Sunday, July 1, 2012

Editor's Corner

July 2012

“We cause as much pain by taking offense, as by giving it.” -Eleanor Roosevelt.

On the Fourth, we Celebrate our nation's Independence Day, an occasion that might not have still been possible were it not for another day that occurred in 1945. June Hogue's article reminds us of the final signing of the Japanese Surrender to end WWII along with some personal memories and a link to a historic video that allows us to hear the actual voice of General MacArthur on that day.

Leo C. Helmer ("Cookin' With Leo") gives us a recipe to help us celebrate the date without having to get outside in the scorching heat to serve up a great meal. Peg Jones ("Angel Whispers") passes on the message to care for ourselves during the summer, while John I. Blair indulges in some nostalgic WWII memories in "Always Looking - Little Things Lost."

We have Mattie Lennon with "Irish Eyes," Thomas F. O'Neill with "Introspective," and "Eric Shackle's Column" includes an interview with himself for his 1000th story and shows a four generation pic: him, etc. Eric's article is part comical, part curious about the "OGOPOGO: Canada's Loch Ness Monster."

Eleven poems this month: two by John I. Blair, "Papers" and "Young Sparrows at The Water Basins;" Bruce Clifford's four are "Can I Trust My Heart With You," "Again Tonight," "Walking in Reverse," and "Unkind." Bud Lemire adds "Intersections," "It's Where We Go," "Through The Cemetery," "Good Enough for Me," and "Two Artists." Bud has another hobby, photography, and the pic at the bottom of this page is one a friend, ©2012Pat Kincaide, took of him recently while he was filming butterflies among the lilacs near his home.

Mark Crocker has added more to his second book of Rabbo Tales, "Rabbo II -Chapter 6, Help." Previous chapters of this tale can be accessed by clicking the author's name.
See you in August.

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.
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OGOPOGO: Canada's Loch Ness Monster

Five members of the Okanagan Masters Swim Club risked an encounter with Canada's fearsome inland sea monster, Ogopogo a few days ago.
They braved 13 degree temperatures and white-capped waves in a qualifying swim for crossing the English Channel as a relay team next summer.
Sightings of Ogopogo date as far back as the early 1800s. In 1860. John McDougall lost his team of horses when they were pulled under as he was swimming them across the lake in a canoe....never to be seen again.
But fear not. He (or possibly she) is said to be the world's friendliest inland sea monster, living for centuries in an underwater cave in a 30-mile-long lake which is 1,000 feet deep in places.
Hundreds of locals and visitors claim to have seen Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, some 250 miles east of Vancouver.
The first I knew of him (or her) was 12 years ago, when my friend Mick Read, who lives in Peachland, British Columbia, in the mountains above Okanagan Lake, told me in an email:
"A couple of years ago me and dog were sniffing around the Lake bank and I noticed something coming towards the bank. A bunch of small humps. I observed for a while and wrote them off as a few beavers following in line.
"Tell anyone they would think I am up the bloody wall. So I kept mum for a time. A friend the ex-Fire Chief now runs the museum, seeing I often pull his leg reckoned it was Ogo. Of course he was born here."
Fact or fantasy? Your guess is as good as mine.
John McDougall was a firm believer in the existence of this monster, for he had the experience of losing his team of horses when he was swimming it across the lake "to assist Mr. Allison with the haying."
"These were the horses he used in hunting, and when crossing the lake he always carried along a chicken or tiny pig, which he dropped in the water as he neared the middle.
"Unfortunately he had forgotten his 'peace-offering' on this occasion. The horses were being towed on a long rope. Suddenly they were drawn down by some great force from below.
"The canoe would have gone too, had not Johnny quickly cut the rope with his sheath knife, and hurriedly rowed away from the scene. Not a vestige of his team was ever seen again."'
Twelve years ago, the Rotary Club of Penticton, Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and Okanagan Unviersity College offered to pay two million Canadian dollars to anyone finding alive and definitively verifying Ogopogo's existence between August 1, 2000 and September 1, 2001.
There were a few submissions, but the judges were not satisfied that they provided adequate proof, and no award was made.
One website says that the local North American indigenous people knew Ogopogo as N'Ha-a-itk, meaning "Lake Demon."
According to legend, he was formerly a man possessed by a demon, who had slain a neighbour known as Old Kan-He-K (in whose honour Lake Okanagan was named). The gods turned him into a giant sea serpent, to remain at the crime scene for ever.
Ogopogo has been spotted several times in recent years, the latest being on May 27, 2012, according to these reports posted by
"June 4 2004. Debbie reported seeing Ogopogo to CKOV radio. She was watching the lake with her three children at 7:30 PM on the north west end of the lake. First the ducks and loons took off.
"Then she heard a thump thump thump thump in rapid succession making the water spray up, spitting and splashing, much louder than a beaver slap.
"She saw three smooth shiny humps mostly submerged. The creature swam about 3 feet and submerged leaving the water perfectly calm. She was so scared she ran into the house and thought 'Who should I call? No one will believe me.'
"Just two weeks previous also at 7:30 PM she saw a neck and dinosaur head moving through the water past about three houses. The skin was hairless and the colour was a deep grey black like she had never seen before.
"She estimated the body to be 15 feet long swimming like a snake, very mellow and quiet. The head had a bump on the top - dolphins have a bump they use for sonar. It was the weirdest color and the head the weirdest shape."
"August 9, 2004. John Casorso reported seeing and video taping Ogopogo.. He and his family were in a house boat by Trader's Cove at the old ferry docks early in the morning when he heard a thump thump thumping (same reported thumping as by Debbie) and thrashing beneath the house boat and the house boat tilted 20° and rocked. The lake was perfectly calm and there were no motor boats.
"He saw the object 30 feet away, got his video recorder and video taped a large dark object like a black wave, submerging and surfacing... a hundred yards away - he videotaped it for 15 minutes. At times there appeared to be two parallel objects.
"When he got home he played it back and the object resolved clearly depicting a large object with humps, stretching out at times like a reptile, perhaps the best video yet of Ogopogo."
Thousands of miles to the east, in Lake Simcoe, an hour's drive north from Toronto, Ontario, another strange marine monster is said to dwell.
An article on the website of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club says:

"[It] has been given the nickname Igopogo - an obvious parody of the name bestowed upon the aquatic marvel of Okanagan Lake, British Columbia. "As Igopogo has been frequently sighted in Kempenfelt Bay on the northwestern side of this roughly circular lake, it is also known as Kempenfelt Kelly.
"Those who have had the good fortune of obtaining a sighting of the reticent and elusive beast have described it as having a stove-pipe neck with a head resembling that of a dog and with a face to match.
"The largest specimen sighted was a mere 12 feet long - a small enough creature when compared with the lurking hulks said to dwell at Loch Ness and Okanagan Lake."
The Ogo-Pogo, the Funny Foxtrot (1924)
This English music-hall song from 1924, The Ogo-Pogo: The Funny Fox-Trot, is thought to have inspired the name of Canada's Ogopogo. It was played by the Savoy Havana Band; composed by Mark Strong, words by Cumberland Clark: One fine day in Hindustan, I met a funny little man. With googly eyes and lantern jaws, a new silk hat and some old plus-fours. When I said to that quaint old chap "Why do you carry that big steel trap, that butterfly net and that rusty gun?" He replied "Listen here my son:
I'm looking for the ogo-pogo
That funny little ogo-pogo.
His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale,
And I want to put a little salt on his tail.
I want to find the ogo-pogo
While he's playing on his old banjo.
For the Lord Mayor of London,
The Lord Mayor of London,
Wants to put him in the Lord Mayor's show.
Upon his banjo night and day,
The ogo-pogo likes to play.
He charms the snakes and chimpanzees,
The big baboons and the bumblebees.
Lions and tigers begin to roar
"Play that melody just once more.
Do I hear the sound of an old banjo?
Pardon me I shall have to go, for
I'm looking for the ogo-pogo,
That funny little ogo-pogo.
His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale,
And I want to put a little salt on his tail,
For the Lord Mayor of London
Wants to put him in the Lord Mayor's show.
Ogopogo video:
Loch Ness Monster Swim
Posted by Eric Shackle at 21:00, Friday, 8 June 2012, from Sidney, Australia.

Click on Eric Shackle  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online
Author's Blog.

Irish Eyes

Come Home to Kerry

I’ll bet that if you don’t have a Kerry grandparent you know someone who has. I’ve always felt that Kerry people have a more profound sense of place than anyone else. I’m sure the Lisselton writer Maurice Walsh was thinking of Kerry specifically when he wrote,
“A place acquires an entity of its own, an entity that is the essence of all the life and thoughts and griefs and joys that have gone before.”
The late John B. Keane once wrote that if you spin a Kerryman around, three times, in any part of the world, when he stops rotating a certain one of his appendages will be pointing to Mount Brandon.
North Kerry Reaching Out (NKRO) is a coming together on a voluntary basis of the villages of North Kerry with a view to promoting and preserving our culture, heritage and history. It covers the parishes of:
• Listowel • Ballyduff • Lisselton / Ballydonoghue • Ballybunion • Asdee • Ballylongford • Tarbert • Duagh • Lyreacrompane • Lixnaw • Moyvane/ Newtownsandes • Knockanure • Finuge and Kilflynn.
Ballybunion Castle
I’ll bet you won’t find one of the above place names that haven’t produced a poet, playwright, songwriter, novelist or philosopher. (Words are the tools of Kerry People and North Kerry is the home of the lateral thinker. Ireland’s greatest living man-of-letters, Kerryman, Con Houlihan, who says of North Kerry children ‘You would have a better chance of winning a duel with a Moore Street trader’ tells the story of how, when he was teaching in Renagown, he said to a young misbehaving child, I’ll kill you.” The reply? “If you kill me, sir, you’ll have to bury me.”) Wherever a Kerry person goes in the world he or she won’t usually lose the run of themselves; perhaps Bryan McMahon’s advice, all those years ago, to “Always keep one foot in the cow-dung” was unnecessary after all.
As one committee member puts it, “We are inviting people . . . to come and enjoy a week among their own people . . . . Join us in a magical journey through the towns and parishes that your ancestors left in centuries & decades past.”
However, if you, or your ancestors, are not from any of the places mentioned, don’t worry. The good people of North Kerry will look after you. And if you are famous and have North Kerry forebears you are in good company. The ancestors of world renowned figures as diverse as Thomas Moore and Kylie Minogue were reared on the banks of the Feale.
When North Kerry Reaching Out Heritage Project (NKRO) invites the Irish Diaspora worldwide for its ‘Week of Welcomes’ it means it. Kerry people can give a welcome like nobody else.
In its few short months of existence NKRO has developed a network of followers throughout the world, whom it has helped trace their roots in North Kerry.
Lewis Mumford said, “Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.”
Whether or not you revolted against your father NKRO, through its Genealogy Programme, will ensure that you get the opportunity to make friends with your grandfather and his grandfather and his . . .
The next step on its journey of discovery is the hosting of its first welcome home festival in the first week in August. Activities planned for the week include ‘A Day in the Bog’, workshops in genealogy and local history, trips to places of beauty and historic importance as well as opportunities to learn a few Irish dance steps and how to wield a camán.
If you come to a place that produced George Fitmaurice, Brendan Kennelly, John B. Keane, Bryan McMahon, Dan Keane, Professor Alfred O Rahilly and Sean McCarthy you won’t be disappointed. Our Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, has found a connection between Listowel and, no less a scribe than, William Shakespeare. This is interesting because Professor Paul Myers of the Theatre Department of KU, Kansas, points out that some words in “Midsummer Night’s Dream” don’t rhyme if delivered in an English accent which prompts the question if Helena and Lysander were played by two Duagh people would the rhythm be more pleasing to the ear?
And a small corner of this green and misty island which can hold such international events as the Dan Paddy Andy Festival, The Brendan Kennelly Festival, the Sean McCarty Weekend and Listowel Writers Week, now in its 41st year, must be doing something right.
“Plans are currently being finalised for our week-long festival in August and we are looking forward to welcoming our many guests from throughout the world to experience life in North Kerry”, said Ger Greaney, Chairman of the Group. “We are delighted to say that we have already received several bookings from as far away as the USA and Australia. Irish people too are welcome to join us. We would love our group to be made up of North Kerry people from near and far.”
The package will include:
  •  Transport from airport
  •   Transport to and from events
  •   Entry to all events (such as turf cutting lessons, bog walking, traditional Irish music sessions and more)
  •   Transportation to visit your ancestral home in North Kerry.
  •   Concessionary prices from certain businesses within our locality
    The detailed Programme of Events is available from the Group’s website North Kerry Reaching Out which also includes a direct booking facility for the Festival.
    Cara Trant, Secretary,
    North Kerry Reaching Out,
    C/o Seanchaí – Kerry Literary & Cultural Centre,
    Tel. +353 (0)68 22212

    Doneraile Literary and Arts Festival.
    (Closing date for Short-story and poetry competition entries extended to July 15th.)

    Click on Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.Below: St John's Arts Centre

Cookin' With Leo

No Grill Needed for the 4th of July

When ah heah someone say they looooove ribs but they don’t have a grill, it makes me wonder how they think our grandparents cooked when all they had was a wood stove with them little flat round lids to set their pans on. Those lids had their own lil’ lifter so if the fire was needed hotter under one lid fer a bit, ya could rear ‘em up, poke in some extra kindling right under it, and get it hotter real quick. Anyway, we get fancier butcherin’ these days, and you can just buy the part ya want fer a meal, so instead of having to hang the rest of the hog in the smokehouse, jest buy some loin back ribs an’ cook ‘em right on top yer fancy range, and you’ll have

Stove-Top Baby-Back Ribs

Here’s whatcha gotta get to make ‘em:
  • 2 lbs pork loin back ribs or baby back ribs
  • 1 C. ketchup
  • 1/3 C. light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ C. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1/3 C. whiskey or apple juice
  • 2 Tbsps. Vegetable oil
Here’s whatcha gotta do next:
Divide ribs into serving size pieces and put in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil on medium high heat; reduce to medium heat, cover, simmer ‘til grease cooks out of ribs, about 25 to 30 minutes. Put ribs on a plate. While the ribs are cookin’ mix the next 6 ingredients in a medium size pan and cook over medium heat. Stir frequently ‘til brown sugar dissolves in about 5 minutes. Cool some then stir in the whiskey or apple juice. Heat the 2 Tbsps oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat and add the ribs, meaty side down. Cook ‘til browned about 5 minutes then turn over. Pour the pan of sauce you mixed the whiskey into on top the ribs, covering all of them with sauce. Put on the lid and cook about 15 minutes more, then uncover and cook ‘til sauce is thick on the ribs about another 15 minutes.
Serve ‘em up with your favorite type salad, add some corn on the cob, and pass out plenty of napkins.

Ya’ll Enjoy the Fourth of July, ya heah?

Click on Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Always Looking -

Little Things Lost

I turned 71 in June. It’s just a number, but I think it licenses me to wallow in nostalgia. Actually I’ve been susceptible to that for years; it just gets worse as I get older.

I’m old enough to have forgotten a lot of things, but also old enough to remember a lot of things that no longer exist, and that, in fact, seem either quaint or even borderline incredible, today. But cumulatively, I think, they can be used to reconstruct a way of life that has mostly vanished, at least some of which should be missed.

There was a time when each town or city in the United States boasted a downtown area unique to that place, identifiable at a glance to any native. To describe the downtown I knew best – Wichita Kansas in the 40s and 50s – in those days, in a relatively small city of about 150,000 people, we had one mega-department store (The George Innes Company) taking up half a city block and several stories tall, several smaller department stores (Bucks, Hinkels, Walkers, Penney’s, Sears – the last two, familiar ones, relatively minor players in the mix), dozens of specialty clothiers, haberdashers, milliners, furriers, jewelers, half a dozen movie theaters including two cinema palaces – the Orpheum and the Miller; three premier hotels (the Lassen, the Allis, the Broadview) plus a dozen smaller ones; a public library, a convention center, city hall, county courthouse, central post office, two railroad stations, and a host of other places of business, plus a major wholesaling and manufacturing district, all in less than a square mile of closely built land centered on 120-foot-wide Douglas Avenue. And it was served by 24-hour bus lines that networked it to every corner of the city.
By the 1970s a pair of cookie cutter suburban malls identical to a thousand others all over the country, full of chain store outlets, had completed the work of sucking all the major retail business out of the town center. Now the downtown remaining is a shell of its former self, most of the stores gone along with the theaters and restaurants, the habitat mostly of office workers and a few places where they can catch a fast lunch. This story has been repeated a thousand times around the country, to the ultimate loss of our sense of place.

Douglas Avenue, Wichita, in the 1950's

The Neighborhood Drugstore
When I was a kid in south Wichita, the hub of my immediate neighborhood was McCauley’s Drugstore on the corner of my block. There was no place just like it anywhere else in the world, although it was a typical independent neighborhood pharmacy. Owned by old Mrs. McCauley, the widow of the pharmacist who had established it in the 1920s, the store had plate glass windows facing Harry Street (the neighborhood thoroughfare), a blank brick wall on the side next to Washington Street (on which I lived, six houses down the block) that in later years always boasted a big sign advertising Muehlbach Beer (the Kansas City brew) and inside the cool, high-ceilinged interior a counter with a soda fountain and several tall wire-legged stools for customers. There I could order a nickel ice cream cone (hand-dipped), buy a 10-cent comic book, or purchase a variety of other useful goods (hence the alternate name “sundries store” for this type of enterprise). Mrs. McCauley was a neighbor of ours; my best friend was her grandson Roger; her daughter clerked in the store and her son was away at college learning to be a pharmacist just like his dad had been.
Today I’m sure the entire neighborhood, just like millions of other Americans, treks to an area Walgreens or CVS – each one pretty much like all the others around the country. A vastly better, bigger stock of goods to choose from, no doubt; and the service probably just as good. But the heart has gone. The former McCauley’s store site is now an empty asphalt slab providing parking for a few cars next to a pawn shop.

old drugstore interior

Saturday Matinee Movie Theaters
Every Saturday afternoon for many years all the kids in our part of Wichita who could cadge fifty cents from their parents were drawn like flies by maple syrup to the Southern Theater at the corner of Harry Street and Topeka. For several decades the Southern was the matinee theater for all south end Wichita. For our fifty cents we could buy a ticket plus a bag of popcorn; and the ticket would get us a double feature of western movies (Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Rex Allen, and a cavalcade of other stars) plus a cartoon, a newsreel, and the latest episode of a cliffhanging serial such as Rocket Man.
All that came rapidly to a halt with the advent of TV, which provided a free alternative without our having to trek the half mile or more from home to the Southern and face the sticky floors and mob of noisy kids. A brief fling at being reborn as an “art theater” didn’t work out for the Southern. The building was heavily remodeled in recent years into a VFW hall and is unrecognizable except for the bit of steps and concrete walk that used to face the lobby entrance.

Southern Theater at night

Safe Neighborhoods
Up until some point about 30 years ago most urban neighborhoods outside the biggest of cities were considered “safe” places for kids to grow up. Yards were open; streets were lined for miles by sturdy concrete (or brick) sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. Kids who weren’t in school or at church were expected to run around and play with each other until suppertime or bedtime, even after dark, with nothing to worry about more than “you’ll put your eye out” stuff. Parents for the most part didn’t worry unless there was major screaming or visible damage. There were no TV sets or computer screens or electronic games to mesmerize by the hour. We got exercise the old-fashioned way – by getting outside and using our legs for transportation, our arms for sports.
Now, sadly, in most towns children are guarded like sheep from wolves, kept inside or at the least in a tightly fenced yard, watched closely at shopping malls, schooled in buildings with security systems. Besides the easy, natural exercise, something else very fundamental has gone missing from our children’s lives – the sense that they live in a safe world. We likely can never retrieve that.

“Indian camp” in a neighbor’s backyard, 1940s

Family Meals
When I was a kid in the 1940s and 1950s, we ate breakfast at 7:00, lunch at noon, supper at 6:00 p.m. Together, sitting around our little kitchen table. You could set a clock by our mealtimes. And we talked, even if just about the food and whether my brother had gotten a bigger serving than I did. (Never happened – Mom used a micrometer to measure portions.) And this was the normal thing for families all over the country, unless something untoward, like night shift work, prevented it. A saying used to go “A family that eats together stays together.” People truly believed that. The beginning of the end of family mealtimes probably was the advent, not of television, but of “TV dinners” – the now ubiquitous pre-packaged frozen meals that relieved homemakers of so much tedious work, but also “freed” families from the necessity of sitting together at a table so their lovingly prepared meals could be served efficiently from the adjacent stove and countertop.
And the invention of microwave ovens pretty much drove the last nail in the coffin, as they made meal preparation accessible to even little kids, so long as they could pop open the door, shove in the frozen food, and push a couple of buttons. How many of us know families where the parents and the children scarcely see each other face-to-face all day long? How many of us are families like that?

Blair family with friends around a dinner table

Sunday Drives
Gasoline used to be cheap. No, really. Just a few cents a gallon. That lasted pretty much until the 1970s. People took casual drives for recreation, cars were big, and for many American families the Sunday drive, including the entire family, was an institution. It was for us. Our custom was to eat just two (big) meals on Sunday – a substantial breakfast, and a mid-afternoon Sunday dinner that often featured fried chicken. After dinner, to relax and get a much-needed change of scene after a week of office or store or factory (for Dad), of kitchen and laundry and mending and housecleaning (for Mom), of school and homework and backyard (for us kids), we would all pile into our Ford (we were Ford people – never Chevrolets; and Chrysler products were not in the picture) for a leisurely drive out into the country. We had a choice in 1940s Wichita, Kansas, of driving south into the orchard and truck garden district of the sandy Arkansas River valley, west across flat wheatfields dotted by tiny German Catholic communities with steepled churches, north into Mennonite country around Newton, or east into the rolling pastures of the nearby Kansas Flint Hills – our favorite direction. Sometimes we’d take the Sunday papers with us and we kids would read the funnies while Dad stopped by the roadside to pick wild fruit for Mom to use in making jam or jelly. It was family time, fun time, genuine re-creational time that restored our souls in some essential way.
It’s been years since I’ve heard of families doing this. Too many “must-see” TV shows, computer games, Facebook, Twitter, marathon cell phoning, etc. And gasoline for which a bank loan seems appropriate.
 Blair brothers with their Dad, 
ready for a Sunday drive in their 1941 Ford

Homemade Toys
For generations now, toys have come in fancy boxes, from stores or delivered by UPS or Fedex to the door. Most are made in Asia, of plastic. It wasn’t always that way. During World War II plastic essentially didn’t exist yet, and metal was strictly rationed. Old sets of lead soldiers, metal toy cars, cap pistols, and tricycles vanished rapidly into the war machine, melted down for the all-out effort to defeat the Axis. Store-bought toys were painted wood, paper mache, cloth or cardboard. My first toy farm set was all punch-out poster board figures, very fragile. But we never lacked for toys, because we made our own, using a heavy dose of imagination and ingenuity. Instead of lead soldiers I used wooden domino sets and bags of glass marbles, just “imagineering” them into uniformed men. I was fortunate enough to have a Dad with woodworking tools and supplies of wood from which, with his help at first, my brother and I armed ourselves to the teeth with cut-out pistols, rifles, even a tommy gun! The acme of our arsenal was a tripod-mounted heavy machine gun.

John and Charlie Blair, ready for battle

We supplied the entire block for simulated warfare using nothing but scrap wood, a band saw, and a few nails for triggers. Of course the sound effects were oral, each kid vying with the others for the best explosive noises, usually with lots of spit involved. After war rationing ended in 1945, store-bought cap pistols gradually entered the mix; but the homemade wooden guns still had their firepower honored, especially when the wielder had a particularly convincing mouth noise to accompany his weapon.

There are many other memories I could add of little things now lost; but the message is the same for all of them. Whatever the flaws of those days – and they were legion, ranging from race prejudice to (relatively) primitive health care to such monsters in the room as WWII and genocide – families had a tighter bond, children were called on to use their imagination and entertain themselves, home life at least felt more secure for most people, and communities were held together by feelings of unique locality and a powerful sense of place. We’ve traded much of that for convenience, speed, technology, variety, instant gratification. And not all of that is bad, by any means. But we should recognize the losses, in the hope that we can limit future losses a bit and perhaps not quite lose everything we valued in those days.
©2012 John I. Blair

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


    Few Roman Catholics in 1962 would have predicted the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church of today. Fifty years ago, when Pope John XXIII headed the Roman Catholic Church and ruled Vatican City there was great optimism about the future of the church.
    Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli on the 25th of November in 1881 and died on the 3rd of June in 1963. He was elected Pope on the 28th of October in 1958 and called the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) but did not live to see it to completion due to his death in 1963. He died only four-and-a-half years after his election.
    It was fifty years ago in 1962 that Pope John XXIII made the statement “let us open up the windows and let some fresh air in the Church.” He was inviting change which led to the establishing of the second Vatican council.
    The second Vatican council led to great optimism among Catholics but in the end it was a huge disappointment. Catholics throughout the world were expecting to see huge changes in the church to address the social changes of the 1960’s. Most Catholics in the late 1960’s felt the second Vatican council did not go far enough and that the Church was out of touch with the times. It also marked the beginning of the decline within the church due to the church hierarchy’s inability to relate to the spiritual needs of its congregations.
    Pope John XXIII would certainly be disappointed if he was able to witness the problems plaguing today’s Church. There is also a growing number of Catholics who no longer view the church as being relevant in their lives.
    The US Catholic population is approximately 77.7 million making it the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines.
    Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York believes the majority of Catholics in America are Catholics in name only not practicing Catholics.
    Most theologians would agree that one of the main issues facing today’s Roman Catholic Church is its inability to adapt with the changing times. It’s no surprise that the church has difficulties. They are mostly due to a drop in vocations, lower church attendance and a lack of donations. This has resulted in church closings not just in the United States, but globally.
    The pedophile priest issues, the cover-ups, and the whispers of a homosexual subculture among today’s catholic priests and seminarians are not helping the church’s credibility either. The drop in vocations has also resulted in the lowering of church standards among seminaries.
    Most Catholics today believe the church’s teachings are somewhat archaic. They disagree with the patriarchal system and feel women should have authoritative roles. The majority of Catholics also disagree with the Vatican’s position on contraception.
    According to church statistics, fifty years ago, in 1962, there were approximately 58,000 priests in the U.S. This was mostly due to the influx of immigrants from the previous generation. Since then, the numbers have drastically declined.
    In 10 years there will be less than 15,000 priests under the age of 70.
    The lack of viable vocations for the priesthood has also resulted in many seminaries closing.
    There were about 180,000 nuns in 1962. They were the backbone of Catholic education, but within the next 20 years, they will be virtually non-existent.
    Seventy-five percent of Catholics went to Mass on a regular basis in 1962. Today, it’s less than 26 percent.
    This is mostly due to changing demographics. The younger generations relocate for better employment opportunities. The average person will relocate five times in their lifetime and their parents’ traditional church is no longer their core belief system.
    Many theologians describe today’s Catholics as cafeteria Catholics because they pick and choose their beliefs. In 1962, a greater number followed church mandates dogmatically.
    Most Catholics believe the church’s teachings are somewhat archaic. They disagree with the patriarchal system and feel women should have authoritative roles. The majority of Catholics also disagree with the Vatican’s position on contraception.
    The church’s beacon of light must shine on the spirit of the times, such as allowing women to become priests and priests to marry.
    Most of today’s Catholics as Cardinal Dolan stated are no longer relying on the religious institution to tell them what they can and cannot believe.
    Religious institutions have a tendency to give simplistic, black and white answers. The reality of life, however, can be very complex and very gray.
    The mystics of old discovered that when the mind draws a blank to the world’s riddles, it turns to the soul for answers, for the soul knows what the mind seeks.
    As for the church, its spiritual knowledge is only as relevant as its application. Spirituality and religion are useless until properly applied toward the needs of the time.
    I may not be a practicing catholic or a religious person but I am spiritual. Centuries ago, the inward journey was taken by a few privileged souls, but in today’s culture, it has become a healthy trend among the young.
    Pope Benedict XVI the current Pope once made the statement that he wants a smaller and stronger church. He also went on to say that the universal church is not ready for a Vatican three.
    Perhaps the next Pope whenever that may come about may see the necessity to reopen the church windows in order to invite the spirit of the times in because in order for the church to survive. It will have to bring about a positive, spiritual change, out of necessity rather than convenience by reaching the hearts of its congregations.
    Pope John XIII’s legacy was inviting change but unfortunately the change did not go far enough. There is a serious disconnect between the spirituality that the average catholic is seeking and the church’s institutional dogma.
    The Roman Catholic Church of today also seems to be slow or reluctant to bring about the change that is necessary to reach the spiritual needs of those Catholics who are Catholic in name only and leaving the churches pews empty. Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill

    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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Japanese Surrender 1945

By June Hogue 

Because this event happened during my own growing up years it was a very important event to me…exciting! I remember those war years so well….they are so deeply embedded in my memory…..the many sad good-byes…the joyous news when a loved one that was missing in action was reported to be still alive…the cruelty inflicted on our soldiers….the rationing and lack of items we had had plentifully before the war…the unspoken fears that each harbored in his heart…yes, how well I remember. We all suffered and when Japan agreed to an armistice it was such a joyous day for all of America.

Me in my WAC uniform
If you are not interested in history, this may have no appeal to you, but I must claim it as a milestone of American history that happened when I was in the 5th grade and General MacArthur and General “Ike” were my heroes! I saluted them, prayed for them, and celebrated each victory they won. I am glad to have this video in my archives of American history.
1944: My younger brother Jimmy in his army uniform and me in my nurses’ coat and hat…we played war by the hour! I am sure that I fed hundreds of candy “pills” to the “wounded soldiers” who played war games with us.
Jimmy in his Army Uniform;
June with Nurse'sCoat and Hat
We lived across the street from the small county hospital that got the overflow of wounded soldiers from the Pyote Air Base hospital. I wore my “nurses’ outfit” when I helped out at the hospital and it cheered up the wounded guys who were so hungry for any attention they got. I read to them, fanned them when their room was hot and their bandages were uncomfortable (no air conditioning in those days), wrote letters for them, just talked to them when they were so lonesome for human companionship…sometimes fed them when they could not move their arms and hands to feed themselves…I did many tasks at the hospital. It seemed like the war would never end and when the day came that an armistice was signed we celebrated that “V-J” Day for years afterward. I will never forget this historic event for it was a part of my own history!
June Harper Hogue


1945 News Reel Hi, Some of you are history buffs, others lived at the time, but you may find it very interesting.
Lest we forget!

A great historical clip worth keeping. Japanese surrender, pt. 2, 1945 This film is believed to have never been seen before, only shots of the surrender were known.
If you are a history buff, you will enjoy this. General MacArthur's voice is a rarity in this old film clip.
Japanese Surrender- Amazing Footage Sept 2, 1945....
Interesting the other signers to the document, from New Zealand/Australia to Europe/Russia.
This is an actual film made of the surrender ceremony of the Japanese to MacArthur in Tokyo Bay in September 1945.
We always saw the "stills" but never the film itself.


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Angel Whispers

    The angels always say to me, Don't worry, be happy. I am like ok, that is easy enough to say. But hard to carry out and difficult, many times.
    So I asked my angels how to do this.
    Ask in your heart, what is the most important thing to do for yourself? We ask you this question because we feel that when you know the answer to this question you will know the next step on your journey. When you know the answer you will be, free of others opinions and views of us. We ask you to stay in your truth and to do for yourself, what you do for others. Let your vision be the goal point of your journey and know that all is well.
    What is your answer to this question? Take some time to answer this... See what you come up for an answer to this question
    Summertime is here and the angels remind us that we need to take time for ourselves. Along with taking care of our families and summer visitors to take time for yourself too. Go for a walk. pedicure, manicure, have lunch with a friend, go shopping or to a museum with a friend ... Don't let yourself get too exhausted, that you feel overworked. The angels suggest to delegate, delegate at home and at work too. They say to be sure to eat food that is healthy and to take care of yourself when you are outside, on the sunny warm days. They say to drink plenty of water to keep from being dehydrated on the very hot day. They also say to enjoy the summertime and to make days of summer enjoyable and full of memories.
Peg Jones ALC
Angelic Life
office: The Healing Center, 234 Cabot Street, Beveryly, MA 01915
website :
Blog :

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Your words are unkind
Your heart is not pure
for this reason
I don't want you anymore

You've broken my heart
You've cause me much pain
For this reason
I must walk away

Your breaking me down
You've singled me out
For this reason
I'm much better without
Without you in my life

Your motives are unkind
You leave me depressed
For this reason
I've been so upset

Have you looked into my eyes
They are now empty because of you
Your words are unkind
Now I know what I must do

Your thoughts are unkind
I know this for sure
For this reason
I have walked out the door

You've twisted my soul
It's torn me apart
How could you be so unkind
Wish I had known from the start

©6/9/12 Bruce Clifford

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Eric Shackle's Column

Eric Shackle Interviews Himself For His 1000th Story

G'day Eric. You're looking bright and bushy-tailed. Not bad for a nonagenarian, I must say. I've just googled your name, and found dozens of links to stories you have written. How did it all begin?
    About 12 years ago one of my four sons, Ian, emailed a very clever anagram to me. It was:
    Shakespeare: To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
    Anagram: In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten.
    I was so impressed that I decided to trace it back to find it I soon established that it had been composed by an American post-graduate student, Cory Calhoun. And it was posted on an anagram website run by Anu Garg.
    I exchanged several emails about anagrams with Anu Garg, one of which I still find amazing: I discovered that ANAGRAM GENIUS= NAME IS ANU GARG
    Anu then invited me to be his copy editor. I gladly accepted. Twelve years later, I still enjoy that job.
    Anu is now an American citizen living in Seattle.
You claim you've written a thousand stories. Have you kept count of them?
    No, it's only a guesstimate, and it doesn't include hundreds of items I wrote for newspapers when I worked as a staff journalist.
    Which newspapers have you worked for?
    In New Zealand: The Press (Christchurch)
    In Australia: The Queenslander*,
    Brisbane Courier-Mail and Sunday Mail;
    Sydney: Daily Telegraph, Truth*,Daily Mirror*, Weekend*

    *No longer published
Have you had any stories published as a freelance?
    Yes, quite a lot. One in The New York Times and one in The Observer (London)... and several in The Sydney Morning Herald.
How can we find your stories?
    Try these three collections:
    Eric Shackle's e-book (South Africa):
    Ohmy News (South Korea):
    Open Writing (England):
Do you receive much feedback from your readers?
    No, very little. That's probably because I steer clear of politics and religion, and other controversial subjects. I usually write about trivia.
    A few months after I began putting stories on the internet, I received these messages
    It's an ever-expanding collection of stories that make us think, laugh, and learn. Wordsmith Anu Garg, mastermind of A.Word.A.Day Seattle, Washington, USA.
    "Life begins at 80 ... on the Internet," proclaims Eric. And ever since his hi-tech epiphany, he has been celebrating his new-found obsession with this eclectic collection of writing.
    Nick Galvin checks out some of the newest destinations on the Net (Sydney Morning Herald): "I don't read your articles because you are 'the oldest.' I read them because you have interesting things to say."
    "The Boy on a Bicycle", Denver, Colorado, USA.
    I thought that I would never see
    My father grasp technology.
    Now his thoughts rush 'round the world
    A brain let loose like flags unfurled.
    Ian Shackle, Frog Rock, New South Wales, Australia
    I hope those endorsements still apply.
    Posted Saturday, 23 June 2012, at 18:15 From Sydney, Australia.
From left: Eric, Ian. Dane and Jack Shackle.

Four Generations of Shackle Boys. 

Hear the World on your Computer

    This may be old hat (stale news) to you, but it's an exciting discovery to me. I've found I can use my computer to listen to hundreds of radio stations around the world.
    In the last two days I've heard programs being broadcast by stations in New Zealand, South Africa, Bhutan, Ireland and the United States. All I had to do was to visit a website in Palo Alto, California called TuneIn
    The website says:
    "TuneIn is a free service that lets you listen to anything in the world from wherever you are. Whether you want to hear music, sports, news or current events, TuneIn offers over 50,000 stations, all yours, for you to choose from.
    "From finding local stations to discovering new stations from around the world, TuneIn brings you to where you want to be.Millions of people across every continent listen to what they love through TuneIn."
    Here are some of the stations I've heard (with varying degrees of interest):
    Radio Valley 99.9, Thimphu, Bhutan. Bhutan is a small kingdom in the Himalayas, between India and China.
    KNTU Denton, Texas KNTU is licensed to the University of North Texas and is on the air 24 hours, every day of the year, broadcasting with 100,000 watts at 88.1 FM.
    The Night Time Network, Dublin, Ireland. Its website says:
    On the Night-Time Network we realise that not everybody goes to bed at night...if you're doing the night shift or just having trouble counting sheep, we have plenty of music and games to get you through your night.
567 Cape Talk. News from Cape Town, South Africa.
Try it out for yourself. Tune in to Tunein com
Posted at 21:24 Saturday, 2 June 2012, from Sidney, Australia.

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Good Enough for Me

I don't like politics, but some people think they do
And I haven't read the Bible, this much is true
I haven't been to many places, but that is okay
I've gone through this life, going my own way
I follow my own instincts, and it guides me well
When asked for my opinion, I am always glad to tell
I don't tell others how to think or what to do
I can only be myself, and you can only be you

So many roads to travel, so many things to see
Thoughts appear inside my mind, of all things I can be
I follow what feels right, of the person I'll become
I know it's right for me, but may not be for some

One must feel it out, and know it on the inside
Have faith and believe, that you have surely tried
For all we can do, is to do our very best
In between our journey, we must take the time to rest

Time upon this world goes so very fast
The moments that we treasure never seem to last
All I know is all that I can be
And that is good enough for me

©May 8, 2012 Bud Lemire
Not everything in this poem is about me. I have read the Bible.
When reading my poems, remember sometimes it is me, sometime it is others,
and sometimes a mixture of both.
Mostly it is a point I am trying to get across.
Some issue that will make you think.
Some things in life are more important to you than other things.
But being you, is most important.

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Two Artists

She was nestled up there in a tree
The most beautiful woman you ever did see
She was a singer and played the guitar
He said “Babe, you're going to go far”

 With a sketch pad, he drew her sitting up there
As she sang a love song like a prayer
He was great at drawing faces
Had her shaded in all the right places

She sang a song about love and life
His thoughts were of her becoming his wife
She wore a long dress that fit with a summer day
It was picture perfect in an artistic kind of way

The wind came along and blew her hair out of place
As he captured with his pencil, the smile on her face
She sang a song that I've never heard
He seemed to be feeling every word

With pencil in hand, I could easily see
He was moving in rhythm with her song from the tree
Two artists came together, two hearts beating strong
United in their passion, that they both brought along
©June 11, 2012 Bud Lemire

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On Aronsons Island, just pass the Boat launch,
there is a bunch of trees all growing out together.
A young woman with a guitar climbed up into the space
between the trees, while her friend picked up his sketch pad to
draw her there. Her smile was beautiful, her voice like a bird.
He was feeling it, and as she sang and strummed on the guitar,
he was drawing the beautiful woman of his dreams on the sketch pad.


The Wizard would be proud of me
For I boast not just one but two
Framed papers on my office wall
Stating in stately language
I’ve “been admitted” to a degree.

I both Bachelor and Master be
Of Arts not clearly specified
And “all the honors, rights and privileges”
Thereunto pertaining, most of which
Past fifty years I still don’t see.

©2012 John I. Blair

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At the intersections that crosses you with me
We can stop for conversation or pass by graciously
We can smile with a presence that is kind
Or we can ignore the other, leaving it behind

 I choose to stop or say hello if I should pass
Because I find myself to be in the friendly class
I choose to honor whom I shall meet
So I smile with pleasure of all that I shall greet
At the intersections, where our paths shall cross
I feel I am rewarded, and never at a loss
The pleasure of knowing someone like you
Inside is a feeling that always comes through

It's like a hug filled with love, or something more
As we stop for conversation, before going out the door
No rush to be anywhere, just a pleasant meeting there
A little time for friends, with something they can share

It's always a great feeling, every single time
When your soul reaches out and touches mine
So next time I hope that you will know
At the intersections, it's a mingling of our soul

©June 23, 2012 Bud Lemire
I enjoy meeting you at the intersections

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Walking in Reverse

Walking in reverse
Life is changing
It's rearranging
I need something new
I must let go of you

Life is changing
I am feeling so out of control
I just want to be free
I need to find the old me
My mind is cluttered

Walking in reverse
My heart is changing
My mind is rearranging
I need to find the best part of me
I need to find the will to be free

Walking in reverse
My mind is cluttered
Walking in reverse
Like living a lie
Walking in reverse
I hear my future calling out to me
Walking in reverse
I don't understand why

Walking in reverse
Life is changing
It's rearranging
I need something new
I must let go of you

©6/9/12 Bruce Clifford

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Young Sparrows at The Water Basins

On our rustic deck
Fronting a flowerpot phalanx
Two big plastic basins
Are kept abrim with clear water,
Freshened every night
So birds and squirrels
Will not go thirsty
These scorching summer days.

This morning
Looking from the kitchen window
I watched while four young sparrows
Just barely capable of flight
Danced along the rim of one,
Chirping cheekily to no one in particular
And, from time to time,
Dipping down to drink.

How easy it can be
To make the world a better place,
At least when acting one on one,
Or in this case one on four.
I don’t seek praise;
It’s not a race. But on a scale
Of one to ten, I think
This vision rated very high.

©2012 John I. Blair

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Again Tonight

I wake up in the middle of the night
You're the first thing on my mind
I look around this room on this steamy night in June
There has got to be a way to make things right
Thinking about you again tonight

The days and nights move along
Wondering how things could have gone wrong
As I sit hear writing this song
I've got you on my mind

The memories of long ago
All the places we never got to know
As I sit hear with my heart tied in knots
I've got you on my mind

I wake up at half past two
I think about all you've been going through
I've tried to explain this all to my heart from the very start
There has got to be a way to end this plight
Thinking about you again tonight

6/15/12 Bruce Clifford

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It's Where We Go

One moment they're here, the next they're not
In a blink of an eye, who would have thought
The place where they stood, they place where they sat
Who truly knew the place where they were at
Did they touch someone, and was it so deep
Did they pass away sometime in their sleep
I thought about them and wrote this poem
Because I know they're doing better, they've gone back home

Home is in Heaven, where all souls reside
It's where we go after we've died
Life isn't over, at least not for the soul
When the body stops working, we're once again whole

The pain we endured is over and done
We've complete life's journey, and we become One
One with our self, of all we can be
Beyond Earthly visions, with much more to see

In the Heavenly world, our soul is so bright
The love is much stronger within God's light
Goodbye for now, but we'll meet in time
When I pass over and my journey becomes divine
©May 16, 2012 Bud Lemire
It's always much harder on those left behind.
But those who have passed, are back home
in the light and doing so much better.

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Can I Trust My Heart With You

I've been searching for so long
Hoping you would come along
This has to be more than what it seems
No, this can't be just a dream

I've been waiting for so long
Maybe this time I won't be wrong
I have to put all my faith in you
It's the only way for me to know what is true

I've been searching for so long
Trying to be strong
Waiting patiently for my turn
To have what I yearn
What is false
What is true
Can I trust my heart to you

I've been searching for so long
Now I try to carry on
Do you see my point of view
Is it possible, is it true

I've been searching for so long
Did I find my person in you
Is it false, is it true
Could it really be me and you

Can I trust my heart to you
The fragile pieces in me
No longer know who I can be

Can I trust my heart with you
I've been holding on for so long
In my heart I know where we belong

©6/4/12 Bruce Clifford

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Through The Cemetery

As I ride my bike through this cemetery
It doesn't matter how big our burden is to carry
Sometimes we may think we're alone
We're being guided by our friends back home

 They travel in spirit down life's journey with us
All we got to do is have faith and trust
And know that we'll make it there
With guidance from friends that care
They see every move we make
They feel our pain when we ache
They know the struggle we go through
And they know everything that we do

Life isn't easy, but we need to learn as we go
Picking up things that we need to know
As we travel life's road, a challenge will be
Responding to all the things that we see

I know they're not humanly near
Yet I believe they whisper in my ear
I know their presence is always close by
Because humans may cease, but spirits don't die
©June 9, 2012 Bud Lemire
Just some words that came to me as I was passing through the cemetery

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Rabbo II-Chapter 6


The nineteen men and woman sat around a long table talking. “We have no other options left open to us. What befell the colony here before us seems to be befalling us too,” said Lexsan. Lexsan was about six feet eight inches tall with long grey hair that was turning white with age. She had pale skin that was almost white in color and deep blue eyes.
Sitting next to her was her bond mate Devon who was also close to six feet eight inches tall. His hair was brown with hints of grey his skin was as pale as Lexsan’s like the rest of the colonists due to spending all their time underground.
“Do you think he will help us” asked Aerten.
“I hope so for your sake and your unborn children,” said Lexsan. “Why on Sirius did you ever have your late bond mate’s sperm used to fertilize your egg to have children? You know that we could not risk new life at this time. And then for you to be having twins. That is just poor planning”!
“As I said when I told you. I wanted something of him to give me a reason to live,” said Aerten.
Yhva looked over “I would have helped you by the normal method, Aerten. After all I am the youngest here and the last to be born on Sirius.”
“Let’s stick to the issue and not who is pregnant and who wants who. The issue is that we have some very major problems and if Merwyn can’t help us or refuses we have to figure out where we can go on the third planet and be far enough away from Ra to avoid any issues with that power hungry man,” said Lexsan.
“Merwyn will help. I know him well. I just wish that he knew I was alive. I fought with him at the last great battle at Albayand. Maybe next time we use the voice of that young lady you should identify me. Use my name that might help,” said Angus
“We can strip down the last ship and use that to help us,” said Bladud. “I can make it so that we have shielding that will stop the radiation leaking though the upper levels.”
“That’s the last thing we want to do. But if that’s our last option then that’s what we will have to do,” said Lexsan thoughtfully.
“And that will trap us here and we won’t be able to leave. Ever,” said Yhva.
“True but that is a very last resort,” said Lexsan.
“I think Merwyn will help us. We have gone to him in need and he has never turned away anyone that needs help. Look at how he took in Hermes when he knew full well what Hermes was,” said Angus.
“His mistake but a kind hearted move,” said Devon.
“True and Merwyn has always been kind hearted,” said Lexsan.
“But will he help us?” said Aerten trying hard to keep the panic out of her voice.
“I think he will. It will just take him time to make us his mind. I just hope that the radiation does not start to leak down to the lower levels,” said Angus.
“My estimate is that will start to happen in about one full cycle of this planet. That’s six hundred and eighty seven days,” said Bladud. “We need to make up our minds in half that time if I am going to put up shields to stop the radiation from leaking down here.”
“How long will it take us to get to the third planet?” asked Lexsan.
“With all of us it will take about six and half months,” said Bladud.
“Can we get there faster?” said Lexsan looking over at Aerten.
“If we lighten the load and take only what we need for the trip such as only food and water we can do it six months. But if we go with half rations we can make it in less than six months. Maybe four months and three weeks, maybe less it all depends,” said Bladud.
“I don’t want maybes, I need facts,” said Lexsan.
“You might not have six months,” said Devon on Lexsan’s private telepathic mode.
“I know, darling,” answered Lexsan on the same mode.
“Ok, Bladud, I want to know how much weight will give us a four month trip,” said Lexsan.
“Four months” said Bladud looking at Lexsan in shock. “That would mean that not all of us are going”.
Lexsan nodded “It’s time I told the truth”.
Lexsan stood up and took off her long robe. Her skin was almost transparent “I have lost the will to live and to keep refreshing my body. I am fading and have maybe six months before I totally fade. I won’t be going with any of you.”
Devon looked at Lexsan “I won’t leave you here alone, my love.”
“I know,” said Lexsan. “I no longer hold you to the oath we took over fifteen hundred years go. I release you, my love. My love is such that you are no longer bonded to me and you are free to live.”
“But I do not release myself, Lexsan. I bonded to you for life and I will stay for your life even unto the end you go. I will share that fate with you,” said Devon without emotion.
“I won’t be leaving either,” said Cian “I am tired of running. I ran away from home. I ran from Toner, I ran from the sun, I have run so much that I can’t run anymore. And here is a good place to die. I have seen so much death and I am tired of that too. I will wait my end here with Lexsan and Devon.”
“What’s the point of running anymore? We can’t have children there on the third planet and that’s the only reason for life. I won’t go to the third planet and watch our race die out. I will stay here and die quickly rather than slowly,” said Aeetes
“I agree with Aeetes,” said Meleager “I have no wish to watch our race fade from this universe I will go before the last of you fade away. It is better that way than to become a shadow of what I am. Death will come quick here and that is better than the slow painful death that will come on the third planet.”
The meeting started to break down into an argument over who wanted stay and who wanted to live and try and make it on the third planet. Lexsan banged her fist on the table trying to restore some form of order but no one listened and she knew that she had made a mistake admitting that she was fading and that the will to live and lead was gone.
Lexsan sat down and closed her eyes wishing that she had not made such a mistake. It had been her wish that by admitting she was fading that the others would want to leave the forth planet. But she had failed.
In the end Devon, Cian, Aeetes and Meleager stood up and walked out of the room leaving Lexsan and fourteen others seated at the table.
“You all wish to go to the third planet. That is good. I wish that Devon, Cian, Aeetes and Meleager would leave here but they seem to have made up their minds to die here on the fourth planet. I wish it was otherwise but I no longer have the will for anything. And for me the end is wished for. I have seen too much and wish to see no more. I have seen the dreams of our race fall to ruin I have seen people die by the thousands, I have seen all my children die and there is nothing for me other than the love of a man that brought me such joy. Yet the will to live is gone. All that I did as a teacher was for nothing. All I did as a parent was for nothing. And there is some truth to what Aeetes said about having children. But there is hope. Bastet was schooled by the greatest genetic engineers on our planet. And if anyone can figure out how you can breed and have children on the third planet she can. I wish you all the best,” and with that Lexsan stood up.
For the first time the fourteen noticed that her feet were just a glass shells with only a faint outline of skin that showed was her veins and bones of her feet. Lexsan bowed and left the fourteen alone.

Rabbo and Merwyn opened their eyes and saw Athena and Helena sitting with two cups of steaming herb tea that Helena had made. “Drink,” said Helena “it will restore your strength and body.”
“Well, Dad” said Athena placing her hands on her hips.
Merwyn sipped on the herbal tea and looked at Helena ignoring Athena’s question. “This really is very good. What’s in it?”
“Thank you. Oh it’s a mix of Mint, Bayberry and Thistle. It will help you recover faster,” said Helena beaming.
“Well, Dad,” said Athena again.
“They need our help,” said Rabbo looking over at Merwyn.
“That they do,” agreed Merwyn. “I will hail their leader once I recover.”
“Is there anyone you know?” asked Athena.
“Yes Angus,” said Merwyn. “He was a master at arms in my head quarters company. I thought he had been killed.” Merwyn paused and looked sad. “The last time I saw him his laser pistol was dead and he was charging headlong alone into about sixty men with just his dagger. Brave and stupid. I would have loved to have brought him with us. But I thought he was dead.”
“So their request for help is truthful?” asked Athena.
“Did Merwyn not just say so,” said Rabbo.
“This is really very good, Helena,” said Merwyn sipping on his herb tea.
“Dad” said Athena.
Merwyn looked at Athena and smiled sadly. “They are in a bad way. Between a rock and a hard place. If they stay they are doomed to die in about ten years of this planet. They have a radiation issue. They can’t go out on the surface for long periods of time and they are living below ground to avoid the radiation and that’s making them sick too. Plus and thankfully they are avoiding Ra. But I think they would turn to him if there was no other option. So we are going to help them. And I will tell them so. And I will find a location for them where they can live. Somewhere like home. Well home like for Angus, I owe him that.”
Athena took a deep breath and looked at Merwyn. “Close to here I hope.”
“No, but not to close to Ra either. Maybe somewhere in between? After I hail Angus I will start looking,” said Merwyn. “In fact we all can look.”
“Even me” said Helena.
“Did Merwyn not say everyone?” said Rabbo looking at Helena.
“Why are you suddenly moody, Rabbo?” asked Athena.
“Sad I guess. Just seeing those poor people suffering makes me sad,” said Rabbo trying not to think about Lexsan, Devon and the others that where staying behind to die. To Rabbo it seemed wrong to just give up on living and not to fight to live. It seemed wrong also that the others had not tried to talk them into going with them. But what unsettled Rabbo more was seeing someone that was fading and that made him wonder about Athena’s comments about Merwyn fading and that worried him that Merwyn would start to fade one day and he just hoped that he would not be around to see that.
“So how many are coming?” asked Athena.
“From what I could see I think fourteen,” said Merwyn. “I don’t think there were anymore there.”
“That few?” asked Helena.
“Don’t tell them about those that are staying behind,” said Merwyn on Rabbo’s private telepathic mode.
“I thought there would be at least a hundred. Did that many die trying to get to the fourth planet?” asked Athena.
“There are only fourteen that are coming. Most are young, dear daughter. Younger than you, or close to young age,” said Merwyn smiling at Athena.
“Oh” said Athena smiling.
“So what are we going to do?” asked Rabbo.
“First I am going to finish this outstanding cup of herbal tea then I am going to warm my toes maybe use the bathroom and then hail Angus,” Merwyn turned and looked at Helena. “This really is outstanding tea. Is there more?”
Helena laughed and walked over to the range and looked at the sauce pan. “A little I think enough maybe for a cup each.”
“Dad ,what are you going to tell them?” asked Athena.
“I will tell them that I will help and I will find them a place to live. I will tell them that they can’t live here with us but I will help them once they arrive. I will help them build a home for themselves but not near us.”
“Why can’t they live here with us?” asked Athena.
“Because I don’t want them here as we would lose a lot of our freedom,” Merwyn looked Athena up and down. “You won’t be able to walk around naked for one thing. And as for wearing those outfits,” Merwyn laughed.
“I think I don’t want them here either,” said Athena thoughtfully.
“Me either,” said Rabbo.
Merwyn sipped on his tea and looked at Helena and smiled. Helena smiled back shyly and pulled over a chair from the kitchen table. “There is one problem however,” said Merwyn looking first at Helena and then at Athena “One of the women is pregnant. There might be a risk factor for her coming here.”
“How far along is she?” asked Athena.
“I’m not sure. Not that far as she is not showing much. But she was sitting down so it’s hard to tell,” answered Merwyn.
Merwyn finished his herbal tea, got up, went upstairs.
“Helena, darling” said Athena coming over and sitting down on the floor in front of her and placing a hand on her knee. “Darling, we keep going as planned,” she leaned in and kissed Helena softly on the lips.
Before things could go any further Merwyn came walking down the stairs.
“I checked on the girls and they are snuggled together sleeping well,” said Merwyn. “It’s still snowing hard outside.”
“Oh, it is?” asked Helena.
“Yes, it’s still coming down hard and it’s piling up deep. I think tomorrow we have a lot of snow to move to keep the pathways open,” said Merwyn.
“Will I be able to get to the barn without too many problems?” said Athena removing her hand from Helena’s knee.
“I think so,” said Merwyn as he sat back down in his chair. “Now to hail Angus.”
Merwyn closed his eyes and focused on his old friend Angus. As he did so he hailed as loud as he could on Angus’s private mode.
“ANGUS CAN YOU HEAR ME?” shouted Merwyn.
Very faintly as if Angus’s voice was being carried on the wind Merwyn heard, “I hear you, sir”.
“I will help you and those that are to come with you. When you are ready to leave the fourth planet hail me on my private mode. I know you are not as strong as you once were so do it as a group. I will find a place for you and I will help you build a new life. But I can’t have you all coming here,” Merwyn said still shouting so that his old friend could hear him.
“Sir, there will only be fourteen of us. Right now we are working out how much weight we can bring with us. I don’t think it will be much as the ship is old. Our ships engineer is checking the weight and I will be the ships captain. Sir, you always said that one day I would be an officer. I much prefer being a non commissioned officer. Being an officer is not what I am cut out for. Sir, I can’t hold this link much longer so I will end this by saying that I am indebted to you again. Thank you, sir. Sergeant Major Angus Macbow over and out.” And with that Angus’s voice faded away.
Merwyn opened his eyes and looked at Rabbo, Athena and Helena “well they will let us know when they are ready to leave. Tomorrow we start looking for a warm sunny place on the coast somewhere. Somewhere with an ocean climate that does not have many people. But that will be tomorrow.”
Rabbo yawned and hopped over to Cat his mother mischief and the rabbit kittens that were snuggled together by the fire. He was about to snuggle with them when Athena reached down and picked him up. “Come, Rabbo, you sleep in my room tonight,” said Athena as she placed his front paws over her shoulder.
“I thought you and Helena were going to play,” said Rabbo as Athena went up the stairs.
“No” laughed Athena. “Helena and Dad need time alone.”
“But don’t you join in?” asked Rabbo very confused.
Athena blushed and laughed “sometimes for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of Merwyn and Helena. But not tonight as they really need alone time.”
Athena placed Rabbo on her bed and slipped out of her tube top and short skirt. She pulled the covers back and slipped into bed.
Rabbo started to hop off the bed and over to his window sill.
“No sleep on my pillow like you used to,” said Athena.
Rabbo hopped back up on the bed and hopped over and sat down on the pillow next to Athena. The pillow smelt of Helena and Rabbo thought that in many ways Athena and mischief were much alike. The fact that they enjoyed playing and they both loved deeply and cared very deeply about those that they loved. And yet in some ways Athena and mischief were very much unalike in the fact that mischief was only willing to mate when she was in heat were as Athena seemed always willing to mate and often would dress in a way that stated she was willing. He wondered if that was part of the reason that he did not want the people from the fourth planet too close.
Athena placed an arm over Rabbo and pulled him in close. She looked at him in the darkness and smiled. “You know Rabbo your mind leaks sometimes. I will admit that it would be nice to have those from the fourth planet close for the reason you were thinking. And I think you would be right. While I would enjoy myself it would not get much done. Right now we have to think what is best for the few of my race that is left. Before I would sleep with any of the men I would have to check their genes to see if it was wise for me to sleep with them. And well, you know me. I react first and think about things afterwards,” Athena laughed softly “unless I am planning something such as my girls.”
Rabbo wriggled closer and nestled into Athena’s hair.
“You see Rabbo since I made up my mind to have children which was long before you came along I had tried to seduce Merwyn a number of times. And well he always nicely turned me down. But you reminded me of a promise he made me when I was young and very sick. So I reminded him of the promise and well I got what I wanted and what I needed plus I have restored his interest in life and the pleasures of the flesh,” Athena giggled softly. “I was scared the first time as I had never been with a Sirian man. But well it was better than I thought and I liked it and liked it a lot. Bastet was my first lover and I have other girls and woman since and I like that a lot too. But I wanted a baby and to do that I had to pick the best genes. And the best genes on this planet are Merwyn's. As Bastet wisely said and she is right “Babies are made with love”. So I picked the man I love so deeply and I know he loves me so deeply. Now I give him the gift of another child.”
“You are pregnant?” said Rabbo.
“No, silly rabbit, but let’s hope Helena will be,” giggled Athena. “She is very willing very willing indeed and I think she needs a baby as much as another child would make Merwyn happy. Beside there is a plus side other than keeping Merwyn happy. The genes of such a baby would be good to mix with Wenna and Merryn. I just hope she has a boy.” Again Athena giggles. “If it is a boy he is going to be in for a lot of fun when he is old enough.”
“What do you mean?” asked Rabbo.
“Think about it, silly Rabbo. Two women, one man, oh the fun they could have.”
“Kind of like one male rabbit and two female rabbits?” asked Rabbo.
“Yes oh I understand,” laughed Athena. “Bossy and the one that does not talk”.
Rabbo yawned and tried to hide it from Athena but somehow she knew that he was tired and that he was fighting to stay awake. “Darling Rabbo get some sleep. I think tomorrow could be a busy day with all the snow outside”.
Rabbo snuggled closer still and closed his eyes.

Rabbo awoke to soft snoring coming from next to him. So as he opened his eyes he thought he would see Athena. Instead there was Helena snuggled close to him.
Gently Rabbo lifted himself up and was surprised to see Merwyn snuggled up next to Helena and Athena on the other side snuggled close to Merwyn.
Rabbo hopped gently off the bed and went to the bathroom. On his return to Athena’s bedroom he stopped and looked in on the girls who were still asleep. So quietly, Rabbo hopped up on his window sill peeked behind the curtains and looked at the snow that was still falling softly and gently.
Outside there was over five feet of snow. The air hung heavy as the small powder like flakes of snow fell silently to join the other flakes that were piling up in deep drifts of snow covering the garden and the pathways in deep light snow. Rabbo watched from Athena’s bedroom window sill wondering just how much snow could fall in one day and that if it kept falling how much snow it would take to cover the whole house.
Outside the house everything was still, other than the falling snow. There was no wind, no movement, only a white drifting curtain of snow that sometimes parted to show vague shapes of trees and outbuildings. All that there was had been hidden under a mantel of white heaps of snow.
Rabbo slipped gently off the window sill again and hopped as quietly as possible out of Athena’s bedroom and went down stairs. There was a slight chill to the kitchen as the fire had gone out some hours before and the cold from outside was just starting to seep into the kitchen. Rabbo looked closely at the fire to see if there was an ember to help get the fire going, but he could see none. So carefully he hopped over the pile of fur that was his mother, mischief Cat and the rabbit kittens and started to build a fire.
Once the kindling was in place Rabbo closed his eyes and focused on making the center of the pile of kindling as hot as possible so that it would burst into flames. As he focused his mind he smelt burnt wood and then suddenly with a pop and a hiss flames leaped out of the center of the pile of kindling.
Rabbo placed a couple of small logs on the fire and again focused his mind on the wood and that too started to smoke then burst into flames. Then he placed a couple of larger logs on the smaller logs and hopped off to the cool storage room where he got dandelion leaves, spinach carrots and carrot tops and hopped back into the kitchen.
Rabbo made breakfast for his mother mischief and the rabbit kittens. Then he placed their bowls in the normal spot before he went back into the cool storage room and got Cat’s raw fish and meat. He chopped that up finely just the way Cat liked his food and he placed that bowl on the table in the spot that Cat liked to eat his food.
Rabbo once again returned to the cool storage room and got out oats so that he could try and make porridge like Helena had the day before. Rabbo poured the milk into a large sauce pan and then added the oats. Somehow it looked like there was too much oats so Rabbo added more milk. Looking carefully Rabbo thought that now it looked like there was too much milk so he added more oats. And again he added too much oats so again he added more milk. Now the sauce pan was almost full and the mix still did not look right. But there was no room left so Rabbo turned on the heat and hoped that it would not boil over and burn.
He hopped down from the stove and pushed his tall chair over and picked up a big wooden spoon and started to mix the porridge.
“Need a hand there, Rabbo?” said a sleepy Athena behind him.
“That’s ok, I think I have it,” said Rabbo trying to sound unworried.
“Just how many are you feeding?” asked Athena.
“Just six. Why do you ask?” answered Rabbo.
Athena picked up a larger sauce pan leaned over and poured the porridge mix into the larger sauce pan. “I ask because there is enough there to feed twenty I would say maybe fifteen if they were really hungry,” said Athena smiling.
Rabbo stirred the oats and milk mix until it started to boil then he turned down the heat and continued to stir the porridge until his front leg started to get tired. Rabbo used the wooden spoon to taste the porridge and he noticed that it did not taste anywhere as good as the porridge that Helena had made the day before.
“Athena” said Rabbo. “Umm could you taste this? It does not taste anywhere as good as what Helena made yesterday. I think I am missing something?”
Athena walked over and tasted the porridge “Needs honey and a little salt.”
Rabbo went and got the honey and salt. He then added the salt and honey and again started to stir the porridge. Rabbo tasted the porridge and it tasted too salty so he added more honey. Athena leaned against the counter and watched with an amused smile as Rabbo added more honey then more salt then more honey and then more salt.
As Rabbo battled to get the taste of the porridge right Helena and Merwyn quietly joined Athena. Soon they too had rather amused smiles as Rabbo battled to get the taste of the porridge right. They watched as he added more and more honey and salt until the porridge was so inedible that Rabbo was at his wits end.
It was Merwyn that started to laugh first and soon Athena and Helena where laughing so hard. Rabbo bowed his head and had to admit that he had failed to make porridge and that he had wasted good oats, milk honey and salt. Still laughing Helena walked up to the defeated Rabbo and picked him up. “Let me help you to make porridge.”
Helena walked into the cook storage room came back with Rabbo over one should and holding a small sack of oats. She sat Rabbo back down on his chair and picked up a measuring cup and started to measure out the oats that would be needed to feed Merwyn, Athena, Wenna, Merryn, Diana, Rabbo and herself. She then poured that into the first sauce pan that Rabbo had used. Then she poured milk into the measuring cup and added that to the oats in the sauce pan. Then she brought it up to just below the boil and added a small amount of salt. All the time she stirred the mix watching the heat. Then she added a small amount of honey. As she did the whole process she told Rabbo how much oats to feed how many people and the amount of milk need plus she explained how just a pinch of salt was plenty and that the honey was really just to sweeten the porridge. Lastly as she explained she added the raisins to the mix.
Helena had Rabbo stir the porridge and supervised him while Athena went upstairs and woke up the children so that they could come down for breakfast. That took a while as the girls really did not want to wake up and getting them washed and dressed took a while. But Helena helped Rabbo stir the porridge and made sure that it did not stick to the bottom of the pan nor let it burn.
After breakfast Helena and Rabbo where still sitting at the kitchen table talking while Athena, Merwyn and the children went outside to clean the pathways and to milk the cows in the barn. “Rabbo would you like to help me cook dinner tonight?” asked Helena.
“I would love to,” said Rabbo beaming happily “But I thought Athena was cooking dinner tonight.”
“Oh, you are right. Could you ask her if I could cook dinner? That way I can teach you how to cook,” said Helena.
Athena agreed to Helena cooking dinner and soon Helena and Rabbo were planning what they would cook for dinner.

The children struggled though the deep snow towards the barn as Merwyn and Athena moved great mounds of snow using their mental abilities. Once in the barn the children sat down together more to warm each other than out of friendship and love. Cat who had followed along behind the children jumped up high on top of the hay and watched to make sure that the children were safe from anything that might try and bite them such as the rats that lived in the barn.
Out in the snow Merwyn had cleared a large area while Athena had finished the pathway to the barn. She walked in to see the girls sitting in a circle talking to each other in baby language. Only Diana seemed uninterested in what the twins were talking to each other about.
As Athena walked over and picked up a pail and stool Diana got up and joined her trying to carry another pail for Athena. Athena smiled down at Diana as she struggled with the pail while she tried to walk the pail over to where Athena would be milking.
“Would you like some help there, sweetie?” asked Athena.
“No, I’m a big girl,” said Diana.
Athena watched as Diana dragged the pail clanging over to where the cows where. The cows turned and looked at Diana with huge lazy eyes and then they turned back to eating the hay that had been placed in front of them to eat. Diana looked at the cows and stepped careful over the dung that was behind the cows. She watched as Athena placed the stool down at the rear end of one of the cows put the pail under the udder and started to milk the first of the three cows where producing milk. Diana stood and watched as Athena worked her way from one teat to another until the pail was almost full. Then Athena moved to the second cow took the bucket that Diana had dragged over and started to milk the second cow.
“Sweetie, could you get another pail?” said Athena.
Diana once again dragged a pail over clanging and banging and making such a noise that it echoed off the walks in the barn. Diana placed the pail next to Athena and again watched as Athena milked the second cow. Soon Athena was done milking the second cow and she got up walked into the dairy of the barn and grabbed a yoke and attached the two pails to the yoke. Then Athena went outside followed by Diana and head to the house to put the two full pails of milk in the cool storage room. They then headed back to the barn and Athena moved the stool over to the last cow and started to milk while Diana watched.

Meanwhile in the barn Cat sat watching the twins who by now had warmed back up. As the twins sat talking they looked around and then looked up at Cat. They got on all fours and suddenly they started to change into cats. First their faces started to elongate like a cats then their ears moved up the side of their heads until they were up high like a cats then the ears started to get pointed. Wenna was almost totally cat like while her twin sister had just the head and rear end of a cat. Wenna slipped out of her clothes and sat and look up at Cat who was looking down and both Wenna and Merryn.
Merryn looked over at her sister who now looked totally like a large cat with an oversized tail and ears.
Wenna sat cat like and looked around. Then she bounced off cat like into a pile of loose hay only to reappear a few moments later with a small rat in her mouth. The rat was kicking and wriggling and Wenna looked a little confused as if she was not sure what to do with the rat she had just caught.
“Help you I can. Drop rat and I help you kill it and eat it,” said Cat.
“Yuck,” said Wenna as she dropped the rat at Cat’s feet.
Merryn was stuck been half human and half cat looked over at her sister and watched as Wenna and Cat chased after the rat bouncing though piles of hay. Finally Cat caught the rat flipped it though the air before it came to land at Wenna’s paws.
Wenna grabbed the rat between her paws and flipped it though the air back at Cat who let it land in front of him. Cat grabbed the rat and batted it back and forth between his paws letting it get away before he pounced on it again.
Wenna watched and then leaped high over Cat landing next to Cat and took the rat in her mouth and started to run with the half alive rat in her mouth.
As Wenna ran with the half alive rat in her mouth Athena and Diana walked though the barn looked at Wenna, Merryn and Cat and passed on by.
Merryn looked at her hands closed her cats eyes and finished turning herself into a cat. When she was done she looked exactly the same as Wenna down to the last detail in every way apart from her eyes. Her eyes remained human like. Cat looked at Merryn walked over and sniffed her then batted her playfully across the head before chasing after Wenna who was strutting around with the half alive rat hanging and kicking from her mouth.
“Help teach you both to hunt like Cat” hissed Cat.
Wenna sat down still with the rat hanging from her mouth and dropped the rat to the floor of the barn. The rat lay still at her feet breathing hard and not moving.
Around the rats back and neck was bite marks and wet patches of fur when Wenna and Cat had been holding it and biting it.
“Kill prey and eat. Then show you how to hunt” said Cat to Wenna.
Cat turned to Merryn and sniffed her again before Cat turned and listened for more rats in the barn. “Kittens come I teach to hunt and teach to kill pest in bran. Make job easy to keep pests down in barn with three. Not me alone. Much work for me alone. But three make it easy” said Cat smiling at Wenna and Merryn.
Wenna and Merryn strutted cat like over to Cat and sat down. Wenna looked back at the rat that was still breathing and lying where she had dropped it.
Cat hunched down and wriggled his hind end and leaped on the rat. As he did so he bit into the rats neck breaking it and killing instantly. “Play with live food is fun. But Merwyn no like. So we play only when Merwyn not know. But when Merwyn around we kill quick and fast. Understand?” said Cat looking at Merryn and Wenna.
Merryn and Wenna nodded and looked at the rat that Cat has just killed. Merryn turned back into her human form and started to cry that Cat had killed a rat not understanding that Cat only killed for food. Cat picked up the dead rat and started to crunch on it. He looked over at the human Merryn and then at Wenna who was still in cat form looking at the half eaten rat and licking her lips.
As Wenna moved closer a large lion paw came out of the pile of hay and grabbed around her fur covered stomach making her look around. “You don’t eat raw uncooked food. You still have a human stomach” said the lion. Wenna instantly turned back into human form and looked at the huge tiger.
“Mommy” said Wenna not sure. Athena in lion form, turned and looked at Cat. “You don’t know that they can’t eat raw rat so I am not upset with you Cat. And they are too young to understand that they can’t eat what you eat. But we will talk about this. But Cat you can teach them to hunt. Just don’t let them eat the food they catch raw. Bring it to the house and I will cook it for them. You understand Cat?”
Cat looked at Athena in lion form and nodded as he crunched his way though the last of the rat. “I teach. I show hunting. I let them kill. But no let them eat. You cook what they kill. I understand,” said Cat as he ate the last of the rat leaving just the tail and gall bladder.
“Yes” said Athena.
“I help teach what can eat and what no eat,” said Cat nodding in understanding.
“Good,” said Athena.
Athena turned and looked at Wenna and Merryn “Now get dressed and let’s go into the house. I am staying in lion form as the fur is warm. If you like you can ride on my back”.
Wenna and Merryn got dressed and climbed up Athena’s back and she walked out of the barn across the snow to the house. Once inside the house she let the twins climb down. Then Athena sat down and turned herself back into human form.
“Mommy naked,” giggled Wenna.
“Mommy bad,” said Merryn.
Athena got up walked over to where her clothes lay in a pile and slipped on her winter toga, winter stockings and lastly her slippers.

Rabbo stood on his chair watching Helena as she mixed flour with a pinch of salt. Over to one side stood a measuring cup with warm water sugar and yeast mixed it. The yeast sugar water mix was all puffed up as the yeast fed on the sugar. Helena looked over and looked at Rabbo. “Ok you see how it has foamed up. That means it’s ready to mix into the flour that has a pinch of salt in it. Umm do you have any gloves as your fur will get in the dough,” asked Helena.
“No I don’t, but I can ask Merwyn if he has something that I can use to cover my paws and legs so that I won’t get fur in the dough,” said Rabbo.
“No matter. Let’s continue with baking bread,” said Helena.
Helena poured the water, sugar, yeast mix into the bowl with the flour and pinch of salt and started to mix it with a large wooden spoon that Athena used when she made bread.
Once the mix was nice and stiff Helena put it to one side for a moment before she stiffed some flour onto the counter top. Then she poured the contents of the bowl on top of the stiffed flour and started to knead the dough with her hands until it was nice and firm. She then used one finger to test the dough mix by pressing down and watching it rise up slowly. Then she sifted a little flour into the mixing bowl and put the dough back in the bowl before covering it with a warm damp cloth and putting it on a small table by the fire to rise.
“Now we wait until it has risen,” said Helena.
“Should we clean the counter top?” asked Rabbo getting ready to clean the counter top.
“No not yet as we will have to do a second kneading and let it rise again. Once that is done we can cook it and let it cool.”
“Ok” said Rabbo wanting the bread cooked sooner rather than later as he loved fresh baked bread.
Merwyn and Diana came walking in and sniffed the air. “Hmm yummy” said Merwyn reached down and picked up Diana. He then walked off carrying Diana who looked sleepy. Merwyn turned and looked at Helena and Rabbo from the living room doorway “Save me some of the bread when it’s cooked.”
“Everyone loves fresh baked bread, Rabbo,” said Helena smiling. “And I love to bake bread.”
“I know,” said Rabbo looking over at the covered bowl by the fire. “Is it ready to be kneaded again?”
Helena looked over and the covered bowl “No not yet.”
Just then Athena in lion form came walking in with Merryn and Wenna riding on her back. She strutted over to the fire place and let the twins slip off her back. She then turned herself back into human form and Rabbo and Helena heard Wenna say “Mommy naked” followed by Merryn saying “Mommy bad.” Once Athena was dressed she picked up Merryn and Wenna and took them into the living room for their early afternoon nap with Diana.
After the second kneading and proofing of the bread Rabbo and Helena cleaned the kitchen and together they started to make pasta and cook dinner. Dinner was very lively as the children had rested well and where feeling very playful. Cat now had come in from the barn had not eaten much as he had caught another rat while he was in the barn.
Cat turned to Merryn and Wenna and looked at them “Tomorrow you turn into cats and we hunt in barn”.
Wenna giggled but Merryn looked a little unsettled by the idea of helping Cat hunt and kill anything. Merwyn looked over at Cat put down his knife and fork “Cat, I’m not happy about you teaching the twins to hunt and kill. I know you and I know you play with your food before you kill it. I don’t want them learning bad habits and enjoying killing anything. So if you do teach them how to hunt please kill your prey as soon as you catch it. And please don’t play with it before you kill. I can’t stress that enough.”
Cat looked over at Wenna and Merryn who looked back and giggled. “I already tell them that,” said Cat.
“Good,” replied Merwyn as he picked up his knife and fork and started to eat again.
As dinner was finished there was a soft pounding on the door. Everyone including Cat turned and looked at the door. Merwyn closed his eyes and the opened them and started to laugh hard as he got up from the table. At the kitchen door was mischief and Rabbo’s mother who somehow had been left outside when everyone had come in. Mischief and Rabbo’s mother hopped over to the fire where the kittens were sitting after they had eaten their fill. Mischief ignored her own cold feeling and started to clean the rabbit kittens paying special attention to soft eyes.
Merwyn and Athena cleared the table and washed the dishes as Helena and Rabbo sat and watched the children and the rabbit kittens playing together. By the time the dishes were done the children were showing signs of getting tired and as they had been outside Athena thought that all three needed a good long bath. Not just to get them clean for bed but to get the last of the chill out of them from being outside most of the day. Plus as an added bonus it would make them very sleepy and much easier to get to bed.
Merwyn and Helena sat snuggled together in the living when Athena returned after getting the children to bed.
Rabbo was sitting in a small chair Rabbo size chair that Merwyn and been building in his free time and had just completed. Rabbo’s long ears where standing straight up and he paid no attention to Athena’s return as he was busy reading a print out that he had gotten from Isis.
“What are you reading, Rabbo?” asked Athena.
Rabbo looked up and thought for a second “Umm recipes as I want to learn to cook properly.”
Athena laughed and sat down in her chair “Helena has you hooked on cooking now?”
“Yes. That was so much fun baking bread. And Merwyn said that he has some gloves I can wear so next time I can make bread and help Helena. Plus they can be washed so that I can cook other things too.”
“Oh, you want to take over the cooking?” asked Athena.
“Yes, I do,” said Rabbo chuckling.
Just then Helena let out a squeal, leaped out of Merwyn's lap and danced out of the living room. Helena returned a few moments later carrying a wine skin and a goblet for Athena. She poured a goblet for Athena and then refilled Merwyn and her goblets before she sat back in Merwyn's lap astride him. Merwyn leaned in and kissed Helena who returned his kiss with such passion that it looked like she was trying to inhale Merwyn.
“She is good for Dad” said Athena on Rabbo’s private mode.
“I think he is good for her too,” replied Rabbo on the same mode “You won’t get jealous will you?”
“Of who” said Athena with a laugh in her voice? “After all I have been with both of them. Beside I love them both. For me sex is different than love. Sex is for fun and to pass the time. And I do enjoy that. But love and making love well that is a gift that I give to them and Bastet. I’ve never had sex with Merwyn, Bastet or Helena. I have always made love with them and I give my body to them willing as a gift. But I do like sex and when I am in Athens I do enjoy the girls there.”
“You don’t have sex with guy?s” asked Rabbo.
“I have only ever had one guy in my life. And you know who that is and I so enjoyed it and still do,” said Athena
“What about Anubis. Did you not have sex with him?” asked Rabbo.
“Yuck. Where did you hear that. He turns my stomach and I would not let him touch me,” said Athena.
“Oh just something I thought,” said Rabbo hoping he had covered his mistake.
Suddenly Helena stood up pulled her dress off looked at Athena and leaned over and kissed Merwyn and then Athena.
“I’m sleepy,” said Helena and winked at Athena.
Helena pulled Merwyn up and then reached over and grabbed Athena’s hand and pulled her up out of her chair. She dragged them both out of the living room giggling.
Rabbo returned to reading the print-out as he heard footsteps going up the stairs.

Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.