Leeches are Loyal


The Daily Post word-of-the-day is Loyal , which is defined as faithful to one’s friends, family, country, ideals, etc. It is giving or showing firm and constant support and allegiance to a person, an institution, etc. The definition says nothing about worth of either the loyalist or the “loyalee.” It is possible for a person to be loyal to a real stinker.

Leeches and other parasites are loyal. A leech will faithfully attach itself to a host to the point of killing it. That’s loyalty for you. However, can one really blame leeches for behaving the way that nature made them? Do leeches have a choice in their blood-sucking ways? No, the poor things have to keep doing what they do because they don’t know any better.

Humans, however, should know better, but some of them act as if they don’t. C. S. Lewis wrote:

“She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression.” The Screwtape Letters

That being said, I am all for loyalty. I am a loyal person myself. But I pay a price for it. My loyalty demands that I exercise critical thinking and value objectivity over sentimentality. It means I must be willing to change my mind about to whom or what I am loyal. I think, in the long run, that blind, underserved loyalty eventually sucks the life out its object, just like a leech.

I say “no” to leechery. It’s not fit for human consumption.

(Note to self: In Jane Austen’s book Sanditon, one of the characters fancies herself ill and has a treatment of leeches. It is odd to associate Jane Austen’s world with leeches and blood-letting, but there it is. I wonder if Mr. Darcy was ever “leeched” when no one was writing about him.)


Looking Daggers at Cloaks


The Daily Post word-of-the-day is Cloaked. It reminds me of a passage in the novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

The setting is a feast in honor of Prince John to which all nobles are invited to attend, both Norman and Saxon. Cedric and Lord Athelstane, Saxons, accept Prince John’s invitation.

“Cedric and Athelstane were both dressed in ancient Saxon garb, which, although not unhandsome in itself, and in the present instance composed of costly materials, was so remote in shape and appearance from that of the other guests, that Prince John took great credit to himself with Waldemar Fitzurse for refraining from laughter at a sight which the fashion of the day rendered ridiculous.”

It turns out the offending garment was a long cloak; the Normans favored short ones. Scott provides a brief commentary on short cloaks.

“The Emperor Charlemagne, in whose reign they were first introduced, seems to have been very sensible of the inconveniences arising from the fashion of this garment.

‘In Heaven’s name, said he, ‘to what purpose serve these abridged cloaks? If we are in bed they are no cover, on horseback they are no protection from the wind and rain, and when seated, they do not guard our legs from the damp or frost.’

Nevertheless, in spite of this imperial objurgation, the short cloaks continued in this fashion down to the time of which we treat. They were therefore in universal use among Prince John’s courtiers, and the long mantle, which formed the upper garment of the Saxons, was held in proportional derision.”

Apparently humans have been silly about clothes for a long time.

As Louisa May Alcott wrote, “let us be elegant or let us die.”

Exposing the Exceptional

Moose “The impulse to say something to make people sit up and take notice is universal to humankind.” H. L. Mencken ~ “The Worst Trade of Them All”

“I don’t mind so much that people invent stories; it’s when they behave as if the stories are true.” The Book of Rhino

(Life at Cabela’s)

“My dear, “Greg announced one morning, “I have decided to be exceptional. Now, don’t try to dissuade me. I feel that it is my chosen fate.”

Marina digested this piece of news with her toast.

“Exceptional,” she replied. “That’s a bit of a tall order, isn’t it? Won’t you find your prospects somewhat…limited?”

“Nonsense! It’s all a matter of timing and perspective, coupled with a willful change in attitude. If I say I am going to be exceptional, then there is no doubt I can pull it off. I just have to attune myself to that which is unusual and uncommon about me. And, what is more important, I must overcome my natural diffidence to expose myself.”

“I suppose,” said Marina. “But what if diffidence is the very thing that is exceptional these days? Might it be possible that exposing oneself is the rule rather than the exception? Just asking.”

Greg was aghast.

“What a preposterous idea! If everyone took it in their head to expose how exceptional they are, there would be nothing exceptional at all, except those who labor in obscurity. And if someone is exceptionally obscure, the world remains ignorant of his or her exceptionalism. No, no, my dear. The idea is too monstrous. You must allow me to expose myself, in full confidence that in doing so, I will be exceptional”

“Very well; I won’t say another word about it.”

“That’s better,” said Greg. He looked about the room, feeling extremely exceptional. Marina hoped that no one noticed.

Daily Prompt:Exceptional

Lake Tahoe


“Belief is faith in something that is known; faith is belief in something that is not known.” H. L. Mencken ~ “What I Believe”

Lately on my Facebook page, there have been a few postings on political correctness: its definition, meaning, and origin. They put me in mind of political maps, the kind that delineate governmental boundaries countries, states, counties, etc. They often include large bodies of water.

If one looks at a political map of California, one can identity the boundary that separates it from Nevada. At one point, the boundary goes through Lake Tahoe. One part of Lake Tahoe is in California and the other part is in Nevada. Now I have been on Lake Tahoe in a boat, some of the time in California waters and some of the time in Nevada waters, but I never did see a dividing line that distinguished one from the other. I had to believe that the political boundary existed. Moreover, I had to believe that sometimes I was under California law, and other times I was governed by Nevada laws. But as I recall, I did not brush up on either state’s laws in order to prepare for my time on Lake Tahoe. I merely put on my best behavior, trusting that I would offend neither authority.

To me, this is like political correctness. It is a political map designating boundaries, public, personal, and private. It’s like being on a boat in Lake Tahoe. I do not study all the laws of every human being to make sure I do not give offense before I venture into society. I believe that such laws exist, but I trust in my best behavior to help me muddle through life without consciously offending anyone.

In a way, I’m like one of the little fishes that swim in the lake. They travel at will through the waters without any reference to a political boundary. I swim in a stream of good conscience, trusting that it will suffice. If someone points out a particular political boundary I have crossed, I will make note of it and try not to offend a second time.

But here’s the deal. I do not always remember all the personal laws of political correctness; there are too many of them. In addition, the ones that do not personally offend me are very hard to remember. This is where faith comes in—the belief in something that is not known. By faith, I believe that I can participate in a society as a contributing member even it I do not know all the laws of political correctness. I have faith in the social compact.

“Those who wish to live in a civilized society must have a social compact that everyone abides by for the good of the community.” The Book of Rhino
Daily Prompt: Believe

The Great Secret

The Daily Press word-of-the-day is Deny. It reminds me of a scene between Skandar and Amalia the day they first met. Skandar is on his way to London to be inducted as the brother of Prince Rhino, which means he must leave his old life behind, and that includes his natural brother, Alanar. Although Skandar must never speak of Alanar as his brother, his heart cannot deny his love for him. In the meantime, Amalia is curious about Skandar and senses that he has a secret, which she is determined to winkle out of him. She wonders whether or not Skandar is going to tell a lie; she is rather excited about the prospect.


Without thinking he blurted out, “This is just like the cave that my brother and I discovered!”

“Brother?” Amalia looked puzzled. “You have a brother?”

Skandar was aghast. What was he to do? He stammered as he searched for words.

“I, uh, I…well, I can’t really…what I mean is…there’s this person who…who…oh, bother!”

“Are you going to tell a lie?” Amalia asked. “Because if you do, tell a lie, that is, I really don’t mind. The lie, I mean. I just want to know what it feels like.” She looked at Skandar expectantly. Perhaps she would perceive his evil!

Skandar stared at Amalia.

“I am not going to tell a lie,” he protested. “I’m just looking for a way to tell the truth. There are some things I am not supposed to talk about and my brother is one of them.” Skandar threw himself down on the ground and began pulling up tufts of grass. Looking somewhat disappointed, Amalia plopped down beside him.

“So why can’t you talk about your brother?”

“It’s because of the Covenant. You’ve heard of the Covenant, haven’t you?”

“A little–but what does that have to do with your brother?”

“Because the Covenant states that I’m supposed to be the prince’s brother! It makes it rather awkward to already have one. What I mean is, Alanar, that’s my brother, and I had all sorts of adventures together. Just think how that would be if I went around telling everyone how much fun we had—my mother said ‘it would be inappropriate.’” Skandar looked at Amalia for reassurance. “Mole, do you understand what I mean?”

Amalia nodded sympathetically. At length she said, “I think it will be alright if you tell me about you and your brother. After all, I am not the prince and I won’t think it’s ‘inappropriate.’”

The Choice


“Which would you rather be if you had the choice–divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?”

Anne of Green Gables

Young Anne Shirley was obviously in possession of an Athletic healthy body when she asked that question; otherwise she would have made that her first priority. I imagine that anyone suffering ill-health would choose a healthy body over anything. I know I would.

The “E” Ticket

The Daily Press Prompt is Witty

On Fridays, I usually write about authors and books and since witty books written by witty authors are my favorites, I had no problem responding to the prompt.

When Disneyland was young, you could purchase tickets for rides individually or you could by a coupon book. The tickets were ranked according to fun level and popularity of the ride, with “A” being the cheapest (usually the rides for small children) and “E” being the most expensive for the thrill rides or most entertaining rides (like The Matterhorn); the in-between rides were “B”, “C”, and “D.”

The coupon book was the better value so we always purchased it, and then hoarded the highly-prized “E” tickets. Witty books written by witty authors are the “E” tickets of literature. They are engaging, entertaining, enlightening, encouraging, edifying, and empowering. They are the only books to which I give a five-star review. So here is my list of E-ticket fiction books.

Fantasy The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis

Science Fiction Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov

Mystery Robot Series by Isaac Asimov and the novels of Agatha Christie

Culture and Society The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope, the novels of Jane Austen, and the novels of P. G. Wodehouse

Children and Young Adult The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy M. Montgomery, and The Time Series by Madeleine L’Engle.

There are not many books on the list, which is expected in a normal distribution. The “E” books are rare, comprising a very small percent of the book population. The other reason reason for the paucity of “E” books is that all but one of the authors is deceased. That makes it rather difficult to read their new books–they aren’t writing any.

The fact that I love the “E” books does not deter me from reading other books; they are like the “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” tickets in the Disneyland coupon books. I read quite a bit, always in search of the elusive “E” ticket.

Finally, I have to include everything I write for The Book of Rhino as an “E” book. It would have to be because I put everything I love into it, which makes it valuable only to me and those particular readers who share my particular taste in literature. I suspect that we are also on the far end of a normal distribution, comprising only a small percent of the reading public. That’s alright. Someone has occupy that standard deviation.

Purposeful Coincidence

Note to self: The Daily Press Word-of-the-Day is Coincidence . It reminded me of the following excerpt from The Book of Rhino ~ The Religion and that there are no coincidences in Fairy Land.


It is no use trying to account for things in Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing.

– George MacDonald, Phantastes

Rhino dreamed he was in a great forest, solemn as a mountain, crowned with a cluster of stars, which threw down their spears in brilliant shafts of light. As he moved slowly among the trees, he became aware of the sound of water. First a whisper, then a shout, and finally a roar heralded a mighty wave that crashed through the branches and pounded at his feet. An answering tumult behind the boy caused him to abruptly turn and witness a river bursting its bonds from inside a rock. Sounds echoed around him of deepening pools formed by the streams at his feet. It was twilight; his heart sang the song of the waters in their greetings to one another. They called out to him, inviting him to partake of their joy.

When the waters abated, Rhino continued his journey through the forest. A hushed solemnity pervaded the atmosphere; it was fitting. The trees had removed their sandals from their feet for this was holy ground. The silence was so deep Rhino felt rather than heard the presence of another man entering the far end of the forest. In his arms he carried a babe. His measured tread and downcast face suggested a funeral procession. When the man reached Rhino, he stopped. A torc of gold circled his neck. He held out the child to Rhino, who gazed on the tiny face with compassion. He touched the child’s face, tracing the curve of dark circles under its eyes. The child stirred and opened its eyes in gratitude. Then the man pressed the child to his breast, his face of full hope and gladness, and strode from the forest, his footsteps now proclaiming victory.

High above the chimney of the trees, one star blazed brighter than its fellows. It slowly descended from its great height until it hovered directly in front of Rhino. The star glowed at five distinct points, each point touching a six-sided halo of gold. The trees began to flicker and wave about wildly. Rhino awakened and discovered that the fire in the hearth was nearly spent. In its remaining light, he made his way to the window and looked for the dawn. He did not fully understand the dream, but Master Altman had once said that visions and dreams speak for the soul, and the true heart finds a way to listen.

Rhino was disturbed. He felt he was called to search for something, but he had no idea what it was. Perhaps Albion held a secret that he was meant to find. Whatever the mystery, Rhino was not at all keen on discovering what it was. That was the thing about mysteries—they were just too mysterious! As far back as he could remember, Rhino had always led a very pragmatic life; however, it seemed that ever since his encounter with Amalia, another part of him was tapping at the door. His heart wanted something from him, and he had an uncomfortable suspicion it would not be altogether practical.

“Very well,” Rhino whispered in the darkness. “I will go exploring with you…BUT! We are going to do it my way.”

The Planet Paris


The Book of Rhino ~ Between the Lines

Amalia awoke one morning to the sounds of whispers and muffled giggles. She sat up in bed and leaned over the other side. On the floor were Anna and cousin Bethna, busy at play.

“Mole! You’re awake!” Anna shouted. “I am taking Bethna to the planet Paris. It’s her first time.”

“Paris!” said Amalia. “Do you still go there?”

“Of course,” said Anna, “they expect us, you know, although I haven’t been there since you went away. Bethna is old enough now to go with me. See? We have everything packed and ready to go.”

Amalia surveyed the scene on the floor. Three pairs of shoes were lined up heel to toe and were tied together with string, forming a long train. The shoes were filled with an assortment of odd and ends. There were tiny dolls made of cornhusks and strands of wool; there were small animals, some carved from wood and some constructed of acorns and pinecones. One of the shoes was filled with bits of cloth, sticks, and strings, and another shoe was stuffed with nuts and dried apples. The remaining shoes carried a small crock of honey, pieces of bread, and a flask of water.

“Are you taking the usual route?” asked Amalia.

“Yes,” said Anna. “Since this is Bethna’s first time, she needs to learn the way. I promise we will be back in time for supper.”

Bethna hopped on the bed and put her arms around Amalia.

“Would you like to come with us?” she asked. “You can have my share of the food.”

Amalia kissed her cousin.

“I would love to; Paris is the most beautiful of the planets and well worth a visit. My goodness, I think it’s been over a year since we last made the trip.”

“If it’s so beautiful, why don’t you go there all the time?” asked Bethna. “Why don’t you just live there?”

“Oh, no,” said Amalia. “That would spoil it, make it commonplace. That’s the way it is with all great treasures. Too much, too soon, or too often and they lose what makes them special. It’s like the Harvest Festival; knowing that it comes around just once a year makes it that much more wonderful. We have all the pleasure of preparation and anticipation beforehand and all the memories when it’s over.”

“Amalia’s right,’ said Anna. “Hasn’t it been exciting planning and packing for our trip to Paris? And when we return, we can talk about all the fun times we had and interesting things we saw.”

Bethna clapped her hands.

“Oh, I can hardly wait! Is it almost time?”

Amalia and Anna inspected their caravan and nodded.

“Off to Paris!” they said. “And may good fortune guide our way.”

Daily Prompt:Planet

Make Like a Tree


It is astonishing that a collection of statements that are individually true can be used, in combination, to yield an effect that the truth should not.

Isaac Asimov ~ Robots and Empire

The Daily Prompt word-of-the-day is Leaf
This reminds me of that classic trope “Make like a tree and leaf” that is popular at one time or another among the grade school set. Once my friends and I discovered the charm of make like a tree and leaf, we branched out into similar phrases.

“Make like a banana and split.”

“Make like the wind and blow.”

“Make like butter and fly.”

These are examples of how a collection of words, strung together in a sentence, should not make sense, but somehow do. It’s like the writings of P. G. Wodehouse.

“Tuppy’s fatheaded words were still rankling in my bosom as I went to my room. They continued rankling as I shed the form-fitting, and had not ceased to rankle when I made my way down to corridor to the sale de bain. It is not too much to say that I was piqued to the tonsils.”

I understand—it’s what I mean when I say something fries my toast.

(Note to self: I wonder if Wodehouse would know what that means, if he were alive and remotely interested in reading my blog.)

I use the phrase fries my toast once in a while with great satisfaction. Other phrases come to mind, ones that I have strung together from words that somehow fit to make a meaning.

“I’ll be your best bet.”

“I smell your feet.”

It’s not really speaking in metaphors; it’s sort of a pre-metaphor way of thinking. Wodehouse was especially adept at it.

“Augustus Fink-Nottle was Nature’s final word in cloth-headed guffins.”

“I am never at my best when the situation calls for a certain soupiness.”

I love reading Wodehouse because he knows how to gather words around each other, make them get along, and inspire them to express new and delicious ideas.

I smell his feet.