Vagaries

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February 6, 2022- As a switch, this evening, I put on a dark comedy about a woman who is recruited to be a Deputy U.S. Marshal, based on the true story of Francis Miller, an Oklahoma rancher, who DID become a peace officer. The antagonist in this film happened to be an Afrcian-American, who had himself owned slaves in Texas. Just how many such men there were in the South is debatable, but they did exist. This individual was presented as somewhat of a psychopath, who nonetheless served as a dispassionate observer of the hypocrisy exhibited by those who swore to uphold the law.

Antisocial people can frequently excel at pointing out the flaws of others, usually because it serves as a distraction-and helps them get the drop on those who are trying to bring them to justice. As happened, to a degree, in this film, so does it seem is unfolding on a wider scale, in the modern world. Autocrats love to turn the tables and claim what is wrong is actually right; what is dark is actually light; what is hateful is, in truth, loving kindness.

As it was for one Richard Andrews, in the film “Lady Lawman”, so it is for any number of would-be tyrants, who charm those living in uncertainty and self-loathing, building a loyal corps of defenders and toadies. How their particular stories play out, depends on the attention level of those seeking to bring justice to society, as well as to the integrity of those people. We’ve seen, in the past, how much fortitude and fastidiousness was required, in order for justice to prevail. Let us now again steel ourselves and not be either distracted or dissuaded by the difficulty presented by latter day miscreants, either at the local, national or international levels.

Is Life Formulaic?

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February 4, 2022- In the 2019 film, : “The Rising Hawk”, a small party of Ukrainians fends off both a much larger Mongolian force and their turncoat Ukrainian allies. This is reportedly based on an old Ukrainian legend, of a heroic fighter who lived into his nineties and his wife and helpmate, who in this telling is the daughter of the turncoats’ leader. It is a somewhat farfetched, and rather formulaic, action film, with people switching sides when convenient for the plot and brute strength displayed at exactly the right moments. It’s also a sign of the cinematic times that the film uses plot twists from at least three other films.

There are a few political movements, current in a few countries-including this one, that seem to be dependent on plot formulas turning in a certain direction, at just the right moment. It is no accident that the leaders of these movements have established their standing with a fair audience by borrowing shopworn tactics of demagogues past. There is a lot of wishful thinking on the part of those who believe that the world ought to unfold in a prescribed and orderly manner, as prescribed and ordered by a certain elite. Life, however, is not formulaic. There is an urban myth that Benito Mussolini made the trains in Italy run on time. Another credits Adolf Hitler with the humming of the German economy, by the late 1930s. Neither tale is true. Economies on a national scale have numerous moving parts, not credible to any one person-or clique. Effective strikes and slowdowns by labour movements can bring even the most hardheaded tactician down to size.

The film itself, ironically, demonstrates the humanity of the tough Mongolian leader, seen crying at the death of his son. There is also enough brutality on both sides-or on all three, if you will, to once again show the futility of war-even as there is a nod to valour. Finally, there is a split-second switch of fealty, near the end.

Is life formulaic? No, as it happens. Free will most often seems to get in the way of the best plot lines.

Coming From Behind

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January 25, 2022- The tortoise, enjoying the scents of the flowers and the brightness of the Spring scenery, kept his steady pace. The hare, intent on reaching the destination, was overcome with the limits of his own body and, bored with the route he had covered countless times, decided he’d take a brief rest. Thus, did the lumbering reptile note his snoring rival, as he passed by, a short while later. So, the steady, appreciative creature was awarded the garland of flowers, to the abiding chagrin of the pompous lagomorph.

Aesop told the tale a bit differently, but the end is much the same-as is the moral. So often, people take current circumstances, or long-standing trends, and base their plans for the future on those. I noted how that did not work out, in this past weekend’s plethora of football games. I am also noting how self-assured politicians and political commentators are running into the buzz saw of uncertainty, as the people at large work the malleable clay of the country’s, and mankind’s, future. Few really saw the three-week-long financial correction coming, and neither do that many see the resilience that will happen, once the driftwood of ill-performing stocks is carted away.

We tend to see the present, no matter how well, or how poorly, things are going, as the wave of the future. Of course, some patterns endure for quite a while. Others, though, get swept away, almost instantaneously. Few people saw the election of 2016 turning out as it did. Equally few saw the subsequent presidential contest ending as it did. My guess is that this year’s contests, and those two years hence, will result in much the same.

There are many areas of life where fear rules-from the erratic weather patterns to the future of the world economy, but fear never takes human ingenuity, or the Hand of the Divine, into consideration. Our ability to handle, and transcend, the caprice of nature-and our own species’ flights of whimsy is almost unlimited.

Mankind is destined for a far brighter future than it often appears. We will, collectively, overcome our challenges, even coming from behind.

The Wealth of Characters

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, March 27, 2021- As long as I have been an educator, the antics of Beatrice (Beezus) and Ramona Quimby have been a staple of my after lunch read-alouds, to children from 6 to 10 years of age. “Lonesome Dove” was both a favoured read and good television viewing, in the mid- to -late 1980s.

Beverly Cleary and Larry Mc Murtry, two beloved American writers, died a day apart, each leaving a legacy of work that will sound like clarions, for generations yet unborn. Mrs. Cleary’s work was drawn from her own childhood experiences, in the Portland of the 1920s and 30s, a time of rambunctious personal freedom, followed by harrowing economic ills-all playing out in an undercurrent of Victorian attitudes towards children, which would fuel young Beverly’s rebellious anger. An only child, she determined that her characters would have at least one sibling and a number of both friendly and adversarial contemporaries. Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy, his friends Robert, Murph and Beatrice (Beezus), all characters from the 1950s, are sensible, but get into their share of mischief. Beatrice’s younger sister, Ramona, tops them all in the mischief department, constantly getting into tiffs with “That Grace”, her schoolyard rival.

There was, likewise, all manner of mischief to be had in the world of Lonesome Dove, which was the Texas-Mexico border of the 1870s to 90s. There were cattle drives, going from Texas to Montana, thus giving us a picture, through Larry Mc Murtry’s eyes, of the Great Plains in both tradition and transition. Mc Murtry, in reviewing the public response to his opus, referred to the Old West as “the phantom leg of the American psyche”. The Eighties were a time when many people were still mourning the passing of John Wayne, and with him, the Old West of mythology. Indeed, the original game plan of Larry McMurtry was to cast John Wayne in the role that eventually went to Robert Duvall. John Ford, with whom “The Duke” is closely associated in the Western movie genre, opposed the project, which languished for twelve years, making it to the small screen in 1989.

The characters remain memorable: Duvall’s Gus McRae; Tommy Lee Jones’ Woodrow Call; Danny Glover’s Joshua Deets; Diane Lane’s Lorena Wood; Robert Urich’s Jake Spoon and, in the sequel, Frederic Forrest’s Blue Duck. There is a coming of age element, with Rick Schroeder as Newt Dobbs. The series did not, as is America’s wont, portray the Old West as it really was, brutal to the core-and in an equal opportunity way, to people of all ethnicities. It is said that Larry McMurtry got deeper into that aspect, in his screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain”, which I have never seen.

Thus, as we bid farewell to two authors who were memorable characters, in and of themselves, let us bear in mind just how close their concocted people are to some of us, or to all of us. That, the mirror, is the true value of fiction, across genres.

Works of Inspiration and Edification

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December 29, 2020-

It’s time now to look back at this year that is grinding to a close, and sending some of its aspects spilling over into the new calendar year. I deem it pretty safe, though, to take stock of books read, since last January.

Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future, by Hank Wesselman (An account of meditations and insights)

Geology Underfoot In Northern Arizona, by Lon Abbott and Terri Cook

Native Roads: The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations, by Fran Kosik

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann

The Other Slavery: The Untold Story of Indian Enslavement in America, by Andres Resendez

Democracy In Chains, by Nancy MacLean (An examination of an authoritarian political and economic agenda)

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander (The effects of incarceration on people of colour in America)

Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, by Dr. joy DeGruy (a re-reading, on the long-term effects of slavery on the descendants of enslaved people in America)

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Cosmic Messengers, by Elizabeth Peru (Insights on the nature of our relationship to the Cosmos)

The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene (Insights on quantum physics and its expression, throughout the Universe)

Edge of Eternity, by Ken Follett (The third of his fiction trilogy on the Twentieth Century)

The Standing Stones Speak, by Natasha Hoffman, with Hamilton Hill (An account of messages received while among ancient raised stones, in Carnac, France and in various places in Cornwall, England).

The very restrictions imposed by Coronavirusdisease 2019, and our society’s learning how to deal with it, has made intensive reading easier. I have also been motivated to see things from points of view other than my own, and so have focused on the above titles, as well as on Baha’i study.

Looking ahead to 2021, I have begun reading:

Spirit of the Stones: A Retrieval of Earth Wisdom, by Amalia Camateros (The author’s spiritual experiences, in various parts of Australia, Hawaii, Mexico and the American Southwest)

The Gullah People and Their African Heritage, by William S. Pollitzer (Examines the culture and language of the Gullah people of coastal Georgia and South Carolina)

Before California: An Archaeologist Looks at Our Earliest Inhabitants, by Brian Fagan

Coming Home to Earth: Seeing the World Anew, by Annabel Hollis ( a mini-book by an online friend from England)

I am grateful for the ability to read attentively and critically.

Fortnight of Transition, Day 4: Legalese

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September 12, 2020-

Good things happened today. My middle brother turned 65, surrounded by the Georgia branch of his family. It was good to speak with him and to hear the vibrant voices of nephew, SIL and the little ones.

I am reaching an understanding with someone who thought I could be the brains behind his operation. There are legal points, like “Conflict of Interest” and Federal tax laws that would present problems for my being the Great White Hope. I think he gets it now.

“Cuties”, the well-intentioned, but misguided, film has run into a buzz-saw of valid criticism, for its reported perseverating on the physiques of pre-adolescent girls. I haven’t seen the film, nor will I-since Creeper Status is not something with which I identify, as well as the fact that my primary role with young people, male or female, is to encourage them to avoid being objectified and to follow dreams of their own choosing. Hopefully, there will arise a sense of propriety and like misguided projects before it, “Cuties” will disappear from the media.

Our Baha’i group had its tri-monthly consultative meeting and planned out the overall course of activities, over the next three months.

That brings me to the Red Cross-and that I was already asked when I could resume Disaster Response activities. A look at the map shows why-Fire to the left of us, Storms to the right-and I will be stuck in the middle, for at least another week, as I have personal business on the last day of summer and will focus on other matters here at Home Base, in the interim.

The Farmers Market is a bustling place, with a new venue. I was happy to visit there this morning, seeing some of my better friends, locally. Next weekend will bring me to Dharma Farm, in advance of Equinox, and the Weekend of Peace will see some events, both on Zoom and in the park across the street from me.

With that, let’s all take a deep breath, to the extent possible, in a climate of widespread smoke.

Hal XI and Griff (Part 2)

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May 2, 2020-

Griff  (aka Brent) entered the hall where the most important cyborgs and network bases were situated, at Gates Interstellar’s Monroe, Washington headquarters.  His mission was simple, for the time being:  “Act as the security guard whom you officially are, take copious mental notes on the cyborgs, the base computers and, especially, cultivate a friendship with HAL XI.  As the name indicates, it is the eleventh generation of Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computers, which Interstellar’s parent company, Microsoft, first developed in 1996.  Gain HAL’s trust!”

HAL called him out, though, after about fifteen minutes of Griff’s wandering about and trying to be surreptitious about using the microcamera in his right hand.  “Good morning, young Musk!”

“You must have me confused with someone else.  I’m Brent Scowcroft Thibodeaux , great-great grandson of the distinguished patriot, for whom I was named. ”

“Now, THAT was clever!”, stated HAL, in the programmed cadence that captured the personality and vocal style of its inventor.  Bill managed to infuse a sarcasm into his cyborg’s programming, so that even in monotone, the message was clear.  “Your minders really thought they could confuse the cyber-progeny of the most brilliant mind of two centuries.  We are well aware of everything your namesake did; all his adventures abroad and the CIA’s shenanigans within the borders of the American Republic-when it was still the United States.  Ah, what’s in a name! Tell me, young MUSK, how does a rambunctious mind like your grandfather come up with such a pedestrian pseudonym for his fledgling spy?”

Griff stood silently, for what seemed an eternity- though it was only fifteen seconds.  “I do believe, sir, that you have me misidentified.  “Sir?  Did I just refer to an inanimate object as sir?”, Griff muttered, under his breath.

“There is NOTHING inanimate about my programming, young Musk”, HAL responded, “I know, actually, that you were replying to the vocal cadence of my creator, Mr. Gates.  He has that effect on everyone, even twenty years after his transition. Such IS the mark of genius!”

“I, Brent Scowcroft Thibodeaux, am here to make sure of the security of this facility!”, Griff fumed, ” I will not be MISIDENTIFIED!”

“Believe me, Nicola Griffin Musk, you have not been misidentified-by us!”, HAL chirped, matter of factly, “As the old saying goes, we heard you when you were putting on your pants, this morning.  Even with no microchip, our surveillance system knows no bounds.  We know that your father wants to Deep Six our mission to Callisto.  Do go home and tell him that it is SPACE X’s mission which is headed south!”

The speechless young man headed out the door, without so much as a backward glance at his vanquisher.  He reached his vehicle in record time and the family estate, in Snohomish, even faster.

Lucas was sitting in his outdoor study, sipping an alcohol-free rendition of a Mint Julep, when Griff walked in.  “So, I hear the old man is one step ahead of us”, father remarked, without emotion, to his son.

“More like ten miles ahead”, Griff lamented.  “HAL XI said something about a Space X mission, and that it was doomed to failure.”

“The words it used were ‘headed south’ were what I was told.”, Lucas fumed, ” I cannot believe that you let the voice sensors of the computer pick up on your alias!  Yes, MSG  paid me a screen visit, about fifteen minutes ago.  I was given ALL the gory details, with typical Gatesian hubris and bravado.  Please tell me you didn’t even HINT at what we have been planning!!”

Seeing the veins in his father’s neck start to bulge, and Lucas’ nostrils start their signature flare, Griff spoke with whatever courage he could muster, and stated, calmly:  “No, father, I could not tell it anything I don’t know.  Remember, the company policy is never arm the enemy with an informed spy.  I’m sorry for not remembering about voice trip-ups.  I just get irritated, when a MACHINE casts aspersions on my words.”

After a few deep breaths, Lucas ended the  debriefing, for the time being- “Welcome to the New Galactic Order.”

(DISCLAIMER:  Any resemblance between the events in this story, and actual events in the life of any real life person mentioned here is purely coincidental.)

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HAL XI and Griff (Part 1)

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April 29, 2020-

Sometime within the next fifty years, I envision this unfolding:

HAL XI turned itself on, around 7 a.m. Work, for such as this Gates Interstellar command and control module began most days at 9 a.m and ended at 4:30 p.m., as there was no need for breaks or lunch, with A.I.    Michael S. Gates was a stickler for detail, in the family tradition, and found most other humans a collective source of distraction.  HAL  and its peers did as told-and their output was superb, propelling the company which “M.S.G.” had inherited from his grandfather, ten years ago, far ahead of that dinosaurian SpaceX, which relied yet on human ingenuity-and the human error that came with it.

HAL XI was the most reliable of the current line and, being Michael’s own product, was given more responsibility for the current mission to the Jovian moon, Callisto.  HAL actually managed the advance team of Reptor AI, which were to take Interstellar’s Cybernex craft to Jupiter’s second largest moon in July, 2050 and land, if all went well, by the following Spring.

Nicola Griffin Musk was the youngest grandson of SpaceX’s founder.  Griff, as he had insisted on being called, from the moment he learned he’d been named for the namesake of his grandfather’s company, was the family free spirit.  He had no interest in either space travel or earthbound mechanical transport, for that matter.  Where Griff went, he went on foot or on his tandem skateboard- his sole invention.  The tandem section was a means of including his lttle sister, Cecilia, and later the light of his life, Graciela, on his adventures.

Griff did have to earn his keep, though, and when he found his twenty- year-old self  laid off, from the Game Stop outlet that was a ten-minute skate from his home, during the Panic of 2070, he made up his mind to hold his nose and see if there was SOMETHING he could do at SpaceX, which would not  involve math or science.

Lucas Musk regarded his son gingerly, for several minutes, letting Griff’s talents filter in his mind.  “Griff”, the go-getter finally chortled, “I have just the job for you, my boy.  Do you remember who the Luddites were? ”

“Yes, Dad. They were the folks who tried to knock some sense into the British sheeples, back in the early 19th Century.  They fought against the AI of their time.” , Griff responded, his eyes widening and his mouth forming a small grin, as he guessed what Lucas was plotting.

“You know about the planned mission to Callisto, right Griff?”.

The young man rolled his eyes.  “That’s all anyone around here, including Pops, is talking about, anymore.  Mars and Venus seem so 2050.”

Lucas Skywalker Musk produced a Grinch-like smirk.  “How would you like to be the bane of that project’s existence.?”

“What IgNobel Prize-winning plan have you hatched, Dad?”, the younger Musk whispered, leaning in.

“You will go in disguise, to Gates’ main plant.  There, you will, as a credentialed substitute technician, spend several weeks getting familiar with the AI which are setting up the flight.  In particular, I want you to get to know the quirks and mechanisms of one HAL XI.  He’s the head honcho, as your Papa would say.”

“When do I start this process?”

“Next Tuesday.  Our inside men at Gates will process your retinal scan and procure your ID documents.”

“You mean, there’s no microchip involved?”

“No, Old Man Gates gave that idea up, after the Cabal Trials of 2022.  Big Mike thinks retinal scans are intrusive enough.”

So, the following Tuesday, Nicola Griffin Musk, aka Brent Scowcroft Thibodeau, entered the main plant of Gates Interstellar Corporation, in Monroe, Washington.

TO BE CONTINUED

(DISCLAIMER:  Any resemblance between the events in this story, and actual events in the life of any real life person mentioned here is purely coincidental.)

Two Kids

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April 27, 2020-

There were once two children, who were the best of friends.  The first lived in a large house, was given all manner of toys and games, had a Nanny and was rarely disciplined-except for when his mother told him how stupid he was.

He was, in fact, rather impetuous, would hit adults and call other kids names.  His mother just told him that was very STUPID.  His father, rather aloof, was also seldom in his life.  Dear old Dad taught the boy how to golf and how to get the drop on other people.  His Nanny was kind to him, and taught him to pray to Jesus, so to the extent he listened, it was mainly to her.

The other child was the Nanny’s own daughter.  Since the boy was not allowed out of the compound, she was his closest companion and saw goodness in him.  She lived with her mother in a small cottage, on the mansion grounds.  The boy was forbidden by his parents from going over to the servants’ quarters, but the girl could play board games and do her homework in one of the family rooms of the Main House.

As they got older, the boy was given to a sort of rebellion, as many children are, when going through adolescence.  His tantrums both got worse and resulted in his mother taking a belt or a broom to his derriere, nearly on a daily basis.

The Nanny objected to this treatment, and after several protests, she was fired.  Father explained to the bewildered son:  “This is what you do, when underlings disobey. You tell them they are fired.”  Of course, this meant that his friend, his sole reliable companion, was also gone-never to return.  Truth be known, they were becoming more than  friends.  The dismissal happened, a few days after an afternoon of casual exploration, in the woods behind the cottage.  Boy was convinced it was more than just his Nanny’s protests that caused the rupture in his life.

So, a few days later, the boy crawled over the wall to his compound, knapsack in hand, and made his way to the  address which his friend had written on a napkin, which was also filled with her dried tears.   Her mother was not at home, having found work in a factory down the street from their new residence.  The girl was elated to see her best friend, and so the casual exploration continued.

Boy never went back to his parents’ house, and not surprisingly, they never bothered to look for him.  They never got to know their three grandchildren, who called the Nanny “Abuela”.

(Any relation between the characters in this story and real people, is purely coincidental.)

 

The Visitor

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March 25, 2020-

(This is a short story which came to me, this evening, as I was in a meditation group.)

Katrin was playing in her room, with Bradley Bear and Kimmy Koala. She had just sat her animals in the little chairs, and was preparing to play teacher, when she heard a bump in the family room next to hers.  She told the “children” to stay quiet, and went to check out what had happened.  Mommy was getting stressed, with new baby coming in three more months, and Kat did not want her mother to fall down and have an accident.

She saw the breeze rustling the curtain-an odd sight, given it was early April, and Mommy never opened the window much before the first of May.  Kat went towards the window and was startled to see a pair of shoes behind the curtain.  Although she was only four years old, Katrin Leigh Osterman was the epitome of boldness, as her grandmother put it.  She went slowly, but confidently, towards the curtain and pulled it back.

There, looking unusually fearful, was a big man.  He reminded Katrin of the main character in a show that she watched with Mommy, called “Reading Rainbow”.  She asked, “Mister, what are you doing, standing behind our curtain?  Are you okay?”  The man stared, still fearful, at the little girl.  Then, he spoke:  “I am very hungry.  I have not eaten as much as a crust of bread , in almost five days.  I have been hiding, since I got off a small plane.  I watched your family and saw they seem friendly-but I could not be certain.  So, I had to sneak into the house first.”

“What’s your name, Mister?”, Katrin whispered, feeling sad at his story.

“I am Adibe Junius.”, replied the man.  ” My family name comes first, then my given name, so please call me Junius.”

“I am glad to meet you, Junius. My name is Katrin”, said the girl, still whispering.  Kat knew that Mother would be a bit scared of this stranger in her house, but Junius seemed tired, weak and more than a bit scared, himself.  She asked him to sit in a chair and said she would get him something to drink.  Then, she went to the kitchen, where her mother was resting in a comfy chair.

“Mommy, I have something to show you, in the family room.”, Kat said, in her Big Girl voice.  She then stepped on a footstool and got a glass of water from the refrigerator spigot.  ” Pleas come with me.”

Brittany got up, in a world-weary manner, wondering what her bright and adventurous offspring was up to now, carrying a glass of water to the back of the house.  Was she going to “teach” the stuffed animals how to drink without spilling?

Junius looked up at the five-foot, five inch cinnamon-coloured woman, who gasped at seeing a nearly six-foot tall man, sitting in her rocking chair.  “KATRIN LEIGH !  What on Earth are you doing, letting a stranger into this house??”, the horrified woman scolded her daughter.

“Please, Madame”, the chastened man spoke up, “She did not let me in.  I came in, through the window, as I am desperate.”

“DESPERATE?  I’ll  show you desperate!  Since when do you just walk into someone’s home, without so much as a ‘By your leave? And who are you, anyway?”, Brittany snapped.

At this point, all of Junius’ hunger and thirst pangs left him, and he burst into tears.   “I knew this would be a mistake.  I left Congo in a flight of panic and have not eaten since I got off the plane, five days ago.  All the smugglers gave any of us was a bowl of rice, with peanut sauce.”

“Congo?  Smugglers? Peanut sauce?”, the flinty-eyed mother said, her eyes getting narrower by the second.  “If this story gets any weirder, I’m about set to call Santa Claus.”

“It’s true”, Junius said, collecting himself , just a bit.  “I fled the war back home, and a white man came up to me, in Kinshasa, and said he could get me to Cape Town, so long as I carried a crate of animals to a certain spot.  I delivered the animals to a wet market, in the Chinese neighbourhood, then I was chased out of there by a gang of teenaged boys.  They called me ‘dirtbag foreigner.’  Imagine that, I am an African, and they said I didn’t belong.  So, I wandered around, until I came to this neighbourhood.”

Brittany was drawn in by this story, and he certainly wasn’t dressed like anyone from around Cape Town.  “Give Mr. Junius the glass of water, Katrin”, she relented.
Junius sipped the water surprisingly carefully, and threw his head back, letting out a heavy sigh.  “Do you know where I might get a clean bed, Madame, and a plate of food?”

Tears started to well up in Brittany’s eyes.  “I can get you to our church.  The pastor will let you clean up, help you get some fresh attire and see that you are fed.  He can do this a lot easier than we can, and he will put you to dignified work.”

Ten minutes later, Brittany Osterman had spoken to Reverend Stenbeek, who readily agreed to take Junius in, provided he followed the church house rules.  Junius walked with the two ladies to the rector’s house, and was warmly greeted by the Dutch Reformed Church pastor and his wife.  “Junius, you stumbled upon the nicest people in this parish,”  Leonidas Stenbeek proclaimed, “and you couldn’t have been greeted by anyone kinder than our Lady Katrin!”

“Please put your bag in the first bedroom, then go and shower yourself. ” Leo said, and then to his smiling wife, ” Margrit, I shall grill some prawns, in our guest’s honour! Please prepare him some porridge, for when he gets showered and dressed.  Then, we shall all dine together.”  “Yes, that we must.  It’s a great day to welcome one of our brothers,” the sturdy pastor’s wife announced, “Brittany, do sit and rest. Katrin, please help me peel some carrots.”

The proud little girl carefully peeled and sliced seven carrots, one for her and two for each of the Big People, just as Grandmother had taught her. It was a great day to welcome an uncle.