All posts by Richard S. Crawford

Day Eleven: Well, I Was Wrong

Papercraft fairy shaped like an ice cream cone, with cat in the background
The ice cream fairy! With bonus Potpourri in the background!

Well, there were no monsters in the mysterious ice cave. Instead there was an ice cream fairy named Nea. Now, I don’t know if the fae folk actually have outposts in Antarctica, or if they are as trustworthy there as their counterparts in other parts of the world (that is to say, not at all). In the picture above, you can see Nea the ice cream fairy, along with our foster kitty Potpourri.

Nea claims to know about the shining key that Pancake the Penguin carries. “But it’s been hundreds of years since I’ve seen one,” she says. This, of course, brings up the possibility that there’s a whole slew of these keys that open the treasure chest at the end of Pancake’s journey. Are there other adventurers wandering around, looking for keys and treasures that grant penguins the gift of flight on Christmas Day? Will there be a flock of flying penguins?

I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.


‘Tis the season for fairy holidailies!

Advent calendar with three lit candles
It’s the third week in Advent, so we light the third Advent candle

Today is the third Sunday in Advent, but I didn’t go to church today, because we had people over for our monthly board game session. I’m a bad Episcopalian.

Today’s Episcopal Advent Calendar entry (worship) reads, “Imagine the faces you’d like to see at church — an all-star list of folks you want to worship with. This could be people you know from summer camp when you were a kid, people who might have already died, people you work with — all your favorites. Commit to pray for those folks this week. And make a commitment to ask one of your all-stars to come to church with you in the next month.”

I have a long list of “all stars”, people I’d like to go to church with, from friends to long-lost family. Most of my friends are either atheists or agnostic. I think my family is too. We’ll make something work, though.

Day Ten: Deep into the Mysteries

Papercraft cave in a mountain
Pancake and Pep encounter a cave! Oh no!

On day ten, Pancake and Pep encounter a mysterious cave in the mountains they’ve been traversing, just beyond the ice cream trees. The light gleams off the key, and shines into the cave, and there are mysterious noises coming from within…

I think we all know how this story goes.

You may recall H. P. Lovecraft’s tale, “The Beast in the Cave“. In this story, a man who was part of a tour group in some caves gets separated from the rest of the party, and gets lost in the caves. He encounters a MUTANT GIANT ALBINO PENGUIN, of all things (always a source of great amusement to me), and then is stalked by a creature, the titular Beast, which is apelike, hairy, all white, and blind, hunting the lost man by sound alone. In the end, we learn that the best stalking the narrator was once a human being who had gotten lost in the cave himself, many years ago!

Spoiler warning for a story that was published over a hundred years ago and that resides in the public domain.

You can tell that Pancake and Pep are probably going into the cave, since there is a Pancake-shaped opening in the front. My theory is that they go in, Pep finds a nice pond to swim in, and Pancake becomes the penguin that stalks the narrator of “The Beast in the Cave”.

That probably won’t happen, exactly in that way.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Fun fact: Lovecraft wrote this tale at age 14.

A Scary Tale of Holidailies for You!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar centers on the theme of rest and reads, “Set aside 30 minutes to spend in silence with your best friend today. Sure, it may feel a little weird to be silent on the phone or while sitting next to each other on the couch or across the table. Just give it a try. Make sure to set aside time after your silence to pray for each other and to say thanks for the time of rest.”

This would be easy if my best friend weren’t Jennifer the Agnostic. We do sit in silence quite often, reading or snuggling the cats. But praying for each other afterwards might be hard for her.


Day Nine: Trees, Yummy Trees!

Papercraft ice cream trees

On Day Nine of their adventure, intrepid Pancake the Penguin and her pal Pep the Land Lubbin’ Fish come across some unusual trees. These are more unusual than the Antarctic pine trees they came across the other day; these trees are made of ICE CREAM!

Now I’m not sure why a tree would have evolved to look and taste like ice cream, but this morning while Jennifer assembled her advent puzzle and I assembled the trees, we bandied about some theories. Neither of us are zoologists, mind, nor are we environmental ecologists. So the best theory we have is this: Much as the Venus flytrap plant generates pheromones that are tantalizing to certain insects, enticing them to explore the plant’s interior and then SLAM get stuck in the closing leaves, we figure these trees evolved ice cream-like properties to entice young adventurers to approach and get eaten.

“NO!” I screamed to Pancake and Pep. “DON’T EAT THE ICE CREAM TREES!” But alas, they did not heed my warning. They’re only papercraft, after all.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Mmmm. Ice cream.

A yummy day for Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar reads, “Where did you struggle this week? Do you have amends or apologies or adjustments you need to make? Ask God to open your heart and mind to those opportunities for reconciliation and growth. Thank God for the gifts of mercy and love, and the courage to make the changes necessary. And then do your best, with God’s help, to make
those changes.”

I can admit that I messed up a bit at work this week. My immediate reaction, of course, was to place blame elsewhere: if the client had made the requirements clearer, if the lead developer hadn’t done this or that, and so on… but the reality is that I am the one who misread the requirements, and so on. I’ve made my apologies already, and solved the problem. I think. The lead developer and I worked together on making the thing work. And I told the project manager that a post-mortem on this particular issue, involving the client and our testing manager, would be a good idea.

So yeah. Amends, apologies, adjustments.

Day Eight: At the Mountains of…

CW: This post contains a kitten death. Much sadness.

papercraft mountain range
At the Mountains of…

It’s only natural, when you think of mountains in Antarctica, to think of early twentieth-century writers of cosmic horror, like H. P. Lovecraft. So you can imagine the chill that went through me when I pulled out today’s papercraft piece from its envelope and unfolded it in front of me. A mountain range! In Antarctica! Assuming these are Antarctic adventures, of course.

The narrative that accompanies today’s papercraft mountains say that mysterious creatures are said to live there. Well, I think I know what creatures they are! Shoggoths! Elder things! The great conical beings of Yith! Ia! Ia!


Anyway, I fear for the dark turns that this tale of Pancake and Pep will take.

Here is a song that encapsulates the feeling precisely:

In other news, we lost a foster kitten the other day. Lyric was a sweet little thing. I have warmer hands than Jennifer, so I was holding her close to my chest while she gasped for breath occasionally, ice cold, trying to warm her up. We fed her Karo (which sometimes helps with kittens in distress), gave her fluids, rubbed her little belly, lay her on top of heating pads. I whispered to her, telling her it was okay if it was time to go. So eventually, she did. I had very little interaction with Lyric while she was with us, but still, I found myself weeping just a little.

Jennifer has a much better written post about this here.

‘Tis a maddening, harrowing, and very sad season of Holidailies!

Today’s Episcopal Advent Calendar is about bless. It reads, “Call or write a letter to a family member with whom you would like to have a closer relationship. Make plans in the new year to chat on the phone or meet over Zoom or in person. Let them know how much you love them and look forward to knowing them better”

I’ll do that later today. I have a hard time keeping up with friends and family when they’re not actually in my presence; this time last year I made a promise that I would actually call someone who was close to me (friend or family) every Sunday. Did I actually follow through? No, of course not. So I plan to make that promise again this year.

Day Seven: A Tree Grows in Antarctica

Two papercraft Christmas trees
Today’s papercraft Christmas trees, sitting alone on my computer. And if you look carefully you can see a cat butt behind them!

Now, I may be educationally impaired when it comes to these things, but I’m reasonably sure that pine trees do not grow in Antarctica. But maybe when Pancake exclaims to Pep, “I may be crazy, but I think those are Christmas trees!” they have made it from Antarctica to an evergreen forest somewhere. I’m not sure. The storyline doesn’t say anything about it.

But here’s where I think a backpack for Pep the fish would be useful. She’s a fish. On the land. Maybe she’s a lungfish? At any rate, I believe that a backpack with oxygenated water and tube would be useful for Pep.

I’m also reasonably sure there are no pine trees underneath the ocean near Antarctica.

I am, of course, ready to admit that I may be wrong! If any of my readers can think of a reason why Pancake and Pep might have encountered Christmas trees on their journey, please feel free to leave a comment!

Have you planted a tree for Holidailies 2022?

The Episcopal Advent calendar for today (for Prayer) reads: “Pray along with the Collect for Advent 2, found on page 211 of The Book of Common Prayer. As you are out and about for the rest of this week, notice the people you pass. Ask God to bless them in their lives and work. See how this changes the way you go about your week.” I have difficulty praying along with passages from the Book of Common Prayer, even though it is, as its very title implies, a prayer book. Most of the prayers are meant to be prayed during Mass, led by a priest. I’ll do my best, though, and see how things shift in the next few days.

Day Six: Equipping for the Journey

In today’s segment of the adventure, Pancake the Penguin gets her backpack for the key. The packet contained a piece of cardstock with four paper backpacks attached. Here you see the selection:

Piece of cardstock with paper backpacks attached

There’s one missing here, because by the time I’d thought to take a picture of the Penguin Outback Store, I had already selected and removed the green one, green being my favorite color. The idea is that you put the backpack on Pancake the Penguin, then insert the key (that we got on Day Four) into it. Here’s Pancake with her backpack and key:

Forgive the lighting. It’s terrible. It’s my own fault.

I loved backpacks when I was in high school and college, and would take my own sweet time when shopping for one for the school year. I was never really into outdoor backpacking as an activity (I’ve only gone once, at Lassen Park, and that was quite a fun adventure which I will discuss in another post), so the backpacks I bought were mostly for school use. Now I just have a Josten backpack that I bought at Target for about $20 five years or so ago. It doesn’t get much use since I’m no longer in college and I work at home. It’s a good workhorse, though.

But look at me still talking about backpacks when you want to learn more about Pancake’s journey. Sorry for the digression.

I think it’s unfair that Pep doesn’t get a backpack. And tomorrow’s adventure explains why I think that way.

Setting out on an adventure for Holidailies 2022!

Today’s Advent reading from the Episcopal Advent Calendar (focusing on the Learn segment of the Way of Love) is, “Read Luke 1:45. Share your faith story with one new person this week. It can be someone you have known for a while who has not heard the faith part of your story. Well, I feel like I’ve already done this: see Happy Zombie Jesus Day Part One and Part Two. You’re more than welcome to click through and read.

I feel like I ought to contribute more to our community. Sacramento’s a big city, and with a big city there are Big Problems. So I contacted the coordinator of the Sacramento ACT organization which works with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and got an email back last night. I will get back in touch and see if I can get involved there.

Day Five: A Visit to a Penguin Mom

A penguin wearing a scarf.
Pancake the Penguin’s mom is also a penguin.

Today is Day 5 of the Journey of Pancake the Penguin, whose sister is a fish and who is on a quest for a magical chest that will give her the power of flight on Christmas Day. So what does the adopted sister and best friend get on Christmas Day? I don’t know. Lungs, maybe. Or all the plankton she can eat.

But today, Pancake and Pep approach their mother to tell her that they are going on a quest. Their mother — who is wearing a scarf, as you can see in the photograph above — basically tells them, “Be careful”. Pancake and Pep promise that they’ll be careful. We’ll see what happens in tomorrow’s adventure.

Of course, I remember what “being careful” means when you’re a kid. I had these conversations with my own mom:

ME: I’m off to play in the vacant lot half a mile away with my friends!

MOM: Okay, be careful!

ME: [Immediately tries to create a hole in the dirt with firecrackers]

That really happened! Where we lived (I forget what ages we were) there was a huge vacant lot not too far away from our house. My friends and I would spend hours there, doing all kinds of things, because it wasn’t just a vacant lot! It had hills and holes and the ruins of an abandoned gas station and more! Naturally, this was heaven for an over-imaginative kid like me. I had this theory that there was a minotaur — yes, a minotaur, straight out of Grecian myth — that lived in a cave underneath the abandoned gas station and ate battery acid. I don’t know where I came up with that. I also remember looking out the window of my grandparents’ house and seeing the head of a minotaur moving across the skyline, but that may have been a dream (though it also explains my fondness for kaiju stories).

And yes, one day my friends and I decided we needed to deepen one of the holes in the vacant lot, so one of us brought a bunch of firecrackers because, hey, miners used explosions to dig holes, so we could as well. As far as I can recall, none of us lost our fingers. Nor did the hole really get much deeper. Experiment: Fail.

Pancake and Pep probably don’t play with firecrackers in the ocean, though, and not just because the firecrackers wouldn’t ignite. They are a good sister/sister pair and would never even ponder such an idea, now would they?

Blowin’ things up for Holidailies 2022!

Today’s message in the Episcopal Advent Calendar, centering on the “Go” stage in the way of love, is: “Read or watch your local news. Ask God to open your heart and eyes to ways you can promote reconciliation and healing in your community.”

Gotta think about that one. There are ways and ways to help out in the local community. I don’t mind sending money to the food bank, to the women’s shelter, and other charitable organizations in the area. I have an allergy to the idea of running for local office, though I’m sure I’d be able to counter the loonies who bust into school board meetings demanding that their children be taught that trees invented automobiles or something equally silly. I can write. I can volunteer. I can find all kinds of ways to help.

Day Four: A KEY!

CW: Penguins, Religion

I’m keeping the religious/spiritual part of this part at the bottom, so you can go ahead and skip it if you like.


Today’s Adventure for Pancake and Pep involves going to their uncle Nav, who apparently owns a golden key that can open a secret treasure chest. Here is a picture of the key:

A paper key!
Uncle Nav’s Mysterious Key

Inside the chest is Secret Christmas Magic that will make a penguin able to FLY on Christmas Day! Now this is spiffy. It reminds me of the book, A Wish for Wings that Work, by Berkeley Breathed. It features Opus the Penguin from the comic strip Bloom County, and that’s about all I know about it. It was published in 1991 — 1991, people! Back before the turn of the century! BEFORE THE TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM! AIGH! Ahem. — and I don’t think I’ve read it since then.

Anyway, it seems sad that Pep doesn’t get to have any special adventures on Christmas Day. Does Pep get to fly as well? Or walk on land? I don’t know. Perhaps at some point, we’ll learn.

I was also sad that today’s piece is not something to assemble, just a piece of key-shaped cardstock paper. I will place it on the molding, next to Pep, and hope it doesn’t fall off when the wind blows.

‘Tis a season for Holidailies!

Advent wreath with two candles lit

Today marks the beginning the second week of Advent season 2022. Some time ago, Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, began preaching about the Way of Love — “If it’s not about love,” he says, “it’s not about God.” — which has seven stages. In the Episcopal Church’s Advent calendar, each day of each week is associated with a different stage of the Way of Love. The stages or steps are:

  1. Worship
  2. Go
  3. Learn
  4. Pray
  5. Bless
  6. Turn
  7. Rest

Today, being the first day of the second week of Advent, is about Worship, and this calendar from the Episcopal Church’s website provides meditations and activities that go along with the theme of the day. Today’s reflection: “Read Luke 3:1-6. How does the story
of John the Baptist fill your heart with hope?” I’ve already answered this question for myself in my first blog post of this season, so I won’t answer it here. I will say, though, that I have not been to an Espiscopal service since before the pandemic. I feel like a bad Episcopalian.

I have to say I miss having a lit Advent wreath at home. It was pretty special when I was a kid, having the wreath on the table and lighting each candle at suppertime. Unfortunately, in a house full of curious cats who don’t have enough sense of self-preservation to keep their noses away from a candle flame, a lit advent wreath just isn’t worth the effort.

Anyway. Happy Advent! Remember, the season of Christmas and the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day. So there.

Day Three: Glurgle

On Day Three of Pancake’s adventure, we meet her sister and best friend Pep. Pep is a fish, so apparently Pep is adopted, and Pep and Pancake have some sort of arrangement where Pancake doesn’t eat her.

Pep is a fish
Pep is a fish

This is a dramatic moment; you can tell because of the tilted angle of the photograph. This assembly is very fish-like.

Next, we also encounter the house that Pep lives in:

Pep lives in a house
Pep lives in a… house?

Again, I was not sure which wall of the house was the front, but I determined that the fish-shaped flap was the front door. Curiously, there’s no water pump or sign of anything that could support a fish’s above-ground lifestyle. Must be Magic. Hold on to your hats, because there’s more magic coming soon!

You know, I’ve always been intrigued by interspecies friendships and partnerships. From the lowly birds that clean a hippopotamus’s teeth to the fish that befriend the penguins, I find it fascinating. I am also a sucker for heart-warming tales of dogs and cats or deer and possums being snuggle buddies.

In this case, though, Pancake the Penguin has befriended Pep the Fish. This is interesting. It’s like naming your chicken or goat or whatever animal you plan on eating. Once you’ve named such an animal, you’ve shared a bond with it, and it’s hard to do the actual eating when the time comes. The fact that Pep is an adopted sister makes me think it’s Pancake’s mother who initiated the relationship and has passed it on to her daughter.

I could go on and on about the theoretical zoology that goes on behind the scenes of this tale, but I can tell that, biologically speaking, this story is just a disaster in the making.

Stay tuned!

Swimmin’ through Holidailies 2022!

Day Two: Paper House

Well, it’s the second day of December! Today we celebrate Friday, the number 2, and my Mom’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom! I love you!

It’s also the second day of Pancake the Penguin’s journey. I learned by reading the enclosed materials that I had misgendered Pancake, who is actually a girl penguin and not a boy penguin. This is interesting to me. As a writer, I spend the occasional hour musing about the “default character”, who is not described or not named in a story or novel; introduce such a character, and the reader will almost always automatically assume the character is a white male of about middle age until further specific description is added. There are studies that have been done about this and if I were really inclined to I would find them and link to them.

So shame on me for assuming the same of Pancake.

At any rate, today was the day to build Pancake’s house. Here it is:

Pancake the Penguin's Home
Pancake the Penguin lives here.

I learned that her house is kind of an orange-ish yellow color because it’s the color of pancake syrup, which is the second best thing in the world, second only to pancakes themselves. I think that’s the front door I’ve shown in this picture. No other exterior wall has a door in it.

Jennifer looked at it and said, “Of course it’s the front door! It’s penguin-shaped!” And so it is! Here’s Pancake standing beside the front door of her home:

Pancake the penguin in front of her house
Pancake the penguin in front of her house

As you can see, she does fit in that door! However, it does seem that the house is almost the same size as Pancake. When she is inside, she barely has room to turn around.

Still, it’s fascinating to me that penguins have houses and that some like breakfast foods. The things you learn when you engage with nature!

P.  S. Paper House is also the name of a pretty surreal movie that came out in 1989. Worth watching, if you can find it. My sources tell me it’s streaming on Amazon Prime for $2.99.

‘Tis a frozen day for Holidailies!