Friday, February 1, 2013

Editor's Corner

February 2013

This issue has not been a simple one, partly because it is the first one without Leo C. Helmer, who passed away suddenly the 19th of January. You will find an article from Michael Craner, "Remembering Leo C. Helmer" that Leo himself would have enjoyed. Also for February which begins our 16th year online with Mike keeping us there with his expertise, Leo's column (Cookin' with Leo) is done by his oldest granddaughter Andrea Heisler Abernathy, who has done it before for him and will continue doing it in his honor.

See the pic below of Leo with Tom Heisler (uncle of his grandchildren)three of the grandchildren, Kathy Embrey, Andrea Abernathy, and Jason Heisler, with Leo's only child, Mary Ann Heisler.

Stepping out of the editor modus operandi and speaking from my heart, I thank everyone for all the prayers, kind words, and many condolences in the loss of possibly the kindest man I've ever known and loved. May all who shall miss him, be blessed.
Peg Jones (Angel Whispers); Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective); John I. Blair (Always Looking-People Who Made A Difference IV); Eric Shackle (Eric Shackle's Column); and Mattie Lennon (Irish Eyes) all who have supplied Pencil Stubs Online with interesting, fact filled, and eye opening columns through the years, are here to kick off the new volume.

The article, "They're Eating World's Oldest Living Thing" also by Eric Shackle of Australia, is actually about a place in Michigan, United States of America. This was news to yours truly, and may warrant a future visit.

Two poems from John I. Blair, "Beauty," and "Melodies and Memories" are joined by three from Bruce Clifford, "I Better Catch Myself," "Vampires and Angels," and "Inward Clouds of Gray."

Another chapter in the adult fantasy with rabbits by Mark Crocker "Rabbo II, Chapter 11-Problems" has been added. Previous chapters of this tale can be accessed by clicking the author's name.

See you in March! Once more we remind our loyal readers that without our co-founder and webmaster Michael Craner, we would not have been able to bring you the past fifteen years of issues. Thanks again, Mike.

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.


Remembering Leo C. Helmer

    When my phone rang that afternoon, my heart sank. Before I even answered it, I somehow knew we had lost a great man. I don’t handle death or terminal illness well, I don’t have many words of comfort to say, or in fact much to say at all. I don’t mourn a person’s death, I mourn their loss to me, or their loss to those I love, and the pain that loss causes them. My grief is entirely selfish in that regard. I believe those that have crossed over have left this life of grief and pain and are better off than we are, my grief comes from the fact that we can no longer share their light as we once did, or that their passing hurts others that I care about.
    I met Leo sometime in 1998 or '99 for the first time, and was instantly comfortable and at home with him. He had a personality that I thought anyone could be comfortable with. His wit and charm were disarming, and his stories and experiences were enthralling. Yes he was coarse and rough at times in his language and expression, but it was something you just sort of accepted as “Leo”.
    The more I got to know Leo, I found there were a lot of things we didn’t agree on. He confounded and frustrated me to no end at times, but I always admired him. I admired him because he was firm on his beliefs, and it seemed to me he’d lived his entire life following his beliefs and fiercely defending them when necessary, and never compromising.
    He contributed to Pencil Stubs Online nearly every month from its beginning in 1998 until January 2013, in numerous articles and columns throughout the years, sharing his love of cooking, Western Swing, philosophy, politics and religion. He also self-published stories of his life and jobs he held, illustrating a beautiful cross-section of Americana and history that few care to remember, if they even knew it existed. We are so blessed he shared it with us because I know it will live on now on the internet as first-hand historical accounts of life through his eyes.
    The short period of his life I knew him, I knew him as a crusty old curmudgeon, entrepreneur, historian, politician, union rep, master chef, and of course philosopher. The man never stopped or slowed down. Never gave up, or gave in. He took on the world like every battle was his last, and somehow always came out on top. Even now, I picture him in a battle of wits or arm wrestle with “Ole Saint Pete”, perhaps for better wages or benefits for the Angels, or maybe because St. Pete wouldn’t try his Chili.
    Regardless our differences, I always respected Leo, and I will forever miss and admire him. He was like a part of our family, though of no relation. My kids have grown up around several visits of “Grandma Mary and Grandpa Leo” over the years and have accepted them as part of our family as much as they have accepted us. We pray for Leo, but especially for Mary in this most trying of times. We know Leo is at peace now, and finally comfortable, but we pray more for Mary because we know how much he meant to her and how she must feel now without him.
    Please, spend some time and read some of the many, many contributions Leo C. has made to Pencilstubs, and America by reading a few of his submissions here: Leo's bio and list of published work in Pencilstubs.
I for one will miss him greatly, but I’m so grateful for all he has left behind for us to be inspired by, and remember him by.
Click on Michael L. Craner for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cookin' With Leo

Leo's oldest granddaughter Andrea Abernathy will be handling this column now. Leo had asked her a few years back to fill in for him when he was in the hospital. He was very pleased with her recipe choice, and said when he "retired from writing," he'd appreciate Andrea "getting the pleasure of doing the column."

Andrea Heisler Abernathy is an excellent cook and plans to eventually have cooking the focal point of her profession. She has studied, and continues to study Hotel Management, and delights in developing her own recipes. Besides cake decorating and planning special meals for family and friends, she is a full-time 'mommy', mother of four (the baby arrived this January 18), and is also a member of the National Guard. 

One could say she has her hands full, but she is always eager to share in family get-togethers, and usually takes on the bulk of meal preparations there. Like her grandfather, Andrea enjoys grilling. See pic at bottom of page. 

For February, Andrea suggests

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan

    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts rinsed and patted dry
    1 pkg cream cheese softened
    1 small pkg shredded Italian blend cheese
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup milk
    2 cups Italian bread crumbs
    1 24 oz jar of favorite spaghetti sauce
    Spaghetti noodles
    poultry seasoning
    garlic powder
    onion powder
    shredded Parmesan cheese
    cooking spray
Meat mallet
cookie sheet
foil or baking paper
5 qt pot

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Using meat mallet pound each chicken breast until they are about a 1/4 in thick all around
In a separate, bowl mix cream cheese and a 1/2 cup of Italian blend cheese.
Spoon about 2tbsp of cheese mixture into the center of each chicken breast. Fold the edges of the chicken up around the cheese and use the toothpicks to "pin" it together. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
In another bowl mix egg milk and season to taste with poultry seasoning onion and garlic powder.
Then dip each piece of chicken into egg mixture and then coat evenly with breadcrumbs.
Place chicken on lined cookie pan and spray with cooking spray.
Bake for 35 min until golden brown.
Spoon 2 tbsp on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake another ten minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve hot over spaghetti

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


They're Eating World's Oldest Living Thing!

    What do you do if scientists discover that you are living on top of one of the world’s oldest living thing? You start eating it. That’s what the people in the small US town of Crystal Falls, Michigan, are doing.
    Several years ago a ‘humungus fungus” (a gigantic mushroom) was discovered in the Crystal Falls area. It weighed about 11 tons and covered 37 acres. Scientists estimated that it was more than 1500 years old. (California’s giant sequoia (redwood) trees are more than 3000 years old, but no one eats them).
    “It’s hard to believe that this monster mushroom is growing in Michigan and not Texas,” travel and food writer Maxine Sommers (a Texan) commented in 2003.
    “For three days each August tourists and locals alike celebrate the giant fungus phenomenon ... There’s an extensive assortment of activities such as a Buckboard and Horseshoe Tournament; a Tube Float - here’s your chance to float down a river on an old tire tube; or register or the Volley Ball or Golf Tournament.
    “If your tastes run to a more sedentary pastime, you can begin the day at the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Hall for a Pancake Breakfast, then view the Fungus Fest Parade, watch the softball game, or gobble up ice cream at the Ice Cream Social, then toddle off over to the Pie Social for home made pies.
    “If you are still able to walk, the Salad Luncheon at St. Mark’s Church offers tasty culinary selections. At the end of the day, pull up a chair and view a fabulous fireworks display event."
Strange but true
Humungous Mushroom history
Fungus Festival
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Thursday, 3 January 2013, at 15:06

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

Eric Shackle's Column

Donkeys guard sheep from predators

    More and more farmers in Australia and North America are using donkeys to protect their livestock against predators. In Australia, the villains are dingoes, wild dogs and foxes, which attack sheep, calves and poultry. In America, coyotes, aka the American jackal, brush wolf, or prairie wolf, are the farmers’ enemy.
    Ironically, coyotes are protected in 12 US states, and hunting is regulated in most of North America.
    “Darling Downs grazier Bruce McLeish and his wife Angela turned to ‘guard donkeys’ after losing 300 sheep worth $110,000, to wild dogs in 2007” says a story on an ABC website.
    “As well as shooting, trapping and baiting the dogs, the McLeishes – who run 4500 sheep on Warahgai, near Karara, in the traprock country west of Warwick – got the donkey idea after hearing about a Toowoomba woman who ran free-range poultry with a donkey and found a fox which had been kicked to death.”
    “The latest weapon in the war against wild dogs is not bullets or bait, but floppy ears and a deafening call,” Karen Hunt wrote in an ABC website four years ago.
    “Guard donkeys are being used successfully in southern Queensland to guard sheep against attack from rapidly increasing numbers of wild dogs. In some cases losses from dog attacks have been so severe station owners have been forced to sell all their remaining sheep and switch to cattle.
    “Warwick station owner Bruce McLeish says he discovered guard donkeys were commonly used in the US for protecting livestock, but it was the hardiness of the animals which finally persuaded him to try them out. ‘The donkeys eat the same as sheep, are easy on fences, and if you’re in harder country like we are, you don’t have to do anything with their hooves, and they naturally live in the desert.
    ‘’’The donkey is a very inquisitive animal; and they naturally live in the desert so they are very hardy, even in our droughts.’
    “Although donkeys were initially hard to source, once released with the sheep, Mr McLeish says their natural instincts took over.
    “’The couple we’ve got are bonded with sheep. If anything goes into the paddock, they go out to the edge of the mob. If it’s something like a dog they will actually chase after them, trying to bite and kick them.’”
    Graziers in Australia, the US, and western Canada have successfully used donkeys as guard animals. The Ontario Predator Study reported that about 70% of the donkeys used were either excellent or good at protecting sheep from wolves, coyotes and dogs.
ABC news/Australia video Link
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Monday, 14 January 2013, at 20:31

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

Irish Eyes


    Since you are reading this you probably have some interest in Ireland and/or things Irish. I suggest that as soon as you finish reading Pencilstubs you go to (See photo at bottom of page.)
    There you will find an internet TV network that will tell you all you want to know about our green and misty island and its people.  An Lar TV embraces all aspects of Irish life. If you are interested in culture, heritage, history, language music and the arts they have something for you.
    It’s available on your computer, laptop, smart or android device, through media streaming players and XBMC technology.
    An Lar is on the air 24/7. On the main channel you’ll find Irish drama and comedy. The Rock channel brings you the best Rock musicians on the planet and you can visit
    The Trad Music Channel broadcasts Ireland traditional and folk music which is famous around the world.
    And . . . the next generation is not forgotten. There is a channel designed specifically for children and young people featuring programmes made for and by Irish kids. Cartoons, documentaries and all kinds of fun is available on deals with literature, poetry and dance and anything that could be deemed art. It’s all there; from the Irish Museum of Modern Art to Siamsa Tire to the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.
    It regularly brings live broadcasts from a variety of events around Ireland and upcoming events are listed.
    Operations Director, Susanne Carpenter and her team are not resting on their laurels. They have more channels in the pipeline and, in conjunction with CIE Writers’ Group, they are now working on a documentary "The Famine Pot." Much has been written about the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s. However, up to now, one aspect of it has been almost ignored by authors and film makers. The part played by Christian Churches in setting up “Soup-kitchens” has been largely air-brushed out of our history.
    This documentary will be shown on An Lar and it is planned to put it into schools at home and abroad. The producers would welcome the help of readers. If anyone has a picture or drawing with an “Irish famine flavour “ they are asked to scan it and email it to:
    They are also depending on sponsorship and donations would be welcome from any member of the Irish Diaspora.
    All contributors will be listed in the credits.
    The Motto of An Lar is: Watch it, Be Part of It, or in Irish Feach Air, Bi mar Chuid de!.
    They always welcome new contributors and information on how to become involved is on their website. And the good news is there are more channels on the way. Websites:
      And they are waiting to hear from you. Here’s their invitation:

      How to Submit Content

      As our name suggests, An Lár TV is TV with an Irish Flavour. Our aim is to provide a platform for Irish communities to share information and entertainment. Our ethos is one of inclusiveness, and we are open to work with anyone who wishes to share their message with our audience. Our primary caveat is that content should be suitable for a general audience and should not contain any offensive material.If you have programming content that you would like to broadcast, or have interesting proposals for new content, please contact : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at 00 353 1 486 55 66
      Thanks again,
      An Lár Tv

    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Always Looking--People Who Made A Difference IV

Pete Seeger

    A member of the Community Church of New York, Pete Seeger was born to a musicologist and a music teacher. Music and activism blended naturally for Seeger, who at sixteen saw a performance that has since directed his life. As Seeger recalled: "That summer I visited a square dance festival in Asheville, North Carolina, and fell in love with the old-fashioned five-string banjo, rippling out a rhythm to one fascinating song after another." These songs seemed frank, straightforward, honest. "I liked the rhythms," Seeger said. "I liked the melodies, time tested by generations of singers. Above all, I liked the words."
    Seeger entered Harvard in 1936, but Harvard proved a weaker attraction than the life of a traveling musician; Seeger left college in his sophomore year, setting out to absorb American folk music straight from its roots in communities across the country. Swapping watercolor paintings for food and shelter, Seeger traveled all around the United States, learning "a little something from everybody" as he sought to master the five-string banjo and internalize the folk traditions he'd come to love.
    On the road Seeger met Woody Guthrie and Huddie Ledbetter, who both became strong influences and collaborators in Seeger's early career. In addition to churches, migrant camps, and everything between, Seeger made his way to the Library of Congress, where he fortified his background in folk music as an assistant in the Archive of American Folk Song. Seeger, Guthrie, and others formed Seeger's first group, the Almanac Singers, in 1940. Seeger and Guthrie traveled throughout the United States and Mexico as singer-activists, bolstering labor movements with song as they blended activism and folk music.
    In 1942, Seeger joined the Army, performing for his fellow soldiers and picking up "soldier songs". Discharged a corporal in 1945, Seeger founded People's Songs, Inc., a musicians' union through which he hoped to bind labor movements and folk music in a relationship that would advance both. People's Songs eventually grew to 3,000 members, and Seeger remained involved in politics, campaigning for 1948 Progressive candidate Henry A. Wallace and helping to establish the musical side of labor organizing.
    In 1948 Seeger co-founded The Weavers, a folksinging quartet with which he recorded such classics as "If I Had a Hammer," "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," and "On Top of Old Smoky." Seeger also toured extensively on his own, helping to establish the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival and selling out such venues as Carnegie Hall.
    His position in mainstream music was stifled by blacklisting, however, as controversy surrounding his ties to the Communist Party led major television networks to keep him off the air. The House Committee on Un-American Activities called Seeger to hearings in 1955; instead of citing the Fifth Amendment as grounds for silence, Seeger cited the First, a move for which he was sentenced to a year in jail for contempt of court. Citing his unconditional willingness to share his music regardless of supposed political alliances, Seeger even offered to play a song for the court.
    Although his sentence for contempt was soon overturned, Seeger remained blacklisted by many organizations. Nonetheless, he remained firm in his love of sharing music. "I'd sing for the John Birch Society or the American Legion, if they asked," he said. "So far they haven't." Seeger continued playing in spite of political controversy, recording such hits as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "Turn, Turn, Turn." His clear and catchy singing and his mastery of the five-string banjo -- as well as steel drums and several other instruments -- have won him tremendous popularity.
    His work has since extended to environmentalism and folklorist studies of America's music. Whether in songwriting, musicology, or activism, Seeger has enjoyed a life dedicated to music and to humanity, winning thousands of admirers and greatly influencing folk music and activism alike. (See photo bottom of page.)
Adapted from an article by Thomas Blair posted at Harvard Square Library.
Click on John I. Blair   for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.



A question that comes up quite a bit in emails from people I know in the U.S.
“What do you do for entertainment in China?”
I tell them like most people I enjoy watching movies but I also enjoy singing the popular karaoke tunes. That was something I enjoyed doing in the U.S. as well. Karaoke is extremely popular in China just like in America and throughout the rest of the world which I was glad to see when I arrived here.

The Karaoke technology was first invented in Japan in the 1980s. In 1992, I discovered the Karaoke rave in Malaysia, Australia, and believe it or not India. It has been over twenty years since I traveled to those places and technology has advanced quite a bit since then.
In today’s world hundreds of thousands of songs can be stored on a single portable hard drive. The person running the Karaoke songs can easily locate the songs from a laptop computer. If the Karaoke DJ still can’t locate your favorite song they can download the karaoke version from the internet in a matter of minutes.

Singing is one of my favorite pastimes and I have discovered many locals here with extraordinary musical talents. I wish today’s technology was around when I was a teenager I would have discovered earlier that I could actually hold a tune. American music is having a huge impact on the Chinese culture it is heard everywhere and the youth can’t get enough of it. American music and films are popular throughout the world though especially among children and teenagers.

The popularity of American movies is also having a huge impact on the Chinese culture. The Chinese are willing to spend 150 RMB (approximately $23.00 USD) to watch an American film in an IMAX movie theater. I have gone to IMAX theaters here in China and I must say it's a great experience. I like telling the Children here that when I was their age I could see a movie in America for 25 American Pennies. I then explain that 1 RMB is now worth 16 American Pennies. They always reply by saying “Movies expensive in China.”

I mostly download movies off the internet and project them on to my apartment wall. It doesn't give you the same bang for the multiple dollars as an IMAX movie theater but it can still be quite enjoyable. I like watching the films with a bowl of microwave popcorn and a soda or a beer and it’s much cheaper than what you would pay at a Chinese movie theater.
In the apartment building where I live there is a lobby with a couch, chairs, a coffee table, and end tables. The lobby is a great place to project movies for the kids that live in my apartment building and they like watching the movies there too. A couple weekends a month I show an American Children’s movie there to entertain the kids.

The last time I showed a movie in my apartment lobby was a few weeks ago and the entire area was filled with children with beanbags to sit on. They always reserve a chair for me to sit on because I’m not a beanbag person. Bowls of cut watermelon will miraculously appear for everyone to munch on too.

I showed them the 1978 movie version of Superman which they never seen before and now they can’t wait to see the sequel which came out over thirty years ago. The children here are extremely cute and they all clapped their hands every time Christopher Reeves turned into Superman. I enjoy the time I spend with those kids and I find that when I entertain them I’m entertained in the process.

In the City of Suzhou where I live and teach there are various amusement parks with many fun rides. If that’s not your cup of tea - you can always take a boat ride along the local river here. The river runs throughout the city of Suzhou and into an ancient part of the city. It’s a great tourist attraction for Foreigner’s like me with all sorts of shops and ancient buildings. The ancient buildings give you a glimpse of the city’s ancient past. In one of the ancient buildings there is a large rug on the floor with a board game in the middle of the rug. The Chinese have been playing that same game for thousands of years and it is still a form of entertainment for many of the Chinese elders.

The streets in the ancient part of the city are very narrow - much too narrow for cars to drive on. Some of the buildings and gardens were built around 2000 years ago. I enjoyed taking the tour and I told a young boy in one of the buildings that the building we were in is older than America. He told me he has been to America too and that he enjoyed my country very much.

There are also plenty of restaurants and bars in Suzhou that serve a variety of Chinese and western style foods. I enjoy going out to eat with others and meeting new people in the process. You can find all sorts of ethnic foods from around the world in the city here if you just take the time to look.

The internet is also a form of entertainment for me because today’s technology enables me to stay in touch with people all over the world. With the Skype program on my computer I can see who I am talking to and I enjoy using the video phone when communicating with my cousin in Italy. I also use Skype when communicating with former students of mine who are now studying in Canada and the U.S.

My students always ask me, “Mr. Tom what makes you happy?” I always tell them true happiness is a state of being. You experience it more fully when you reveal it to others. The same can be said for those who seek joy in life. Joy is simply a state of mind the more you reveal it to others the more joyful you become in life.

Our ancestors did not have the technology we have and yet they found their entertainment through simple games and by conversing with one another. A simple conversation and the telling of great stories to children are truly richer than today’s computers and IMAX movie theaters. The imagination can be a marvelous tool to develop especially when it comes to the art of entertaining.

The telling of a great story seems to be left to Hollywood these days but none the less the art of storytelling was a great form of entertainment for our ancestors. Those who possessed such talents were sought out and held in great esteem. The storytellers were greatly entertained too by simply taking the time in telling the stories. Adults and children alike who were the recipients of those great gifts - passed down through the ages - were truly enriched by the experience and entertained in the process.

Most of my entertainment comes through the interaction with the Children here. When I hear their laughter it reminds me of how things used to be when my Grandfather told me the entertaining stories of old. He too inherited those gifts and talents from his ancestors and hopefully those same gifts are being passed on to generations to come by an old Foreigner in China.

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:

    Click on Thomas F. O'Neill  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Angel Whispers

February’s message of love from your Angels

The message from our angels this month is as follows:
Children, we, your Angels, are with each of you today. We need you to know that you are deeply loved by us. We will help you to feel this love, when you go within to your heart place. It’s important for you to know that this is where we live, deep within the core of your being.

When you feel sadness or feel that you are lonely, know that we here for you, dear child. Talk to us, your angels; tell us what is on your mind. Express to us, your angels, all that you are feeling at this time. By doing this, you will know or you will feel our presence. When you express to us, what it is that you need from us, then we will know of your needs and can make a plan of action for you to follow.

Sometimes writing a letter to a specific angel helps and then writing what our response is helps too. This will help you to get the issue out into the open and it will help the angels to send an answer. Be open to what you are hearing, when writing the letter back from the angels.

Create a place in your home where you can speak to your angels. This place will need to be a place where you will have complete quiet for when you are meditating with the angels. You might want to have a white candle and some things from the earth such as crystals, feathers, and maybe a statue of some of your favorite angels. Make this your special place where you can be with them and to hear their words of love and peace.

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

Melodies And Memories

A snatch of melody
From 1946 or so
Runs through my head,
Some dance band piece.

The streamlined Silvertone
Plays softly in the living room;
My mother’s dressed for company;
Her starched cotton rustles.

The sweet almond scent
Of her Jergens,
Hints of roses from her talcum,
Perfume the air.

Tender potroast, baked potatoes,
Laughter and happy looks;
Uncle Jack is home at last
After two years in the Air Force.

All this from four notes
In a minor key
With a Latin beat, 
Like pressed flowers in a book.

©2004 John I. Blair

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

Vampires and Angels

I feel lost in time
I lost my place in the line
you are always on my mind
Why can't you remember

I feel lost and insecure
I fought the battles and war
I thought our love would endure
Now I don't know what all these lives have been for

When I look into your eyes I can remember
So why can't she see
Why can't she remember how it used to be
Why are we left this way
Will she ever remember

When I'm down
Hopeful she would come around
This past life with vampires and angels

Then there's you
You leave me in this solitude
Why am I the only one who remembers our love

©1/31/13 Bruce Clifford

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

I Better Catch Myself

There's no one to believe in
There's no one to call
There's no one left to catch me
Maybe I better catch myself
I better catch my own fall

There's no truth to this justice
There's no rhyme or reason
There's no one left to catch me
Maybe I better catch myself
I better catch myself

Every time I look into her eyes
My legs grow weak
My heart skips a beat

Every time I see the sunrise
I wish she was with me
Then I would be complete

There's no one to believe in
There's no one to call
There's no one left to catch me
Maybe I better catch myself
I better catch my own fall
I better catch my own fall

©1/11/13 Bruce Clifford

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


A butterfly is beautiful
Sipping nectar from a rose
But I think that you can tell
The butterfly itself looks just as fine
Supping serum from a rotting dog
Unless beauty truly dwells
Only in the mind and nose.

©2004 John I. Blair

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Inward Clouds of Gray

Facing the truth
Looking at you
I'm not fazed by these inward clouds of gray
When will things go our way

Forced between time
The memory won't decline
If the stars were all aligned
If you were mine

Silence fades into the noise
The quiet stares out to the void
Mixed messages meant to destroy
Every good girl and boy

Facing the truth
Looking at you
I'm not fazed by these inward clouds in your head
Why won't you listen to anything I've said

©1/8/13 Bruce Clifford

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

Rabbo Tales II-Chapter 11


    Yhva sat alone thinking about Ra and the potential problems that he saw with Ra and his followers. The long talk with Ra on Ra’s private telepathic mode had told him much about Ra. Not that Ra had been aware that Yhva had been deep into his mind and had seen much of what Ra thought about things and how much he feared Merwyn. And that also bothered Yhva as Merwyn seemed such a nice gentle man. He did know that Merwyn and been a general and that he had fought against Toner and that Merwyn was a brave man. But other than that he knew very little about Merwyn.
    Yhva had tried to astral travel to where Merwyn lived and found that it had some very heavy shields that were mechanical in nature and that no one person could of created on their own. Maybe he and the twelve Sirians could have come up with a shield that powerful, but not Merwyn and his daughter.
    And then there was this mysterious daughter of Merwyn’s that he had yet to see as the shields had stopped him from being able to see what she looked like.
    When he had been in Ra’s mind he had seen why Merwyn had placed such heavy shields around the area that he lived. And Yhva wished that he had come to the third planet sooner. But well there was no use being upset with something that he could not fix.
    But Ra. Now there was a man that was going to be a problem. It was clear that Ra thought he could use Yhva to get at Merwyn and that was something which Yhva found a little unsettling.
    The fact was that from what Yhva had heard about Merwyn all he wanted was to be left alone and not to be involved in peoples fighting among themselves. But Yhva also knew that if pushed Merwyn would protect his daughter even if it meant that he would died.
    “But what to do with Ra” thought Yhva.
    It was clear that Ra would do whatever he could do to harm and even destroy Merwyn so what was to be done with Ra and Merwyn.
    The answer was simple. One of them had to be removed and taken out of the picture. Yet it would have to be done in such away that the one that was removed could still be used as a tool at a later time if needed.
    The only question was which one would be the right one to remove?
    Now that was a tricky question and one that Yhva would need as many facts as possible before he could come up with an answer that would suit his needs the best.
    Yhva thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock at the office door.
    “Enter please” said Yhva.
    A woman of about five feet four walked in carrying a tray with two cool drinks and a plate of battered fish and pasta cooked in olive oil garlic and herbs.
    “I thought you would be hungry” said the woman.
    “Thank you Pele. Please sit. I see that you brought enough food for you and I to eat. I assume that you have something on your mind” said Yhva.
    The woman laughed and looked at the door until it closed.
    “I am glad that you have followed though with our plan of taking over as president of the village. Things could not of worked out better. And I am just so glad that you did not have to work out how to get Angus out of the way. He is a good man and it would have been a waste to have to harm him. It could have been very nasty and I know how you would of hated to do him any harm” said Pele.
    “True. The thing is that I really do like Angus. Just that he would not of done what was needed to get things set to order” said Yhva thoughtfully.
    “No he would have procrastinated too much. But that is the Sirian way. But for a Sirian he moves fast. Not as fast as he should but still fast for a Sirian” Pele said with an amused smile on her round face.
    “Now what have you really come to talk to me about” said Yhva.
    “Your talk with Ra” said Pele.
    “Ahh yes that” said Yhva thoughtfully.
    “You have to be careful. He could do you great damage if he figured out who you are. Or rather who your grand father was” said Pele slyly.
    “What that I am Toner's grandson. That I am more powerful than my grand father or any Sirian ever born and that my grandfather would of killed me if he knew what I was” said Yhva looking at Pele deeply.
    “And what are you” said Pele teasing Yhva.
    “You know well that I am a heretic. You know well that I wanted to undo all the harm that my grandfather did. I just wish that I did not have his blood in my veins as it scares me that I could turn into him so easy” said Yhva.
    “And don’t forget that your father had you genetically altered so that you would be as powerful as you are. Plus I think that you could father children on this planet. While your father was no better than Toner he did have longer sight and that just might save our race and that would undo the crimes of both your father and grandfather” said Pele.
    Yhva laughed “are you offering again”.
    “Don’t forget I am not Sirian” laughed Pele.
    “How could I forget or any of us” said Yhva smiling. “You are far shorter than us and you are cuddly chubby”.
    Pele laughed “yes I am and that’s the way my race is. You where lucky that your father picked me as a nanny for you and not that tall sour looking woman that he took as a lover after your mother was killed. If he had know that I was training you in the ways of my world I think he would of killed me and you as well”.
    “And you taught me so much” laughed Yhva. “And not just about how to control my emotions or use my abilities to the highest level. I am just sad that I will never find a lover that will equal you”.
    “You will one day. I am just sorry that we could not have a child. But well your father saw to that. And I do so love you. It’s just that you need to spread those genes of yours around. Its pity that Aerten is still in love with he late husband as she would of made a great mate for you. Now the daughter she had would be a good match and mate when she is old enough” said Pele smiling.
    “Well we will just have to see how she grows up won’t we” laughed Yhva. “Now this mysterious daughter of Merwyn what do you know about her”?
    “Isis and Merwyn had a daughter” said Pele.
    “Yes they did” said Yhva.
    “Now that is news to me. She would be hmm, eight hundred and something now. Clean genes too in both parents” said Pele thoughtfully. “Merwyn could breed with her and their children might be as strong and as powerful as you. Maybe we could arrange that. Or if this daughter of his is powerful you could bred with her and then the children”.
    “What” said Yhva shocked?
    “Get over it Yhva we are talking about the survival of the race here. If you get this daughter of Merwyn’s pregnant and she has a daughter or even a son we can bred from them. If she has a son by you she can bred with her son and then it does not matter as that child will be so powerful it can bred with the people of this planet and in time bring them up to your level of abilities. Or if we get Merwyn too bred with her and she has daughters you can bred from her daughters and the children can bred with the humans. In other words the whole planet in time will be your children”.
    “Is that the only way” asked Yhva with the shocked tone still in his voice.
    “It is if you want the race to live” said Pele. “Look at my own people. Sirian blood mix with ours and what happened. We are far better off. True we are not as powerful as you are Yhva but just a few thousand years and we will be. We will be. And that time frame is nothing next to the life of a race”.
    “I know. But the way you are planning so moral wrong” said Yhva still in a state of shock.
    “We need pure Sirians to get it going. And how many are there on this planet? Forty maybe fifty. That’s a weak gene pool. And out of those forty or fifty how many are worth breeding from or can even have children” said Pele.
    “I know I know. Just well your idea is wrong. But you are right it’s about the survival of the race. But well you are right. Even if it turns my stomach and revolts me. But you are right, it is about the survival. I will have to think about it and get use to the idea” said Yhva starting to clear his mind and think.
    “You don’t have time to think today. The elders from across the valley are coming to visit and you need to tell them something to keep them happy” said Pele.
    Yhva laughed and looked at Pele “This is a lot more work than I thought it would be”
    “Running a village is far less work than running a planet” said Pele with a sly smile making her lips twitch.
    “Still I am not sure who I should get out of the way. Its either Ra or Merwyn” said Yhva thoughtfully.
    “Ok before the elders arrive lets quickly look at the facts. And forget about wishful thinking” said Pele. “Ok Merwyn first if you would please”.
    “Ok I know very little about him but this is what I do know” said Yhva marshalling his thoughts. “Merwyn is a general. He led the 4th mountain warfare unit on Sirius against my grandfather. I mean against Toner. He did not burn and destroy if anything he built. Plus he treated the prisoner with honor and treated the wounded of both sides. So we can say that he is a kind man. He keeps his house here on this planet shielded so I can say he either has something to hide or he is a private man”.
    “Just facts ,Yhva. Not wishful thinking” interrupted Pele.
    “Right. Ok he is a kind man. He has a daughter. He helped us come to this third planet and helped us setup this village. He is a good planner. That’s about it really Pele. We don’t know much about him. You must have more to add as you were on Sirian when the war was being fought”.
    “I don’t know that much either other than that he loved his bond mate so much that when he was surround and his bond mate was captured he surrendered instead of fighting to the death like an oath keeper would” said Pele.
    “Ok so we can add to what we do know about him that he loved his bond mate” said Yhva thoughtfully. “Most of the list shows that he is a good man. But the list is not that long really”.
    “Ok what about Ra” said Pele.
    “Ok we know he served under Merwyn as a regiment commander. We know that Merwyn saved his life and brought him here. We also know that when he left Sirius he was very much the same view point as Merwyn. I saw that in his mind. But something happened that changed him when he had been on this planet for about a hundred years. I am sure it was how the local people were treating them because of their abilities. But I stray from the facts. Ra likes the feeling of power that he has here. He likes how the people treat them as a god and he likes being looked upon as the head god. In other words he is power hungry. He has a cruel streak and will do what ever it takes to get his plans done. Even killing other Sirians. He is in such fear of Merwyn that he wants to kill him. Hmm so what do I have so far? Ok Ra is power hungry. Ra likes to be worshiped as a god. Ra fears Merwyn greatly. Ra has great control of the locals in his area. Ra rules by fear. Ra has a long term plan that he wants to take over this whole planet and start a new Sirian race. Ra also is a good planner and a good administrator. Ra is also training a force of locals to attack Merwyn”.
    “Really” said Pele looking at Yhva.
    “Yes he has a force of about two thousand that are fully trained and they are training others. But lets get back to Ra for a moment and what we know about him” said Yhva.
    Pele was about to speak when there was a knock on the door.
    “Enter” said Yhva.
    The young man that acted as translator popped his head in though the now open door and said “You wanted to know when the elders from the other village had arrived. Well they are in the square heading this way”.
    Yhva smiled “Thank you. I will be out in a moment”.
    Yhva turned to Pele and stood up. “Now to make amends for what I did on market day”.
    Yhva walked around from behind his desk kissed Pele on her forehead and walked out of the door heading towards the village square.
    Rabbo was sitting in the garden talking with Big sister, Boxer and mischief about the food that had been stored for them and the heater that had kept their burrow warm though the winter months.
    “Yes much well eating” said Big Sister. “Tell human man that thank much”
    “I will do so” said Rabbo.
    “Much good eating and much fat and kittens me make” said Boxer.
    Rabbo laughed and looked at boxer carefully. “I hope you did not mate with your sisters or grand children”?
    “Nooo Big sister say that bad bad bad” answered boxer.
    “Good” said Rabbo.
    “No bad bad bad” replied Boxer, big sister and mischief.
    Rabbo laughed that they had taken to heart what he had told them about inbreeding and how bad it was.
    “Are there many new kittens” asked Rabbo.
    “Some” said Mischief as she turned and sniffed her own stomach.
    Rabbo closed his eyes and could see the five little fetuses inside Mischief. He then turned his minds towards Big sister and saw that she too was pregnant with six unborn rabbit kittens.
    “How many others passed away in the winter” asked Rabbo knowing that one of his brothers had gone missing and was more than likely eaten by something in the woods.
    “Five missing in snow and cold time” said big sister “seven pass in sleep of great old”.
    “Hmm twelve and how many born” asked Rabbo.
    “Three litters so far and more to come” said big sister.
    Rabbo mused that while twelve rabbits had gone from the warren there was more being born than had gone. He was not sure if it was a good thing or not as it meant that there were more mouths to feed than the mouths that had been lost.
    Long ears came hopping out of a burrow and looked at Rabbo before heading up to the watch point.
    Rabbo moved away from big sister and boxer while Mischief followed along behind.
    Mischief looked around before she spoke.
    “Much worried about soft eye’s she no want to breed and she no smell right. Female human look at her please” said mischief.
    “I will ask Athena to look at her and see if she is sick again” said Rabbo worried tone.
    “Good thank you” said Mischief.
    Rabbo moved up next to Long ears and looked around to see what long ears was listening too. But thankfully there was nothing to hear.
    Rabbo wondered how his other brother had just gone missing but he thought as it would be sad that it was better not to ask. Beside Long ears was on guard duty listening for anything that would mean danger.
    Rabbo watched as Soft eyes hopped slowly across the dirt towards where he was sitting. He watched with a heavy heart as soft eyes struggled to climb the small amount of dirt up to where he was sitting.
    As he sat and watched soft eyes he wondered why his grand daughter had to suffer so and that it was not right that one so innocent should suffer as she was suffering. Rabbo started to slide down of from the area that Long ears was using as a watch post and was about to help soft eyes when he heard Athena’s voice in his head on the private telepathic mode.
    “Don’t help her. She needs to find out on her own if she can do it or if she can’t climb up. If you help her she will never learn what she can and cannot do” said Athena with kindness in her voice.
    “But I don’t want to see her suffering and hurting like she is. Plus mischief is worried about her as she is not eating much and does not seem interested in mating” said Rabbo his voice full of worry.
    “Have her come up to the house when she is ready” said Athena. “I will check her out and if she has growths again I will try something different”.
    “If she has growths do you have to make her suffer to make her better” said Rabbo his telepathic voice betraying his worry.
    “Sadly I do. I don’t like making things hurt but sometimes that is what has to be done to help heal. Would you have her sick all the time and die before she should” said Athena.
    “No I want her well and health. I don’t want her in pain and sick. If I could take all her pain upon myself I would” said Rabbo
    “You love her don’t you” said Athena softly.
    “I don’t know what love is. I try to understand. But if love is the well being of another is more important than your own well being then yes. She is my grand daughter and of all my grand daughters she is the one I am closest too” said Rabbo sadly.
    “Can you put it into words how she makes you feel” said Athena gentle.
    “When she hurts my stomach flip flops. When she is well and happy I am happy and cheerful. When I don’t see her for a few days I worry that she is ok. If I don’t hear her voice I miss it. But it’s more than the worry and missing her and being happy when she is happy. It's umm I don’t have the words. It’s like umm. Well her wellbeing is important to me” said Rabbo starting to get confused.
    “You can put some into words but not the deeper feelings. That is love. All that you said adds up to love. Even the things you don’t have words for and no one does have words for those feelings and things that you can’t put into words. I feel the same way about dad and Merryn and Wenna. I can’t put those things into words because there are not the words” said Athena also sounding confused.
    Soft eyes at last struggles up next to Rabbo and sat next to him huffing and puffing at the hard work that it had been for her to make it up next to Rabbo.
    And for no reason Rabbo felt tears dipping out of his eyes and down onto his nose.
    “Rabbo you cry. Why” asked Soft eyes as she gasped for each breath.
    “Because you have taught me the meaning of the word love” said Rabbo brushing a tear away from the end of his nose.
    “What is love” asked Soft eyes.
    “Love is many things it is more than just liking someone or something. For me it is what you make me feel” Rabbo turned and sniffed Soft eyes.
    Soft eyes smelt wrong and she was having a hard time breathing and not just from the short hard climb to join Rabbo. She was shaking as if very tired and could hardly keep her head up straight. Her eyes flopped down and she laid down next to Rabbo.
    “ATHENA” Rabbo hailed.
    “I’m coming” said Athena a worried tone filled her voice.
    “What’s wrong Rabbo” said Merwyn.
    “It's Soft eyes she is very sick” said Rabbo
    “I’m coming too” said Merwyn and urgent tone in his voice.
    “Talk to her Rabbo and get her to answer you” said Athena.
    “Soft eyes look at me” said Rabbo though his tears that streamed down his nose.
    Soft eyes opened her eyes and looked at Rabbo.
    “Talk to me please” said Rabbo.
    “Tell me what love is” said soft eyes.
    “You are love. You must stay awake. Please” said Rabbo.
    “But I am sleepy. I want to sleep” said soft eyes her voice getting weaker.
    Rabbo reached down and touched her front paw. Soft eyes opened her eyes again and then suddenly there was an ultra cold blast of air and soft eyes disappeared.
    Rabbo looked around in panic to see where soft eyes had gone. He turned and looked and turned and looked but could not see her anyplace.
    Athena ran down the pathway with her medical kit in one hand.
    “Where is soft eyes” said Athena.
    Rabbo looked up confused and still crying “she is not here. There was a cold so cold blast of air and then she was gone”.
    Merwyn came running down the pathway and stopped and looked around. He sat down on the ground and closed his eyes.
    Athena picked Rabbo up and started to rock him in her arms. “Its ok it ok sweet rabbit. I’m here and I love you”.
    Rabbo burrowed his head into Athena and cried that he had lost Soft eyes.
    Merwyn opened his eyes and looked up at Rabbo and Athena.
    “Bastet came and got her. She is with Bastet and she is being held in stasis” said Merwyn.
    Faintly at first and then stronger Rabbo, Merwyn and Athena heard Angus’s voice.
    “The rabbit is being held in stasis until Bastet recovered from her jump” said Angus. “Where did she learn that trick”?
    “It's something she worked out on her own” said Athena.
    “I’ve never heard of anyone being able to self teleport let alone carry something with them” said Angus his voice now much stronger.
    “Merwyn can do it too” said Rabbo.
    “Umm yes but it takes a great toll on the body” said Merwyn.
    “I can only guess” said Angus. “I need to tend to Bastet. I will talk at you later (laughter)”.
    “So Bastet came and got her” said Rabbo still a tone of sadness in his voice. “Will she be ok”?
    “You know the answer to that Rabbo” said Merwyn smiling.
    “Ahh yes I do don’t I” said Rabbo.
    Merwyn interrupted Rabbo “She will be ok. Once Bastet gets to working on her she will as good as new. Better maybe”?
    “She already has some of your abilities and this might help Bastet” said Athena moving Rabbo to her other shoulder and looking at Merwyn.
    “Rabbo you ok” said Cat who had just arrived. “I heard you shout”
    “I am ok I guess, Cat. Just that soft eyes is very sick and Bastet came and got her and took her back to her place” Rabbo said looking down from Athena’s shoulder.
    Athena put Rabbo down and looked around at the rabbits that had gathered near by and were watching them.
    Mischief hopped up and stopped in front of Rabbo. “Soft eyes were she gone”?
    “Bastet took her to be healed” said Rabbo with fresh tears forming in his eyes.
    Mischief moved in closer and Rabbo reached out and held her and hugged her as the tears once again streamed down his nose.
    Rabbo comforted Mischief explained as best that he could that Soft eyes was not dead and that she was going to be ok?
    To Athena Merwyn and Cat it sound more like that Rabbo was trying to convince himself more than Mischief.
    Athena picked up her medical kit and started to walk back up the pathway with Merwyn and Cat.
    The downstairs was quiet and empty when Rabbo returned to the house. He hopped over to his elevator and rode upstairs and looked in on Wenna and Merryn who where curled up together on their bed taking there midday nap. He paused a moment to just look at the two young girls cuddled together and thought about how such wonderful children could be. He realized that Athena and Merwyn where shaping them carefully by teaching though a number of different ways.
    One way was by how they lived their lives and that they set the example that they wanted Wenna and Merryn to follow.
    Rabbo hopped to the bathroom and hopped up on the counter to clean his teeth and to wash his face so that he would feel refreshed.
    Faintly from down the hallway he heard a faint thumb thumb noise that stopped and then started again.
    Rabbo then went back downstairs and went over to the cold storage room and made himself a salad of fresh greens and dandelion leaves.
    As he sat eating Rabbo started to think deeply about Soft eyes and that at last he knew what love was and while he could think the feelings there really was not the words for what love was. There was something about love that was a mix of emotions a mix of chemical reaction in the brain and body and something more.
    What it was Rabbo could not put into words?
    True the wellbeing of Soft eyes was more important than his own well being. And her happiness made him happy. And when she was in pain or hurting he felt sad and a little depressed. But there was far more to the simple word called “love”. Far more than Rabbo had words for and something that as hard as he tried to put into words he could not.
    Maybe Athena was right and the emotion and feeling of love could not be put into words. Maybe it was a state beyond that of normal feelings and emotions.
    Too love someone totally without judging them. And taking them as they are and not trying to make them into something that they were not. Too take them with all their problems and issues and to love the whole being as they are and not as he thought them to be. Maybe that was what love is?
    Rabbo hopped over to the sink carrying his empty bowl washed it and put it in the rack to dry.
    He hopped back outside and sat down on the chopping stump and thought about love again.
    Maybe Athena and Merwyn had that love too that the happiness and well being of each other was more important to them than their own well being. Maybe that was why they gave the gift of themselves to each other. After all as Athena had once said “the gift of the body to another is the highest gift there is”.
    Rabbo thought about that and had to agree that there was no other gift that could be given that would be worth so much. The gift of the self to someone that you cared about so deeply that the feelings could not be put into words.
    “Yes that was it. That was what love had to be” thought Rabbo.
    A shadow fell across Rabbo and standing behind him was a naked Athena.
    “My you were deep in thought. Are you still worried about soft eyes” asked Athena squatting down next to Rabbo.
    “You love Merwyn deeply” said Rabbo.
    “Well yes that goes without saying” said Athena.
    “You think of his well being before your own don’t you”?
    “Yes I do”.
    “And that’s why you give the gift of yourself to him”.
    “Most of the time Rabbo. But sometimes it’s for me and my pleasure. But mostly it’s for him. Well kind of. It’s a two way thing. I gift myself to him but he does the same thing for me. But I try to be the best lover I can and his enjoyment makes me happy and that’s the important thing. But I know that he is doing the same thing so it makes it even better for us both”.
    “So it's love” said Rabbo trying to sound as if he was not confused.
    “Yes it is love. The highest form of love. And pure love. Everything offered and given and not wanting anything in return” said Athena.
    “Oh. I thought I understood what love was” said Rabbo giving up and letting his confusion show in his voice.
    Athena laughed and stood up and looked around “I don’t understand love either and to be honest I don’t think anyone does. I just have what I think is love and that’s all”.
    Rabbo turned and looked to the west “I think there is a storm coming. Those clouds are dark”.
    “Hmmm they are dark and the air is getting chilly I better put something warm on and light a fire” said Athena turning towards the house.
    Rabbo hopped down of the stump and looked around spotting the semi wild rabbits digging in the garden.
    Rabbo smiled to himself as he knew that they were keeping their part of the bargain that they would help till the soil and in return when winter came they would have food to get them though the winter. Plus they could eat some of the food in the summer and fall as well as long as they did not eat too much.
    But there was a problem now.
    There were far more rabbits than there ever had been and that this winter there might not be enough food to go around for all of them.
    Either more land would have to be tilled or some of the rabbits would have to move away and make a new home for themselves were they would have plenty of food though the winter.
    Maybe it would be a good idea of some of the rabbits set up a new warren on the other side of the woods near Helena?
    Rabbo would have to ask Helena if that was possible?
    Athena’s voice drifted out of the house singing as she started to work on making dinner.
    As Rabbo started to hop towards the house Merryn and Wenna came running out and headed towards Rabbo. They danced around him laughing and giggling.
    Wenna reached down and picked Rabbo up struggling with his heavy weight as she tried to put his front paws over her shoulders.
    “Wabbo tell us a story” said Merryn.
    “Yes a story a story” said Wenna almost dropping Rabbo.
    Rabbo looked back to the west and could see that the clouds were moving there way and that sitting down outside to tell a story might result in them getting cold or wet or both.
    “Let’s go into the house and I will tell you a story” said Rabbo.
    Wenna walked slowly and unsteady into the house holding on to Rabbo so that he would not fall.
    As they passed Athena in the kitchen Rabbo hard Athena giggling and he looked over at her and saw that she was watching them pass by.
    “That has to be uncomfortable” said Athena on Rabbo’s private telepathic mode.
    “Not just uncomfortable but painful too” answered Rabbo on the same mode.
    “Wenna I think you are hurting Rabbo” said Athena.
    Wenna turned looked at Athena then turned her head to look at Rabbo and noticed that Rabbo was wincing in pain. She put Rabbo down gentle and looked at him with sad eyes.
    “Sowee wabbo” said Wenna almost with tears in her eyes.
    Rabbo hopped on though to the living room hopped up in Merwyn’s chair and sat and faced Merryn and Wenna who had seated themselves at the foot of the chair.
    Rabbo thought for a moment and thought it was best to tell them a moral story that would teach them something and also make them think.
    But before Rabbo started Merryn stood up smiled and said “I get dinks for all as wabbo need dink for speaking”.
    Merryn left the living room but returned with Athena who had a tray of oatmeal cookies and three cups with juice in them. She placed them down next to Rabbo and left the living room.
    Rabbo turned to Wenna and Merryn and started to tell them a story about a little rabbit that always tried so hard to do what was right.
    By the time Rabbo had finished his story it was raining hard outside and the smell of fresh baked bread came drifting into the living room which made Rabbo and the girls very hungry.
    So Rabbo Wenna and Merryn got up and walked into the kitchen and looked around.
    The bread was sitting on the counter top cooling so that it would not crush when it was cut into. But there was no sign of Athena in the kitchen anywhere.
    So Rabbo hopped over to the ramp that lead up to the counter top and walked up. When he got to the three loafs of bread there was a note in Athena’s hand writing.
    The note read “Don’t even think about it”.
    Rabbo laughed and looked at Merryn and Wenna who were looking up at him with huge eyes. But he knew that if he did cut into the bread he would not be setting a very good example and Athena would be upset with him.
    So Rabbo climbed back down the ramp looked at Wenna and Merryn and shook his head as he had them follow him back to the living room.
    Rabbo thought for a moment and then remembered that Merwyn had asked him in the winter to come up with a teaching plan for the children.
    So Rabbo hopped over to the book case and got out an old book that taught children their “ABC’s”.
    Rabbo started to teach Merryn and Wenna.
    “Now repeat after me” said Rabbo looking at the two little girls sitting at his feet. “A is for Ant”
    “A is for Ant” said Wenna and Merryn together.
    “B is for Bread” said Rabbo.
    And so it went for the next two hours as Rabbo taught Merryn and Wenna their “ABC’s”.
    Rabbo, Wenna and Merryn never noticed when Merwyn stood in the doorway listening to Rabbo teaching and then when Athena stood in the doorway.
    After the two hours where up Rabbo heard movement in the kitchen so he slipped stiffly out of Merwyn’s chair and hopped to the kitchen.
    “Dinner is almost ready” said Merwyn who had been busy cooking dinner.
    Athena came walking in from outside wearing a long cloak and carrying two full buckets of milk.
    “We will have to make more butter as we have such much milk again I don’t know what we are going to do with it all. Plus we have so much cheese that it’s taking up too much room in the cool storage room. Maybe we could ship it out to Yhva’s village in return for umm leather” said Athena.
    “Good idea. I could use the leather to make belts and shoes” said Merwyn looking at Athena’s bare feet. “Anyway it’s almost dinner time and you had a good work out this afternoon before you took a nap”.
    Athena blushed and took the buckets into the cool storage room before she went to the living and took Merryn and Wenna upstairs to wash up for dinner.
    Dinner went later than normal as Wenna and Merryn kept talking about the story Rabbo hold told them and that he had been teaching them their “ABC’s” and that like the story and that Rabbo was teaching them.
    Once dinner was finished Athena took Merryn and Wenna upstairs to bath them before getting them ready for bed.
    Once they were ready for bed Athena brought them back down stairs and they were let sit by the fire while Merwyn started to teach them how to use their minds with a spinning top.
    But soon the two little girls started to get sleepy so Athena picked them up took them back upstairs and put them to bed for the night.
    Athena returned to the living room with three goblets of wine and sat down in her chair.
    “Dad what’s on your mind” said Athena thoughtfully. “At dinner you seemed to be only half listening to Wenna and Merryn tell you about the story that Rabbo told them”.
    “Sorry I did not mean to seem rude. I was just thinking that’s all” answered Merwyn.
    “You miss Helena” asked Athena. “I thought I made up for her going back to her temple”.
    “Oh you did. Just when you were napping I got hailed by Yhva” said Merwyn thoughtfully.
    “Oh what did he want” asked Rabbo wriggling on the couch to find a comfortable spot.
    “We had a little chat about Ra” said Merwyn.
    “A little chat? Dad you are the master of understatements. I take it, it was more than just a little chat” said Athena.
    “What did he have to say for himself and what is Ra up too” asked Rabbo.
    Merwyn laughed and looked at both Rabbo and Athena. “It’s more what Yhva tried to do that has me deep in thought”.
    “Well, dad, what did he try and do” said Athena looking carefully at Merwyn.
    “Yes do tell. I am all ears” said Rabbo.
    Both Merwyn and Athena laughed hard at Rabbo’s comment about him being all ears.
    “I don’t think it was that funny” said Rabbo rather confused. “But what did Yhva have to say for himself and what did he try and do”.
    Merwyn looked thoughtful for a moment before he started to speak.
    “Well when he hailed me he tried to slip into my mind to probe me. That takes a very powerful person to do that when it’s person to person. But to do it from a great distance takes great power indeed” said Merwyn. “But I stopped him. I was nice about it letting Yhva know that it is considered rude to probe without permission. Anyway he told me that Ra is planning to send an army to attack Athens but he currently only has two thousand warriors but those two thousand are training more and that Ra hopes to have a force of about twenty thousand in less then ten years. Ra’s plan is to attack Athens so that Athena and I run to their help. When we do that he will attack us using what is left of the Sirians that still follow him. But that’s not all Yhva told me”.
    “Really dad. Ra is planning to attack Athens and us at the same time” said Athena.
    “I believe so” said Merwyn. “But Yhva might be more of a problem in the long run. I am not sure but he is up to something. I just hope that he does not drag us into anything”.
    “There is something you are not telling me” said Athena smiling sweetly.
    “Umm yes. Yhva is willing to help keep Ra off our backs. I am not sure how he will do that. But if he does and is not up to something himself we can have a nice peaceful life. The kind of life I wanted when I met your mother”.
    “Oh. But what did Yhva tell you” said Athena.
    “I am still trying to understand what he truly was saying. He talked a lot in double meanings and in unfinished sentences almost like he was involved in politics at sometime in his life. But he is rather young to of been involved in politics” said Merwyn thoughtfully.
    “How old is he, dad” said Athena smiling shyly.
    “In his early three hundreds I would say”
    Merwyn had a long hard look at Athena who suddenly started to blush and look down at the ground before looking into the fire.
    “I can’t blame you really. After all most of you life I have been the only male around other than the two hundred years that we lived with the others before they gave in to their whims and started to act like they are better than the people of this planet. Even your Bastet did for a while. But you turned her mind back to what was right” said Merwyn looking even harder at Athena.
    “What are you talking about” Athena said in a confused tone of voice.
    “I would understand after all he is young and good looking. Plus he is very powerful” said Merwyn with a sad tone entering into his voice.
    “Dad, are you jealous” said Athena.
    “No I am just stating the facts my dear daughter” said Merwyn. “Beside you need to see more of this planet than just this small area”.
    Athena stood up and stretched her limbs and walked over to Merwyn and sat down in his lap wrapping her arms around his shoulders and leaning in and kissing him.
    “Dad, you know I would never leave you. I may go away from time to time but leave you? No never” said Athena.
    Rabbo looked at Merwyn and Athena from the couch and finished his wine before slipped down off the couch and headed out of the living room.
    As Rabbo got to the doorway he turned back and looked at Merwyn and Athena “You two are worse than the rabbits at the burrow”.
    Rabbo turned and hopped out of the living and went out into the cool spring night. As he got outside Rabbo stopped to think for a moment and laughed softly to himself.
“Merwyn had really pulled a fast one. Getting Athena all confused and blushing really had stopped Athena from asking questions that Merwyn did not want to answer. That was very clever” thought Rabbo to himself.
Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.