Category Archives: Religion

I’m a Christian (or the more or less United Methodist variety), and not ashamed of it. Though I am frequently ashamed of what other Christians do in the name of Christianity.

Day Twenty-Four: The Town Square

(This was written on Monday the 26th, days after the 24th.)

A papercraft snow penguin
They call this a snowguin! Complete with top hat!

It’s a day of jubilation in Waddleberg as Pancake the Penguin and her sister Pep the Lungfish arrive in the town square. No one believed it was possible. They all figured Old Penguin Nav was just bonkers, had gone mad from the sights he’d seen in his earlier quests, and that his stories of a Golden Key, of a magic chest, and wings were all delusions. But no! Pancake and Pep came zooming into town on the chest and spread wings to everyone who witnessed their grand arrival!

And then there’s a celebration in the center of town square, where the villager penguins all build a giant snow penguin (a “snowguin”, they all it). The honor of putting the top hat on top of the tree falls to Pancake and Pep because of their status as heroic adventurers.

This town has it going on!

But perhaps some lone, uninitiated traveler came across the penguin village of Waddleberg late at night when it was deserted, and saw the snowguin, and went quite mad. Remember the story of the albino giant penguin in the cave that Lovecraft wrote about? Perhaps the giant snowguin is the source of the legend.


It’s a time for Holidailies in Waddleberg!

The entry for the twenty-fourth of the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Rest) reads, “The conventional wisdom is that new parents should rest when the baby is resting. Make sure you take some time out to
rest with Baby Jesus — and marvel in the wonder of a fresh, new, clean, shiny, tiny, precious start. Take a nap and thank God for the gift of Jesus and for peace at Christmas.”

Christmas Eve is traditionally rather busy in my family, as Jennifer and I go down to visit my folks and the house is full of people. I got to spend some time with my sisters, with my mom and dad, and with my four-year-old nephew, playing some sort of game with balls and cars, with rules that I didn’t understand but he did, and that’s all that matters. I rested very little. We had a lot of presents to wrap before leaving, and even though I actually read the entry in the morning (the church cross-posts the entries to Facebook), I didn’t take the time.

This calendar ends on the 24th, so this will be the last minor reflection on it. I suppose, though, that some secular holiday calendars — like the adventures of Pancake and Pep — and on the 25th. Tomorrow is Christmas, it’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and a new adventure awaits.

Day Twenty-Three: Uncle Nav, I presume!

A papercraft penguin wearing goggles
Uncle Nav wears goggles! And he has a wing pin, like pilots get!

In today’s silly adventure, Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish arrive in Waddleberg and meet up with Uncle Nav, the one who had told them about the Golden Key, the magic chest, and the wings within in the first place. When the sisters tell him their adventures, Uncle Nav is “delighted” to learn that his fanciful story was true!

What does this mean, though? Does this mean that Uncle Nav made it all up? Or had he learned the tale from his forefathers long ago? Or was there a muse of some sort dictating the tale to him? Perhaps the intelligences from beyond time extruded the story into his mind, sort of like the Ab’d Al-Azrad, the Mad Arab himself, who penned the Necronomicon that Lovecraft wrote about in so many of his tales.

You probably have already guessed that the last possibility is my favorite. Natch.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. This particular Advent calendar goes through Christmas Day, I think, so we have to wait until then to discover whether penguins (and lungfish?) can indeed fly with magic wings.

Our wild ride is coming to an end! Strap in!

‘Tis an eerie day for Holidailies

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Turn) reads, “If you are gathering with friends and family today, consider taking time during the meal to turn to the folks on your right, and then on your left, to thank them for their love in your life. See how this might spread some joy and comfort around the table — or maybe even ease some potentially prickly guests.”

I did read this entry this morning, but by the middle of the day, the message was gone from my head. As it happens, we did have lunch with Jennifer’s family, and that was fun. I enjoy her family very much, and her two sisters are a hoot and a half. I sat across from her older sister and sat next to Jennifer, but didn’t share this message with them because, as I have already said, I simply forgot what today’s entry was. I did joke with them, had a good conversation, and some good fun. Maybe that’s the same thing, though.

Day Twenty-Two: WHEEEEEEEE!

A signpost showing Waddleberg
Waddleberg is an indeterminate distance ahead

But the wings don’t go on just yet. First, Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish have to go home to Waddleberg, which is a set distance from where the magic chest resided… though we don’t know exactly where that is. Well, that is, the readers don’t. Pancake and Pep do.

So Pancake and Pep clamber on top of the chest and have Narlee give a mighty push! And the two sisters go sliding down the hills, presumably through the icy forest, past the Mountains of Madness, through the Ice Cream Fairy’s domain, back to Waddleberg, where their adventures all began.

While I was reading the little narrative that came with today’s entry to Jennifer, she wondered why Pancake and Pep didn’t just don the wings and fly home. This seems like a logical question; it’s sort of like why couldn’t Gandalf have had the giant eagles carry Frodo from the Shire to Mordor to drop the Ring into Mount Doom from above (somewhere in my internet wanderings I found the answer to this, but sadly I can’t remember what it was). And as I write this now, it occurs to me that Pancake and Pep can’t quite don the wings and fly yet, because they’ll only be able to fly on Christmas Day, and we’re two days away from that yet! So it’s the long icy slippery slidey downhill road for them, just like Frodo and Samwise on their way home to the Shire. Except Frodo and Samwise didn’t shout “YAHOOOOOOOO!” all the way home.

Or maybe they did. It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. I suspect, though, that they were at least a little stunned when they returned to the Shire only to find that Saruman had scoured the Shire and turned it into a mechanistic, industrialized hellhole.

Is this the fate that awaits Pancake and Pep? Will they arrive in Waddleberg only to find that it has been taken over by a great evil, a servant of Sauron or Morgoth or Uncle Nav?

We can only wait and see…

Cat Rambo, writer, has issued a challenge for 2023: The Ray Bradbury Challenge. That is, write a short story a week every week in the new year. I’m signing up.

I know I did a short story every week for a year back in 2007/2008, and even sold a couple of those stories. I tried again a few years later, then again a few years after that and failed. This time, there will be a community of writers involved in the challenge on Cat’s Discord server, so hopefully that will help keep me focused. If you’re one of my writer friends and you’ve made it this far into my blog entry, what are you thinking of doing in 2023?

On a very random note, there doesn’t seem to be a way to download to my computer music I’ve purchased, ripped, and uploaded to Google’s YT Music service. This is extremely annoying. Before Google made the incomprehensible decision to get rid of Google Music, there was a way to do this. Now there is not. I’m really kind of upset about this.

‘Tis a squeeeeeee-ish Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Bless) reads, “Make sure to pick up an extra present or two — a nice candy sampler or a warm pair of slippers or pajama pants, just in case you have extra friends or guests drop by. Ask God to bless those who travel and those who may be alone in the coming days. Take some bottled water and sports drinks over to your local community cold weather shelter. They will be extra glad to have that during the winter months.”

I really ought to start reading these in the mornings instead of 9:30 at night when I am writing up this blog post. Sacramento, like the rest of the country, is experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures this winter season, and there are warming stations set up. I wish I’d thought earlier to pick up some water or sports drinks for them when I was at the grocery store earlier. The poor and the homeless are often on my mind, in a sort of “There but for the Grace of God go I…” sense, but not much more.

Day Twenty-One: The Treasure

Cardstock folder with paper wings attached

So, it seems there are actually six sets of wings in the Magic Chest, and on this, the twenty-first day of December, we learn this fact. At first, we were only told that just one penguin would be able to fly on Christmas Day, but now it appears six may be able to! Pancake’s papercraft form has a spot for wings, and you can see in the picture above the instructions for attaching them.

I’m very curious, though: If there are that many sets of wings in the treasure chest, does that mean everyone gets one? Pancake? Her mother? Her adopted sister Pep the Lungfish? The Ice Cream Fairy? Narlee the Snow Monster? Fuzz? Uncle Nav, whom I’ve forgotten until just now?

Will… Will I get a set of wings? Will I be able to fly on Christmas Day?

Probably not. These wings don’t attach to me at all. I’m just too big.

But think about this: Have you ever seen a penguin swim in the water? Seriously. Go to Antarctica (or your local zoo or natural history museum, if they have penguins) and watch them. They’re very graceful. Sure they’re a bit waddlesome on land, comical and silly, but in the water, they swim with ease and confidence. Their element is the water.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong for a penguin to year for airborne flight… Just that there’s something to be said for graceful swimming underwater as well (unless you encounter a seal).

A flighty Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Pray) reads, “Pray along with the Collect for Advent 4, found on page 212 in The Book of Common Prayer. Pick three or four of your beloveds to focus your prayers on today. Make sure to leave some silent space for God to offer you some wisdom about what they may need right now.” I know whom I praying for already.

Day Twenty: It’s here!

Papercraft model of a wooden chest with wings
It’s the Magic Chest! And it has wings growing out of it!

X does indeed mark the spot, and today, sisters Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish, along with their new friend Narlee the Snow Monster, find the Magic Chest that they’ve been looking for! It was right where the map said it would be! Huzzah!

Now, for me, it might just be the heebie-jeebies after watching Raiders of the Lost Ark too many times, but I always get wary when I see a wooden chest with wings on it. Holy Melting Faces Batman! Presumably, though, the wings can be removed and put onto Pancake (Pep and Narlee left out of the magic, as observed previously), and Pancake will be able to fly.

A Dream of Wings that Work indeed.

Not included: animated gif image of the face-melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That would be too grotesque for this blog.

Speaking of music, last night I went to the final performance of Jennifer’s vocal group Vox Musica. It was a beautiful performance, especially the Magnificat of Mary, which had so many amazing movements I could barely keep track of them all. I highly recommend checking out Vox Musica when you can, and some of their music on their website. It’s not the Pogues or Dropkick Murphys, but it’s fantastic anyway.

‘Tis a magical and musical Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Learn) reads, “Read Habakkuk 2:1-4. Does this reading remind you of Thomas the Disciple? Why do you think the folks who organized the lectionary picked this reading from the Old Testament for this friend of Jesus?”

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Now I’m kind of embarrassed because I don’t actually know much about Thomas beyond that he was the doubting apostle who needed to have physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection. So I’m afraid I have no thoughts for this one right now.

Day Nineteen: What We Do in the Snowfall

Paper cutouts of snowflakes

Okay, Narlee, having seen the madness of the honey bells behind the brittle façade of reality (represented by a shrub), is overjoyed and returns the Golden Key to the sisters. This whole adventure makes me think of Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, even if neither writer would have ever deigned to have female main characters. This is a tale for a more modern and enlightened age. I’m not saying that ironically. Both authors were extremely problematic, perhaps Lovecraft more so than Poe.

At any rate, Narlee is so happy that he offers to accompany the two sisters on their journey to find the Magic Chest. We already know that the Magic Chest, when opened, will allow penguins to fly on Christmas Day, but will it let Pep the Lungfish and Narlee the Snow Monster fly as well? We shall see.

This story is taking on cosmic twists and turns I’m not sure the author intended!

Anyway, here’s some music for you, some of my favorite holiday songs. I’ve shared them before, but, you know, I can’t help myself.

First, “The Season’s Upon Us” by Dropkick Murphys, my favorite Boston-area Irish punk band. Loud and exciting, this really gets to the heart of a raucous family gathering which is probably nothing like yours or mine.


Second, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen” by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I’m not sure who did the video, but it was definitely someone clever. If I researched it more, I’d find out. But here’s the weird little video to a weird little song:


And, finally, a Christmas classic: “Fairytale of New York” by the one and only Pogues. A classic, it was even featured in the Netflix miniseries “Lily and Dash”, which I highly recommend. Be aware that this song contains a couple of slurs, so you may wish to skip it.

There are plenty of Christmas songs performed by classic punk bands, and I definitely plan on checking some of them out, although for now I am listening to some classic crooners sing their Christmas tunes. At the moment, it’s Vince Guiraldi’s “Linus and Lucy”. Always a classic, even if not necessarily a Christmas tune.

‘Tis a cosmic and musical Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Go) reads, “Go out into your neighborhood today. Where is God at work? Ask God to show you how you can celebrate that good work and name God’s presence in your community.”

The Episcopal Church is not without its problems, including dwindling membership and a growing schism over the rights of LGBTQ+ members of the church (should they be allowed to be priest? Should same sex marriages be blessed by the Church? I say yes to both). However, I really like that the church places its emphasis on finding the divine not in splash and money and what-not but in neighbors and the community. The Baptismal Covenant reads, in part, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” (The response is, “I will, with God’s help”). Compassion is central to the tenets of the Episcopal Church, which is one of the reasons I love it.

Tonight I’ll be wandering into Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Sacramento to watch my wife perform with Vox Musica in their 2022 Christmas concert. I’ll keep an eye out for God in the midst of that.

Day Eighteen: Monsters REALLY Want…

Papercraft shrub with bells on
A blue shrub! With honey bells!

Narlee is really excited to see the jug of golden syrup, according to today’s narrative. “Golden Goo!” is what he calls it. It’s a mystical substance, apparently. In the mythology of Narlee’s people, when you pour Golden Goo onto trees and shrubs, golden honey bells will appear.

Now, I’m not sure what a honey bell is, or why you’d want one. Snow Monsters love them, though. Maybe for eating. Maybe for wearing.  And where do they come from? Does the syrup make them grow? Or what?

Personally, I like to think that the honey bells have always been there, and that the Golden Goo, like the Silver Key that got Randolph Carter into so much trouble in Lovecraft’s narratives, simply revealed the truth “behind the void” that was always there. Will this revelation drive the adventurers mad? Who’s to say? Stay tuned!

In other news, we finally put the Christmas tree up this morning. We’ve been putting it off because I’ve not been feeling well, and the sheer effort of breathing has been leaving me short of breath. This morning, thanks to a course of Prednisone (boo Prednisone!), I am feeling much better. So the tree’s up! Here’s a picture of resident cat Guffaw investigating half the tree, just to make sure it’s going up properly:

Grey cat in Christmas tree
Guffaw approves

Also, apropos of nothing, here’s a portion of my computer’s desktop wallpaper:

A cartoon penguin in front of a tree
Pancake approved

It’s the Linux penguin! Dressed like Santa! In front of a Christmas tree! Now, I no longer use Linux as my desktop environment (Scrivener 3 was why I moved to Windows 10), but I still use Linux for my server environments. But this is still Pancake approved, I think.

It’s a mystical, fuzzy holidailies!

Advent  wreath with four candles lit
Fourth week of Advent

It’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Worship) reads, “Linger before leaving your worship time today. How is God calling you to hear and sing along with Mary’s Song? Read Luke 1:39-55.”

See, this is why I dislike the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” Because, based on our reading of Luke 1:39-55, we know that she already did.

Anyway, I may not make it to worship today. But, then, I haven’t been able to for a couple of years now. And not for a couple of weeks to come. But this coming year, I plan on making spirituality a focus for the new year, so hopefully I’ll get there more often.

Day Seventeen: What Monsters Want

Jug of syrup
A jug of delicious, golden maple syrup!

I must confess, I am disappointed in the big confrontation between Pancake, Pep, and Narlee. Was there a big boss battle? No, not even close! But perhaps they are saving that for Christmas Eve. I guess one can only hope.

In today’s installment, Pancake and Pep, realizing that they are in danger of losing their golden key to the gold-munching Narlee, decide to offer him a snack from Pancake’s backpack. We weren’t told at the beginning that Pancake had packed snacks, so this comes as a surprise, and is, narratively-speaking, therefore problematic.

Critique aside, Pancake removed pancakes from her backpack (of course, she loves pancakes, hence her name) and — ta da! — a jug of golden maple syrup!

It turns out (I assume, I won’t find out until tomorrow) that snow monsters love  golden syrup! Will he give up the key for the syrup? Will Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish get to the magic treasure chest at the end of their adventure? Stay tuned to find out!

A Suspenseful Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Rest) reads, “Spend at least 45 minutes outside today, without doing yard work or fixing lights or redoing bows on the  garland. Take some time to just sit outside and let the air wash over you, taking away the stress and worry of the moment. Read Psalm 100 before and after your outside time. See how this psalm may help you rest and recharge your spirit.”

No reflection on this, really, except to say that it’s pretty cold out and I’m still recovering from my asthma flareup. I think I’ll put this off until tomorrow afternoon.

Day Sixteen: Conversation with a Monster

Papercraft snowflake tree
It’s a giant snowflake tree! Or is it a bodhi tree?

In today’s installment of the grand adventure, sisters Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish realize that the snow monster is more scared of them than they are of it. Once everyone settles down, they all sit down under the snowflake tree and have a chat.

In this conversation, brief though it is, Narlee the snow monster attempts to understand the concept of using gold for anything other than food. “How does delicious Golden Key unlock treasure? It only unlocks my hunger…”

It occurs to me at this point that Narlee speaks improperly for a giant monster. Instead of saying, “I want golden!” shouldn’t he have said, “Me want golden!” I don’t get it.

At any rate, they sit under the snowflake tree just as Siddhartha Gautama sat under the bodhi tree to achieve enlightenment and discuss their mutual fear of one another. Will this lead to enlightenment and understanding? Will Narlee give back the golden key? Only time will tell!

‘Tis a hungry season of Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Turn) reads, “Turn away from the busyness of the world right now. Turn your heart and mind toward giving thanks for this time of reflection, refreshment, and renewal. Turn your attention toward how you will be resting tomorrow, and put things in place so you can make the most of your sabbath time.”

I don’t lead a very fast-paced lifestyle. In fact, quite the opposite. I mean, aside from work, the fastest-paced I’ve been was driving 35 miles per hour to get to Target to return some gifts we’d purchased that were not what we’d intended. Even then, though, I hit some nasty traffic. And right now, since I’m sick with what my pulmonologist confirms is a nasty respiratory virus, I have no choice but to slow down a bit and ponder.

Be well, readers, and have a thoughtful day tomorrow.

Day Fifteen: “You have golden! I want golden!”

Papercraft monster with key in its mouth
This is Narlee the monster! All he does is eat gold. And he has Pancake’s golden key in his mouth! AAAIIIEEE!!!

On day fifteen, Pancake the Penguin and her sister Pep the Lungfish suddenly encounter Narlee the Snow Monster! Their location had been reported to him by Fuzz, his pet… whatever… who had seen the sisters the day before.


The thing about Narlee the Snow Monster, who lives near Glacial Falls, is that he eats gold. What a weirdo. In the photograph above, he’s taken the golden key from Pancake’s backpack and is chowing down. “I want golden!” he shouts.

Pancake and Pep scream aloud, as one does when faced with a fierce monster. And Narlee, scared, screams back, as one does when faced with a fierce pair of sisters. (I have two, so I ought to know.)

Narlee is not a shoggoth, nor an Elder thing, nor one of the Great Race of Yith. Instead he sort of looks like a giant snowman with horns. Sort of. Maybe he’s the Thing from the John Carpenter movie and will suddenly mutate into something else even scarier. I don’t know. I can’t imagine. Only tomorrow will tell.

Me want Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Bless) reads, “Spend a significant amount of time today discerning if there is a special blessing or gift you can share with your church, a local ministry, or with your community. Ask God to inspire and equip you with the fortitude and tools to make this gift something truly memorable and heartfelt.”

Many years ago, when I was first learning all about how to do web development, I decided that the best way to break in and get experience was to do some volunteer gigs for organizations that I believed in. So I worked on a website for an organization that was doing ecological and appropriate technological education in Latin America, some designs for a Bay Area organization mapping organic materials in the San Francisco estuaries, and a site for a medieval studies professor at UC Davis. All these sites are gone now, like tears in the rain, because I did these sites twenty years ago, and nothing on the Web lasts that long, except for Amazon.

I have long suspected that one of my best gifts that I could share was my writing ability, but I write fiction and not copy. So web development and so on is what I can offer. I think I’m also good at working directly with people, so there’s that as well.

I think this entry is something all of us can benefit from pondering.

HEALTH UPDATE: Still wheezing. Now taking Prednisone. So grumpy and hungry too.