• Archives

  • Topics

  • Meta

  • Quest To The North

    Quest To the North
  • Escort Duty

  • Via Serica

    Via Serica
  • Tales of the Minivandians

    Tales of the Minivandians
  • Join the NRA

    Join the NRA!

Announcement and Snippet

Lost Children, the next installment of The Minivandians, is up for pre-order on Amazon.

lost-children-ebook-cover-1

Here’s the blurb:

Elsked’s adventure continues! In the second of three stories, the Minivandian’s son trades tales of his pets and  their misadventures for another story from his parents past.

After escaping the frozen north, Daddybear and Ruarin find refuge with the magical kin of an old friend. Before they can make their way home, treachery will strike the city, leaving death and disappearances in its wake. In an idyllic lakeside city harboring the ancient evil that drove its people from their ancient homeland, can the Minivandian save his Lady of Eire?

Lost Children picks up where Quest to the North left off.  Ruarin and DaddyBear are still trying to make their home, but they find themselves on a little bit of a detour.

The book will go live on January 26, but you can pre-order it now.  I hope you enjoy it, and remember, the best way to compliment a writer is to leave an honest review and spread the word.

I put up a snippet for one of the short vignettes here, and here’s the first chapter of the longer portion of the book.  Enjoy!


The moon hung over the trees, full and blood red. It shone down on a young man in robes as gray as a dove’s wing as he walked up a long flight of rough-cut stone stairs. To one side of him, moonlight danced on carved scenes of ships and people, while on the other, dark trees growing from the steep hillside blocked his view of the water below. The cheeping of tree frogs, taking advantage of the last warm weather of early autumn, competed with the voice coming from the temple above him to drown out his slow steps.

He cradled a cloth-wrapped bundle in the crook of his arm. It would occasionally wriggle, and once he had to bring his free hand up to steady it as he continued his march upward. Any sound it made was drowned out by the noise of the forest and marshes surrounding him. The young priest paused when he reached an open space at the top of the stairs and looked around.

The temple was ancient, and only its main chamber had been reclaimed from the forest. The young man’s ancestors had hewn it from the living rock of the low hill upon which it sat, and he could almost sense the power of the earth running up through it. The side opposite him was open to the night air, and he could see the full moon framed above the forest. Above him, the sound of singing echoed from the high, domed ceiling, making it sound as if a chorus were serenading him as he made his way into the chamber.

An alabaster altar, polished until it shone in the torchlight, lay at its center. Fine, white linen cloths covered it. Upon them, a silver basin and pitcher reflected a red and orange glow back at him. The same light reflected from the wall behind the altar, making the ship carved in its white stone appear to be ablaze.

His mentor and teacher stood with his hands on the altar. Where the young man wore robes the color of a mourning dove, his flawlessly white garments were a stark contrast against the dark stone. A long sword hung from his belt, its golden hilt shining in the light. It contrasted with the iron chain that swung from his neck. The older man’s eyes were closed as he crooned a prayer in a high, powerful voice. His song rang from the high ceiling, and its rhythm followed the young priest’s heartbeat.

The young priest stepped forward and bowed to his master.

“Do you bring this child to our god willingly?” the white-clad priest asked in a gentle voice.

“Yes, I do.”

“Is he a member of our people?”

“Yes, he is.

“Then prepare him.”

The young priest lifted the baby up and gently placed him on the altar. He untied the bundle of cloth enclosing the child, then poured warm water from the pitcher into the basin. As he did this, the older priest held his hands over the water and prayed.

The younger man wet one of the cloths, then washed the baby from head to toe. The child laughed as the soft cotton ran over his skin, and his toothless grin caused both priests to smile indulgently. After the little boy was cleansed thoroughly, the young priest picked him up again.

The older priest took some oil from a flask and rubbed a mark on the child’s chest with his thumb. He carefully placed his hand across the crown of the infant’s head, and bowing down, whispered a blessing into the child’s ear. The baby giggled and squirmed, then reached up and toyed with the old man’s beard.

“Present him to the god!” the elder priest ordered as he gently untangled his whiskers from chubby fingers.

The young priest bowed to him, then swaddled the baby in a thick, soft cloth. He turned and faced the idol, which dominated the wall opposite the altar.

It was wrought from iron, with two golden horns curling from the sides of its head. The throne upon which it sat was carved from the same rock as the temple, but had been polished smooth to reflect the glow coming from the huge mound of embers burning beneath it. Its eyes, crafted from flawless red jewels, glowed against the dark stone of its bearded face.

Two outstretched arms beckoned to the priest. The waves of heat rising from below the god seemed to make its fingers move before his eyes.

As he took his first step, the young priest placed his hand on the child’s head and whispered, “Etezh.” The child’s dark eyes immediately closed in slumber.

Behind him, the white-clad priest began to chant in an ancient language.
Bal Haamon!
God of our fathers!
Bal Haamon!
Father of the people!
Bal Haamon!
Protector of the city!
We bring you our offering!
Accept our sacrifice and bless your people!
Crush our enemies, end our struggles!

The younger man sang along with his master. He moved with the rhythm of his prayer as he slowly walked toward the idol. His eyes watered from the heat rising from the throne’s base, and tears ran down his smooth cheeks. The god’s red eyes glimmered in the shadow of its beard as he placed the child in its arms. Stepping back, he bowed low to the idol.

As he straightened, the idol’s arms fell to its lap, and the young priest glimpsed the cloth bundle, pale against the god’s dark throne, drop into the fire as a stone drops into water. A brief flash of light and pungent smoke overcame him for a moment, then his vision cleared to show the smiling face of his god.

Both men bowed until their foreheads touched the stone floor. After a long moment, the older priest rose and spoke to his assistant.

“Bring up the other one,” he ordered.

~~~~~~

The young priest sat on a ledge overlooking a moonlit beach. Below him, small blue flames winked from the surface of the marshlands at the water’s edge. Behind him, he could hear his master packing away their vestments and sacramental vessels. He breathed in the cool air, feeling its soft caress on his red face.

A gentle hand on his shoulder brought him out of his reverie. He looked up into the smiling face of the older priest, now wearing a simple, drab cloak over his clothing.

“Bal Haamon smiles on us,” he said, taking a seat next to his assistant. His tone, as well as the look on his face, was exultant.

“He demands a high price for his happiness,” the younger man said quietly.

“He provides for us, and he will bring our people back to glory.”

“Is this what the god wants?” the young priest asked morosely. “How many more children must we give to him?”

“This is how our forefathers worshipped,” the older man replied, “and we have fallen far since we neglected our god.”

“So, there’ll be more?”

“Oh, yes, there will be more,” his master said with a grave nod. “Three hundred were given to save the old city. We will sacrifice as many as it takes to elevate its replacement.”

He looked out upon the water for a moment, then clapped the younger man on the shoulder.

“Come,” he said, “let’s get back to the city. It’ll be dawn soon.”

A Year of Poetry – Day 276

“Where have I come from, where did you pick me up?” the baby asked
its mother.
She answered, half crying, half laughing, and clasping the
baby to her breast-
“You were hidden in my heart as its desire, my darling.
You were in the dolls of my childhood’s games; and when with
clay I made the image of my god every morning, I made the unmade
you then.
You were enshrined with our household deity, in his worship
I worshipped you.
In all my hopes and my loves, in my life, in the life of my
mother you have lived.
In the lap of the deathless Spirit who rules our home you have
been nursed for ages.
When in girlhood my heart was opening its petals, you hovered
as a fragrance about it.
Your tender softness bloomed in my youthful limbs, like a glow
in the sky before the sunrise.
Heaven’s first darling, twain-born with the morning light, you
have floated down the stream of the world’s life, and at last you
have stranded on my heart.
As I gaze on your face, mystery overwhelms me; you who belong
to all have become mine.
For fear of losing you I hold you tight to my breast. What
magic has snared the world’s treasure in these slender arms of
mine?”
— Rabindranath Tagore, The Beginning

Things That Work Versus Things That Don’t

In the last year or so, we’ve seen a lot of political posturing, blustering, and, let’s be honest, whining from both sides.   Personally, I’m sick of all of it, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to subside any time soon.

In order to try and help my fellow citizens understand what they can do to help the situation, and what they can do that will, at best, have no effect on the situation, I’ll contrast things that work with things that don’t work:

Peaceful, respectful protest versus violent rioting and vandalism

Want me to listen to what you have to say?  Try having a clear, articulate, and sane message that I can understand, either from the sound of your voice or the sign in your hand.  If you’d rather that I turn my back on you, all you have to do is assault those who disagree with you, destroy property, or put up with those who do in your ranks.

Getting off your high horse versus whining about voter ID and how elections are run

It’s 2017.  If you have the ability to read this post, you have the ability to get an ID before the next election.  I will have no sympathy for anyone who complains that they have trouble voting.  Girlie Bear was able to get an absentee ballot and vote on her first try, so there’s no excuse for you not figuring it out before 2018. Get your birth certificate, get your ID, and get your butt to the polls.  If you don’t like the electoral college or how primaries happen in your state, now is the time to get them changed.

 

Criticizing a politician’s policies and actions versus attacking his family

OK, I get it.  Folks made snide and outrageous remarks about your guy’s kids when he was in office.  It was heinous then, and it’s heinous now.  Decent folks, you know, the ones with jobs and a voter registration card, get turned off by crap like that.  Leave the families alone.

Reasonable discussion versus personal insults

I’ll admit it.  I’m a middle-aged white guy, the great oppressor.  The green-eyed devil.  But guess what?  You need my vote and my support, or at least you need me to not oppose you, if you’re going to get anything done.  If you keep accusing me of racism, misogyny, and all of the other bugaboos of the political insult machine, eventually I’m going to believe you.  If you want me to look at things from your perspective, tone it down and look at things from mine.

Being politically engaged versus being ‘woke’

OK, I’m proud that a lot of you have looked around and realized that the country isn’t exactly paradise.  Congratulations.  Now, do something about it.  Telling everyone on Facebook about what you’ve figured out is useless.  Taking polls and signing on-line petitions is useless.  Know what’s not useless?  Signing actual ballot petitions, sending letters and making phone calls to elected officials, showing up to town council meetings, and actually schlepping to the polls every year or so.  Jawing about how bad things are changes nothing.  Flooding the streets with women wearing oddly shaped hats does next to nothing. If everyone who ‘liked’ Sanders had gone to the polls, he would have gotten the nomination.  If everyone who screamed “I’m With Her” on Twitter had voted, you’d all still be drunk from celebrating her inaugural.

Perhaps if those who don’t care for President Trump start on these kinds of things now, 2018 won’t be an absolute blood bath for the Democrats, and in 2020, you’ll have a shot.  If not, well, it’s going to be a long few years, now isn’t it?

 

A Year of Poetry – Day 275

Red clouds tower in the west,
The sun is sinking on the plain.
A sparrow chirps on the wicker gate,
I return from a thousand li away.
My wife and children are shocked to see me,
Then calm themselves and wipe their tears.
I floated through this disordered life,
By chance I have managed to return alive.
The neighbours all lean over the wall,
And they as well are sighing and sobbing.
Late at night we bring out candles,
And face each other as in a dream.

— Du Fu, Qiang Village

A Year of Poetry – Day 274

My soul is dark – Oh! quickly string
The harp I yet can brook to hear;
And let thy gentle fingers fling
Its melting murmurs o’er mine ear.
If in this heart a hope be dear,
That sound shall charm it forth again:
If in these eyes there lurk a tear,
‘Twill flow, and cease to burn my brain.

But bid the strain be wild and deep,
Nor let thy notes of joy be first:
I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep,
Or else this heavy heart will burst;
For it hath been by sorrow nursed,
And ached in sleepless silence, long;
And now ’tis doomed to know the worst,
And break at once – or yield to song.

— George Gordon Byron, My Soul Is Dark

Musings

  • I met Girlie Bear and her young man at a range near their university this morning.  The girl child has shot .22 rifles before, and tried my CZ-82 once or twice, but she wanted to try some other handguns now that she’s a little older.
    • Today, we had a Glock 17, a 1911, and a S&W Model 13, as well as the 10-22.
    • I’m proud to say that my little girl preferred the 1911.
    • The young man liked the Model 13, once he got used to it being a bit off from his experience shooting Colt revolvers.
  • Even after not shooting it for a long time, I can still make a pretty decent group with the 1911, but I was all over the paper with the Glock.  Going to need to remedy that.
  • Girlie Bear shot her .22 like she was still on the school rifle team, which meant about one shot every 30 seconds or so.  That’s a great way to concentrate on fundamentals and such, but when you’re paying for your range time by the hour, it can make your father twitch a bit.
  • I was curious to see what not having the Obama anti-gun cattle prod would do to firearms businesses.   I am happy to report that there were still quite a few people shooting at the range and buying guns this morning.
  • Prices are still way out of whack.
    • A severely beat-up Chinese Type 53  carbine was marked $300.
    • Still-in-the-cosmoline round receiver Mosin Nagants were $260 apiece.
    • Mosin-Nagant’s in plastic stocks were going for about the same price.
    • An antique Smith and Wesson .22 revolver was priced just under $700.  Arguably, it seemed to be in pristine condition and it did make both of the male components of our shooting trio drool on the counter.
  • The young men working the counter at the range looked quite excited when I told them that Colt was going to be making revolvers again.  It’s almost as if there’s a market for such things that’s been neglected for years.
  • I decided to not take the freeway home after we got some lunch, and had a nice drive through the Kentucky countryside.
    • I also drove through half of Lexington and all of Frankfort, which wasn’t quite as pleasant.
  • Gas in the cities was about 30 cents a gallon more than several smaller towns along the way.  Not exactly sure why that was.
  • Got home to find that there was no running water in the neighborhood.  Upon calling the water company, found that somebody had taken it upon himself to fiddle with a valve on our water main.  The water company dutifully sent someone out to turn it back on, but something happened and our water main ruptured.
    • So that happened.
    • As of 10 PM, we have no running water.  I braved the wilds of Walmart to get some extra drinking water, since we will be drinking and washing with what we have on hand.
    • If I ever find the assbite who messed with the water main, I’m going to be feeding him to the chipmunks one toe at a time.
  • I’ve heard back from the beta readers for Lost Children, the next book in the Minivandians series, and have acquired a printed copy to do final checks and edits before releasing it.  Lord willing and the water don’t rise, it should be out by the end of next week.
    • Watch this space for news and another snippet.

A Year of Poetry – Day 273

Pavement slipp’ry, people sneezing,
Lords in ermine, beggars freezing;
Titled gluttons dainties carving,
Genius in a garret starving.
Lofty mansions, warm and spacious;
Courtiers cringing and voracious;
Misers scarce the wretched heeding;
Gallant soldiers fighting, bleeding.
Wives who laugh at passive spouses;
Theatres, and meeting-houses;
Balls, where simp’ring misses languish;
Hospitals, and groans of anguish.
Arts and sciences bewailing;
Commerce drooping, credit failing;
Placemen mocking subjects loyal;
Separations, weddings royal.
Authors who can’t earn a dinner;
Many a subtle rogue a winner;
Fugitives for shelter seeking;
Misers hoarding, tradesmen breaking.
Taste and talents quite deserted;
All the laws of truth perverted;
Arrogance o’er merit soaring;
Merit silently deploring.
Ladies gambling night and morning;
Fools the works of genius scorning;
Ancient dames for girls mistaken,
Youthful damsels quite forsaken.
Some in luxury delighting;
More in talking than in fighting;
Lovers old, and beaux decrepid;
Lordlings empty and insipid.
Poets, painters, and musicians;
Lawyers, doctors, politicians:
Pamphlets, newspapers, and odes,
Seeking fame by diff’rent roads.
Gallant souls with empty purses;
Gen’rals only fit for nurses;
School-boys, smit with martial spirit,
Taking place of vet’ran merit.
Honest men who can’t get places,
Knaves who shew unblushing faces;
Ruin hasten’d, peace retarded;
Candor spurn’d, and art rewarded.
— Mary Robinson, January, 1795

Live Blogging the Inauguration

10:06 – The President and Vice-President Elect have arrived at the White House.  Mrs. Trump brought Mrs. Obama a small gift, which Mrs. Obama looked at is if it were covered in dog slime.

10:11 – Is it just me, or do all of the Secret Service guys shave their heads?  Seriously, it’s like they all want to look like Mister Clean?

10:13 – NBC shows a shot of Marine, Army, and Navy flag officers walking out to the stands, all in their dress uniforms.  They were followed by some guy in a faux hawk.  Yeah.

10:18 – Wow, LucasFilm let them use Maz Kanata for the color commentary.  Oh, never mind, that’s Tom Brokaw.  My bad.

10:21 – Lester Holt just asked if Donald Trump was going to have a honeymoon as president.  Apparently, Mr. Holt needs his dosage upped a tad.

10:24 – If you’re old enough to reminisce about how cold the 1985 inauguration was, maybe you’ve been doing this too long.

10:32 – What a difference two decades make.  I remember when NBC reported on Bob Dole’s alleged involvement in an underground, Satanic, chocolate adulteration ring in 1996.

10:36 – Just saw John McCain.  For those of you who said in 2008 that he was too old and wouldn’t survive a term as President, there you go.

10:48 – Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Trump have come out to get in the limos.  Neither of them look happy to be there.

10:50 – President Clinton and his wife have arrived at the Capitol.  I’ve seen people walking to prison sentences with more mirth in their faces.

10:53 – Mr. Trump and Mrs. Obama are driving to the Capitol.  You all have no idea how much I would give to be a fly on that particular wall.

10:57 – Tom Brokaw just reminisced about the Jackson inaugural party/brawl.  It’s good that even at such an advanced age, he can still recall events from his youth.

10:59 – The last time I heard commentators throw this much shade on someone, it was in Pompey’s Theater on a beautiful March morning.

11:01 – Mr. Trump and President Obama have arrived at the Capitol.  I heard this from the back of some lady’s head.

11:07 – Whatever else happens today, this has been good PR for Apple and Cadillac.

11:18 – Is there a special school for political wives that teaches how to smile when you want to curse at the top of your lungs?

11:23 – Stay classy, Nancy Pelosi.  Nothing like making a political statement during a time that’s supposed to bring our country together.

11:25 – Obama descends the stairs with Biden.  After a little crowd work, he finds his way to his place.

11:27 – NBC reporters are doing political kabbalah based on everyone’s tie color.  Is this what we’ve come to?

11:31 – President Elect Trump comes down the stairs.  I’ve never seen anyone make sure they don’t fall down a flight of stairs so much in my life.

11:33 – And here we go.

11:35 – “Willing, but not enthusiastically” – An excellent description of the mood today.

11:36 – They’re invoking Lincoln.  Nobody ever got us into trouble without invoking Lincoln.

11:39 – Never heard that version of the Beatitudes before.  Interesting selection.

11:47 – Chuck Schumer takes the mic. I wonder if he’s going to reach across the aisle.

11:49 – Huh, Schumer didn’t mention the freedom to bear arms in that little list.  Strange.

11:51 – Interesting.  Schumer celebrates the words of someone fighting an army of Democrats in the Civil War.

11:52 – Clarence Thomas will now give the oath of office to Vice President Pence.  Perhaps this will be the thing that gets him into the African American history museum.

11:57 – It’s OK, Mr. Trump.  Not a lot of people know more than the first chorus to “America the Beautiful.”

11:59 – Chief Justice Roberts will now administer the oath of office to Mr. Trump.  I wonder if he will get it right this time.

12:00 – President Donald J. Trump.  Say it with me.

12:01 – Is anyone watching the skies over North Korea to see if they’ve launched their ICBM yet?

12:02 – President Trump takes the stand to make his speech.  Starts off by thanking everyone.

12:03 – Trump acknowledges and thanks President Obama.  Nice

12:04 – Then he starts tearing down the Washington power structure.

12:05 – “This moment is your moment.  It belongs to you’

12:06 – “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer”

12:09 – “We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own”

12:10 – “From this day forward, it’s only going to be ‘America First'”

12:11 – “We will get our people off of welfare and back to work”

12:19 – And the reporters remark about how insulting the President’s speech was.

12:21 – “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.”  Now, that’s an interesting choice of words.

12:26 – Oh, good.  They found someone who could hit the note at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.

12:28 – And with that, the inauguration is over.  Godspeed to President Obama, and good luck to President Trump.

12:32 – Just when I thought I was done, NBC News Godwins the inauguration.  Apparently, saying “America First” is anti-semitic.  So, there’s that.

12:35 – President Trump is walking with President Obama.  I wonder how much Obama wants to punch Trump over that speech.

12:36 – President Obama is about to leave.  I hope that Trump supporters have more class as he goes than Obama supporters had watching President Bush leave in 2009.

12:37 – How interesting.  Before the ceremony, the reporters were remarking about how the crowd was graciously clapping and cheering for Mrs. Clinton when she came down the stairs and took her seat.  Now, they’re talking about how they boo’ed and jeered her.

12:38 – “Hyperbolic” “Dystopian” – Words a historian is using to describe President Trump’s speech.  Was Nick Cole his speech writer?

12:40 – Did Mr. Obama look back as he got on the helicopter?  I don’t think he did. (EDITED:  He did.  I just missed it.)

12:45 – Mr. and Mrs. Obama have flown away from the Capitol.  Of course, they’re only going to live a few miles away, so perhaps they’ll take this as an opportunity to figure out how they’re going to deal with Washington traffic.

12:47 – Now, NBC is comparing Trump to Huey Long.  Anyone got any idea until he’s compared to Pinochet?

12:50 – And I’m done.  It’s all done except the jawing, so I’m going to go and do something constructive.

Quote of the Day

Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans.

George Carlin

A Year of Poetry – Day 272

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Eagle

%d bloggers like this: