Reading List and A Full Plate


January 7, 2017, Prescott- 

My best friend and I had a wide-ranging conversation, yesterday, about  inner peace, among other things.  She suffered a loss, recently, and the subject arose about those who blame others for their pain and suffering.  Neither she nor I blame anyone but ourselves, if things go sideways in our lives.  I love her dearly, but if she bid me farewell tomorrow, I would go on, and figure it wasn’t meant to be, for longer than it was.  On the other hand, I am glad for every minute of our friendship, and will treat her like royalty, as long as it lasts.

Those of us who are blessed by the Universe tend to have a mighty full plate.  I was informed today about another responsibility that my fellow Baha’is would like me to assume.  My financial education continues, work resumes tomorrow and I still like to read as many of  the posts on my Reader, as humanly possible.    Exercise remains important. I will also make time for M, when she needs me. So, the schedule remains, 4:30 AM-10 PM, 6 days a week, and a “sleep-in” until 5:30, on Sunday.

My winter reading list is also present, to fill in the “gaps” in my day:  “Cash Flow Quadrant”, by Robert Kiyosaki; “Facing Grief With Eyes Wide Open”, by Medea Bavarella Chechik; “Tribe”, by Sebastian Junger; “Winter of the World”, by Ken Follett; “Footloose in America”, by Bud Kenny; “The Elegant Universe”, by Brian Greene.  That should last until March 21, or 31.

We were talking, at a meeting today, in Phoenix, about how people often assume the young and the old have lots of time on their hands.  I can’t speak for the kids, but there is joy for me, in choosing to maintain a full schedule.

Old Sod


March 17, 2016, Prescott- 

Paddy, my brother,

what did you find,

while walking the fair isle’s countryside?

Brigid, dear sister,

it gleamed up at me,

a golden shamrock,

which I’ve brought home to thee.

Paddy, o brother,

I fear that you’ve erred.

The golden stone surely

was meant to be interred.

Brigid, dear sister,

do you mean to say

the sprite named Liam

shall spirit it away?


I sense his presence,

on the roof.

Liam! Stop,

let us have the shamrock.

Sorry, kiddos-


The Weevils Don’t Stand A Chance


February 21, 2016, Prescott-


24. tower, kettle, hawk, charm, cotton

This little verse is about a tower, and the fields below.

A group of slaves found themselves set free,

The tower once home to their masters,

Became theirs to oversee.

The crop they grew was cotton,

Their fields were often sodden.

The moisture also led to evil,

in the form of  dreadful weevils.

Now, the ex-captives were not simple-minded,

nor to solutions were they blinded.

On a cool spring morning,

they met and talked.

Of a sudden,

they heard a squawk.

The tower’s roof

was now home to a hawk.

“How do we get our bird friend

to like weevils?”, one mused.

“Let us spread some kettle corn!”,

another newly freed man enthused.

“This will draw some swamp rats in,

the hawk will swoop down and feast on the vermin.

Once the rats have been decimated,

the raptor will seek another way to be sated.

He will spot the busy weevils,

make several meals of them,

and the cotton, reap, we will!”

So it went, that the men worked hard,

their own well-being, to safeguard.

They managed to charm some ladies from town,

and families soon sprang up.

The team was no longer trodden down.


One Wednesday’s Window


February 17, 2016, Prescott- I sense a false Spring, which nonetheless has given me good vibrations, and a fair amount of fresh energy.

#23.  tea, tiger, night, train, television, tie

It was on the night train to Amsterdam, that Jean Corneille tucked a napkin into his brocade shirt, and looked out the window of his closed compartment. He enjoyed a light repast, followed by a cup of tea.  Monsieur Corneille, descended from French literary royalty, had no interest in the writer’s craft.  He was a television director, true, but his interest was in the action on the set.  Scripts bored him.

As he watched the passing night scenes of various villages in Picardy and Flandres, Jean began to concoct his own scenarios.  He viewed a series of railroad ties, dimly lit by the overhead lights, outside Lille. His mind wandered back to the ridiculous American melodramas of the 1920’s, in which snickering, one-dimensional villains, with curled mustaches and a banker’s business dress of the time, would tie up similarly one-dimensional young women on railroad tracks.  The ladies would ever be rescued, just ahead of the thundering train, by a one-dimensional, muscle-bound hero.  The villain invariably muttered, “Curses, foiled again!”

Nothing M. Corneille put forth on TeleParis was one dimensional.  He was determined his program’s viewers would have to think about what they were watching. His mind focused on making a three-dimensional, thought-provoking update of the Hero-Damsel-Villain triangle.

As the train left Tournai, and headed into Belgium, he spotted a cage being loaded onto one of the freight cars.  He heard a faint, but distinct, purring.  Jean figured it was another of those contraband pets, rescued from some drug lord or money launderer, headed to a major zoo:  Brussels, perhaps; Amsterdam, or Berlin.  His mind went back to the melodrama.

The train had proceeded uneventfully through Belgium, and had just crossed into the Netherlands, when Jean, who had nodded off, was awakened by a series of shouts, coming from the third class car, behind his.  “Mon Dieu”, he sniffed, “what on Earth are those peasants mewling about, this time?”

His upturned nose was brought a bit lower, when the conductor ran into the first class car, followed by ten frantic, screaming passengers- and the tiger, who had escaped from his cage and managed to leave the freight car, as well.

Jean, seeing a true opportunity for a ratings smash, raised himself up into the top berth of his compartment, edged over to the door, and opened it- drawing the tiger’s attention.  The big cat abandoned his chase and warily entered the compartment.  After initially trying to stand on hind legs and sniff at the well-concealed Jean Corneille, the beast lied down on the floor and rested.

Dutch authorities tranquilized the tiger, at Rotterdam Central Station, and took him off, back into a cage.  Five months later, Jean Corneille won several awards for his televised account of the Wednesday Night Ride.  He has visited his co-star, twice, at the small zoo of Utrecht.


Old Blue


gin, delicate, hook, basset hound, pearls, hibiscus

February 10, 2016, Prescott- Rafe was understandably flustered.  For the third night in a row, some Bible-study group was sitting in his cafe, talking nonsense about Race Unity. “Race Unity?  The White race IS unified, as far as I’m concerned”, Ralph Waldo Emerson Tucker muttered, as he turned on his heels and walked out the door.  “Next thing ya know, they’ll have some Black Eee-mahm leadin’ the festivities!”

Rafe headed back to his makeshift camp, at  the edge of a ramshackle wharf and threw his backpack on the old cot he called Slumberland.  He had to lay down carefully on the single bed, lest its legs collapse.  Slumberland was always on the delicate side.  Before he brushed his remaining teeth, Rafe had himself a healthy swig of gin.

That’s when Old Blue, his trusted basset hound, came wandering over.  “Here ya go, buddy boy”, Rafe cackled, as he poured a bit of gumption into Blue’s bowl.  The aging hound, with one good eye, lapped up the gin, in several slow, somewhat agonized slurps.

The dog belched, then Rafe followed suit.  One more chore remained, before the snoring.  Rafe and Blue went down to the bay’s edge, and checked the baited hook, and their traps.  “It’s a helluva great day, after all, Blue’s Clues”, Rafe snickered, as he counted the two dozen oysters in the trap.  The grizzled fisherman placed the day’s catch in a lizard-proof container, set it up on a high shelf, in the locked shed, and headed inside to crash.

That night, Rafe interrupted his snoring, tossing and turning, to dream, deeply, that a lithe, lovely young pearl diver was walking past his camp.  He could smell the lush, sweet hibiscus in her hair.    Rafe may have been a bigot, but he had an eye for beauty, undeneath that snarling, very scruffy, countenance.

He woke, to see the stars still sparkling, high above.  Hearing Old Blue murmuring contentedly, Mr. Tucker got up and looked out on the hound’s dirt sleeping area. Old Blue was lying, happily stretched full-out, his snout resting on the lap of a young lady, dressed in a floral print muu-muu, her hair sporting a fresh hibiscus blossom.  Carlota had a habit of catching some sleep here, when her father and brother got to drinking and fighting.  Rafe was a drunk, but he was no lecher.

“Yessiree, Bob”, Rafe mused, “The best decision I ever made was moving here, to Iloilo.”  Old Blue couldn’t have agreed more.


The Antlers On The Shed Door


February 6, 2016, Prescott- I have “a day off”, today- no commitments, until 7 PM, and except for getting a much-needed haircut, no real accomplishments.  Nonetheless, time has been put to good use.

Let us return to the Winter Scavenger Hunt

18. garden shed, moon, antlers,

Damian was an iconoclast.  His family was made up, almost entirely of PETA activists.  Everyone was for animal rights, except him.  Damian didn’t despise fauna.  He just thought it was their lot in life to serve the needs of people.

In that vein, he was opposed to poaching, and to the excessive slaughter of any given species.  It was, Damian would tell anyone who listened, a matter of balance.  “Kill off a species, and it’s like pulling a linchpin out of a Janga tower.”, he once told a Chinese traditional healer, who’d come to Damian’s part of Alberta, to kill off and transport as many Grizzly bears as he could manage.

Damian had a thing about elk jerky.  He killed his quota of buck elk and shared the meat with his kindred spirits, saving a fair portion of it, to cure for his own snacking, over the winter.  There were several racks of antlers hanging throughout his property, always discomfiting his mother and siblings, on the infrequent occasions that they came by to visit.

The one that bothered them the most was the rack that hung above the entrance to Damian’s garden shed.  He had a full, varied garden plot- growing everything from sunflowers to soybeans, and all free of both Genetic Modification and chemicals.  Damian also believed in letting different parts of his field lie fallow, each year, so as to allow for  soil recovery.

None of this prepared him for the night of the Full Moon, in late January.  Around 11 PM, Damian was awakened from an early slumber, by the bright light of the orb that shone through his bedroom window.  It was not the moon. That shone on the other side of the house.  This orb was a vehicle of some kind.  It landed, carefully, in a fallow section of field.

Damian watched in awe, as a door opened, a ramp lowered to the ground, and three figures walked slowly out, their hooves-yes, hooves, clanking on the metal surface.  These elk walked upright, on two legs.  Even more astonishing, they were blue.

A short time later, there was a sharp rapping on Damian’s door.  The shaken, but still curious, man opened the door.  The lead cervine figure spoke, though in a language not heard on this Earth.  Yet, psychically, he made his wishes known to the Earth-bound human.

“We are from a planet under the sway of the star Sirius.  We have observed how homo sapiens sapiens treats its fellows, and its planet-mates. We have adopted the form of the elk, so as to impart a message:  ‘Let your animal friends be.  They are part of a Universal schema.  They must be allowed to live out their lives,in balance.’  Furthermore, you, Damian Elkins, must give us all of your antler collection, that we might create new creatures for our own planet.  We can do this, through use of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid in these antlers.  Elsewise, we must take you, yourself, to our planet, and create a species, that we will exploit and hunt, for sport.!”

Damian delivered up all of his antlers.  The visitors left.  Two days later, Damian joined PETA.

Crows Like Milk?


February 1, 2016, Prescott-

17. wet sheets, fire, corvids, milk

The above Winter Scavenger Hunt prompts led to this:

Silly Sally, on her way to town, realized she had left wet sheets in the washing machine.  So, she went back home, and hung them on the line.  Then, she headed back out.  About halfway to town, Sally saw a house on fire. Being a civic-minded soul, she pulled a fire box that was across the street.  Several crows, that had been watching the house, from a perch atop a nearby tree, began cawing and flying about, excitedly.  Sally  went over and helped console two small children of the family that had to flee the house.  One of the neighbours brought some milk and Sally mixed it with chocolate syrup.  The kids were thus comforted, somewhat, by the kindness of a stranger.  The crows, perhaps feeling left out, just cawed and flapped their wings more fervently.

Silly Sally eventually got to town, so we have this little tale!

Present Company Excluded


January 22, 2016, Prescott-

“You should never have come back to this town, Eddie.”, Marco hissed.  Eduardo Figueroa was not exactly many girls’ idea of Mr.Right.  A large, ungainly man of 36, he had never quite made first base, and wouldn’t even have been a candidate for Ballet Voluminosa.  Marco Soso-Blanco, on the other hand, was El Jefe, with several exquisite ladies keeping tabs on his every move.  This was Little Havana, and Marco had come in on the ground floor, all swagger and confidence, from the moment he stepped off the Mariel boat, at the age of 10.

Marco ruled his schools, from then on, getting his first kiss at 11 and the rest unfolding as he wanted it.  Upon graduation, it was all business for Marquito.  Eddie, on the other hand, as previously noted, had his work cut out for him.  He struggled in school, physically, socially and academically.

Nonetheless, there came a point in Senor Figueroa’s life, age 22, to be exact, when the intellectual part of life started to come together.  He learned skimming.  He mastered numbers, and made a bundle.  This took Eddie away from Miami, and brought him to Atlantic City.  Marco, by contrast, found the day-to-day grind a bit nerve-wracking.  He relied on a crew of sleazy accountants, muscle men and abogados to keep him atop the food chain.

The thing about Atlantic City, though, is that it started to go downhill, sliding ever towards Miami, figuratively and literally.  People began to move to brighter climes, and for Eddie, the lure of home, as harsh as that home had been, back in the day, proved irresistible.  Eduardo visited a few untethered muscle men of his own, and had no trouble recruiting them for what he had in mind.

For the first time in his life, Eddie Figueroa sauntered into a room that wasn’t his bedroom.  He had been driven out of Atlantic City, true, but he had left nothing behind.  The dinero had gone to the Cayman Islands, close enough to Cuba that he could take it out in a series of day trips, should the need arise.  He was set, and so, Eduardo, “El Gordo”, hissed back at Marco Soso Blanco, “Maybe I shouldn’t have, but here I am.  So, Marquito, how about you watch-and learn.”

Eduardo had taken pains to make sure his men had pennied the front and side entrances “to the nondescript “furniture store” and bodega, across from Copacabana.  There was only the rear entrance available for quick egress.  Marco and his two immediate bodyguards were thus transported out of the office, horizontally and feet first, twenty minutes after Senor Eduardo Figueroa took control of Little Havana.  Eddie looked down at his now lifeless former tormentor.  ”  It’s a lucrative game, Marquito. It’s just not suitable for present company.

(Not suitable for present company is a prompt in the Winter Scavenger Hunt)

Sleep? Whazzat?


January 17, 2016, Prescott-

It had been about four months, since the last sighting of the fishermen.  Nadia, a red head among Romanians who had mostly jet-black hair, could feel the energy of those African fishermen, as they stared at her, and at the two, equally-ginger toned wolf-men who alternately barked orders at her, sometimes literally, and led her, tethered at the neck by a leather-collar, which they had devised from the hide of a small eland they had captured, about five months earlier.  Rather ironic, her plight, Nadia thought- a woman being walked about by wolves.  It all reminded her of an old Korean film she had seen, “To The Rose Inn”, she recalled, in which a man leads his female captive around on a leash, she walking on all fours.  “At least, I am allowed to walk upright”, she mused.

Narcolepsy was affecting the were-creatures, especially as they had discovered the local beer, which they were foolishly imbibing even in the the throes of a full moon.  They had stolen a goodly amount of the brew from some inebriated fisherfolk, whom they found snoozing in midday, about two weeks earlier.  It was this act which led to Nadia Donescu’s recovering her freedom.

On the morning of a waning gibbous moon, Nadia awoke to find her captors snoring, and lying in a copse, about 40o meters away from their usual spot- which was practically right next to where she was tethered.  Across the glade, she heard strange noises:  It seemed someone was slashing brush with a machete, but she couldn’t be sure.  The noises got louder, waking the two brutes.  The vocalist became clear:  It was a bull elephant!   The wolf-men looked at one another, then at the pachyderm.  They chortled to one another,  in delight.  Not paying the slightest mind to Nadia, they each grabbed a roughly-hewn atlatl, which they had fashioned from local flint, and attempted to encircle the snorting beast.

Nadia had her eyes on the elephant, too, but was more concerned with loosening the collar around her neck.  With the men otherwise engaged, and the bull warily eyeing them, she was able to extract herself from the shackle, and dart behind a baobab tree.  The bull elephant suddenly made for the man to his right and lifted the shrieking werebeast clear off the ground, throwing him into the cove.  A  Nile crocodile had an unusual lunch, that morning.

His partner-in-crime readied his makeshift atlatl and aimed for the crazed bull.  The weapon grazed the animal on his left temple, further maddening him and directing his attention to the now-hapless werewolf.  The man could not outrun the elephant, but tried to shimmy up the baobab.  The mad bull wrapped his trunk around the man-wolf, threw him to the ground, and stomped him, in one fell swoop.

Nadia wasted no time in clearing out of the disheveled camp, and ran towards the road she remembered from one of their infrequent forays into the fishing camps along the lake.  In short order, she happened upon a Chinese construction worker, and his two children, sitting by a koi pond they had devised, in which the children’s pet goldfish were happily at play.  The older child, a girl, took two of the goldfish, placed them in a plastic bowl with some lake water and covered it with wax paper, secured with an elastic band.  This, she proudly offered to the disheveled Nadia.  The father spoke some German, as did Nadia, and offered to take the newly freed woman to the nearest town.  Nadia was only too happy to accept.

The Odd Fishmonger


January 14, 2016, Prescott-  (The following is based on a Scavenger Hunt prompt including love letter, werewolves, taxi service, lost key, fish sticks.)

Laszlo had grown up in a Hungarian community in Constanta, a port on Romania’s Black Sea coast. So he found it second nature when, as a young backpacker exploring the outer limits of our world, he decided to stop a while on the island of Lamu, off Kenya’s golden shore.

He camped on the beach,  filleting and grilling the fish that he caught, each morning, and bringing it to a local woman, who dipped the meat in a spicy batter and baked it her beehive oven.  She then sliced the fillets into fish sticks, which were sold to German tourists, who reliably showed up for a quick lunch, each day, nearly ten months out of the year.  Lasz got enough of a percentage from these sales to allow him to live a simple, but satisfying life, under the radar of the National Police.

One day, while walking the beach, with a metal detector he had purchased, Lasz found a lost key.  It turned out to fit the trunk of a taxi, and had been lost by a former Somali pirate who had also settled on Lamu, and used his vehicle as sort of a Lamu-style Uber.  The taxi service was quite lucrative, and the grateful ex-pirate offered Lasz a partnership, making him an alternative driver, three days out of the week.

This, once cleared with a suddenly attentive Kenyan police captain, involved a bit of “gifting” to the captain.  Lasz drove the captain’s children to school, free of charge.  In return, he got a work visa.  Between the fish mongering and taxi service, Laszlo was becoming a fixture on Lamu.

He wrote his long-ago sweetheart, a Romanian girl, who had studied at the London School of Economics, and who was casting about for a future.  Nadia was intrigued by her dear friend’s love letter, and made arrangements to travel to Kenya.  On the night before she was to fly from London to Mombasa, she was approached by two rather scruffy, but suave, men.  They learned of her plans, and asked whether they might accompany her to Africa.  They did not seem to have any ulterior motives, and were not threatening to Nadia, so she agreed to meet them next morning, at Heathrow.

The men showed up on time, documents and tickets in hand, and the three boarded the plane together.  It was a delightful flight, from London, over Europe and the Mediterranean, North Africa and Sudan.  As the plane flew over Uganda, however, night fell.  Then, the two suave, scruffy men started to transform.  Somewhere over Lake Victoria, encountering a full moon, the werewolves appeared.

Laszlo waited several days for his Nadia, until a news flash from the BBC reported that a plane had gone down, with 300 aboard.  All but three were dead.  The three missing passengers were not found, but the word among tribesmen on the north shore of Victoria is that two hairy wolf-apes, and their captive white woman, are occasionally spotted in the rough terrain above the Lake.