Menagerie

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“This place is so strange,” Harriet whispered to Alex.

“But everyone seems to be having fun.  Let’s give it a try anyway,” he urged.

She squeezed his arm tightly as they made their way through the entrance gate.

Once inside the strange slant of the ground seemed to adjust itself, and the pathway they had followed up to the turnstile seemed to suddenly go askew.

Harriet glanced back, and squeezed his arm even harder.

“Don’t worry.  It’s probably like that Xenses Park in Mexico,” he reassured her.

Around them there were shooting galleries, a roller-coaster, and assorted other rides all of which seemed like they were from a Western movie or some long lost photo of early Coney Island.

“Have you noticed people’s clothes?” she asked.

“No what about them?” Alex replied.

“Look there are people in fancy dress, with hoop skirts and parasols, and others in Sixties’ hot pants and tie dye,” she observed.

“Maybe its part of the theme,” he said.  “Besides look at the others dressed in hoodies and such.”

She was unsure, but followed him up to the hot dog stand all the same.  There was no one working there, but steaming frankfurters in fresh buns were on a tray before them.

“I wonder who we pay,” Alex said.

Just then a young man in a zoot suit came up took a hot dog, squirted some mustard on it and left.

“I guess they’re free,” Alex concluded squirting some ketchup onto one and taking a big bite.  “This is amazing,” he said speaking with his mouth full.  “Do you want one?”

“No thank you,” she said a little disgusted.  Besides, this place was robbing her of her appetite.

Suddenly she let out a shriek as a blue leopard came from between two stalls and crossed their path.  Though it went by, taking no interest in the couple, she was becoming increasingly un-nerved.

“That was a leopard running loose,” she said, once she had steadied her breath.

“What was?” Alex asked, seemingly becoming oblivious to the strangeness around them.

“Take me home,” Harriet said almost in tears. “I don’t like it here.”

“Let’s do the roller-coaster first,” he insisted stuffing another hot dog into his mouth.

“Only if we go straight home afterwards,” she demanded.

“Sure thing,” he said taking her hand and leading her to the wooden tracked amusement.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of the complex, Zerab nodded approvingly as he watched the couple on his monitor screen.  His hen’s egg sized black eyes glistened, as he pushed the control button with his six inch long finger.

Up above, a new tray of hot dogs came up through a hatch onto the counter.

“How are we doing?” Anfrib asked from behind him.

“Very well, Captain,” he said.  “We should have a full inventory of test subjects by the end of the Earth day.”

“Excellent,” the grey-skinned Zorgian officer replied. “I hate these collection missions dragging on too long.”

 

Padre

Sunday Writing Prompt

 

 

 

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The Revolution

Pexels from Pixabay

“We really have to make a stand,” Aaron said full of conviction.

The others in the room gave a nod of agreement, but inwardly were full of fear at the prospect of standing up to the authorities.

Jacquelyn was excited however.  The prospect of resisting the arbitrary searches of her quarters by the Administrator’s henchmen thrilled her.

She slowly rose to her feet and with a trembling voice shouted, “To the barricades.”

With that Aaron, Jacqui, and Felix began to lug the lounge furniture from the day room of Peaceful Acres Care Home into the street.  They placed the first red chair in front of the staff driveway, and then slowly hobbled back to collect another chair.

Some revolutions start slowly.

 

Padre

Sunday Photo Fiction – June 30, 2019

 

 

Miscellaneous Prompted Micro Poems 9

 

three line tales, week 177: a woman on a Paris street

photo by Les Anderson via Unsplash

They say for orange there is no rhyme
But she was dressed in yellow
So that’s just fine

Three Line Tales, Week 177  20 June 19

Summer’s costume
Bedecked in colour
Dressed in petaled bloom

TLT Throwback   21 June 19

Mount Horeb Lunch, Cafe, Lunch

image: Pixabay

When “sick” means it’s something you enjoy
And “bad” is a phrase of adulation
Something’s up in the English tongue
When it needs its own translation.

Inspired by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt 22 June 19

inflatable flamingo and unicorn on a white sand beach

Flamingo ring, boats by its side
Its Inflatable joy
Awaits the tide

Three Line Tales  27 June 19

 

Girl, Playing, Leaves, Autumn, Happy

image: Pixabay

Life was simple then;
So carefree,
There aren’t many worries,
When you’re only three

Weekend Writing Prompt #112 – Carefree  29 June 19

 

Padre

 

Elemental Struggle

The Valley Of Flowers, Trollius Download

Pixabay

No one doubted whether Fire was alive.  He had all of the characteristics of life.  He breathed, consumed sustenance, moved, and reproduced.   Of all of the elemental beings, he was the most familiar and relied upon, by the people of the plain.

Fire’s sister, Air – was so complacent when compared to her brother.  She was so ubiquitous, that only in her fits of anger, like in the case of the great spiral wind of the year before, did the plains dwellers ever acknowledge her.  In truth, though often outside of their conscious thoughts, all reverenced her; and all feared her rare absence.  Her brother, Fire was dependent on her.  It was said that without her, he, like them, would perish.

Their mother, Earth, was a servant (and at times the mistress) of the plains folk.  They worked the land which was her body, and she rewarded their labours and devotions by bringing forth bounty.

Earth had a lover, Water.  He had flattered her from her youth onwards.  Their flirtatious relationship unfolding in the give and take of the faraway tides.   But here on the plain, he was a respected visitor who made only periodic calls on his mistress, Earth, as he fell sedately from the sky the realm of his daughter, Air.

So life on the plain went on.  But Fire wanted more.  He wanted ever greater power and respect.  He was jealous of his father, Water.   Why was this fickle, often absent consort of his mother so revered by the plains people?

In his displeasure he did his best to court the favour of the people.  When the old one made his visits, and left the people cold and wet, Fire warmed them, and dried their clothes.  Yet, the plains people still cried out for Water’s return  They even offered up prayers and sacrifices for him to come again.

At last Fire had had enough.  Had he not warmed their homes, cooked their food, and given them light at night?  So why did they call on his unreliable father?  Fire would show this ungrateful people his power.  If they would not love him, they would have to fear him.

Fire started his display with a slow smoldering in the stubble of the harvested fields.  He then called upon his sister to fan the fields, and he burst forth devouring all before him. Barns and homes soon were consumed in his fury.  The plains folk ran before him seeking refuge from his wrath.

The people crossed a wide gully and clambered up the hill side, spying the devastation below.  Many cried, and prayed for salvation.

Then above them dark towering clouds formed.  Flashes of lightening split the sky, and sheets of torrential rain lashed down.  The gully they had crossed began to fill.  The puddles became rivulets, the rivulets – streams.  Soon a mass of surging water rushed up the gully towards their burning homes.  Them the flood raged over the entire village, extinguishing the flames.

As quickly as the storm had begun, it dissipated.  Though charred, most of the structures were salvageable, and some even intact.  Five barns full of the winter grain store were intact.

The Shaman called the people together and in a collective voice sang praises to Water.

From a blackened timber a faint whiff of steamy smoke weakly climbed upwards to his sister, Air.  My day will come, Fire thought to himself. My day will come.

Padre

Saturday Mix – Unique Personality:  The flood raged over the entire village.

 

Olive Cheese Spread

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It’s Foodie Friday and time for a review or recipe.  And this week it is a recipe for a  summer sandwich filler.  It is great in wraps, a condiment, or as a dip as well.

Ingredients:

  • Black Olives (pitted)  10
  • Green Olives (pitted) 10
  • Garlic 1 small clove
  • Dried Basil 1/4 tsp
  • Hard Cheese (Goat or Cheddar) 50 – 70 g
  • Mayonnaise 2 Tbs

 

Method:

Slice the olives into rings and place in a small mixing bowl.  Shred the cheese and add to the olives along with the basil.  Peel and finely dice (or grate) the garlic and add to the bowl.  Finally stir in the mayo until mixture is even.

In a wrap or sandwich serve with spinach leaf or really mix things up by placing hummus on one side and the olive cheese mix on the other with the leaf between.

Padre

 

 

Honey: A Cousins Tale

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image: Pixabay

Seymour de Klod strolled into the laundry house at the edge of Parliament Square.  He had anticipated leaving his washing with his “sister” Gwendolyn or her regular helper Cristina.  He was surprised, therefore, when a petite woman, barely a head taller than the counter greeted him.

“Who are you?” he asked hesitantly, then looked around the room to make sure he was in the right place.

“I am Han Ni,” the little woman replied.  “You must be Seymour.  I was told to expect you,” she said in a thick Sea Lands accent.

Just then Gwendolyn came from the back room wiping her hands on a hand towel.

“Seymour, My Lovely – I see you’ve met Han Ni,” she said with a broad smile.

The huge warrior placed his bundle of washing on the counter and then stepped through the hatchway and gave Gwendolyn a hug.  As he did, he shot Han Ni a cautious glance and whispered to the Gwendolyn, “Is she another sister?”

“No Sweetheart,” she whispered.  “She is my newest laundress.”

“She’s very little,” he observed. “And pretty,” he added blushing.

Gwendolyn was not sure she had ever seen Seymour blush before.  She patted his arm and said in a conversational voice, “Seymour – this is Han Ni from Shang-Han in the Sea Lands.  Han Ni – this is my big brother, Seymour.”

Han Ni gave Seymour a courteous bow in the Sea Lands fashion.

He strolled over to her and offered a huge hand, “I am glad to meet you, Honey.”

She hesitantly shook his hand, giving a quizzical look towards Gwendolyn.

“Sorry,” Gwendolyn mouthed.

Despite this, “Honey” stuck and soon it was how she became known within the capital.

Seymour seemed to “stick” as well, and within a year, the massive axeman of Dunes War fame and the tiny, Han Ni, were wed.  A year later their son, Wai Yen was born.

 

Padre

The Castle Broane Affair

Image result for ruined castle

image: CNN

Castle Broane was a sorry affair.  At the close of the late wars, it no longer held strategic importance, and its garrison dwindled and eventually disappeared.

It now stood with its keep robbed of timber, and the curtain walls of much of the higher quality stone.  Only the gate house offered any real defensive capability.

As the moon rose on a quiet June night, the roosting birds of the old keep suddenly took flight.  Their spiraling swirls silhouetted against the fullness of the orb.  Something was stirring in the old fortress.

The nearby villagers did not notice these events as they slept securely in their sturdy homes which had been built from the materials appropriated from the castle.

In the morning three farmers awoke to find that their barns had been raided, and at least five prime cattle had disappeared.

The doors of the outbuildings had been opened, without great noise by someone, or something, capable of twisting a lock haft until it snapped.

The following evening several villagers sat before fires outside of their holdings.  About midnight Farmer Hillyard was the first to see the huge figure of a troll clambering down the curtain wall near the castle’s keep.

Cries went out, and the Watch sent for from the neighbouring League Town.  Soon the villagers had assembled with pitchforks and scythes in hand.

The troll took no notice of them as it made its way to the nearest barn.  It made quick work of the lock, and soon exited with a cow under each arm.  The farmer and his son-in-law were swept away by the creature’s elbows, and it re-entered the fortress through a collapsed section of the curtain wall.

By morning a Watchman from League Town, and a dozen soldiers arrived to the din of the villagers’ screamed demands that something be done.

The young Lieutenant wasn’t exactly sure what could be done.  It was a troll after all.

At last, the indecision became too much for Sue Sander.  She turned and left the squabbling men behind her and grabbed the apron strings of Mable Redmayne and Barbara White as passed them.

She led the women to her kitchen where she secured a cast iron frying pan, a rolling pin, and a mop handle.  Thus armed the three wives marched determinedly into the castle.

A terrible clamber came from within the walls, and the men fell silent, many of the soldiers drawing their swords.  They all looked with fearful faces, as the old wooden gate of the fortress creaked open.  There the three village women emerged leading out the two cows.

The men could only look on with jaws dropped as the mud spattered Sue wiped the rolling pin on her apron.

“That will teach him to take my bloom’n cows,” she said with a huff.

 

Padre

 

Tale Weaver/ Fairy Tale – #229 – Castle

The Mirror and the Keys: A Cousins Tale

Image result for old keys

Maya looked into her mirror and took in the image of a beautiful, honey-skinned woman who seemed no more than thirty.

The summer solstice already? she thought. How many birthdays is that?

She really wasn’t sure.  She knew she had been born while her father, Garmaya, was the court mystic and chief advisor to King Sanyana of the Far Lands.  But she, or anyone else for that matter, couldn’t remember exactly which of the seventeen Sanyanas he had first served.

Maya had been born with her mother’s beauty and her father’s talents.  It was while still a girl of four or five, that she first displayed the ability for divination, when she correctly named the place where the king’s favourite hunting knife had fallen from his saddle during the royal hunt.  By age nine she had begun small scale conjurings under the tutelage of her father.

It was a terrible day for her when her mother died, her entire world seemed to change over night.  Soon after, the devastated young woman was left to feel that she had no time to grieve properly.  The pressures on her to rise up and manage the household affairs previously conducted by her mother, were overwhelming.

In an act of defiance she gathered what she saw as necessary belongings and then departed into the night.  She found herself on the road west, and never looked back.

She spent the next decade in Ralulee lands, and then attached herself to a traveling fair making her living as a fortune teller.  By the time she arrived in the kingdom, she had adopted her trademark wardrobe of green sarees, and was quickly becoming known as Maya the Green, or just “the Green One.”

But that was over thirty years ago.  Maya, the Green One, seemed ageless.  Her raven hair, hazel eyes, and clear complexion showed no sign of the ravages of time.  In fact, the only things to mar her otherwise perfect countenance were a few faded scars from an adventure she had undertaken twenty-five years before.

She closed the covering panels of the mirror and adjusted the folds of her garment before entering into her salon on the upper floor of the Two Axes, the tavern run by her “brother” Seymour.

Seymour was still a powerful man, the hero of both war and adventure, but he was growing old.  Now in his fifties he was greying, and life as a “bouncer,” rather than warrior had allowed him to grow a little plump about the middle.

He and his wife, Han Ni, were loving towards her, and left her largely to get on with her own life.  It was good however to have the sense of family within the inn.  In addition to Seymour and “Honey” there was their son, Wayne.  Her “sister,” Star also lived in the complex with pleasant apartments adjoining the stables.

Life is good, she thought to herself with a smile.

Then as she tossed her room keys upon the table in her salon, her expression changed.  She stared at the configuration, and then picked the keys up and tossed them on the table in a deliberate action.  The keys fell in exactly the same pattern.   Things were about to change.

Padre

On The Nature Of Others’ Beliefs

 

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Fandango’s Provocative Question #29: Thomas Jefferson said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to tell me there are 20 gods or no gods. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”   The question therefore is: “Do you agree with Thomas Jefferson that it doesn’t matter or hurt you if people believe in many gods, in one god, or no gods? Why or why not?

Fandango’s question must be addressed with a nuanced response.  I will therefore approach it as a two-parter.  Does it matter? Yes.  Does it ‘hurt’ me? It depends.

As to the first part: does it matter?  In a pluralistic, liberal society which celebrates difference and diversity – no.  It does not politically or “socially” matter.

On a more philosophical level – socially it does have some relevance.  Community cohesion and shared social values can be strengthened by shared beliefs and values.  Human beings are quick to detect perceived difference.  Jesus had said “the poor are with you always,” but so too is the “other.”  The other is subjective.  Be it appearance, origin, or belief – people “notice” the “odd one out.”  If our absolute social goal is pluralism, then belief may be personal, but then to “new other” is the one that cannot accept the beliefs of others, therefore division emerges.  Shared belief in a deity removes this philosophical division.

Theologically it does matter.  Not necessarily to the beholder.  But to the one holding to the polytheistic or atheistic belief.  If there is one truth.  One God, one faith, and one baptism, then there is an imperative for people to live up to that standard.  It is their salvation that is at risk.  For the atheist, this may not be of any concern.  They expect nihilism (in the Roman sense, that existence ends with the last breath) anyway.  But if Pascal’s wager is correct, they are playing a dangerous game.

I as a Christian minister, hold that it does matter in an eternal reality.

The second part is equally important.  Does it hurt me?

Fundamentally, it does not effect me.   The belief of others does not in and of itself have any direct impact on my own belief or faith.  Does it affect me?  Yes, I am afraid it does.  As a monotheistic believer, it saddens me that any might turn their back of the free gift or grace of a living God.

But should I act?  After all it isn’t effecting me.  But as a Christian believer, I have been called to teach the gospel.  So it does require action on my part.  An action of example, teaching, and loving concern (not necessarily acceptance) of others’ beliefs.

In the US Navy Chaplains Corp there is a motto: “Cooperation without compromise.”  Put simply – support people of belief or none, but never at the expense of your own belief.  This is a good starting point.

Militantly opposing others’ beliefs, and definitely imposing one’s own on others is truly a problem.  If a monotheistic people violently impose their views, in the name of defending God, we have a problem.  Jesus never called for forced conversion, and Muhammad initially called for respect to be shown “to people of the Book.”

A person’s lack of belief is not an attack on Me.  It is an attack or at least slight on God. Let’s stop there for a moment.  An omnipotent God, does not need us to “defend” him.  So we must evaluate our actions and motives.  Are we showing the love and compassion the scriptures call for?  Are we teaching, not fighting?  Are we loving, not imposing?

For me then:  Love all.  Teach those who will listen.  Live as an example.  Fight none.

So in the final analysis was Jefferson right?  Socially – Maybe.  Philosophically – Probably. Physically – Yes.  Emotionally – No.  Spiritually and theologically – he had a lot to learn.

 

Padre

Birthday in Great Yarmouth (My Turn)

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Last August we celebrated my wife’s birthday in Great Yarmouth.  This year we revisited Great Yarmouth as part of my birthday celebration.  We again stayed at the Nelson Hotel, and took in the early summer beach and seaside activities.

One of the first things we noticed was that Yarmouth in the early evening on a Monday was “closed.”  Unbeknownst to us our arrival corresponded to the very time when food is least available along the seafront.  Looking for someplace for a meal, we happened onto Harry Ramsden’s.  We had passsed at least three other fish and chip shops between the hotel and Ramsden’s and it too looked to be closed.   But the sign on the pavement indicated otherwise.

On entering the server took a couple of minutes to notice me, it being a slow night, and I asked if they were open. He responded that they were but it would be a few minutes while he finished the task he was on. He then took my order, and I went to wait. The fish batter was dark, and the haddock a bit grey looking, but the flavour and texture were okay. The onion rings were a little greasy, but that was excused as they were the real thing, not just the minced pulp of onions like some places serve. The price was a little dear for what I got, but all in all it was adequate. So much for “world famous” however.

On returning to the hotel I was able to take in the sounds of the gulls, and to relax a bit.  The Nelson is rated as a three star hotel.  It is a Georgian/Regency building, and has a mixed 1970s decor, but it is clean (if not a little tired) and the staff are wonderfully helpful.

A note to those with mobility issues is that the upper floors do have occasional stairs in the hallways, and there is only one small lift.

We had a sea view room on the second floor, almost exactly under the room we had on our previous stay, so the view was almost exactly the same with the Sea Life Centre and Wellington Pier as the features along with the sea of course.

The room had plenty of hot water though the tub was narrow, and the mattress on this occasion was hard, and a little uneven.  The room as a whole was comfortable however and very quiet being isolated along with its neighbouring room from the main hall way by a fire door.

Breakfast was included in the price, and hot items were ordered through table service, with toast and accompanying items were available in a buffet in an annex to the dining room.

Again, staff make this place.  They took a weary three star establishment, and made it a place worth staying in.

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Sorry for blurred pic of a wonderful seafood platter

The high point of the visit was the birthday meal at the Ocean Spray Seafood & Steakhouse.   The decor is maritime (fishing nets, shells, etc) and the atmosphere is calm and the service friendly.   All customers are greeted warmly and regulars fawned over by the staff.  

On this occasion we had a “Dips” starter with warm pita bread served with olives, hummus, taramasalata, and tzatziki.  To be honest, this starter can make a meal in itself, and though intended for a two person sharer, it would easily accommodate three.

We then had the seafood platter with Greek salad, and a half lobster to share.  There was the aforementioned lobster, grilled king prawns, a cod and haddock fillet, shell on shrimp, whitebait, scampy, and calamori served in a garlic butter sauce.  This was surrounded with portions of feta cheese and black olives.  New potatoes rounded out the meal.  Excellent does not begin to describe the meal.  The platter easily fed the two of us, especially after the generous dips course.

This is a must try seafood establishment if in Yarmouth.

It was a wonderful birthday, and we are booked to visit again when hers comes around.

Padre