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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Devotion BFF# 223

BFF #223   Devotion

The young men huddled around a small cook stove.  It was dusk, they could risk a little warmth and maybe some hot food for a change.  The nights are so cold while the days are searingly hot.  

It was John’s rotation to take watch.  Slipping from his fitful slumber, he extends his arm to be assisted into a full upright position.  He hadn’t slept deeply, barely skimming the REM sleep they all so desperately needed. 

John hit the latrine all the while thinking it really was one of the most important areas of the encampment.  While all the fellas thought they should be sleeping in that hidden alcove, he demanded they set this safe haven aside for mornings like this.  There are some things better not done under gunfire.

“Some coffee left over from last night if you want a jolt this morning.”  Aaron had been the one to shake him awake with his boot.  With a small shrug of his shoulders, John poured the last bit of weak coffee into his cup.  Careful not to pour the grounds at the bottom of the pot, they could be reused and extend the rations.
Taking his cup of Joe to his sentry location, his eyes scanning the horizon both near and far, John allowed his mind to unfocus. 

Lately he had been scrutinizing every move he had made in his short life.  Reviewing his belief system.  Trying to understand a broader picture of the world called Earth as well as his personal social world.

Before enlisting, he hadn’t been much of an academic.  Reading had been difficult and cumbersome.  Philosophy and History were just the names of classes he had to pass in order to get out of school with his diploma.  That was when he couldn’t begin to fathom how to see other’s as humans.  The same as himself. 
In school he had been a “jock”,  football and baseball were his specialties.  No one in the school gave him any guff about anything he did.  Well, except those kids he called nerds.  They didn’t so much give him a hard time as he gave them a hard time.  They seemed so different, so odd.  The truth was, they were cerebral, an idea he had been struggling with for a while now.

He had enlisted with the army.  John felt the Calvary would suit him nicely; get a gun, hike for physical movement, don’t think, just do.  It seemed a comfort.

Scanning the horizon, John sees movement.  Ten clicks.  These hills are good for cover both for us and them.  This movement is too close for comfort.  Eye contact and hand signals, he speaks with the other sentry.  They both turn their scopes to the movement. 

Adrenaline pumps up!  Every hair on the back of his neck is standing at attention.  Hold, reserve your ammo until you can see the cause of the movement.  It may be  foe, then again, it may be friend.  Do not shoot automatically out of fear.  Reign that emotion in.  It has no place here.

The snow leopard peeks from the scrub.  Alfred, the other sentry, gasps.  The excitement is nearly palpable.  The rest of the unit awaken.  Signaling for them to take up their scopes, everyone viewed  the scene before us.  A sight they will probably never witness again; an adult snow leopard hunting.

John recalls he is on duty as sentry and scans the horizon.  All clear, for the moment. 

Unable to stop himself, John recalls the last batch of letters from home.  His mothers letters are filled with mundane gossip, economic changes, the latest thoughts from the political pundits, family news and of course the latest diet fads.  His mother doesn’t want him to rejoin civilian life uneducated.  

His siblings, Arthur his younger brother and June his older sister, both write about school.  Arthur is still in high school as a senior.  He writes about girls and graduation.  Not much thought to the future, other than the upcoming weekend parties.  June is the serious one.  June writes about the varying views of the war in general.  She writes with thought.  June writes to keep him abreast of life from a scholarly view. 

Cathy, his girlfriend, writes about everything and anything.  She has enclosed drawings from her nieces and nephews for John to chuckle over.  She knows there are no electronic gadgets out where he was posted, anything she wanted to send him needed to be hard copy.  The photographs buoyed his spirits and often made him laugh. 

This particular mission had them out longer than normal.  One of his unit members was a reader and they had passed his book around Pillars Of The Earth.  Initially, he had enjoyed the book for its time period, sex and war.  As more of the unit read the book, they began to discuss their interpretations.  John began to see through the political subterfuge.  John began to see the nerds he had bullied and now wished he could rescind those harsh words. But, it had been that very attitude which brought him to his current station; a foot soldier in a war far from home. He now had enough time on his hands, to fully appreciate all that he was there fighting for. 

Devotion from his family for supporting him even when his decisions were made hastily without full information.  Devotion from his family to keep him in their lives.  Devotion from his friends and girlfriend for making him feel he will be home where ever they are. Devotion to his unit and buddies and their devotion to one another had kept them all alive to that point.   

He looked again for the snow leopard, catching it dragging the carcass back up the hill.  Just out of the corner of his sight, he sees the cub.  He could see the reason behind the slaughter, it was life.  Devotion to life and her cubs.  Smiling to himself, he wondered if he had just become a nerd.

John began to look at his own actions and determined the best things in life begin with devotion.

Peace GBE 2 #67

GBE 2 : Week 67      Peace

Peace is the ability to tolerate another’s beliefs. 

Peace isn’t so much a physical state as a mental state. 

Please do not try to enact laws putting your belief system above all else.  Please do not try to tell me that I am “less than” because I do not whole heartedly share your beliefs.  Please do not attempt to enforce your belief system with a heavy hand. 

Be thankful I am a peaceable liberal.  With my passions, I would EAT YOU ALIVE as an American Taliban (Tea bagger).    

Friday, August 24, 2012

Snapshot GBE 2 ; Week #66


The photo was passed back and forth on several different Facebook sites.  Someone had found it in their barn.  It had been hidden in a crevice.  Hidden from prying eyes, to be gazed at by some adoring young person. 

Two young, vibrant, smiling men.  Donned in their military fatigues.  Whether they had just gotten home or were ready to ship out, I wouldn’t know.  I did enjoy reviewing their features to see if I could recognize my school chums in any of their faces. 

One person wrote, ‘I’ll repost this snapshot so my Aunt Lucinda can see it.  Maybe she knows one of these young men.”

Another person posted, “That one on the right, he looks like one of the Belcher boys.

The original Facebook picture was posted by Leah Spencer.  She asks if Aunt Sandy might know, she was friendly with all the boys in uniform.  Twenty seven comments and half a dozen shares, no one knows who the boys are or who had squirreled the picture away to look upon it in privacy. 

Snapshots are wonderfully personal stops capturing an emotion in time. 


Caught With Hand In Cookie Jar : BFF 222

Cookie Jar Incident

He was nervous, licking his paw and cleaning his face was the only way to ease his mind.  He simply couldn’t fathom what was taking his brother so long.  It had never taken this long before.  His brother was used to the routine, in and out.  Quick as can be.  Lickety split. 

Pausing to listen for a few moments, Reid began cleaning his tail.  Engrossed in this activity he nearly missed his brother’s lunge for the gap under the door to their home.  Skidding into the opening, Hudson slid across the floor stopping only when he rammed into the far wall.

“That was a close one!” Hudson gasped out.  “That old cat must be eating some vitamins, he actually ran today.  You should have seen him.  I know he wasn’t just showing off for his people. They weren’t even around.”

With his chest heaving, Hudson crept back to the gap of an entryway.  Peeking his whiskered nose out, he peered around searching for the orange tabby.  The old tom cat lay inches away, in the regal Sphinx position, with his eyes closed.  Or so they seemed. 

Reid shouldered his brother out of the way.  “Listen, that cat is not sleeping.  He is breathing nearly as hard as you.  Get back from that doorway!”

At that very moment, the orange tabby sprang at the opening.  Shoving and clawing into the hole after the brothers.  His claws extended, swiping this way and that as far as his forearm would allow in the cramped space.The two litter mouse brothers held one another tight.  They pressed themselves against the far corner just out of the reach of the cat. After what seemed like hours, the cat appeared to give up and pulled his clawed orange forearm out of their living space. 

“Well, I’ll say this about that,” Hudson began, “That cat sure is relentless. He just won’t give up and admit he is too old to chase us.  I wonder if he would just lay there if we split our take with him.”

Reid looked at his brother and shook his head.  Split their hard earned spoils with the cat?  Why that was unheard of.  The cat was a meat eater.  The only spoils he was looking for was a tasty dinner made of mouse!

The next morning, once the coast was clear and the people had all gone away, Reid and Hudson surveyed the available servings left strewn about.  Hudson slid on his belly into the sink.  Some of the dishes had been partially rinsed, but most still had breakfast securely stuck to them.  He began lapping up the uneaten scrambled eggs, while eyeing the crumbs of sausage, on the plate. 

Reid stood on his hind legs and sniffed the air.  That aroma from last night lingered yet.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Oh, to find the cookies.  Not a crumb left on the floor.  Following his nose, Reid quickly scrambled to the highest shelf locating the cookie jar. 

Gleefully inspecting the cookie jar, Reid pranced around it.  Hooray!  Yippee!  The pot of gold had been located! Now to figure out a way in.

Hudson, hearing the commotion, peaked over the lip of the sink.  “Reid, we have company.” He called out. “I spy an orange cat slinking under the kitchen table, making his way toward us!”

At that, the old cat sat down.  Tilting his head, he stared at Reid. “I smelled those cookies too. “ With that said, he lay down.

Hudson, ever the daring, challenged the old cat. “Cat, why do you chase us?”

The old cat replied, “Why do you run?”

Perplexed, Reid and Hudson exchanged looks.  Hudson tried again, “We scamper where you amble, is that what you mean?”

The old cat rolled onto his back. “I don’t just eat meat, I like sweets too.”

Reid had moved to the back side of the cookie jar all the while prodding and poking at the lid.  Suddenly, the lid spun out of its locked position, flying off the jar onto the counter top.  Ceramic shards careened to the floor.  The old cat gave an alarmed yowl and leapt sideways avoiding a pointed piece plunging into his tail.

Calming himself, Reid cleaned his forearms.  Cookies!  Fresh chocolate chips cookies.  Oh, the glory of it.  A full cookie jar of fresh chocolate chip cookies. “Mine” he thought.

“Mice, just how do you expect to get back to your lair?” Inquired the cat who was lazily preening himself.

Reid stopped his cleaning and soberly stared at the cat.  Hudson, too, stopped gorging himself on the soft eggs to think about what the cat had said.

“What do you want for safe passage?”


“Done.” The mice brothers said in unison.

With that exchange Reid began shuffling the cookies over the edge of the counter onto the floor.  Soft and pliable, the cookies barely broke.  There were a few crumbs.  The old cat began to purr as he munched on soft chocolate chip cookies. There were crumbs on the counter.  There were crumbs on the floor among the broken shards of the cookie jar lid.

Having sated their cravings for the cookies.  The cat looked at the mice and warned, “Since there has obviously been  a breach, and there are crumbs and lid shards, my people will want to see proof that I have dealt with the problem.”

“But, you said safe passage.” Hudson started. 

The old cat laughed.  The orange stripe down the center of his back stood up and a menacing growl escaped from deep in his throat.

Reid pondered.  He sat back on his haunches wetting his forearms to clean his face.  “I am loathe to admit this, but I have eaten too much to make a dash for our home.  I think I shall scurry up higher onto the counter ledge and rest.  Come join me brother.”  The two mice began their climb to the ledge on top of the cabinets as the old cat jumped and missed the counter.

“Brother”, began Reid, “I think we may be spending part of the night here.  We won’t be going home until the people are watching their movies and the children are holding the cat. Perhaps we will be lucky enough to see him dressed in the baby doll clothes like the last time.”  The two brothers chuckled and settled down for an evening filled with watching the cat and his people create a comfortable home for them. 


A Reason To Smile

BFF 220 :  A Reason To Smile

The last thing I wanted was to fall in love with her.  I just knew it was going to lead to trouble.  She would leave and my heart would be broken.

I was in Kalkaska with a couple of friends when I got the news, I was out of town with friends.  I was filled with mixed emotions.  I wanted her to “stew” for another week.  Just leave things alone, everything will happen in its proper time.

Bob sent me a text and left me a voice message.  She came in the middle of the night.  She came, knowing full well her plan.  She emerged  with stealth to steal our hearts.

She is our fourth grandchild.  A special needs child, who may undergo surgery in the next few days. I didn’t want to love her until I knew everything would be alright.  But really, there are no guarantees. So, why wait?  As I touched her tiny leg, the tears of joy ran down my face.  I fell in love against my will and smiled with tears.

You ask for a reason to smile.  Depends on the smile.  There is a difference in smiles and the intent behind them.  My eyes fill with tears of joy and tenderness when I smile about my grandchildren.  My shoulders straighten and my head tilts upward when I smile about my children.  My eyes fill with loyalty and care when I smile for my family. My head tilts and my thoughts drift to younger days when I smile for my friends. 
Smiling with patience, I tend to lose my lips….it is more of the pursed look I remember seeing on my grandmother when I was too loud.  I see the grass grow and I smirk a knowing smile.  I watch the neighborhood children grow and I purse my lips, knowing they are learning too.

I raise my face to the sun, and smile a broad grin, in the warm months.  Bracing myself against the winds of Autumn, I smile inward knowing the coldest months are yet to come.

Life makes me smile, for I would much rather have laughter lines than frown lines.  People make me smile for the inane juvenile actions.  Smiling, laughter, joy and happiness are all the attributes which make life worth living.  It amazes me the number of people who choose, on a daily basis, not to be happy and smile.

With four beautiful grandchildren, how can anyone refrain from smiling?  Hugs and laughter are the true manna for the soul.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Both Sides - GBE 2: #65 Two Perspectives

Both Sides

GBE 2: Blog On 
#65 Two Perspectives

“Speak up, quit mumbling.” My Dad grumbles as he squints at me. “If you wouldn’t talk so low while standing across the room, I could hear what you have to say.”  I’m in Florida for a short vacation to check up on the folks.

I can see their health has declined somewhat from the year before.  I clean their house as much as I can without offending them.  I can see the cobwebs….I’m pretty certain they can’t. 

He refuses to consider hearing aids since those are for old people.  At 84 years old, he walks the boardwalk at Dania Beach, Florida, weather permitting, on a daily basis. On the real sunny days, he takes off his shirt, puffs up his chest and struts.  This diminutive Irishman with the startling blue eyes is certain his is all that and a bag of chips too! He wears his speed-o around us kids…the thong comes out the moment we leave…..
Dad tells us, his four remaining children, that he walks six miles, but we all know it’s about  1 ½ miles.  Dad tells us he swims daily as well.  I haven’t seen it. 

“Those Goddamn kids are riding their bikes on the walk path again. There is never a patrolman around when you want them, probably sitting in some coffee shop.” His face gets a little scrunchy and turns a little red with ire.  “One of these days those Goddamn kids are gonna run someone over, then maybe those patrolmen will be where they are supposed to be. I hope one of them falls and breaks their neck! There won’t be any of these Goddamn kids when we get back to Michigan, not on a dirt road.”  Dad seems to bluster even more than normal.

Mom and Dad hit Michigan on an annual vacation, they stay two weeks.  Their vacation is typically the last week of July and the first week of August.  We, the kids and grandkids, take turns with our visits so we don’t overwhelm them.  They become fatigued quickly with all of their company.

My turn to visit was the first weekend of Mom and Dad’s visit to Michigan.  My younger brother, Scott, was staying with them for their visit.  The folks simply cannot maneuver the stairs to get to the basement, for laundry.  Of course  Scott hid out there whenever he had enough blustering from  the Folks, too.

Mom stayed inside, sitting on the couch in the living room, nose pressed in her Word Search booklet. She said she enjoys hearing the fun going on outside but doesn’t really want to participate. Her face is showing a whole lot more of her “character”.  She tells me she has gained five pounds.  I tell her, that gaining weight is a sign of life.  Only the sick and dying actually lose weight without trying. We smile a knowing smile.

Dad has lost another ten pounds since I last saw him.  He walks a little more hunched over.  He is trying to join in the fun and walks down the steep steps to the lake.  Jumping in off the dock rather than diving, he is a mere four feet from the ladder.  Dad is struggling and cannot lift his arms to swim the crawl.  Scott, standing at the ready, tells him to do the breast stroke.  Struggling, Dad makes it to the ladder in what seems like an extraordinarily long time.  Scott and I exchange looks.  Dad sits on a deck chair for a while to catch his breath.  We watch as he drags himself back up the stairs to the house. 

Laying on the hammock, my Dad sleeps for the next four hours.  He doesn’t bluster the rest of the day.
We, the four remaining children, meet to have a conversation about the folks.  As much as he blusters and she refrains from interacting with others, we know their time is short.  With or without hearing aids, they have grown old. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

#5 Seven Deadly Sins - Surprise Me Bff 218

Surprise Me  BFF 218
Seven Deadly Sins #5     The Final Blow

“A  DAGGER?  Are ya kiddin’ me? What in the world am I supposed to do with a short little dagger.  I can’t wait to meet up with some bad guy and whip out a dagger.  I might as well be using a butter knife.  Who fights with a dagger these days? Didn’t that go outta style when they invented the gun?” Harry was carrying on about his latest “gift” from our ancestor, Hera.  He hauls it straight up into the air and tries to flail it around.  It’s a broadsword and rather heavy.

“Well, let’s face it Harry, it’s what she knows.” I can barely suppress my giggles.  “If you want, I’ll trade you for this chastity belt!” We both laughed as I waggled my behind at him. We had been laughing about the chastity belt for days.  How would I ever be able to use a chastity belt as a weapon?  If not a weapon, then why was she so worried that Lust would be a distraction?

 “I’m worried.  Neither of us knows how to use these weapons.  I cannot imagine how that chastity belt is going to help you in a fight!  I know, I know, perhaps it is that in her day ‘to the victor goes the spoils’ and she is protecting you, but really?”  Harry’s mood quickly turned from very solemn.

“I’m just glad we don’t have to find those three witches Perseus did.  You know the ones who were essentially blind but shared the eye they passed around?  Gross.   Nor do we have to slay Medusa, thank you Perseus!  But we do have to stop Poseidon and his lackey, Apathy.  How ya gonna do that, cuz?”  Angela rested her hand on his shoulder as she spoke to him.  Trying to reassure Harry, once he was wound  up, was like trying to talk a cat out of a tree.  

“Why don’t you finish packing?  It’ll take your mind off things for a few.”  And outta my hair for a few, Angela thought.  We need to get out this house.  We have to keep our ears and eyes open.

Gluttony had reminded them time and again, “When the time arises to utilize your gifts in battle, you will know what to do.”  That’s swell that we will know what to do…but are we in shape enough to get it done?  Angela and Harry decided to get some physical conditioning in with their new implements.  After all in the thick of battle, your body can’t remember how to use something it’s never used.  Hanging around Gluttony hadn’t done any favors for her waist line.  Gluttony always smelled of thier favorite dish; one day it might be comfort food like mac and cheese and another day it might be carrot cake or chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.  Just thinking about Gluttony made everyone’s mouth water.

What had stopped them?  Pride.  Pride came over and clucked his tongue.  He looked them both up and down as though they were cheap imitation furs.  “Overindulging I see.  That will surely help in a fight.  Probably the other side, but it will help none the less.”  He seemed to stick his nose even further into the air as he spun around and strode away.  Sadly, he was right.  Both Angela and Harry had become shaped more like weebles than warriors.  (weebles wobble but they don’t fall down….)

Filled with dread, gym bags slung over their shoulders, they walked warily into the gym.  Conscious of their weight gain, they both wore baggy sweat pants and t-shirts, sporting.  Hopping along, lacing up her new bright orange running shoes, Angela gasped at the site before her.

There, already on the treadmills, were the seven deadly sins.  All of them, even Gluttony.  They each moved at a different rate of speed, naturally.  Pride and Wrath were obviously in some sort of competition, they both were at a full speed run.  Harry quipped as he passed them, “You do realize, you aren’t actually going anywhere.”  Rather than a nod of acknowledgment, both gave Harry the stink eye. 

Since all of the treadmills were occupied, in this room, Angela moved to the next room to try to begin her workout.  She walked into the next room, preoccupied with her bottled water and cell phone, trying to decide if she wanted to carry them in her pocket or risk forgetting them at the gym when she left. 
Looking up, Angela stopped short.  There were seven entities with too much resemblance of the Seven Deadly to be coincidence.  They all were looking at her as she stood there in the doorway with her mouth hanging open. 

She snapped her mouth shut and decided to take up one of the empty treadmills.  Walking at a mildly brisk pace, she ventured a conversation.  “Hi, I’m Angela.  And you are?”

“Furry.” The copper haired woman next to her replied.  “And these are my friends, Covetness, Avarice, Egoism, Prejudice, Pantophagy and of course you have already met Apathy.”    Her smile became an ugly sneer.  The last time Angela and Harry had met up with any of the “Alternate Seven”, they had been whisked away in her Camaro.  Now they were here, at the gym, separated and no obvious means of escape.  Her stomach started to bunch.

Just as Angela was looking for the nearest garbage can to leave her lunch, the “Brat Brigade” came bursting through the doors.  A gaggle of geese don’t make as much noise or commotion as five, unruly, unsupervised preteens. Jostling and shoving one another, the five boys entered the workout room with a wave of youthful exuberance.  The heat of their pent up energy radiated from them as they hopped on stationery bikes, or sat on the rowing machine.  One of the young boys grabbed the television remote control, snapping his bubble gum, grinning like a lizard, “Mind?” One word, that was all he said and changed the channel from the news to Sponge Bob Square Pants.  All five of the kids broke into song along with the cartoon characters.;

 “Are you ready kids "Aye Aye Captain"
I Can't hear you "AYE AYE CAPTAIN"
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea 
"Spongebob squarepants"
Absorbant and yellow and porous is he 
"Spongebob Squarepants"
If nautical nonsense be something you wish 
"Spongebob Squarepants"
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish 
"Spongebob Squarepants"
Spongebob squarepants
Spongebob squarepants
Spongebob squarepants


At the top of their lungs.  Around mouths filled with an assortment of candies and gum, they howled with one another and the television.  Angela hazard a sidelong glance at the “Alternate Seven”.

The seven alternate Deadly Sins were mesmerized.  Quite obviously they had never seen male adolescence during its finest hour.  Crotches were grabbed, titties were twisted, underarm farts were released with abandon and threats of slinging boogers fill the air. Again, Angela thought Brat Brigade.

As Angela feigned concern, she wove her way to the middle of the crowd and then on to the other side and out the door.  She startled Harry who was crouched over, dagger in hand, ready to pounce through the door.  They ran, to the other workout room.  Blurting out to the Deadly Seven that the Alternate Seven were just in the next room.

The Deadly Seven quickly ran to the other room, as they entered the Brat Brigade seemed to melt and disappear completely. The last to leave waved to Angela and mouthed the words, “Mother Hera.”  Confirming to Angela that the kids were actually sent by the Goddess.  Hera Goddess of Marriage and the Birth of Children.  Turning her head upward, Angela whispered a fervent “thank you.”

The fight which ensued was a blur to those not a participant.  Swords and other implements of harm were drawn by parties on both sides.  It seemed to Angela that the two counterparts squared off against one another; Egoism and Pride, Envy and Prejudice, Greed and Avarice, Wrath against Fury, Lust with Covetness, Gluttony and Pantophagy and of course Sloth and Apathy. 

Swords flashed in the light of the overhead fluorescents.  Each pair seemed equally suited as well as equally armed. Pride and Egoism carried both a long thin rapier in one hand and the short straight blade of a  tanto in the other.  With the flourish of expert swordsmen, theirs was to be a fight of not just swords, but of style.

Circling one another Envy and Prejudice each pointed their slender curved scimitar at one another. Slicing and thrusting in the dance of death. Lust and Covetness waved their katara at one another. The vengeful blade of the cuckold. Their thrust and parry seemed a bit awkward since the their blades accustomed use is in the back.  Greed and Avarice held the small curved blade of the Japanese tachi, bowing to one another as they began.

With quick dispatch Fury and Wrath each held their broad sword high in both hands.  Wrath made the exquisite lunge rending Fury from head to toe.  In a cry sounding as much filled with amazement as anger, Fury turned into a wisp and was inhaled by Wrath.  Shock and surprise pushed Wrath down to sit with amazement.

Gluttony and Pantophagy both were swinging massive spiked maces at one another.  Their oversized frames absorbed the blows.  The loud spat of body absorbing the shock of the mace was loud enough to rattle the windows.

 With adrenaline pumping, ducking beneath the Harry and Angela jumped into the fray.  Much to Harry’s joy, his small concealable dagger became which ever implement of destruction he needed at the moment. Jumping on the back of Apathy’s back, his blade turned into the staff Apathy and Sloth were using on one another.

Angela’s chastity belt, was actually the girdle Hera had taken from Aphrodite.  Angela’s belt could quite literally transform her into the likeness of other beings, or assist her in tall leaps, or buoy her courage as it faltered.  As this surprising knowledge  began to sink into her thought process, she too sought to assist her companions. 
As each of the Seven Deadly Sins overcame their individual counterpart, they absorbed the alternate.  Wisps of colored smoke, aligned with their specific sin blew into the mouths of the victor.  Each of the Seven Deadly had won their bouts, with exception of Sloth and Apathy.  Apathy, the instigator of the whole ordeal.  Apathy and Sloth still stood toe-to-toe with staffs in hand, but no longer swinging them at one another.  With a shrug of his shoulders, Apathy became another wisp and flew into Sloth.  Harry tumbled to the floor, sputtering.

Gulping air, Harry demanded to know what had just happened and why.  Sitting on one of the stationery bikes, Pride attempted to explain, “Each of the Alternate Sins are actually a part of each of us.  As we defeated them, we absorbed them back into our definition.” 

“Huh?” Harry never was the sharpest blade in the armory.

“Poseidon thought to contest the power of Olympus.  He thought if he took an aspect of each of the Seven Deadly Sins and made those aspects the main description of each of us, we would no longer exist but as an aspect of the Alternate.  Because the Alternate bowed to Poseidon, he could then rule how humans behave.  The Gods who can dictate human behavior have the most power.  If humans had become Apathetic they would not care and then would pray to Poseidon and could make him stronger than even Zeus”

“How in the world did they slice off an aspect of you?”  Angela had a look of alarm. “Can he or they or whatever do this anytime they want?”

“This was a first and should be the last.  We won’t allow it to happen again. They went after Sloth due to the nature of Sloth;  Seeing, but not taking action or slow to take action.  However, the portion which was taken was Apathy: Absence or suppression of emotion.  Slow to take action is not the same as suppressing any feeling.  As the original whole, we always had the upper hand.  With the two of you as our beacon, we were sure to be victorious. This fight with Poseidon may not be over, but for now, this deviant plan has been put to rest.”  

Memories of the King and his Court - BFF 217 Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer  (2)
Memories of the King and his Court

My Dad always seemed to think our family needed to have some sort of a dog around.  My Dad didn’t; hunt, didn’t pet, didn’t clean up after, didn’t even particularly like dogs, he just seemed to think kids needed to have a dog. 

When my younger brother turned six, Santa Clause brought Smokey into our lives.  Smokey was a male basset hound.  Long floppy ears, short stubby legs, the snout of a small elephant and the determination of a saint. 

Since Smokey was on the shorter side of small, he wasn’t considered the “dominant” anything.  Other dogs attempted to bully him. However, attitude plays a great deal when it comes to being a victim or a hero.

Friends who lived a mere ¾ mile trek past two mean territorial German Shepherds who would hide and dart at you barking for all they were worth, over the rickety foot bridge that spanned the channel, past the wirehaired terrier who would bark less than an inch from your legs, around the bend past the beach where who knows what kind of dog was going to be trying to protect its young charge while the kids played in the water, lived with the largest Saint Bernard ever.

The Saint Bernard was king.  He had already saved children in the lake.  He had already allowed very small children to ride on his back.  He had already fought and won a battle with the mean black German Shepherd.  He was our HERO! 

Trudging up the hill from the public beach to Curley’s Grocery to replenish our candy supply we would see our hero and his trusty sidekick would be laying in the middle of the road; Saint Bernard and Basset Hound, side by side.  Folks and animals alike respected them.  They ruled!

The Saint Bernard was legend among us kids and by association, so was our Basset Hound.  The road narrowed into a small bend just at Curley’s, so the local traffic naturally slowed.  Kids darted across the street, hobbling with bare feet from hot pavement to rocky dirt roads.  The local traffic naturally slowed.  Flat landers slammed on their brakes in utter panic.  (flat landers, trunk slammers, fudgies, rubber necks – whatever you prefer to call tourists)  The out of towners would rent cabins for a week or a month during the summer and have to learn our customs.  One of the most important, don’t run over the local heroes!

Sadly, one winter, the king of the land passed away.  Smokey had more than just a little difficulty with this idea of the King not laying at his side.  As Smokey trotted to Curley’s he had to traverse the gauntlet which had previously been restrained out of deference to the Saint Bernard.  The two German Shepherds bit at him as his slunk past their territory, by swimming across the channel he bypassed both the rickety bridge and the wirehaired terrier, but passing the beach he was open to whatever dog was sent there to keep track of their charges.

Quietly he padded to the bend in the road, just as it narrowed, at the side of Curley’s Grocery store.  The out of town driver didn’t see the small Basset Hound laying in the road, trying to keep vigilant observance of the kids.  They didn’t realize he was keeping tradition for the King.  

I am certain the two best friends are laying at the bend in the road, waiting for all of us kids to join them. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dog Days of Summer : BFF 217

Dog Days of Summer 
Visions I Notice and Remember

Cicadae hang from the side of the house and buzz incessantly.  The humidity was well over 85% and the daytime temperature hadn’t cooled less than 95 degrees during the several weeks, with a sticky 75 at night.  Clouds meander by, but they only tease and laugh at the thought of actually emitting any rain.  Even the bugs, fluttering in the evening shafts of light, seem to slow meander rather than their typical darting to and fro.  Too hot to move about much.  Too sticky to stay in one place.  August, the Dog Days of Summer. 

It would have been a grand year, had there been enough rain.  The spring planting season came earlier than normal.  “Corn, knee high by Fourth of July” has always been a rule of thumb.  Fourth of July came, the corn was easily thy high.  Bright green and beautiful.  There had been some rain in the spring of the year.  Spring was a long hot summer gone by.

The smell of barbecue, from one of the many neighbors, wafts in the air. Dogs too hot and tired to bark at the passersby.  The walkers have become few and far between, during daylight hours.  The walkers, those brave enough to walk outdoors, tend to shuffle down the walkways in the less heavy darkness. 

Grasslands too burned by the sun to offer nourishment, the wildlife is forced into neighborhoods to forage: hastas are eaten by the deer, flower petals are plucked by the flocks of turkeys, and the rabbits are making their food source the grasses grown in gardens for decoration.  Fox are laying dead on the side of the road, forced to move into urban areas to hunt for the mice who moved out of the field. On the cooler nights, the local skunk has had to make his “rounds” far more frequently to scavenge for food.  Laying his scent as he moves about, I pity anyone with open windows.

It’s almost too hot to hold a conversation.  I watch a man jog by.  Shake my head and think he is a heart attack waiting to happen.  Start to let my mind wander. “Corn is five ears for $2.00.  TWO DOLLARS FOR FIVE EARS OF CORN?!  Growing up, we leased land and grew corn.  We could sell it on the corner to make money for school clothes.  Dollar a dozen, two dozen gets you two bakers dozen! “  I would sit on the top of a hay wagon, loaded with bales of hay, wearing my daisy dukes and a crop top.  We sold all the corn we had that year.  It was almost as hot as this year.

Hot an steamy.  The neighborhood kids are getting bored with their time away from the regiment of school.  They miss their other friends, tired of playing with the locals who aren’t the same age.  They begin to get into trouble; kicking underground sprinkler heads as they ride by on their bikes, running into a neighbor’s garage door with their bikes and putting nice dings in it, teasing the dogs who are tethered in front yards, and screaming as loudly as they can as they race downhill on their bikes one after another.

The Dog Days make me remember, make me take notice, implant permanent visions in my memory better than any other time of the year.  Memories I treasure and hold close.  Visions  I get to take with me everywhere to bring up during the frigid days of winter.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hidden - A Faerie Tale - Week #64 GBE 2

GBE 2: Blog On
Hidden : Week #64

The Faeries scatter as petals on the wind.  Someone was coming.  It’s smell was disconcerting; like a human, yet like sweet milk, yet like lavender.  This was not the smell of the besotted human male, staggering from the pub with two too many pints in him. His would have been an odor they were accustomed to.  They knew what to do with that type.  Always looking for Leprechauns.  Usually mumbling something about ‘changing their luck’. 

Hiding amidst  the woodland groundcover, one after another they took turns peeking  for a glimpse of the  interloper.  What kind of creature would dare this far into the grove?  The Fae had chosen this spot specifically for the privacy it offered.   The trees here grew thick and dark, creating a frightening specter most humans dared not enter.  

Rounding the bend, the human child pushed her way through the undergrowth.  Her stubby little arms pushing the tall ferns aside.  She seemed to be making her way to the stream. 

Flying low, staying out of sight just under the fern fronds, Juniper flew taking careful inspection of the human child.  Not wanting to be noticed, he took on the flight characteristics of a dragon fly.  Hovering and darting, he noticed much detail about the human.  The human had few but small teeth. The human had pudgy arms and legs.  The human had rosy cheeks and hair the color of corn tassels.   It seemed to stagger more than walk.  It didn’t appear to know that the forest is dangerous.

Reporting his findings back to the elders, it was determined this was a human child.  The elders also reminded all of the clan, that where there is a young human child, an adult is sure to be nearby.  Patrols  were dispatched to locate the adult.  Once the patrol found the adult, they were then to ascertain whether male or female. 

The elders began preparations to lure adult humans to the human child.  The women would be easily led to the child; one of the Faeries would simply lure her into the forest with cries simulating the child.  The men would be more difficult, unless the whole town was looking.  Then it could be a catastrophe! They may come beating the underbrush with machetes, cutting down Faerie homes and buildings.  They would tramp all over their finely cultivated mushroom gardens.  Luckily, the wintergreen berries wouldn’t be fully ripe for few more weeks. They would call and call the child’s name, out-yelling one another, so loudly they couldn’t possibly hear any return calls. Adult humans have no consideration to any other than themselves. 

Juniper and his patrol zigged and zagged along the edge of the forest.  There was no sign of any humans. Juniper sent one of his sentries to fly to the top of a hill and check further away from the forest edge.  The sentry, Ivy, set her wings in motion flying quickly to the cover of a small choke cherry tree.  The underbrush was thin here with little cover should a hawk or an owl appear.  Ivy did not want to be invited to their next meal!

Scanning the area with her binoculars, Ivy saw no movement of humans.  Then she spotted the leg.  There sticking out from a small dip in the side of the hill, was the foot and lower leg of a human, lying down. 

Signaling back to Juniper, she signaled there might be a problem.  The entire patrol skimmed their way to the choke cherry tree.  Buzzing amongst themselves, the speculation as to why the obvious female adult human would let her child wander away, for that long, began to escalate to a high pitch.  Their deliberations began to sound like a cicadae.  Juniper shushed them.  Drawing to his full height, puffing out the chest of his green tunic, he began his flight to where the adult female lay in the grass.

Weaving from cover to cover, it took much longer to get to the dip in the side of the hill where the woman lay.  Carefully, Juniper landed and peered in her direction, several time during his trip.  Danger lurked everywhere.  Juniper imagined snakes and toads and birds during each leg of the flight.  Each time he landed, he unsheathed his makeshift sword.

Unsheathing the blue  plastic cocktail garnish spear, Juniper held it aloft.  He cried out to the Fae to protect him by empowering his Sapphire Saber .  Thus building his courage, he moved ever closer.  At last able to see more than just the calf and foot of the woman, he could see she was not breathing.  He could see there had been some sort of struggle and the woman was no longer alive.  His heart went out to the woman and her small child who was now alone in the forest.

It was human business.  Juniper searched the horizon for other humans, again.  He saw none.  The blood on the woman’s clothes was  black and flies were lazily buzzing.  There was nothing the Fae could do to help her. 

Juniper, Ivy and the rest of the patrol quickly flew back to the safety and cover of the forest floor.  Comparing notes among the patrol, they efficiently pieced together their report for the elders.  Once back at the encampment, Juniper gave a full detailed outline of what they encountered. 

Without hesitation, he asked who had been sent to watch over the safety of the human child. A child safety patrol had been assembled from those who had experience in the camp’s daycare.  Along with several young Faeries, an Elder, Blossom, who was a Sister-Queen of their court, went to check on the human child.  Blossom had much experience, in her day, with humans.  Blossom would know what to do, if anything.
Juniper and Ivy dashed to where they had last seen the human child.  Flying as two dragonflies, zipping through the underbrush and over the brambles.  Two forest green dragonflies.  Veering direction, they both heard the cries and followed. 

There on the bank of the stream, the child had fallen.  Her knees were skinned, her hands were muddied, and her little face had rivers of tears streaming through the dirt smudges.  She had fallen down the incline to the stream.  There was no chance she would drown, as the stream was only a trickle.  Hypothermia, that was the real fear of everyone gathered around her.

Blossom chided the others, “Now make sure you stay out of her reach.  She is a baby and doesn’t know when she has hurt you.”  The Faeries surrounding the baby tried darting back and forth to distract the human child from her pain and loneliness. 

Juniper reported his findings to Blossom.  Shaking her head and tut-tutting with her tongue, Blossom conceded the dire straits of the young human.  Blossom told Juniper the human child appeared to be female.  The child appeared to have recently learned to walk, therefore would be less than two years old.  Blossom’s eyes began to well up.  “No mother to care for you, oh child.  Whatever shall become of you?”  Rocking back and forth, as though she already held the child in her arms.

“The child is hungry and lost.  Her mother is dead and lying in the grass.  What more do we need to know?  This child needs attention and I think we should give it to her.  For, as surely as we do not, she will perish in the forest.”  Blossom had her hands on her hips and her mind made up.  “Ivy, I will need help keeping her attention so that she is looking at me.”

Ivy nodded in agreement.  Ivy buzzed near the child and back away, grabbing the little girls attention.  Just as Ivy flew back to Blossom, Blossom released the spell along with the Faerie dust.  Within seconds, the human child had reduced in size.  “Quickly Ivy, bring the little one to me.”  Ivy swooped into the baby clothing, grabbing the now wailing child out.  Ivy dashed to where Blossom hovered, waiting with arms outstretched.

Holding the small child close to her.  They flew back to the encampment.  Juniper in the lead and the rest of the child safety patrol all surrounding Blossom and the child. 

“Blossom!”  Maude.  Queen of all Faeries.  Maude was here, at our encampment?  Why?  Had she been called?  Over a human child?  No, the human child was just a coincidence. 

Blossom carried the human child in her arms, into the Great Chamber.  The chamber where all the Faeries gathered for camp meetings.  Handing the baby over to a nursery Faerie, Blossom straightened her emerald green gown and curtsied to Queen Maude.   Every Faerie under the protection of Sister Queen Blossom wore some variation of green.

“Queen Maude.” Blossom acknowledged as she swept into her deepest curtsy.  “I hope your travels have been pleasant.  I am afraid we were not expecting you until the next phase of the moon.  Will you be honoring us with your grace until the Solstice?” 

Queen Maude, her gown bespoke her title.  Woven spiders’ webs, the indigo bodice was lace extraordinaire.  There was enough ornate lace, you could not tell where the ties were hidden. Her skirt billowed as though made of an upside down iris, color matching the bodice.  Her slippers were studded with diamonds which glistened as she walked.  Complete with a purple under slip, just showing enough to prove she matched through and through.  

“I have not completely made up my mind as to the length of my stay.”  Queen Maude said as both ladies made their way to the settee.  “I had come early to inspect your encampment.  However, the prospect of a baby in the camp may change my mind entirely.”  Queen Maude pulled a dragon festooned hand fan and began to flutter it in front of her face.  “What do you intend to do with it?  Eat it? You do know the rumors of human babies making the best pate are completely off base.  They have just too much fat on them. They don’t roast well, they don’t fry well, babies just don’t taste all that good either.”

“I thought we would keep the baby with us and safe until we can find alternate keeping for her. Preferably humans.” Blossom said quietly.

“Oh, so the human child is a female.  I believe the right to name any new child is mine.  Any objection?” Queen Maude cast an eye about the room.  Faeries looked back and forth among one another, glancing first this way and then that.  In the end, they each began shaking their heads.

“Oh Maude, we would be honored if you would name the human.  Shall you name her now?  Or could we incorporate that honorific splendor into our Solstice gala?” Blossom was clapping her hands with joy.  This meant that Maude was going to allow them to keep the baby.  Babies hadn’t been plentiful in a very long time.  If a human child lived within the Fae for twenty one years, it became a true Faerie and earned the right to wear wings. It would be a wonderful way to increase the size of the camp and hopefully continue Faeries in general.

“Naturally.  I had already thought the very thing.  I shall not only name her, I will be her Godmother.” Maude sat forward.  Eagerness flowing from every pore.  “I will raise her to take my place on the throne!”

“Now, Maude.”  Blossom began, “You know as well as I do, there are too many underlings ahead of this one in the secession to the throne. You will spin your kingdom out of control.  You will have each of your heirs at one another’s throats even more than they already are. We cannot afford any more wars.  The Faerie population is nearly depleted.  We need to live in peace for a while, gather ourselves unto one another, increase our food stores, care for one another.” Blossom placed her hand lightly on Maude’s knee. 
Maude seemed to hear Blossom, for she sat back in her seat and the glint in her eyes seem to fade somewhat. 

In her designated dressing room, attended by her ladies in waiting, Maude began to smile into the mirror again. “Lillie.  Her name shall be Lillie. She will be of the Indigo and the Green Courts.  She will be far greater than any expectation.”  Maude reached to the hidden drawer, pulling out the bloodied knife she had used to make the child available…..

Hidden Room - BFF 216

BFF 216: Hidden Room

The hidden room was as much a part of my childhood as the monsters in the closet.  To this day, I’m not certain my parents ever knew it existed.  It took us so many places.  The room held our secrets.  The room protected our souls when we slept.

Some people think their homes have personality.  Looking at the house from the front it’s easy to see the eyes, nose and a smile.  But my home had a room with personality. 

I didn’t start out loving my hidden room.  With some amount of accuracy, I think it is fair to say the room didn’t love me at first either.  I base that on the conversations I have had, as an adult, with my parents.  They spoke of closet doors flying open and hitting on the back wall.  They spoke of creaking and groaning coming from my room, I know I didn’t do that.  They said that at first they didn’t know if the house liked us.  I grew to know, it is the hidden room that controls the house.

With three kids and one on the way, my parents bought a new home.  They made up the nursery, my room, all in greens.  They hoped for a boy, but were wary none the less.  Back then, it was a fifty-fifty gamble whether you got a girl or a boy. So, my room was painted a cool green with clown murals on the walls. 
Crying, standing in the crib, the small door inside my opened closet swung open.  A gentle warm breeze wafted over my face, caressing.  The breeze smelled of my mother’s perfume when she held me close.  I stopped crying and breathed in the aroma.  I knew then, I was not alone.

Over the years, whenever I was sad I would crawl through the cubby hole door at the back of my closet, into the hidden room.  It was small and comfortable, like a pair of arms enveloping me.  It was cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  How the house ever did that, I don’t know.  I could take my stuffed bunny with me, Mr. Biggs, the room allowed one toy.  I could talk to both Mr. Biggs and the room, they consoled me when I was sad and congratulated me when I was filled with joy.

Taking a flash light was the only way to see in that room.  It looked to me, that either my parents had painted my room to match the hidden room, or vice versa.  I have often wondered. 

I never got direct answers from that room, but the scent and the breeze always let me know if I was on the right track. 

When I grew old enough and went away to college, my parents sold the house to a young couple expecting a child.  I was glad for the room.  I made a special trip home, just to say goodbye.  Lovingly, the room had already changed it's color to pink. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Unexpected - GBE2 #63

GBE 2: Blog On
Week #63  :  Unexpected

“Mine!” Exclaimed one, then another “No! Mine!” 

She hung her head, dragged herself from the chair in front of her computer.  Heading for the kitchen, she dumped three round red pills from the vial.  “This ought to shut  you all up.”  She thought. “I shouldn’t take more than the three already in her hand. After all, I’m NOT ready to die yet”  Shaking her head and filling the glass with water, she gulped down the pills.   

Aloud she quoted a friend, “What are we, really?  The sum total of every essence we have ever absorbed. “  Shoulders rounded, with heavy feet she made her way back to her desk.

“If I had known then what every essence absorbed meant I certainly wouldn’t have read so many books!  And perhaps more of them would have been about Einstein than Jack the Ripper!”  Seemingly to herself, she added, “And you ALL know what those little red pills can do if I take more than three per day.  All of your voices would be stilled.  None of your stories would be told.  So back off and we can put your tales to paper one at a time.” 

“I’ve told you before, and I mean it, I start thinking I am really losing my mind and I will end it all.  You’ll have to find another sucker to write your biographies.  I need some time for myself.  I can’t always see your lives and not live my own.  We had an agreement and I expect you to stick to it.  We all know the pills will only last a few hours, but I expect you to give me a couple of days a week to actually LIVE.”  Turning back to the computer, checking through the social network page, she was looking for something, no, anything to make her laugh. 

Some days she wasn’t certain they were even real.  Sometimes she thought perhaps she was crazy and maybe she should check herself into the local mental hospital.  Years ago she had sought to confide in a therapist, and nearly ended up heavily sedated and institutionalized.  They had warned her, or rather He had warned her.  The therapist had left the consultation room to “make a phone call.”  They demanded she get up and leave. Finally listening to them, she had simply walked out the door and vanished into the crowd as the ambulance pulled up to the building. 

It was the first time He had come forward.  She seemed able to hear him more distinctly.  Most of the time, the others seemed to be arguing over who was going to get to talk to her.  They argued so loudly, it seemed a giant loud din.  So loud she couldn’t distinguish one voice from another, her head ached with the noise.  She fought desperately to block them all out.

He told her his name was Thomas.  He said he would try to help her quiet the others and let them tell her their story.  He seemed to be able to keep them “in line”.  They tempered their voices.  Together they had come up with the plan to put each story to paper for any and all to find as they would. 

In the beginning she had typed their stories day and night.  Not stopping for days on end.  After the second week, a friend knocked on her door.  Startled, she pulled herself from the trance like stupor she had fallen into.  Hazarding a glance in the mirror, as she lurched for the door, a gaunt vision looked back at her.  Her friend’s expression was a mixture of astonishment, revulsion and concern.  She had lost nearly twenty pounds.  Her complexion was so ashen, it appeared not only had she not seen the sun but she hadn’t seen a shower for quite some time.  Hygiene aside, her friend admonished her for not answering phone calls, e-mail messages or any of the other social network site call outs.  Her friend had come back daily to ensure she maintained her “awareness”.  After a few weeks, the daily visits slowed to every other day, then once per week.  Glad to have such a caring friend, she was also glad to see the wary watchfulness leave her friends expressions. 

That had been years ago, this was now.  Where was Thomas?  Why were they all clamoring again.  She hadn’t had to endure that for quite some time.  Where was Thomas? There seemed a panic to the din.  She began holding her head against the pain of the noise.  This sudden, unexpected attack on her psyche was overwhelming.

She screamed into her mind, “Where is Thomas?”

The answer only created more questions. “He has been called back.” They all seemed to echo the same response.  Clapping her hands to the sides of her head, she was going to risk speaking to all of them.
“Called back? Called back! What do you mean? Do you mean reborn? So reincarnation is true?”  Her eyes flew open wide, her mouth hung a little open.   Involuntarily, her hand flew to her breast and she took in a small gasp of air.  

The voice that came forward seemed a bit weak.  Frail but sure of herself.  The old woman began. “ No, we’ve never been born.  You are our first mother. “

“I don’t understand.  How could I be your mother?  I’ve not given birth to anyone.”

“Ah, but you have, my dear.  You have written our stories.  You give us life.  You hadn’t gotten to his story. He has merely been written by another author. “