Thursday, February 11, 2021

Happy Inventors' Day, Uncle Horace!


Aunt Maddie may be the Spunky Old Broad

of the Doggone Misadventures series, 

but Uncle Horace is the absent-minded, 

lovable genius whose inventions don't always work 

the way he intended...

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short excerpt from CHASING RAINBOWS:

    Ka-boom! The blast shattered the settling peace of dusk as Marissa Madison pulled into the circular drive. Rissa threw open the car door and sprinted toward the gray stone house. 

    “Please, no blood this time,” she whispered as her feet hit the rough-hewn steps leading up to the broad double doors. 

    A bespectacled man stepped through the doorway amid a confetti shower of envelopes and leaflets. His silvery hair stood in startled spikes around a balding pate as if it too had been a victim of the explosion. 

    “Too much torque in the mail conveyor,” he muttered with a frown. 


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    Horace Ainsworth patted the side of the giant red fire hydrant towering two stories above him then addressed the terrier mix dog staring at him curiously. “It’s finished. Now don’t you dig in my Maddie’s roses any more or potty on the pansies.” 

    Batzy stared at Horace’s retreating back for a moment before he hiked his leg on the nearest flowering plant. 

    Then he turned his attention to the odd-looking structure the Big Human had erected. Not like any fire hydrant he’d ever sniffed. A canine would have to be the size of King Kong to give this thing a proper marking. 


    “We need to build a time machine to rescue Maddie before the hijacking actually happens.” 

    Clement slipped his thumbs under his suspenders and rocked from the balls of his feet to his heels. “Interesting concept. Though some of my colleagues say there’s a failsafe mechanism to prevent time travelers from changing what’s already happened.” 

    “I’m going to prove your colleagues wrong.” Horace pushed past his cousin toward the fabrication lab. “We need to make some modifications to the probe to turn it into a time machine.” 

    “You’ll need an entire redesign if you want enough room for humans.” 

    “Or something that’s big enough to be retrofitted with a nuclear reactor.” Mentally, Horace went through the structures on their property that could be quickly modified to carry a human time traveler. “The giant fire hydrant!” 


    On the monitors Horace watched the giant fire hydrant. On the outside it looked much the same as it had when Horace set it up for the dog next door. However, the monitors showing the inside of the hydrant revealed major changes. Living quarters for human time travelers were contained on the second floor of the hydrant. On the ground floor a mini-nuclear reactor had been installed. A semi-circle around it contained a bank of monitors and control panels linked to the computer that controlled the time machine and contained a calendar program to calculate the day, month and year where the time machine had traveled. 

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    Today, Uncle Horace revealed one of them [the mysterious inventions he was working on]. He headed straight toward Father Jacobs, who was wearing his Superhawk costume. “Ah, you’re here to help me test the jet-pack.” 

    “I’m what?” Father Jacobs seemed baffled. 

    “You’re the test pilot for my jet-pack. You want to fly, don’t you?” 

    Father Jacobs hesitated, glanced at the wings of his costume, then nodded. 

    “Here you go.” Horace handed him what looked like a double diving tank with criss-cross straps that formed a seat and extended over the shoulders. “Step into the seat, then adjust the shoulder straps.” 

    “How do I control it?” 

    “The buttons on the waist strap. Ignition to start, hover to hover--” Horace grinned. “And jet power gives a burst of speed upward.” 

    “And what button makes it land?” 

    “Haven’t quite figured that out yet...” Horace meandered off, muttering to himself. 

    The kids were eager to help Father Jacobs put on the jet-pack. After he was securely strapped in, he said, “Okay, back away now.” 

    As the children moved back, the priest pressed the ignition button. The jet-pack rumbled to life, and a grin spread across Father Jacobs’ face. 

    He pressed the hover button, but the device simply hummed. With a slight frown, he briefly closed his eyes and made the sign of the cross, then pushed the jet power button. 

    The good Father shot upward. 

    “Spread your wings and fly!” His audience on the ground shouted. In response, Father Jacobs began flailing his arms. 

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    “What are you working on, Uncle Horace?” 

    The older man looked up at Dori and smiled. “Just testing the drone controls of the flying car. Perhaps my Maddie won’t have so many crumpled vehicles if she doesn’t have to worry about driving. What do you have in the box, child?” 

    Dori gently set the box on the workbench. One at a time, Uncle Horace removed the silvery pieces and laid them out in front of him. 

    “It’s a dog!” Dori exclaimed. 

    Uncle Horace nodded. “I made two of them—one for Ryan and one for Rissa—when they were six years old. Rissa carried hers around and treated it like a real dog—feeding it, wrapping it in a blanket and tucking it into bed beside her. We repurposed Rissa’s into an exhaust tracking dog, but Ryan’s disappeared when he took it to school for Show and Tell. He wouldn’t tell us what happened to it. Where did you find this?” 

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Excerpt from Street Dog Dreams:

    The spacecraft whooshed to a halt inside the fortress walls atop the hill at the dogdom. While Dr. Alek hurried away with the box of puppies, the pilot named Charlie briefed those on board about what to expect. 

    “When you disembark from this transport craft, you’ll go to the showers before eating–” 

    As whimpers of protest began, Charlie raised his voice. “Orders of the Canine Queen. Clean up or you don’t eat. Enjoy your new accommodations, my friends.” 

    The smell of food hurried the process of showers: wet down, shampoo, rinse, blow dry. Well, kind of. Little Pal tried to hide under Big Dog to avoid getting wet, but water sprayed up from underneath them also. 

    “Whoa!” Little Pal jumped, bumping against Big Dog’s belly, who side-stepped and exposed Little Pal to a full drenching. He scrunched his eyes closed and hoped this would be fast. 

    When the shampoo squirted from all sides, Little Pal wrinkled his nose. He was going to smell like a girl! He just started into a full-body shake when the rinse water drenched him again. 

    This time Little Pal managed to shake his entire body, spraying water in all directions. Perfect timing as the next instant giant blow dryers came on, sweeping his hair back as it dried like a model’s windswept hairdo. 

    Little Pal emerged from the dog wash with his eyes wide open in amazement, an expression reflected by many of the other dogs. He took refuge under Big Dog’s belly again, glad that experience was over. 

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