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    Sometimes I wish I’d never started this, but somehow I can’t stop. It’s daunting, with bits of the story here, there and everywhere (and sometimes, nowhere). A bit like starting a huge jigsaw puzzle when you wonder where to begin, or what even is the point. But then all it takes it that little flutter when two pieces fit together to spur you on to find the next.

    When I’d chanced upon Aunt Idle’s private blog, coincidentally on the same day that I’d found mater’s old paper spiral notebook with that loopy old fashioned writing, I had an idea to put together a story, the story of the flying fish inn. Because there was something funny going on here, and I wasn’t sure what it was, but it felt like the story wasn’t over yet. So some of the pieces were nowhere yet, obviously, but many had fallen elsewhere, for various reasons.


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    It has been a few days he had felt this inexplicable urge to do something about the dullness of his everyday routine.

    Overall, Edward had never complained about his simple life, and the System’s technical upgrades did keep him rather busy fixing things when boredom threatened to settle in.

    Usually, browsing through social media, enjoying a few cute fluffy bunnies videos (all very safe for work, no need to worry about him) was all that he needed to fill the gaps of the long shift hours.

    Of course, the largest part of his days was spent monitoring the Program, and the pods. He had developed quite surreptitiously a basic visual neuronal interface that let him connect with the Virtual Reality of the pod occupants, and somehow share the progress of their Enlightenment Mission.

    For a while he had even created an avatar for himself. In the Great Simulation, he would then try to have some fun with the Ascended Masters, see what they would enlighten him about.
    It was all quite ironic, considering, they were considering themselves free and evolved, where in truth they were the prisoners of their own bodies in the pods, hooked to the virtual reality REYE program.
    But they were accurate in a way, that he was also trapped and a prisoner of his existence within the program.

    In between cats and bunnies, a link attracted him. “Rich Sacks’ Online Master Program of Enlightenment”. The more he scrolled down, the more alumnis raved and extolled the Program. What was for him to lose, the first course was free.
    On a whim, he decided to enroll.


    Final nail in the coffin, indeed.

    Despite the overwhelmnity of the situation, Ed couldn’t fathom why nobody would take some time to stop and ponder on the incoherences, the gaps in the net, so to speak.

    It behooved him to do so. The deranged cackler, like a mockery of the divine breath, ruling over the bizarro earth he had been sworn to protect — it had to be stopped.

    But where was the elusive cackler hiding, he would seemed to appear anywhere and everywhere. And what to make of those cases of mistaken identities, or all the althreadnarrative-realities jumping. The occurrences were piling up. He couldn’t even seem to count on assembling his old fierce Surge Team. All gone bizarro too.

    Pouring over his copious notes, he remembered how it all started. The strange case of Baked Bean Bea.
    She seemed to have breached through, and quite frankly shattered in all likelihood some old reality limitation, and somehow, she now was able to unwittingly shape the world to new strange alternate realities at her every whims.

    He painfully tried to recall, what he was, who he had been in the course of the last months. Blaze, his old genius inventor friend had left him some device, a transfocal whatever thingy. Usually it would change shapes as well, reconfigure itself with each realities. But its function was more or less the same. Reconnect him to his previous alternate realities. Which was handy, when you couldn’t even trust the notes you took. Obviously Bea wasn’t Baked Bean Bea before… or was she?

    Now the Transfocal Thingy seemed to have relocated in the bathroom. The shower head with the wires seemed a bit of a giveaway.
    Ed put on the water.


    The following is an e-mail from the past, composed on July 01, 2010. It is being delivered from the past through

    Dear FutureMe,
    The Absinthe Cafe
    Dawn and Mark had a bottle of Absinthe (the proper stuff with the WORMwood in
    it, which is illegal in France) but forgot to bring it. Wandering around at
    some point, we chanced upon a cafe called Absinthe. Sitting on the terrace, the
    waitress came up and looked right at me and said “Oh you are booked to come here
    tomorrow night!” and then said “Forget I said that”. Naturally that got our
    attention. After we left Dawn spotted a kid with 2016 on the back of his T
    shirt. We asked Arkandin about it and we have a concurrent group focus that does
    meet in that cafe in 2016, including Britta. Dawn’s name is Isabelle Spencer,
    Jib’s is Jennifer….
    The Worm & The Suitcase
    I borrowed Rachel’s big red suitcase for the trip and stuck a Time Bridgers
    sticker on it, and joked before I left about the case disappearing to 2163. I
    had an impulse to take a fig tree sapling for Eric and Jib, which did survive
    the trip although it looked a little shocked at first. As Eric was repotting
    it, we noticed a worm in the soil, and I said, Well, if the fig tree dies at
    least you have the worm.
    At Balzacs house on a bench in the garden there was a magazine lying there open
    to an ad for Spain, which said “If you lose your suitcase it would be the best
    thing because you would have to stay”.
    Later we asked Arkandin and he said that there was something from the future
    inserted into my suitcase. I went all through it wondering what it could be,
    and then a couple of days ago Eric said that it was the WORM! because of the
    WORMwood absinthe syncs, and worm hole etc. I just had a chat with Franci who
    had a big worm sync a couple of days ago, she particularly noticed a very big
    worm outside the second hand shop, and noted that she hadn’t seen a worm in ages
    ~ which is also a sync, because there was a big second hand clothes shop next to
    Dawn and Mark’s hotel that I went into looking for a bowler hat.
    Arkandin said, by the way, that Jane did forget to mention the bowler hats in
    OS7, those two guys on the balcony were indeed wearing bowler hats, and that
    they were the same guys that were in my bedroom in the dream I had prior to
    finding the Seth stuff ~ Elias and Patel.
    Eric replied:

    And another Time Bridger thing; a while ago, Jib and I had fun planting some TB stickers at random places in Paris (and some on a wooden gate at Jib’s hometown).
    Those in Paris I remember were one at the waiting room of a big tech department store, and another on the huge “Bateaux Mouches” sign on the Pont de l’Alma (bridge, the one of Lady D. where there is a gilded replica of Lady Liberty’s flame).
    I think there are pics of that on Jib’s or my flickr account somewhere.
    When we were walking past this spot, Jib suddenly remembered the TB sticker — meanwhile, the sign which was quite clean before had been written all over, and had other stickers everywhere. We wondered whether it was still here, and there it was! It’s been something like 2 years… Kind of amazing to think it’s still there, and imagine all the people that may have seen it since!

    The Flights

    I wasn’t all that keen on flying and procrastinated for ages about the trip. I
    flew with EASYjet, so it was nice to see the word EASY everywhere. I got on the
    plane to find that they don’t allocate seats, and chose a seat right at the
    front on the left. The head flight attendant was extremely playful for the
    whole flight, constantly cracking up laughing and teasing the other flight
    attendants, who would poke him and make him laugh during announcements so that
    he kept having to put the phone down while he laughed. I spent the whole flight
    laughing and catching his mischeivously twinking eye.
    I asked Arkandin about him and he said his energy was superimposed. I got on
    the flight to come home and was met on the plane by the same guy! I said
    HELLO! It’s YOU again! Can I sit in the same seat and are you going to make me
    laugh again” and he actually moved the person that was in my seat and said I
    could sit there. Then he asked me about my book (about magic and Napolean). He
    also said that all his flights all week had been delayed except the two that I
    was on. He wanted to give me a card for frequent flyers but I told him I
    usually flew without planes ~ that cracked him up ;))

    The Dream Bean

    Eric cracked open a special big African bean that is supposed to enhance
    dreams/lucidity so we all had a bit of it. The second night I remembered a
    dream and it was a wonderful one.
    (Coincidentally, on the flight home I read a few pages of my book and it just
    happened to be about the council of five dragons and misuse of magical beans)
    In the dream I had a companion with magical powers, who I presumed was Jib but
    it was myself actually. It was a long adventure dream of being chased and
    various adventures across the countryside, but there was no stress, it was all
    great fun. Everytime things got a bit too close in the dream, I’d hold onto my
    friend with magical powers, and we would elevate above the “adventure” and drop
    down in another location out of immediate danger ~ although we were never
    outside of the adventure, so to speak. At one point I wondered why my magical
    freind didn’t just elevate us right up high and out of it completely, and
    realized that we were in the adventure game on purpose for the fun of it, so why
    would we remove ourselves completely from the adventure game.
    In the dream I remember we were heading for Holland at one point, and then the
    last part we were safely heading for Turkey…..
    The other dream snapshot was “we are all working together on roof tiles” and
    Arkandin had some interesting stuff to say about that one.

    There were alot of vampire imagery incidents starting with me asking Eric if he
    slept in his garden tool box at night, and then the guy who shot out of a door
    right next to Jib and Eric’s, in a bright orange T shirt, carrying a cardboard
    coffin. He stopped for me to take a photo (and Arkandin said it was a Patel pop
    in); then while walking through the outdoor food market someone was chopping a
    crate up and a perfect wooden stake flew across the floor and landed at my feet.
    The next vampire sync was a shop opposite Dawn and Mark’s hotel with 3 coffins
    in the window (I went back to take a pic of the cello actually, didn’t even
    notice the coffins). Inside the shop was an EAU DE NIL MOTOR SCOOTER Share, can
    you beleive it, and a mummy, a stuffed raven, and a row of (Tardis) Red phone
    I had a nightmare last night that I couldn’t find any of my (nine) dogs; the
    only ones I could find were the dead ones.

    Balzac’s House

    The trip to Balzac’s house was interesting, although in somewhat unexpected
    ways. (Arkandin was Balzac and I was the cook/housekeeper) The house didn’t
    seem “right” somehow to Mark and I and we decided that was probably because
    other than the desk there was no furniture in it. Mark saw a black cat that
    nobody else saw that was an Arkandin pop in (panther essence animal), and Dawn
    felt that he was sitting on a chair, and Mark sat on him. (Arkandin said yes he
    did sit on him ;) The kitchen was being used as an office. Jib felt the house
    was too small, and picked up on a focus of his that rented the other part of the
    house. (The house was one storey high on the side we entered, and two storeys
    high from the road below). There were two pop ins there apparently, one with
    long hair which is a connection to my friend Joy who was part of that group
    focus, and I can’t recall anything about the other one. Dawn was picking up
    that Balzac wasn’t too happy, and I was remembering the part in Cousin Bette
    that infuriated me when I read it, where he goes on and on about how disgusting
    it is for servants to expect their wages when their “betters” are in dire
    straits. Arkandin confirmed that I didn’t get my wages.
    The garden was enchanting and had a couple of sphinx statues and a dead pigeon ~
    as well as the magazine with the suitcase and Spain imagery. Mark signed the
    guest book “brought the cook back” and I replied “no cooking smells this time”.


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    heart looking hope
    sometimes stories getting asked free
    home somehow
    face sight religious
    managed catch smile
    tried aliens


    Mike wasn’t as courageous as his former self, the Baron. That new name had a cowardly undertone which wasn’t as enticing to craze and bravery as “The Baron”.

    The idea of the looming limbo which had swallowed the man whole, and having to care for a little girl who surely shouldn’t be out there on her own at such an early hour of the day spelt in unequivocal letters “T-R-O-U-B-B-L-E” — ah, and that he was barely literate wasn’t an improvement on the character either.

    Mike didn’t want to think to much. He could remember a past, maybe even a future, and be bound by them. As well, he probably had a family, and the mere though of it would be enough to conjure up a boring wife named Tina, and six or seven… he had to stop now. Self introspection wasn’t good for him, he would get lost in it in quicker and surer ways than if he’d run into that Limbo.

    “Let me tell you something… Prune?… Prune is it?”
    “I stop you right there, mister, we don’t have time for the “shouldn’t be here on your own” talk, there is a man to catch, and maybe more where he hides.”

    “Little girl, this is not my battle, I know a lost cause when I see one. You look exhausted, and I told my wife I would be back with her bloody croissants before she wakes up. You can’t imagine the dragon she becomes if she doesn’t get her croissants and coffee when she wakes up. My pick-up is over there, I can offer you a lift.”

    Prune made a frown and a annoyed pout. At her age, she surely should know better than pout. The thought of the dragon-wife made her smile though, she sounded just like Mater when she was out of vegemite and toasts.

    Prune started to have a sense of when characters appearing in her life were just plot devices conjured out of thin air. Mike had potential, but somehow had just folded back into a self-imposed routine, and had become just a part of the story background. She’d better let him go until just finds a real character. She could start by doing a stake-out next to the strange glowing building near the frontier.

    “It’s OK mister, you go back to your wife, I’ll wait a little longer at the border. Something tells me this story just got started.”


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    Travel for the Ascended was usually as simple as intending your destination, however Floverley often found herself navigationally challenged. She usually ended up where she wanted to go, not where she was summoned.

    Eventually though, after a pleasant stop over at an inter-dimensional art gallery to check out the latest works of a group of outsider artists—The Descended Impressionists— she managed to rally herself and align her conflicting energies by engaging in some stirring self talk and a quick visualisation of Master Medlik’s disappointed face.

    Of course as soon as she did this, there he was, disappointed face and all.

    Bugger, she thought. When will I learn? No bloody privacy around here.

    ”Don’t worry, Medlik,” she said with a composed smile. “I got the call and I am on my way there right now. I will do all I can to assist.”

    Somehow, she thought, sighing at the thought of her gargantuan task.

    “Interpretations are tricky,” said Medlik, laughing raucously. “Somehow means, in some manner. So it’s quite definitive, though the manner in which it is done is yet to be revealed.”


    Seeing Dido eating her curry cookies would turn Mater’s stomach, so she went up to her room.

    Good riddance she thought, one less guest to worry about.
    Not that she usually thought that way, but every time the guests leaved, there was a huge weight lifted from her back, and a strong desire of “never again”.
    The cleaning wasn’t that much worry, it helped clear her thoughts (while Haki was doing it), but the endless worrying, that was the killer.

    After a painful ascension of the broken steps, she put her walking stick on the wall, and started some breathing exercises. The vinegary smell of all the pickling that the twins had fun experimenting with was searing at her lungs. The breathing exercise helped, even if all the mumbo jumbo about transcendant presence was all rubbish.

    It was time for her morning oracle. Many years ago, when she was still a young and innocent flower, she would cut bits and pieces of sentences at random from old discarded magazines. Books would have been sacrilegious at the time, but now she wouldn’t care for such things and Prune would often scream when she’d find some of her books missing key plot points. Many times, Mater would tell her the plots were full of holes anyway, so why bother; Prune’d better exercise her own imagination instead of complaining. Little bossy brat. She reminded her so much of her younger self.

    So she opened her wooden box full of strips of paper. Since many years, Mater had acquired a taste for more expensive and tasty morsels of philosophy and not rubbish literature, so the box smelt a bit of old parchment. Nonetheless, she wasn’t adverse to a modicum of risqué bits from tattered magazines either. Like a blend of fine teas, she somehow had found a very nice mix, and oftentimes the oracle would reveal such fine things, that she’d taken to meditate on it at least once a day. Even if she wouldn’t call it meditate, that was for those good-for-nothing willy-nilly hippies.

    There it was. She turned each bit one by one, to reveal the haiku-like message of the day.

    “Bugger!” the words flew without thinking through her parched lips.

    looked forgotten rat due idea half
    getting floverley comment somehow
    prune hardly wondered eyes great
    inn run days dark quentin simulation

    That silly Prune, she’d completely forgotten to check on her. She was glad the handwritten names she’d added in the box would pop up so appropriately.

    She would pray to Saint Floverley of the Dunes, a local icon who was synchretized from old pagan rituals and still invoked for those incapable of dancing.
    With her forking arthritis, she would need her grace much.


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    Frowning, Dispersee pondered the latest impulse and hesitated before including it in her report. The imagery had shifted from pools, to bubbles, to vapourous mist rising in shafts of sunlight, which sounded dangerously akin to ascending into the light, and that would never do. There was already far too much mumbo jumbo circulating about ascension and light, and altogether too many people sitting around on gluten free arses, ignoring everything, waiting for the shifted salt free shaft of the rapture to beam them up to the higher realms.

    No, it was no good, she couldn’t possibly share the new imagery, it would be misconstrued and counterproductive. Dispersee waited for the next strange impulse, and further clues.

    She didn’t have to wait long: the next morning, seized by another compulsion, she slipped out of the house into the dense swirling fog. Normally a big fan of bright contrast and intense colours, the diffused monochrome scenes were somehow restful to her senses. Water droplets danced in the air like common eye floaters, gathering on her skin and hair, wetting her as effectively as a dunk in a pool, but without the sudden shock of a plunge. It was insidious, almost sneaky, the way the mist pretended to be air but was mostly water. The fog connected everything in its path with its swarms of moisture droplets, drenching everything. Dispersee wondered if her wellington boot had sprung a leak as her left sock became coldly saturated, but it was the rivulets of clinging fog dribbling down her trouser leg.

    The bucolic scenery in shades of grey reminded her of the common phrase “it’s not black and white” which had been much bandied about of late. No, it’s not, she mused, it’s shades of reflected dispersed fluid, masquerading as spaces and solid matters. Poised to take a snapshot of a particularly large dewdrop which was reflecting an interesting twisted sapling, Dispersee blundered into the stalk of the plant, causing a furious shivering along the stems and seed pods. She watched with a feeling akin to fascinated horror as the glorious individual droplets merged into a channel of least resistance, spilling down in streams to gather in the mud.


    “You can’t leave without a permit, you know,” Prune said, startling Quentin who was sneaking out of his room.

    “I’m just going for a walk,” he replied, irritated. “And what are you doing skulking around at this hour, anyway? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

    “What are you doing with an orange suitcase in the corridor at three o’clock in the morning?” the young brat retorted. “Where are you going?”

    “Owl watching, that’s what I’m doing. And I don’t have a picnic basket, so I’m taking my suitcase.” Quentin had an idea. “Would you like to come?” The girls local knowledge might come in handy, up to a point, and then he could dispose of her somehow, and continue on his way.

    Prune narrowed her eyes with suspicion. She didn’t believe the owl story, but curiosity compelled her to accept the invitation. She couldn’t sleep anyway, not with all the yowling mating cats on the roof. Aunt Idle had forbidden her to leave the premises on her own after dark, but she wasn’t on her own if she was with a story refugee, was she?


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    mars bending fast arrived
    telling especially high interesting
    somehow self rolling travel days
    masters cackle sight ready headpiece
    caught breath easily


    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


    His mother had told him not to trust what he would see. Somehow she’d spoken as if she knew more than she wanted to tell.

    After the mayhem with the quakes, and the meteor impact, he thought that was it. There was something more to the reality of these events.

    But then, nothing could have prepared them for what happened next. “Bloody aliens?”

    Suspiciously, everyone seemed completely hypnotized and blissfully eager to follow them wherever they led. He had tried to wake Yz up, she was usually the no-nonsense one, but she’d looked at him with vacant eyes barely recognizing him with a faint “Johnny?”.

    He started to get really suspicious when one of the robots started looking at his behaviour, not packing like the others. It even tried to force him to drink water —dehydration was common in these airtight environments, it said. It was then it dawned on him, that there must have put something in the water. But for what? A Mars take-over?

    How he was somehow immune? Well, for a while he’d collected the water dripping from the stones, and had analysed it, found it very pure. A few days ago, before the whole string of disasters, he’d tried to drink it, see how it tasted, and it seemed safe. Must have been why. By now, most of the stones he’d collected had dried up, and his water supply was limited.

    While pretending to slowly pack his things, he was looking at everyone queueing in short lines, all very ecstatic to go to the implausible blue boot-ship surrounded by watchful Finnleys. The exodus had a very eerie feeling about it.

    He could see most of the persons he knew, even the new ones, Prune cuddling a box with her hamster family, Hans, even that daft Lizette and the mines guy. The religious nuts were so stoned they were all following an obviously overdressed robot with a headpiece they probably took for their religious leader.

    But wait… His mother? He hadn’t see her. Where had she gone?


    In reply to: Mandala of Ascensions


    Whenever Nabuco projected to human consciousness, they had the habit of seeing him as a plump looking bearded vagrant, like a Pavarotti turned homeless. It had annoyed him for a while, but now he didn’t mind as much.

    Nowadays, he was mostly off the bliss addiction of the Rays, so in a sense, it was fitting. If he were still in physical human form, he would probably have taken on quite some weight. And that made him a sort of pariah too, splintering off the great order of ascension, or whatever They called it nowadays.

    With them, there was no denying he’d lived quite the grand life, being ascended and all. They used to called him Master Nebuchadnezzar — well, often Master Nabuco.
    He’d gotten on the rayroll almost by luck. He was credited for inventing the chibubble technique, as a way of extracting bubbles and peals of laughter when people get all hot and excited. At the peak of the technique, somewhere around the 1968s, he had recruited and incorporated many gnomes into the fold, as nature spirits known as gnomes had a uncanny knack for extracting laughter off people. With the call for sexual liberation and getting closer to nature, they had plenty of opportunities to get people high, and chibubbles were all the fancy.
    It had started to go down as fast as it rose, people were no longer interested in nature, gnomes working condition when forced to move to urban environments were a disaster, and the chibubble production plummeted. Now, the industry was a thing of the past ; sometimes there were a few chibubble memorabilia kept by other Masters interested in speculating on its rare value more than for anything else. Now kitten videos on social media had replaced the chibubble gnomes business and driven a new unseen growth of the Gross Divine Product.

    He didn’t know if the gnomes were responsible for it, but living so close to them and nature for a while, somehow opened his perception to the falsity and the insanity of their quest for power. So instead of finding new venues for innergy extraction as they all did, he’d resigned.
    Nobody had heard about anybody resigning before, so they suspected him of trying to be original, and maybe disrupt the clever and immutable laws of the universe.
    Long story short, he’d managed to escape their clutches, and live on his own, and off unhealthy junk thoughts habits. Those were the worse, the craving of decadent thoughts, maintained by the entertainment and news industries, the social media and all of it. In the long run, that or the fuzzy bliss were faces of the same coin, and debilitating in the end.

    Even when he tried to block them, he could hear the thoughts, prayers and all the inner chatter. The spirit world, or however it is called, was a medium ideal to carry those thoughts and reverberate throughout the whole universe. Like sound waves travelling under water for large distances. Now, he could resist the urge to answer, seduce and insinuate. Many of the thoughts were so naive and would welcome anything. He was still a junkie, and those offerings were never helping getting him off the wagon.

    Humans hoped for ascension, but ascended masters like him who were trapped in a false blissdom could only hope to resume their path by descending to human form. Such irony.

    There was one voice that seemed to stand out. It had the flavour of “dangerous” pinned onto it, the kind of bright colours that venomous snakes and toads have on earth to warn predators to keep off, or else. It could only mean one thing, a genuine seeker of truth, someone who had the potential to tear the veils to shreds.

    He’d seen quite a few of those, they were usually young, and for many of them terribly naive and easily corrupted by displays of power. Search for truth and search for power were sometimes so easily mistaken one for the other. The bright colours would fade over time, but they were still dangerous, too unpredictable to be trusted fully. Learned Ascended Masters knew well to leave those to their own device, while tending to the less critical minds.

    But what did he have to waste, especially now? Nabuco zoomed towards the origin of the thoughts, observing at a distance, the young Domba.


    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


    I dreamt about Mater last night. She was her old self, brilliant and snappily dangerous.

    It’s been the first dream I’ve been able to remember in weeks. I don’t know why I expected the great beyond space to be less… claustrophobic, but there’s no escaping the confinement.
    I was telling her I was missing home, the air, the smell of eucalyptus trees, the rains before winter. I think I even became sentimental about my sisters. Hardly a news from them these days, but how could I blame them. They are always busy on some down-to-earth cause, and I know better than to criticize those on the ground actually doing something to change the wrongdoings of the world.
    When I started to cry uncontrollably, Mater told me I was a baby, and that I should man up. Typical Mater. Dido would have called her names under her breath, I think that was her way to express her love for her. People are silly.

    In the dream, I stopped crying but the tears had swollen into a river, and I was starting to drown, things became hellish and I could barely breathe, but somehow I could still feel Mater’s presence, like a beacon. I made it out of the torrents onto an island. There were many refugees. The doctors had the strangest blue eyes, and Mater’s voice told me to trust the process but not the doctors. Then I felt all the blue eyes looking at me, and I woke up in a sweat.

    Hans is still deep in a peaceful sleep, so I went out of the bedroom to get some water and check on the piggy and her litter. They are always sleeping blissfully too. It’s a wonder when you think of it, that I thought it was just getting fatter when it actually was pregnant from before we left Earth. Now they’re mostly an open secret, as everyone finds them so cute.

    The most difficult was to conceal them from the reality TV show’s cameras. The hysterical fans are always scrutinizing every move we all make, and keeping some privacy is tricky, but apart from the external prying eyes, pretty much everyone here know about them and it’s like a game of hide and seek. I like how it fuels the speculations and paranoia of the Mars bunker debunking association, who think we’re all part of a mass cover-up. I’ve spent some time on their website when I couldn’t sleep the first weeks when we arrived. I would probably have never known about it, but I just searched for myself on the web, and found this thread about the new conspirators. I had to laugh at the beginning, but they raise reasonable doubts in the middle of their rants. By now, I know better than to raise the topic, especially after all the religious nonsense. Seems there are some people that get really annoyed when I asked naive questions about it, like Maya.

    Like I said. People are silly.


    Aunt Idle:

    It was going to be a long hot summer. Summer this year started early, and we were barely half way through July. I hadn’t had a moment to think, which isn’t true at all ~ my brain had been non stop chuntering since the end of April, but all the thinking was about errands and other peoples problems and trips to the bloody airport or the detention centre to pick up more waifs and strays. What I mean is, I hadn’t had any time to STOP thinking and just listen, or just BE. Or to put it more accurately, I hadn’t made much time for me. It had been an endless juggle, wanting to be helpful with all the refugees ~ of course I didn’t mind helping! ~ it wasn’t that I minded helping, it was the energy and the constant stream of complications, things going wrong, the complaining and defensive energy. It was a job to buffer it all and stay on an even keel, to ensure everyone had what they needed, but without acquiescing to the never ending needy attention seeking. It was hard to say no, even if saying no helped people become more confident and capable ~ it was always a mental battle not to feel unhelpful. Saying no to ones own comfort is always so much easier.

    What I found I missed the most was doing things my own way, in my own time. How I wish I had appreciated being able to do that before all the refugees arrived! I’d wanted more people to do things with, living in this remote outpost ~ thought how nice it would be to have more friends here to do things with. Fun things though, not all the trips to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy, all the tedious errands. And in summer too! I like to minimize the errands in summer so I’m not worn out with the heat to do the fun things like go for early morning walks. But this lot didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and they weren’t really up to much walking either. I’ve been hobbled, having to walk slower, and not walk far. It had interfered somehow with my photography too, I haven’t been much in the zone these days, that place of observant appreciation. Ah well, it was interesting. Things are always interesting.

    Not many countries had been willing to accept the hundreds of thousands of refugees from USA, and small wonder, but our idiotic government had been bribed to take more than a fair quota. All of the deserted empty buildings in town had been assigned to the newcomers, and all of our empty rooms at the hotel too.

    Mater hardly ever came out of her room, and when she did venture out, it was only to poke them with her walking stick and wind them up with rude remarks. Prune seemed to be enjoying it though, playing practical jokes on them and deliberately misinforming them of local customs. Corrie and Clove were working on an anthropology paper about it all ~ that was a good thing and quite helpful at times. When the complaining and needs got overwhelming, I’d send them off to interview the people about it, which took the brunt off me, at least temporarily. Bert was a good old stick, just doing what needed to be done without letting it all get to him, but he didn’t want to talk about it or hear me complaining about it all.

    “Aint much point in complaining about all the complaining” was all he’d say, and he had a point.


    In reply to: The Hosts of Mars


    Prune was listening to Maya and Yz, not daring to talk, much less to disagree.
    Yz was back to the planet from her maintenance drill on the mothership, and had found their remote outpost overloaded with new clueless settlers.
    Now, even Maya, who was always the understanding one was fuming at the vexing situation and couldn’t help but complain about the new Mars settlers’ manners (or lack thereof). The matter was of importance, but somehow Johnny couldn’t help but find it hilarious.

    Johnny! Stop laughing, it’s not at all funny!”
    “I’m sorry, it’s the nerves!” he replied “I didn’t want to poke fun at your horror story, Mum.”
    “You damn right, it IS a bit of a horror story. Well, I don’t know what kind of a story it is. These new settlers that moved here are disorganized conflict and chaos all the time. And now nobody has a permit for sand scooter but me. So everything I do takes me 6 times as long with everyone else… and its hot!”

    She paused a little, smiling at Prune, then turned to Yz, who seemed equally annoyed by the recent mess.

    Prune ventured a word “But you really love the idea of cooperative community sharing, don’t you.”
    Maya nodded, then continued “but it sucks! IT SUCKS!… and it’s all a bit weird too. It’s a daily juggle with what I’m willing to say yes to, and where I draw the line and say no.”

    She sighed. “But some of it is fun, obviously. But much of it isn’t. I think everyone is struggling with finding themselves disconcertingly in a totally new place.
    The new place for me is never being alone to do anything, where before I almost always was, and really wanted people to do things with. But they are LATE and I can do things on my own easier.
    I prefer being a hermit while preaching about community. And doing things my own way while pushing for cooperation!”

    It didn’t help that Maya had agreed to help organize the event for Mother Shirley (though the party had changed the event location to the nearby fancier townlet of Romars without notice, instead of their rugged but peaceful village).

    The event had attracted the usual throng of nuts and illuminated sycophants, which would have dissolved just as well, if not for an unusual occurrence: Mother Shirley had claimed to have a divine vision by merging consciousness with the AI of the ship. She had seen floods and rains. Image that! As if water on Mars, was not ludicrous enough, now floods!
    All of a sudden, all hell broke loose and the religious nuts managed to create a panic, and had loads of people rush for the higher ground… Well, you guessed, to their previously quiet outpost.

    Of course, she had said nothing of the water-rocks she and John had found. Better not to encourage the nutters.

    Strange new place, indeed…


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    once explore thought
    spirit says everyone answer
    wings home liked maps
    sound boy somehow behind
    lady disappeared fear friend bear igor


    I don’t really want to write, Elizabeth was thinking, I want to read, just read. And perhaps write a little bit about what I’m reading, or draw a map to illustrate the connections between what I’m reading and what I’m doing. Or what all those others out there that pretend to not be me are doing.

    She paused and looked around. Is there anything more perfect than a warm house, full of firewood and full of books? She had just read something about the “beast”, and welcoming the beast. The beast in question was illness, and the author was welcoming the beast because it was an excuse to just read and do nothing else. Elizabeth’s beast the other day was no internet connection, and she had pulled the sofa up to the patio doors to lie in the sun all day, just reading. I’ll lie there every morning, when the sun streams in just so, lying on the sofa and just reading, she thought. But she hadn’t.

    But she kept thinking about lying on a sofa reading all day, not just any sofa, but a sofa that was positioned to catch the winter sun through the window. It reminded her of many years ago in a cold climate, (or was it a chapter in a book, a character that had done it? She wasn’t sure, but what was the difference anyway) lying on a sofa all day, a large American one that was longer than she was and wider too and would have had room for several dogs, if she’d had any then, not a short European sofa that cuts off the circulation of the calves that hang over the arm, with no room for dogs. She was sick, she assumed, because she had the house to herself and because she spent the entire day reading a book. She wondered if anyone did that even if they weren’t sick, and somehow doubted it. The book was Bonjour Tristesse, and she never forgot reading that book, although she promptly forgot what the book was about. It was the delicious feeling of lying on a sofa with the winter sun on her face, when beyond the glass window all was frigid and challenging and made the body rigid, despite it’s dazzling white charm.

    There was no winter sun shining in today, just rain trickling down the windowpane, cutting through the muddy paw prints from when the dogs looked in. But just seeing the sofa positioned in just the right place to catch the sun was warming, somehow.


    In reply to: Scrying the Word Cloud


    wall changes, losing city somehow
    continued rather truth stick,
    hope focus characters
    tried poor nobody dust, love secret: dry lazuli bugger


    Christmas has always been a strange tradition in our family.
    Maybe because first and foremost, Christmas is all about family. Besides the twins and their bond, sometimes I wonder what makes us a family at all.
    It doesn’t help that we can never get snow around this place, and dressing in red and white fluff is not going to make things suddenly magical.

    It was comical to see the exterminator come with a red bonnet, panting and all red himself, as if he were some genial Santa bringing gifts of death to our yonder’s rodents residents.
    He didn’t catch a rat, but got himself a fright. Thanks to Mater, when she erupted in the attic in her white hanuka honey cream face-lifter mask. I think that sneaky Finly got to her in the end.
    The mystery of the strange noises in the inn is not going soon, apparently.

    Bert and Aunt Idle got back from their trip in the evening. Apparently Bert had insisted to bring some sort of shrub to make a Christmas tree in the great hall (it’s not so great, but we call it that). Finly didn’t seem pleased too much with it. Raking leaves in summer, bringing pests inside… she didn’t have many kind things to say about it. So Mater sends her to cook a “festive dinner”, that’s what she said. I heard Finly mutter in her breath something about kiwi specials. I like kiwis. Hope she’ll make a pavlova… just, not with Mater’s face cream!

    It seems that giving small gestures of appreciation got the mood going. Aunt Idle is always very good at decorating with the oddest or simplest of things, like rolls of TP. Sometimes she would draw nice hieroglyphs in the layer of dust on the cabinets, it gives the furniture a special look. Mater always says it’s because she’s too lazy to do some cleaning consistently, but I think it’s because cleaning is not creative enough for her. Can’t believe I just said nice things about Aunt Idle. Christmas spirit must be contagious.

    Then, Devan came home with some pastries. It’s not often I see Devan these days, and usually he’s always brooding. I would too, if I had to come back home when I could just start my life away from there. Finly was all eyes on him all of a sudden. Seems nobody noticed, not even the twins, too busy being snarky while playing on their phones,… it looks like there is some strange game between these two, my brother and our Finly. I think Finly makes a lot of efforts to look younger with him, I can see when she fiddles with her hair. They would make good friends, and I’m sure Devan doesn’t mind the accent.

    As always, it’s not about how pretty the tree is, or how good the food is, or how big the gifts are… It’s more about being together, for better or for worse. And Dad, and Mum are always out of this almost nice picture, but somehow, it matters less today.

    There’s a good thing about that Christmas spirit. It gives you the weirdest ideas. To be nice, I asked Mater if we should invite the guests to our festive dinner, and probably lifted by the mood, she said yes, of course. When I went to the closed door to invite the guy, I thought a random act of kindnes is a perfect occasion to learn more about our mysterious resident stranger… Maybe that’s what the adults mean in church when they say you should always be kind to each other.

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