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Deal 1006: Tanka thrice

Shakes off each change as
if the very idea
were his to command
dangling rewards before the
universe is usual.

Siren’s call brought men
upon the shore to die but
never him because
the quest held no lure to cause
neglected duty to home.

With each croak, Bullfrog
reminds Raven, his wager
fails the test of time
where hero’s knowledge brought
The Fates to admit their loss.

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Deal 1000: Matchups

The “greatest contest of all time!!!!!” they billed it. With enough exclamation marks to fill the page, to boot. Enough to fill the arena in any case. Poor typography aside, people from all walks of life had realized that something unusual was up, and rationally or not decided to attend.

The warm up bouts were clearly designed to disguise the true purpose. Sure, they were amusing, but that was all they were.

Moose vs. Squirrel could only end one way, and the bout was indeed predictably short. Squirrel won it decisively and swiftly, flying in all directions at once, and leaving Moose in a confused heap at the center changing quietly “this time for sure…”

The Stooges needed no help at all to tie themselves in knots, and then end the bout in a draw. At least that one was fun. Nosed got painted. Sticks were used vigorously on everything except heads. At one point they were moving so fast and rhythmically it was almost a Morris dance of silliness.

Finally they could put it off no longer.

The main bout was all that was left, and the crowd was wild with anticipation.

After the spectacle so far, what could possibly be waiting in the wings for the top billing?

It was announced as Mac vs. PC.

The crowd was stunned. Even more so when the two beige boxes rolled into their corners. Sure the Mac had its following, and its crisp style spoke of decades of efforts to make its design fresh and appealing. And the PC, no amount of voodoo in the world could make its lumpy beige box become interesting. Then the transformation happened before our eyes, and it became clear that this was all a proxy war between Jobs and Gates, seeking to resolve some kind of personal vendetta. The crowd was on the edge of its seats. Not just with excitement, but also with some sort of let-down feelings. After the long build-up, there was no possible match that would have satisfied their blood lust.

Possibly save for Coyote vs. the Acme Company’s R&D department.

Oh, who one the big bout you ask?

Well I’m certainly not telling. You’ll have to buy the pay per view and watch it yourself to see the answer!

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Deal 992: The Baron Accepts

Those days in the swamp are behind me now. Years, really.

Call me reformed.

It was a diversion, after several long boring lifetimes, to hang around in the swamps and answer the call when The Baron was needed.

I might have been the real Baron, I don’t really know any more. That was a long time ago, after all, and a long life (of sorts) doesn’t necessarily provide an equally long memory. There are others who may know more than I.

Real or not, it hardly matters. If not I, then the real Baron wasn’t paying enough attention. So I accepted his offerings, answered the occasional prayer as I imagine he would. And most of all, I demonstrated that if you live long enough, eventually even an alligator won’t eat you.

The Raven brought me news. The Owl has been sighted too.

It came to be that my days in the swamp were numbered. And I was ready.

I’ve slipped on the clothes of a new identity, and wandered far away from where I’ve been sighted often.

And I’ve taken to writing a few things down. After all, my memory is clearly not infinite. Even if I cannot remember any longer who I was first. It hardly matters who was on first. He was well before the Baron, and I’m well shut of him now.

Even if an alligator can’t kill me, it isn’t very convenient to run around short a foot or two while the alligator realizes his mistake.

So here I am today, making my way from the deep swamps into the modern city.

I don’t remember a city being here, either. There must have been a fur trading post, I think I remember that much. When was that? When is it now?

Just how did so many years go by while I was in the swamp?

The Raven tells me (not that I fully trust him, of course, but he was right about needing to find the city) that I need to find my way aboard one of those metal birds, and make my way to the west. Going faster than a bird can fly.

I guess it is time I joined our inevitable fray.

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Deal 975: Not Tea

In this house, tea was all I could expect. But I craved something stronger.

Apples are available in abundance, as is fresh cider. So if I could just hold my cravings at bay, patience could be rewarded by hard cider.

The process isn’t hard, it just takes time, reasonably clean equipment, and a cool place to let it run.

And a chance to work unobserved, as the result will not be tea.

A long history of fishing has taught me patience, so all I really lacked was the needed quiet. I was able to buy a few buckets under the guise of improving the cheese room. My success there left me confident that the cheese room would also provide the quiet, cool, and dark space where the cider could be left to ferment.

So I worked into the cheese schedule a chance to clean and sanitize the fermenter.

Smuggling in a few gallons of cider was not as difficult as I feared. I stole some yeast from the kitchen. A brewer’s yeast would be superior, but baker’s yeast will do in a pinch. When I finally got to start it, I was shocked at how fast the yeast set to work. In the couple of hours I spent starting a new batch of cheese curd, it went from still to bubbling. Things were looking up.

I did mention patience, though. And patience was certainly needed. A week later, it was still bubbling like mad. We had finished putting up the season’s cheese, so excuses to go to the cheese room were running dry.

Two more weeks, and the bubbling was down. The cider was a little cloudy, so I reluctantly let it settle for another week.

Finally, I had some free time to work, and bottled up my batch. I took the chance to try some while washing up the fermenter and finding a corner among the cheesemaking gear to stow it for next time.

Definitely not tea.

Oh, my, that was not tea.

I had to go for a walk after finishing a pint. A raven caught me on my path, tried to convince me I was a Prince hidden in the country as some kind of absurd fairy tale backup should the kingdom to to hell in a handbasket. That was interesting enough until I sobered up enough to remember that we don’t live in or near a kingdom of any sort, and that talking ravens are not usually seen in these parts.

Nope. That is not tea.