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U.S.S. Starship Treehouse

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

U.S.S. Starship Treehouse

Captain Timothy Gray leaned back in his command chair, a worried look in his eyes. A slight haze of acrid smelling smoke filled the bridge.The scanner detected breaches in the security shield .

"Damage report Mr.ZammCat", Captain Gray said, addressing his loyal pointy-eared First Officer.
ZammCat hesitated.
"What’s wrong?" the Captain demanded of his friend.
"It’s the Wrongulins, Captain", ZammCat replied. "They have us in their tractor-beams, and they have their phasers set on....on..."
"On what, man?, Speak up!", Captain Gray commanded.
ZammCat took a deep breath. "Sir, their phasers are set on... on..."

"Whaaaaat??... What did you say??" demanded Starship Captain Timothy Gray.
..Breakfast, sweetheart", Timothy’s Grandmother called again from the kitchen. "Your breakfast is already on the table".
"Sheesh!", said Timothy to himself, slowly sitting up in bed and rubbing his eyes. His Grandmother appeared at the door, her arms filled with a stack of freshly laundered bath towels.
"The Wrongulins were trying to blitz my Starship, Grandma", he said.
"Sorry to interrupt your dreams sweetheart, but you said you wanted to go to the McGregor brothers shop with me this morning and I’m going to be ready to leave in about half an hour."
"Jeepers" said Timothy, throwing the covers back, "I overslept. Sorry Gram, I’m up, I'm up!", he said.
Barefoot, wearing gym shorts and an oversized T-shirt, Timothy rolled out of bed and hurriedly bounded across the room where he began rummaging through a heavy chest of drawers. Quickly settling on jeans and a red sweatshirt for the day's attire, he shoved the drawer shut leaving half a blue-striped athletic sock peeking over the edge.
Timothy gave his grandmother a self-conscious peck on the cheek as he tore past her on his way down the hall to wash his face and brush his teeth.  
Timothy’s Grandmother first smiled....
.....and then laughed out loud as she noticed a tail sticking out from behind a curtain in the hallway.
As Timothy passed, a small paw snaked out from beneath the hem and tagged Timothy's ankle.

Although they played this same game every morning, Timothy responded as if caught off-guard by the sneak attack. He leapt into the air with a convincing yelp.

Delighted at achieving the hoped for reaction from his prey, Sam Cat dashed out from beneath the curtain, and in his best grizzly bear imitation, rared up on his hind legs before diving forward to tackle Timothy's ankle. Sam affixed himself like Velcro to Timothy's leg.
"Ow, ow, ow Sam, arrrrggghh, wait, I've got to get going, Sam, Saammmmm, arrrrgggghhh, SAAAMMMMMM!". Tim collapsed on the carpet laughing.
In a flash, Sam Cat vanished, in search of fresh prey.
Still smiling, Timothy's Grandmother, having lingered at the door of Timothy's room to watch the game, turned and gave the room one last thoughtful look before heading off to deposit the towels in the linen closet.
The walls of Timothy's room were covered with vintage Star Wars™ and Star Trek™ posters. Model starships and assorted space vehicles hung suspended from the ceiling while more of their plastic counterparts covered the tops of Timothy's desk and bureau and chest of drawers.
Timothy's dearest wish was to become a Starship Commander when he grew up. The fact that Starships hadn’t quite been invented yet didn’t seem to discourage him in the least.
As she stood there thinking, Timothy's Grandmother absent-mindedly fingered the necklace she had worn for as long as Timothy could remember. From a thin strand of braided gold there hung an unusual pendant. Three pendants, to be exact, odd-shaped delicate pieces in what looked to be red, green and blue enamel. They fit together somehow as one, and the combination was no bigger than an inch across.

pendant.gif - 1.6 K
Timothy's Grandmother nodded to herself as she looked around the room. As if coming to some sort of important decision, she called out over her shoulder.
"Timothy, before we leave, I have something I want to give you.
It has to do with Starships".

"Starships?", prompted Timothy.
The four of them were seated at the breakfast table. Timothy, his sister Amanda, Grandma, and Sam Cat.

Sam was seated in his chair atop a stack of telephone books.He had a white napkin tied under his chin and was happily working his way through a blueberry pancake and a saucer of milk.

"Chew with your mouth shut, Sam", scolded Amanda.
Sam stuck his tongue out at Amanda.
"Cut it out Sam", said Timothy.
With a pained "Who, me?" expression, Sam raised a paw to his tongue and painstakingly licked off an invisible drop of pancake syrup, as if that had been the reason why his tongue was sticking out in in the first place.
Amanda wrinkled her nose at Sam, then bent down to pick up the napkin that had slipped off her lap.
Taking advantage of the diversion, Sam snagged the last piece of bacon from Amanda's plate.
"Starships, Grandma? What about Starships? ", Timothy asked his Grandmother again.
"Ah yes...Starships", Grandma said thoughtfully. The table grew silent. "Well", Grandma began, "If you truly want to explore outer space Timothy", she said, "You may well have to build your own Starship".
"What?", said Timothy. "Grandma, I'm just a kid. How could I build a Starship? I'd have to have instructions, equipment, tools. Where would I start? How..."
Grandma held up her hand for silence. "You already have the instructions, Timothy. I've been holding them for you ever since you were born".

A rambling old building stood towards the rear of Grandma's property. Built back in the 1800's, the ground floor once housed horse drawn carriages. The second floor, although empty now, had probably once been cozy living quarters. Today, however, the carriage house functioned as an oversized garage.

Grandma and Timothy climbed up the creaking old stairs which led to the attic. Although the weather was crisp outside, the temperature inside was quite comfortable. Sweeping the silken cobwebs aside, they wound their way back through a maze of boxes and barrels and trunks. Grandma stopped in front of an antique leaded glass-front bookcase.

Pale light insistantly forced its way through ancient windowpanes A dozen specks of dust waltzed languidly in the sun.
Right away Timothy saw what it was they were after. Inside the bookcase, on a shelf by themselves, were four books. Three stood upright, the fourth had toppled over on its side. Together they gave off a kind of muted glow.
Timothy reached for the handle of one of the glass doors and gave it a tug. It didn't budge. "Uh-oh... it's locked Grandma", said Timothy, looking to his Grandmother for instructions.
Silently, Timothy's Grandmother lifted the thin braided gold chain from around her neck and undid the clasp. She held the pendant aloft, and as if it knew its purpose, the three braided strands of gold began to unwind and the tri-color pendant separated into three distinct shapes. Grandma handed one of the gold chains to Timothy. Swirling the remaining two strands into a single necklace once again, she slipped the chain back over her head .

Timothy looked closely at the fine gold chain in his hand. From it dangled a pulsing green rectangle. One corner of the rectangle, although he had never noticed it before, now looked jagged, like a key. He glanced up at his grandmother. "That will open the bookcase", she told him. "Go ahead, she said. Open it". Once the door had been unlocked Timothy held the necklace back out to his Grandmother. She shook her head. "No", she said. "You wear it, Timothy. But guard it carefully".

How Things Work.jpg - 61.2 K
Timothy slipped the chain over his head and opened the bookcase door. The four books inside were obviously part of a set. They were each bound in some sort of glowing silver. Curiously, the titles were How Things Work - Volumes I through IV. "These books were given to me when I was about your age, Timothy, explained Grandma. "So I think perhaps you too are old enough to learn How Things Work".
Grandma selected Volume II and handed it to Timothy. "What you’re looking for is in here", she told him. "Ask me about anything you don’t understand...", she said, "..and between us we’ll figure it out. When you’re sure you’re ready, we’ll begin construction on your Starship".

Eyes wide, Timothy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Timothy watched his Grandmother turn and head back down the stairs to get ready to go. "Don't forget to lock up when you're finished", she called up to him from the second floor landing.
Alone in the silent attic, Timothy glanced down at the strange little silver book in his hands. He ran his hand across the cover and to his surprise, it begin to glow a little brighter. As Timothy began flipping through the pages he noticed one page with a corner turned down. It marked the beginning of a chapter.

The name of the chapter was
"Starship Construction"

wagon.jpg - 17.9 K
After that first trip in the car with Grandma, when he was introduced to the wonderful treasures available only a mile down the road, for weeks on end, Timothy had taken an old red Western Flyer wagon, the kind with wood slatted sides, and lashed it to the back of his bicycle.

Towing the wagon, Timothy had made trip after trip to the combination Antique Store & Flea Market owned by Johnathan and William McGregor.
The McGregor brothers were as different as night and day. Johnathan specialized in unusual things of exceptional beauty. His brother William’s collection, on the other hand, ranged from the supremely useless to the incredibly interesting. It was in William’s section that Timothy had found an entire bin of dusty flight instruments, including a perfectly good aircraft compass.
William McGregor had developed the curious habit of taping nonsensical labels to various items in his shop, identifying whatever it was as something else entirely. It made the regular customers crazy, but to Timothy, the labels made perfectly good sense. The dented window fan marked "Propulsion System", for example, and the huge old toaster oven labled "Food Synthesizer", simply confirmed his initial impression that he'd come to exactly the right place to do his shopping. Timothy pulled a small spiral notepad from his pocket . He kept track of each and every item and how much it had cost him.
Four automobile seats from a 1959 Nash Rambler, rather badly in need of upholstry, bore a dingy cardboard tag identifying the set as a "Flight Deck". They even had retro-fit seatbelts. Perfect! What was a Starship without a Flight Deck? And since they reclined, the seats could do double-duty as beds. There were plenty of old umbrellas in the McGregor's shop, some of which actually worked. At a dime apiece, Timothy could afford four. His mind was racing a mile a minute. Let's see....add four of Grandma's old sheets, open the umbrella, drape the sheet over the top, and bingo! a private sleeping compartment. Uh-huh, those would do just fine. He added Flight Deck and Umbrellas to his list. Sixteen dollars and forty cents. Expensive, but definitely worth it.

Last week Timothy had discovered a sparkly plastic shower curtain with pink rings, hanging from a yellow hula-hoop. This festive structure had been identified as a "Combination Transporter Chamber/Personal Hygeine Area". The latter came complete with three items; the first being a green plastic watering can. The other two items were a red camping porta-potty and a miniature blue plastic wading pool. 

The hula-hoop, plastic shower curtain and watering can contraption was capable of being suspended over the wading pool via several bits of rope attached to a screw-in ceiling hook. The space-conserving nature of the set-up made perfectly good sense, Timothy reasoned. Of course, you'd have to be careful that you didn't accidentally transport yourself someplace else right in the middle of a shower or something, but other than that, it was a pretty practical arrangement for a compact space vehicle.

A small bag of stick-on letters, the kind you use to spell out the name on the side of a boat had been taped to the side of the watering can, presumably as a purchase incentive .

In a cluttered plastic milk-crate, shoved under a table, he'd found a double string of Christmas lights, the majority of which worked. They were marked twenty-five cents. Timothy visualized taking a piece of chicken-wire, and covering all but a few strategically placed holes with a sheet of aluminum foil. He figured he'd mount the lights in the open holes. He'd snip some of the other wires to make bigger holes in which he could mount the aircraft instruments. Wow, this was great! Add these to the eight-track stereo tape player he'd found and just like that, he'd have himself a seriously impressive instrument panel. How could anybody possibly resist this bounty? He bought the whole thing, eight-track tape deck and all, for the bargain price of six dollars and fourteen cents.
Bits and pieces were added to his stockpile as needed, but day after day for the past week, Timothy had gone back at the McGregor's shop, to stare longingly at an ancient 286 Commodore computer. The cardboard tag read "Inter-Stellar Navigation System", and it was marked fifty dollars. The instructions in the little silver book said this particular model contained exactly what he needed. Timothy stood there trying desperately to figure out how to afford it. He sighed and shook his head. There just wasn't a chance.
So far, Timothy had spent a grand total of twenty-seven dollars and forty-eight cents of the birthday money he'd kept squirreled away in his sock drawer. But he was almost out of money and he knew it. He'd be surprised if he had five dollars left, even counting the four pennies in his back pocket. He sighed again and was just getting ready to turn away when William McGregor walked up with a purple crayon in his hand and scratched out the zero on the $50 price tag.
Timothy's heart began to pound. Surely it was too much to hope for. He held his breath as he looked up into William McGregor's twinkling blue eyes. "Sale", remarked William, gruffly. "Place is too cluttered as it is", he muttered. "Get the fool thing out of here and I'll throw in that un-interruptable power supply over there, he said, gesturing towards a perfectly good battery-operated power source. " .....that piece of junk is in the way too", he grumbled.

Timothy was almost bursting with excitement as he started digging into his jeans. It was a little hard to do with his fingers crossed, but he wasn't going to take a chance. Let's see....three dollars, four dollars, the crumpled bills landed on the counter.

He was up to four seventy-five.... try another pocket.....dimes in this one.......four eighty-five, four ninety-five, here's a penny, that's ninety-six.....uh-oh.... now reaching in his back pocket for the pennies..... ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine......awriiight! Five whole dollars!. Yessss! Yesss! Yesss!. He could do it!. It was his! .

OK, it was a fairly marginal computer system to begin with, and the images on the screen were pretty poor and mostly greenish, but Timothy was in seventh heaven. Mr. McGregor was obviously in the mood to clean house, because along with the uninterruptable power supply, he threw in a working 14" color monitor whose only defect happened to be a thin, six inch scratch across the screen. Astounding luck. What more could anybody possibly ask for?
Timothy loaded up the wagon and peddled his treasure back to the house. On the way he considered his good fortune. He could be wrong, of course, but he suspected that he might have gotten such a good deal because the McGregor brothers thought his grandmother was a bit unusual herself.
He thought about this for a moment and decided that they might have a point there.

"What are you going to be when you grow up, Timothy?" Amanda Gray had asked her brother this morning."Taller", replied Timothy, and turned the page of the shiny silver book he was reading . Timothy was sprawled sideways in a big overstuffed wingback chair at Grandma’s house, pouring through How Things Work, Volume II for the third time. He’d been carefully studying the same twenty page section for days now. A hammer lay on the floor next to the chair."No really", insisted Amanda. "What do you want to be when you grow up? "

"I want to be the world’s first Starship Commander", said Timothy. With that he stood up. "‘Scuse me, Amanda", he said, "But I’ve got a lot more work to do. "C’mon Sam", he said. He grabbed the hammer and little silver book and headed out the back door, towards a great big old tree in the back yard. Mr. Sam Cat trotted off after him.
There had been an enormous amount of banging and thumping and hammering and whirring sounds coming from high up in the branches for about a month now, ever since Grandma had given Timothy the silver books.
Timothy had rigged some sort of an elevator system using a pully, extra-strong clothesline and a sturdy plastic laundry basket. Timothy had loaded up the plastic laundry basket and a piece at a time, he had been hoisting the fruits of his foraging into what a visitor might take to be a pretty good sized treehouse. He had built it all by himself. Well, mostly all by himself. Sometimes Grandma, with Mr. Sam Cat close on her heels, would go out with her own hammer, and lend a hand, just to make sure nothing was going to fall down or electrocute anybody.
To build the Starship, Timothy and Grandma had used materials stored out in Grandma’s old garage. There was a whole bunch of other neat stuff stored in Grandma’s garage. Especially up in the attic where you could find old CB-radios, and antennas, and curious metal boxes festooned with flashing lights and dials and glow-in-the-dark numbers.
With only a little help from Grandma, between them, Timothy and Sam Cat had done a truly amazing job. There was now a completely enclosed, sort of octagonal shaped structure with a remarkable array of "stuff", all precisely placed and anchored. All but invisible clear plastic sheeting provided the waterproofing.

A variety of clothesline operated hatches on each of the eight sides provided porthole light and ventilation, and a trap door in the floor provided access to the interior. A slightly elevated second access hatch was located on the top of the structure.

Several years ago, when Grandma ordered those emergency fire escape ladders from the mail-order company, she’d gotten one extra and Timothy had found it stored on a shelf in the garage, still in the original box. Grandma had said he was welcome to use it, so the drop-down rope ladder became the way you entered and left the treehouse. A rugged waterproof extension cord snaked its way across the yard from the garage up into a small hole in the side of the treehouse, providing shore power to the electrical equipment. The Starship looked like a cross between a treehouse and a flying saucer. That could work to his advantage, Timothy reasoned. Sort of the ultimate cloaking device. A sophisticated interplanetary space vehicle, masquerading as a regulation treehouse. It was only when each of the entry hatches were in the closed position that you could read what Timothy had spelled out with the black plastic stick-on letters. The perfect name.
U.S.S. Starship Treehouse.

Timothy made the all-important announcement at breakfast. "I’m ready, Grandma", Timothy said. "Do you guys want to come with me? I could use a good crew". Grandma looked at Timothy. She could see he was all business."Count me in", replied Grandma."Would you like me to bring along some food supplies?", she inquired. Timothy thought for a moment and then nodded. "Well, we’ve got a food synthesizer on board", he said, "but it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra stuff with us. Cookies might be nice", he suggested hopefully.

"I was thinking more along the lines of some fruit", said Grandma.
"How about fruit and cookies?", offered Timothy.
"It's a deal", said Grandma. Grandma turned to Amanda. "How about you, dear?", she inquired. "Are you ready to explore other worlds?"
"Cool!," said Amanda. "Absolutely!. Can Mr. Sam Cat go with us?" she asked, gesturing towards her breakfast companion.

Timothy looked over at Sam Cat who sat in his own chair, happily savoring a slice of bacon.
"No cats", said Timothy.
Sam Cat dropped the bacon and cast a worried glance up at Timothy’s Grandmother.

"Just kidding", said Timothy. "Actually, Sam has to go or we’ll violate the first rule in the book of "How Things Work"".
"Huh??" said Amanda. "What rule?"
"The rule that says interplanetary explorers must always include a cat named Sam as one of their crew members", Timothy replied.
"What’s he talking about???", said Amanda to Sam Cat who was busily nodding in agreement with the rule.
"Oh yes indeed", said Grandma. "There’s a section in the book that says exactly that."
"What book? The silver one you’re reading all the time?", asked Amanda. "The one about "How Things Work?" It really says that? May I see?".
Grandma looked at Timothy and nodded. Timothy skipped out the back door, heading for the rope ladder. A few moments later he came back through the kitchen door and sat down at the table, handing the book to Amanda. "Here it is", he said. Sure enough, there was a whole chapter entitled "Interplanetary Travel and The Importance of Taking a Cat Named Sam With You".
"Remarkable", marveled Amanda, shaking her head. "Good thing we have a cat named Sam living here".
"No kidding", thought Sam, as he went back to his bacon.
"What time would you like to leave, dear?" Grandma inquired of Timothy. "How about after lunch?",Timothy suggested.
"Hmmm", said Grandma. "You know, it might not be a bad idea to leave after dark, so that we don’t startle the neighbors. Starships arestill rather new in this part of the world you know".
"OK", agreed Timothy. "That makes sense".

By nightfall, they were all on board. Grandma and Timothy sat in the two forward seats, while Amanda and Sam brought up the rear. Amanda was busy trying to figure out how to get a seatbelt on Sam Cat . Sam, clearly unenthusiastic about the procedure, was not being all that cooperative. He appeared to be more interested in checking out the smaller control panel Timothy had erected between the two rear seats. 

Grandma glanced over at the books Timothy had gathered for the Starship’s library.

His selection included How Things Work, Volumes I through IV, the Readers Digest Guide of What To Do In Case of An Emergency, andThe Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. She smiled to herself. Those would do just fine.

The access hatches were all secure and the ladder was stowed inside. The side hatches were open so that they could see where they were going. The velvet sky peeking through the leaves above them was brilliantly alive with sparkling stars.Timothy flipped a switch and the computer screen came to life, filling the cabin of the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse with a soft green glow. He turned a switch and the window fan mounted in the floor began to rotate.
"Ignition", announced Timothy.
There was dead silence.
"Nothing’s happening", complained Amanda from the back seat....What's the matter? I thought we were going to visit outer-space".
Timothy looked stricken. Mr. Sam Cat leaned forward and put a paw on Grandma’s shoulder, as if to reminder her of something.
"Oh my goodness", said Grandma with a sigh of exasperation, "What kind of a crew member am I anyway?. No wonder nothing’s happening. I apologize Timothy. I forgot to engage the FTP Transfer Protocol!".
Timothy tried to remember whether the book had covered this part. He was pretty sure it hadn't or he'd definitely have remembered it.
Grandma slipped her long gold chain up and over her head and let it unwind. Putting the chain with the red arrow-like shape back on, she took the remaining blue half-circle pendant in her hand and inserted the jagged edge of the unusual key in a shiny blue slot in the console. Above the slot were the letters FTP.
"Yours goes there", said Grandma to Timothy, nodding at a glowing slot in front of Timothy marked SYSTEMS READY. He slipped his own thin gold chain from around his neck, then took the same green rectangle which had opened the bookcase and inserted it in the green slot in the chickenwire and aluminum foil console in front of him.
"Uh...Right." said a slightly puzzled Timothy over his shoulder. "That’s what we forgot, Amanda."
Timothy looked at the control panel again, frowning slightly. He was pretty sure those two slots hadn't been there this morning.
"Ready?" Grandma asked Tim. He looked over at her and nodded. "OK, then", she said, "Together now, Timothy, on the count of three..... One-two-three". And they both turned their keys at the same time.
There was a quiet rumbling sound and the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse began to vibrate ever so softly. Suddenly the cabin instruments sprang to life, alternately flashing and blinking and humming and beeping.
A detailed map of the solar system began to come into focus on the computer screen in front of them. It wasn’t the fuzzy picture the screen had given off before, it was detailed with brilliant colors and it looked to Timothy as if what he was seeing was a live satellite shot.
Timothy looked about in amazement. The whole interior of the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse began to change around him as he sat there.


The flea-market instruments morphed into a sophisticated transparent control panel which gave the Starship's passengers an unobstructed view of the starlit sky.The floor-mounted window fan began to pulse and glow, revealing its’true identity as a sleek, self-contained intergalactic space propulsion system. The raggedy car seats became soft, form fitting flight chairs.
"This is more like it!", announced a delighted Amanda.
"Holy cow!", said Timothy quietly.
"Where are we going to go?", Amanda asked
Timothy glanced at his Grandmother.
"Point to the planet you want to visit", she suggested. "The computer will feed the coordinates into the navigational system". Timothy nodded.
"Do you know where you want to go Timothy?", she asked.
He leaned closer and peered intently at the screen, examining his choices.
"Sure do", he said. Then he took his finger and pressed lightly on the larger of two deep blue colored planets which appeared to be located on the outer fringes of the solar system.

"We're going to go right...... there

"Check the instruments once more to make certain everything is functioning properly", Grandma said quietly to Timothy. "Once you're satisfied, go ahead and issue your commands. She's your ship, Captain."


Timothy checked the control panel, then turned and nodded at the occupant of the seat behind him.
Sam Cat expertly fastened his shoulder harness and flicked on his control screen.

"All systems GO, Captain", reported Sam, in perfect English.

Amanda's jaw dropped as she glanced over at her crimson-uniformed seat-mate, First Officer ZammCat .
"Engage, level one", instructed Timothy.
Gently, the U.S.S. Starship Treehouse began to rise through the branches.

Fascinated, Amanda watched the window.
"So where are we going?" Amanda asked again . Timothy’s Grandma leaned over to look at the now brightly pulsating screen.
"Why, it looks as if we’re going to visit the planet UNIX", she said to Amanda, unable to keep the surprise out of her voice.
She looked inquiringly at Timothy. "That’s just outside the Wrongulin zone if I’m not mistaken", she said.
Starship Commander Timothy Gray turned to his Grandmother and gave her a great big grin. She couldn't help but laugh.
Still smiling, Timothy turned his attention back to the sparkling sky.
"Full speed ahead, Mr. ZammCat", he ordered.

U.S.S. Starship Treehouse by Cynthia Loomis Gurin - Copyright 1996 - All Rights Reserved
For other stories by Cynthia Gurin: - See the Author/Illustrator Index
Click here (or read on) to learn more : About The Author

Starship Commander Timothy Gray and his crew will rely on each of the books in their library to assist them during their journey.You can contact any member of the crew of the USS Starship Treehouse by e-mail to let them know if you’d like to hear more of their adventures. If the crew is up in the treehouse when you write, we'll beam your letter aboard so they receive your message right away.
Amanda Gray
First Officer ZammCat (yes, Sam Cat certainly does have his own mailbox)
Starship Commander Timothy Gray

About the Author:Cynthia Gurin lives in South Florida with her husband Bob, a quartet of cats, two dogs, a remarkably wise duck, and a teddy bear or two. She has achieved recognition in both the Miami Herald and The Wall Street Journal for innovative marketing techniques. She considers the Personal Ad, through which she met her husband, to be her most rewarding literary endeavor. She holds a senior corporate position in the real world. Send Mail

Authors Note:
 The books that Timothy selected for 
the library in U.S.S. Starship Treehouse are quite real. When they were first published, the set of silver books was called "Wie funktioniert das?" (How Does It Work?) . The Foreward in Volume I begins on page 9 with the words "This volume is not a reference book in the ordinary sense..."
Indeed it isn't. On the other hand, the particular set of books in Timothy's Grandmother's house might contain a wee bit more information in them than the regular version did.
But you know, you never can tell......
The silver books do say one other thing. In ancient, graceful handwriting, in ink which sparkles ever so slightly, is the curious phrase --
"For Joshua and Lauren with love. Don't forget your towel."

Starship Treehouse lift-off and treehouse ladder Animated .gifs were provided by the amazingly talented J. Huyler Case Contact Jeff Case at
Control panel components, those assorted flying, twirling and flashing .gifs, many of which were created with the Alchemy GIF Construction Set, are courtesy of their respective creators, whomever they may be. Our sincere appreciation.

Quick Vocabulary
Acrid - An especially bitter, burning odor. This is the way the smoke smelled in the opening space battlescene in Timothy's dream.
Counterpart - Anything closely resembling something else. The plastic starships hanging from the ceiling in Timothy's room, closely resembled their counterparts (the other plastic starships) sitting on his dresser.
Diversion - To divert, distract, or draw attention away from the subject at hand. When Amanda dropped her napkin, her attention was diverted from her breakfast. Thus, Sam Cat was able to gobble up Amanda's bacon when she wasn't looking. In other words, the dropped napkin acted as a diversion, and Sam, who is quite fond of bacon, took advantage of it.
Leaded Glass - The stained glass (colored glass) you see in church windows is one example of leaded glass. This means that the pieces, assembled like a jigsaw puzzle, were held together with lead (sounds like LED), which is a soft, easily moulded metal. Some antique furniture, like the glass doors to the cabinet in the attic of Grandma's carriage house, hadleaded glass that was not colored. It was very delicate and very beautiful, and it looked like THIS
Languidly - Lacking in force or quickness of movement. - Grandma stopped in front of an antique leaded glass front bookcase. Pale light insistantly forced its way through ancient windowpanes A dozen specks of dust waltzed (danced) languidly in the sun.
Muted - To silence or muffle, or to tone down either a sound, or in this case, a glow. The four silvery colored books in the bookcase gave off not a bright glow, but instead a kind ofmuted glow.
Nonsensical - Something that doesn't seem to make the slightest bit of sense. - "William McGregor had developed the curious habit of taping nonsensical labels to various items in his shop, identifying whatever it was as something else entirely. The dented window fan marked "Propulsion System", for example..."
Dingy (din-gee) - Soiled, dull, tarnished, grimy, shabby. "Four automobile seats from a 1959 Nash Rambler, rather badly in need of upholstry, bore a dingy (and nonsensical) cardboard tag identifying the set as a "Flight Deck".
Festooned - Decorated. A festoon is a decorative garland hanging in a curve between two points. Christmas lights and silvery garlands might be a good example. In this instance the term "festooned" described some of the dusty treasures in Grandma's attic as being, ".. curious metal boxes festooned with flashing lights and dials and glow-in-the-dark numbers."
Stricken - To discover, to affect suddenly or unexpectedly, as in, "to strike dismay in one's heart". - "Ignition", announced Timothy. There was dead silence. "Nothing’s happening", complained Amanda from the back seat....What's the matter? I thought we were going to visit outer-space". Timothy looked stricken.
Exasperation - To be exceedingly irritated, annoyed, or to have lost patience. - "Oh my goodness", said Grandma with a sigh of exasperation, "What kind of a crew member am I anyway?. No wonder nothing’s happening. I apologize Timothy. I forgot...."
Crimson - A very deep, rich, dark red color - Amanda's jaw dropped as she glanced over at her crimson-uniformed seat-mate, First Officer ZammCat .
Pulsating - To manifest a pulse; rhythmic beating, or a brief surge of electrical or electromagnetic energy. "So where are we going?" Amanda asked again . Timothy’s Grandma leaned over to look at the now brightly pulsating screen.


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