Jakin stopped to teach him how to perfect his aim. Jakin had been handling a gun since he was six, and although the guns in use were fairly clumsy and inaccurate, he had perfected his aim with those he owned. He had learned to notice the way the pistols shot in all types of conditions and he had learned where each one would be shoot to the right or left or above or below his target, which had for a long time been a man’s chest. But now he shot at the head and rarely missed. This resulted in quick deaths and less suffering for those who were unfortunate enough to meet him as his enemy on the field of battle. Of course, those who happened to be his friends on the field of battle were treated with great loyalty and care. Each of his soldiers would hear him quietly give a humble word of instruction or a quick and sharp warning when danger was near. The amount of soldiers in his division whose lives he had saved were well over a hundred, but I suppose that was counterbalanced in the fact that he had killed over a hundred rebels.
              Lucas shrunk from killing anyone unless they were on the point of killing him. He had argued countless times with Jakin on this point but Jakin was never convinced. “I am a soldier under orders,” he would say. “The power to give life is not given to me, only the power to take it.”
              They were out practicing one day when Jakin said very softly, “Cover me.”
He sprang from the place he had taken in front of the targets provided by the army headquarters and sprinted towards the palisade surrounding the garrison. With a bound he jumped up, grabbed the top of the wooden fence and vaulted onto the other side. Lucas, meanwhile, had ran for the gate in the palisade where it was easier to climb and stood perched there with a rifle aimed at the figure Jakin was now chasing. The figure did not offer any fight however, but merely ran with a speed which astonished Lucas, for Jakin gained on the figure only very slowly. Lucas leapt from his perch and followed them, knowing that Jakin would be safe for the time being, and knowing that they would both soon be out of site from the top of the gate since they now veered off the main road and ran for the back alleys of the town. Lucas tried in vain to catch up with them. Their speed was incredible.
              Jakin was now intrigued and interested with the figure he was chasing. It ran with great speed down the streets and alleys making hairbreadth turns and climbing over walls with the agility which Jakin himself could hardly match. The figure was a slim figure with long legs and a dark cloak enshrouding most of his body. This much Jakin could see from the distance he was away from it. Jakin’s heart was screaming for a break as it pounded ferociously inside his chest before the figure slowed its pace. It did not stop running, but turned for a quick moment and drew a pistol out from under its cloak. Jakin saw it too late to draw his own pistol. He had tried to avoid shooting the figure, but as the bullet sank into his shoulder, he gritted his teeth and wished he had. It took awhile for Lucas to reach the street they were on and when he reached it his muscles were aching with pain. But when he saw Jakin’s crumpled figure on the ground he broke into a desperate run at his top speed. He skidded to a stop and dropped to his knees at Jakin’s side. The figure had disappeared and Lucas shouted, “General Garfield!” at the top of his lungs. He didn’t wish to move Jakin, for fear the bullet had fractured a rib or broken a bone in his shoulder. It took a while for Garfield to get there. He stooped over Jakin and whispered, “Dear God.”
              Lucas looked up, “Is he dead?”
The captain shrugged, “I don’t know. It looks like it.”
              And indeed, it did at least until Jakin moved his hand and opened his eyes. Lucas breathed a sigh of relief and the Captain sent an orderly to fetch the camp surgeon. It seemed forever till he came. Then the captain and Lucas helped Jakin onto a stretcher and they carried him back to the camp. The surgeon disappeared inside a room with Jakin and an assistant.
              Lucas stood for a long ten minutes outside the door with the captain before the assistant opened the door and beckoned to them to enter. Jakin sat up in the bed with a white sheet of cloth wrapped under on arm and over the shoulder of the other arm. The surgeon looked up as they entered and handed the captain a piece of paper with a few notes written on it under three different points. Lucas waited patiently till the officer finished reading the note and addressed him saying, “The bullet went all the way through. It looks like it passed perfectly between two ribs but it might have fractured the one on the back side.” Lucas gave a sigh of relief.
              Garfield shook his head and Jakin began to see a glimmer of hope in his being able to get out of the army and go back to the wild. Just then a messenger entered the door, saluted respectfully and handed the Captain a piece of paper folded four times, saying, ‘With all respects from Captain Wilson, 5th Regiment.”
              He clicked his heels and shut the door behind him. The captain opened the note hastily and the surgeon whispered, “Wilson is the commander of the scout party sent to ascertain the rebels’ position.”
              The captain folded the paper back up and placed it in his breast pocket. “Captain Wilson sends a positive location for the rebels. This young man will have to join the 23rd when it marches tomorrow.”
              The surgeon saluted and the captain left. Jakin bit his lip and Lucas gave a slight sigh. “Well, goodbye to any chances of you leaving the army.”
              “That is of no importance. I couldn’t really leave anyway,” said Jakin quietly, but offered no explanation. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Guitar Tutorial-Tuning

Yay! I have finally gotten around to putting this up! This will be my first guitar video and I hope to get more up soon! A quick note, the reason I am teaching it this way and not by a tuner, is because this way often makes your guitar sound better and a little bit more unified than with a tuner, since the strings are not only in tune by themselves, but they are also perfectly in tune with the other strings as well. Note: your top string must be in tune for this to work. Generally your top string slips out of tune far less frequently than the others so it shouldn't be a big problem, but if you think it is out of tune, you can go to a piano, a tuner or to get it in tune. Once you have a sample E to listen to, tuning it is as easy as the others and the process is exactly the same. I hope this helps! If you have any questions, please comment!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Camping in Arkansas

Oh my goodness, I am most terribly sorry for not getting any guitar tutorial videos up as promised, but I have been very busy hiking,


and hiking some more.

So I have been very busy, as you can see, and would like to say that I have not had any time to put videos together. I still don't, actually, so I decided to post this tonight instead and put my first video up tomorrow. I am also starting school again tomorrow so it will be a struggle to get it in, but I will do it! There are so many other things I want to put up here too that I can't wait!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mont Blanc

I recently read the poem, Mont Blanc, by Percy Shelley and decided I would post some portions of it here, along with a few pictures of the mountain. Mt. Blanc is the 11th tallest mountain in topographic prominence and is the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union at 15,782 ft. Located on the border of France and Italy, it is called Mont Blanc by the French and Mt. Bianco by the Italians and its ownership has been disputed since the Napoleonic Wars, when the Duchy of Savoy, which it was located in at that time, was ceded to Napoleon. The current situation sees administration of the mountain being shared between the Italian town of Courmayeur and the French town of St Gervais les Bains, according to Wikipedia, that is. Here are some pictures:

And here are a few selected portions Shelley's poem on it. (Shelley was an English poet during the 19th century.)

Mont Blanc yet gleams on high:--the power is there,
The still and solemn power of many sights,
And many sounds, and much of life and death.
In the calm darkness of the moonless nights,
In the lone glare of day, the snows descend
Upon that Mountain; none beholds them there,
Nor when the flakes burn in the sinking sun,
Or the star-beams dart through them. Winds contend
Silently there, and heap the snow with breath
Rapid and strong, but silently! Its home
The voiceless lightning in these solitudes
Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods
Over the snow. The secret Strength of things
Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome
Of Heaven is as a law, inhabits thee!
And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea,
If to the human mind's imaginings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?

Mont Blanc appears--still, snowy, and serene;
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;
A desert peopled by the storms alone,
Save when the eagle brings some hunter's bone,
And the wolf tracks her there--how hideously
Its shapes are heap'd around! rude, bare, and high,
Ghastly, and scarr'd, and riven.--Is this the scene
Where the old Earthquake-daemon taught her young
Ruin? Were these their toys? or did a sea
Of fire envelop once this silent snow?
None can reply--all seems eternal now.
The wilderness has a mysterious tongueWhich teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild,
So solemn, so serene, that man may be,
But for such faith, with Nature reconcil'd;
Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal
Large codes of fraud and woe; not understood
By all, but which the wise, and great, and good
Interpret, or make felt, or deeply feel.

The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark--now glittering--now reflecting gloom--
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters--with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume,
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
Thus thou, Ravine of Arve--dark, deep Ravine--
Thou many-colour'd, many-voiced vale,
Over whose pines, and crags, and caverns sail
Fast cloud-shadows and sunbeams: awful scene,
Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down
From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne,
Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame
Of lightning through the tempest;--thou dost lie,
Thy giant brood of pines around thee clinging,
Children of elder time, in whose devotion
The chainless winds still come and ever came
To drink their odours, and their mighty swinging
To hear--an old and solemn harmony;

Thine earthly rainbows stretch'd across the sweep
Of the aethereal waterfall, whose veil
Robes some unsculptur'd image; the strange sleep
Which when the voices of the desert fail
Wraps all in its own deep eternity;
Thy caverns echoing to the Arve's commotion,
A loud, lone sound no other sound can tame;
Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,
Thou art the path of that unresting sound--
Dizzy Ravine! and when I gaze on thee
I seem as in a trance sublime and strange
To muse on my own separate fantasy,
My own, my human mind, which passively
Now renders and receives fast influencings,
Holding an unremitting interchange
With the clear universe of things around;
One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,
In the still cave of the witch Poesy,
Seeking among the shadows that pass by
Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee,
Some phantom, some faint image; till the breast
From which they fled recalls them, thou art there!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Iron Will-Chapter I

Chapter I- ‘I Would Die For You’
As the sun disappeared behind the mountains bordering Glasgow and Xenith, Jakin turned to go. Back in the camp he attended to his various camp duties until darkness forced him to return to the light of the watch fires where he rejoined Lucas, the only man he felt he could trust his life with. Lucas looked up as Jakin slipped noiselessly up behind him and sat down, his eyes never meeting Lucas', his attention only for the ferocity of the crackling flames which seemed to Lucas to be in accord with the tempestuous emotions which he knew were surging through his friend's heart, though his outward demeanor did not reveal the turbulence. 
              The day before, Jakin had been accused of deserting after pursuing a spy away from the camp further down the mountain. His sentence was pending and the weight of the knowledge of his possible execution filled the tense air with silence. Lucas watched the countenance on his friend’s face; those eyebrows forever knit in a stern and frowning glare, his unsmiling, small mouth with pale lips, and those piercing, blue eyes, observing anything and everything around them. Lucas had grown to ignore those things about Jakin which tainted his character: his depression, his gravity, his harsh words and cutting remarks. He focused more on the things about Jakin which built his character: his loyalty, his conscientious behavior towards the soldiers, his respect towards the commanders, his hunting, tracking, wrestling and fighting skills, his courage, bravery and insensibility to pain and his fierce defense of his principles and of the soldiers in the army against Parson. Parson was a troublemaker in the army, delighting in forcing all the soldiers he could lay his hands on to run his errands and amuse him or he and a few other soldiers who joined him would leave him in the dust of the road covered in bruises. Of course, he could never lay his hands on Jakin. Jakin always slipped through his fingertips or left him with bruises on the very field where he had done the same to others. Jakin would then get beat by the Quartermaster but he didn’t care. His goal was to bring Parson down from his lofty throne to the dirt but Parson always avoided him after Jakin beat him on Sly Fox Hill. Lucas remembered that day very vividly. He had been on top of the hill when Parson and a few others had come up and told him to clean their boots. Lucas, new to the army, refused and turned to go. Parson then gave a signal and his men grabbed Lucas and began pounding him with blows. All of a sudden their blows had stopped and another rather new member, a young seventeen year old, had whipped Parson and his men soundly and then left without so much as a word to Lucas. Lucas smiled at the remembrance. Jakin had been that seventeen year old and Lucas had followed him around ever since. He didn’t follow Jakin for the sake of protection although, but because Jakin inspired him so much. For awhile Jakin wasn’t friendly towards Lucas and tried to avoid him, but in the end Lucas’ humility, deep appreciation and loyalty to Jakin forced Jakin to like him and ever since then they had been the best of friends.
              The captain’s voice was heard nearby. “Who’ll take first watch?”
Lucas looked at Jakin and Jakin said, “I will.”
              Lucas knew he would. He always volunteered for watch. Rain or shine he always took the first watch and often the second as well. Many thought Jakin was crazy to take the watch all the time, but Lucas knew that Jakin took the watch because he had to think. What exactly Jakin thought about, Lucas had not the faintest idea.
              “Due to the charges pronounced on you yesterday,” said the captain, referring to the charge of desertion, “I cannot allow you to keep watch unless one of you comrades is willing to take it with you.”
              “I will.” said Lucas quietly.
Jakin shot him a grateful look as the captain ordered everyone else to bed.
              After everyone had gone to bed, Jakin and Lucas sat down beside the fire. Jakin put a log on the fire and then sat down, staring into the roaring fire while Lucas employed his great gift of silence. For an hour or more he watched the fire die down into glowing embers.
              At length Jakin said, “You’ve a great gift for silence.”
Lucas smiled, “You’ve a terrible habit of it. Maybe if you told someone your thoughts they could help you figure things out. Most of the time I don’t know what you’re thinking about.”
             “But tonight you do,” said Jakin. It was a statement without a hint of questioning.
“Tonight I do,” said Lucas.
               After a pause Jakin asked, “Do you think I was deserting?”
“Of course not Jakin, but unfortunately it’s not what I think you were doing but what Brigadier General Garfield thinks.”
              “No,” said Jakin, lifting his eyes from the ground. “What you think matters just as much as what Garfield thinks. I would not have you think I was faithless.”
              Lucas looked straight at Jakin, “Jakin, I would never think you were faithless. You are the most loyal person I have ever known and ever will know for that matter. Garfield doesn’t know you; he’s just doing his duty. He’s a fair man though and he’ll make sure you get a fair trial.”
              Jakin kicked an ember back into the fire. “Trial? It won’t get to that. This is the army, Lucas.”
“And deserting is a capital offense.”
              “I would rather not have a trial.”
“If you don’t get a trial then Parson will be very pleased. You’ll be killed immediately.”
              “Will I?” said Jakin, with a mischievous look in his eye.
“Yes you…” Lucas stopped. “You’re not thinking of escaping are you?”
              Jakin did not answer.
“Don’t Jakin. You’ll be killed!”
              “And the world would be a rid of a ‘desperate criminal’,” said Jakin, with a humor that did not fit the time. “And who said they’ll catch me? Can they catch a bird with their bare hands?”
              “You’re a bit too egotistical," Lucas said, "but since that can’t be helped I might as well tell you that it’s not being caught that I’m afraid of. In fact, if they tried to catch you alive they’d lose several men.”
              “Then what are you afraid of? for I am afraid of nothing.” He said this with perfect solemnity and not a hint of a smile. This was no deadpan humor, but the complete truth, although it was not his habit to show it off before others.
              “I know that,” said Lucas with a tone which communicated the perfect trust he had in Jakin and the strength of his loyalty to him. “But I am more easily frightened. Parson will be watching you. He’ll shoot you at the first sign of escape and if I try to back you up before the Captain I’ll get myself so bruised when he finds me afterward that I won’t be able to talk. I’d do it for you of course, I’d do anything for you, but it’s not my preferred choice of action.”
              “You will help me though.” said Jakin; overriding and seemingly ignoring everything Lucas had just said.
Lucas nodded, “I would die for you.”
               “I know that. Don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself. Get some sleep.”
“They won’t allow me to sleep while you keep watch.”
               “They won’t know.” Lucas shrugged and rolled over, knowing that Jakin wouldn’t allow him to stay up and that Jakin would stay up, all night long if necessary.
             He lay down beside the stump Jakin had been sitting on while Jakin made a round of the entire camp. When he returned, Lucas was asleep. Some near forgotten code of decency or compassion moved him to lay his blanket over Lucas as the night grew colder and the dew fell. For a long time he stared into the fire, and then looked at Lucas, curled up at his feet, his blonde, curly hair tossed back and his pistol under Jakin’s wolf pelt blanket. He looked at him for quite awhile while thoughts went through his mind of the loyalty Lucas bore him. Why? He asked himself. There was nothing about him to inspire such love and loyalty, at least, not that he could see. He was a harsh man, disgusted with his country’s leaders’ actions, discontent with the world, angry at her people’s morals and cold and without love because of the trials she had presented to him. He felt he was no part of her. He himself was drafted four years before. He had resisted of course, but he wasn’t able to escape. He had been taken as a draft to Kenneth and then assigned to the twenty-third battalion, the one he was in now. 

 By the way, if you were wondering where the guitar tutorials are, they will be up in the next post.