The church attendance question…

This weekend a friend asked a question based on a statistic that she had heard, that only 20% of the USA regularly go to church.

She wanted our take on why this was.  So I’m going to write about it because some of the people truly pissed me off.  And even though I will be quitting facebook here sooner here than there, it’s probably still best to not leave my reponses there.

First before I say anything else, I could only find that stat on wikipedia, there was a bit about a survey that found that 50% of the country said they had deep faith/relationship with god. So. Those values could have come out of nowhere. Or maybe they are part true. Who really knows, or cares atm. Not me anyway.

Initial question popped up: 20% of what? The population of the USA? Twenty percent of the  Christians of the USA? Is that counting mosque and temple? Other gatherings that celebrate god? Get back to me on that “what” yeah?

Continuing.

Why I don’t go to church on a regular basis? I’m barely ever in town for it, even if I am, I’ve probably got Chris with me. There is no steady basis of accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing people in Fairbury. If we were in a bigger community, like when we finally get settled in Kansas City, we’d find all sorts of churches and other spiritual gatherings and find the one that matches us. As it is, I was raised Catholic and Chris was raised protestant. If and when we find said church, I’ll be converting because I’m not going to make Chris run the gauntlet of taking catechism. You can hate me for that later. Of the churches I tried to attend before starting to date Chris, the lutheran church in town had an awesome choir and I participated with them. Then School and no time to hit practice on wednesday night, and when I couldn’t be there practicing, it felt wrong to try to be up there and not know the music. As is with a lot of things here in Fairbury, there seems to be a disconnect from myself and the women my age. I get along quite well with the little old ladies, but I always felt I didn’t belong with others. Not that they aren’t nice or anything, just unwelcome. Happened with Art Guild too.  Not that other members of the congregation didn’t try to be welcoming. So yeah, that. I’m welcome to try other churches, but I don’t have the energy to try again.

One thing right now I need to say. My faith is deeply personal and I consider this being nobody’s business than my own.

So. Here it goes.

“Because we don’t drag them in kicking and screaming as kids to teach them. And it’s “cool” to be anti-religion.”

My friend noted on this one that mayhap it was because they were brought kicking and screaming as kids.

I think she’s hit it on the head. I replied that if someone is brought in kicking and screaming, who’s doing the bringing is doing it wrong. My friend is a perfect example of doing it the right way, she has noted that her oldest is perhaps a better reminder of listening at church than herself, and is an example to be set.

My reaaaal problem here is that “It’s “cool” to be anti-religion.”

Uhm.

What do you mean by it being “cool”? I have never once thought it was cool to be anti-religion, and I don’t think I know anyone really is in a way that it is cool. I may be anti-organized religion given the state of the catholic church and really all people in prestigious and trusted positions in the world really. Just in the media you see examples of it. How many times has this sort of thing been on Law and Order SVU? Multiply that to a hellalot of other shows and it probably doesn’t begin to become ok. Look at that in our entertainment, if it happens there, the sky’s the limit on how often it actually happens.

We seem to be just fine with religion being an excuse to kill, but…seriously? We’ve got this great big problem in the middle east with three major religions that share the same holy places. The difference is that they worship differently than each other. Also that whole thing in christians damning each other for the same thing?

I have an example here. I know a woman that’s husband was put in the home because she could no longer help care for himself and his flavor of dementia. She cheated on him. She is one of those people who has “holier-than-thou” down to a tee.

So maybe it is cool to be “anti-religion” when you talk about things that can be justified by religion.

“Sad, isn’t it. They could care less..” “Sports take over our Sundays, so parents are okay with that. It really is sad. I’m not saying that sitting in church every Sunday makes you a better person, but you certainly learn a lot.”

Uh.  Who could care less? The 80 percent of the population of the United States that doesn’t go to church regularly? (if that’s the real statistic). That’s a dangerous accusation. Maybe they care and can’t. Maybe they get chased out or felt alienated. Maybe it’s just not right for them. Maybe they have to work on Saturdays or Sundays, how many times have YOU gone out for a meal on the weekend after your church service?. And with the sports on Sundays, who made that call?The reason sports happen on the weekends is we made it that way. The whole country.   You can’t say that a big percentage of the population doesn’t care, and since you think this, maybe that’s why they couldn’t care less, because we allowed it to be that way.

This one makes me the most angry of all of them:

“Their excuse is they are too busy or have a lot of stuff to do! If they put God first there are no excuses!”

Lady. Who the hell are you to say who is and isn’t putting god first? And you say that they say they are busy and what not. What makes them busy? That’s not a reason for you to think people don’t go to church for. It’s an excuse, not the real why. There are so many other responses a person could give for not going to church. Some of them are pretty bold faced in previous parts in this line of  the discussion on Facebook. It comes back to feeling being judged, and major sins in the realms of accessibility.  None of this is any business of yours, it is God’s. Sit down and shut up.

And if you didn’t read all of this..

Tl;dr: People are afraid of being judged by other people who do go regularly, and some really are being judged. Nothing scares off a person to a thing like telling them they are going to hell for not going to it.

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Use your words… (repost from FB 6/21/18)

Kind of something that’s on my mind right now, I’m not sure where I’m going with it but here goes.

I think that the wish I have for this world right now is for people to not get so angry when someone has an opinion that is in disagreement with another’s.

Think of how many of our deepest problems would go away if we could only do that and just sit and talk about our opinions.

One abrahamic god, three major religions that only disagree in how to worship him.

Pro-choice not the same as pro-abortion.

Women’s health care rights as actual rights.

Climate change not being a matter of political debate, also other sciences.

The line between morality and politics.

If we put away the anger and just talk about it, think of how many problems we could solve. So how do you do something about all the crap going on in this country?

USE YOUR WORDS

Have a discussion.

Realize there are not good and bad things, there are just things.

We live in a world where “christians” think other “christians” are going to hell for how they worship, how does that even make sense?

We need to stop this now.

We can quibble from the beginning of time to the end, but that’s not going to change the fact that recent events have caused an even worse place for human trafficking to take place. Thats what I really care about when it comes to this awful thing. They are children, and many of them are now missing because of this. Not that it wasn’t a problem before this kerfuffle, but it has become worse. This is why I am concerned about this, not that the parents have broken laws… that the children being seperated is making them vulnerable to the worst of all things in the world.

So let’s stop fighting and start talking. I know peace is a pipe dream, but maybe we can find glimmers of it in the calm words we can share about these problems.

Return to the Blog

I’m going to try something different and sort of new, but actually old. I’m going to try to journal again. It’s possible this will end up being better for me than Facebook or Twitter, or all those social media sites. This will be a slow process.

‘What has triggered this?’ you might ask. And I would tell you that social media is making me crave attention and then look for approval from my peers, friends, coworkers etc.

It feels wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook is great for keeping up with friends and their lives. To a point.  The original trigger that has me thinking on this, is that twitter no longer posts its stuff onto my facebook account. This was the main way I was using FB. Very rarely am I talking to friends of ages old. Instead I was making jokes or posted things that amused me that could maybe amuse you. Thing is, I don’t want to be that. When I started using FB it was for classes. Best way to get a group together. Now. Now I don’t know. But. FB, its part attention seeking, part nostalgia, part news posts, family things. If the 50 or 60 people I’ve got on facebook actually cared, they would go email or call, or text, or anything right?

That’s the tragedy. I miss my friends. My best friend from elementary school is here, and we’ve liked each other’s posts now and again, but when was the last we saw each other in real life?

Like maybe fifteen years ago? I don’t know about her life in the slightest, and having her on facebook doesn’t really equivocate that. Same goes for my middle and highschool best friend. Of all of my friends ever I want to catch up with it would be her. Or my college best friend who is in California.

Problem becomes I get worn away by the silence. I have messaged. I have texted. I have thought about calling. It hurts like a bitch. It makes me feel like maybe I was wrong about our friendships. Did I lose someone that tried to contact me but didn’t get back? I hope not. I don’t think I have. Maybe its time to stop.  I feel like I should stop looking back of those times so often before melancholy sets in.

So if I did that to you, I’m sorry. It’s like losing a person you cared for a long time and a disconnect hes occurred. I’m going to try to let go again. Its fine. I’ll be ok. I just miss you all. Whoever the heck my audience is here. It’s fine. I’m mostly writing for myself. It’s cathartic. So that is that.. I’ll be starting to write each night, you know instead of one more episode of whatever the heck I’m watching on fate netflix. (Right After I spend an hour or more on my master’s program.) I believe I’ll get through this. I just miss my friends.

Chasing Zebras: One

It was a Sunday, and there was something in the air… I think part of it was my own anticipation. My mom was visiting and she was wound tight about my apartment being clean because it had been a long month and Friday it had been the most pitted out it had been in ages.  By Sunday afternoon it was looking mom clean though, so I wasn’t worried about how it or she looked, even though she was. The guest that was inbound had been a semi last minute decision the night before, and with the nerves up, I needed a plan to help diffuse the tension.

So it happened that I couldn’t find my drivers license at that point in time, so instead of calling around like I planned, I decided I would kill two birds with one stone, and intercept my guest and go looking for it where I might have left it. I guess my first start was a wee bit early, because as I sat down on the lawn furniture outside my apartment building, the universe delivered some treasure from the sky onto my shorts, so I went back in to clean them up.

It turns out that things had been priming for movie scene meeting. When I headed out again, he was rounding the corner from the foyer just as I approached it. It was unplanned, it was perfect… we started to hug and in that moment we realized we were kidding ourselves and we ended up kissing.

Life is not usually like that, and even that day wasn’t totally perfect. For instance, my drivers license was just hiding behind my social security card. Whoops.  We had a bit of awkwardness with getting into the swing of talking to one another. See, my geek charming? He’s mostly deaf. That didn’t stop the sparks from flying though, we were sort of like two molecules that were meant to be paired, and our first time together? I’m fairly certain our valence electrons were photoluminescent.

It is the perspective you take that makes the day. Life isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t have to be horrible either. Certainly, the attitude I had could have made or broken the day. I could have gotten in a tizzy about my license, my mom’s stress, the bird poop on my shorts or half a dozen other things. I didn’t. Any given day doesn’t have to be boring though either. That day was magical the way things turned out. You could just plainly look at everything that happened and call it how it was. But once you acknowledge the base truth, why not look beyond. That’s how bird poop on a pair of shorts becomes the symphony of the universe tuning up to accompany a first kiss with a big musical number. That’s the essence of chasing zebras.

About Chasing Zebras

While I am starting this on November first, and I am going to try to write some every day, and post it raw, and I will not be posting any edits right away though I realize it will need them; I am not going to consider this a real Nanowrimo project. The idea is to write, and if somehow it manages to hit whatever the word count is supposed to be for a Nanowrimo novel, hey great.

I am writing this for me. Comment as you will with possible edits, but keep in mind… it is a draft.

Breathe.

I lied.

I am not ok.

I tried to fool myself, tried to hide my shame.

Four days with you were full of unbridled joy, and once removed from your light the pain I was ignoring was much more plain.

Everything is more clear, but also more fogged.

I told myself I was fine, but now I look and the illusion is gone.

I am more whole than I was a year ago and completely different from ten, but the journey isn’t done yet, there’s much more molding to enact.

You do not shy away, you only look at me silently as I make a move to reclaim the wall I had built around myself… and in the moment when our eyes meet, the wall crumbles away.

The feelings I tried to hide I lay before you now. I am sad, I am afraid, I am slipping back down a hill, I see below me that endless sea of sorrow, and suddenly I can not breathe and can not move. It is not rational.

Today it was cold, the sun never peeked once from the clouds. I spoke my truth after my lie, and you spoke your hurt and then your love, and suddenly my pain was gone.

Might I cling to you in this storm? Once it passes, can I continue to hold on?

You awake in me an urge to build again, but this time not a wall… an abode.  Touch again on those feelings as we intertwine and grow more, reaching towards the stars, supporting each other, but still two lives.

I yearn for the world I see in your eyes.

I long to feel the safety of your arms.

In your company I am better.

I can take that strength and carry on…

I calm myself, close my eyes…

Inhale.

Exhale.

Breathe.

My Soundtrack…

Friend posted this on facebook, I liked it enough to repost…

“If your life were a movie, what ten songs would be on your soundtrack?”

 

Intro: La primavera: 1. allegro (Full Orchestra arrangement)– Vivaldi

2. Canon in D (String Quartet arrangement) – Pachelbel

3. Storm – Vanessa Mae

4. Cut – Plumb

5. Your Guardian Angel – Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

6. Hunter – Dido / Someone I Used to Know – Gotye (Medley/Mashup, conversation/argument-like)

7. I Don’t Care – Apocalyptica

8. Weeping Willow – The Hush Sound

9. Mirror – BarlowGirl

10. Secrets – OneRepublic

Credits: Momentum – The Hush Sound

The Paragon Song of Dark Swan

“The ancient Greeks believed that swans only sang once: at the point of their death one beautiful last lament. Well, this is my last swan-like lament.”

―Hugh Laurie

 

It has always been my belief that my characters existed before I stepped into them and they will continue to live their lives as they would with out me there, without the medium that I met them in still being there. The end of City of Heroes is not the end of Paragon City, the Rogue Islands or Praetoria, it is simply the end of us viewing the world from that perspective…

 

So, I guess its now official that the characters that I stepped away from last November are not going to ever have me riding with them ever again in Paragon City/Rogue Islands/Praetoria… so I thought, it might be appropriate for me, as a self proclaimed Swan to be the first to sing a swan song for Paragon and thus, here the song begins…

 

Aysel “Lady Darkswan” Swan eloped with her long time fiance Wilhelm “Pyrite Von Magnus” Maynard after stewing over what she learned from Astrid’s magical chocolates given to her freely by Rosie Raina Montrenne a Christmas that seemed so long ago…

 

Nesrin “Lady Daystorm” Day Married her long time beau, Dominic “Dominus” Magnusson and they continued to fight their inner demons together, Nesrin with her art and being a teacher at Saint Raven’s, Dominic with his research in medicine and biology.

 

Aglaya Lyednika rediscovered how to feel, and went on to help Tempest Solutions become the go to source for computer security and intelligence.

 

Larisa Duska still talks to ghosts, but the whole precinct at KRPD no longer has issues with ghosts in their desks… or Circle of Thorns, when she is at work.

 

Leah Saga worked her way past the block on her powers that made them only be able to work outwardly, and in the process, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine with her work in the field of meta-genetics. She retired and lives happily with her husband in the Pacific Northwest, but keeps an eye on Paragon through her daughter Courtney.

 

Courtney Saga and her life partner are still busy watching out for their charge.

 

Sandy “Canadiene” Taylor surprised the world by getting over the ditzy blonde schtick, married her long time boyfriend Sean Stevens, and has Tenure at Paragon University at Salamanca as the head of elemental fire magic.

 

Anna Pavlova-Taylor found eventually that she was not aging, and watched her husband and children age and grow on. Eventually the ballerina faked her death for the second time, but the Red Swan still watches over her progeny and of course, the people.

 

Selene “Agent Dreamloom” Summers earned her halo becoming a full on guardian angel/cherub and immortal to boot, giving her plenty of time to tend to her daughter, and her two charges, they may not be redeemed yet, but they have an eternity to do it.

 

Seth “Knyght Shade” Rigby-Wu finally managed to rig up a time machine to save his sister Eve from the past, and then rocketed back to his correct time line and reunited with his foxy girlfriend princess.

 

Izumi Arashi took her house back over and started dominating in Kitsune politics with the help of the technical expertise and the sexy sledgehammer she brought with her after escaping Praetoria, she continues to play chess with Kiku…

 

Ashley “Labaredas” Maynard settled down with the other two members of her triumvirate, and is said to have settled somewhere in Germany where she always is glad to see Aria when she comes home, and keeps Alex as a house husband… oh and the eggs hatched eventually too.

 

Kaoi thrives always with her mistress, just as her mistress’s enemies fail to thrive for some reason once touched by the nectar of the blue lotus.

 

Jinlan Wu was offered a position at the University of Southern Florida and took it to be closer to her grandmother, moving the headquarters for Priam Laboratories to the Keys, leaving Ami to head the Paragon Branch. She has full tenure at the university and has put her robotic armor into retirement, focusing instead on taking care of her family (but gods forbid you mess with her family).

 

Rosie Montrenne had been already in her freshmen year in a high school music preparatory program put on by DePaul University in Chicago when Chris Montrenne died. Her first album containing her own compositions plus arrangements titled “Beyond the Bare Necessities” was dedicated to her mother, and went Platinum within two weeks of its release… Notable in the arrangements was a “mash up” of Amazing Grace and Send in the Clowns that it was said she assembled and sang at the funeral.

Meril flees the Shire

Meril grinned to herself as the last load of the first full issue of the paper to be printed since she woke up left Common Tater Headquarters. It was a good day, but it was also bitter sweet. She pushed away from her desk and wandered through the polished, but mostly empty caves until she came to the empty room that had been the paper’s library. One lone bookcase remained, a replica of one once owned by Bilbo Baggins that had been rescued from Hugo Bracegirdle’ s estate, who’s habit of borrowing books and never returning them had finally got him thrown in the lock-holes. (Apparently he “borrowed” a ledger from Sharkey’s men and got caught on his way back from the drop, but at least the resistance had a more detailed account of everything that had thus far been stolen from the Shire.)

Meril hesitated a moment considering the bookcase and the fate of its owner, then activated the hidden mechanism that she and her brother Drakoe had devised, and slipped into the hidden maze of tunnels that led down into Ranhoth headquarters. A few minutes later she emerged in Ranhoth’s quite full library from behind Hugo’s real bookcase which was kept empty in honor of his bibliophilic tendencies.

Meri stretched and then archived a copy of the new paper before stopping in front of the wall facing the entrance to the library and tried to hold back her tears. So many in the lockholes, more simply missing, and her heart always near broke at the list of confirmed lost. Scapegoat had been a Gaffer when the troubles started, and it seemed that things had happened during her enchanted sleep that had aged him further. Kae was gone, her son Cugine missing. Drakoe had gone to help mumsy with the rope yard while da helped move supplies under his old alias Mook the crook. Sila couldn’t bare to stay at HQ because of how quiet it had become, and Meril couldn’t blame her.

Morale and moods were subdued, there were far, far too many names on that wall. There was one in particular that hurt her the most, she perhaps a bitly unwarrantedly carried the guilt for it in her heart and it brought a great sense of personal loss that kept her going. Luth Proudfoot. The day Sharkey’s spell had hit her they were supposed to patrol together. He was dead because she got herself caught. Tears burned in her eyes and she clenched her fists. He had been her best friend, and the best foot groomer in the entirety of the Shire. Now all that was left of one of the finest hobbits she ever knew was his name on a wall and her memories of him.

The cry of a hunting horn echoing through the halls brought her to herself and she burst to Action, zig zagging through the mine shafts until she found Scruffy and looked to him expectantly.

“Ferny and Rocco were seen fording The Water and headed this way an hour ago with a large band and blood hounds” he said softly.

Meril nodded quickly and shot off into the un-excavated section of the tunnels until she ran into the tarnished shirriff.

“Ferny is coming, he’s probably after me but go make sure Saldo and the rest of Fatty’s guys are ready if my plan doesn’t work…”

The ex-shirriff raised an eyebrow. “Plan?, what’s the plan?”

“Not now Hrastan! Just go!”

Meril turned on a dime and launched herself back up the tunnel the way she came then into the barracks and grabbed her kit, then into the graffiti littered cave where they were keeping the weapons they managed to smuggle away from Sharkey and grabbed a man sized main-gauche that had served her well in the past as a rapier then rushed out just as quick, pausing only long enough to catch her breath and write a quick note for the bounders and everyone who was out ranging.

Once the note was safely attached to the board she grabbed a torch off the wall and a bottle of moon shine and rocketed back through the library and tunnels to CT HQ. Once she was back in what had been her library, she gave the place one last mournful look over, then doused the trick bookcase with alcohol and torched it, sealing the passage until such a time it was safe to return.

A blink and a half later she emerged into daylight from the main entrance of HQ, high up on an overlook reachable only by a hidden trail. She pulled a spy glass from her kit and scanned the river. They were heading west. Damn. It was time to act before Fatty Bolger’s cell got caught. Meril took a breath and fished a parcel out of her pack and unwrapped it and glanced at her special order of elven made enchantments and fished the note her contact had included.

Miss Softfoot,
Here are the items we discussed. They are attuned to the stone in your ring. Good luck!
<=

Meri grinned and folded the note then pulled a small megaphone out of the box and hanging it around her neck and then, after finding the group of thugs again with her spyglass, she grabbed a vial of eagle sight potion from the box and took a sip.

“Gotcha.” She said once her eyes adjusted to the new view before touching the canary yellow diamond in her ring to the megaphone then putting it to her lips she coughed once, the sound reverberating through the hills.

“Hey Bill! Inquiring minds must know… how IS your foot feeling? I bet it just BURNS.”

Meril watched the mauraders carefully as Ferny raised a hand and the band and their horses halted and they began looking around for where the sound had come from. Then she grinned as she made out the form of Ted Sandyman in the group. Perfect.

“Speaking of things that burn… I heard the most awful rumor the other day that your wife’s death wasn’t an accident. Maybe you should ask THEODORE about it.”

Meril suppressed a laugh as Ferny’s eyesbrows arched in suprise and his glance fell to Sandyman.

“Oooh Ted, by the way, I have been dying to ask… how’s the Mill yard looking these days?, I got a most interesting piece of mail the other day post marked from BAG END signed ROCCO that requested any unwanted junk be dropped off at YOUR place. I went ahead and published it since that was obviously the intent.”

Meril’s grin grew larger as the son of Sandyman slowly flushed up in rage and began glaring at Rocco. Time to seal it.

“By the way, Rocky, buddy, pal! Don’t you think it incredibly convenient that WILLIAM has been cosying up to Lotho since he got kicked out of Bree?, I have it on good authority that he is after YOUR job.”

Rocco quite suddenly kicked his horse and pulled his club off his belt and turned to face Ferny who began talking very quickly to his angry companion, too fast for Meril to read his lips anyway.

“By all means Billy, do try to talk him down, Eru knows you got YOUR whiny ASS handed to you by a scrawny DWARF a few weeks ago. Regardless, I do not expect any of you to take MY word for anything. Check your saddle bags, I left you gifts.”

Meril smirked as Sandyman and Rocco instantly took the bait. Ferny on the other hand had turned his attention back to scanning the hills for some sign of where Meril was since he was smart enough to have figured out that she was watching. It was almost a shame that he’d throw his envelope in the river without even opening it as his had unfiltered truth in it, but the editoress had already arranged for the original to be delivered to his new quarters at the mill later. Rocco’s and Sandyman’s on the other hand were a little more varying in the quality of truth contained. There was truth there, but some of it was hidden in plain sight, some was forged, and some was worded so it seemed the way she made it sound. She expected Sandyman to figure it out later, he was gullible but not entirely stupid. Rocco on the other hand would believe all the correspondence she put before him, the real stuff, and the forged. Meril predicted that it would take about five minutes for the fuse she had just lit to start going off.

Three minutes, fifty-nine seconds later, Ted Sandyman looked up from the letter she had provided and quietly put it away and started studying Rocco intently with menance while he silently began untangling his sling. At four minutes, fifteen seconds; Ferny attempted to hide the fact that he was loading a bolt into his crossbow. At four minutes, fourty five seconds, Rocco ripped the piece of paper he was reading in half and started taking a swing at Ferny even while Sandyman started pelting Rocco’s horse with sharpened rocks.

Go time. Meril walked back to open entrance and grabbed the “staff” her elven contact had sent and touched her ring to it at the same time as she raised the megaphone to her lips one last time. “Boys boys, no need to fight over little old me!” The light gave off a bright flash, Ferny lit his crossbow bolt on fire and shot it directly at where she had been a second ago, directly into the crate of fireworks she had set up behind the potato vines. They immediately went up in a brilliant plume of light doing just as they were intended to, delivering both a message and covering the fact that she destroyed the trick bookcase.

“See ya later breakfast skippers!” She yelled like swearwords in pig-elvish to add to the confusion and then dived off the drop with the elvish kite designed to look like a giant eagle that had been hidden in the staff and started gliding to the south towards Longbottom, where a second set of fireworks went off moments later with an even bigger boom.

When she landed outside Tighfield some time later, Primrose jumped out of the bushes and gave her a hug. “How’d it go?”

“Couldn’t have gone better if I had planned it myself.” Meril grinned cheekily.

“But… Meril! You DID plan it yourself!” Primrose said and poked the editoress gently in the tummy.

“Did I REALLY?” Meril winked. “I can’t say that I know what you’re talking about.”

Primrose sighed then looked over her friend. “So what now then?”

“Draks has the rest of my gear and Ebony at the rope yard. I think I’ll give Sharkey’s lot a run around for a bit if they manage to find me, then…”

Meril somberly looked to the east and then started again softly.

“I have to leave the Shire, Primrose. I don’t just mean take a trip to Bree leave either. I have to go. I’m too visible. I put all of the Resistance at risk. If I hadn’t made this happen now, it would have happened when I wasn’t there, and right now the timing is critical, Roden says there’s a leak.”

Primrose nodded quietly.

“It doesn’t mean I’ll never be back, but its just too dangerous right now. Things need to cool down a bit. The elf that gave me this…” Meril motioned to the glider staff. “She said that there’s some sort of information network working out of Rivendell, and there’s a whole giant world outside the Shire, I think its maybe time I learn about it, and maybe I’ll find out about the truth about Sharkey while I’m at it.”

Meril shrugged.

“It’s not any one’s idea of what they wanted to do when they grew up… but I think that Bilbo, Frodo, Meridoc, Peregrin and my cousin had the right idea. Sometimes getting where you NEED to go involves leaving what’s comfortable and breaking some traditions. I’m bound to get people upset with me along the way, but I tried keeping them happy and it wasn’t working, I’ll settle for them being safe instead. For right now, as far as they’ll be able to tell Ranhoth is in Southfarthing, not East.”

Meril hugged Primrose once more.

“As the elves say: Galo Anor erin râd gîn na lû n’i a-goveninc. May the sun shine on your path until we meet again.”

Meril then quickly turned to her friend and slipped into Tighfield, pausing only once just inside the walls of the rope yard to wipe away a few tears.

Growing up was hard and she’d done more of it in the past year then she had in the thirty-three years before, and as the sun began to set in the west, she found herself looking east as the moon and evening star rose, hope filling her heart once again.

She ran into the Roper Mansion, kissed her mumsy, lifted her brother’s money purse, changed into some more stealthy attire, grabbed her pack, then rocketed into the stables and saddled her pony, then took off at a gallop out of town on a northeast heading, blew a clear crisp note on her hunting horn, and then activating the megaphone one last time she yelled so loud that almost the whole Shire heard…

“UP THE SHIRE BREAKFAST SKIPPERS!”

A Hobbit Birthday Party in Bree

Based on my aunt Jackie’s birthday party at the beginning of July, this piece was published as coming from Meril in the July 28th Issue (I51) of The Common Tater. Note that Aunt Jackie only turned 65 though, Hobbits have a bit longer lifespans and come of age at 33.

A Hobbit Birthday Party in Bree
Meril Softfoot

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my dear Aunt Goldie Broadbelt’s Grand 75th Birthday Bash.

The party was a traditional sort of hobbit occasion and was quite possibly the best party of its kind to occur in quite some time (I couldn’t say if it rivaled Bilbo’s Party, I am not near old enough to have had the privilege of having attended that event.)

In any case, I don’t know if I mentioned, but Goldie is a bit of a city gal nowadays, she lived in Edoras for quite some time with her husband Hamson, before his lack of sense walked him right under a falling printing press that was being delivered to their place of business. (Rest in peace Uncle Hamson… rest in peace.)

So Aunt Goldie has come back to the more sensible parts of the world, and while Bree isn’t any one else’s idea of a big city, she prefers it to Michel Delving possibly soley for the ability to acquire Rohirrim Cuisine. (And its a good thing too, I’m sure her business like manner and backbone of steel would have gotten her thrown into the lockholes just as quick as other upstanding hobbits.)

Where was I? Oh, The party! Yes. The party of course was in Bree as I have mentioned she lives there, so I guess you could say it was largely possible to have such a wonderful day because of the civic improvements done recently. Now I know no one thinks that lots was changed, but when do civic improvements ever seem huge after the initial inconveniences of blocked roads and construction noises? When my Uncle Andy petitioned to the mayor of Tighfield for a tree that got hit by lightning twice ( Both hits were recorded a certain same period of time before Draks and I’s birthdays… huh. Odd.) to be removed from town property in front of the rope yard right after my first birthday in 2986, the matter went to the town council and got filibustered about until Draks and I were tweens and lightning about went and struck that tree again. That’s about when they got the thing removed like Sharkey was chasing them. (Not that we knew about Sharkey then.) So considering Ferny was making all sorts of things impossible in Bree for a time and whatever else had been going on with town council politics and what not…those Bree improvements came faster then it took to get a dead tree removed in Tighfield. Primrose already made mention of it all anyway, but I think at the very least the grungy old feast hall getting knocked down after only after two-ish years of it being discussed is much faster then some old dying tree that took 15 or so years in Tighfield. And really, which do you think had more impact on how things looked?

Speaking of the feast hall, the party happened to take place where it had been. Boy was I surprised to see that big old magnificent cherry tree with its big pink blossoms. Makes you wonder who thought the feast hall had been a good idea anyway, but I digress. The grove was the perfect spot for the party, it was a really hot day for early March, but the shade from the tree and a slight breeze that occasionally caused a cascade of petals to fall really set the mood that was especially enhanced by the pair of bards she hired.

Food was catered by Mrs. Butterburr and included delicious sandwiches with ham and turkey on light, perfectly formed croissants; a salad made with pasta with vegetables, cheese and a light dressing; extremely thinly sliced taters that had been fried to a pleasant solid crunchy state; and a variety of bite sized sweet pastries for dessert. The drinks! Ooh! The Staddle brewing company has out done themselves. Not only did they bring in the best of beers from all around the Shire, including Nobottle’s famous beer that’s more like a mead… but they had most of their specialty brews such as the pale lager, cherry and blonde ales, and the stout. However! that wasn’t all! Apparently the master brewer is a widower himself and has taken to Auntie Goldie, because he broke out some of his experimental creations for the occasion that included beverages in the same vein as the cherry ale; malted, but capturing the flavors of other beverages offered to the tweens and children as soft drinks along with tea and water. The two most popular of these were the hard lemonade and something he called a wine cooler. Ah, tater rot. Now I’m thirsty.

Gandalf was nowhere to be seen, so we had no fireworks to speak of, but the conversation was pleasant and I was able to talk to many relations that seem to have conveniently forgotten about me while I was asleep under Sharkey’s spell in a cupboard in Bywater. The afternoon finished up as any good Shireling hobbit’s birthday party is wont to: presents.

I myself came away with a very specially selected gift: A watercolor rendition of what might possibly be Smaug himself, depicted flying over a full moon, painted by one of Goldie’s friends in Edoras. The verdict is out on if the artist witnessed Smaug’s sacking of Lake Town or not, but ask me if it matters. (HINT: It does not.) Every other guest went home with something as well, mostly small trinkets including large brightly colored daisies in clear glass dishes with luminescent glass beads at the bottom and small paintings of the flora of Rohan.

Such an event was a boon for all who attended, and it has also served as a boon for you as I, Meril Lily Softfoot of Tighfield; am now again inspired to spread the light that has been rekindled in my heart to wherever it may take.

Up Bree! UP THE SHIRE!
(and… why not?)
UP MIDDLE EARTH!