Posted in fiction

#Saturday Symphony – Mythological Creatures

Image Credit: Wallpaperup

Graceful elven beauty with diplomatic resolve
Talented artisans proned to wanderlust
Magical being. One with the woodlands

Image Credit: Hooked Upon

Dark Penangalan prowling for the next victim
Vampire’s trailing organs drenched in vinegar
Slithering and enraged. Vying for blood.

Posted in Culture, fiction, Music, Nature, poetry, Quotes

#Paint-Chip Poem: Think of Me Fondly

Image Credit: Telegraph, Why the Faroe Islands needs 37 words for fog

Far from the rolling hills of Denmark,
lies Aalborg’s famous House of Music.
Beyond the brushed aluminum exterior,
audience members gaze upon the stage

Opera enthusiasts wait for the singer
With shut eyes, she whispers “open sesame
as the invisible curtains part ways in her mind
Starry backdrop of lapis lazuli skies
gives way to her glowing presence

A brilliant spotlight shines upon her
Thousands of sparkles glitter across the stage
Her melodious voice flowed with honey
with no signs of rusty inflections

Image Credit: Think of Me (The Phantom of the Opera, 2004)

Think of me, think of me fondly 
When we’ve said goodbye 
Remember me, once in a while 
Please promise me you’ll try 
When you find that once again you long 
To take your heart back and be free 
If you ever find a moment 
Spare a thought for me

“Think of Me”, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom of the Opera

Image Credit: Musikkens Hus, Aalborg House of Music, Aalborg, Denmark

Posted in Culture, fiction

The Rise of a Median King

Hello everyone, hope you are well! One of my favorite interests include Greek classical history and mythology.

I’m endlessly fascinated about the downfall of former empires and the Greek tragedies that touch upon universal themes and issues that impact humanity. To this day, classical mythology has influenced modern-day culture in a variety of arenas: sports, cardinal virtues, architecture, chemistry. Many series such as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson is highly influenced by classical myth.

The fictional story below is an embellishment of historical and biblical events that took place in ancient Iran, Iraq, and Ukraine during 627 BCE to 560 BCE. I loosely followed the accounts of Herodotus, a Greek historian, in his book, “The Histories”, Josephus’ in “Against Apion”, the Bible, and Qu’ran. There are some inconsistencies regarding the parentage of Amytis across historical accounts, but that leaves room for my imagination to weave in some magic. 🙂

A Bold Maneuver

He noted the situation had become grim...

Young Cyaxares, son of the late king of Media, Phraotes, received news that his father was dead. He was slain in battle by members of the Assyrian army led by Ashurbanipal, the zealous and brutal king of Assyria.

Relief of Ashurbanipal hunting on horseback. Nineveh, Assyria, 645–635 BC.
Image Credit: British Museum

The Assyrian empire was powerful and dominated the lands. They reached the ultimate heights of technological, scientific and cultural achievements of the time. Ashurbanipal, in all his might and military expertise, reasserted dominion over the Medes, Persians, and Parthians. His glorious palace along the Tigris River served as a reminder of his status in the world.

The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853
Image Credit: National Geographic

Nomadic Scythian warriors got wind of the news and swiftly raided Cyaxares’ homeland. For nearly three decades, Scythian officials controlled the region and exacted tribute from the Median citizens. Cyaxares resented their presence and began to formulate a strategic plan to avenge his father.

One evening, Cyaxares invited the Scythian chieftains to a fine banquet where they enjoyed a fine feast and alcohol. The aroma of marijuana filled the air. Cyaxares murdered them while they were drunk and their guards were lowered. He later proclaimed that he was king of Medes. The Scythians soon recognized their leaders were killed and subsequently retreated to the steppes.

Taking Down the Big Kahuna

Cyaxares united various tribal forces afterward and gradually conquered and occupied several Assyrian territories. He prepared to go to war against the Assyrian empire, but he was going to need help. He formed a few alliance and friendship treaties. One of his allies was Nabopolassar, Chaldean king of Babylonia, who decided to join Cyaxares’ effort to confront the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies.

The eventual death of Ashurbanipal led to Assyria’s weakened political infrastructure. The Medians and the Babylonians took advantage of Assyria’s internal strife and besieged the capital of Assryia, Nineveh, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Battle of Nineveh
Image Credit: Alchetron

Raising a Family

Cyaxares married and soon gave birth to a son named Astyages and a daughter named Amytis. To forge and formalize the alliance between the Babylonian and the Median dynasties, Cyaxares gave his daughter’s, Amytis, hand in marriage to Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadrezzar II.

Image Credit: Louvre Museum

She packed a few belongings and moved to Babylon with Nebuchadrezzar II. When she arrived, she was dismayed at the dry and flat landscape. She missed the mountains and lush scenery of Media. Cognizant of Amytis’ homesickness, he decided to replicate a piece of her homeland by creating: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 Maarten van Heemskerck (1498-1574)

Amytis was surprised that her new husband would go to such lengths to make her happy. She recognized certain trees and plants that she enjoyed in her homeland and was touched by his commiseration. Not only was she pleased, the community shared their plaudits. She knew that he was capable of bringing Babylon back to its full glory.

Image Credit: Wallpaper Safari

Her husband fortified the city’s defenses and rebuilt many temples. Little did she know, however, that he would go mad towards his final days. All of his past achievements and success contributed to an increasingly high ego.

Nebuchadrezzar II
Image Credit: jubran.deviantart.com

When three young Hebrew men didn’t bow down to him one fateful day, he tried to burn them in a fiery furnace to no avail. Daniel, a revealer of future mysteries, was held in captivity with them. He interpreted the king’s dreams and predicted that world powers shall rise and fall. Feeling a bit insecure, Nebuchadnezzar threw Daniel into a pit of lions. Imagine his surprise when the lions didn’t eat Daniel… 🙂

Posted in fiction

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a royal newlywed who lived in a castle nestled in the forest nearby a glistening lake. The beloved couple ruled over the kingdom to the best of their ability honoring the previous leaders who recently passed away. The king and queen were deeply in love, but for reasons unexplained, they had difficulty bearing children.

Image Credit: Pixabay

They decided to visit a village of fairies who lived within a grove of jacaranda trees near a majestic waterfall. There was one famed fairy, in particular, who could help them with their barrenness, and her name was Florence.

The royal couple packed for food and supplies for a day’s trek, saddled their horses, and ventured out into the forest. The cool breeze whipped around them as their steeds galloped onto the soft ground. They smiled at each other the moment they listened to the resounding sound of the waterfall swishing on the boulders.

The jacaranda trees were a sight to behold! Lavender blossoms gently fell about them as the fairies warmly greeted the king and queen. One of the fairies welcomed the couple into her home, and put on the tea kettle. “How can we help you?”

Blessed by her hospitality, the queen smiled. “We’re looking for a fairy named Florence. My husband and I are in need of her assistance.” The fairy gazed at the queen thoughtfully for the briefest of moments before she left to fetch Florence.

The king clasped the queen’s clammy hands as they waited, “We will be fine, I’m sure.” The queen gazed at his hazelnut eyes warmed by the twinkle in his eyes and his reassurance.

“NOW…. who is need of my assistance?”

The queen was startled by a loud, sing-song voice. The couple turned around taking in the sight of Florence. Her hair was a brilliant shade of ultraviolet which framed a lovely heart-shaped face. Her crooked nose was accompanied by a gleaming broad smile.

Breaking out of a trance, the king introduced themselves. “My wife and I are having difficulty bearing children, but we would love to raise a family someday.” Florence nodded in understanding, “You came to the right fairy. I can help you with that!”

In her satchel, she took out some magical blackberries she harvested while searching for various herbs. She mashed them in a bowl and poured special nectar on them to mix. She gave the concoction to the king and queen, “Here you go! Drink this, and it will grant your dreams.”

The couple was willing to be open to various possibilities, and obediently they drank the delicious drink excited by what will unfold in the coming months.

Posted in fiction

#FFFC – A Singular Flight of Fancy

Kieu just got back from a long day at work, and she was exhausted.

She draped some fabric she bought on the stand and tossed the chiffon on the sofa as she walked into the room.

Kieu shed her work clothes. She lifted her face shield and took off her mask. She felt a tad bit lighter. There was a sort of freedom she experienced while being in the nude. Her girlfriend was still out running errands. She cracked the window open and welcomed the summer breeze into the stuffy room.

The AC hasn’t been working for the past couple of months. She hasn’t gotten around to fixing it. During the pandemic, she was afraid to call a professional to stop by and replace it. She decided to cut this one expense this season. She figured her and her girlfriend will survive. They’ve been through worse. Bills were piling up, and life has been so busy, anyway.

The sofa looked appealing and was inviting her to rest. Kieu wrapped herself in the chiffon fabric as she sat down. She closed her eyes and rested her face between her legs. She curled into a cat yoga pose, and stretched all the tense muscles in her back. Taking a deep inhale, she held the pose for a satisfying long minute before exhaling and releasing anxious thoughts.

Time for her daily mind dump!

Earlier this afternoon, she noticed a window display at a boutique while walking back to her home. Kieu gazed at a stunning white chiffon dress on a mannequin. The price tag could not keep her eyes away from the lovely design. She marveled at the layers of cascading ruffles. Light and airy, it was a heavenly dream dress.

She wanted it, but her budget begged for another solution. “Fine, Budget, I see how it is! But…..where there is a will, there is a way!” The image of the dress was engraved in her mind. She stopped by the fabric shop and bought several yards of fabric.

Kieu opened her eyes.

This must not remain a pipe dream.

Posted in awareness, exercise, fiction, Food/Recipes, poetry

#FOWC – Microbiome Aid

Image from Pixabay

There’s an intestinal microscopic war people face
Which affects their digestive bodies’ precious space.
Can your complex ecosystem experience years of grace?

The gut microbiome is home to good and bad bacteria
In the digestive tract, there’s certain health criteria
That makes one think twice about choices in the cafeteria

Be the hero as your gut flora will need some aid
From a cavalry of probiotics that are unafraid
To force the pesky inflammation and anxiety to fade

Probiotics thrive on the prebiotic dietary fibers
Onion, apple, carrot, legume, and wheat subscribers
That gives them the strength of many Excaliburs

Maintaining equilibrium with sleep and exercise
Avoiding fad diets that affect metabolic balance is also wise
The effect of gut microbes on stress & mood should be no surprise

Posted in fiction, poetry, Quotes

A Fourth to Remember

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Joy!
Wa-hoo!
Today’s the day!
Buzzing with excitement
We’re celebrating indoors today!
My owner created a scavenger hunt for me
She hid some delectable treats throughout the house
Pop a tunnel of floating bubbles along the way
Canine peanut butter, vanilla cookie treats
Await me at the end of the obstacle
An excursion to the back patio
Fetching a squeaky ball
My owner loves me
No fireworks
Tender
Care

Word of the Day: Excitement

Posted in Concepts, fiction, Nature, Photography

#A2Z – Director’s Dilemma of Dogme 95 (fiction)

“CUT!!!” Director Cavanaugh acerbic voice sliced through the air.

Buzzing with energy from the two cups of coffee he drank, he chewed on his pen cap as he witnessed an interesting snapshot on his screen. It was linked to an underwater videographer’s feed. A fish inside a jellyfish! Could he turn this bizarre moment into a symbolic story left to the audience’s interpretation and imagination? The fish’s expression says it all. The gears were turning in Cavanaugh’s head

Try as the little fish might to direct its own path, the jellyfish will inevitability drag the fish wherever it pleases. Realizing its loss of autonomy, the fish’s eyes bug out in horror!

Image Credit: Tim Samuel

Cavanaugh wondered if he was insane for trying out an ambitious experiment after a period of hitting the doldrums. He was inspired by some prize-winning photos in a BBC article that he was browsing.

Image Credit: Anita Kainrath, from Austria, won Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year with Shark Nursery, showing baby lemon sharks in a mangrove in the Bahamas.

He wondered if he can authentically capture a live stream story letting the animals share their own stories. He was fascinated by their behavior. He couldn’t direct the animals, but then it wouldn’t really matter since his name wouldn’t be credited. During his time in film school, he was intrigued by a film movement founded in 1995 by Danish director Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. They wrote a manifesto called Dogme 95. The “rules” were as follows:

The question is… can he stick to the rules?

Posted in Culture, fiction, Quotes

#A2Z- The Ciselure Shop (fiction)

The chimes on the door clanged. A portly gentleman dressed in an olive-green tweed suit just entered Vpyshit’sya, a small shop nestled within a mountain village of Dzembronya, Ukraine. Novak took a burgundy handkerchief from out of his breast pocket, and wiped the dust off his gold rimmed glasses. He breathed a sigh of relief that he arrived in one piece as the foggy weather made safety of the travelling conditions questionable.

After taking a quick glance inside, he decided to walk around the shop quietly studying the craftsmanship of the metal pieces that were on display. He displayed a keen perspicacity in recognizing quality pieces. He heard about this shop as he chatted to the barman last night. Ukraine was well known for a variety of metal and wood carvings.

He was immediately enthused by the diversity of products he found: unique jewelry that was encased by glass display boxes, brass Viking shields that hung on the walls, intricately engraved kitchen knife sets, engraved metal wall decor.

He slowly found his way to the check out desk in the back of the shop. He noticed a young lady diligently working in the back room. Sophia’s family has been in the ciselure business for five generations. Her family taught her everything they knew, and precocious Sophia became a young master in the craft. She was inspired by a few techniques from a video she watched.

She was finishing up an jewelry box for an exhibit held at the Metal Working International Trade Fair in Kiev, the capital. She was looking forward to learning new things in metallurgy and the innovative tools in metal industry.

Novak cleared his throat, “Excuse me, mam. I was told that you can create metal designs for a wide variety of things.” Sophia broke from her trance, got up from her workstation, and walked towards the man. He took out a wooden box from his bag, and set it on the table.

“Careful now, there’s a golden pocket knife I would like to engrave for my son. It’s his birthday and there is something I would like to inscribe.” He took out a note for Sophia to read:

My son, take time to sharpen your skills, your tools, your resources, and you’ll be more productive. Much love, Novak

Image Credit: Pixabay

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