Sunday, August 31, 2014

Looking for suggestions...

I really have intended to blog more.  I want people to come and read here to know what's going on with me and maybe share things that will make you laugh or think.

I hope you are enjoying "Free Fiction Sunday" every week.  I find I like looking back over the short stories I've put out and sharing them with others.

But I want to know what you are looking for in my blog.  Are there things you'd like me to post about?  Comments on columns I write for the News Sun?  Cute puppy pictures?  What interests you?

Let me know!!

Free Fiction Sunday: "One-Handed"

Grent is called "One-Handed" - so named because his right arm was cut off below the elbow by a Hilo soldier. He feels useless, unable to be anything but a cripple.
 Grent's people need a leader, someone to free them from Hilo bondage. Someone who can bring them back to the gods they've forgotten. Someone who can fight for them. And the gods have picked One-Handed to be that leader.

"One-Handed" by Laura Ware is available free on this website for one week only.  The story's also available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebookstores.

Laura Ware

       “Hey!  One-Handed!  Catch!”
Grent turned just in time for a rotten maka fruit to spatter on his face instead of his right shoulder.  Quala, who’d thrown the missile, doubled over in laughter.
“What are you doing?” a laborer of the village came and slapped Quala.  “Do you think we have time for such nonsense?  Tribute Time is in two cycles!”
Grent put down the bucket of water he’d been carrying and wiped his face.  The purple juice of the fruit stained his rough brown tunic, and he wiped his hand on it, adding to the mess.
The laborer, a large man with a flowing beard, finished his rant against Quala and sent him back into the orchards with a swift kick to his behind.  He then turned, and his face melted from anger into pity.  “You all right, Grent?”
“I’m fine,” he answered.  He gave his hand a final swipe on his tunic and picked up the bucket of water again.
“Don’t let the lads like Quala bother you,” the laborer said.  With a final glance, the large man turned and picked up the large basket of maka fruit he’d been carrying and went back into the orchard.
Grent grimaced as he resumed his errand.  He didn’t let the kids like Quala bother him so much – at least he knew where he stood with them.  It was the adults like that laborer, who looked at him as if he were a babe.  That bothered him.
No, he thought bitterly, looking at where his right arm ended, just below the elbow.  Not a babe.  A cripple.


The Voice of the Gods blinked at the sight of Grent’s stained tunic.  “What happened to you?”
“Nothing,” Grent answered, dumping the bucket of water into the barrel that stood just outside the Voice’s home. 
Over time he’d learned how to swing the bucket with his left hand so the bottom caught on the lip of the barrel and tipped over.  Sometimes he missed, and the water dumped all over him instead of going into the barrel.
The Voice leaned against the whitewashed wall of the temple.  He wore a blue robe and a golden medallion, as befitted one of his rank.  “Grent, you know better than to lie to me.  Did someone call you One-Handed again?”
Grent shrugged.  “Maybe.  At least I know why they do it.”
“Because they are immature and ignorant?” the Voice said.
“Because it is who I am,” Grent said bitterly.  “It’s who the gods made me to be.”
“Grent, Grent,” The Voice shook his head, his white hair brushing his robe.  “The gods did not make you this.  It was the Hilos – they are to blame.”
“And who gave the Hilos power over our people?” Grent said, tossing the bucket against the wall.  “Who guided that Hilo’s blade so it cut my arm off?  And who didn’t let me die?”
The Voice folded his arms, his face darkening.  “Come inside, Grent.”
The lad rolled his eyes.  He knew what was coming.  “Sir, my chores -”
“- can wait for a time,” the old man said, his grey eyes flashing.
With a sigh Grent went into the temple.  The main room was maintained by the priests who served the gods.  Here, magicks caused blue fire on lampstands to bring a glow to the interior.  A bowl of fruit stood on a wooden table in the center of the airy room and was kept constantly filled, for all who would desire it.
A gold altar with was on the back wall.  Incense burned there, and a padded kneeling bench ran in front of it, there for those who wished to pray to the gods directly.  Two women and a man knelt there, their lips moving silently in prayer.
A priest, dressed in their yellow and white robes, looked up as Grent entered.  Seeing that he was not a supplicant, he went back to what he was doing.  Tracing an intricate pattern with his hands, he was knitting a crack in the wall with magicks.
Grent sighed.  Magicks required two hands.  Battle required two hands.  No one with a deformity could serve as a priest.  What good was he?
“Much good,” the Voice said behind him.  Grent jumped.  He hated it when the Voice did that. 
“Did the gods let you into my head, sir?”
“A blind man could know what you were thinking just now,” the Voice replied.  “Now, before I choose not to ignore you insolent tone, follow me.”
Grent sighed and fell in behind the old man.  Their sandals rang on the white tile floor as they went back through where the priests performed their healing spells.
The stump that was Grent’s right arm throbbed as it always did when he went through this part of the temple.  He’d spent many cycles here, the priests using their healing magicks to soothe his horrible pain while they prayed and experimented with various spells to restore his arm.
In the end, the Voice of the Gods delivered the devastating news to Grent and his parents; the gods were not willing to fully heal the boy.  Grent would be given his life, but not his arm.
His parents had wept.  The priests had called it a punishment from the gods, as was the oppression of the Hilos.  Grent had lain in the bed, feeling the weight of the message press against him, and prayed for the gods to go ahead and take his life.
The gods had not granted him his wish.  Instead, Grent had risen from his bed and struggled to learn how to function with one hand.  Thus, he got the name “One-Handed” tossed at him by cruel peers.
“In here, Grent.” 
Grent looked up and was surprised to see that they stood in front of the Scrying room.  This was where the Voice went to commune with the gods and seek their answers.
“Come come, lad,” the Voice said, tapping his foot.  “We don’t have forever.”
Grent entered the chamber.  The room was perfectly round, with pillows scattered along the walls.  In the middle of the floor was a pool of water, which was still and blue at the moment.
“Sit,” the Voice commanded.  Grent settled down at the edge of the pool, careful not to even breathe on the surface.
The Voice sat at the other side of the pool.  “The gods tell me it is time.”
“Time for what?”
“Listen and look,” the Voice said.  He closed his eyes and began to murmur.  The words were in the language of the priests, a language Grent did not know.
The prayer seemed to go on for a long time, and Grent grew bored.  He felt his eyelids droop as he sat cross-legged, his back against a tasseled pillow.
He began to smell a sweet fragrance.  It came from the pool, and a mist seemed to rise from it.  Grent’s stump began to throb again, as if to remind him it was there.
A picture began to form out of the mist.  A fat man took shape, his sharp features and greenish skin marking him as a Hilo.
“Not just any Hilo,” the Voice said from behind the mist, “but their king, Puspep.”
Grent felt disgust.  “Why am I seeing this?”
“Because the gods wish you to,” the Voice said.  “Listen and look, lad, as I tell you what the gods say.”
Grent clapped his mouth shut and nodded.  As the Voice spoke, the mist changed, forming pictures that matched the words.
“Long ago, the gods gave us this land.  As long as we did not forget them they promised to bless us and prosper us beyond our imagination.
“But men will be men, and we forgot the gods.  We became a brutal, selfish people, not remembering their commands.  So they chose to discipline us, as a father disciplines a child.”
“The Hilos,” Grent breathed.  He watched the mists as they showed his people being crushed underneath the heel of their oppressors.
“Yes.  The Hilos are evil, but the gods chose to use them to bring us back to remembrance of their goodness.”
“We can’t defeat the Hilos,” Grent protested.  His left hand went to the stump of his right arm.  “We’ve tried.”
“We were not ready.  But now, the people remember the gods.  They have begun to mend their ways.  It is time.”
“Time for what?”
“A deliverer.”
Grent gasped as the mists showed him…himself.
“I’m no deliverer!  I’m One-Handed.”
The Voice’s tone became stern.  “Do not argue with the gods.  You have been prepared for this moment.  The gods have seen to it.”
“But how?” Grent cried.  “How am I supposed to deliver our people?”
“Watch, Grent,” the Voice said.  “Watch and learn.”


It was the day the people of Sao were to carry the tribute to the Hilos.  Wagons were lined up loaded with fruit, linens, and precious stones.  The best cattle milled behind.
The people stood along the road, their eyes on the goods they were forced to surrender.  Some women wept, raising their voices in pleas to the gods.  Little children darted to and fro and played, unaware of the trouble of their elders.
The Voice of the Gods came out.  He raised his hands up, and the people fell silent.  “Hear me!  Those whom the gods have chosen to present our tribute to the Hilos, hear your names and step forth!”
As the Voice spoke their names, men stepped forward.  A couple of priests were called as well.  Those who were named came and knelt in front of the Voice, waiting.
“And,” the Voice said, “to lead those who bring this tribute…Grent!”
A surprised murmur ran through the crowd.  Grent stepped forward.  He wore a clean white tunic and loose white trousers.
Quala’s voice rose above the murmur.  “Why would the gods send someone like One-Handed?  Do they want the Hilos to mock us further?”
Grent’s left hand balled into a fist.  Before he could respond, the Voice answered in a reproving tone.  “Do not question the gods, Quala!  Have we not offended the gods enough?”
A hush fell on the crowd as if a lid had been clapped on them.  Grent strode to the end of the line of men and knelt.  At 16 winters, he was the youngest chosen.
The Voice of the Gods raised his hands to the heavens and blessed those chosen to deliver the tribute.  At the conclusion of the prayer, he went down the line of men, touching their foreheads with a fingertip smeared with fragrant oil that had been offered in front of the altar.
When he came to Grent, the two locked eyes briefly.  Grent nodded slightly.  The Voice smiled.  “Go with the gods,” he murmured as he brushed the lad’s forehead.
Then he stepped back.  Grent stood and went to stand in front of the first wagon.  The others ranged themselves among the caravan behind him. 
The priests’ voices rose in a chant, their hands weaving in the air in front of them.  Under their spell, the wagons began to roll.  The party set out for the Hilo’s main city.
The magicks of the priests gave wings to their feet.  Before the sun finished crossing the sky they stood in front of the gates of the city.
The guard that stood before the gates looked over the caravan with a smirk.  “Who’s in charge here?”
Grent stepped forward.  “I am.  We bring our required tribute to the King of the Hilos.”
“You’re in charge?” the guard asked.  He stared pointedly at Grent’s stump, and he began to laugh.
An angry murmur rose from the men behind Grent.  He felt his face grow hot, but he restrained himself.  It wasn’t time yet.
“Well,” the guard said, controlling himself.  “I’ll let you go in, cripple.  Go take your tribute.”  His eyes raked the wagons, bright with greed.  “We appreciate your generosity.”
Grent nodded.  At a gesture from the guard, the gates opened and the caravan moved inside.
They needed no directions to the palace.  It stood on top of a hill in the midst of the city, the white and yellow marble walls gleaming in the rays of the sun. 
There were people lining the streets of the city.  They laughed as Grent and the others made their way to the palace.  Some threw rotten fruit.
One of Grent’s men lost his temper and dove into the line of people, sending one man sprawling with his fist.  The crowd cried out in outrage.  A man who stood nearby with a sword drove it into the brawler.  With a cry the man fell.
The priests were by him in an instant, chanting their healing spells.  The guard did not stop them, just glared at the rest of the men in the caravan, blood dripping from his sword.
The others men grumbled, but stayed in place.  A couple of them cast angry glances at Grent, as if to ask him why he did not intervene.
The young man just watched and waited.  None of the men carried weapons on their belts – it was forbidden.  To fight now would be suicide.
Finally the priests got the injured man on his feet.  There were no cheers from the men of the caravan.  Grent worked to keep his face expressionless.  Once the men were back in line, he turned and continued towards the palace.
He felt the resentment of the other men burning behind him.  But they followed.  He hoped they’d continue to respect his authority.
They came to the front of the palace.  More guards stood there, watching the caravan with barely veiled contempt.
Grent stepped forward.  “My people the Sao bring their tribute to the Hilos, who rule over us.”
The guards grinned.  One of them, his greasy black hair plastered on his skull, asked, “Are you in charge there, cripple?”
“I am,” Grent said.  The guards burst into laughter.
“You are the best your people can do?” the first guard chortled.  “No wonder we rule you.”
Grent took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself.  “I ask leave to present a token of our tribute to your king.”
“Of course, of course,” the guard said.  “Go in, my one-handed friend.”
He sketched a mocking bow to Grent.  The young man ignored him, accepting from one of the priests a basket with some choice fruit and precious stones.
Grent encircled the basket with his good left arm.  The guard turned to the others.  “While your leader goes and pays your respects to King Puspep, you can follow me and unload the tribute.”
Grent stepped in.  A guard who stood on the other side of the gate crooked a finger at him, and he followed the Hilo into the palace.
After the heat of the sun, the coolness of the palace was welcome.  Grent carefully noted his route as the guard took him deep into the building, past guards and servants.
Finally, they came to a stone door embedded with precious stones.  The guard rapped on it with the hilt of his sword.  “Come in,” a voice wheezed.
The door opened and Grent was led into a richly appointed room.  Many tapestries woven with glimmering threads hung on the walls.  Divans and heavy wooden furniture supplied many places to take one’s ease.  A scented breeze blew in from the open porch.
King Puspep sat on a marble throne.  He wore a thin white robe, and his fat fingers glittered with rings.  A heavy golden medallion hung around his neck.
“So, what do we have here?” he asked, his tiny blue eyes peering out from his face.
“My name is Grent, King Puspep,” Grent said.  “I bring you tribute from my people, the Sao.”
“Well, well,” Puspep said.  “Bring it here, Sao.  Put it on the table before me.”
Grent came and knelt in front of the low marble table.  He got the basket down without spilling anything.  He then stood up.
Puspep levered himself off the throne and waddled down to the table.  His pudgy fingers grabbed one of the fruits and he bit into it.  “Mmmm.  It appears you have done as you should, Sao.”
“There is more, King Puspep,” Grent said.
“Eh?  What else have you brought, Sao?”
“A message from our gods, Sire,” Grent said.
A chuckle came from some of the guards.  “What kind of gods do you have?  They aren’t much, are they?”
“Were it not for our gods turning their backs on us, you would not rule us,” Grent said, his chin up.
The soldiers’ faces darkened.  More than one put a hand on his sword.
“Now, now,” Puspep said with a wave of his hand.  “You have better things to do than to slay a cripple.”  His eyes bored into Grent’s.  “What do your gods have to say to me, Sao?”
“Forgive me, Sire,” Grent said with a slight bow.  “But I am only permitted to give their message to you alone.”
“Oh, really?” the king said.  He climbed back onto his throne.  “So your gods will not save your people, and they will only let you speak to me alone?”
“It is how they have instructed me, Sire,” Grent said.
A guard stepped forward and struck Grent in the side of the head.  “Now what do your gods say, you pathetic cripple?”
Grent’s ears rang, but he managed to keep his feet.  “I can only give my message to the king.”
The guard raised his hand to strike again, and Grent braced himself for the blow.
The king burst out laughing.  “Oh, this is quite amusing!” he gasped, struggling to catch his breath.  “Leave me with the gods’ messenger; I would like to know what they have to say.”
The guard dropped his hand.  “Sire, with all due respect…”
Puspep frowned.  “He is a weak cripple of a weak people!  I doubt he can do me harm.  Now obey me!”
With a bow, the guards obeyed.  Grent was left alone with the king.
With a smirk, Puspep sat back on his throne.  “Now tell me, Sao, what is this message from your gods?”
Grent stepped to the king.  He placed his left arm across his waist and bowed.  “The gods send you their greetings, King Puspep.”
“Is that all?” Puspep snorted.
“No,” Grent said.  He straightened suddenly, the knife he’d strapped to his right thigh and concealed under his tunic in his hand.  With all his strength he drove it into the king’s fat belly.
“Here,” Grent whispered, “is the message from my gods.”
The king’s eyes widened in pain.  His hands went to his belly.  Blood darkened his robe.  The fat man’s mouth opened, but all he could manage was a wheeze.
Leaving the knife buried in the king’s belly, Grent grabbed the medallion around the king’s neck and pulled it off.  The move threw the fat man off balance, and he tumbled off his throne, landing heavily on the floor.
Grent watched until the king’s death throes subsided.  There was a barrel of water outside on the porch, and he hurried over to wash his hands.
Then he tucked the medallion into his tunic.  He went back into the room, taking care to lock the porch doors behind him.
He crossed the room, listening.  No alarm was sounding.  No one seemed aware of what he’d done.  Next, he would discover if the gods were really working in this or not.  If they weren’t, he was a dead man.
He took the key from the door that led out to the rest of the palace.  Pocketing it, he opened the door and slipped out, letting it lock behind him.
The guards jumped to attention.  Grent dropped his eyes and hunched his shoulders.  “The king asks for a time of privacy to consider the message from my gods.”
He held his breath.  If they chose not to believe him, to go check on the king, he would perish here.
“Well, cripple, why are you still standing here?” one of the guards said.  “You’ve done what you had to.  Now get you and your stench out of here.”
Grent shuffled away from the door, fighting the urge to run away.  He waited until he was out of sight of the guards.  Only then did he pause to gulp air into his lungs.
Then he did run.  He ran to where the men were unloading the tribute.  He grabbed one of the priests and pulled him to the side.  “I have something to show you,” he hissed.
He turned so his back was to the guards and pulled the medallion out of his tunic.  The priest, a middle-aged man with piercing black eyes, gasped at the sight.  “What have you done?”
“The gods favor us today,” Grent whispered.  “We are called to rise up against our oppressors and take back what is ours.  Help me subdue the guards here and rally the men.”
“The gods spoke to you?” the priest whispered, glancing behind Grent.
Grent quickly slipped the medallion back in his tunic.  “Seek the counsel of the Voice of the Gods,” he said.  He felt a jab in his ribs from a sword hilt.
“What are you doing?” A guard growled.  “Get to work and finish unloading.”
Grent nodded and turned towards the wagons.  “Our priest needs to let our people know the tribute has been delivered.”
“Fine,” the guard said.  “But you aren’t a priest, cripple!”
Grent nodded.  He saw the priest’s eyes turn white as he entered the magickal trance that allowed him to speak to the Voice from a distance. He took his time, grabbing a sack of precious stones and walking slowly as if weary.
The priest’s eyes turned black again.  He looked at Grent, and gave him a nod.  Grent grinned.
He moved to a guard, swinging the sack of stones with all the strength of his arm.  It caught the man on the side of the head, and he fell against the wall, stunned.
Before anyone else could act, the priest completed a chant and waved his hands.  A rain of fiery missiles fell, landing on the Hilo soldiers and burning them.  They went writhing to the ground.
The other Sao men looked dumbfounded.  “What are you doing?” the other priest gasped.
Grent jumped atop one of the wagons.  He pulled the medallion out of his tunic again.  The waning sunlight caused it to sparkle and dance.
“The gods have given us our oppressors!” he shouted.  “They have already slain their king and leader.  Now each of you grab a weapon and fight for our people and our gods!”
Grent felt an energy coursing through him like a fine wine, warming and strengthening him.  He saw it reflected in the eyes of his fellow Sao, and as one they fell on the soldiers and took their swords. 
Grent jumped down from the wagon.  There were not enough weapons to go around.  “Come!” he shouted.  “We will go to our enemies for our swords!”
Together the Sao rushed inside the palace.


Grent watched the sun rise from the camp the Sao had set up outside the sacked Hilo city.
The small band of men, with Grent in the lead, had rushed through the palace, seemingly unstoppable.  Some of the guards had not even put up a fight, but fled in terror.
Then, as they fought their way towards the city walls, they were joined by others from their village.  Priests and mages had worn themselves out with spells to bring other warriors to the city as quickly as possible.
The city fell without the Sao losing any men.  Those Hilo who survived the devastation fled the city, leaving behind provisions and riches. 
Grent watched a line of men and women who were carrying plunder.  Once they had gotten everything of value out of the city, they would destroy it with fire.  It was what the gods commanded.
“You have not slept,” the Voice of the Gods said as he sat next to Grent.
“I am resting,” Grent countered.  “I will sleep when this is done.”
“A ruler should learn to sleep when he can,” the Voice said.
Grent frowned.  “I am no ruler.”
“Ah, but you are,” the Voice said.  “It was your leadership that rallied the people.”
“Aren’t you supposed to say it was the work of the gods?” Grent said with a tired smile.
“That goes without saying,” the Voice said.  “And it is the gods who have prepared you for this task.  You have led the people in their name once; it is right you continue to do so.”
Grent cocked his head.  He looked over the camp, his people moving with energy and hope that had long been missing from their lives.  “Will they follow?”
“How can they not?” the Voice said.  “But a warning, Grent.  When you lead, you must keep them to the path of the gods.  Should they stray again…” the old man’s eyes went to the ruin of the Hilo city.  “There are other Puspeps out there.”
Grent nodded.  “Then I will lead.”
“The gods will bless you,” the Voice said.  He placed a hand on the younger man’s shoulder and then moved away.
“Sir,” Grent called before the old man went out of earshot.  “Can I choose my name as ruler?”
The Voice turned.  With a smile, he asked, “And what name would you choose?”
Grent’s left hand stole to his stump.  “Grent One-Handed.”
“Interesting,” the Voice commented.  “Why that name?”
“To remember that the gods can use anyone who chooses to serve them,” Grent said.
“A good thing to remember,” the Voice nodded.  He turned and walked away.
Grent One-Handed turned back to surveying the city and began to make his plans.

One-Handed.  Copyright  © 2011 by Laura Ware
Published by JJ Press
Cover design by JJ Press

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction, in whole or in part in any form. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Withdrawal is No Fun

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder.  In order to combat that, I take medication.  This medication is for all intents and purposes an amphetamine.  But instead of making me bounce off the walls, it energizes me and helps me focus.

Because of what it is it is tightly controlled.  My insurance changed slightly recently.  Because of that, even though I've taken this medication for years my doctor is suddenly required to provide pre-authorization before the insurance will pay for it.

Sounds simple, right?  Well, I've been doing without this particular medication since Sunday while my doctor, the pharmacy, and I guess the insurance company all get their act together.

Meanwhile I struggle with the symptoms that come with a sudden withdrawal.  Throw in that I also suffer from depression and anxiety and that my symptoms aren't helping with those conditions and you will understand this hasn't been a great week.

But right now all I can do is take it one step at a time and hope that tomorrow the powers that be will get this straightened out.  Anyway, consider this blog post a getting this off my chest.  Maybe it'll help me feel better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back on the exercise wagon?

It has been a long time since I visited the YMCA.  Time seems to slip away and to be honest it doesn't often enter my mind, though I know it would help with weight loss.

Yesterday my husband Don and I were talking.  He pointed out I have downtime between dropping the two young men who live with us off to their respective jobs.  He suggested I take 15 minutes and walk a treadmill.  Not too fast - I'm too heavy and it's been too long - but starting off slow and giving it a shot Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (commitments I have during the year make this more difficult on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Okay, I said, I'll give it a try.

So after dropping off Young Man #1 to his job I headed for the Y.  After checking in I picked out a treadmill and after picking a lecture on my iPod to listen to, I got started.

Well, I only got up to 1.8 mph on the thing.  Because I have balance issues I hang on to the front rail of the machine, which apparently stressed out my biceps.  I plodded through 15 minutes before happily getting off the thing and heading home for a needed shower.

I am going to do my best to try out this schedule.  I am trying to have a positive attitude while I endure, hoping it will result in good numbers on the scale.  Maybe by going public with this I'll do a better job sticking with it.  We'll see.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Interesting discussion on my Facebook page...

Yesterday I posed a question on my Facebook page which came out of a discussion I was having with my best friend.  The question was, "Is a more powerful federal government a good thing?  Why or why not?"

As I type this there are over 100 responses in the thread.  Only a few from me, the rest from friends who weighed in on both sides of the issue.

I was a little nervous at first.  Would the thread blow up into some kind of flamefest, with people slinging mud all over the place?  I made it clear that I wouldn't tolerate such posts and would take the whole thing down if people couldn't behave.

I am pleased to report that overall, with a couple of exceptions, the conversation has been well-mannered.  The issues are actually being discussed rationally and calmly.  And I am learning and enjoying the back and forth between people.

If only those in power could talk to each other like this, maybe something good could be accomplished...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My First Free Fiction Sunday...

I'm planning on posting my first free short story on the blog.  My goal is to leave it up for a week and then change it for a new one each Sunday.  Let me know how you like it, and if it's something I should continue!

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Testing to see if I can blog from my phone.  This could be fun...