Written in the Sky

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“There’s a big “W” in the sky,” Tilly said looking up in wonder.

“That’s Cassiopeia,” Aunt Helen replied.

“Cassiopeia?  That’s a funny name,” Tilly said mulling it over in her mind.  “Do you spell Cassiopeia with a W?”

“Not exactly,” her aunt explained.  “You see a long time ago there was a beautiful queen named Cassiopeia.  She was really, truly beautiful, but she was also brash and conceited.  She was so caught up into her own looks, that she looked down on the beauty of others.  She even went so far as to brag that she was more attractive than the goddesses or the sea nymphs called the Nereids.  This angered the Sea-god Poseidon who was married to one of the Nereids, so he sent a sea monster to punish her for vanity.   In the end she was cast into the sky as a punishment.”

“That’s terrible,” Tilly said.

“Yes, but Queen Cassi got the last laugh,” her aunt observed.  “See she’s still with us,  her name in the sky.”


Her Name in the Sky

FOWC with Fandango —Brash


Bird Walk

Emus, Emu, Big Bird, Zoo, Plumage

image: Pixabay

This week Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday theme is “bird,” “fly,” “sky,” and “wing.”  When  I was a kid, a novelty song hit the US and Canadian Country charts.  It was “Tennessee Bird Walk” by the  husband-and-wife duo Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan.  The 1970 single was their second release on the country charts and their most successful single. “Tennessee Bird Walk” went to number one on the country charts.

Take away the trees and the birds
All have to sit upon the ground, uum
Take away their wings and
The birds will have to walk to get around
And take away the bird baths
And dirty birds will soon be ev’rywhere
Take away their feathers and
The birds will walk around in underwear
Take away their chirp and the
Birds will have to whisper when they sing
And take away their common sense and
They’ll be headed southward in the spring
Oh remember my darling
When spring is in the air
And the bald headed birds
Are whisp’ring ev’rywhere
You can see them walking
Southward in their dirty underwear
That’s Tennessee Bird walk
How about some trees so the birds
Won’t have to sit upon the ground, uum
How about some wings so the
Birds won’t have to walk to get around
And how about a bird bath or two
so the birds will all be clean
How about some feathers so their
Underwear no longer can be seen
How about a chirp so the birds
Won’t have to whisper when they sing
And how about some common sense so they
Won’t be blocking traffic in the spring
Oh remember my darling
When spring is in the air
And the bald headed birds
Are whisp’ring ev’rywhere
You can see them walking
Southward in their dirty underwear
That’s Tennessee Bird walk
Source: Musixmatch
Video Link: Tennessee Bird Walk

The Fame Generation

Image result for kim kardashian

image: The Independent

We were the “Fame Generation.”  Celebrity was everything.  We ravenously consumed reality television, we marvelled at the lifestyle of the rich and even against all common sense even elected them to be our leaders.

We wanted to be like our icons.  Labourers and the children of labourers believed the tabloid press and the glossy magazines which depicted the life we all could have if we only were more beautiful, better dressed, or enhanced ourselves with surgery.

Soon we would only wear designer labels.  We followed every fad diet that was produced.  We rehearsed our moves, both those meant for the stage and those we used in day to day life.  We entered ever increasingly humiliating “reality” programmes which increasingly were anything other than real life.

Messages on the environment were denied by those in the public eye, and ignored by others in deference to conspicuous consumption.  We worshipped pop stars, we began to “live” the message of RAP and Hip Hop artists.  And we were all sure, in the end, that we too could all be Kardashians.

Then it happened.  The financial system, undermined by greed, collapsed.  The oceans filled with plastic.  Violence spurred by prejudice or envy spilled out onto the street.  The end of Western Civilisation had come.

“Why?” you might ask.  It is simple:  the fault was in our stars.



(223 Words, 20 minutes)


Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Fault in Our Stars

The Lesson

Image result for snakes and ladders game


Mrs. Murray was explaining to her class that Snakes and Ladders was originally a teaching tool to help children understand Karma.  The bottoms of each ladder bore words or phrases such as “Kindness, Honesty, or Thrift;” while those at the mouths of snakes read, “Lying, Bullying, and Greed.”

The class was divided into groups of four, and as they played they were to record what actions advanced them, and which set them back.

Harvey Johnson, who was both a troubled and troubling boy, was fascinated with the progress of his game.  He noticed that the “Goody-two-shoes” Amy Carson lost the game after “pulling hair” and later when she had nearly won descending to the bottom row for “killing.”

The experience seemed tranformational for the would-be bully, Harvey.  He resolved to only do “ladder” things from that moment onwards.

Later, on the playground, several girls screamed in distress.  Harvey, having sworn to be “Ladder ‘Helpful’,” ran over to offer assistance.

When he arrived he found that a large diamond adorned snake had cornered the girls against the playground fence.  What should he do?  “Killing” was definitely a bad “Snake” thing to do.

Harvey lifted his softball bat and clubbed the shoulder-less creature, as the girls ran to safety.

Had Harvey gone for “Snakes” or Ladders?”


Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: Snakes


Though the story is fictional, I do use the general lesson plan when teaching ethics.

Hold the Course

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

At thirteen I was taller than many of my classmates and very much stronger.   I was a shot putter on the track and field team, and was good at sport in general.  Despite my size and strength, I was often bullied, precisely because of those characteristics.  I however held the conviction instilled in me by my mother that it would be wrong for me the harm a smaller child. Therefore, I endured the bullying.

At thirteen, I had teachers who saw me as clever, and some diligently tried to convince me of my non-physical abilities.  But I, whether because of the bullying, or whether I had something to prove to myself, stayed fixedly focused on athletics.

High school was an uncomfortable turning point.  By fifteen I had stopped growing and settled in at five foot – seven.  I still competed in the shot put, but each year my ranking fell, as others first caught up to me in size and then surpassed it.  My response was to practice more, spending long hours with the weights and in the shot put ring.  I remained strong, and especially strong for my size.  My academics, however, were not a priority.  Yes I got mostly A-s, but not consistently so.  My senior year, I even took only the classes I needed to graduate.

Alas, I am no athlete.  I got a job, married, and went to community college, where I got A-s yet again.  Then I joined the forces, where academically I did well even being noted on three occasions as “honor man”  in military schools.

I left the forces, and went to uni, and then into ministry.  I eventually even did graduate study at the University of Cambridge.  I am still no athlete, but I am, as my teachers at age thirteen tried to show me – clever.

So what advice should I give a thirteen year old me?  Give up the sport, you will end up too small?  Hit the books, your future lies there?

No!  The message to the thirteen year old me is:  “Hold the Course.  The path you are on is the one that will make you – you!”


Haunted Wordsmith Nonfiction Prompt: What is something you would tell your 13-year-old self?

Among the Elderberries

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image: Wiki

Agnes was quietly singing to herself as she entered the High Wood in search of berries.  She knew she would find the fruit she was after.  Elderberries were just coming into season and the rich purple-black clusters would make for some excellent wine.

Agnes, a portly widow of about fifty, depended on the revenue from her wine to make ends meet.  The Baron taxed the villagers so heavily, and every farthing now was precious.

How had it come to this? she wondered.  Things had been so much happier when the old Baron ruled. 

The “Old Baron” was gone, however.  He husband and many other men had followed him out to meet the barbarian raiders.  But alas, neither her Garth nor the Baron returned from the fray.

“Life goes on,” she intoned into her melody as she continued to hum her tune.

She was now approaching the best place for the berries.  She knew there would be plenty, as the High Wood was beyond the boundaries of the village Woodward, and the locals believed it place to be inhabited by dark fairies (a mythology she did her best to foster).

She arrived at the place that she had seen an abundance of white elderflower at in the spring, but the branches were bare.  This puzzled her.  She went deeper into the wood, and at every copse of her precious elderberries she found the same.

How am I ever going to meet my orders?  How am I even going to live? she lamented.

Then she heard a slow rhythmic rumbling sound.  She pushed through the trees and found a large ancient dragon asleep in a clearing.  It was snoring and its mouth was stained with the purple juice of elderberry.

What do I have to lose? she thought as she marched up to the sleeping beast.

She purposely stomped upon a tattered leathery wing as she approached and shouted.

“Hey, you!  Don’t you realise that you have ruined me.  You might as well eat me and get it over with.  I am doomed anyway!”

The elderly beast slowly opened one eye and looked the irate woman up and down.

“Madame,” the dragon said courteously.  “I am sorry if I have caused you any irritation, but exactly what have I done?”

“You ate all the bloody berries.  That’s what,” she replied.

“Again, my apologies,” the great lizard said.

“So get on with it.  Finish me off!” Agnes un-pacified demanded.

“Madame, while I appreciate the offer of what would be undoubtedly a filling meal, I have to tell you that human flesh, ‘maiden’ or otherwise, is bad for the digestion.  I much prefer fruit.  And please, may I ask, will you step off of my wing?”

Agnes, slowly stepped off of the wing and stood cross armed giving the beast an evil stare.

“How might I make amends?” the dragon asked.

Agnes thought about this for a moment.

“Roar for me,” she demanded.

The ancient beast let loose a terrifying bellow which shook the entire wood.

“Good,” Agnes said. “I want you to come with me, and we are going to pay a little visit to the Baron.”



Sunday Writing Prompt “5 by 5”



Pick a Mythological Creature:

Pick an Activity:

Pick a Fruit:

Pick a Time of Life:
Middle Age and [Old Age]

Pick a Concern:
The State of the World and [Money and/or Work]



Keeping Watch over ruin

Unknown Title and Artist

Twenty years is a long time.  It has been twenty years, however, since the people of Lyconia abandoned their city.  The onslaught had been ferocious, and the Lyconian army had made a terrific stand on the outskirts of the city in order to allow as many of the city’s people to escape northwards as possible.

When the last of the women and children, as well as the elderly had departed, a red flag had been raised over the keep and the last of the defenders fell back to that citadel to make their stand.  The siege was not a long one.  Within a month the last gates had been breached.  The Tilforians were brutal.  Any defender taken alive was hanged from a great gallows.  They died slowly, being left to strangle, as the victors laughed and mocked them in their death throes.  King Hanny was made to watch the death of his brave men before being the last to face the humiliating death at the hands of the Tilforians.

In exile in the friendly Kingdom of Rell, young Hanny the Second, barely seventeen at his kingdom’s fall began to build anew.  With the aid of the Rell, he was able to form a coalition.  Then twenty years on, he led an army of exiled Lyconians back across the border, and with him marched the warriors of Rell and Sysnic.

Near the ford at Fair Meadows the armies met, and after eight long hours of battle the coalition prevailed.  In a series of “mopping up” engagements the last of the Tilforians fled back to their homeland.

This evening, it was with muted jubilation that the army of Hanny II entered the desolate city of Lyconia.   The king rests tonight in the old halls of his father’s keep.  He is anxious, however.   His mind is burdened by the expectations of what they will discover when they begin to explore the city in the morning.




The Bouquet

Image may contain: flower and plant

Will walked Alice from his car to her flat.  It had been a wonderful date, and the relationship was really starting to bloom.  She unlocked the door, and he prepared to give her a good night kiss, when she invited him in.

“I would love to,” he said.  “But I really shouldn’t stay long.  Work tomorrow.”

She loved that he was a little nervous and shy around her.  He was refreshing in his “old fashioned” values.  Most guys had tried to make their moves on her during first dates, but Will had been respectful, gentle, and above all – didn’t pressure or rush her.  “What was it?” she thought. “Two months and nine dates?”

“A cuppa?” she asked, as she pushed the door open.

“That would be lovely,” he said.

As she stepped into her little flat she saw a huge bouquet of flowers in a vase on her coffee table.

“What in the world?” she exclaimed.  “Did you have something to do with this? And how did they get them into my flat?” she continued as she pointed at the flowers.

He immediately made a confused and defensive gesture and said, “I have no idea how it got there.”

She looked around the flat, and then silently gestured for him to follow her.  She picked up an umbrella from the stand by the door, and stepped into the bathroom.  She then turned the umbrella so she could hold it like a bat and nodded to the shower curtain.

Will threw open the curtain, as she prepared to strike, but the bath was empty.

She then pointed towards her bedroom.  This time he led the way.  He slowly opened the door and looked around.  She then followed him, umbrella in hand, as he opened her wardrobe and then looked under the bed.

“There’s no one here,” he said.  “Is there a card or anything?”

They returned to the lounge and she checked all around the vase.  “Nothing,” she said definitively.

“That’s just weird,” Will observed.

“Will, I am really spooked.  I would really feel a lot better is you stayed here with me tonight,” she said as she shoved the florist’s receipt deeper into her jeans pocket.



Story Starter Challenge:  “I have no idea how it got there.”

Genre Writing Challenge: Romantic Mystery


The Task

Image result for apollo 11


“Let me impress upon you, Gentlemen, the magnitude of the task before us,” the general said to the gathered scientists. “The Ruskies have beat us to space with that damned Sputnik and now Gagarin.  The President has told me personally that we will be the first to the moon.”

“Zo vat exactly do you vant us to do, Herr General?”

“Good question, Mr. von Braun.  What we want you Naz . . . Gentlemen to do is make the finest rocket the world has ever seen.”

“How long do ve have?” Kurt Debus asked.

“1970,” the general said.

“Off to verk then,” Debus said.


Sammi Cox Challenge: “Impress”

The Wrong Seat

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It was only a year since Crown Prince Karl had been killed leading his men in a clash with the barbarians.  Then yesterday, King Karl of Nordland had suddenly and unexpectantly died only for news to arrive from the royal mountain retreat that Prince Peter had also died the day before in a freak skiing accident.

These were unprecedented times and an extraordinary Convocation of  The Lords Temporal and Spiritual had been called.

Young Duke Badheim took his customary seat in the chamber and waited for the solemn meeting to begin.  Then to his surprise the archbishop approached him.

“Excuse me, Your Majesty.  You’re in the wrong seat,” he said giving a nod towards the throne.

With astonished recognition of the situation, Maurice, the third of King Karl’s sons stood, and made his way to the royal dais.


Story Starter: You’re in the wrong seat”