Monday, September 7, 2020

MINUET synopsis


Magic silkworms spin love in the most romantic way. 



When Velvet Briar Rose needs a dress for the Cotswolds Ballroom Dance, her wicked aunt admits that she has kept the magic silkworms from her and her mother, who spins dresses all days long for little money. Her aunt lies and tells her niece that the silkworms are known to make one dress per lifetime that brings true love. Since her mother has already had the silkworms make a wedding dress, her aunt says that her mother has lost her chance, but Velvet still has one magic dress that can be spun. The aunt reluctantly gives Velvet the jar of worms, thinking she will get them back without her mother knowing. After the silkworms make both Velvet and her mother Emma dresses for the ball, they both have suitors, and the deception of the aunt is known. Without the worms, her husband goes to jail for fraudulent business dealings, and Velvet and her mother are no longer destined for a life of spinning at a wheel. 



Night and day, Emma Souster spins thread on a spinning wheel in her home, causing calluses on her hands. Her thread makes cotton frocks for the women of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds in England. Because she is always too busy spinning for someone else, her daughter, Velvet Briar Rose Souster, wears clothes made from the scraps. Most of the time, Velvet even sews them together herself. Now 15 years old, she needs a pretty dress for the winter Cotswolds Ballroom Dance. When Velvet was two years old, her father died of pneumonia in the winter frost. Heartbroken as could be, her mother never remarried, leaving Velvet and her mother to fend for themselves alone. However, her aunt lives in London, and her uncle is a wealthy banker, so Velvet often spends time on the train visiting her aunt and uncle, hardly making ends meet for herself and her mother. 


According to her aunt, a fairy godmother gave magic silkworms to Velvet’s grandmother in her youth, and her grandmother gave them to her aunt for safe-keeping, not her mother. Years ago, the silkworms spun a wedding dress for Velvet’s mother, but when her father died the “one-dress-in-a-lifetime” magic of the silkworms’ spinning had already run out for her mother, or so her mother had been told. Velvet promises her aunt not to tell her mother about borrowing the silkworms and will return them on her next trip to London. Her aunt secretly plans to never talk to Velvet again once she gets back the magic silkworms. 


Upon returning home, Velvet finds her mother spinning at her wheel. The morning of the dance, she wakes up looking for answers from the magic silkworms. The worms, which she hid under her bedroom floorboards, are gone. As Velvet walks into the cottage kitchen, she finds her mother sitting at the spinning wheel, glowing. The magic silkworms visited Velvet and her mother, making each of them a glorious dress for the dance. As it turns out, Velvet meets a suitor at the dance who courts her, and so does her mother. In the meantime, Velvet’s mother receives word that her sister’s husband has gone to jail for fraudulent business dealings. In fact, Velvet’s disheveled aunt busts into the cottage one afternoon unannounced when Emma is out doing errands at the market. When Emma comes back from town, she walks through the door with her suitor on her arm. The evil auntie runs from the cottage without taking the silkworms with her. To this day, the magic silkworms will spin a dress for anyone looking for love.



The strength of a unicorn makes you strong enough to achieve anything. 



When Penrose, a powerful unicorn, is attacked by beasts of the forest and gives his life to save Sunshine, a princess in the Scottish land of Gras, all hope seems lost until Penrose appears in her bedroom as a mystical being. For the rest of her life, Sunshine is protected by the invisible intervention of Penrose and his magical alicorn, once even throwing a dragon into a sea to defend her. Like an angelic being, no one can see him but Sunshine. Because of his strength, she becomes a majestic queen for her parents and her people. 



Twelve-year-old Sunshine lives in the land of Gras whose best friend is a unicorn named Penrose. Because her father is King of Gras and her mother is the queen, she lives in a Scottish medieval castle. Penrose goes with her everywhere, protecting her from harmful beasts in the enchanted forest. She loves to play with him in her rose garden and splash with him in the hot, bubbling mineral springs. Only the rhinoceros is known to have a similar horn on its head, and this unicorn’s alicorn has a red tip. More than once, his horn has pierced the heart of beasts of the forest in Sunshine’s defense. Although she is a princess, she has many jealous enemies, trying to prevent her destiny to rule Gras as queen. Sometimes, she spends the night with Penrose in his unicorn lair next to her family castle. She brushes his silky white coat with her own golden hairbrush and braids his long flowing tail. On days when Sunshine is sick, Penrose helps her get well quickly. His horn has magical healing qualities, and he grinds it against a rock and mixes its powder in tea as a potion to cure her ailments. 


Days later, his horn grows back to its regular shape, as if he has never used it as medicine. When Sunshine swims in a river or lake, he dips his horn in it first, cleansing it for her. He always makes sure that she is never poisoned by the evils of the forest. In fact, the cup itself from which Sunshine drinks is made from Penrose’s unicorn horn. On the base of the cup is inscribed: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” So, whatever Sunshine drinks is purified by Penrose’s purifying healing powers and virtues.


One afternoon, Sunshine and Penrose take a nap together by the river in the beautiful forest. The unicorn curls up next to her in the tall grass, neighing, and falling asleep with its head on her lap. That particular afternoon, beasts have been watching the pair from a distance, waiting to pounce. As Sunshine and Penrose rest, the beasts circle, and when Penrose is fully asleep, the creatures descend. Penrose rises to his feet. Although it is devastating, Penrose throws himself in front of the beasts, giving Sunshine a chance to flee. As she runs into the distance, she sees the beasts slaughter her most majestic best friend. She cries all night until she can no longer produce tears, and she feels sick to her stomach. She sobs. Then, a sudden voice booms in her bedroom, shaking the walls. There stands Penrose in all his glory and stately heroism. She runs across the room and throws her arms around his neck, kissing his cheeks as she wept. Almost like an angelic being, Penrose accompanies Sunshine until the day she dies, but only she sees him. “I have as it were the strength of a unicorn,” Sunshine sings, rising from bed each morning in her castle. As queen of Gras, she sits on an ivory throne made of Penrose’s magical alicorn, reigning until age one hundred twenty. 

SHOES synopsis


If you ever wanted to live in a shoe, now is your chance!



There was an old woman who lived in a shoe with a neighborhood of footwear. The Shoes Neighborhood is a place where customers live in their shoes instead of wearing them on their feet, and when a three-footed shoeless giant comes along to squash their homes, even he gets his own special trio of shoes from Grammie and her twelve grandchildren.



Over the river and through the woods, there is an old woman who lives in an ankle boot in the Shoes Neighborhood, a neighborhood of footwear. Although her five children—the parents of her twelve grandchildren—live nearby, her grandchildren enjoy staying at her home more than any other place in the entire countryside, including the village candy store. Of course, she is a good grandma—she feeds her grandchildren, clothes them, scolds them, and encourages them when they are sad. They never lack for anything because she is so wise and creative. Gramps passed away a few years ago, but she keeps his shoes by the fireplace for everyone to remember. In this quaint neighborhood of footwear, much like the shoe section at the village clothing store, there is a type of shoe for everyone’s personal taste. Except in the Shoes Neighborhood, the customers live in their shoes, instead of putting them on their feet. 


As much as everyone likes the Shoes Neighborhood for its cleverness and class, it has one enemy: Its long-standing rival, the Three-Footed Giant, whose feet never fit in shoes, because shoes come in a pair, and he has larger-than-life triple feet; so not only is the size a problem, but also his number of feet. The whole ground shakes every time he comes near the Shoes Neighborhood. As the Three-Footed Giant plods his way through the streets, the thigh-high boot home falls over, the roller skate home loses a wheel, and the stiletto home breaks its heel. Several porch sandal straps fall to the ground from a local residence, swinging back and forth with no place to attach. It is not a pretty sight, and neighbors run from their homes in tears and fright, afraid that their shoe house will be next to fall apart. In an attempt to soothe the Giant, Grammie and her grandchildren make him his own trio of shoes. Hurrying to work before he returns, they start by measuring his footprints. As the twelve grandchildren work for five straight nights in a row, they make the Three-Footed Giant individual army boots, matching his three distinct footprints, each of which has varying numbers of toes. When the army boots are painted and laced, Grammie inspects the shoes with her spectacles. She paces about the boots, gearing up for her showdown with the Giant, anticipating the next time he comes ‘round. 


Days later, when the Three-Footed Giant comes back to the Shoes Neighborhood, Grammie has been baking, and he smells her blueberry muffins. Grammie bursts through the front door of her home, and she parts the trees in her yard, showing him his new trio of army boots. She tells him that the shoes are for him and that they are a perfect fit. After much fussing, fidgeting, and rolling on the ground, the Three-Footed Giant shoves his feet into the boots. Filled with gratitude, he breaks down sobbing like a two-year-old child. Against her will, the Giant scoops Grammie up in his palm and places her at his heart. He tells Grammie that he loves her, and she responds, saying the same. He wants to bring all his friends with awkward feet to her for shoes.  From then on, the Shoes Neighborhood is known as the most generous place for people with misshapen feet. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Christmas Crackers: The Story of a Wedding Cake Baker

“Christmas crackers!” called Tom Smith, a wedding cake baker from Clerkenwell, London. 

His wedding cakes sat delicately in his shop window on fine china, decorated with colorful icing.  

This year, 1847, he introduced his crackers, which crackled like logs put on a fire in a twist of paper.

“This is going to be my wedding cake when I get married!” announced an elegant customer walking in the shop. 

“When is the date?” Mr. Smith asked. “I need to make sure to get your order on my calendar, so it’s done in time.”

“Oh, I’m not engaged yet,” she explained. “But I will be soon. Very soon. I just need the right man.”

“Oh, I see,” Mr. Smith sighed. “Well, here’s the brochure of all my cake designs. Find your favorite!”

“What are these?” inquired the lovely woman, taking a sample of chocolate wedding cake from the counter.

“Those are Christmas crackers!” he answered. “My bonbons slumped in sales, so I put love messages in my sweets.”

“Love messages!” she gasped, grabbing a handful. “I need all the love messages that I can get!”

“I’m considering putting jewelry and toys in some of them instead of sweets for fun,” Mr. Smith commented.

“I thought expanding the merchandise might increase business,” he continued, as she opened her first cracker with a pop.

“At first I called the crackers ‘cosaques’ after the noise from Cossack’s whips, but I decided on Christmas crackers.”

“It says, ‘You’ve just met your true love!’” the brunette woman whispered, looking up at Mr. Smith. 

“That’s what it says, does it?” he stammered, scratching his head. “You can’t take those things too seriously!”

Before Mr. Smith could say anything else, his mystery customer threw her arms around him and kissed him.

“Marry me!” she exclaimed. “Marry me! Then, I’ll take every wedding cake in your shop for the rest of my life.”

At first, Mr. Smith tried to fight back, but after a moment, he figured there was no using fighting with a gorgeous woman who loved his sweets. 

“Christmas crackers!” Mr. Smith cheered, kissing her back. “Will you be my Mrs. Smith?”

“Of course, I will,” the wife-to-be agreed, taking a handful of cake and smashing it in his face and hair. 

He took a handful of cake and smashed it in her face and hair as well, and they both looked radiant. 
So, Mr. and Mrs. Smith lived happily ever after with wedding cakes and love all around them.

Their shop became known as a magical place where romantic messages read by customers proved true every time. 

Each year at Christmas, “Christmas crackers” sold in the millions all over the world because of their lasting love.


Copyright 2020 Jennifer Waters 

A Merry Christmas Parade: The Story of a Holly, Ivy, and Mistletoe Float

 . . . short rhyming poem coming soon . . .