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Friday, 30 September 2011

CHAPTER 3 - The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

Chapter Three
The Jimmy won’t go

Still giggling, the Mayor got into Jimmy, his little red electric car; ready to head off into the forest.
“C’mon Jimmy!” he said to the car, “let’s go and see who else is awake today,” and off they set.  But he hadn’t gone more than 10 feet from the garage when the Jimmy stopped dead.  In fact, it was so sudden, that the Mayor banged his head on the windshield as the back wheels bucked up.
“Ouch!” he cried rubbing his forehead looking around perplexed, “what happened?” Leaning out, he looked under the front wheels to see if he’d run into a log or a pothole, “nothing there,” he said, still rubbing a growing lump on his forehead as he looked under the back wheels,  “… and nothing there either.  What on earth could have happened?”
Thinking perhaps his foot might have come off the accelerator for a moment when he’d been driving out, he decided to try again.  But no matter how hard he pressed the accelerator, the little red electric car would not move.
So he stopped, which was probably a good thing, because when cars don’t go, usually there’s something wrong somewhere!  Just at that moment, however, a beautiful brown doe and her little speckled fawn walked out into the clearing. 
The Mayor gasped in delight and clapped his hands, “Well, just look at that!  Oh, my, my, just look at that,” he said with such glee he forgot all about the problem with his car and the bump on his head as he sat in awe watching the deer up ahead.  “Thank you God for showing me these beautiful creations of yours, I declare Mama and baby you are beautiful!”
The doe and her baby ambled along, pulling up green shoots here and there, stopping only to glance over their shoulders now and then, their big ears turning one way and the other as they listened.
“Good morning Mama!  Good morning Baby!” called the Mayor with a grin and a wave.  “Oh my, but this is good, isn’t it?” and he started up his little song again, this time somewhere in the middle.

God gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
La, la, la, la, la, la, la …

Still humming, walked away from the Jimmy, watching the deer as they strolled out of the clearing and back into the shade of the trees,

“I do believe it’s a lovely morning for a walk.  I’ll ask Frank about it this later,” he chuckled.  The Mayor loved to drive, in fact he had quite a few vehicles for different jobs around Cabbage Hammock, but he had no idea how to fix them.  That’s why he had Frank.  Frank knew all sorts of things about cars, trucks, boats and electricity. 


CHAPTER 2 - The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

Chapter Two
Spike, Jack and Jill

Three pairs of eyes watched him from inside the darkened garage as he approached.  Well, that’s what the Mayor called it: a garage.  But the owners of the eyes knew differently – it was their bedroom!  None of the other animals came in there, not the cows, not the deer, not the birds nor the bees.  Not even the great big green alligator that lived down in the muddy pond. Well, maybe the occasional spider made a web way up high, but that didn’t matter.
“Well, well, well, I declare!” said the Mayor chortling, “If it isn’t you three in here still.”
Walking out of the dark corner of the garage, two of the three pairs of eyes became visible: donkeys!  They ambled up to him and the Mayor with their damp noses.
“Well, hello Jill,” said the Mayor patting the mother, “Hey Jack,” he laughed as the baby pushed under his arm sniffing for a treat.  “Bless your heart, you’re a nosey so and so, aren’t you?” he said still laughing as he fished out a little treat for each of them.
“Aw, c’mon Spike, come over and get your treat now,” he said to the largest of the three who’d hung back.  This was the father and he was always on the lookout.  It was his responsibility to protect the mother and baby Jack. “It’s OK, there’s no one around,” said the Mayor gently, “I won’t tell anyone that you had a treat this morning.”
That was all the encouragement Spike needed to trot over and gobble up the sweet treat.
“There you go! Now wasn’t that delicious?” said the Mayor rubbing each donkey in turn and even though donkeys don’t smile, he knew they were smiling and happy by the way they waggled and flopped their long furry ears back and forth, back and forth.
Jack, the baby, butted the Mayor’s hip and snuffled at his pocket again.
“Hey!” laughed the Mayor, “you are a hungry little fella, aren’t you? OK here’s one last treat and then it’s time for you to go find your own breakfast. Go on now!”
And with that, the three donkeys clopped out of the garage, well, their bedroom, and headed off for their morning bath.
To the side of their bedroom, (the garage), much to the Mayor’s indignation, they had dug out a great big patch of sand.  This was their bathtub!  One by one, daddy going first, they dropped down on their knees, bent their back legs and flopped over onto their sides.  Very soon they were rolling around in the sand, feet straight up to the blue sky, spraying sand everywhere just like you in your bubble bath.  They scrubbed their backs and their sides and “hee-hawed” with delight.
“Well, bless your little donkey hearts, I sure wish you wouldn’t do that right here,” grumbled the Mayor smiling a little, “couldn’t you move it down to the other end of the field?” he said pointing down yonder, shaking his head.
“Hee-haw, hee-haw,” brayed Jack and Jill together.  Then, in a great big show-offy movement, Jack kicked hard and rolled over tossing a huge clump of sand into his mouth.  He coughed and spluttered and the Mayor roared with laughter as little Jack jumped up to his feet shaking his head and coughing up sand.

CHAPTER 1 - The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

By Noony Brown
Illustrated by Tanya Sistare

Chapter One
Cabbage Hammock

The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock lived far, far away from the busy world just outside the quiet, one-traffic-light village of Citra, on his plantation in North Florida.  Not much happened in Citra, but there was always something happening at Cabbage Hammock and the Mayor loved to see it all.  After all, that’s what Mayors do!
The Mayor was Old.  He was old with a capital “O,” wavy white hair, a crinkled sun-spotted face and sparkling blue eyes.  What I loved the most about the Mayor was that he laughed all the time.  I always thought he looked like a cheeky little leprechaun.
“Well, I declare!” said the Mayor, “It’s a beautiful day in God’s world today!” he chuckled as he stepped outside onto the big porch behind his house.
And it was.  It was always a beautiful day at Cabbage Hammock no matter the weather.  The Mayor believed every single day was a perfect day, whether it was cold, hot, raining, sunny, or anything in between.
As he put on his shoes, he sang in a clear, loud voice.

All things bright and beautiful!
All creatures, great and small,
All things, wide and wonderful!
The Lord God made them all!                 

 “Well, look at you two!” he said watching the humming birds flitting around him, “Are you thirsty this morning?” He got up quickly to check their water bottle. “Oh my goodness!  They’re bone dry.  You just wait right there.  I’ll be back with some sugar water for you my darlings.  I wonder why Frank hasn’t filled them today?”
And, scratching his head, somewhat confused the Mayor walked inside for the sugar water.
The first time I heard about Cabbage Hammock, I pictured a hammock tied between two trees, filled with round green cabbages!  But it’s nothing like that, a hammock I learned, is a place just above marshy land, which is exactly the way his land was. 
Cabbage Hammock was the Mayor’s plantation in Florida, and it sat in the middle of a great big forest of ancient twisted oaks that were draped in hanging Spanish moss; there were also hairy pine trees, huge tall palm trees, and dozens of other kinds of trees. 
But most of all there were cabbage palms everywhere.  They grew in great big clusters and clumps around the house, around the trees, near the trees, below the trees, in the field, by the house, the gate and the ponds.  They grew everywhere.  There were fields and fields of the low squatty ones, and then clumps of the great big tall ones.  I suppose that’s why he called it Cabbage Hammock!
Sometimes these cabbage palms grew in the middle of the path to his garage, or they pushed up under the gate to his front door!  These were places the Mayor didn’t particularly want them to grow, but he always ended up laughing about it.
After filling the little flowered bottles, the Mayor returned and hung them up.  As he watched, a wide smile crossed his crinkly face and he stretched out his arms to the sky,
This has to be the best day yet!” he clapped his hands and laughed, “Thank you, thank you!  Now let’s get out and see what's happening out there in God’s world today,” and he set off at a brisk walk round the side of the house to the garage where he kept his little red electric car.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mum's 80th B'day Poem

David, Sharon, Mum, Jackie, Cath 

“I never thought I’d get there”
You said the other day
But look by gum you GOT here
So let’s shout Hip Hip Hooray!

“I can’t believe I’m eighty,
When I feel just twenty-one,
On the outside it looks weighty
Yet inside I’m full of fun!”

You called us and you told us
“I am not a lucky chick,
This old girl has woken up
Looking like a spotted dick.”

What a let down on your birthday
To be cooped up in your room
Head to toe with some strange lurgy
And your heart all filled with gloom.

Chin up my lovely Mummy
You’ll be soon as right as rain
And we’ll laugh and say “How funny;
Spotty eighty was a pain!”

Maybe that’s what’s going on here
You’re allergic to this sum
Four times twenty doesn’t suit you
So screw it Mum: Be twenty one!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

First Customer review!!

... I jolted awake at 3.22 am, with the knowledge that I needed to grab a pad of paper and a pencil.  There in the quiet of the night the Mayor's story rushed onto the yellow legal pad.  I've never before (nor since) written in pencil or on a legal pad.  But for the next four hours and fifteen minutes I wrote, and scribbled and scratched as wide awake as I could be.  The Mayor was born and when I fell asleep again shortly before 8 am hugging the pages which almost crumpled to their death, I felt a calm like something I'd never felt before.  

Two days earlier at the end of winter 2009, I had had a breakdown, caused by stress, the market, my job and God only knows what else.  In the months that ensued as I allowed myself time to heal, something else was born.  Something long overdue, which had been hidden for decades, oppressed and belittled: my desire to write.  Day by slow day I gave it permission to grow, I gave it permission to walk center stage in my mind and finally I gave myself permission to talk about it.

It's quirky to realize that it's taken me 50 years to find my true self.  But here it is!  I have a calmness inside now, happy in the realization that I am finally doing what I was meant to be doing all along.  Writing.  Dyslexia or not.  Multi-cultural idioms clashing or not.  It's there and I'm giving it permission to speak.

(As you know, my pen-name for children is Noony Brown and my very first children's book arrived on Amazon September 1, 2011.  How exciting!  (click on this link to read our very first review!)  Tanya's watercolors have just brought the beautiful place to life.)

Friday, 23 September 2011


Ah - voe - car - doe
That’s the way my Mommy says it,

A - ver - cah - doe
That’s the way my Daddy says it,

A - doe - ta - doe
That’s the way my sister says it

I just put it in my mouth
And say “I like this stuff!”

From Froopogees - a published collection of children's poems on fruits and veggies.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Seven Scarves

Seven scarves swirled under the sea.  Like electric eels, their colors pulsing and brilliant desire of her yearning.  Farther below, stinky and battered near the pit of thunderbolts, the hammer-head shark waited.  Battle- scarred with a fist-sized chunk missing off the left side of his great hammer, he lay hidden and patient as he relished the scent of dinner on its way: the seven scarves were telling him, heralding the good news.
Then with a muted crash and a flurry of bubbles and movement, dinner dove into the icy water, long slender fingers catching and twisting the tassels of the first two scarves, the grey striped one and the sparkling one, wrapping them around his hand.  One by one he twirled the other five, wrestling near the pit of thunderbolts as the gold one refused to come.  Its shimmering, undulating tassels caught tight in the snapped-shut mouth of a greedy oyster.
The cunning old shark smelled the obstinate scarf-diver’s pheromones as he struggled to dislodge the gold tassels, running out of air.
With a quiet swish of his powerful tail, the shark left his hiding place with the stealth of a seasoned hunter.
The seven scarves no longer floated.  Only the gold one quivered as the diver tugged.  A tug-o’-war between man and nature.  He never saw the shark – he tugged.
He never realized, so intent had he been on the rescue of his lover’s seven scarves…

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The fresher the feta...

Writing in Corfu

The feta
The better”
She said
As we
Raced down
The hill
In Corfu.

“But feta
That’s fresh
Is so hard
To get,
Yet it’s
Easier to
In Corfu”

“Why’s that?”
I asked her,
As we
Rounded a
“What happens
When feta
Is fresh?”

“Well, the
The feta
The lesser
It smells
And the smoother
Its taste is
To you.”

“I never
Liked feta,”
I said
As I winced,
When a
Lorry took
Most of
The road.

“Yet the
Feta at
Niko’s was
Yummy today
Like none
That I’ve

“That’s it!
It was
She said
Zipping past
A slow
And cart
In the road;

“And fresher
Is better
When talking
Of feta,”
She called
To a friend.

“No wonder
I liked it”
I stamped on
My ‘brakes,’
As she
A collision;

“But it’s
Easier to
Find in
Corfu than
If mad
Your stomach

In a cloud
Of brown dust
And a sigh
Of the brakes
We finally
Pulled up
At home,

“So take it
From Katia,
Just live
In Corfu,
Where your
Feta is
And better.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Widow

Christmas lights twinkled in the gloom

                  The old country church stood behind, the sea of gravestones lay ahead and the long procession of family, friends and acquaintances followed the polished coffin. Mood, church, and sky –winter gray.  Will this day never end?
                  Two steps behind the pallbearers walked the raw widow, elegant in black, stunning in grief.  Her children, both under ten, on either side, the step-children flanking them.  Tight behind them, family buffering her from the collective grief. How do you go on from here?
                  Withered and weathered faces crumbled alike; friends and strangers held arms, tears tracing down cold pink cheeks.  She remained erect, as if painted into her sorrow until a sad little smile skitterd across her face like a faint sunbeam through a cloud, only to be swallowed by the ache in her eyes.  Surrounded by love and support she was lonelier than anyone there, yet more composed than most as the ropes let down her beloved into the ground. No! Not in the ground, please not in the cold ground – I’m not ready, I’m not … I’m not … Thud.
                  “Wonderful man.” Yes, too wonderful.
“He’ll be terribly missed,” You have no idea how much.
“I can’t believe he’s gone,” You should have been here before, you’d believe it if you had seen him then.
More than three hundred times she received them as the endless line shuffled past the grave.  Compliments on the service, she had organized it; accolades on the children, she had raised them; praise for their accomplishments, she was the backbone. One by one they hugged the widow with ferocity or tenderness that underscored the hope that theirs would be the hug remembered, the hug that cured, the hug that removed the pain.  Poor kids, they shouldn’t even be here, this is so not a place for kids. No one realized she consoled more than she was consoled, she wiped more tears from others than from herself. Impervious, she took in their pain as if it did nothing to her own. It’s getting so cold, so dark. I hope everything’s ready at the house; can I bear it without you?
Back at the oversized cottage, the Christmas lights twinkled in the gloom, and the warm yellow glow in the windows spilled a cozy welcome to guests as they hurried up the freezing path. Over 200 pairs of feet made their way in seeking strength in numbers, respite in old friends. 
She had organized fires in all the grates, food and drinks for a feast, waiters and cooks, snacks and a space for kids, even a quiet room with a book for people to write memories in, “for the children when they grow up,” she’d said. Details, she was always in the details.
The widow, erect and spectacular, spoke to them all.  More hugs, conversation and memories. I can’t feel my feet, I wish I could sit down and be alone.  But no! I don’t want to be alone.
“Darling, you look wonderful, I’m so sorry …” You don’t even understand.
                   “Such an incredible man,” If they say that one more time I’m going to SCREAM!
                  “Such a wonderful man,” she smiled back again, you just don’t get it, do you? A small Mona-Lisa-smile warmed the casual observer.  Run!  I must run and hide.  The widow slipped away.  Upstairs, alone, she hugged his pillow and in silence lay. No arms would suffice, no words could comfort, no message relieve.
Time.  How much Time?  How much time is Time? The pillow absorbed the tears when they came and muffled the cries, as it would for the next 350 nights and so many days too.
Nine days before Christmas he’d died.  Three days before their daughter’s 10th birthday.  Too soon for my baby sister to be a widow.

Monday, 5 September 2011


Hello everyone!

I'm excited to share my first children's book with you THE MAYOR OF CABBAGE HAMMOCK - published under my penname Noony Brown.  Advance copies can be obtained at info@arthapublishing.com.  You will probably see it before I do!  It arrived after I'd left for London ... what a shame.