Monday, December 31, 2018

Sylvester Hygge

Today German speaking and Polish Catholics celebrate the feast of St. Sylvester.

Here's my menu for this evening: oliebollen (self made), brioche (from the store), appelflappen (also from the store), salmon mousse (in the picture, self made),

saucijzenbroodjes (as depicted but this time I used quiche instead of puff pastry) and a big one from the bakery (was a bonus from my husband's company)

potato salad from the store, self made beetroot salad,

cookies and chocolates, eggs, cheese and pear salads. That must be enough, what do you think? Have a nice New Year Eve!


Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Miscellaneous

So we all survived Christmas and are currently moving on to celebrating New Year. I made oliebollen today. First batch is in the picture. I baked them in the oven like I had done last year, using the store mix. They taste more or less like the "real thing."

While I don't really intend to turn this blog into health news one, I'd still like to draw your attention to a couple of interesting things I learned lately.  How would you like bugs in your yogurt? No, I'm not going crazy The chance is they are already there! It appears that big corporations use a red dye derived from insects. Experts claim it's mostly harmless, yet people have been known to suffer severe allergic reactions because of it, including anaphylactic shock which is potentially lethal. Since carmine is commonly used in baking goods and yogurts, I wonder how much of it is currently attributed to gluten and lactose intolerance?

Speaking about corporations, why is it that globalists simply love feminism? Is it because so many women are avaricious the driving force behind the consumerist bugman lifestyle? From bridezillas to mommies leaving their infants with strangers in order to afford a bigger mortgage and many luxurious vacations? It would be interesting to do a research on this topic, but the folk wisdom knew of this female tendency which had even been depicted in the fairy tales.

Do you want to live a hundred years? What is the secret of longevity? There is so much conflicting information being spread around, but the latest research suggests that 70+ers  who are moderate drinkers/coffee lovers and are slightly overweight have a better chance to hit the 90 mark than underweight teetotalers. (Please don't pay attention to the headline, it's intentionally misleading/sensationalist).

One final news item - one of our cats has been missing for 3 days. The neighbours claim to have seen him here and there but he remains elusive. It appears he has gone wild. Please pray for his safe return home!

Monday, December 24, 2018

An Important Announcement

In the spirit of Christmas we have decided to give away more books than we had originally planned and to extend the offer till after the 2nd Christmas day, (Wednesday the 26th) so that you still have three more days!

Don't forget to write to

Merry Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It's Now Or Never...

 Don't miss it: a free download of my first book, The Long Way Home.

The only thing you need to do is to write to this email address:

Here is an excerpt from Part 2:


Here is one problem,” said Ferrash. “You are intending to make Brendan Stewart your partner, aren’t you?”

“What’s wrong with it?” inquired Lennart. 

“He must know nothing about the whole business,” said Ferrash resolutely. 

“But he could be a great asset...” started Lennart, but the colonel interrupted him. 

“Stewart drinks. And when he drinks, he talks. The whole town knows the story of his misfortunes with Elinor, or what-was-her-name. I’d prefer you to get rid of him entirely.”

“It’s impossible,” said Lennart coldly. “Brent Stewart is my friend and we made a business agreement. I can’t break my word. Besides, I need his money and I need a good pilot. I can’t fly alone.”

“In any case, it’s your responsibility to ensure that Stewart knows nothing about the real nature of your work,” declared Ferrash, and the manner in which he said it prevented Lennart from making any further objections. 

At that moment a lonely figure entered the garden, looked around uncertainly, went in  the direction of the fountain, stumbled and fell into it. 

“Here is your business partner, captain,” said Ferrash. “If I were you, I’d take him out of the fountain and bring home as soon as possible.”

He stood up and Lennart did the same. The person in the fountain was making desperate attempts to get out of the undeep water, but rather unsuccessfully. 

“There is an address on the card I gave you,” went Ferrash on. “ I expect you tomorrow at ten in my office where we will continue our conversation. Good-bye.”

The next morning Brendan stayed in bed with a headache and it was not difficult for Lennart to invent a story as to why he needed to go to the capital alone. He said that he had to buy some things for his upcoming journey home and it was enough. Mrs Stewart kept musing about her son’s propensity to get drunk and Margaret was occupied with the thought of Lennart leaving them. Neither asked for details and after a hasty breakfast Lennart left for the Northern Star.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Christmas Present

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year when it's long been a tradition to exchange presents with friends and family. This year I have a Christmas present for my readers, too: the first ten people who write to me will get a free copy of my first book (The Long Way Home) as an e-book.

My new book went into global distribution network and should be available by Amazon and other retailers within a month or so. We are working on an e-version as well, so stay tuned!

Merry Christmas!

P.S. Please use this email address:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Should Everyone Go To College?

The WSJ recently posted an article about the risks of going to college. According to it, 40% of those who enroll won't graduate in 6 years, and of those who do graduate, more than the half will have student loans to pay and 32% will end up doing a job which requires no college degree.

Definitely something to think about!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Beware Of Your Frying Pan!

I realise it's DailyFailMail, but still...Are you sure your frying pan is not turning your son into your daughter???

Men could end up with penises half-an-inch shorter than usual if their parents were exposed to high levels of a chemical used in non-stick frying pans.

Scientists have found the chemicals, called PFCs, can interfere with male hormones and lead to sexual organs being 'significantly' shorter and thinner.

And this effect is not only seen in the womb, the researchers said. PFCs could have toxic effects in teenagers, too. 

The chemicals, also found in waterproof clothing and greaseproof packaging for food, get into the bloodstream and reduce testosterone levels.

Read the rest over here

So I went and bought this:

I'm told it has a fancy name of cazuela though the store advertised it simply as a "clay pot." Still have to come to terms with using it:)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I'm Back And Other Things

I'm back and comments function will switch back to normal shortly. I've been getting tons of suspicious anonymous comments lately which all go into spam. A reminder to my readers: if you really enjoy this blog and wish to leave a comment saying so, pick up a handle or sign your anonymous comment like Sarah does.

Otherwise it won't get published!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Short Personal Note

I'll be away from computer for a couple of days so all the comments will go into moderation till Wednesday. Have a blessed Lord's Day, everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Good Kitchen Manners

Do you have good kitchen manners? I used to, but they got somewhat rusty of late:) I turned to Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson to refresh my homemaking knowledge. She devotes a whole chapter called Kitchen Culture to this very topic.

Her advice is simple and common sense: keep your kitchen clean all the time! Clean as you go. Wipe all the spills immediately. Frequently sanitise your sink and working surface. Take out the trash.  Don't let dirty dishes pile in the sink. Change kitchen towels regularly, etc etc.

She is really big on this whole sanitising thing, and while I agree that food safety is important I sometimes have a feeling that she takes it somewhat too far - we aren't really as fragile as to drop dead because of contamination caused by a spill, and I haven't heard of epidemics starting because some lady had a wet counter top:)

Cheryl reminds her readers that kitchen appliances have to be cleaned regularly, too. For instance, she says that you should clean your fridge every week. Other cleaning guides suggest doing it once a month, or even less, but I guess the cleaner, the better.

Inspired  by all this I went and cleaned my fridge yesterday. I also went back to vacuuming three times a week, as two times  appears to me not enough. How often do you clean your fridge and your kitchen? Do you have any special tips? Feel free to share!

P.S. There are some among us, mostly of the baby boomer persuasion, who scoff at the idea of women trying to learn more about housekeeping or improve their domestic skills. Yet, Home Comforts was a bestseller and the owner of FlyLady made millions out of it and had 550 000 followers  on Facebook. Sneering online is hardly an achievement, compared to that...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Importance Of Modesty

I have long hesitated as to whether I should write this post or not since it's probably better not to dwell on the certain things too long. I'd also like to put a disclaimer that what I'm going to say is sorely my opinion, and you don't have to agree with it.

Anyway, here goes. All traditional cultures value modesty for women, especially for young fertile females. (Modesty standards usually relax a bit as they get older). Some cultures, such as Mid-Eastern ones, are probably going too far in our opinion, but before the West became so liberal, women were expected to wear long (sometimes floor length) loose skirts/dresses and some form of a head-covering. Unmarried women in some situations could go bare-headed, but only women of the streets would let their hair loose.

This modesty concept isn't restricted to monotheist religions only, since in Ancient Greece "decent" women were usually veiled and ditto in Rome. What is the reason behind all these customs? Serious researchers (as opposed to muh misogyny crowd) will usually say something about how dangerous it was for women in primitive societies to show their beauty as they could be attacked, kidnapped, sexually abused etc. (The religious reasons would be as not provoke sexual passions of men).

Yet, even relatively safe societies where women could go about their daily business unmolested, had similar traditions. Plus, even in our decadent times, most people still don't go naked in the privacy of their own homes, where theoretically, nobody can see them. It's still imprinted in our minds that full nakedness is something shameful and should be reserved for the bedroom only.

Here's where it gets interesting. If you have read any of the ancient myths and legends, you'll come across stories of "gods" and supernatural beings falling in love with beautiful girls. Sometimes, their fathers will lock them up in a tower, but some "hero" will still find a way to climb that wall.

I remember an Irish legend of a young girl playing outside in the town square with other children (safe place + the girl is still a child albeit a beautiful one) who gets stolen by a very handsome stranger who comes out of nowhere and disappears in the same fashion. Later, the parents find out that it's some god who stole their daughter to take as his wife. By this time, she already has a son from him. Etc etc.

Of course, Genesis tell us the story of the "nephilim" which I guess every Christian knows about and then, there is the (in)famous Book of Enoch (please don't let your children google it!). That is something I honestly don't care to go into detail about, by various reasons. Anyway, if you say it all happened before the Flood, Catholic Apocrypha (I think the Book of Tobit though I could be mistaken) deals with the same topic.

And then, you have the passage which tells us that women should cover their hair while praying or prophesying "because of angels", which is really never satisfactorily explained anywhere, though sometimes it's said that uncovered female hair is seductive, will distract men in church from their prayers etc. Yet, it's not said that a woman should cover her hair because of men if you see my point. By this reason, Amish women are supposed to wear some sort of a head-covering the whole time, even in the privacy of their own homes.

The bottom line is that modesty is the matter of conviction and heart. I'm not going to give you any guidelines to follow. There is one point I'm going to make, though. When a woman chooses to wear something seductive and put on tons of makeup does she ever think of who or what may be lusting after her?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black Friday

My book is currently available on Lulu and since it's Black Friday they'll probably give you some sort of a discount! Here is another chapter:

Chapter 16. 

Eric’s hand holding the pistol didn’t move. “How much are you prepared to pay for these documents?” he asked.

“So we are finally talking business, aren’t we?” inquired Alec sarcastically. “We’ve made a deal, don’t you recollect? You’ll get your money when I get the papers.”

“That’s not enough,” insisted Eric. “What about Deltan nationality you promised me? An opportunity to start a new life and all that sort of things?”

Randall shrugged his shoulders. “It’s not for me to decide,” he said. “But I can present the matter to the government.”

“So you were lying yet again,” stated Eric.

“I wasn’t, as a matter of fact. I was talking about an existing possibility, that’s all. Don’t make it more difficult for yourself, Eric. You know you have no choice but to hand the documents over to me. If you shoot me now, you’ll have the whole of our intelligence on Aargh after you.”

“Are you so sure, Alec?” asked Eric quietly. “Nobody knows that I’m alive and back on Aargh. Nobody in this building has any idea who I am. Your body probably won’t be discovered for a couple of days at least. What will you say to that?”

There was some quick trace of emotion in Randall’s face, not fear but something very close to irritation. “Don’t be a bloody idiot, Ericsson,” he said tiredly. “You won’t be able to get away with this, in any case not for long. Those who helped you on Tarna keep in touch with us. It’s just a matter of time before it all comes out. I offered you a reasonable price, but we can discuss it further, if you wish.”

“I want a Deltan passport,” insisted Eric.

“I can’t give it to you right now, but I’ll tell you something else instead. Something that will probably interest you. How would you like to go back to Dakstra?”

The hand with the ray gun dropped down and Eric pulled a chair standing by the wall and seated himself.

“If that’s another one of your jokes, Alec…” he began but Randall only smiled.

“I knew you’d be interested. While you were away, the amnesty was announced, on the occasion of the coming coronation of Michael. All political exiles are allowed to return. That includes you, of course. Coincidentally, I have some business to do with His Highness Prince Haakon, and it just came to my mind…”

“No,” Eric interrupted him. “Never. Just arrange the Deltan residence permit for me and you can have the bloody papers for free.”

“And what are you planning to do on Delta?” inquired Randall. “To work as an architect? You haven’t ever graduated so you don’t even have the necessary qualifications for a work permit. I offer you a diplomatic position at His Highness’s court, as my representative.”

Eric looked at him closely. “What you mean is that Delta isn’t satisfied with the way Michael is carrying on lately and wants to encourage His Highness to try for the crown again. And you choose me to negotiate the terms. Am I right?”

“You have a lot of insight,” remarked Alec Randall coolly. “I’d think that as a patriot, you…”

“There is no way, do you hear me, no way in Hell I’ll fight on Haakon’s side again!” said Eric vehemently. 

“I’m not asking you to fight, just to talk. Why do you hate him so much anyway?” wondered Alec. “He did what anyone would have done in his place. It wasn’t his fault you were stationed across the border. He saved the greatest part of his army when he signed the peace treaty offered by Michael. It was a small price to pay, you know. His Highness is ambitious and I believe he has a great potential.”

Eric didn’t answer; he was staring at the wall in front of him. 

“And there is something else you’d be interested to know, too, I presume,” continued Alec cheerfully. “Since Haakon is still officially a bachelor, his sister who has recently become a widow returned home to stay with him and play the role of the lady of the house.”

“What did you say?” asked Eric incredulously.

“I said that Lady Fraser whose husband General Fraser McAngus died three months ago is currently residing with her brother. As you have probably heard, their marriage was childless and since it’s common knowledge that she could never really get accustomed to living in the North it’s only logical that she would come back. Now you see that this mission will give you an opportunity to meet old friends. What do you say to this?”

“What exactly do you want me to do?” inquired Eric and Alec Randall smiled again. He’d won yet another game, and that knowledge was immensely satisfying.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Miscellaneous Musings

I've been kinda busy of late with a certain new project. Plus, the Christmas markets have begun so it takes the weekends, too:) Because of it all I haven't had  time to sit down and write a decent long post  or at least, several short ones, so I decided to combine several topics into one:

It was only a couple of months ago that the MSM were screaming about global warming, all because of a couple hot summer weeks. Now, they state exactly the opposite: a new Ice Age is coming!

Mini Ice Age Looms

What are they doing with our food? An auntie of mine keeps saying how modern food is different from what was available during her childhood. You could dismiss these claims as the usual "the grass was always greener when I was young" type of thing, but I recently switched to buying biological meat and not homogenized milk.  I discovered something strange: the milk doesn't burn as easily as the "normal" milk and bio hamburgers don't shrink to half the original size when you fry them!

More natural hair care tips:

After our discussion about natural hair care, I tried two more shampoo substitutes: rye flour and henna powder. In both cases I rinsed my hair thoroughly first,  used 1 tbsp of the stuff, made a paste out of it, spread it all over and left for a couple of minutes, then washed it out. In both cases my hair looked great. Henna makes it softer and colours the roots slightly, rye flour makes your hair rather hard.

Medical News

Do you trust medical industry? Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the USA. Also, when you are older, doctors will phone you nowadays and ask you to come and have your cholesterol checked and try to put your on some type of a statin drug. Yet, the new research suggests it's a waste of time (and money, not mention statin side effects which apparently include Alzheimer). Please, do your research first.

Women sabotaging each other. 

This comes from a certain forum I make a mistake of reading sometimes.  A dedicated group of feminists who were all by some reason older and single/divorced kept attacking housewives and telling them to get a job and stop listening to their husbands. They stated unironically that when you become a housewife your husband will be inclined to abuse and even kill you, or at the very least, try to force you to save on buying clothes, which is a horrific thing.

By the reason of any man being a potential murderer, divorce should always be allowed for any reason, so that the woman doesn't feel "stuck". What really makes it funny, they all claim to be devout conservative Christians, all the while telling younger women to hate marriage, distrust their own husbands, never submit in anything and avoid having (many) children so that she can live for herself and not be tied down.

Here comes a word of warning: when you get older, you can choose to age gracefully and turn into a matron and a kindly granny/auntie type. Or you can choose to be envious of younger women and their prospects with men, try to ruin their happiness and turn into a hag.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Women Have Rights, Men Have Duties"

OK, this one is going to be controversial.

We all know that progressives of all sorts don't believe in labour division based on sex. They basically tell you to go out and do whatever. They preach you can choose your own reality nowadays. So far so bad. Now what about the opposition?

What about the people who claim to be "traditionalist, right wing, family friendly, conservative Christians" types. How often will they say something along the lines that they are naturally pro- family and that the SAHM is "the most important job on earth" but if the woman desires to have a career, that's fine, too? But do they ever claim the same about men? Like, it's good to be a father, provider and protector, but if the dude doesn't feel like it and rather stay home, it's a valid choice?

A man without a job or the one who sends his wife to earn money while he's just hanging around playing vidya games is shamed as a loser, or a basement dweller or an incel. Hence the title of my post: the so-called right wingers, a big part of them, don't really believe in enforcing traditional feminine duties of being a caregiver to her family or even being chaste; just like feminists they think women should be allowed to do whatever they wish, but men are still expected to fulfill their traditional duties to women and society.

How often have I read an American conservative on social media saying something like: why don't men in Europe protect their women from criminal attacks? The answer is simple, they aren't their women any more, they are emancipated. They often choose to put themselves in dangerous situations/date dangerous criminals, why should a random man risk his life to save her from her own stupid choices?

The problem with social conservatives is their mentality of wanting to have the cake and eat it, too. In a traditional society both sexes have their rights and obligations. You can't free one sex without freeing the other. You can't encourage your daughter to have a high powered career and have her fun dating random men, may be, having a child or two outside wedlock and then expect a traditional, God-fearing guy come to her rescue when she's 35 and all these "adventurous types" she was running after, don't want her any more and she finally wants to settle down.

"Conservatives" have no problem with shaming men for their anti-social habits, like p*rn, alcohol or mistresses yet they are positively Victorian when it comes to women, who are, on one hand, fit to be senators and army generals but are apparently too weak-minded to withstand the appeal of "bad boys". It's always the man's fault and never the woman's.

There is really nothing at all traditional about this approach and it's unjust, too, and serves to alienate a big number of young men who perceive that so-called conservatives don't have their best interests in mind.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Problem Of Our Age?

 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

Have you noticed how so many women nowadays are restless? Part of this restlessness is probably inherent to human nature, but I do believe that it's mostly the result of the current climate in society and even deliberate attempts on the part of  some. I remember reading an article about India once, where the journo described with gleeful satisfaction how women in an obscure Indian village were "getting restless" and not content to be "mere housewives" any more.

Thirty years ago, it was perfectly normal for a married woman and mother to be a full time homemaker, even in my liberal corner of the country, but the same men who were proud to support their wives, raised their daughters to have a career. How did it all change so quickly?

The part of the problem are the women themselves. These early GenX/late boomer housewives were quite unlike their own mothers. While one could say lots of the negative stuff about baby boomers proper, their wholesale embrace of liberalism and the way they taught their children that life was all about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll enjoying themselves, the women of that generation, at least in my country, mostly lived a pretty traditional life.

Their daughters and younger sisters, not so much. Though they stayed home, they often exhibited this Peter Pan mentality of never growing up. They wanted to be homemakers with doing as little homemaking as possible. They wanted to combine motherhood with going out clubbing and getting drunk, and to have a 2 income lifestyle on one income. They wanted to have their cake and eat it, too, and if it didn't work out, they either went back to work, or deeply resented the fact that they were "stuck at home", dependent on their husbands, and taught their daughters to hate the traditional lifestyle.

And, of course, their husbands resented the fact that they had both to make a living and "help out" with housework and child-rearing, since wifey couldn't be bothered.

She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12Now is she without, now in the streets

However, it's not entirely these women's fault. Yes, some are generally lazy and some are busybodies and worse, but how were they supposed to know any better when their own mothers (and in too many cases,  fathers) taught them from the cradle that their life should be one big whirlwind of fun and excitement, and they had a right to as much material stuff as their hearts desired? Their husbands, on the other hand, had been taught never to exercise any form of authority in the family, as it would be "oppressive".

Schools indoctrinated them in equality and the TV and pretty much all the media ridiculed any woman who tried to do a decent job at home as "a Stepford wife." Traditional female occupations which women engaged in when their children became older, like gardening, knitting, drawing or playing the piano, disappeared as well, and they were left in  sort of a domestic limbo, with nothing else to do but watching TV and kinda hanging around.

This all gave homemakers a really bad name. An "older woman" shouldn't be restless.  If anything, she should create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, so that her house feels like a cosy retreat from the troubles of the outside world. It's hardly possible when her life is chaotic. All of us need some structure built into our day, and we also need something to occupy our hands and thoughts and support of good friends and family.

Being a housewife is essentially being self-employed. I remember a discussion on the internet where a woman wrote that if she didn't work outside home, she'd be too lazy to get out of bed. If you need a boss to tell you what to do every minute of the day and to force you to be productive, you'll never be happy as a housewife...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Modernity Isn't Kind To Women

and other health news.

Pre-eclampsia is one of the leading causes of the maternal deaths world-wide. While there are known risk factors, they'll tell you that the exact reasons are unknown.  Yet, there's been a research which links pre-eclampsia to working outside home (I bet you haven't heard about that one. I didn't, either!):

Women who work during pregnancy are almost five times more likely to develop a condition that threatens the lives of both mother and baby, say researchers.
They believe the stress of being at work could be increasing hormone levels that put women at greater risk of pre-eclampsia, a common and dangerous complication of late pregnancy...

A study headed by Professor John Higgins, of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at University College, Cork, Ireland, reveals the definite link between carrying on with work and an increased risk of pre-eclampsia....

We aren't talking about older women, like 35+ over here, all the women in this study were in their prime child-bearing years:

The blood pressure of 933 women in their 20s at a large maternity hospital in Dublin was monitored over 24 hours while they went about their daily routines...

 They were divided into three groups - 245 were working during their pregnancy, 289 were not working and 399 were employed, but chose not to work...

 There were no differences among the three groups in length of pregnancy, birthweight, or method of delivery. But women in employment were almost five times as likely to develop pre-eclampsia. 

However, the professor doing the research said that we should basically ignore the findings, because equality:

 'Working during pregnancy has become the norm and this study is not something that can interfere with a woman's right and choice to work,' he added. 

There is nothing quite as empowering as dying from eclampsia at your 21, but at least, you'll probably die standing:

previous research suggests prolonged standing causes problem pregnancies. 

Just  imagine if we treated the link between smoking and pregnancy problems in similar manner:

Smoking during pregnancy has become the norm and we can't interfere with a woman's right and choice to smoke (or shoot heroine or whatever). 

Yeah, didn't think so.

In other news, sexual revolution has been fun. Luckily, there is no stigma attached any more to having STDs, like Herpes. And, it's easily treatable as well, for grown-ups. For babies, not so much:

 Devastated parents have issued a severe warning to others after their baby girl died from the cold sore virus at just 12 days old...

 'When someone who has the virus in their system and kisses an infant, it can spread rapidly. 
'You can have the virus and not even know you have it. You don’t have to have an active cold sore to pass it on.'

The child died a horrible death but at least we don't discriminate any more:

Little Emerson's kidneys were next before all of her organs started failing. She then had multiple seizures that left her brain dead and unable to stay alive without the help of machines.

(Sarcasm button switched off). Parents, protect your babies! And for Pete's sake, don't hang around people who routinely have this kind of infections. Losing your child isn't worth it!

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Stranger In A Strange Country

Here is Chapter 1 of my new book, which will soon be available on Amazon. Keep in my mind that it is copyrighted!

Walter Raff rather enjoyed his vacation. It was only two weeks long and he was determined to get the most out of it. It was very unfortunate that he had to spend the greatest part of his life in town and leave Millie, his sister, virtually alone since Aunt Leticia wasn’t really much of a company. 

Millie was an eager, active type of girl, thoroughly frustrated by her aunt’s attempts to turn her into a homebody like herself, only interested in tea and gossip. It was quite natural for a healthy girl of 19 to wish to see more of life than staying in a dreary small village allowed.  Yet there was nothing Walter could do about it since he couldn’t offer her a proper home himself.

He realized only too well that a big city like Stentis had too many temptations for someone with Millie’s disposition and he didn’t have time to play her chaperone. He tried to spend as much time with his sister as possible and take her out more. Millie had been thrilled at the prospect of mountain-climbing with the brother whom she adored so mountain-climbing they went.

She looked extremely cute in her sturdy boots, black leggings and rather short denim skirt which Aunt Leticia found positively scandalous. 

“What is this world coming to,” she would say with a sigh, “if a girl of your age spends time running around in the state of undress instead of sitting home and cross-stitching?”

“Well, it’s full 4 inches below the knee,” Millie had protested, “and you couldn’t expect me to wear a longer skirt now, could you? It would be dangerous in the mountains.”

“Child, you are not supposed to go into the mountains at all!” said Aunt Leticia stubbornly. “And so close to the border, too! With all these…things going on in Tarna, it’s hardly reasonable.”

“We aren’t going to cross over, thank you very much,” he had said, trying to calm his aunt. “Whatever is going on in Tarna, it stays on their side and we stay on ours.”

Tarnian politics were a constant source of irritation to his aunt, whose patriotism made her spend a considerable amount of time every day denouncing the evils of foreign occupation and praising the virtues of those who fought against it. The leaders of the autonomy didn’t do enough, in her opinion, to support the true patriots in their fight against Uranians who were synonymous with the Devil in her vocabulary. In fact, the outrageousness of the foreign power occupying the biggest part of the territory of their planet was probably the only subject the aunt and niece ever agreed upon.

Walter had sincerely tried to warn his sister about the dangers of getting involved in Tarnian politics, but was far from sure he had succeeded. Not with Aunt Leticia counteracting his influence day by day. 

“Well,” he thought now, “this vacation will do her a lot of good. And luckily, there are no known rebel supporters in our village so there is little chance that Millie ever gets in touch with one.”

He then remembered the stories he had heard about Doctor Grant, but dismissed them as country gossip. Anyway, the sun was shining, melting the snow on the tops of the nearby mountains. It was spring on Tarna and the weather had been exceptionally good so far. 

“Today we are going to climb the Black Crow,” he said, pointing the direction to Millie. His sister had auburn hair, just like himself, but his eyes were brown while hers were gray. She was slender and rather tall for a girl but Walter with his 1. 90m towered over her. He was 7 years older, too. 

“Look, Millie,” he continued, “do you see this peak behind the Black Crow? That’s already the territory of Tarna. There is a famous pass over there, but we aren’t going that far. We will stay on the side of the autonomy. The Black Crow is a tourist attraction. It’s 1050m high and there is a hut on top of it, for those who wish to spend a night there, but I don’t think we’ll stay so late, I suggest we drive half way up and then get further on foot. In that manner we can manage it all in one day. You know your aunt will get a fit if you spend a night on a mountain top, even if it’s in your brother’s company.”

Millie giggled. “Auntie Leticia is a darling,” she said, “but so old-fashioned, isn’t she now?”

They followed his plan, driving along a serpentine road which at times went as steep as the angle of 20%, so that it was a real challenge to drive. Walter breathed a sigh of relief when they finally left the car behind in the parking place. It was still early in the morning and as he could see they were the only tourists so far. 

He calculated that it would take them about two hours to climb the rest of the distance so that they could eat their lunch on top of the Black Crow. He had climbed it once before with a group of friends and the view was breath-taking. 

It was about midday and both brother and sister were quite tired when they finally reached the top. The hut was still standing there and close to it, a bench where one could sit and enjoy the view. Walter sank upon it rather contentedly, but Millie, who seemed to have acquired the second breath once they reached their destination, was eager to explore. 

She declared she was going inside the hut first, to inspect. Walter pointed out that there wasn’t really much to inspect, but she ran off before he could finish the sentence. She disappeared inside and a couple of seconds later he heard her scream. Walter jumped to his feet and saw his sister standing in the entrance of the hut, looking very pale. 

“Walter,” she said, stammering. “The-the-there is a man in there. A dead man.”