Category Archives: humour

What about Pastafarianism, then?

[thoughts from a bottle of wine, by Sha’Tara]

Well, all that writing and comments on religion, one side being those who ardently support the existence of God, one side being those who equally, ardently do not support the existence of God, was a lot of fun. It would be more fun if all of it wasn’t taken so darn seriously, but this is Earth, so I guess the proper expression here is: deal with it and get over it.

So… I think I have. I can’t be sure, but you will notice that at the very least, I’m thinking and that, again this being Earth, is no small feet… I mean feat. (I must have joined my earthworm at the glass of wine a bit soon, and stayed a bit too long, time will tell.) If that aside doesn’t make sense, either you did not read some of the comments, or, bless you, you had better things to do and then, yes, of course it does not make sense, it will not make sense and probably I can’t explain it either so it could make sense. Shall we move on, then?

Having thus overcome the terrible desire to engage, engage, engage, as if I were the captain of the Enterprise, and use up all my demagoguerite vocabulary on smoke and mirrors, I did some research about alternatives to, you know, Absolutely Certainty, and came up with the following. First, to avoid all errors, let’s start with a link. Links, as we all know, are the 21st Century’s Word of God. Links are The Truth. Without Links, no one is going anywhere and there is no salvation.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Pastafarianism

What is Pastafarianism?

It’s the great and almighty atheist religion which teaches how the world was created by the flying spaghetti monster who happened to be drunk which thus explains why bad things happen. Pastafarians follow the church of the flying spaghetti monster and when they go to heaven they will enjoy a beer volcano and a stripper factory (which makes me wonder what’s in it for the ladies but let’s not quibble about small matters, it’s only eternity after all), however in hell the beer is stale and the strippers have VD! In pastafarian terms agnostics are known as spagnostics and all prayers must end with RAmen. September 19th is the national “talk like a pirate” day and the religions founder Bobby Henderson has published a “Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”.

What attracted me to Pastafarianism – not saying I’m going to join, I don’t own a colander to wear at special functions and a veil or burka (or burqa or burqah) would definitely be frowned upon – were the very words of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Itself, specifically the eight “I’d really rather you didn’t” non-commandments, as brought to us by Its Prophet, Bobby Henderson (No, not that Bobby Henderson, the other one!)

The Sacred Eight I’d Really Rather you Didn’ts:

1)I’d really rather you didn’t act like a sanctimonious holier-than-thou ass when describing my noodly goodness. If some people don’t believe in me, that’s okay. Really, I’m not that vain. Besides, this isn’t about them so don’t change the subject.

2)I’d really rather you didn’t use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate, and/or, you know, be mean to others. I don’t require sacrifices, and purity is for drinking water, not people.

3)I’d really rather you didn’t judge people for the way they look, or how they dress, or the way they talk, or, well, just play nice, Okay? Oh, and get this into your thick heads: woman = person. man = person. Samey = Samey. One is not better than the other, unless we’re talking about fashion and I’m sorry, but I gave that to women and some guys who know the difference between teal and fuchsia.

4)I’d really rather you didn’t indulge in conduct that offends yourself, or your willing, consenting partner of legal age AND mental maturity. As for anyone who might object, I think the expression is go f*** yourself, unless they find that offensive in which case they can turn off the TV for once and go for a walk for a change.

5)I’d really rather you didn’t challenge the bigoted, misogynistic, hateful ideas of others on an empty stomach. Eat, then go after the b******s.

6)I’d really rather you didn’t build multi million-dollar churches/temples/mosques/shrines to my noodly goodness when the money could be better spent (take your pick):
Ending poverty
Curing diseases
Living in peace, loving with passion, and lowering the cost of cable. I might be a complex-carbohydrate omniscient being, but I enjoy the simple things in life. I ought to know. I AM the creator.

7)I’d really rather you didn’t go around telling people I talk to you. You’re not that interesting. Get over yourself. And I told you to love your fellow man, can’t you take a hint?

8)I’d really rather you didn’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you are into, um, stuff that uses a lot of leather/lubricant/Las Vegas. If the other person is into it, however (pursuant to #4), then have at it, take pictures, and for the love of Mike, wear a CONDOM! Honestly, it’s a piece of rubber. If I didn’t want it to feel good when you did it I would have added spikes, or something.

In the words of the flying spaghetti monster himself, (and written by Bobby Henderson, the creator of Pastafarianism)

There you have it. The best news of all is, you don’t have to be Italian to be a pastafarian. Or at least I don’t think so, I’m deducing, à la Sherlock Holmes (Yes, that Sherlock Holmes)

What did you expect, it’s Canada Day here, or so I’m told, and we all take that very, very seriously here, or so I’m told. I might hang out some laundry today. I hope it isn’t mistaken for a foreign flag and someone sends the RCMP to investigate. Nah, this is Canada. What flag? We keep changing our minds about that, and the national anthem also… Not to worry, some day we’ll get it right, or left, or leave it and join a Word Federation or something so that we can have social justice, equality and happiness when meeting a stranger.  I’d like that, even better than Pastafarianism.

 

 

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What we Settle For

(So, I thought to myself as I read this written who knows when, why not? And here it is)

a poem… by   ~burning woman~ 

It’s there – for all to see it doesn’t work –
but no one can see it;
not until it collapses in your lap:
when the hopes and dreams
shatter as glass when a rock is thrown
and children run laughing
while another screams inside a dark house.
Isn’t it amazing what we settle for?
What we convince ourselves of?
There is the tried and true and failed –
Oh yes, failed, utterly failed –
but what can one do? It’s all there is, isn’t it?

We are born into society – a pattern set in cement –
and even if we notice (too late)
the cement is cracked and crumbling
no one is pouring fresh stuff down here.

Let’s see, what are the options
for the budding human’s dreams?
There’s church – some kind of religion
so you can get hooked to God – the Great One
who’s more silent than the grave;
family – parents and siblings and fights
followed by separation and divorce
and relocation to another apartment.

There’s government – you register to pay
everyday of your life and beyond;
there’s school – education to make you fit in
and teach you how to walk with eyes wide shut.
There’s work – you have to make money —
it’s what makes it all go round and down.
There’s repetition: your own family now —
the confining straights of marriage
and kids and responsibilities no one ever taught —
you fly by the seat of your pants
and you remain afloat – maybe –
or you lose and fall and lose again.

And at that point there’s jail — you had your good times
they brought you too low and you couldn’t climb out
so they scoop you off the sidewalk,
in cuffs you watch your shiny stolen car
burn inside the basement of a house
and an ambulance screams away.

Stop, you say, stop already —
it’s not that bad, not for most —
and sadly I have to agree, it is not:
most accept the middle road, the common ground.
They warm the pews, fill the voting booths,
sit at desks half asleep to make it work
and in the end they commute, commute, commute –
like the beat of a train’s steel wheels
on a cheaply laid track —
to the job and back from the job,
“I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!”
and it all becomes the same, blurred, wasted emptiness
mixed with forgotten dreams alluded to
with sarcastic laughter once or twice at a party.

And hope, what happened to it?
Well, it’s still there, somewhere —
in the shoe closet with its broken flip shelf,
in the empty baby’s crib or the rusting barbecue.
Sometimes it’s in the cold hot tub
and sometimes in the boat with no license
or under the scum in the swimming pool.

Mostly it’s in the maxed-out loans and mortgages
maybe just enough to tell the Sheriff: not today,
just barely enough.
Dreams and hopes becoming the memories
rounded up to form the padding in the coffin.

On an Amazing Lighter Note

thoughts from ~burning woman~

I just realized that everyone who is a “follower” of a WordPress blog is an amazing person. I am not making that up, it shows up whenever I click on a blog’s “Follow” button.

Everyone, you say? One hundred percent amazing person, no exceptions? That’s, like, a bit hard to swallow. Could it be one of those lies so common in the world of advertising no one recognizes for the bullshit they are intended to convey while dissimulating it?

I can truthfully say that I’ve never considered myself amazing. Exceptional, perhaps, under certain conditions, and not always in a favourable way, but never amazing. Which of course makes me desperate to define what it means to be amazing, whether it’s a subjective concept, or if it has a core value. I’m going to have to look that up, definitely.

[Some time later] So I looked it up. Views on “amazingness” vary considerably but generally it is recognized that an amazing person is one who is special in usually positive ways. Most common: selflessness, caring, loving, understanding, generous, yet doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. A kind of Jesus/Gandhi/Mother Teresa/Superman/Wonder Woman person.

In other words, an amazing person is one who comes across as amazing in his/her relationship to others. The impression I got from my Internet search was that an amazing person is primarily a selfless individual. Thus I would take that as the core value of an amazing person.

I think we’d all like to be known as an amazing person now but I have a nagging suspicion that being a WordPress blog follower isn’t how to define amazing. I think it’s another one of those convenient lies to try to make the “clicker” think better of her/himself than they should.

Why? Well in layman’s terms it’s called having smoke blown up one’s ass. I’ve never liked having that procedure done to me as it tells me the smoke blower believes I’m a mark.

Opinions welcome.

Disclaimer 1: it is not my intent to use this exposé as promoting another of my cockamamie concepts that could save billions of lives, civilization and perhaps the planet itself, if not the universe. “Amazing” will not become one of my change agent themes. Sorry to disappoint on that score but one has to draw the line somewhere, even if it is in the sand, and at low tide.

Disclaimer 2: please do not take seriously what I poke humorously!

Intercourse and Aftermath

[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]

Intercourse, he said. He said it in such a way as to make the whole process quite disgusting. It wasn’t what he said caught my young girl’s attention, it was simply the fact that he, was a he. Men don’t downplay intercourse, simply not done. It’s the highlight of a date, a casual encounter, even of a late evening with “the wife” after watching a steamy movie.

Intercourse, if you think about it, is tolerable only to those who are so madly in love they are actually mad. It’s hot and sweaty; messy; painful even, certainly makes anyone who is anyone, vulnerable to another and who needs that? It’s chock full of expectations and more often than not, it’s a damn trap. She gets pregnant and then the guilt trip starts until a few months later you’re getting married, hitched, hooked and that’s it: your life’s essentially over.

That’s how he described it to me. We’d gone off in his car and we were parked on the top of Knobhill. I know, every mid western town has a knob hill and so did ours. Who was he? He was the guy, you know. He was Pete. Peter Nelson. Basketball, football, baseball, top marks in chemistry, and he owned his own car. Some of us would have publicly confessed to using hair extensions just for a chance at a date with Mr. Everything.

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to make him out to be this guy who can get any girl he wants just because he’s a hunk. He is a hunk, but there’s more to him than that. There’s a side to him I could boast of being the only girl at Simpson High who knows about. He’s intellectual. He likes to discuss issues, ideas, concepts. Even on a date when there’s only him and me, or whomever the lucky girl is. He likes to sample us. We don’t mind because we know that sooner or later his wheel will stop and land on one of us. Just let it be me, that’s all.

I wanted to stop him and give my two bits’ worth about intercourse but I thought my experiences, that being a grand total of none, simply would never match up to his. It seemed to me that the only way to convince him that intercourse wasn’t such a bad deal was to offer it to him. Make myself his guinea pig. I had some attributes too, it wasn’t like a was a charity case. I had my own list of social successes to look upon. Honour roll four months in a row. Chosen snow queen. Had played Juliet in the Player’s Guild Easter presentation and received a standing ovation. My dad had his own jewelry store and my mother was choir director at St. Jude’s Presbyterian. In short, we were ‘somebody’ and that had to mean something.

So here we are. It’s dark and the stars are sparkling and twinkling in a late Spring night. We’re kind of sprawled out on the front seat of his two-door, two-tone hard top 56 Meteor. The windows are partially rolled down to prevent fogging and so we can smell the freshness of Spring seducing Lewisburg. Below Knobhill on the east side are remains of a marsh and the frogs are in the midst of a very serious symphony down there.

Pete’s got the radio on and the local station is playing late night favourites for lovers. Elvis, “You saw me crying in the chapel” is playing as I reach up to Pete’s mouth and place mine on it. It feels really nice and I’m a bit surprised at being so forward. What’s with you, I think of myself. Well, I can’t help it. That wheel of fortune has to stop sometimes, and on someone’s number, may as well be mine.

He gets more interested in me, less in his deep philosophical ponderings. This is good for me. I offer more and more and his body seems to want to take more and more of what’s being offered. I take his shirt off and start caressing his back at first, then I move my hands to his chest and push my fingers through his chest hairs. It makes me tingle all over. I kiss him more ardently and to my surprise, he responds equally ardently. I’m actually in the process of seducing Peter Nelson, me, Anne Foley.

He fumbles around a bit and manages to unbutton my blouse and pull it off me. Now my heart is beating really fast. Next, he finds my skirt’s zipper and undoes it. I feel something new and strange happening to me. I let him pull my skirt off then reach for his belt. I undo him, then unzip his fly. My turn to push his pants off. As I slide down to undo his runners he unsnaps my bra and slowly pulls it off and lays it on the dash. I have his shoes and pants off. There we are, me in my panties, him in his briefs. Who goes next? I wait while he runs his hands and arms all over me, then fondles my breasts. By then I’m a goner. I impulsively pull down his briefs and grab his erection. I don’t know what to do with it, I just want the feeling of holding it.

And what a feeling it is! It’s totally nuts. I hear music. I hear thunder. It’s my heart sending waves of blood thundering in my ears. I have tears in my eyes when he lowers his face to my left breast and begins to suckle. I hold his head in my arms and the world turns. He slips my panties off me and I push and squirm until I’m lying on the seat and he’s on top of me. The world turns again… and again… and again and in my head I hear a voice that sounds like mine saying ‘I want you, want you, so want you, forever.’

Peter and I have been married for thirty years. Today is our anniversary. It hasn’t all been romance and flower bouquets. Our roses had thorns. Our first child, our little Rose who was engendered that wonderful night on Knob hill in Lewisburg died of crib death at three years old. Our second, our son John made some bad choices. Fancying himself a drug king, he had a brief career as a rich drug dealer and is currently doing life for murder. His Panamanian wife with her two children has returned to her homeland and we never see our grandchildren. Our youngest is now our family. A successful lawyer married to a girl I absolutely adore and they have one daughter who is allowed to spend so much time with Peter and I that sometimes I confuse her with my own first born and I call her Rose.

Ours isn’t meant to be a sad story because it is rather a common one. But I can assure you that after that first night Peter and I discovered each other and made love happen, he never again downplayed the pleasure of intercourse. After I teased him about his youthful philosophy he would say, “I found out what showers are for and let’s never stop taking them together.”

 

No More Accidents!

[off the cuff by  ~burning woman~ ]

(Sorry, the following just popped up as I was reading a new novel. Had to dump it before I could continue…)

I believe we can salvage our civilization if we decide to ban accidents. That’s a good way to start here. This is after all a tricky subject which would go down better with ginger ale and popcorn but this is a working session: no ginger ale and no popcorn, so sorry.

Let’s just say that Elan Mastai is correct, that everything born, everything invented, also bears its accident; invents its accidents. For example (says Elan) if you invent the car, you also invent the car accident. A plane, and you invent the plane crash. You see, it’s all quite not just logical, but simple. Who could argue that without the car it would be impossible to have a car accident? Who could argue that since the inception of the automobile there have been a lot of car accidents? See the relationships? Not rocket science, right?

The argument followed by Elan is simple enough. Before you put something “out there” for people or nature to make use of, if you are a conscientious person, you will calculate the number and effects of accidents your invention is going to invent or create. Before you decide to have a child you will certainly determine how many, and to what extent that child will have accidents or create accidents. If you can’t (or won’t) what does that say about your degree of responsibility to the polis? Proper checks and balances, folks. Don’t just throw something out there with the potential to harm itself and others.

Only if you take total responsibility can you expect to bring forth a properly functioning civilization. I expect I’ve gone beyond the point made by Elan (I cannot say since I’ve only just begun reading “All our Wrong Todays” which promises to be a fascinating read – it better be I have the attention span of a meteor when reading fiction, sort of like my love affairs, but that’s from another bed).

Oh yes, Elan Mastai is real, in this time line, that is. He did write “All our Wrong Todays” and it was indeed published recently, as recently as 2016. His first novel and it is about time travel, my favourite, well, almost. He’s a Canadian screen writer and novelist and lives practically next door to me, in Vancouver. Not convinced? Here’s one link: Website http://www.elanmastai.com

OK, I used Elan’s springboard but this isn’t a promo for Elan, well, it is but it isn’t if you know what I mean. If you don’t, just skip this part and come back to it later. Nobody but your smart phone, iPad and smart TV will know but they’ll only report you as far as GoodReads, Google and Amazon and of course the NSA so your privacy is totally guaranteed. Read the fine print.

Now then, to a properly designed civilization. I can’t go into all the ramifications of our philosophers, scientists, bankers, preachers, politicians, engineers, designers and makers of stuff like money and incense, including, of course, makers of babies, in throwing civilization in our faces without taking the time to define and calculate its load of accidents and then to correlate how all those accidents intersecting each other will affect the whole civilized fabric. I mean, woah! This is insane!

You do see how irresponsible these people have been, and continue to be, don’t you? Think. If there were no people, would there be crime? Would there be wars? Obviously defective people cause these mega problems and that’s like big. Should be obvious to the most obtuse. How can we procreate people who cause accidents without calculating the effects? Totally not cool. All these people, thinking things, saying things, doing things and none of them thinking about the particular effects? Particularly the creation of accidents?

By the way, let’s make sure we understand that “doing stupid things” is in the same category as accidents.

So we need to get serious. Engender only babies that will not have, or cause, accidents. Surely that’s totally doable otherwise we’re no better than gnats. Already you can see a huge improvement in our civilization in only a couple of generations. Only invent things that do not also invent their allotment of accidents. From accident prone, we move to accident-proof.

Remove the allotment, put up a big sign in at least 6500 languages stating that accidents are no longer allowed on planet earth. Pass a law. Do something! Make us proud of our civilization… for once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of this and of that; what the cat dragged in

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

It occurs to me, as an observer, that the world of “writing” is saturating the world of “reading” at least wherever computers, tablets, phones and internet proliferate. Unfortunately that is not a good thing though we were brainwashed at such an early age to believe with the staunchest of all faiths that “Competition” is what makes everything work. Even God had to put up with Satan so there would be a healthy flow of capital between the haves and the have-nots. Of note, in the case of God it wasn’t all one way either, not as we have it now in the New World Order of Rich eat Poor.

I suppose some level of competition is good in certain areas. But the nature of any art defies (and despizes) competition. Writing that expresses our humanity (not the kind used to make us better believers and consumers) is art, not a competion. Sadly, it has all become a competition as it is offered in the slave markets of capitalism. It’s turned into quantity more than quality as much of my recent forays in modern novels has shown me. There is a saturation of mediocrity and predictability. So much so that even the free stuff hardly moves at all.

About that free stuff. Free is good, particularly if it comes from people who love writing and have never thought of using their imagination to “make a living” among the capitalists selling oil, cows, toilet paper holders and coffins. Art never was, is not, never will be, a commodity to be bought and sold. When that happens, it’s no longer art.

Oh, I can hear the screams: have you never been to an art gallery where the great masters hang? My answer to that is, no. Nor would I ever. Let them hang, I have no sympathy or empathy to part with for them.

Whatever it is, when the rich buy it, whatever it was is no longer. The Midas touch destroys everything; leaves nothing natural or unsullied. The Midas touch is de facto, corruption at the highest level. I believe there’s a story to illustrate that point…

Of saturation. Part of the problem is the same mechanisms and technology that allow a thousand writers to perform on their crowded stage in stultified cacophony where there was only one declaiming his or her observations a hundred years ago. Computers, internet, instant copies, translations and transfers, digital imagery and so much more: these are the beasts stealing peoples’ time. There was TV, there still is, more pervasive than ever. I know homes where TV’s are never turned off.

There’s social media that clings to individuals like raw egg yolk as they drag their ball and chain of Smart Phones, Tablets, iPads, iPhones around so as to not miss one stupid comment, one idotic selfie, one brain dead tweet. Would these be the people who would download “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to read quietly while waiting for the [you name him or her, it’s all a waiting game these days]? That’s a rhetorical question.

We can beat our heads on a cement abutment trying for that magic touch that will make our book a best seller, possible but face it, it ain’t likely to happen m’dear.

The fault, dear writer, in not in your writing that it doesn’t catch the public’s fancy, but in the public’s complacency and laziness. Steadfastly offer a slough of gorf, garf, barf and tarf, or gross porn laced with extreme violence and you may catch a faithful if tiny segment of “the market.” Offer silly wizard stuff and perhaps some of it will filter into pre and elementary schools. Offer conspiracy theories… Offer… something, nothing .

I’ve decided I like writing my ideas down. Then I re-read them. I’m my most reliable and constant fan and critique (Well, except for Phil Huston, but Phil is on a crusade. He’s the Devil’s Advocate by calling, so we just stand well off of the path of his war horse and slashing double-handed sword and there is a modicum of blood anyone can live with. Those extraneous words that get their heads chopped off as he passes through town, they’re just pawns).

There are many advantages to being my own reader.  I don’t need to get those “Satanic” ISBN bar codes; don’t need to lace the material with copyright notices and best of all I can freely copy and paste any of it without asking permission. One has to look on the bright side of life, huh?

Some quotes to brighten your evening (here) or day (there)

Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life. — Pablo Neruda

Don’t despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don’t – surrender to events with hope. ― Alain de Botton

I think that one of these days you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. — J. D. Salinger

Out of the hobbled spirit of attachment, and the insecure need of belonging, come the gross judgments against those who do not belong. ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. — Stephen Hawking

Be like the bird, who // Halting in his flight // On limb too slight // Feels it give way beneath him, // Yet sings // Knowing he hath wings. — Victor Hugo, “The Bird”

At times but more frequently now, I find myself enclosed, surrounded, imprisoned on all sides by a growing excess of civilization – paraphrase from “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart. (Publ. circa 2010)

PS: Of Gary Shteyngart: I have no idea how this guy’s work got through… and I had no idea what I was going to be involving my mind in when I started reading SSTLS. Then I discovered it was quite prophetic of the Installation of “The Donald” as Tweeter Head of the Bi-Partisan party, no, I mean not yet, still the Repugnican Party as of today. The story describes a near future dystopian New York, and is carried along by a strange love affair between two most incompatible yet totally compatible people: Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park. The story also shows an America in tatters, militarily defeated in Venezuela and other South American sovereign nations with the EU turning to the East and China now in a position to demand payment for those trillions it invested in America.

Have a look at the write-up on WikiP. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Sad_True_Love_Story

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I, The Calling: Chapter 19

 

Finally, I think I’m caught up on the blogging scene. I’ve read how to write better; how to improve my health; what to do in case of Armageddon; how to win a cricket match; that Russia isn’t to blame for anything; that we’re in deeper s**t than I even thought possible; how to make free electricity; how to awaken; that Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened (again) and that I’ve got to give peace a chance. That said, let’s get on with this story before it becomes “The Perils of Pauline” and Phil manifests himself on the blog waving a massive eraser and I lose all my subordinate clauses and loose conjunctions…


Chapter 19: Meeting the priest; all is set for the wedding

To Lo and Nal, it wasn’t much of a ‘town’ but to the others it was impressive as towns go. Not only the large church that sat imposingly in the centre of the main town but the shops, so many shops, and people everywhere. There were people on horseback and horse-drawn carts clattered on cobble-stone sections of the main street hauling various merchandise. At an open air butcher shop women were haggling with a portly butcher over the cut meat and the hanging geese and chicken. After each left with a purchase, she was replaced by another just as eager to haggle over the prices.

Children ran wildly through the filthy streets, yelled at by the adults whom they splattered when their bare feet slapped into puddles of stagnant, stinking water.

As Ian and his group walked deeper into the town, most people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stared. The men were particularly attracted to the three young women, the two tall imposing light-haired ones and the short, small dark one. But the main question on their faces was, who are these armed people and what do they want here?

Then some recognized MacGruder and greetings were exchanged. Women came forth to greet lady Jen MacGruder and their daughter whom they had not recognized so grown up she was. They were introduced to Lo whom they openly admired, and the two other young women, Genti and Deanna. Ian ventured the news that they intended to have a wedding here in Glowmere between the two travellers who were trading friends of the MacGruders, from the south. He announced that Nal and Lo, whom he singled out, were to be united in holy matrimony at the kirk if the priest was in agreement.

The news was greeted with a loud cheer that spread up and down the main street and brought the curious street urchins forth. Soon items went missing here and there from the shops and stalls as the cries of “Thief, stop him!” or “That miserable scoundrel, stop her!” followed by some useless chase that only left a shop or stall open to more pilfering.

“An where does one find the priest?” Ian asked politely and diplomatically for he realized such a location would be in proximity to the church. An urchin offered to lead them to the priest, for a price. Contrary to his usual parsimonious nature, Ian good-naturally accepted and paid the rascal. They intercepted the priest as he was stepping out of the kirk and getting ready to bar, bolt and lock the door.

“Wouldn’t want yer God er his saints t’ run off come night eh Father? Keep ‘em locked up, that’s the sure way.” said Ian with a large smile.

The priest, a tall, stringy sort of creature in a fading black cassock failed to acknowledge the joke. He eyed MacGruder with a frown and asked, “An what do ye be wantin’ fro’ me, mon?”

“Well Father, ‘tis not what I want, ‘tis what these young un’s here be needin’ – an’ that’d be a proper weddin’ t’would be, if ye be amenable to it?”

The priest cast a haughty look over the group trying to figure out which of them were to be the victims. Unable to decide, he turned to MacGruder and said, “They be proper Church people then? Baptized and knowing their catechism?”

“Aye of that I’m sure Father. Might not hurt ‘em just the same to have a confession afore the ceremony?”

“That is mandatory mon, and may I know whom I be addressin’ and whom the intended’s be?”

“I be Ian MacGruder, perhaps ye’ve heard of us from up t’ cottage? An’ here are the two ‘intendeds’ as ye put it: Lo ‘n Nal. Don’t know if there be any family names attached to ‘em, I reckon not.”

“Well, I’ll need such particulars for the book ye understand. We keep decent records here, not like the old pagan days thankfully gone from here, praise God.”

“We’ll get ye the names Father.” MacGruder’s voice had grown somewhat harsher and definitely colder as he prepared to haggle prices with the priest.

Having heard their names mentioned, Nal and Lo came forward and introduced themselves to the priest. Again he gave his haughty look, equally met and brought down forcefully by both Nal and Lo who would not tolerate such from a pawn of the Church. For a moment the priest sensed something that scared him and was of a mind to refuse the ceremony, then thought of the money and held his tongue. On top of the incentive of good gold, there were those deadly looking swords, bows and staffs to reckon with. It might not do to upset these and seemed more prudent to let the moment have its way.

‘I can deal with any sorcery and paganism afterwards and I certainly will.’

All three, Nal, Deanna and Lo, had been mind-focusing on the priest and heard his thoughts. Here was another dangerous enemy, certainly for Genti and the MacGruders. This priest would have to be dealt with after they settled with the Betrayers and before they carried on to further adventures, such certain to come about as a result of Nal’s vows and Deanna’s need to return to Torglynn.

As there was overt thoughts of violence and murder in the priest’s heart, Lo felt no qualm about disposing of the creature come the right time. This work might well fall to wolf and his mate he reckoned. Both Nal and Deanna agreed though Nal who had some personal scores to settle with the Church insisted she’d be involved in the priest’s demise. They left it at the stage where the priest would be killed but not who would have the honours.

Meanwhile, they agreed to let the hypocrisy of the moment reign supreme.

“Any o’ these others gettin’ married also, Ian?” Asked the priest, trying hard to sound innocent, caring, and friendly but inwardly licking his greedy lips thinking of the gold a double or triple wedding would bring, winter being financially remarkable only from the increase in burials.

“Hasn’t been mentioned Father. Must be waitin’ for spring, t’other ones eh? So then to business, time and cost? Ye’d be needin’ gold yea?”

“Gold, yea. Six ounces, weighed on the scale at the kirk. As to time, does next Saturday suit ye, Ian?”

Ian called his group together and after consulting with Jen asked them, “Does next Saturday suit ye all for the weddin’ t’ take place or ye havin’ second thoughts now? Last chance ‘fore I put down the money.”

Nal and Lo smiled broadly at one another then burst out laughing while a spark of hope flashed through young Giles’ heart only to be extinguished in the same moment when Nal said, “Saturday is perfect for us ‘n the sooner t’ better to get it done. Can’t wait! An’ Father if ye be wantin’ our clan names, I be a McBanish, n’ m’intended here, he be a MacDunit.”

“Interestin’ names. Can’t say I ever heard o’ those clans, interestin’ indeed. Saturday then, ten o’ the mornin’?”

“Aye that’ll suit us fine, that will, Father,” quickly answered Ian.

They left the skeletal priest standing there like a patiently expectant vulture on his favourite dead tree perch and Ian declared they all deserved a drink at the Wild Horse Inn, a good, friendly place, he added.

Once out of the priest’s hearing they all burst out laughing until the tears were running down their faces. Ian had to lean on a hitching post to keep himself upright.

Only Deanna failed to join, finally asking what the sudden hilarity was all about.

“Dinae hear girl? McBanish, MacDunit? Who ever heard o’ such nonsense? That was good that, truly magnificent, gal, and he slapped Nal on the back, making her jump.

Ian didn’t give his charges too much time to develop introspective moroseness that would demand another round and declared it was getting late and they had a fair walk ahead of ‘em yet.

As they were crossing the small drawbridge, Lo stayed behind to speak to the guard detail. He gave them each enough coin for a couple of rounds at the inn and was rewarded with some slaps on the back and cheers. Then in a vibrant voice he wished them a wonderful end of the day and a safe, healthy, prosperous and long life. They received his words as if they had been gifts, realizing that there was more than words in the blessing. They waved sheepishly then, thinking this was no ordinary man. They all sensed that their entire lives ahead of them had been magically blessed and the words would prove true.

Entering his speed lope he soon caught up to the group and immediately noticed that Deanna was gone and Nal was carrying her clothes.

“So she’s gone back to her wolf then? How did she manage to take off her clothes without upsetting the group?”

“We slipped into the ‘by woods to do that. She’ll inner nudge me when she needs ‘em again.”

“Let me strap those to my pack then, Nal, so you keep your hands free. It may seem silly here but remember that ultimately we are always alone, working singly, and must always think thus. Never rely on anyone else to take the point, or protect. Let them if they want to but don’t ask it nor expect it and I repeat, never rely on it.

“Keep your hands, arms and legs free at all times and your weapons handy.”

“Truly sorry, I temporarily forgot. Too much on m’mind an’ don’t push me, MacDunit.”

“Indeed I’ll endeavour not to, Miss McBanish.”

They laughed, hugged fiercely and kissed again.

Don’t look at me like that and I heard that snort. Look, I’m just writing it the way I see it. And remember, they’ve been apart for thousands of years, how do you think you would act if you suddenly found yourself back in the arms and love of a lover you knew was dead and you hadn’t seen for, say, twenty thousand years? Would you say,

“What? You again?” or

“I really wasn’t expecting you back this soon.” or

“I hadn’t planned on this; I have a life now.” or

“Things getting too boring for you, decided to come back?”

Right, I didn’t think so. More likely there would be sparks, maybe a flame, and hugging and kissing would just be the breeze that sets everything on fire. So put up with the hugging and kissing and let me go on with the story, which by the way is turning out pretty good, in my opinion, if I’m allowed to have one.