Thursday, February 19, 2009

Animals at the lodge

Hunting season is over, and our deer are getting bolder again. Sunday afternoon, eight came out of the lower woods and worked on the green weeds growing in the soybean field. This image was taken using a modern digital Nikon combined with a 250mm f4 Nikkor lens that dates back to 1959 and first saw use with a reflex housing and a rangefinder camera. Not bad for a lens that is probably 50 years old. If I'd used a tripod and didn't have a window in the way. the results would be even sharper.

Our Steinbock (Eurasian Ibex) had taken up residence in the passive solar home. He seems quite happy there, although I do not know what he thinks of the circle of light one window gives to the interior in the late afternoon sun.

The Watchers, The Holy Man is watched.

Another entry in the continuing saga of Shepherd Benjamin and the watchers. All copyright 2009, Michael W. Loder

“There he goes.” Several pairs of eyes watched as the holy man left the hotel and started down the street, his crook-staff in one hand, a fawn-colored dufflebag slung over his opposite shoulder. Even at two rods’ distance, the watchers could mark the look of fear and anger on his face
The girl nodded and chewed on her lower lip. “Puffy-filled pants,” she whispered.
He does not wear trews, just his robe, tunic and jack.”
“You know what I mean!” She had been forced to use one of her flash bombs to save him. Three of her friends had risked their lives to obtain those bombs. “He has power enough. Why did he not use it to check, instead of doubt’n my word.” Holy man—silly outlander, she added in her mind.
Perhaps not so foolish if the Elders brought him here?”
“Humph.” She watched until the cleric had turned the next corner and disappeared into the market crowds. It was disgusting in that old building.It stank horriblylike burnt sausage.
Is he headed for the aeroport?”
The girl stood, leaned left and shaded her eyes. “He has crossed the street.”
Then Rasstut will pick up. We can do nothing more here.”
“I know.” She shook herself and sighed, then grasped the roof’s soffit and, using its support, swung down easily to the ground. She immediately slipped behind a bulky pillar that was part of the roof’s support.
“Yes. Little-later.” The girl straightened a long, cream-colored, cotton dress with many opaque folds and her grey wool shaw and waited. Half a dial-turn later, when a young couple wearing custom-fitted and matching great clothes striped with gold and silver ribbon walked by, she left the pillar’s shelter and fell in behind them.
She matched her pace to the couples’, keeping a careful three yards back. The two were both nineteen; both thought they were in love and had eyes only for each other. It was easy for the girl to suddenly appear as if from nowhere.
“Beriana, where have you been?” Her sister, blurted out in surprise.
“Nowheres, but I’ve been good, I promise,” Beriana answered, tossing her loosened. now-wavy hair—held only by a silken ribbon that matched the color of her dress.
“Good for whom?” the boy asked with a thread of irony.
“What mean you by that tone?” Beriana pouted.
The boy and her sister stopped and turned around. He leaned over so his eyes were level with Beriana’s and she could not miss their twinkle. “What I mean is, if you do good, why does trouble always seem to follow in your wake? Aye?”
Beriana looked away and sniffed. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Oooh, I sense a nose too long for a face,” the boy laughed. “But come, we will speak no more.” He grabbed the other girl around her waist and squeezed. She returned it with a crooked smile and shrug.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On the first Sunday in February we finally had the combination we needed: a tall ladder and most of the dust and dirt making finished. So we installed the overhead light in the open center of the house. Some day we might even have the power to light it up. Note the drapes and sheets covering railings. Soon they will be gone. Meanwhile, our "house cat" keeps watch on top of the heater.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Third entry for The Watchers, Enjoy

Shepherd Benjamin was what many refer to as a “competent man.” If pressed, he can butcher a sheep, make his own clothes, tune a buzz ship, even restore an operating system. He had climbed glacier-covered mountains, pot-holed his way through underwater caverns and written successful grant proposals. In his own world, he liked to think that nothing wrong could happen to him that he could not either prevent, solve or pass off on someone else. Now he felt as close to helpless as a naked mouse standing beneath a descending owl. His life had just been saved by an half-grown child with a missing hand, and without her word … and well-aimed missile, he could have done nothing to save himself. He had not been alert; he had missed all the obvious signs. All his mind had read was that he was late, very late, to a critical appointment.
Benjamin sighed, rubbed his face and studied his ransacked room. “Think of it, things could be worse.” He had thought, and things got worse. In the half morning he had been gone, someone or something has entered and smashed, ripped or broken every furnishing, case or article of clothing. What they had not destroyed, they had covered with enough passings to ensure that no human would touch the remains. He groaned, closed his eyes and let the prayers come. One is never alone in the presence of That Which Animates All Living Things, he told himself, but he certainly was feeling vulnerable now—a stranger in an increasingly strange and hostile world where even friends were weird. He owned nothing but what he carried; his only possible hope for returning to his own world with answers to his many questions had appeared to be those elders, his supposed hosts and assistants—and they were gone. He really was up that proverbial stream without the means of propulsion. What was making things worse, he now had to factor in something called the “Watchers.” Who were they? The term meant nothing. Why would they send that beggar girl to warn him? Why did they care? What did they gain from his survival?
One matter was certain: he could not stay here. His aging nose was not about to tolerate it. Benjamin lifted his staff and aimed it at the most transportable of his luggage. A few simple instructions later and the staff’s end had become a steam nozzle cleaning and sterilizing the excrement-covered duffle. When the bag reached a stage just short of new, Benjamin began to retrieve, clean and pack it with other essentials. He was soon able to rehabilitate an extra set of small clothes, socks, his field boots and a meagre travel kit. As he had hoped, everything fit into the duffle sack with room to spare.
As his staff did its work, he used his left-hand ring to rescan the room. The ring found no snoops or monitors. It did show Benjamin the location of his computpad which he had feared to take with him that morning and had left behind in a random, vision-blocking path cycle around the main room. He snagged it on its second pass by his outstretched hand and slipped it into a cloth sack strapped under his left arm. Good. One more item and he would have all the essentials. He tip-toed across the room, checking for detect traps and other unamusing and possibly-fatal retards to his progress. “Ah,” Benjamin smiled faintly, then gently lifted up a dusty codex whose title hinted only at a romantic bodice-ripper, its vivid cover depicting a pink-clad damsel succumbing to some beak-nosed, large-pectoraled dark-haired man. Benjamin scanned the tome twice before shoving it in the duffle. That was it. He retraced his steps until he was once more standing by the outer door. Perhaps his enemies were not as omnipotent as he had begun to fear. Still, he dared not underestimate their resources.
One more scan, instrumental and visual, and he would be gone. The first three days here had given Benjamin many good memories. The gear he was about to leave behind had granted him even more. Half of his most recent life was bound up in this now ruined and destroyed garbage, but he would be angry and grieve later. “Aye,” he breathed again. That mark had not been there before. Benjamin studied the small, red stamping—like a signature chop—that floated just left of the room’s fireplace. If he tried to look at it directly, it disappeared, leaving just blank wall. Only when he shifted his vision and tilted his head slightly right, could he see it. “Clever.” It had definitely not been there before this morning, and, since seeing it required his peripheral vision, he still could not take in any details. Red horns? Yes, the chop was an image of some creature with red, curved horns and very long teeth—like a sabre-toothed cat crossed with an Irish Elk. Not the sort of thing one wished to meet in a dark alley or even a public boulevard. Shivering only slightly, Benjamin stepped out of the room, gently closed the door and made tracks.