Salt meat and biscuit was starting to become monotonous for most of the folks on the “Little Train.” Water had been abundant enough on this portion of the trail, but rations were a different story. Boss Little really needed to pick morale up so called Buck and Mason, the outriders, for a bit of a talk.

He couldn’t much afford to dally, but fresh meat would be treat enough to stop the minor grumbling that was starting to be heard in the camp at night. He was going to send these two up towards a lake he knew of to see if they could remedy the situation.

They would ride out at dawn when the train began to hitch up for the day, and if all went well they would catch up with the party by Wednesday.

George Mason was a freedman from Virginia, an adept horseman and a crack shot. His companion, Francis Buck was the son of a Missouri trader, and an Osage mother. He was a good scout, and an even better tracker.

They made the lake by noon, and luck and a couple blessings were with them, as right before their eyes there was a majestic elk wading into the waters. There would be gravy tonight!



I Challenge You prompt.

See other Oregon Trail Tales – GladiatorsAwaiting Discovery, and The Rest




Chai Pie Cheesecake (Keto Friendly Version)


imageedit_1_2723001547 (1).jpg

I have recently taken to drinking Chai Tea rather than lattes when out for hot drinks. I  find the richness of flavour and aroma really satisfying, and I also benefit from the reduction in the caffeine (especially in the afternoons and evenings).  This led me to consider how I might take this wonderful spicy drink and expand it into a bigger dessert.

The result was Chai Pie.  It provides much of the spicy tea experience (though without the tea element). The ginger of the base enhances this and makes for a pleasant after dinner treat (especially when served with a dollop of whipped or extra thick double cream).


Crust –

  • Ground Almonds 300 g
  • Butter 150 g
  • Ground Ginger 1/2 tsp

Filling –

  • Cream Cheese 350 -375 g
  • Eggs 2
  • Stevia 3 Tbs
  • Vanilla Extract  tsp
  • Turmeric 1 tsp ground
  • Cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground plus extra as topping
  • Ginger 1/2 tsp ground
  • Nutmeg  1/4 tsp ground
  • Cloves 1/8 tsp ground
  • Cardamom 1/8 tsp ground
  • Salt pinch
  • Black Pepper pinch ground


Blitz the nuts in a food processor. Melt butter and stir in the crumbled nuts. Spoon into a standard 8 inch pie pan and press into into side and bottom to form a pie base.  Bake for 10 minutes at 160 C/ 350 F in a preheated oven and then set aside.

Increase oven to 200C/400 F. Whip the eggs for about 3 minutes, and then add the sweetener, vanilla, and spices.  Mix for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the cream cheese and  blend for 2 minutes.

Pour mixture into prepared base and place back into 200 C oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon. Return to oven and bake for 10 – 15 more minutes. Check the centre with a skewer or tooth pick. If clean, allow to cool thoroughly and then refrigerate, This will insure that it has set well.


Fire Song

Wikipedia Commons

Fire Song

They say that bread is the staff of life –

Which without you it is but seeds of hay,

We seek comfort and shelter

Behind firm walls brick –

Which without you are merely clay.

To your warmth and brightness

We are drawn –

As you turn our nights to day.

Your glowing embers

Give us hope

And hold the cold and dark at bay.




Written for dVerse Fire Up





The Visage

wooden pew end man


Brother Antony was prostrate in front of Father Abbot. He had yet again shown vanity, having been found with a looking glass in his cell.

He was to be punished. But what penance would be suitable for one so caught up in his own appearance that he neglected his spiritual exercises?

It was known that Antony was a skilled woodcarver. The Prior suggested that it might be a way to humble this man, so enthralled with his own beauty, if he were to spend his waking hours beautifying the chapel instead. Surely this would bring glory to God.

Antony laboured for weeks carving the stalls of the choir. Finally the task was complete, and the Abbot came to inspect his handiwork. Antony stood eyes down. Finally, the Abbot showing approval, and asked if he had learned his lesson.

Antony nodded, silently gazing at his own image near the Abbot’s feet.

(150 words)



Crimson’s Creative Challenge 3


The Conference


At the semi centennial meeting of the Illustrious Order of Jinns and Genies there was ample time for catching up and networking.  Most of the delegates were still discussing the proposal to increase the wish ration to four. But others were reflecting on how much had changed in fifty years, and that some of the changes were really obvious.

Mustafa looked towards the bag hold area and lamented that things weren’t like they were back in the 14th Century.

He turned to Fatima and said, “Things have really gone downhill since OPEC took over. I really miss my old lamp.”

(100 words)



Thank you Rochelle for the Friday Fictioneers Prompt

He Will Not Rest (So We Can)

Image result for man with binoculars

source: Stocksy United

One thing that I developed in the forces was hyper-vigilance. This is defined as, ” . . . a state of increased alertness, an extreme sensitivity to surroundings.” It can make you feel alert to any hidden dangers, whether from other people or the environment (real or imagined).

But truth be told, while being “always on the alert” has some practical benefits in a military situation, it is not good for you all the time. If left unchecked it can lead to anxiety and worries of dangers that aren’t even present.

We can never be alert 100% of the time. We need sleep, relaxation, and wind-down time. Fortunately, we do not have to be constantly on guard (which is a fool’s errand anyway). The Psalmist assures us that we have an ever-vigilant God, who has us under His protection, and watchful eye.

Psalm 121 reads,

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lordwho made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

When we get stressed, anxious, or just over stimulated; let’s remember that we can afford to take a breath and wind down. God has it all in hand.




The arena was a simple circle of seventeen wagons with an eager audience lining its edges. At the centre was a lone barrel, the battleground where the contest would be decided. At stake was not only the prize of fourteen dollars and three pounds of coffee; but the respect and admiration of the entire train. Who would prove himself the greatest “Indian wrestler” on the trail?

The champion stretched and flexed as he awaited the combat. Sam Kelly was a burly Irishman who had arrived in Baltimore about ten years before. He had dug his share of canal on his westward journey to Cincinnati, where he had tried his hand at several less than successful enterprises.  His path eventually led him to Independence, Missouri where he made the acquaintance of the Tolberts, a Pennsylvania family of the middling sort, who were on their way to the Willamette. They soon hired him to drive their team and to do odd jobs along the trail.  Sam thought he might give Oregon a try, and if it didn’t pan out, he would head to California.

His challenger was Mosha Weiss, a harness-maker from Hamburg. He was of average build, and just a hair over six foot in height. He spoke tolerably good English, but his accent had left most folks calling him just “The Dutchman.” He had joined the train at Independence, but didn’t plan on making the entire journey.  No, he was going to settle-up in either Laramie or Boise, sell his rig, and set up trade servicing the passing trains.

Now, the time had come. Both men set elbows on the barrel head and joined palms.

“That’s quite a grip you have there,” said the Irishman.

“Well, my name is “Vice” responded the Jew.

Both men had a good laugh at that, then tensed as the preacher raised his handkerchief as a sign for battle to commence.


See also: Awaiting Discovery and The Rest as Oregon Trail Stories.


Check out Fandango’s One Word Challenge – “Trail”


Travel Oddities

Image result for ham sandwich sign kent

source: Pinterest

If one travels enough they are bound to come up with loads of tales for the grandchildren. Many amazing experiences await those intrepid enough to journey the world.  But there are those moments, when the traveler encounters the surreal.

Here are a few real life occurrences that have “enriched” my travels:

What’s In A Name?

There are a number of amazing place names about, and while there are some doozies, here are ones I have travelled to or through.  Pennsylvania has a junction where you can go to either Intercourse or Virginville. Fair enough, but the the mid-south has some interesting places too. Dolly Parton has made Pigeon Forge famous, and the name is fitting.  But how did anyone come up with Possum Trot, Kentucky or Bucksnort, Tennessee?  There is also the road in Kent, England which leads you to [a] “Ham, Sandwich, Deal.”

Make round

I was visiting Marrakesh and set off to find a tablecloth. My wife and I had admired one at a North African restaurant in England, so I was tasked with finding a similar one on my trip.  After checking several shops and stalls, I was told by a vendor, that his cousin had exactly what I had described.  So again a long walk through alleys and market stalls. When we arrived, the cousin indeed had a cloth very similar to what I sought.  The problem was it was rectangular and my table round.  When I pointed this out the cousin was quick off the mark.  He picked up a large pair of tailor’s shears and said, “Is okay, I will make it round.” I bought it as a rectangle.

Off the Beaten Track

My wife and daughter were on a trip to Turkey, and had a similar Souk experience. They had hired a taxi for the day, and the driver was taking them to “all the best places.” As they were in the market, they decided to buy a scarf. The “relative” of the driver didn’t have the desired colour, but assured them that yet another “cousin” would have it. So off through back streets, and alleys they went, to arrive at the back of a mall-like complex far from the main plaza. They entered rear doors and then a lift (elevator).  It was then that the guide smiled at them and said “And this is where we kidnap you Westerners.” Yes, a joke, but not before a moment of shocked silence passed did it sink in.

And Behind Door Number One

I was having a meal in a restaurant in rural Japan in the 1980s when there was “a call of nature.”  I excused myself from the table and found the doors suitably bearing the figures of a man and the other of a woman. On entering, it became immediately clear that both doors led into the same space which was laid out with Japanese benjo style toilets.  It was – despite the door markings – unisex.

One Size Fits All

This wasn’t my only “one size fits all” experience. I arrived at Lublin Airport in Poland and waited for disabled assistance. In time, a very rickety, lightweight wheelchair arrived. I am not a small boy by any stretch of the imagination, but was assured it was the right one for me (my impression being that it had to be, being the only one in the entire terminal) and so I was squeezed into it, only to feel every bump, door threshold, and grating the airport had to offer.

From absurd to the ridiculous, I was then told that the chair couldn’t go through security, so I would have to join the queue, and walk to the other side (20 minutes) where it would join me.


I guess that sets up to most embarrassing moment in my travels when I was staying at a hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. I went to breakfast on my first morning to find that all of the wooden tables and chairs were already occupied. I was pointed to an aluminum patio style seat to the side of the dining room. It looked a bit iffy, but I gave it a try.  The end result of course was its legs each going in its own direction and me finding a seat on the floor. Who says breakfast can’t be exciting?




Awaiting Discovery



The prairie seemed endless.  The trail was clear enough, having been traveled by countless wagons before them. But it was the road alone that broke the monotony of the plain.  This new horizon before them seemed much the same as the one the morning before. Each in their hearts held out a hope of the sight of a tree, a winding stream, or some other discovery to spur them onwards on the relentless journey.



This is a rather dated prompt, but it fits well for the Oregon Trail theme (see The Rest)

Pix to Words challenge Photo above and the word “Discovery”

Ahab’s Mistress


Ahab’s Mistress


Ishmael has beguiled you

With a tale of doom and woe,

It is not white whales that bring mariners down

But rather great white swells


The sea she is a mistress

Full of  charm and spite –

Without warning she can turn on you –

leaving darkness where there had been light


Yes she is a lady –

Offering ecstasy and depth,

But beware  her in her fury –

Which will leave you only death





Haunted Wordsmith Challenge

depth, fury, darkness and photo above