Side Quest

The sun had crested the mountains to the east.  An eagle circled overhead, searching for prey in the tall grasses that grew along the road through the forest.  A rabbit hopped onto the path, then froze when it saw the group before darting back into the undergrowth.

The group had been walking for hours.  Yolo67 kept complaining his feet hurt, and finally xSlayerx agreed it might be better to stop and have a rest and some food when Carwen spotted an old man in a hood step out from the woods and block their path.

“Welcome, travelers, to my forest,” he said, voice raspy from too many tobacco pipes.

Yolo67 drew his sword and held it up menacingly.  “Who are you?” he demanded.

“My name is not important,” the old man said, “but what I have to offer you may be.”

“You speak in riddles?” xSlayerx asked, one eyebrow raised.

“That wasn’t a riddle,” Carwen said.  “That wasn’t even vague.”

xSlayerx dismissed her impudence with a wave of his hand and turned his attention back to the old man.

“Tell us what you have, old man, and what we can to do obtain it.”

The old man pulled back his hood to reveal that he was, indeed, very old.  His hair was stark white and his face deeply lined.  He leered at Carwen, which made her skin crawl.

“I have within my possession, passed down to me by the great Sage Dunhard, translated at great pains into the common tongue…” He looked around conspiratorially and partially drew forth a bit of folded parchment from beneath his cloak.  Two leaned forward expectantly, Carwen rolled her eyes.

“This is a map of the Dark Lord’s fortress that lies at the end of this road.  It will help you get inside.”

“You mean a schematic,” Carwen said.

The old man eyed her with displeasure.  “What?”

“Schematic.  Or layout.  Or floor plan.  It doesn’t make sense to say it’s map of the fortress.  Maps are used for areas of land.”

“What difference does it make?” he snapped, “I’m offering to give it to you!”

“Okay, so what do you want in return?” xSlayerx asked.

“Winter is approaching,” he said, “and I have not finished stocking my house for the snows to come.  If you will go into the woods and bring me back the thick hides of ten brown bears, and the rich flesh of ten hill bucks, and the tough sinew of ten wild boars, then you may have this map.”

xSlayerx tugged the other two back several paces so they could talk amongst themselves.

“That sounds fair.”

“You can’t be serious,” Carwen said.

“If we each take one part of his request, I’m sure we can be done in no time,” Yolo67 ventured, despite Carwen’s gaze piercing his soul with promises of pain later.

“He gives us a map, but only if we spend the next three weeks helping him get ready for winter?  I’m pretty sure my mom told me a story about this when I was a kid,” Carwen said.

Ignoring her, xSlayerx went right on ahead making the plans.  “Right.  I’ll take the deer.  Yolo, you kill the boar, and Carwen, you can off the bears.”

She folded her arms, her eyes narrowing.  “I have a better idea.”

“Sorry, but I’m allergic to bears,” xSlayerx said.

She sighed and turned, nocked an arrow, and let it fly.  The old man let out a cry of pain as he clutched at the shaft jutting from his chest.  A moment later he fell over dead.   Carwen walked over and relieved him of the map.

“Carwen, what are you doing?” Yolo67 cried.  “He was going to help us!”

“I’m not on this quest to run errands for lazy, creepy old men who can’t be arsed to prepare for their own needs,” she said, handing the map to xSlayerx.  “What would he have done first if we hadn’t come along, starved or frozen?”

xSlayerx opened his mouth, then shut it again.

“He probably had plenty and just wanted to get rid of us.”

Yolo67 couldn’t come up with a counter-argument to that.  Now that she mentioned it, it did seem a bit fishy.

“And you have to admit,” xSlayerx said at last, “it is quicker this way.”

Carwen rifled through his belongings to see if there was anything else of value to take while xSlayerx examined the map.

Yolo67 looked at the old man dead on the ground, at xSlayerx, then to Carwen.  “Yeah, I wasn’t really looking forward to hunting boar, anyway.  They’re nasty suckers.”

Carwen divided the dried meats she found into three portions and handed Yolo67 and xSlayerx their share.  “Come on, we can probably make the fortress by nightfall now.”

Yolo67 and xSlayerx looked at one another and nodded.

“Yep, good point.”

“Alright, let’s keep going.”


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The Farmer’s Wife

A farmer left his widowed wife
With many years yet in her life.
He left her tracts of fallow land
At which she meant to set her hand.

She dug her furrow deep and true,
She irrigated through and through,
She worked her field all night and day,
Yet still her valley barren lay.

When then a young man happened by
She asked him if he’d like to try.

Now he was knight of noble birth,
And had he quite substantial girth;
But though his sword with steel was made,
It wasn’t quite so long in the blade.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

He was a bowman straight and tall,
And many maids had held enthrall.
But though his bow was hardwood strong,
He couldn’t weild it very long.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

The don was a flamboyant man
And with a flourish he began,
But though his foil was sharp as wit
Twasn’t broad enough to benefit.

Though valiant brought his tool to wield,
Yet barren still remained her field.
He ploughed her valley night and day
And then she sent him on his way.

When next a young man happened by,
She asked him if he’d like to try.

Now the bard, he had a set of lungs,
As skilled with hands as with his tongue.
To plough he brought out all his toys,
And bade her make a joyous noise!

So valiant brought his tool to wield,
He ploughed and ploughed, he would not yield
Until he counted daughters, three,
Two sons, and one babe yet to be!

The farmer’s widow’s now a wife,
And happy in her married life.
She tends her duties in the day,
But nightly in her fields they play!

Living and Learning Together: Module One: How Doors Work

“5. Homework: A writing exercise! Slam that m$*#&#$#$&#%#$* again tonight. Do it. I dare you. Then write a sonnet about what it feels like to be punched in the neck by a cranky person. Some of us work for a living.”

I couldn’t resist.

A sonnet of such eloquence of speech

Presented as evidence that I know

Of standing just within your cranky reach

Upon jugular with befisted blow

Which backward flung me upon my sore ass

And left me sprawled upon the hardwood floor

Who knew my teachers were filled with such sass

Punished for the crime of slamming the door

But my feet again I found beneath me

And stood with such rapturous affection

For he who gave me better eyes to see

And a mind that can make such connection

That between the door and the jam lies sound

Let it be soft, lest I’m flung to the ground!

A Star in the Face of the Sky

Door comparison

As one with multiple attendance certificates from diversity workshops, it chagrins me to report the negative feedback I have received from members of the wolf and cave-dwelling communities over my recent blog post.  My thoughtless remarks may have left the impression that I believe all wolves and cave dwellers are thoughtless d-bags, inclined to stomp up and down dorm hallways, loudly slamming doors in their wake at all hours of the day AND NIGHT.  Nothing could be further from truth.  There are no doubt many courteous canines and Neanderthals, and I hope they will accept my heartfelt apologies.  Understand that I know that you are one of the good ones.  (Not like those others.) 

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The Interview

Inspired by The Daily Post to write an interview with an inanimate object.  I’m quite sure this isn’t what they had in mind 😉

Eliza Murdock: Welcome back to Around the House.  I know you’re all eager to meet our next guest.  Joining me here today we have that oft’ overlooked item that many people call common, and yet there is nothing ‘common’ about this bright star.  Please join me in a round of applause for Mr. Table Lamp!

Mr Lamp, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.


EM: From humble beginnings in a small studio apartment, you’ve risen to grace the tables of upscale society.   Why, I hear just last week you sat at the table of a Rockefeller!


EM: Quite an exciting night.


EM: As Shakespeare said, “Watt’s in a name?”  Now that you’re moving up in the world, have you considered changing your name to something more up-to-date with the times?


EM: Don’t fret, I certainly won’t try to twist it out of you.


EM: I hear that there’s a new desk lamp in the neighborhood.  Reports are she’s very flexible.  Any chance of some sparks there?


EM: Keeping it to yourself for now, I see.  Very cheeky.


EM: Which brings up a sad turn in your life.  Not long ago you went through a real dark spell, feeling burnt-out, powerless…


EM: Yeah, it’s always hard when you can’t see that light at the end of the tunnel.


EM: But you took some time off and I have to say, you’ve gone through a real change, you just light up the room when you’re on.


EM: You’re certainly an inspiration, bringing illumination to a problem that not many like to talk about.


EM: Well, what can you say to that, am I right?  But I won’t dwell on that.


EM: So, how many blondes does it take to change your bulb?


EM: Ah, I’m just yankin’ your chain.


EM: I think that’s all the time we have this week.  Thank you so much, Mr. Table Lamp, this has been a truly enlightening interview!

Join us next time on ‘Around The House’, the show that puts the spotlight on the things you use every day.

These are a few of my…

I adore re-writing Christmas carols.   Something about parody just tickles me absolutely pink, and I shamelessly indulge during this time of year.  Unfortunately, it does require a common frame of reference to get most of them, as in this case it relies heavily upon understanding metal corrosion resistant coatings, airline part manufacturing, and Boeing standard colors, but hey, why should that stop me from sharing??

These Are A Few Of My Least Favorite Things

Alodine, anodize, primer, and heat treat
Researching replacements for parts deemed obsolete
Sending out quotes req’s to fabricate springs
These are a few of my least favorite things

MPS redlines ’cause Fred’s being picky
Fig’ring out royalties is always quite tricky
Expedite order and stress that it brings
These are a few of my least favorite things

Color coding
Brain exploding
But now don’t you fret
Is always the safest bet!

Walkin’ Round in Manufacturing

Program sheets, cutting tooling
Fabbing parts can be grueling
We’re on a deadline
To get part designs
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

Every station is busy
The whole place in a tizzy
Conditions are prime
To get overtime
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

In the paint booth we can spray some primer
Then some BMS10-83
But just make sure you are really careful
Cause if it runs it won’t get passed QC

Later on, out in shipping
Get it boxed, time is slipping
We’ll all celebrate
Once it’s in the crate
Walkin’ round in manufacturing

Carol of the Sales

Phones and email
Day-long they wail
As if to say
“We’re here to stay.”
Clients complain
A non-stop rain
Price is too high
Lead time a lie

Already late
Sooth all their ire
As they inquire
Want a ship date
Payments await
Send overnight
Just do it right

Meeting I missed
Client is pissed
So much to do
No time for loo
Quote requests pending
Attachments not sending
Tearing my hair
Out everywhere
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email

Phones and email
To no avail,
Their blasted rings
And little dings
Need color code
Highlighted, bold
And though I try
They won’t reply

On, on they send
On without end
“Where is our stuff?”
I’ve had enough!
Customers crying,
And we’re all trying
Hard not to swear
Too much to bear
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email
I hate, I hate, I hate, phones and email

Phones and email
Phones and email
Phones and email
Phones and email

Tequila Sunrise

“Mornin’, Angus.”

“Mornin’, Fred.”


“Mighty kind of you, Fred.”

“Just been down at the feed store. Looks as Johnson’s got himself a new batch of chickens.”

“What color?”

“Oh, white I s’pose.”

“Chickens usually are.  Think the lake monster’ll eat em?”

“Like as not.”

“Damn shame, that.”

“What Johnson’s doin’ buyin’ new chickens is beyond me.”

“Eggs, I s’pect.”

“Aye, eggs.”

“Not for meat, sure.  That young missus o’ his ain’t one for killin’ and pluckin’.  What he went and married her for, I can’t says I know.”

“Don’t cross a witch they say, Angus.”

“Sound advice, Fred.”

“Will you and the missus be coming out to the fair tonight?”

“Heard tell there’s gonna be a hangin’.”

“Aye.  Caught old Drake’s boy. Hidin’ up in some old mine.”

“Might come to see that.”

“Gonna be a dance and ice cream after.”

“Missus’ll like that.”

“Well, give our love. I’d better be gettin’ on home. Judy’s bridge club will just be gettin’ over. Best to clean the blood before it dries.”

“True enough, Fred.”

“Later, Angus.”

“Later, Fred.”

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