Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guest Post by Ellie: Dancer, Part 3

Dancer rode back towards Green River Station and sighed as he thought of a warm bed and place to sleep for the night. He relished the idea of meeting new people and making new friends. He looked at the horse he was currently riding and patted its neck as it rode through dimming sun. He could see the town just in distance as he rode back. The horse suddenly jerked to a stop and Dancer sighed.

"What's wrong girl?" he asked petting her neck again. He looked over her shoulder to see a baby rattlesnake in the middle of their path freshly bleeding as if it was just caught and released by an eagle. He frowned and got off the horse and walked over the the snake and looked at it from a safe distance.

"You hurt?" he asked it. It squirmed as he talked to it. Dancer looked at the town and then at the snake and growled. He ripped a piece of his shirt off and got closer to the injured snake. It snapped at Dancer and he pulled back. "Now that's not very nice," Dancer looked at the snake and got a little closer and let the snake snap at him again this time hitting its mark, Dancer's wrist.

"Verdammt!" Dancer yelled he bit his lip and held back a cry of pain. The snake let go and dropped the short distance into Dancer's lap as he sat backwards. He quickly wrapped the piece of cloth around the snake gently and then ripped his shirt again and wrapped it above the bite on his wrist and tied it tightly. He then placed his mouth around the bite and sucked and spit our the blood from his mouth. After awhile of this he stopped and let it to continue to bleed and looked at the snake.

"You caused me some trouble," Dancer growled at it. "That mean I get to pick your name," he added. He thought for a moment and looked at it. "Diabalo," he smiled weakly. He took off his hat and carefully placed the snake inside the hat and then mounted the horse again. He let the snake ride in his hat and rode off to the station.

"Well this was one hell of a first run," Dancer muttered to himself. Blood slowly dripped down his hand onto the ground a small trail left behind him. He whipped sweat away from his forehed and when he got to the station he smiled dismounted and passed out.

© 2009 Ellie and The Five Dollar Mail

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lily by Diego Candia

Isn't she sweet? Love this girl. Love her.

Diego is amazing. This is another one of those "Oh, my gosh, Diego, don't change anything" type pictures. I swear the man can see inside my head.

Anyways, here is your second piece of artwork for the month. Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate. Saint says Buon Natale to you. He says he hopes La Befana brings you lots of loot.

Have part three of Ellie's story on the way, as well as a regular post later this week. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guest Post by Ellie: Dancer, Part 2

Dancer rode silently in the dark of night towards the warm glow of a candle in the window of a station. He yawned and looked behind him to see the mochila still behind him. He smiled widely at how easily he got the job and was set on keeping the job. He ran over the three don'ts out loud.

"No cussing, no fighting, no drinking," he said aloud as he rode up to the station. "No drinking," he repeated. "No... drinking," he said again this time a bit slower. "Dang, why the heck no drinking?" he asked aloud. He dismounted the horse and yawned again and walked to the door of the station and knocked on the door. A man answered the door and looked at Dancer.

"You must be the runner," the man mumbled and looked over his shoulder. "Are you planning on staying the night?" he asked. Dancer nodded.

"If you don't mind sir," Dancer smiled. The man nodded and took the mochila off the horse and set it by the door and took the horse.

"You can have the cot in the corner," he pointed the cot. Dancer nodded and walked over to the cot and looked at it and took off his hat and tossed it to the side and slumped on the cot and fell to sleep as soon as he closed his eyes.

The next morning Dancer woke up to the sounds of a busy town. He got up, grabbed his hat, and walked over to the man he had seen the night he arrived and looked at him.

"Good afternoon, you slept like a horse. Sorry boy, fresh our of horses, except for the one you had last night, she'll be ready in tomorrow though, so if you want to you can stay here again," he offered.

"Sure," Dancer answered. "I would enjoy that, a bar anywhere close?" he asked.

"Yeah, four doors down, can't miss it," the man answered. Dancer nodded and walked out of the station and walked down to the bar. He walked in and checked his pockets to see two dollars. He shrugged and then looked around and to see men playing poker, women tending drinks and even some men chasing after the women. The fresh smell of liquor hit Dancer's nose and he smiled and walked over to the bar and saw two men looking at him.

"What are you looking at?" Dancer demanded.

"Aren't you a little small to have a drink?" one of the men asked. Dancer laughed.

"I bet I could out drink you," he smiled. The two men laughed at this and looked at him.

"I'll tell you what, you out drink me and I pay for the all of it, if you loose you pay," the other man said. Dancer laughed and looked at them.

"I'd be happy to take the bet," Dancer grinned at them. "Bartender," Dancer called. "Two whiskey shots," he ordered. "And please keep them coming," he added. The bartender looked at the two men and nodded. He shrugged and pasted Dancer and the man each a shot. They each guzzled it down. This continued and a crowed had slowly began to form around them.

"Keep it up Carson!" the man yelled to his friend at they both finished their tenth shot. Carson have a small hick-up and Dancer laughed.

"Getting ready to pass out?" Dancer asked. Carson growled at him and waved for more. Two more shots came. Dancer looked at it and smiled wickedly and swung his head back and tossed it down his mouth. Carson glared and looked at the shot in his shaking hand and tossed it down as well. Dancer smiled and waved for more. Carson took the next shot and dropped it passing out. Dancer laughed and took the last shot. "I think this means you pay," he added to the other man. "Hope your friend can pay you back," Dancer got up from the bar and turned around seeming not hazed at all and walked out back to the station humming happily. He walked into though the door and beamed at the man. "Hey, howareya?" he asked his words drawling together.

"Are you drunk?" the man asked. "I was wondering what you were doing but getting drunk?" he asked. He walked over to Dancer and sniffed his breath. "How can you still be walking?"

"I'm German," Dancer sang happily. "I can do anything!" he shouted punching a fist in the air and loosing balance on his feet. The man caught him. "I'm Dancer by the way!" he added happily.

"I am Hank," Hank answered. "I think you should go sleep this off," Dancer looked at him and pouted.

"Whaareeya?" Dancer's words slid together as he spoke. "Mymaaaa?" he drawled hick-uping. Hank pushed the drunk in the cot and Dancer smiled lazily again and passed out.

Dancer woke up the next morning the a pounding headache. He moaned and slowly sat up and looked around. "Damn, I drank," he muttered.

"How are you feeling?" Hank asked. Dancer looked up at him.

"I feel like Hell," Dancer grunted back. "Ugg, I drank too much," he added.

"What the hell did you do?" Hank asked.

"I bet I could drink more then some idiot at the bar, I can take in liquor but it takes its toll after about ten minutes I stop drinking, while I am drinking I am fine," Dancer added. "Ugg, I need to get back to Green River's Station," he added standing up and tripping over his feet. "Do you have a horse?" Hank nodded.

"Yeah, I do, just be careful," Hank added.

"Yeah, the fresh air will do me some good though," Dancer answered. He stumbled out of the station and mounted his horse groaning. "Thanks for putting up with me last night Hank," Dancer added turning to Hank before he left. Hank nodded and Dancer rode off towards the direction of Green River's Station. "Well, broke one promise, oh well, they won't have to know," Dancer thought aloud.

© 2009 Ellie S. and The Five Dollar Mail

Lights The Storm by Diego Candia

Another amazing portrait by Diego Candia. I just love this, for reasons that are probably fairly obvious.

In fact, when Diego first sent it to me, and I first saw it, I nearly snoogied coffee all over my computer screen.

So, I hope you all like it as much as I did, but remember: coffee hurts when it gets forcibly ejected through your nose.

I decided to have a little fun with the fact, if you go back Diego's Saint pic, I added some text to his background, too. Gonna do that with all of them.

I have other pics waiting in the que, so I asked Ellie, who at the time I had online talking about ideas for her guest post, who she wanted to see this month. She correctly pointed out that since it was Christmas, you all needed a Christmas Bonus.

I usually dole out one piece of art per month, if even that, but this month you will be getting two of them. Hopefully in addition to regular posts and some guest posts. In fact, I hve a chapter for you this week, I'm just not done with it. I sit on it a few days, tinker with it, fix typos, fix grammar, etc. until I am satisfied with it. Not ready yet, but check back, it will be in a couple days at the most.

Hope you're all having a nice month, however you enjoy it.

Thanks again, Diego!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Guest Post: Dirty Revenge by Evelyn

This is a post by Evelyn, a reader. I have to say, I laughed out loud several times when I read it! Thanks, Evelyn, hope to hear more from you. I really enjoyed this a lot.


“Luis!” An angry bellow shattered the early morning calm, startling Lily enough to drop the iron-cast pan she was holding onto the kitchen floor with a high pitched metallic ringing. A door slammed somewhere upstairs, shaking the whole house enough to feel it through the frame of the station. Fiona smothered a laugh at Lily’s expression, shaking her head wordlessly.

Footsteps thundered down the stairs, giving only a moment's warning before Saint himself stomped into the kitchen. His black hair was messy and knotted- the clear results of a restless night’s sleep. His hands were fisted in their fury, and Lily couldn’t help but worry a little for the younger man’s health. Saint’s dark eyes swept the room in an unusually sharp fashion for so early in the morning.

At the table, Wash was having as much more trouble concealing his amusement as Fiona was, though Wash was noticeably less concerned for his own safety.

“Mr. Bari?” Lily ventured, gray eyes wide behind her glasses.

“Ye’ know lad, whatever the kid did, ye’ have to give ‘im credit. I haven’t seen ye’ this awake, this early without coffee in a good long while,” Wash chuckled.

“I had coffee,” Saint hissed. “If you can call it that. Have either of you three ladies seen the brutto cagna?” Wash winced at Saint’s comment, but otherwise ignored it and took a long sip from his coffee.

“I’m sure he heard you coming a couple of miles away, Mr. Saint,” Fiona grinned, not bothering to hide her amusement any further. Wash guffawed behind her as Saint grimaced. “He left not ten minutes ago.”

“Damn coward,” Saint grumbled, his shoulders slumping. He eased his frame into the closest chair, letting his head fall back as he groaned.

“What did he do?” Lily asked, half afraid he would go into another rage again. Saint glanced up at her through still-sleepy eyes and frowned, but sighed and reached across the table for a biscuit.

“I woke up this morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Delicious- just the way I like it, with a hint of vanilla,” Saint started, talking between bites out of the biscuit. “I looked around and on the floor was a cup of the stuff. At first I thought it was from Lily because she was the only other person who’d seen how exhausted I was after last night- no, nothing like that,” Saint growled, glaring at Wash’s raised eyebrow and dirty grin.

“Jesse would have killed me. Anyway, so I basically just drank the whole thing down like you would a shot without tasting any of it at first. I looked down to the bottom of the damn thing when I was done, expectin’ to see grounds, but instead there was dirt. Who the hell else would pull something like that if not Luis? I can’t think of anyone else who has the guts or the motive to make my coffee with dirt instead of beans.”

“...He gave you dirt? And you drank it?” Wash broke the silence, his face torn between amusement, disbelief, and disgust. “We all knew ye’d drink just about anything strong, but dirt?” Wash snorted, shaking his head with a disbelieving grin. “That’s disgusting lad. An’ you complain about my coffee...” He laughed again, and drained his own cup. “Ms. Lily? Another’ cup if ye’d please,” the Irishman motioned to the empty coffee mug.

Lily sniffed, attempting poorly to hide her own malicious grin. “Funny. After that little speech you just gave Mr. Bari, I would’ve thought you’d have wanted nothing to do with it.”

~Evelyn - dirty coffee’s gross. ;p

© 2009 Evelyn and The Five Dollar Mail

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guest Post by Ellie: Dancer

Much to my amazed delight, there has been some interest in readers wanting to contribute their own take on the Five Dollar Mail. I am happy (read: ecstatic)to read other people's interpretations, and share them with you all. I think it's cool as hell, and ever since Bill wrote that guest post Texas Draw, I've been sort of wishing to get some more guest posts. I am of a mind that stories are best shared.

And it blows my mind that someone wants to share back some part of my story with me. Here we have a guest post by Ellie, who is a student.

Thanks, Ellie. You really have made me smile. Hope to hear more from you.


A young teenager no more then seventeen walked into the Green River Station as Lynch and Bender were talking about the mail. Bender stopped talking and turned to look at the boy. He was small, about five one and had bleach blond hair and coal-gray, sparkling eyes. His skin, however, was a dark tan and he wore tattered roper jeans, a soft dirty white shirt. A cowboy hat was seen around his neck. Lynch as well took in the boys looks.

"Can I send some mail for you?" Lynch asked the book shook his head.

"No, I would like to send it," he answered smiling broadly. "I would like to make myself of service to you," he added.

"Well, what is your name, boy?" Lynch asked.

"Horse Dancer Cuyler," the boy answered. "Dancer is good, though." he added.

"Dancer... are you Indian?" Bender asked, cutting in.

"Half, my father is an Indian and my mother is German. I grew up with her, though, my father left us. But hey, I am not here for my life story. I want to be a rider,"

"A rider? Can you ride is the question?" Lynch asked. Dancer rolled his gray eyes and laughed.

"My name is Horse Dancer for a reason, I don't just have a nice name," Dancer answered. "I can ride, I am willing to risk death daily, and I am orphan," he added.

"So why do this job?" Bender asked.

"Because I want to do something exciting," Dancer answered back.

"You have some spirit, boy." Lynch responded chuckling. "So, if you got the job, you'd move into the bunkhouse, right?" he asked.

"Well..." Dancer grew a bit silent. "I don't really have anywhere else to go... but..." Dancer paused and smiled again. "I would love to. I can meet all the boys that way!" Dancer added. "But why don't you test me out first? Send me on a run," he insisted.

"Well..." Lynch thought. "I could, Jesse is out on one. I had one for Luis, but I could give it to you, there aren't any army documents in it... Bender what do you think?"

"Not me who's hiring," Bender answered.

"I can take it, no problem, I studied the routes before I came here, I even rode them some. I can do it!" Dancer smiled. Lynch nodded.

"Okay, Bender, saddle him up," Lynch smiled. Dancer jumped in the air whooping and yelling in victory.

"Ja!" he yelled in German.

"Oh, another thing, no cussing, no drinking, and no fighting," Lynch added. Dancer nodded.

"No problem, boss," Dancer smiled. "I can promise to that!"

After a while Dancer was off with the mochila and Lynch turned to Bender.

"What do you think of the boy?" he asked. Bender shrugged.

"Arrogant, and something mysterious about him, but other then that I'd say he's a fine rider," Bender answered. I bet he'll raise hell with the boys back at the bunkhouse.

© 2009 Ellie S. and The Five Dollar Mail

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saint by Diego Candia

Got some new artwork this week by a wonderful artist, Diego Candia. He did the character sketch of Saint here.

Since I am a graphic artist, my husband suggested I design a background to go behind it. So what you see here is art by Diego, graphic by yours truly.

Thanks again, Diego, I love the art. Looking forward to working with you in the future!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back From Sin City

Well, back from Vegas. Had a great time, but man, I am glad to be back. You know, Vegas is the kind of place that I would never think to go in a million years. I mean, on the surface, it's a crowded, loud city with lots of noise and flashing lights. Pretty much the antithesis of anything I would go to on my own. However, this was a deal I couldn't pass up. Husband there for a week for the Sharepoint conference, and his air fare, food, and hotel was paid for. And it was our anniversary. So it was crazy not to just suck it up and not fly out there with him.

And you know what? It was awesome. It was awesome covered in a crunchy awesome shell. With awesome drizzled over the top.

Awesome. I wouldn't mind going back, if I have to be honest.

The highlight of my trip (actually, the highlight of my WHOLE YEAR) was getting to go out to Red Rock Canyon. I had been looking at those cowboy mountains all week, dreaming of going out there and getting some red dust on my boots. So on Friday, that is what we did. Look down there at the bottom of the blog. I've added a photo gallery, and so far, what is in there is pics from our desert tour. The pics don't do the colors any kind of justice at all...need to do a little correction in Photoshop...but you can get an idea.

Here in the Southeast, our mountains are lush and wet and green. Almost like a foggy rain forest. You can smell the black, soft earth and you will almost always get soaked at least once if you spend the weekend out there in the Blue Ridge. The approach to them is always dreamy and sensuous, with soft, blue, almost feminine curves, reclining all over the horizon.

Not in Nevada. The mountains are a raw, blasted moonscape of blazing reds and whites and yellows. Even the vegetation is jagged. I'm sporting a long gash on my leg from walking too close to a cholla...which is a sort of...I guess it's a cactus. Thing. I dunno, I hope it leaves a scar. I really do, I had so damn much fun out there I'd be proud to have a mark from that brutal, beautiful place gouged into my on my hide forever. Anyways, I guess the mountains out there look like the mountains back here would look if the meat were all burned off them and nothing but the bones were left. Which, I guess in a way,is what they are.

And geeze, I had some Vegas throat. Evidently, some people have problems with the dry air out there and hooray for me, I am one of them. I felt like Spongebob in that scene where he went to visit Sally the Squirrel and totally dried out inside her little glass bubble. That was me. You know if your sinuses dry out enough, they will bleed down your throat and out your nose? Fun times. Two words: Neti pot. I still ain't entirely right.

But thank you, Mr. John Johnson, our tour guide. Cheerfully sarcastic, witty, and passionately enthusiastic about the desert and the area, John was the perfect guide for our small but intrepid little band of explorers. He's a man I made an immediate connection with (if you find the pic of the man in the gallery with the gray hat on, that's him.) and will never forget. If you find yourself in Vegas, take one of his tours. You won't be sorry.

So, some highlights from the rest of the trip: Supper at Olives on the Bellagio Terrace (amazing), buying tons of bubble bath from Lush (also amazing, they have a website ) and taking long soaks in the huge bathtub in our room at Mandalay Bay, the Freemont Street Experience (pretty cool), dodging the porn slappers on the strip (annoying as shit, but it wouldn't be Vegas without them), supper at Red Square in Mandalay Bay (amazing in every way), soft pretzels at New York, New York, dining in a "street cafe" (which was really inside!) in front of the Doge's palace in The Venetian, Jim winning seventy-five big cents in a slot machine in the Paris casino, trying on clothes in the Betty Page store, and realizing not only is the withdrawal limit on a Las Vegas atm machine is three thousand dollars, but that you can change a hundred dollar bill in the bill changers.

I mean, I dunno, ya'll, I'm from South Carolina. We don't have those kinda atms here. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cowboy Mountains

So, yeah. This is the view outside my hotel window right now. I'm in Las Vegas while my husband attends a Sharepoint convention.

I may get another chapter up this week, not sure yet. Depends on how the week goes. But in any event, you all will be subject to some grainy, crappy pictures off my cell phone because I forgot to bring the little doflatchie that you use to read picture cards from cameras.

I do have the camera, so I'll post some nicer pics when I get back.

Anyways, what about those cowboy mountains, eh? How cool is that? We don't have that kind of terrain back home. I've never seen anything like it. Flying over here was like flying over a moonscape.

Of course, the Grand Canyon was on the other side of the frigging plane, right? Keep your fingers crossed for the return home for me. I don't normally fly. I hate flying. HATE flying. I mean, trapped in a pressurized metal tube with a couple tons of highly flammable jet fuel strapped to your ass, hurtled through the sky by a guy that might not even be awake. Yeah. Sign me up for that.

But hey, how often do you get a chance to take this kinda vaycay for half the price, since we're only having to pay for me. And it's our 17th anniversary, so, I kinda had to agree to fly.

You know what? You can buy tequilla shots at the airport before breakfast, even! Seriously, you can get eggs, bacon, coffee, and shooters. You know what else? You have shooters for breakfast in an airport, nobody even blinks.

The husband says having shooters for breakfast is "One of the signs."

After my retort, he followed that up with "getting defensive about having shooters for breakfast is another one of the signs."

It doesn't count if you think you're going to die later that day.

Anyways, thanks for my parents, for taking care of my daughter while we're away, and thanks for John and Kaci for house-sitting! And especially, thank you, Jim, love of my life, for 17 wonderful years. And for showing me that waking up with cowboy boots under your bed is a surefire sign that it's going to be a good day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wash by Liezl Buenaventura

Here's another awesome sketch by Liezl Buenaventura. I especially love the pose here, he looks so very....Wash! The coffee cup is a great detail. You know our boys can't function without their cuppa.

Thanks again, Lizz!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rabies, Mud, and Palm Trees

Well, no sooner am I back from Pennsic War up in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, but I had to take off to Isle of Palms here in South Carolina for a family gathering.

I had one whole day to do laundry. I started when I rolled out of bed Monday morning and didn't stop till I went to bed late that night.

I'm kind of sick of being inside a moving car. I'm just saying.

The week before that involved me getting bitten by a feral cat and the cat having to be quarentined for rabies observation. That's always a laff riot when you're already freaking out about driving a day and a half away from your kid. I didn't particularly want to have to send the cat to the shelter in the first place, nor was I all that interested in getting a call while I was that far away from home on vacation that I needed a a series of injections before I started foaming at the freaking mouth. Fun times.

In case you're curious, no, I don't have rabies.

So I'm typing this sitting in the kitchen of a rental house. At least here, I have Internet access, which I didn't have at Pennsic.

I used to go to Pennsic every year, but then I got sick and needed surgery, and then 10 months after that, I got pregnant, and then after that, my daughter was too small to other words, I had some adventures along the way and life intervened. Which is fine, it's been a great ride. But the husband decided that this year I needed to get out of the house, go reconnect with friends, and visit my old life a little bit.

Well, I was terrified. You'd think I would have wanted to go, and did. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to leave, if you understand me. If it hadn't been for a friend riding with me, and me being her only way there, I would have bailed out.

I have to tell you this...for the past six years, I've been having this dream about Pennsic. Those who have been to Pennsic know that Pennsic can pervade your very heart and soul, and while you may not be there at Pennsic, Pennsic never quite leaves you once it gets into you. My dream was this: I would be going to Pennsic just long enough to tell everyone I wouldn't be there. Just drop in and let everyone know (never mind that in reality, it takes me a day and a half to get there) I was sorry to be missing them again that year.

Yeah. I know, it's nuts, but hey, dreams don't always make sense.

When I showed up at the Pennsic gate this year, in a flash of crazy synchronicity, Cinderella's "Coming Home" started playing on the radio. And for at least a day or two, I could not shake the feeling I was dreaming again. Every time I'd been there for the past six years, it had been in a dream. Now that I was standing under the Pennsylvania sun, the Queen Anne's Lace waving in the breeze and the sticky, cow-manure scented mud cloying around my boots, I could not shake the feeling that I was once again dreaming. Although I had no message to deliver this time. This time, I didn't have to tell anyone I wasn't going to be coming.

So I walked down to the camp of a wonderful friend who I had never met. We'd been corresponding since the year I'd gotten sick. We'd talked on the phone and via email. She was one of the first people I told I was pregnant. I knew all about when her son went to Iraq, and when he returned. We were wonderful friends...we'd just never met.

I walked into her camp and she ran to me and it was like embracing a family member whom I'd been long separated from. That alone was worth the trip.

Yeah, I cried like a damn sap.

But then there was many others who I had yearned to give a hug or a handshake to, and old friends who I never imagined I'd be separated from so long to see. My week was a wonderful blur of connecting with friends old and new. I'll never take friends for granted again.

And for my daughter, who stayed home with her Daddy, well, she fared far better than I did during the week. Daddy kept her busy and the week sailed by for her. I was the one who cried on the phone while talking to her, not the other way around.

I'm glad I finally got to make my long trip. I was never so glad to have gone. And even so, I have never been so glad to return home.

I count my wealth by the love in my life. And I am filthy rich. Life is good.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Very Brief Break

Hi, folks. Haven't updated in a bit. Just not ready to post it, and too much on my mind last week or so to be able to focus on it. I'll be out of town for about two weeks, off and on. Once I get over this hump, it will be back to business as usual.

It's been a really screwy week and a half for me. I'll explain when I get back. Like I said, have had too much on my mind.

In the meantime, I have another print coming, which I am looking forward to seeing, and some other stuff in the works for you.

Thanks for reading, it means a lot to me.

Have a good couple of weeks,


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Header Pics And Other Musings

NOTE TO NEW READERS: The header has been recently updated with art by Diego Candia, soo this post no longer pertains to the artwork shown in this header. I may post the old header elsewhere on the site at some point.

Hi, folks. Working on the next bit of story, not done with it yet. I was housesitting last week, at my folk's. Their internet connection is not great. In fact, the last chapter was actually cranked out on my netbook, then posted Sunday night, from my own place, after the Sunday Night Irish Jam at the Publick House here in town.

So I'm a week behind getting my life in order and getting ready for vaction. We're in what my group affectionately calls Pennsic Crush.

Basically, that's a euphemism for "Running Around Like Beheaded Chickens Getting Ready For A Vacation That Will Pretty Much Beat Us Senseless."

I'm going here in less than two weeks. I may or may not get the requisite number of posts up before then. If I don't, I apologize in advance. But I'll be gone first week in August, so, don't worry, I haven't forgotten you all. I'll catch up.

In the meantime, as promised, here's the key to the header pictures. And for the person who asked, yeah, I actually fixed the pic of Saint so he is shaggier now. I just need to get it uploaded.

1. Lily
2. Saint
3. Fiona
4. Bender
5. Tommy
6. Luis
7. Wash
8. Jesse
9. Storm

Monday, May 18, 2009

Luis by Liezl Buenaventura

I'd have to say Liezl really outdid herself on this great picture of Luis. I dunno, but I think this might be my favorite so far, and that's saying something.

I told her the challenge with Luis would be capturing his personality. I'd say she did that and then some.

Thanks again, Lizz, you rock!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guest Post by Bill- (Prequel 2)...Texas Draw

My friend Bill, who shot the western theme pics of me, is a multi-talented guy. Not only is he a great photographer, but he's a fun and entertaining writer as well. He sent a a ton of pics to me along with this fun exchange he'd written between Saint and Wash, in which Saint gets schooled in a lesson Wash is already wise to.

I told Bill it was great fun for me that someone was writing fanfic of my story...he said it was less about the story and more about the pictures of me dealing poker.

I liked it so much that I got permission from him to post it here. It's close enough to the actual storyline and characters, I figured heck, why not just post it as an actual story post instead of a fanfic? So for the sake of continuity, it takes place on the last run our boys took before story start, which would be about a week before Chapter One.

Anyone else interested in doing a little writing, don't be shy about contacting me. I might even post it if you like, as either fanfic or a guest post.

Oh. And by the way. My three year old is now going around telling everyone I ate penguin poop.

You look like hell.

I wish that was all it was… I’m gonna need an advance on next months pay - two or three dollars….

You got paid just last week!

I’ll pay you back. I work steady and you know it.

What happened?

I ain’t sayin’…..

You will if you're gonna see my money…

I got scalped and I never took my hat off.


Yeah, Texas draw poker.

Don’t you know never to sit down at a game unless it’s with people you know? You’re a damned fool!

Well, I just got educated, that’s all.

How much did this education cost?

I ain’t sayin'….

You will, if you're gonna see my---

OK! OK! - for what the other nights schoolin’ cost, I ought to be a Perfesser or a Doctor, or sumpthin’.


Dammit! - It was a woman what done it to me! How was I to know she could play poker like that?

Sort of dark hair - eyeglasses maybe?

Yeah, how’d you know?

Congratulations - that was "Shotgun Mary" that taught you a lesson. I heard she was back in town.

Well, thank-you for your timely warning. That her real name?

Hell no. Nobody knows her real name. She got that moniker guarding "special" shipments for a freight company in Wichita.

She had to be cheatin’. I got a mind to get my money back.

Don’t do it. The Commanche learned the hard way to leave her alone when she was ridin’ shotgun.

She can’t be that good.

Idiot. Don’t mess with a woman that can scare the Commanche. They even had a special name for her.

What was it?

I ain’t sayin'….. If I told you, I'd have to go to church for a least a month.

How’d a woman get that way?

Well, the story is that she used to have a nice homestead in Missouri, but there’ll be a noose waitin’ for her if she goes back.

What happened?

She got caught hiding runaway slaves and the local bushwhacker gang came by to show her the error of her ways. It got right ugly - She sent three of 'em to the promised land. Mary got out with nothin' but the clothes on her back, a shotgun, and ten rounds of double-O.

I really need that two dollars.

Why now? You can’t spend it till we get back home.

I’m going back to town and buy her a drink.

© 2009 Regina Shelley on behalf of Bill.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Smokin' Chick

As you can see, I've got a profile pic over there that features me playing a round of "poker" while puffing on a big, fat stogie.

My friend Bill came out here and shot a ton of pics of me for this blog. Just cuz. He correctly observed that I was dressed in clothing from the wrong period in the original picture. So he shot a bunch of very fun "Western theme" shots for me, which I will probably be posting here and there. It was a fun day.

I have to tell you about the cigar. Call it a cautionary tale, if you will. Or just laugh at me. Everyone else did.

Unlike some of the boys in the story here, I don't smoke. And I especially don't smoke cigars (I'm talking to you, Saint). Bill suggested we run up to the Wal Mart and pick up a cheap cigar for a prop. So, off went Marie (Bill's wife), my three year old daughter, and myself.

The clerk was all like "you're doing what with it?" She was amused that we asked for the cheapest, fattest smokes she had on hand. We ended up getting short blunts, at the bargain price of five for three bucks. That's economy, right there, folks.

So, not wanting to look like amateurs by having me puffing on a neatly cut, unsmoked stogie, I went outside to light the thing and puff it down a bit. I am the absolute, no contest, most incompentent smoker on the face of God's Green Earth. It was kind of windy out, the thing kept going out because I wasn't puffing it hard enough, the smoke was making my eyes water, the works. I had to really give it a couple really good pulls to get it going.

Let me state for the record, I was a Theater and Speech minor. I have had to puff a few smokes on stage before. Not a big deal. However, cigarettes are not cigars. This sucker was filling my mouth and throat with a horrible, cheap-ass, foul-smelling cloud of toxins that would probably kill the lawn if I exhaled it close enough to the ground. Oh, dear Lord it was bad. I started retching. I cannot believe anyone would ever do that more than once.

I'm on my hands and knees, eyes watering, gagging, and holding a burning cigar in my hand when I hear my three year old step up to me and say to Marie "Why is Mommy sick?" And then I thought to myself "Oh, NO! My child is seeing me smoke! I'm a terrible example!"

Then I had another thought: "No, she's not seeing me smoke. She's seeing me dry heave into the azalea bed while holding a smoke. I'm a GREAT example!"

But it's all cool. Marie told her I was sick from eating penguin poop.

It would explain the smell.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jesse by Liezl Buenaventura

You know, this interpretation of Jesse kind of took me by suprise and I absolutely love it. I really like the jaunty facial expression, and the casual look of the pose.

I can just see him mucking out the stables with that shovel.

You have to kind of feel a little sorry for Lily, having an older brother who is prettier than she is.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Yeah, so, I got laid off.

But it's all good. I'm in a very good position to be laid off, compared to most, so I'm just gonna make the best of it.

It's not like I didn't see this coming. I did. The work just wasn't there, and I spent more time trying to look busy than I did actually busy. I really hate that. And I've been expecting it for about a year, to be honest.

So if anyone feels bad for me, don't. I probably enjoyed the last couple days far, far more than is seemly for someone who just got canned. Before last Wednesday, I had no time for my personal life. There's something terribly wrong with how you are living if there is no time whatsoever for yourself, your family, and who you are in your own life. After last Wednesday, the sun has been warm and I can smell Spring on the breeze. For the first time in years I could enjoy that sensation. It was something I could enjoy instead of it being a reminder of all the things I was selling for money.

I realize that my situation is not like many who are struggling in these hard times. I am lucky. My family will tighten their belts and we will try to make a go of living off my husband's income. I will pick up freelance projects where I can. I think we'll be okay.

Right now, my back is killing me. I've been doing laundry all day, tackling household projects and full time child care. I'm exhausted. The four years I've spend a cube-dweller has made me soft. I didn't have a hard job. I'm older and more out of shape than I've ever been and my back and legs are telling me about it.

I feel great.

As for The Five Dollar Mail, I am looking forward to having a bit more time to work on it. I mentioned in an earlier post my goal was to maybe post more often, but as you see it hasn't panned out that way. I seem to write in bites of about a thousand words, and that's been working out for me pretty well, but trying to do that more than once a week hasn't worked out up to this point. I apologize for that. Maybe I can post more often now, and that would be great. We'll see how it goes.

In any case, thanks for reading, and rest assured, I'm still here plugging away.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fiona by Liezl Buenaventura

Here is a beautiful picture of Fiona by Liezl Buenaventura. This really captures Fiona's delicate loveliness and fragility. Thanks, Lizz!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nothin' Like A Good Piece of Hickory....

Well, Saint and Wash are rumbling away towards Salt Lake on the stage, Tommy's off to Three Crossings, and here I sit Wednesday afternoon and am not quite ready to post our next chapter. However, fear not, I have not left you without the means to enjoy a little tumbleweed action at your desk this week. Here is something I hope you can relate to and expand upon. 

This may come as a massive shock to everyone, but most of my most favorite movies are Westerns. They don't even have to be particularly good Westerns, either, as you will see when I show you my list. They just have to be entertaining, and I have to like them for whatever reason. So bear in mind that my "Favorite Western Movies" list is not about quality. It's about me simply digging the flick. 

 So, in no particular order: 
1. Westward the Women, 1951 
Okay, well, maybe this really is my number one favorite, so I guess for at least this title, it IS in a particular order. If you like Western flicks, this is a must see. That goes double if you are a chick. I guess it goes double if you are a dude, too. Yeah. I can't do math. 

 Anyways, this movie is about a wagon train of mail order-brides going west to meet, for the first time, the men who they will marry. The trail boss is a seasoned, cranky cowboy who is not happy about his assignment. I won't give anything away here, just watch it. But know this: Considering that this black and white gem was made in 1951, the portrayal of the women is breathtakingly refreshing. They are real women. More importantly, they are real humans. They show immense power and strength, crushing pain and weakness, heroism, stoicism, determination. Their portrayal is one of respect and admiration. 

This is a character movie, plain and simple, and a spellbinding one that that. 

 2. The Cowboys, 1972 
Okay, the Duke is going to figure heavily on this list. I'm just being honest here. However, this is a bit of an unusual John Wayne movie in that...well...I'm not going to spoil it, but if you watch it, you'll understand what I mean. 

 This is another awesome character flick, and it's also in black and white. Without giving it away, John Wayne plays a trail boss who finds himself forced to utilize a crew of very young,very green boys to drive his cattle 400 miles. 
3. The Frisco Kid, 1979 
Think about this: Harrison Ford playing a gunslinger. Not much of a stretch. Gene Wilder playing a rabbi. Again, not much of a stretch. In the same movie? Yeah. There's your stretch. 

 This movie is a charming, hilarious, and poignant buddy movie. Ford plays a gunslinger trying to help a lost, terribly green rabbi who literally just stepped off the boat from Poland and is trying to get to San Francisco. This is one of those movies you just never get tired of watching. Wilder's repeated exclamation of "What a wonderful country this is!" is just pure gold in the context in which he keeps saying it. Although I would argue that every other line in the movie is "my favorite line." 

 4. Unforgiven, 1992 
 This movie is far, far away from being "the feelgood hit of the summer." It is sad, brutal, and kind of makes you hurt a bit to watch. I think the achingly human way all the characters are portrayed makes it into a masterpiece. The good guys are not good. The bad guys are not bad. Everyone is just tragically human. And the amazing cast pull this off with incredible realism. A cowboy violently disfigures a prostitute in a drunken rage. The girls band together to hire gunslingers (played by Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman) to avenge her. If that sounds simple...think again. 
5. Valley of the Gwangi,1969 
So we're playing putt putt down in Myrtle Beach, the husband and I. "Jurassic Golf", to be exact. We were actually talking about westerns, having seen Paint Your Wagon the night before over copious amounts of tequila (which, by the way, is an excellent way to watch that movie.). Having this conversation while standing next to this small flock of bright yellow fiberglass pterodactyls, he suddenly remembered something. He remembered Valley of the Gwangi

 So when we got home, he rented it for me. Let me tell you something, Constant Reader, I challenge you to find a movie that combines cowboys, Romanies, dinosaurs, and dwarves in a single offering. Seriously. No, really. I'm serious. I don't need to add any other description after that. Just watch it. 

 6. Rooster Cogburn, 1975 
This had John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn in it. Really, that's pretty much all I need to know. The Duke plays a US Marshal and Hepburn plays a missionary trying to find her father's murderer. Oh, yeah. And they're trying to recover a stolen shipment of nitroglycerine. 

 Yeah. I know. But you know what? The African Queen is one of my favorite movies of all time, so, that works for me. 

 7. Desperado 1995 
The first time I saw anything with Antonio Banderas in it, it was this scene. Steve Buscemi is narrating this crazy story about a bar fight to Cheech Marin (and that right there ought to be reason enough to make you want to see it), and he says "So I'm sitting there, and in walks the biggest Mexican I've ever seen. I mean big as shit. Just walks right in like he owns the place..." and it cuts to Antonio Banderas tearing apart a cantina. 

 Well, I was in love after that. This is just a fun movie. It's like reading a very good comic book. It's corny, campy,! It also contains one of my favorite movie lines, "Bless me Father, for I have just killed quite a few men." 
8. City Slickers, 1991 
You know, this is just a charming movie. It's about a regular joe who goes with some buddies to a dude ranch. In what I am now realizing is a recurrent theme with a lot of these movies, they end up having to manage the cattle drive themselves. Jack Palance is priceless as the scary trail boss. That's pretty much it for now. If I can think of any more, I'll add them. I feel like I'm leaving some out, but can't think of them just now. 

What I would really like is to hear which movies are favorites of others as well. When this subject comes up among friends, a lot of the same movies get mentioned. Got favorites? Send them in and I'll post a top choice list. Props to anyone who gets the reference of the post title. Thanks for reading!