The Picnic’s Over

SPF March 30 19

Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

“What a weird place,” the teenaged Justin observed.

“Yeah”, twelve-year-old Janey agreed.  “Why are there old tables, like, out in the middle of nowhere?”

“They are for picnics,” their Grandma explained.

“What are picnics?”  Janey queried.

“It’s when people take their food and eat outside,” Gran said.

“Like cavemen?”  Janey asked wide-eye.

“No modern people, like us,” the grandmother explained.

“That’s just lame.” Justin said looking dismissively at the wooden tables.  “You could get diseases or something.”

“Don’t they have homes to eat in?” Janey asked with some concern.

“Of course they do, Janey,” Gran said.

“Then why outside?” Janey again pressed.

“So they can enjoy nature, and play games while they eat,” Grandma said.

“Play games, way out here?” Justin said incredulously. “There’s no place to even plug a game’s console in.”

“And there wouldn’t be a good signal,” Janey agreed.  “It’s, like a million miles from civilisation.”

“Gran, we don’t like it here, can we go home now?” Justin pleaded.

“Yeah, please!” Janey said in agreement.

So the the trio turned around and walked the twenty meters to the parking lot of the city park.


Sunday Photo Fiction

Raiders of the Lost Art: A Roseman Tale

rosemen cover

“The Gallery Raid” followed shortly after the National Museum had been hit.  It was not immediately obvious that they were linked by anything other than that they were both museums.  It was only when a passer-by reported that they had seen a coach in a nearby side street which matched the one at the Rosemen’s funeral and museum job that the case was handed over to the Moorland team.

“I’m not sure I get this modern art,” Lifson observed looking at a still life which included a two eggs, a slice of toast, a sausage, two lemons, and a bottle of gin on a table with a black checked tablecloth.  “Who has lemons with their breakfast?”

“Seems a bit odd to me too, Sarge,” Fuller agreed.

The two Rosies then made their way to where Barns was taking a statement from the curator.

“Exactly what is missing again, Sir?” Barns asked, pencil poised at his notebook.

“A Buber-Zuhler painting ‘Maidens with Tambourines,’ a marble bust of Razuli the Second, and Watchman’s ‘Windmill in the Snow’,” the museum official said placing special emphasis on the artists’ names as if to highlight the gravity of the situation.

“So a Buber-Zuhler, a Watchman, and a Marblebust?  Is that correct?”

“Mable bust!  A statue,” The frustrated man corrected.

“And is there anything particularly identifiable about these missing items, Sir?” Barns asked.

The curator covered his face with both hands, shook his head in exasperation and screamed.  He then holding out his hands dismissively began to walk towards his office.

“Is there a problem, Sir?” Lifson asked as he headed the man off.

“The problem is that priceless pieces of art are missing, and you ‘gentlemen’ seem to have no idea  . . .” he began scornfully,  before trailing off.

“Sir, let me assure you that we are taking this matter extremely seriously, and we are merely trying to make sure that all the proper procedures are followed,” Lifson said diplomatically.

He then escorted the man to his office.

Meanwhile, Hugh Trixner was completing his readings.

“There is definitely residue all over this place, Sir,” he reported to Magononni.  “And there’s no sign that there was an attempt to cover it up, either.  It seems really strong by the service entrance and in the sculpture hall,  but not so much in the paintings gallery.”

“Two paintings were taken from there?”  The detective asked.

“Yes Sir, from opposite walls from each other,” Trixner said.  “But there are only faint TEM readings at either of the paintings’ mounting points.  The readings at the Razuli plinth are off the scale though.”

“Do we have a time?”  Magononni asked.

“About one in the morning.  It matches with the time Sergeant Lifson says the coach was seen,” Trixner reported.

Sergeant Lifson then returned from the curator’s office with a copy of the gallery’s catalogue.   The curator having helpfully circled the images of the missing pieces, then slammed the door behind the exiting Watchman.



Fandango’s FOWD: Scorn




Nocturnal Moments

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She was young then, firm then, “hot” then –

The night that they were wed –

His lust for her overwhelming –

Her lingerie-clad – on the bed


She was tireder, “quieter,” coyer,  –

Dressed in her t-shirt – beckoning from the bed –

His love for her growing, and for the

Children in the next room – finally abed.


She is plumper, softer, greyer –

Than on the night they wed –

His love for her mature – complete now –

He’s truly happy – when all’s done and said


[A Poem of 25, 35, 55]



Photo link: #2019picoftheweek : Home Sweet Home

Cheese and Bacon Keto Crackers

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I recently posted a recipe for making snack crackers from slices of cheese.  Since the original posting, I have experimented with various varieties of cheese and added herbs.  One of the best combos to come out of this has been Cheese and Bacon with (or without) a light sprinkling of herbs.   Gouda is an excellent cheese for this as it crisps well and is very low carb.


  • Gouda Cheese Slices 5
  • Bacon 1 rasher
  • Ground Black Pepper sprinkle
  • Ground Basil sprinkle


Place a sheet of grease proof paper onto a baking sheet. Preheat an oven to 150 C/ 300 F. Cut each cheese slice into 4 pieces and arrange on the baking sheet with a clear gap between pieces. Sprinkle each piece with a pinch of the herbs.  In a frying pan or grill crisp the piece of bacon.  Allow bacon to cool slightly then crumble or finely dice.   Add a tiny portion of the bacon to each cheese piece.  Bake in oven for twenty minutes, then remove.  Allow to cool slightly then slide a spatula under each piece and flip it to a clean section of the baking paper. [If not satisfied with crispness] return to the oven for an additional ten minutes (or until crisping brown in the corners).  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.


Residue: A Roseman Tale

rosemen cover

“What are they for?” Watchman Barns asked.

“The bigger meter with the dials on it measures energy residues,” Trixner explained.

“A magic meter?”

“Sort of.  It’s a bit more complicated than that, but ‘magic meter’ is as good of an explanation as any, I guess,” Trixner conceded.

“And what is the white on for?”  Barns pressed.

“It captures samples of the aether, so I can take them to an alchemist to check out where that vanilla smell is coming from.”

Trixner began to pack up his “magic meter.”

“Aren’t you going to take more measurements?” Barns asked.

“There’s no use in trying,” Trixner lamented.  “That sweet smell is confusing the machine.”

“Does the machine ‘smell’?”

“No it ‘feels,’ the ‘magic.'” Trixner explained trying to use terms that the former farmhand would understand.

Toby Barns thought about this for a moment then said, “Back in Farmington, we would spread manure in the early autumn.  It was rather smelly work but we could put some lavender oil on a handkerchief and tie it over our noses and mouths.  It didn’t get all the smell but, it let us get the job done.”

“What does that have to do with the case?” the detection-man asked.

“Well, if the vanilla is making your meter ‘gag,’ then you could filter the air with a damp cloth,” Barns suggested.

“I guess its worth a try,” Trixner mused.

They set the meter up again and Barns dampened a handkerchief and draped it over the instrument.  While it didn’t give a definitive reading it did stop the needle on the dial from jumping erratically.

“Toby, I think you’ve done it,” Trixner said.  “There is definitely some leftover magic here.  How much, I can’t be sure, but it’s here all the same.”

The pair then took some aether samples and headed for the university, where they went directly to the Dean of  the Alchemy Department.

“Excuse me, Professor Sowser,” Trixner said sticking his head through the elderly academic’s door.  “I don’t know if you remember me.  I am Hans Trixner’s son, Hugh.”

“Hugh, my boy.  What can I do for the son of the famous Hans?”  The alchemist asked.

“Well Sir, I am here on Watch business.”

“Fascinating,” the dean said. “And what manner of business is that?”

“I can’t give you many details of the case, but I have an aether sample I need to make sense of.  It smells of vanilla, and it wreaks havoc with EDM readings.”

“All the more fascinating,” the academic said, nodding to himself and stroking his beard.  “We should crack on with it then.”

For the next two hours, Toby Barns sat on a chair outside the dean’s workshop composing a letter to Breeze Fairweather, while Sowser and Trixner analysed the aether.



Story Starter Challenge #26: “What are they for?”






A Theatrical Meeting

Image result for booth jumping from balcony

“Dear Mr. Booth,  I feel honored that you have found the time to correspond with me, and have felt free to share your honest criticisms of my administration.  I hold this to be your inalienable right as a citizen of our great republic, and while we may continue to differ on the ways and means of the conduct of this terrible conflagration besetting our nation, I do humbly concede that I may not always get things right.  It is with that said that I hold out hope for a swift and amicable resolution to our present malaise.  On a more personal note, I feel that I must congratulate you on your recent fine performance as Duke Pescara.  Sincerely, Abraham Lincoln.”

“To The Honorable Abraham Lincoln,  I thank you, Sir, for your kind words on my performance.  I as always found the stage at Ford’s to be ideal for my performances and beneficial to my career and aims.  Am I to understand that you, Sir, are planning to soon patronize that fine venue?  If so, it might make for an opportunity for us to sort out our differences.  I remain your humble servant, J. W. Booth.”

“Dear Mr Booth,  Miss Mary Todd and I do indeed plan on viewing a production of Taylor’s Our American Cousin in April, if time and duties permit.  Such a meeting as you propose may well prove memorable.  I will have my secretary, Mr. Hay, send you particulars.  Sincerely yours, Abraham Lincoln.”

“To The Honorable Abraham Lincoln,  I, Sir, am in receipt of correspondence from Mr. John Hay, and I am eagerly awaiting our encounter at Ford’s on the fourteenth instant.  Sincerely, J. W. Booth.”


Genre Writing Challenge #25:  Epistolary Fiction
(stories constructed as a series of letters exchanged between characters)

The Confrontation

Wymondham Level Crossing

CCC #20

As the beast approached, spewing smoke and bright red cinders, a lone grey-clad figure stepped onto the narrow path and challenged, “You shall not pass!”

Image result for balrog


Crimson’s Creative Challenge #20


The Lesson

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“Avast, ya matey!” the boatswain prompted, “Which means?”

“Stop my shipmate,” the lubber responded.

“Not bad.  Not bad,” the old salt said approvingly.

The crash course was going well.  We had already learned that “starboard” meant right, and “larboard” meant left; and that “fore” meant in front of you, and “aft” meant behind.  It was a little more confusing that “bow” was at the far fore, and that “stern” was far aft.

The second session complicated matters. We were told that “larboard” is also called “port.”  But we also had to note that “port” was also where we parked the boat, and the boat was never called a boat, but rather was referred to as a “vessel” or “ship.”  When the vessel was in port it was moored in a “berth,” which was also the name of the place where we slept.  But our berth was also our “rack” but never our bed.

Our berths were on the second floor down, which wasn’t a floor but a “deck.”  We went down to it on a “ladder” which looked as if they were actually stairs.  This ladder ran through an opening called a “hatch,” which is a door that runs between decks.  It is different than a “door” which runs through a wall, that isn’t a wall, but a “bulkhead.”  Unless of course you are a Marine, then doors and hatches are both called “hatches.”

At the end of the lesson we headed to the “scuttlebutt” to get a drink.  The scuttlebutt was a kind of drinking fountain.  It was there that we caught up on the “scuttlebutt” which was also what we were to call the light banter and rumours of what was going to happen next.

Fortunately we were going to have a chance to eat before lesson three.  So we are now heading to the “mess” or dining room, next to the “galley” or kitchen.  I think my understanding is starting to become a bit “fouled” or is that a mess?


Story Starter Challenge #25:  “Avast, ya matey!”



A Guide on the Way

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Jesus said “the path is thin, and narrow’s the way”-

This road we walk each and every day –

If left to us  – we often go astray –

So He came down – to show the way


While we may wander –

And we may roam –

The path He’s labelled clear –

With signs and marks pointing home



We oft lose focus –

But that’s okay –

We need but repent –

And head the other way


None are so strong –

Good or brave –

That on this journey they can go alone –

We need a guide to show the path and thereby to be saved.




“Footsteps of the Mind”

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“Footsteps of the Mind” 


The Buddha said there’re eight steps to take –

Once with right vision  – one beholds –

A goal which leads them along a path –

“True reality” to unfold


Such a journey of the mind –

We often do begin –

Our thoughts they wander and then progress –

Refusing to be confined


The footsteps of the mind –

Go their own erratic way –

Try as we might – them to control –

We can but seldom they belay



Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge March 26, 2019: “footsteps of the mind”