Sunday, December 17, 2023

Advent Fiction 2023

And just like that, Christmastime is upon us once again. As I've written previously, it's the most wonderful time of year and definitely my favorite holiday. For generations, Christmas has encouraged tradition in families across the planet. Some families have unique traditions, such as our family and the "Noel Pole." I'll write more about that later.

A fairly new tradition, at least for me, is participating in my friend Loren Eaton's annual Advent Fiction event. Each year Loren hosts a flash-fiction event on his website here. I look forward to participating in this every year and am always happy when I see the official announcement. Thank you, Loren! 

image from Google search

For my new readers, and for those who may have forgotten, flash fiction is a story of exactly 100 words, no more, no less, excluding the title. This challenges me to make every word count, and avoid all the superfluous fluff I find myself writing in my other stories.

One more quick reminder, before jumping into this year's contribution. Any link you see underlined in blue, and any photo, will open in a new window if you click on it. You won't lose your place here. Following are three stories for your enjoyment. Are y'all ready? Let's go!

Santa's Claws

Bedtime at last, after a fun Christmas Eve party. Santa is out, doing his thing, not that I’d expect anything different. It’s in his nature, after all.


A resounding thump on the top of the house wakes me up. Santa? Maybe, but doubtful. He’s heavy for his size, but not that heavy.


Growls, snarls and barks are shortly followed by a howl of pain and agonized screaming.


What the heck?


Santa comes bounding into our bedroom. I’m glad I can communicate with him telepathically.


“Grinch is gone. I took care of him like a good dire wolf.”


That’s my boy!

image from Google search

Here We Come A-Caroling

“Carol, oohhhh Carollll….”

The guttural voice, even in a singsong manner, still sounded like gravel being tossed about in a galvanized bucket.

“I’m cominnnng for you, Carollll.”

If anyone could make a laugh sound evil, it was definitely him.

Carol sat hunched in her closet, terrified.

“Carrollll, I know where you are, you can’t hide from meeeee.”

A hideous smell made Carol want to retch, but she held it in.

The closet door ripped free from its hinges, and Krampus grabbed the frightened girl.

“You know you can’t hide from us. It’s what we do with naughty people like you.”

image from Google search

Joy, to the World:

Hello, world, it’s me, Joy.


Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings and wonderful news.


Yes, everyone on this planet, every single person, can hear me right now. The “how” isn’t important. The “why” is.


Am I an angel? Ghost? Alien? It doesn’t matter, not in the least.


With all the bad going on in the world, there is more good. You just have to believe it.


Believe it when your friend apologized for hurting you. She was sincere.


Believe it when your estranged brother gave you that gift. He was sincere.


Believe this: great things are coming!

There you have it, my three stories for this year's event. I truly hope you enjoyed them all. What did you think? I'd love to read your comments below, good or bad.

Oh, and the Noel Pole tradition I mentioned earlier? My mom came up with this idea and we did this every Christmas when I was a young boy, as far back as I can remember. On our dining room table was a small gift, one for each person present that morning. Mom would take the used cardboard tubes from the empty wrapping paper rolls and wrap them in red and green crepe. This pole would go from the table to the ceiling, and then alternating red and green crepe streamers would go to each gift. This would be our last gift to open each year and could be something as simple as a toy car or a watch. You never knew.

What special traditions do your families observe? Please let me know below.

So, from me to you, I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New years. 

Until next time.......

carpe cerevisi

Friday, December 16, 2022

Advent Fiction 2022

And just like that, the holiday season is upon us. As they tend to do when we get older, the years really do tend to fly by. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were in Florida for our cruise? Nope, that was last December. I've always loved Christmas, and in fact, it's my favorite holiday. Halloween is my second favorite but it still remains firmly in second place. Not only is the weather getting cooler, but the foodie in my loves all the different snacks, treats, munchies and goodies that appear in stores and from the kitchens of friends. Really, who doesn't enjoy some good holiday treats? I even shared my feelings about these wonderful morsels which you can find here. Go ahead and click that link. It'll open in a new window and you won't lose your place here. I'll wait. What did you think?

I'm glad Loren is hosting his annual Advent fiction event on his site. I missed doing it last year, as it's so much fun to do. It's a challenge, though, at least for me. For those who have stuck with me all these years, y'all know my blogs can be a times. 

image from Google search

For my new readers, Loren's Advent Fiction event invites us to write a 100-word story, no more, no less, pertaining to Advent and the Christmas season. It can be funny, spooky, funny-spooky, contemplative, or any mood we see fit. Just make it exactly 100 words (title excluded) to meet the challenge, and you'll be good to know. Most of my stories have had a supernatural flavor, mainly due to how much fun it is to write such fiction. What will this year bring? Well, I'm glad you asked! Below are my submissions to this year's event. I sincerely hope you get as much enjoyment in reading them as I did in writing them. 

Grandma's Recipe

“Are you sure it’s ok if I make your Christmas cookie recipe, Grandma?”

“Of course, I’m sure, silly! What an honor it’d be.”

“Thanks, Grandma; I really appreciate your trust in me to do this right.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Teddy; you’re a wonderful cook!”

“But I don’t bake that much.”

“You’ll do fine; just follow my recipe exactly.”

25 minutes and 350 degrees later

“Wow, it came out better than I thought!”

“I knew you could do it. I’m so proud of you, sweetie!”

Teddy glanced at his grandmother’s photo. “I wish you were here to share them with.”

Bring Me His Head!

“I demand a sacrifice! Bring me his head!”
“Yes, m’lord, but isn’t this a bit….extreme?”
“You dare question me? Get to it!”
“As you wish, your majesty.”

The servant made the necessary arrangements, much to his distaste.

An ornate hall filled with excited participants awaited.
"Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes Domino!” they shouted in unison.

Doors flung open and the victim’s head, borne on a large gilded tray, made its entrance. 

Cheers filled the hall.

“For you, my loyal subjects, a feast to be remembered!”

A boar’s head, bedecked with bays and rosemary, filled the hall with its savory aroma.

image from Google search

And here we are, my faithful readers. I hope you enjoyed this year's offerings. It's no coincidence that both of these stories are food-centric. That's one of the reasons I call myself a "finicky foodie," right? 

The first story, Grandma's Recipe, came to me after watching two different commercials this holiday season. The story pretty much wrote itself from there. I've long wanted to do something with the traditional Christmas song The Boar's Head Carol. I particularly love the mixture of English and Latin, and truly enjoy listening to it every Christmas season. My favorite version is by the Chieftains, and you can listen to it on this YouTube link by clicking here. Do yourself a favor and listen to it. I bet you'll like it. Probably much more than that poor vegetarian servant the King employed.

Growing up in South Texas, I enjoyed a different culinary use for a boar's head, especially around Christmas. A huge shoutout to the Hispanic culture for bringing such a culinary treasure into the world, and into my life. And yes, I'm totally going to enjoy this treasure on Christmas Eve....a dozen at a time.

So, from me to you, I wish every one of you the most joyous holiday, Merry Christmas, and the happiest of New Years. Thank you for spending some of your time with me. It means much more than you'll ever realize.

Until next time........

carpe cerevisi

Friday, November 19, 2021

From JSC to KSC: NASA Nerddom at its Best

All my life I've been an ardent fan of aviation and spaceflight. "Ardent fan?" Yeah, I know, "aviation nerd" or "space nerd" is definitely more appropriate. I give a pretty good background of my enthusiasm in a blog I wrote several years ago on this very subject that you can find by clicking here. Go ahead. The link will open in a new window, and you won't lose your place here. I'll wait. See what I mean? Lifelong.passion!

As a young lad, my father took me to the visitor's center at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) lonnnng before Space Center Houston (JSC's official visitors' center) was built. If I recall, it was just a room or two in one of the admin buildings. This would've been in the early to mid-70s, so I could be totally wrong here. If any of my readers have better information on this, I'd love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment in the comments section at the end of this blog. I've been to Space Center Houston several times, and it's one of the first places I think of when visitors come to town, looking for something unique.

Johnson Space Center controls space operations since Gemini IV. In fact, the first word from the moon was "Houston." Once a spacecraft clears the launching tower, control passes to JSC. Actually prepping and launching the vehicle, though, is done at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The KSC Visitor Complex is the Cape's version of Space Center Houston. We purchased our tickets online about a week before flying out to MCO.

Cindy and I woke up to our alarm set for 8:15 after a good night's sleep. The day, as predicted was cool and rainy, but that didn't dampen our enthusiasm for what was to come. We ran into two of our cruise group, Rob and Larry (yes, the same "Larry" of "Larry and Mary" from my previous blog) at breakfast and shared a table with them. Breakfast complete, I requested a ride from Uber and ten minutes later we were on our way to KSC. 

Welcome to KSC

Nerd Nirvana?

For my new readers, and as a reminder to my faithful readers, I include many links, which will appear blue. Clicking on any link will open a new window, so you won't lose your place here. Clicking on a photo will open a new window with a larger format version of the photo. 

Where to first?

Rocket Garden

Countdown clock

Nice to know...

Thanks to some very helpful people in a Facebook group I belong to, Space Hipsters, I knew to immediately obtain complimentary bus tickets for the Apollo/Saturn 5 complex actually on KSC property. There are only a limited amount of tickets available due to time constraints, so that's the first place Cindy and I went. Once again, timing was on our side and we were able to immediately board an awaiting bus. Cool! Thank you, Hipsters, y'all rock! 

Along the way, our driver pointed out various points of interest, including a large eagle's nest that apparently has been in the same tree for almost 50 years. As we passed close to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), she related some fascinating facts about the gargantuan scale of this building. My earliest memories of watching anything NASA-related on TV often featured this building and now I actually got to see it up close. Wow!

An interesting detail about the visitor complex here, compared to Space Center Houston, is the amount of what I'll refer to as "pre-show" videos. Each attraction we visited seemed to use this method to create drama and anticipation for what would come next. Once we made our way into the Apollo/Saturn V building, we entered a room with large video screens, showing images of popular culture during Apollo 8's time.

I loved Planet of the Apes!

HAL, open the pod bay doors.

I could've written a different quote for the above image, like "Scotty, two to beam up," but Star Trek has gotten wayyyy more time than 2001: A Space Odyssey, at least in my humble opinion. This pre-show lasted about 5 minutes and the doors opened to what I consider one of my favorite displays at KSC. Yes, pretty much everything we encountered at the visitor complex was interesting, but this one definitely made the top of the list. We walked into a replica of the Apollo 8 firing room, and I was, no pun intended, blown away by the whole experience.

Replica of Apollo 8 firing room

I mentioned earlier in this blog how KSC designed its attractions to build suspense and drama, and this display did all of that in a grand way. Upon entry into the room, the lights and consoles were dimmed as shown above. Having worked on the technical side of theater productions as a hobby, I know full well just how important lighting is in creating an effective atmosphere. The "show" started with certain lights coming up and consoles starting to illuminate. 

Whoa, this is gonna be cool!

About this time I figured I better start taking lots of photos before the next "event" happened so I wouldn't miss anything. While I didn't know exactly what was going to occur, I had a pretty good idea.....or so I thought. Notice in the photo above a yellow timer stopped at 00:00:03:00. That was a countdown timer stopped, or "holding," at T-3 minutes. Here are a few more photos I took, looking around the room.

Vehicle status board

TV camera platform

Data station status board

The next part of the "show" started when the countdown resumed. Video monitors started showing scenes taken from actual TV coverage of the launch, and speakers played audio tracks of the launch controllers. The vehicle status board illuminated the next set of changes as the countdown proceeded.

Launch sequence start

Tank pressurization in progress

As if there wasn't enough going on, things progressed quickly from there. At T-0, during "launch commit," a loud rumbling could be heard and felt in the room. It reminded me of watching movies like Earthquake and Midway in Sensurround. Low-frequency vibrations made me feel like I was actually there at the launch complex. A glow appeared in the windows above and behind us much like I guess the Apollo 8 made during its ascent from the tower. The launch sequence was over as quickly as it began, and was almost anti-climatic. Reflecting on this, KSC's part in the overall mission was essentially over, as "Houston" took over once the vehicle cleared the tower. Having just written what I did, I still want to revisit this and capture it all on video. 

Another set of doors opened on the opposite side of the room and led us into a large room containing an entire Saturn V vehicle. You read that correctly. An.etire.Saturn.V. Just like the VAB, trying to grasp the scale of such a behemoth is difficult at best until you've actually been close to these things. Watching footage of a launch from several miles away and being up close to the actual vehicle offer two very different perspectives. 

Saturn V

Apollo CSM

Cutaway model of Saturn V

Closeup of CM

Apollo 14 CM

Al Shepard's EVA suit

This is Al Shepard's EVA suit that he wore when exploring the lunar surface on Apollo 14. Note the red stripes on the arms and legs. These stripes designated him as the mission commander. Cindy and I spent a little more time looking at all the displays and decided to catch the next bus back to the visitor complex so we would have time to look at the other attractions. Thankfully another bus was pulling up as we exited so we were able to head back without a delay.

On the way back to the main complex, we discussed where to go next, and decided on the Atlantis space shuttle exhibit. Since this was the actual orbiter, we thought it would have some fascinating items to view. And we were right! Walking up to the building, we saw an SRB/ET stack, sans orbiter. 


Wait, whaaaat? Dude, speak English!

Sorry, between my medical and science background, I tend to revert to acronyms when I start talking about a subject I'm passionate about. The "SRB/ET stack" is the solid rocket booster and external tank assembly that the orbiter is attached, or "mated" to. NASA does a nice job describing this right here. Just wait a bit, and you're gonna see tons of acronyms flying at ya.

True to form, there was a pre-show video of the origins of the space shuttle, depicting NASA engineers brainstorming various designs and configurations of this new spacecraft. At the beginning of this video, an actor portraying Max Faget releases this glider from a balcony, which glides to a landing at the feet of the assembled engineers. The actual glider depicted in the video is on display here, as seen below.

Max Faget's glider

Video complete, the doors opened and we entered another large room with the Space Shuttle Atlantis posed in all of her glory. The very same Atlantis that I remember watching as she docked with Mir on the NASA channel years ago.I'm glad Cindy was having as much fun as I was. This is definitely more my interest than hers, but nevertheless, she was enthralled throughout our visit like I was.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Closeup of cockpit

Payload bay

Is this cool, or what?
photo by Cindy Newman

Similar to Space Center Houston, there were plenty of simulators to occupy your time and test your skill. Want to land a space shuttle? There's a sim for it. Operate the remote manipulator system? There's a sim for that, too. What about one of those huge cranes in the VAB? Yep, you guessed it. That has a simulator, too. 

Cindy in the VAB crane simulator

Both Cindy and I had a go at this sim (among others) but neither of us was successful in mating the orbiter to the SRB/ET stack in the time allotted. We had fun trying, though. We had to watch our time closely, as we had our pre-cruise meet and greet at 5, and about a 30-minute ride from the visitor complex back to the hotel. No worries yet, we still have some more playtime left. 

Earlier I mentioned that the Apollo 8 firing room replica ranked at the top of my time at KSC. A very close second, though, was the "Shuttle Launch Experience." When I saw this, I knew I wanted to do it, but figured the line for this would be too long. Based on the description, I knew it would be both fun and interesting. 


There was practically no line, so Cindy and I took advantage of this and got ready to experience a taste of a shuttle launch. Apparently, several shuttle astronauts collaborated on this project to make it as realistic as possible. Works for me! Granted, a small taste is kind of like sampling a bite of bourbon chicken at the food court. It's good, but leaves you wanting more. Given that there's no longer a shuttle program, this morsel would have to suffice. Let's do it!


That was really cool! I could even feel the "twang" at SSME start. Yeah, I know, there's a lot of technical stuff I'm throwing out. Just click here for a good explanation of the initial launch sequence. I don't know why I was surprised, but there was quite a jolt at "SRB SEP," when the solid rocket boosters separated from the vehicle. When watching launches on TV, SRB SEP looks smooth, but then again it would be hard to see any kind of jolt at that altitude. What a ride! I totally want to do this again the next time we happen to make it to KSC.

Most of us have seen at least one shuttle launch on TV or had the good fortune to attend one in person.  A search on YouTube will reveal many videos of a shuttle launch with both crew and controller communications. These are fascinating to hear while watching the launch sequence and make the video sooooo much more interesting. I took the liberty of doing just this and the results can be found by clicking

Time was starting to run a little short, so we picked the "Heroes and Legends" exhibit to finish up our day at the visitor complex. Another "pre-show" video and our tour of this exhibit began. Many interesting displays to see and the replica of John Glenn's Friendship 7 mission control room topped the list in this building. Compared to the Gemini and Apollo control rooms, this one looked primitive. Well, I guess it was primitive, given the early stages of our space program.

Friendship 7 mission control room

As we completed our tour of "Heroes and Legends," I reflected on the amount of history we just encountered. How many times have I seen these very images on TV, movies, history books and even models? As a young child, I never imagined I would be able to get so close to a spacecraft, much less actually set foot on such hallowed ground. on the way to the parking lot to meet our Uber back to the hotel. From an overcast, rainy morning, the clouds now parted and patches of blue sky could be seen. What a wonderful day, and it was only half-over. We still had our cruise group meet and greet to kick off our cruise tomorrow. 

Have you had a chance to tour either Space Center Houston or the KSC Visitor Complex? What about some of the other locations? I'd love to read about it in the comments section below. 

If you enjoyed this bit of "living history," I have a few other blogs like this that you might find interesting. All happen to be museum ships from the US Navy. Their links are below.

Coming up next, I'll resume my series on our recent Carnival Mardi Gras cruise as part of the Big Sexy Flashback Voyage IV, including our Friday night meet and greet.

Until next time...

carpe cerevisi

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Return to Cruising on the Carnival Mardi Gras (first in a series)

After almost two years, Cindy and I were finally able to set foot on a cruise ship and take some much-needed time off.  With COVID-19 running rampant since early 2020, cruising came to a screeching halt until just recently. Neither of us realized just how much we missed cruising until we boarded the ship and hung out with our friends. As I've done before, I will make this a day-to-day series of our time on the Carnival Mardi Gras, as part of the "Big Sexy Flashback Voyage" (BSFV) IV. Clicking that link above will give you a good background on the whole "Big Sexy" thing.

As a quick reminder to my faithful readers, and for those of you who are new to my world, I like to include many links, which will appear blue in the text. Clicking on these links will open a new window, so you won't lose your place here. Clicking on a photo will open a new window as well, and display a larger format version of it. Go ahead, and try it on the photo below.

Carnival Mardi Gras

photo from

We were originally booked on the transatlantic ("TA") voyage of the Mardi Gras from Southampton, UK to New York late last year but construction delays caused not only the TA but the first several revenue sailings to be canceled. In fact, the Mardi Gras didn't begin actual revenue sailings until the summer of 2021. With our TA canceled, the one silver lining was it allowed us to book the original BSFV IV on the Breeze in 2020.....which got canceled due to COVID-19. Gee, imagine that...

With two canceled cruises, Cindy and I wondered if this one would actually get to sail. Throughout all of the chaos that fleetwide cancellations caused, Carnival was very generous in granting future sail credits for canceled bookings. Combined with our deposits that kept getting rolled from one booking to another, we ended up with a minimal final balance to pay and a hefty amount of onboard credit (OBC). As I mentioned before, having a Carnival Personal Vacation Planner (PVP) made things immensely easy for us. One phone call to Josh and he fixed everything for us. For those that still book on their own, I urge you to consider using either a PVP or a travel agent. It costs ZERO to use a PVP, they do a lot of legwork for you and you don't have to wait on hold forever with customer service.

This cruise would be departing from Port Canaveral, near Orlando. We've cruised from Miami and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), so this would be the third Florida port for us. We would also add a new destination that neither Cindy nor I have been to. Let's take a look at the itinerary, shall we?

Saturday, 11/6: Embarkation, Port Canaveral
Sunday, 11/7: Fun day at sea
Monday, 11/8: Fun day at sea
Tuesday, 11/9: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Wednesday, 11/10: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Thursday, 11/11: Fun day at sea
Friday, 11/12: Nassau, Bahamas
Saturday, 11/13: Debarkation, Port Canaveral

Amber Cove would be a new port for Cindy and me and both of us were curious what it would have to offer. We made the decision to wait to book any excursions until after we boarded the ship in order to use our OBC. This would save us paying out of pocket. Nassau replaced Grand Turk, which was originally scheduled, but COVID restrictions kept Grand Turk closed to cruise ships until just before we sailed. Up to this cruise, I've never experienced a port day as the last day in a cruise. We've always had at least one sea day, so this would be a different routine for us.

Josh set up a Friday night meet and greet like he did for BSFV III. We had so much fun with the last one that we wanted to make sure we arrived in time. We decided to fly in Thursday night, giving us all day Friday to explore the area and attend the meet and greet. We looked at day passes to Disney, Universal Studios, Everglades tours, and.....dare I hope.....Kennedy Space Center. Ultimately, and much to my pleasure, we decided to give Kennedy Space Center a try. Oh, yes yes yes!

If you've followed my ramblings at all, you'll know just how big an aviation and space nerd I in lifelong. I wrote about my love of manned spaceflight previously, which you can find here. Please feel free to take a look. We spent much of that Friday touring KSC, and I think it deserves its own post, which will be published right after this one, and then I'll go full throttle ahead with the actual cruise. Sound good?

Part of the protocols required by the CDC for Carnival to start cruising again included the vast majority of guests (and all staff) to be fully vaccinated. Another requirement was a negative COVID test within 48 hours of sailing. That meant we could get tested Thursday, Friday, or early Saturday, provided we had our test results prior to boarding. Yes, you read that correctly. No one would be allowed to board the ship unless they could provide proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID test. Cindy and I made an appointment at a local CVS for a rapid antigen test on Thursday morning a few hours before heading to the airport. Thankfully it was a quick procedure and we got our results about 90 minutes later.

We booked a mid-afternoon flight and opted to leave for the airport early enough to allow time for a leisurely late lunch or early dinner. Our arrival into Orlando would be way after normal dinner time so we just split the difference. As it worked out, the shuttle bus picked us up from our parking spot as soon as we parked and we were off to the terminal. A short line at security and our next decision was where to eat. 

Pappasitos didn't look too busy and we got seated promptly. We had a shuttle van booked to take us from Orlando to our hotel, about a 40-minute drive away, and another shuttle booked for our return to Orlando from the cruise terminal when we got back. Neither of us would be doing any driving for the next 8 days. Yes, you do know where this is going.

Let's start with a watermelon margarita...

followed by a big plate of nachos

Aaahhhhh......that hit the spot nicely. We made the short walk to our gate and after just a short wait boarding commenced. Even checking in exactly at the 24-hour mark, we were in the B boarding group but managed to find a good window seat. This is usually when we really start getting into "cruise mode." We are on the aircraft and our next stop will be in Florida. 

Mandatory seat-selfie!

Pushback accomplished, we taxied out to 31L and made a smooth departure from Hobby. Orlando, here we come!

Lovin' the scimitar winglets on the 737-800

Making good time

Almost all of the flight was bumpy, and the captain kept the fasten seat belts sign lit throughout the flight. In fact, the flight attendants apologized for not being able to serve soft drinks, but it didn't bother Cindy or me. We could go a couple of hours without a drink or a snack, especially after that big plate of nachos and that yummy margarita.

We got into MCO a few minutes early, arriving on 35R. Once at the gate, we made our way into baggage claim, grabbed our bags, and called for our shuttle van. Yes, we had to call for the van, as it was considered a "late-night pickup" after 9 pm. As the van pulled up, we noticed two familiar faces: "Larry and Mary," fellow BSFV cruisers. We'd be sharing the van ride with them to the hotel in Cape Canaveral. Yay!

Heading to the hotel

It was nice to catch up with our friends on the drive to the hotel. With such a large group, we qualified for a good group rate, and had a block of rooms reserved for us at the Radisson Resort at the Port. Several of the group had already arrived earlier in the evening and were hanging out at the pool. Wow, this is a nice place! We chatted briefly with Josh, then called it a day. Big day tomorrow, with lots to do. 

So, there you have it. The lead-up to our cruise. My next blog will cover our Friday before the cruise at Kennedy Space Center and our meet and greet.

Have you ever cruised with a large group? 

All feedback, positive or negative, is appreciated. I'd love to read your comments below.

Until next time.....

carpe cerevisi

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Advent Fiction 2020

 Wow, Christmas is right around the corner! Cooler weather, beautiful lights adorning houses throughout the neighborhood, and the variety of "holiday snacks" that appear from our neighbors and our own kitchen. It's definitely a wonderful time of year for me. Yeah, that's a link to another blog I wrote about Christmas time. Go ahead and click that link. It will open in a new window, so you won't lose your place here. The same holds true with any blue link you see.

Once again, my friend Loren is hosting his annual Advent fiction on his site. I love participating in this event and look forward to it each year as much as I look forward to participating in another friend of mine's Halloween event. You can find Eric's most current Halloween event here. I'll post the link to Loren's current event as soon as he makes it available.

image from Google search

For my newer readers, Loren's Advent Fiction event invites us to write a 100-word story, no more, no less pertaining to Advent and the Christmas season. It's definitely a challenge, but one I look forward to. 

This year's event can be found here:

I Saw Lightning Fall: Advent Ghosts 2020: The Stories

Without further ado, here is my contribution to Advent Fiction 2020. I decided to write two stories which I hope you'll enjoy. One is definitely more lighthearted than the other.

My digital assistant

“Alexa, please play Christmas music.”

“OK, here’s a station I think you’ll like.”

Jingle Bells sounds throughout the room. Nice! This is cool. Alexa always seems to know just what I want. 

I wonder…

“Alexa, I want to see my late father.”

“Hhhmmm, this will be difficult. Are you sure you want me to do it?”

“Yes, please.”

A flash of light

“Dad! It’s sooooo great to see you! How have you been?”

“Wonderful,” he replies with a smile, “Merry Christmas, son, I’ve missed you.”

A flash of light

A moment of lightheadedness

I awake to find an empty room.

Stumpy's Viewpoint

At least I’m not called something goofy like “Sparkles” or “Glitter Nuggins.” That would be unbearable. And they have the decency to let me travel with them, even though I have to do stupid poses for the camera. Many of my friends are kept locked up for most of the year. Seriously??

So what if I love treats? Who doesn’t, especially around the holidays? Why do they need to take photos of me enjoying myself? 

I’ve seen them eat cookies by the dozen or consume fudge by the pound. Who are they kidding? Hypocrites!

And people wonder why I drink.


So there you have it, my friends. I hope you enjoyed these two stories. Oh, a little background on Stumpy Curlyshoe, the disgruntled elf, can be found here. Go ahead, click that link and get to know Stumpy a little better.

If you enjoyed reading these stories, you can find my contributions from previous years below.




I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Let's hope 2021 is much better than 2020. Even a little better would be a huge improvement.

Until next time........

carpe cerevisi