Its not often I quote a Pope…

I am Agnostic, bordering on Atheist, so quoting a Pope is not something I do often, particularly in recent years. However, this is a quote from Pope Francis which I think all could take to heart:

Pope Francis’s secrets to happiness

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Translated by Catholic News Service & take from The Independent


Quote of the day

I learnt this at school.  Part of it just popped into my head and I wanted to remember the rest.

MACBETH: She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Shakespeare, MacBeth

Ashmourne Rogues Gallery

These are the characters that Fate is acquainted with so far in our drama.  Fate paints a watercolour of each new person she meets in the back of her diary and writes a small description against each picture.  It should be noted that the descriptions given are from, the fae, Fate’s point of view which can not always be relied upon to be completely accurate:

Fate's Portrait Fate –  A beautiful young fae from the land of Arden.  She seems destined to travel from world to world, having endless exciting adventures and yet never achieving her hearts desire: finding her way home to the forests of Arden and her family.

Lilynip's PortraitLilynip –  A tiny fae I met on my arrival in Ashmourne.  She is mostly great fun but I sometimes have to discipline her by throwing a mud pie or threatening to turn her into a toad.  ((Lilynip is an NPC*))

Portrait of Corporal Horace LyndsayCorporal Horace Lyndsay, a.k.a. Orie –  A soldier in the United States Army expeditionary force.  He carries a gun, which is his best friend, and has raised it towards me on at least one occasion.  He seems friendly and indeed introduced me to Mysthaven and its marvellous tavern but he does not tell me what he knows despite all my efforts to pry knowledge from him.

Lady Helene –  A charming lady, once an employee of a client in Legacies,  at the Tusky Haven.  She helped me enter the Mystgate through the briers.  She smells of herbs that are useful to my craft.  A useful acquaintance indeed!

Nathaniel Ballard's PortraitNathaniel Ballard –  Pompous & verbose steward of Lord Maric, Laird of Mysthaven.  A mine of information and provider of both food and lodgings.  He offered to introduce me to the Seelie Court!  He knows little of the ways of fae clans it seems.  A very useful ally and an excellent drinking partner.

Ket’Lyn –  Associate of the evil demon, Vedis Seid.  I bumped into her as I was leaving the tavern on my first day in Ashmourne.  What I know of her was intimated to me by Mr. Ballard.

Aoidheann's PortraitAoibheann ((pronounced Eveen)) – I met this lady briefly in the company of Orie & Mr Ballard.  She was wearing a thin white dress, it is no wonder she feared catching cold!

Scorch –  Annoying, small, red person who speaks in riddles or is just plain daft!

Sophia's portraitSophia –  I think I offended her by getting her name wrong.  The only thing I know of her is a fondness for knitting.  I will think of her as ‘the scarf lady’.

((*NPC = A non-player character, sometimes known as a non-person character or non-playable character, in a roleplay is any character that is not controlled by a player.))


Fate’s day & her related diary entry.

Fate is a small fae from a land called Arden.  She has been travelling the branes of time and space since she was pulled out of a strange disconnected Victorian London know as ‘Legacies’.  Now she has arrived in a land called Ashmourne.  This is her first diary entry since she arrived.

24th February, Year as yet unknown

‘DROPPED IN’

1_AshmourneArrival

Fate ‘bounces’ into Ashbourne

I have left Legacies and ‘bounced’ into a rather delightful place, with Fae I believe, & even a Seelie court.  It is so long since I lived among my own kind, I hardly know how to act. I might just lie low a bit. I met a tiny fae on ‘landing’, whose name she did not divulge, but she rudely laughed at my indisposition.  She nearly became a toad, I can tell you.

Fate meets Lilynip

Fate meets Lilynip

A few minutes later a young man arrived wielding an axe without much intent to do damage though he did for some reason feel it necessary to fling me about the place and me so battered and tired after my whirling through the branes of time and space.  That Dark One has a lot to answer for.  I digress.  The man’s name was Corporal Horace Lyndsay of the United States Army Expeditionary Force.  I did hear of a United States in my travels but never been there.  He asked me to call him Orie. That sounds more like a fae name than a ‘Youmarn’ one.

He tells me I is in a place called Ashmourne & shows me a white tree called “Ardan”.  I wonder if it’s related to my home in Arden or whether it’s just a co-incidence.  Then he took me up a mountain to a place called Mysthaven, guarded by malicious mists and a surfeit of briers. He also mentioned some peoples, the Swin & Sluagh who appear to have been a little unruly.  The Sluagh are of my people, distant cousins, I think. I wish I could remember the teachings better.

The man left me at Mystgate, in the company of a charming woman called Lady Helene, who smelled interestingly of a variety of useful herbs. (Note to self: I must investigate that further.) She spoke with a French accent and guided me through the briers to a small village square.  She was distressed about something but I didn’t find out what, nor did I care to ask.

Fate flies through Mystgate over the briers

Fate flies through Mystgate over the briers

Apparently Mysthaven has free food & drink in the tavern and a guest cottage for wiery travellers.  Sounds far too good to be true but they did let me stay and fed me favourite things last night.  This Laird person, Lord Maric, must want something.  I is not letting my guards down…one false move and they are all TOADs.

There is a lady called Mlle Valene who may be a queen and peoples called Gwyn, Blaise & Roanofa and I met the laird’s steward, Nathaniel Ballard last night.  What a pompous sounding name and he suggested an introduction to the Seelie court.  Does he know that the introduction of an Unseelie fae to a Seelie court might not go quite to plan, especially one so removed in the ways of any fae. He gave a message to someone called Royce to give to this queen as I was leaving & I bumped into a dark lady called Ket’Lyn on the way out. That’s all I learned last night.  My head hurts. More when the mead has left me.

Below is the Roleplay which informed this journal entry:

Fate landed with a bump and rolled in an undignified fashion down something hard & cold and landed in a heap on a rutted muddy track. The was a bit of a commotion then Lilynip realised there was no danger and let out peels of chirrupy giggles as Fate sat up and removed a large weed from her hair. She looked around her and observed that the cold hard thing was some sort of stone bridge.
[16:27] Fate sits rubbing her eyes and trying to focus “Owww my head”
[16:29] Horace Lyndsay stumbles over the bank and looks back, seeming to curse but it was just an angry mumble. He looks to the bridge and sees a woman there and cautiously approaches, “Friend or foe?” he asks quietly.
[16:31] Fate looks up in the direction of the voice and says rather grumpily “Well that really depends on you, Sir. Are you friendly?”
[16:35] Fate sniffs the air then sees the corner of her dress has begun to smoke alarmingly and she rolls in the mud to stamp it out while she waits for the man to find his reply.
[16:38] Horace dashes forward and thrusts out his free hand to help her up. “Oh, you have wings, I didn’t see from over there. I suppose as long as you aren’t a giant wolf or blood sucking monster we’ll get along.”
[16:42] Fate, surprised by the sudden strong-arming of the stranger, her body starts to hurtle towards him in a far from appropriate degree of haste. She flaps her wings busily to steady herself, uncertain if she will bowl him over, as she flies through the air. “Sir, sir, gently does it.”
[16:47] Horace took her by the arm and yanked up as she fluttered. He hadn’t accounted for it and took a spill backward, lucky for them he back-pedaled enough to be in a dry spot, but she still would have found herself on top of him, with him holding his axe hand away from them to avoid an incident. “damn little lady,” He whispered.
[16:52] Fate flapped herself off the over-helpful man and pulled her frayed clothing around her “Goodness, gracious me. Not sure whether to thank you or turn you into a toad! Do you always throw strangers about?”
[16:54] Horace Lyndsay dusted himself off and tipped his helmet to her, “Ma’am, I don’t usually get to throwing strangers about ’til we’ve had introductions.”
[16:57] Fate: “Well in that case I better introduce myself…” She hovers at a safe distance from the man, observing him thoughtfully with her head on side as if trying to figure him out, “I’m Fate and I’d like to know who you are and.. where we are, thank you.”
[17:01] Horace watched her floating. “I’m Corporal Horace Lyndsay, United States Army Expeditionary Force- But just call me Orie and I’ll spare you the rest. We should keep our voices down and get to somewhere where we can talk. This is the fairy woods. We are on the Uncouth side of that there bridge.”
[17:03] Fate: “Well how do you do, Mr Orie, and I would hate to be uncouth so lead on to this safe place of yours”
[17:04] Horace nods, “Nice to meet you Fate, lets go to Mysthaven and we can talk there.”
[17:04] Fate: “What’s Mysthaven?”
[17:06] Horace looks over at the white tree, “shit, I can’t believe i got turned around this bad. -That’s- the good side. That big white tree is Ardan. Mysthaven is the village up on the hill, did you just drop here out of nowhere?”
[17:09] Fate “I did just sort of drop in. ” she continues rather sadly, “I used to live in a place called Arden”
[17:11] Horace looks over at the tree, “huh” He lingers blankly for a second. “Well you’re one of us now. You’ll be just fine. I know a shortcut once we get up here, it’ll keep the wolves off our back.” He beckons with a wave of his hand “C’mon”
[17:12] Fate flits just behind Orie
[17:13] Horace scrambles up the steep bank in front of them. It seems to be pretty effortless for him. Growing up in the hills and mountains has trained his body to deal with any kind of terrain, and it would show.
[17:15] Horace turns over his shoulder to warn, “Stay out of the mists, you have to go through the gate. I hear people can get lost in there for hours.”
[17:16] Fate doesn’t touch the bank at all just flies up behind him looking left and right. She nods taking in all the mans information.
[17:19] Horace turns to the gate to see Helene there. “Bonjour, Helene.” He turned to the lady fluttering behind him. “Fate, this is Lady Helene. Helene, Lady Fate. Fate here is new to Ashmourne I think.”
[17:21] Fate hides behind Orie & peeps at the lady, sniffing the air “Good day, Ma’am”
[17:22] Helene de la Fort du Pont has been walking herself ragged in her state of worry and is therefore pleased to come upon someone to talk to. “Bon soir, Madame. It is lovely to meet you.” She smiles genuinely, if a little tiredly.
[17:24] Fate smiles back but stays a little behind the Corporal “Nice to meet you too”
[17:25] Horace slides his axe in the loop on his back and stands there.
[17:27] Helene de la Fort du Pont looks to Orie and takes in his general attitude. “How are things outside of the village these days? It seems quiet but then…. that i deceptive I think/
[17:29] Fate does not wait for the soldier to reply and asks “The Corporal was showing me a place I might find safety. Is there somewhere a person may take refreshment and perhaps a bed?”
[17:30] Horace looks out over the cliff, then back to Helene. “It’s not so bad now, the Swin and Sluagh have calmed down. I managed to make a run this morning without any trouble.” He looks over to Fate, “Ahead, yonder is the tavern.”
[17:31] Helene de la Fort du Pont smiles to the lady, offering her hand. “Oui, there is a fine tavern in the village, with good foods and wine. And I am sure we can find you a bed in one of the cottages. Things are ….. less than stable in the forest at this moment but we do our best here, within the thorns.”
[17:34] Fate looks that the brier patch, the lady mentions. “Is there a less barbed way to this tavern? I’m not sure I can pay for a cottage. I have no currency.”
[17:36] Horace Lyndsay grins, “you can fly, why are you worried about a few little rose thorns.” he laughs heartily. “You wont need currency here so long as you help out.”
[17:38] Helene de la Fort du Pont nods, echoing Orie’s statement. “We are a helpful folk with not much use for coin here. There are so few of us these days…..” She trails off, her voice catching, and turns away awkwardly to collect herself.
[17:39] Fate bridles a little making little chirrupy noises of annoyance, rather like the tiny fae by the bridge but slight deeper. “One does not fly ALL the time…Thank you Ma’am, I can be helpful and useful, yes helpful AND useful…most of the time.”
[17:43] Horace Lyndsay pointed his hand at Helene, “Helene would you show her to the Tavern, or at least past the roses, I have an errand to run.”
[17:44] Helene de la Fort du Pont takes a deep breath and nods, turning back to the winged lady with a smile. “Certainement. This way, s’il vous plait.” She is polite and friendly, although still with an undertone of nervous distress.
[17:45] Fate bids the soldier farewell and follows the woman over the roses. “Thank you sir for your help to this place”
[17:46] Horace Lyndsay opens the portal to the Island and passes through.
[17:48] Helene de la Fort du Pont leads her through the thorny patch and into the square. “Our village is small, but we are protected here. The tavern there…” She points off to the left. “…And the home of the laird, Lord Maric…” She points ahead. “And our cottage homes.” She points to the right.
[17:48] Nathaniel wanders around the village, checking up on the rebuilding work, nodding pleasantly to the workers, ticking things off on his clip-board. He looks up in surprise as a new figure suddenly appears before him. “Good evening, ma’am,” he says, doffing an invisible hat. “I don’t believe we’ve met. I am Nathaniel, steward of the village of Mysthaven,” he gestures around the general areas. “Welcome. And who might you be?”
[17:50] Nathaniel blinks and then smiles, nodding to Helene. “Hello, Helene, sorry, didn’t see you at first.”
[17:52] Fate looks around the square trying to take everything in. “It looks quite charming after where I have been….Hello Sir, Im Fate, new to this place. i just sort of…dropped in”
[17:54] Helene de la Fort du Pont smiles to Nate, looking a bit overwhelmed. “Have you seen Mlle. Valene this day? I need to meet with her….” She asks him softly.
[17:58] Fate: “Is the place with the red flags the lairds place? I could do with a bit of a wash and some honey & nuts, if this tavern does such things”
[17:59] Nathaniel looks at the new arrival, as if puzzling something, then shakes his head. “Do excuse me, for a moment, it seemed as if I had seen you before somewhere, but very unlikely, I should think. Anyway, welcome to the village. The tavern over there can provide you with food and drink, and feel free to use the cottage at the end there, on the left, which we tend to reserve for visitors.” He looks her up and down for a moment. “If you don’t mind me saying so, you would appear to be of the fae persuasion. I have contacts within the fae courts here, if you require an introduction.” He turns and smiles at Helene. “I have not seen Valene for a couple of days, but I can get a message to her, if you wish. I am sure Royce here will deliver it if I ask him nicely.” He look towards the tavern. “Can I buy anybody a drink?”
[18:02] Helene de la Fort du Pont nods to Fate. “Oui, Lord Maric’s house is rather majestic.” She smirks in a silly way. “I am sure the tavern can manage that for you.” To Nate she says “Please to let her know I am ready for the test, although I am still nervous about her testing it personally.”
[18:04] Fate: “Why thank you kind sir and ma’am of course” she says in her west country lilt & does a little curtsey, a sort of bob in mid air, to them both. “Im not sure we can have me t sir for i have come from a place very dark and cold and a long way from here.”
[18:11] Nathaniel turns and starts walking towards the tavern. “Many people here have had a strange journey in getting here. I too once dwelled in a place without light, but it was lost, somehow, but a few people I knew there have also found their way here, sometimes by very complex routes. But come, here we do have light, and if we head into the tavern, some warmth, and I am sure you will be able to find something to eat, and the use of the guest washroom upstairs.”
[18:13] Helene de la Fort du Pont moves with them into the tavern, positioning herself close to the warm hearth. “I also wished to ask you, Nate: how fairs the Seelie court? I have not…. had word…” She touches the ever-blooming rose in her hair self-consciously.
[18:20] Fate flits over to the tavern with the other two, only slightly catching herself on the brazier on the way in. “ouch!” When she enters the two are talking about the Seelie, she cocks her head on one side listening intently to the lady’s words and looking enviously at the lady’s position by the fire. She yawns sleepily in its heat “I think I must take leave of your cottage…”
[18:23] Nathaniel smiles and waves to Hal, the barman. “Hal, bring this lady a bowl of nuts and some honey, and perhaps a glass of mead.” He turns back to Fate. “By all means, take advantage of the cottage. You will find it just as warm as here, and there will be facilities for washing.” He turns back to Helene. “I cannot tell you much of goings on in the sithen. I know they have been having trouble with the Huntsman of late, and they are very busy with sithen matters. I saw Gwyn briefly the other night, for the first time in ages, and she was well enough. I don’t know where Blaise is, thought, he may have business in Roanofa, or whatever the place is called.”
[18:25] Helene de la Fort du Pont nods, trying not to look too worried about Nate’s comments, nor too interested in his comments about the prince. “Yes, please feel free to rest. You will find it most comfortable.” She wrings her hands with worry, although unaware she’s doing it.
[18:26] Sais Xue steps in, hands behind her back as she looks into the tavern, and smiles “mmmmmm what a trio.” she would purr, leaning against the door frame. “Ah, you sleep well then” she would say to Fate, giving a little curtsy as to the lovely fae, before lifting her head “How are all of you doing?” she would ask pleasantly.”
[18:30] Fate almost grabs the things Hal brings, almost missing all the new people and places the steward mentions. She hugs them to her body and turns to make for the door wit her horde. “Good night Sir Nathaniel & Lady Helene…I thank you with all my heart and hope we meet again soon.” She almost bumps into the dark lady on the way out. “Excuse me Ma’am…oops”
[18:33] Nathaniel smiles. “Rest well, and I hope we meet again soon. I am steward of the village, under Lord Maric, so if you have need of anything, I am the man to ask.” He looks up a the door. “Hello Ket’Lyn, good to see you. I am well enough, thank you.” He tilts his headslightly, speaking with Royce. “Royce, would you be so good as to convey a message to your queen that Helene has completed her preparations, and is ready to test the results.”
[18:34] Royce gives Nathaniel a grumpy look, then stretches lazily and jumps from his shoulder, padding off and disappearing into the shadows.”
[18:35] Helene de la Fort du Pont can’t help but blush upon the sight of Ket’Lyn, remembering their last encounter. “Bonjour…..” She says, but turns quickly back to Nate. “Please aid me to talk her from testing it herself! What if something is wrong!?”
[18:42] Faith Diesel: Fate took her not quite so ill-gotten gains off to the little cottage Helene had pointed out earlier. She sat down cross-legged in a corner & scoffed till the mead made her fall asleep.


Courgette, Chilli & Basil Salad & Cheese plates

My Salad of the Month – possibly Year

Courgette, Chilli & Basil Salad

Courgette Salad a la Oliver/Chiappa

Boy it’s been hot the last few weeks.  Though I longed for some warmth for most of last year, I have to admit working in this heat is not a joy.  It doesn’t make one very hungry either.

We, the Dark Lord (my partner in life) & I, have taken to ‘cheese plates’ (the Dark Lord’s passion – is it possible I am shacked up with the Abyssal Wallace – and further does that make me the Fairy Gromit?).

Back to cheese plates.  I add some salad to try to counteract the fat content with some greenery.

I have found this gem from Jamie Oliver.  Lovely ribbons of paper thin courgette, tiny diced chilli, basil leaves & a mustard vinaigrette.  Heaven!  I make the dressing & keep it with the other ingredients in the fridge and just shave off a few ribbons of courgette as and when I need something that tastes sinfully good in this heat.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe (Thank you Jamie & Ms Chiappa):  http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/michela-chiappa-s-zucchini-salad

I make it slightly differently because I like it all green: green courgettes, green chillis.  I also expect Jamie used a mandolin but they scare me to death so I use a potato peeler – the sort with blades that are 90 degrees to the handle.

Also quantities:  Half a medium courgette & half a chilli make enough for us two for lunch with about 1/4 of the viniagrette.

More about Cheese for budget cheeseplaters – To keep the budget from blowing up, I buy 3 different cheeses a month and cheddar more often as a back stop.  Usually I buy Brie or Camembert, Stilton & a random one other.  Stilton being the favourite of the dark force.  We have a sliver of each plus something like a slice of quiche or ham, bread or cheese biscuits, olives & tomatoes and of course a salad of my invention.

All of the above ingredients most supermarkets have in a cheap basics, essentials or savers type range.  The cheap cheese is really not at all bad.  If we are in the money, we might have one really good cheese which lifts all the rest.  I have a yen for the lovely, stinky Epoisse but that really is for special occasions.


Three Knots

Not all those who wander are lost.

JACK MONROE

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