Photo by Iryna Velykokhatko
Vol. 3 Ed. 3
New Campus Perspectives
For over two months residents and guests of Neuman Hall have been observing a new campus being built, which has grown out of nothing. Together with noise and mud the whole constructing process has created at least a dozen assumptions and gossips around the campus. The most popular concerns are: whether there will be enough rooms for all students, how many people will be in a room, and if the price will be â€œniceâ€?. Having all these issues in mind I have talked to Susie Lambright, the Director of Community Life, and found out a few interesting facts about the new dorm, which will be completed by the beginning of fall semester 2011. Frankly speaking, the plan of the new dorm that as of yet has no name seems to be complicated
but makes much sense. Its entrance will face Neuman Hall and the pond. The building will have five floors plus one extra for electrical and heating facilities. All the floors will have the same arrangements except for the first one, where staff and faculty apartments will be located. Room arrangement in the new dorm will be similar to the one in KarklĹł. There will be one long hallway with the kitchen in its central part. The idea behind such a different arrangement of facilities is that students should spend more time interacting. Thus, they need place to gather together and the kitchen will play this role. The size of the kitchen will be bigger than in Neuman, there will be a few stoves and approximately five tables. As far as I could count, the number
of chairs on the plan was around twenty, which make it seem like a great place for floor events. The rooms will be the same in arrangement, but different in size. This will depend on the number of people they will contain. There will be six four-person rooms, one fiveperson and one six-person room on each floor. The size of the fourperson room will be smaller than in Neuman. The difference is that the room will not have a wall separating it into two parts. The space will be divided in halves with furniture units. There will be bunk beds which will save some space so that students will feel more comfortable. All other common facilities will be the same as those in Neuman. The five- and six-person rooms will have more space and additional beds.
Page of Contents
Adieu, Cradle of Ignorance
New Camp Perspectives
No Definition for Nonsense
Every Opportunity Matters
Study Abroad Diary
Food is Good
Student Times Christmas Edition: Christmas Stories
Student Times Staff Editor in Chief: Iryna Velykokhatko Staff Advisor: Arnoldas Remeika Photography Editor: Vaiva Čekatauskaitė Design Editor:Adomas Žudys Promotions Editor: Vaiva Čekatauskaitė
Proofreaders: Calvin Ruth, Gabriele Kempton, Derek Bergen, Kimberly Strauch Promotions: Alena Mikhaelyan, Alla Timoshenko, Aurelija Kauneckaite, Diana Bumacov, Elizaveta Salenok, Corina Cojocaru, Iveta Railaitė, Tatiana Ciumacova Special Thanks to Gulsun Tiurubajeva for amazing illustrations for the Christmas Edition.
Have a comment or question? We’d love to hear it.
New Campus Perspectives
Besides rooms, the second floor will contain the RD office, RA resource room, and a lounge. The laundry facility will be placed on the third floor. On the fourth floor there will be a study room, a computer lab, and a couple smaller private rooms where students will be able to work on group projects. There will be one RD in the new dorm and his/her apartment will be situated on the fifth floor. The price for the new dorm had not been determined, but is expected to be lower than in Neuman. Mainly the price will depend on the number of people in the room: the more people, the cheaper the room. One more important thing to mention: the new dorm will be able to accommodate only 140 students in comparison to 215 places that are available in Karkl킬 this year. It means that there will be 45 additional beds added to Neuman Hall. Facing the reality that our favorite and historical Karkl킬 Residence Hall will be closed, students will have to decide what dormitory to choose. I hope that besides creating even more concern this article will help you to make the decision. Good luck with exams!
Photo by Natalia Baciu
No Definition for Nonsense
Photo by Oleksandra Zinevych
A continuous source of joy, she likes to refer to herself as the large white woman, Teri McCarthy has been running the English Department since the beginning of this semester. In order to introduce her to you, we could have done an interview with her, but this personal story describes her better and inspires more than any interview could. The story is as she shared it with us, narrated from the first person. In the fall of 1988 I lived in Holland. I was teaching at a small Bible college in the town of Zeist. There I met Pope. Not THE Pope, but a lady by the name of Pope. Knowing that I was an avid, to say the least, Corrie ten Boom fan, Pope asked me to go with her to Haarlem to see the Hiding
Place Museum newly opened in memory of the ten Boom family. This family sacrificed their lives to save Jews during WW II in Nazioccupied Holland. So Pope and I headed to Haarlem to tour the ten Boom house and the tour was awesome. It was unbelievable to see the actual place where six people stayed hidden for 47 hours. The Jews were rescued, but the ten Boom family was taken to concentration camps. They all died except Corrie who was released after nearly a year on a technical error just hours before all the women her age were gassed to death at Ravensbruk. The tour ended and Pope and we headed out the door. There was this plaque on the side of the building I hadn’t seen when we
came in. It was a tribute to the ten Boom family. It was made of brass and written on it was Papa ten Boom’s favorite saying, “The best is yet to come.” I was crying, reading the meaningful plaque when I heard an old man’s voice behind me saying something. I looked up and this old man was standing right next to me. Well, I don’t speak Dutch so I looked at Pope and was like, “What the..?” “I don’t think you want to know what he said.” The old man just kept pointing to the plaque, so Pope tells me,”Well, he says that it’s nonsense.” “Uh, excuse me? What was that?!? I asked. Pope whispers, “Uh, the
LCC Faces words on that plaque. He says he knew the ten Boom family and that they all died in vain. And there is no best yet to come.” I looked this old skinny man right square in the face and I said to Pope, “Translate this… Nonsense, huh? Died for nothing huh? Well let me ask you this old man, if you died tonight do you know where you’d go? When a person dies, where does his spirit go? All he felt in his heart? Where does all that go?” Right then the old man gasped, hesitated and then spoke, less self-assured this time, as Pope translated, “No. I don’t know where I’d go if I died tonight. It is one of my greatest fears. My health is failing; I’m all alone in the world and if I died tonight I have no idea what would become of me.” My heart softened toward the old man as I saw the fear and anxiety in his face. Pope and I huddled closer to him and the conversation took a different turn. I put my hand on the man’s frail shoulder and asked, “Do you want to know? Because you can know. You can be sure of where you’d go when you die.” That’s when the old man started speaking English to me and Pope didn’t have to translate anymore. It made the conversation a lot easier. I don’t know why he didn’t just speak English to me in the first place? He tells me that death scares him. I tell him about Jesus and how if one believes in Jesus and asks Jesus to come into his heart, then he doesn’t have to be afraid because Jesus will give him Eternal Life and also God’s peace immediately. He said he wanted and needed that and right there outside of Corrie ten Boom’s house the
old man respectfully removed his worn-out cap. He held hands with Pope and I and we prayed. I said to him, “Just repeat after me.” I led him through a prayer of forgiveness and he asked Jesus to come into his heart. As we prayed I felt a few of his warm tears onto my hand as he silently cried. After we prayed he looked up at me and said, “I feel it! I feel God’s peace!” and honestly he looked different. He starts hollering, “I have peace!” Then I asked him, “Old Man if you die tonight where will you go?” “To heaven!” He shouted again. He put his cap back on and headed down the street kind of skipping. This was seriously huge for me. I looked over at Pope and she said, “Do you know what just happened?” She takes a big breath and
then, still whispering, asks, “Do you know what just happened?” “What?” I asked. “Well, you spoke English and he was speaking Dutch.” Then she starts repeating, “The old man was speaking to you in Dutch and you were answering him in English and I wasn’t translating.” Huh? Yes. That’s right. I wouldn’t believe it either but it happened to me! I was speaking English and the old guy was speaking Dutch and for a brief moment in time God broke the language barrier to make things go a little more smoothly I guess. Who knows why? But it happened. And it was miraculous. But honestly, in view of eternity, it wasn’t quite as big a miracle as the old guy giving his heart to God. Well, they were both great and well, not such nonsense after all.
Photo by Laura Bočkutė
Sergiu Rusu: Every Opportunity Matters Some of our alumni are the pride of LCC, as students who managed to achieve something with the knowledge they accumulated at our university. One of them is Sergiu Rusu, who graduated in May 2010, majoring in Business and Administration. Sergiu is Moldovan and has proved himself as a bright student and an outstanding servant leader. But what he managed to do that is particalarly interesting is to get a job in Lithuania as a non-EU citizen, considering that this issue can be a challenge for many of our international students. Sergiu is now employed as a Project Manager by a young trading company named Intelligent Trade U.A.B. The company is very young, so Sergiu has been involved in its development almost from the beginning. It all started when Sergiu was in his senior year at LCC. A representative from the company came to LCC to recruit some interns for a market research project. This was a great opportunity for students to get real work experience and apply some of the material they learned in the classroom. At that time, Sergiu had just completed the Marketing Research course, which proved to be a must for the required position. Through the recommendation from his Marketing professor, Sergiu accepted this challenge without hesitation. His four months of internship were challenging, but Sergiu worked hard and was eager to learn as much as he could, which was noticed by his bosses. His loyalty and eagerness convinced his
bosses to hire him and promote him from a Project Assistant to a Project Manager position. But the desire alone is not enough: there are a lot of legal procedures to be met and followed in order to hire a Non-European employee. The battle was tough, but worth it. Firstly, according to the Lithuanian laws, the company had to put the job request in a local job fair. If no Lithuanian citizen proved to be eligible for the job for a whole month, only then they could consider international candidates. Secondly, Sergiu had to provide the full documentation for each requirement of the job, including legalized documents proving his language skills and any other applicable qualifications. But all these efforts proved to be successful, and he was legally employed by InTrade. For Sergiu, his ambitions and approach to life opportunities assisted him in doing something that was almost unthinkable for a regular non-EU student to accomplish; therefore, we should all learn from it. Sergiu admits that everything that he achieved came from God and his success is from totally leaning upon His will. When I asked Sergiu for some advice for
the current students of LCC, he shared his simple, yet wise motto: “Why not?” Sergiu was always eager to take challenging classes with demanding professors. Some people learn for themselves, and what is hard in learning becomes easy in implementing. Also, Sergiu advised us to grab every constructive opportunity that comes in our way, for we never know which one is the ONE. Lastly, he said that he always tried to finish what he had started and not leave them half way through, even though sometimes it seems impossible. “As students of such a university, it is our responsibility to accept the honor of knowledge that is provided to us and use it wisely in order to achieve higher and higher goals,” said Sergiu
Copyright Sergio Rusu
On My Way Home (Redefining Home) It is that time of the year yet again…Two more weeks of last papers and substantial exams and most of us shall be packing our bags to go back home for the extra lengthy Christmas break. For three whole weeks there shall be no surprise quizzes, our muchloved response papers or the thrilling 8:30 classes (especially during these dark and chilly winter mornings). It is just going to be you and your mom’s cooking; and of course, the awaited winter festivities. Home…Safety, comfort and people whom you love and care about more than anything in this world. You know the streets, the best coffee shops and which bus goes in what direction (my commiserations to those who found themselves realizing that the bus just turned the very opposite direction that you thought you were going- such is life). Home is a good place to go back to after four long months of intense and deep studies and, alas, many sleepless nights in front of the computer screen searching for more and better evidence (courtesy to the 4000 word paper for Political Economy). Coming back to
Gintarė Varankevičiūtė firstname.lastname@example.org
winter celebrations, more than two thousand years ago, an extraordinary star is claimed to have appeared at the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It lit the night sky and showed the way to those who traveled many miles to greet and worship the King of Kings. God, the Creator entered His creation so that we would be set free from the bondage of our sins and have a taste of home – of the best that is yet to come “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”(Philippians 3:20). In 2 Corinthians, chapter five, it is written: “For indeed in this house (the Earth) we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven…” Heaven is not a fairy story or a magical place with fluffy clouds and it is more than just an abode of God and the angels. Heaven is a state of being in the presence of God. Maybe the expression ‘state of being’ sounds a bit too bland, but I assure you that it really is as exhilarating as (and even MORE than) a 4000 word paper (or a thesis). The Scriptures tell us that we long for this place. Did you ever wonder why humans so often tend to look
Photo by Kate Metelak
forward to the ‘next best thing’? It is as if we never seem to be fully satisfied with what we have here on earth and our hearts keep on yearning for Something MORE… I boldly dare to propose to you today the plausibility that your heart may be longing for this place…for God and all that He desires to offer to you as a priceless gift through His abundant grace and love. As C.S. Lewis said “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” I am on my way home…
Photo by Vaiva Čekatauskaitė
Study Abroad Diary
Reflecting on a time not yet past
Photo by Vaiva Čekatauskaitė
I am writing this article sitting on the couches by reception watching people and talking with friends, and I realized an odd transition has occurred to this place over the past three months. It has become familiar. And it’s weird. It’s not that things becoming familiar is weird, the reception area is not weird, and the people and faces are not weird (with some exceptions…) The weird part is that something that has become so familiar will soon be reduced to memories and pictures of a time past. What is normal now is soon too to be ex-normal. So I suppose the proper thing to do is reflect a small bit. My personality type influences me to base a large part of my experience around people, so I will direct my focus there. My one, so very short semester here has been, for lack of a more academic term, super fun. And I would attribute a majority of that to the friends I’ve made here. There are very few times I walk through the hall without stopping for a small chat or drop a casual what’s up, kas gero or zdarova (nationality pending). I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in a few different activities and met a lot of rad people; like Tuesday nights at football, even though occasionally replacing my presence with a pylon may
be more advantageous, or the next night roughing it up with the staff playing floor hockey. And of course there are daily kitchen conversations, weekends at Memelis, and participating in an underground rap group that is so far underground you may never hear about it; as well as more academic activities like co-hosting Talent Night or Oktoberfest. In each of these I have had the opportunity to meet people I may not have had gotten to otherwise, and make some real friendships that I am absolutely positive will extend beyond my time here. I’m not really sure if or when I’ll be back to LCC or Lithuania, but someone said to me recently that it is the memories that make the experience, and you can bet I’ll be checking out with a few dandies. However, as much as I will miss this place and my friends I’ve made here, I’m psyched to move on, keep in touch, and see the different roads life will take each of us down. I think I speak for all the study abroad’s when I say we have all had a splendid time, had a few surprises, some crazy stories, a new perspective, and some new friends. So labai ačiū to everyone, students and staff, who made our time here such a delightful piece of our life story. Peace and every sort of well-wishes.
Words used in this article that may require definition: Dandy (pl. –ies) : an excellent thing of its kind (event, experience, etc); slightly inacurrate syn. neat-o, fantastic. Rad: street slang for ‘really awesome’ or some such synonym Psych’d: a fantastic sort of excitement; syn. enthusiastic, excited, fervent
Study Abroad Diary
Semester in France:
November 26 th. “Il neige! C’est magnifique, Typhaine!“ (=”It’s snowing! It’s fantastic!”) That’s the text message I sent to my French friend this afternoon. While walking down the Place Bellecour and secretly sticking my tongue out to catch a few snowflakes and taste them, I was so happy that I just had to share the feeling. First snow for me associates with coziness, goodness, and family. It made me think that I have only less than three weeks left of my Erasmus semester in Lyon. 19 days and I am back in Lithuania. I began smiling, thinking about the time I’ve spent here - just how different it has been.
I have never experienced studying in a different country before, unlike many LCC students. Never did I realize how hard it is to go around without knowing any other language than English (since speaking Lithuanian wouldn’t have done me any good here)! Oh, my, how frustrating it can become! The last time I went to a post office, instead of spending 5 minutes there, I spent 45! All that because I did not speak fluent French (and a bit to do with the French being so...slow). Culture is different here, too. I had a chance to experience a true French dinner and it lasted 6 hours! The wine was great and there was a lot of it, but that’s another story. We shared a great meal and a good talk (and singing) and then kissed good night.
Oh, and the kissing. Muah on one cheek, muah on another. This is done when meeting and leaving, even if you are seeing the person for the first time in your life. It took me a while to get used to it and stop raising my hand as protection while leaning back. I finally started enjoying it and now it’s time to leave! I will take back memories from Erasmus parties where Mexicans, Spanish, and Argentinians own the dance floor and the strange taste of Chinese dumplings from the International Dinner - so many country stereotypes proven right! On a more serious note, when the violent strikes and riots started here because of the pension reform that Nicolas Sarcozy had in mind, it felt less fun to be a foreigner. The seemingly calm and relaxed French surprised me with their rage and anger. We sat in classes hearing the helicopters circling above the school and
some foreign students were really scared. The university has been evacuated twice. And then, one day we woke up and it was all gone, like it never happened. Smashed store windows replaced with new ones and the sun shining bright in the sky. Yet, despite all this, I have truly enjoyed my semester in France. Lyon has been a perfect place to get on with new friendships. It is very cultural and always has something to offer: if not events after events, then for sure visual pleasure. The old town narrow streets and colorful buildings make you feel like in a tale. There are so many students here! Many of them are foreign - I feel like I made a few friends from all over the world, even as far as China or Australia. I am planning on remembering this period of my life with a nostalgic smile on my face and maybe… a glass of true French red wine.
Photo by Vaiva Pelanytė
Adieu, Cradle of Ignorance E v ery their vicious bites. The others soon
the first time in my life I became
followed my lead. Since the cover
aware of how blithe and transient
was rather small for four people, my school days were. After all, the
I could feel my friends’ warmth
last year of secondary school was
spreading to me through their starting in four days, and everyone
be a peaceful
sticky skin as we squeezed together
slumber or a
like sprats in a can. Because my different cities once it was over. As
would go study different things in
hellish nightmare, the new day of
throat was sore and itchy after
I thought that maybe five years later
adulthood inevitably dawns.
laughing and talking for the whole
the sweaty skin of the girls I hold
evening, I only participated in my
so dear right now will only gross
friend’s silly banter by giggling
me out, the awareness of the flow
Last summer, on the night
of my 18th birthday, I awoke, not only becoming a legal adult, but also discovering an important lesson about life. The celebration of the birthday itself was nice, yet forgettable, and the gap between the beginning of the party and the departure of the majority of the guests seemed narrow. When only three other girls and I were left, we, tired from partying, curled up under a blanket to watch the starry August sky. As soon as we made ourselves comfortable, mosquitoes started feasting on our bare limbs, and I buried myself under the blanket in order to escape from
every once in a while. Eventually of time hit me. I dug my fingers my
into my arm and plucked at the wet
indistinguishable from those of the
grass with my toes in order to hold
cicadas as I grew drowsy, and the back tears. However, I was not sad heat of summer radiating from the
- the knowledge that this bliss is
ground made my thoughts drift off.
short-lived made me realize how
The nasty smell of rotten apples
important it was, which in turn led
mixed with mucky water seemed
to a wave of bitter-sweet feelings
to be sticking to my hair, clothes of regret and apprehension I had and lungs in order to mark me as one of the local townspeople who had spent all of their lives here, sharing a single existence with the town itself. Even though I had always known that I would have to leave this place at some point, for
never felt before.
As that night fled into
oblivion, it carried with it my childhood
that loss, I learned to appreciate precious moments before they end.
Dovilė Šarkūnaitė email@example.com
Healthy Body – Healthy Mind Once one of my roommates told me: “You know, Denis, I came to LCC, mostly because I heard about Michaelsen gym…” His words were confusing for me at first, but when I saw clean and shiny floors, perfectly positioned basketball rims, small but cozy
fitness center with constantly running ladies on the tracks and bench-pressing “Hulks” who work as security guards at KIWI, I fell in love with this place and finally got what my roommate was saying. One of these “Hulks” turned out to be LCC student Tomas Seliokas.
Breakfast (the biggest meal of the day): Carbohydrates + Proteins: Oatmeal (with honey or jam) + Scrambled Eggs (no less than 3)
After Lunch meal: Salad/Rice or a Bandelė Workout in the gym. After which 3 eggs or any other natural protein and chocolate or a sandwich need to be eaten in order to not lose calories.
Brunch is often around 11am: Fruits or/and Veggie Salad (any fruits or veggies that are on discount in the store: paprika, apples, corn etc.) and preferably some kind of proteins alongside of it like cheese or meat
If you are hungry after it, you can repeat the same meal as for brunch. Right before going to sleep: Eat Curd Cheese (0 % Varškė), because it contains casein protein which helps your muscles rest overnight.
Lunch: Meat (chicken breasts or beef) with rice or pasta, or any kind of grains rich in carbohydrates Somw important things are to drink a lot, switch between porridges and eat different carbohydrates every day. Diversity is not hard to pursue considering various discounts in the stores. According to Tomas, his diet does not require a lot of spending. Buying rice, pasta and meat rationally will cost you the same as spending money on chips and other junk food. Tomas is a big guy already but he managed to add 6,5 kg of pure muscle power during
In the course of the interview he told me about his healthy way of eating, which helps him grow muscles, survive stress at school and just feel better. Here is what Tomas had to share with me:
Photo by Vaiva Čekatauskaitė
this semester alone. However, he did not lose his quickness and did not become any sloppier. On the contrary, he became faster and started jumping even higher. The secret is to always do sports like football, basketball, practice martial arts or even dance. Drinking or smoking is a killer to a healthy body; it destroys muscle memory and decreases your lung capacity. Eating healthy makes you study more efficiently, not fall asleep during 8:30 classes and feel
better. It is not a secret that a person’s appearance brings confidence to his or her selfesteem. At the same time no matter how you look, your inner beauty is what always matters. However, it is never bad to stay in shape and exercise, and if it happens that you work hard and achieve your own personal results it is the best. The fitness gym at LCC is one of the places where you can become the person you always wanted to be.
The Social Network Director: David Fincher Genre: Drama Length: 120 min Facebook, the world’s social media giant, has changed the world around us. The way people share their lives, promote their businesses or even talents, and search for their friends was influenced by digital communication. So, in 2003 the Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) decided to turn the social experience of the university into a comprehensive website. His ambitious desire was to create something different from MySpace and Friendster, something very new. His best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) helped with the startup capital for the project. Together with Eduardo and two programmer buddies, Zuckenberg created “The Facebook,” the website which now has become the biggest social network. No need to say that in a few years, these Harvard pals became the youngest multimillionaires in the USA. Black Swan Director: Darren Aronofsky Genre: Drama, Thriller Length: 108 min The movie tells a story of Nina, a ballerina in a New York City ballet company. Dance is not only her style of life, it’s a life itself. Nina’s ambitions are highly supported by her mother, Erica, a retired ballerina. At the moment, when prima ballerina Beth (Winona Rider) needs to be replaced for the new Swan Lake show, Nina is the first choice of the director. However, that would be too easy. An impressive new dancer, Lily, comes to the ballet. The new show needs a ballerina who could play both, the innocent and graceful White Swan, and deceitful and sensual Black Swan. Nina perfectly fits for the role of the White Swan, but Lily is perfect as a Black Swan performer. These women transform their rivalry into a twisted friendship, and Nina’s dark side is opened. Her inner shadows now threaten to destroy her and her career.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 Director: David Yates Genre: Adventure, Fantasy Length: 146 min No longer just “a boy who lived,” Harry Potter is about to face the hardest challenge of his life – he will have to participate in mortal combat with Lord Voldemort. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have no protection from Professor Dumbledore and no guidance from their professors. They have to find and destroy the Horcruxes, the secret of the Dark Lord’s immortality, on their own. This exciting and dangerous journey makes friends and enemies appear in different lights. The border between good and evil becomes even more transparent. The truth must be revealed. Tangled Director: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family, Musical Length: 100 min The charming and most wanted thief of the country, Flynn Rider, takes his life easy. He is cute, lucky, and talkative. The fortune always smiles at him. Unfortunately he chooses a mysterious tower for a “safe” refuge… and finds himself tied with 700 feet of magical golden hair, which belongs to a beautiful tower-bound teen, Rapunzel. But long hair and difficult temper are not the most exciting about the girl! She decides to use Flynn as her ticket out of the tower. Rapunzel strikes a deal with the handsome bandit and they start their action-packed escapade. “Tangled” is the story of adventure, heart, humor, and hair – lots of hair!
Food Is Good
Thank Father Christmas: Why Christmas Needs Jolly Old Saint Nick “He is something that gives a new meaning to the white world and the evergreens...” GK Chesterton
It is all too common for parents with young children to ask the question: ‘Should we carry on the tradition of Father Christmas?’ In fact, I have asked the same question. The parental concern is a morally pragmatic one of teaching lies to children, or of encouraging a symbol of consumerism. Men wearing unflattering fake beards and ruffled red suits along with their young female ‘elves’ (‘assistants’ in capitalist lingo) are a staple at all North American malls, and I assume even at Acropolis. Malls encourage and hire such decked out groups in hopes of lining their halls with mothers tinseled with a consumers guilt that not enough money was spent on dear little Johnny. (And so we see mother Holly shouting out “Follow me fast away and altogether heedless of wind and
weather let’s consume some needles junk together. Fa la la la la, la la la la”). Leaving milk and cookies out for Father Christmas’ consumption and waiting by the window to receive a glimpse of Dasher and Dancer fly from the roof may just be more like truth telling than lying. To stir up a child’s sense of wonder and create a beautiful sound by striking the harp of the imagination can only be good, but there must be more than this... Old Saint Nick may be more real than we think. He is the great symbol of joviality, sacrifice and generosity. “This fruit doth make my soul to thrive, It keeps my dying faith alive.” Father Christmas points on high to that more real than the dark and empty sky. He points to him who is all these things in true form. Sometimes fiction is more real than reality. Holly, along with all mothers and fathers need Father Christmas more than they know. The harsh economy of exchange (capitalism), which is the basis of our consumer driven culture,
removes the magic of giving and receiving. Visa and Mastercard love this advent season and would certainly have the last transaction, but God rest ye merry, gentlemen (and ladies), for Father Christmas takes these cold transactions and breathes into them new life. What little Johnny could buy any other day with his allowance, or hard earned money has now, through Father Christmas, been gifted, and the transactional cost is made redundant. What once had a price tag is now priceless. Father Christmas’ cheerful joviality and pure generosity turns our transactions into gift. In a time of rampant consumerism Father Christmas abounds, for buried beneath our icy cold igloo-like exteriors a mythic consciousness resides and subtly reminds us that our greatest need is fulfilled in the form of a gift - “Light and life to all he brings.” So our question should not be, ‘Shall we carry on the tradition of Father Christmas?’, but rather, ‘How long will Father Christmas be able to carry our Tradition?’ Santa’s Helper: Andrew TJ Kaethler firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s all about family American tradition to celebrate christmas
Ah, the winter season is upon us. The mornings are cold, and clear. The sidewalks are crusted with snow, and the pond has frozen. Klaipėda is slowly transforming into a winter wonderland. If there’s anything this time of year makes me think of, it’s Christmas. Even though it is only the beginning of December and I am far away from home, I can still feel this sense of excitement start to bubble within me. The Christmas season is a fast paced and almost enchanting time of year. Back in the States, all kinds of wonderful Christmas decorations are being put up. Lights are being hung on the roofs of houses, wreaths placed on doors and lampposts, candles are being put in windows, outdoor pine trees are covered with brightly colored lights, and in the colder regions of the States (if they are lucky) there might be enough snow to start making snowmen, and snow angels.
I think that my favorite decoration of all time is the Christmas tree. A tradition in my family is to spend one day during the weekend decorating our tree. Early in the morning we would all pile into the car and drive to one of the forests near our home. We then spent time looking through the pine trees to see which one seemed like it would be the best to cut and take back home. Even when my sister and I were young my parents would let us decide which tree, and then my dad would cut it down for us. When we eventually got the tree back to our home, my mom would start playing Christmas music for us as we put the tree into its stand. This is when the real fun began. My dad would string white lights all around the tree, and my mom would pass out various different Christmas ornaments for us to hang on the branches. Every year my parents would buy us a new
ornament to add to our collection, and because I am the youngest in my family I usually get to hang it! The last thing we place on the tree is the star. My sister and I would watch with bated breath as my dad balanced on a ladder, and leaned to put the star on the top of the tree. And after he was finished we would all stand back and gaze at our Christmas tree, with Christmas carols playing softly in the background. Sometimes the Christmas season is associated with intense consumerism and busy schedules, but for me this season will always be about my family. Somehow the world seems just a bit brighter during the holidays, and I always have this pleasant sense of joy in the back of my mind. I like to think that Christmas brings us all closer together, and gives us the perfect excuse to spend time just enjoying each other’s company.
Photo by Iryna Velykokhatko
Gabrielle Kempton email@example.com
Let it snow…
Ukrainian tradition to celebrate christmas
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Christmas surely is one of the most favorite holidays of people of all kinds and nations. It is time of joy, amusement and magic. The end of December seems like a perfect time to celebrate Christmas in every single country in the world. But why do people in Eastern Europe celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January? The date is concerned with the old Orthodox (Julian) calendar which is 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar, which is adopted by most countries in the world. Christmas in Eastern Europe, particularly in Ukraine, is slightly different from the one in the US, for example. For most of the Orthodox people, this holiday is more important than New Year’s, but still is less celebrated. Sviata Vechera or “Holy Supper” is the central tradition of the beautiful
Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. When the children see the first Star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. In farming communities the head of the household brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries. Didukh symbolizes the family’s ancestors because it literally means“grandfather spirit.” In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat placedin a vase are often used to decorate the table. Christmas is a joyous day which opens for Ukrainian families by attending Church. Ukrainian Churches offer services starting
before midnight on Christmas Eve, and on through Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19th, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date. The traditional Christmas customs of Ukraine add color and significance to the winter festival of Christmas, and Ukrainian Christmas on January 7th is usually a peaceful and quiet event. This celebration reminds us of the baby in a Bethlehem manger whose birthday we celebrate. But whether Christmas is celebrated on December 25th or on January 7th the message is the same: “Peace on Earth! Good will towards men!” Merry Christmas to you all!
Photo by Vaiva Čekatauskaitė
F riends. These writing
I n case you are confused or just plain curious, the I nklings was a group of friends , mainly comprised of O xford scholars , who met regularly to discuss poetry, prose , philosophy, and theology. M any of its attendees published books that continue today to line the bookstore shelves. The two most famous authors being C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) and J. R. R. Tolkien (The L ord of the R ings). I n addition to the I nklings members , our class read the works of G. K. C hesterton and George M acD onald. B oth of these British writers highly influenced the thoughts and writings of the I nklings , not to mention our LCC authors â€“ your class mates. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did and perhaps they will help add a sense of wonder to your C hristmas season.
A ndrew TJ K aethler
taken from www.weeklygeekstuff.com
A Small Crime For A Small Mind Father Brown
was having a careless constitutional along one of the smaller streets of Bala with the intention to end up at the t o b a c c o n i s t ’s , when his daydreaming was interrupted by a scarcely audible sound of a sobbing child. There were lots of noises in the main streets of Bala, and especially by the lake, on such a sun-drenched and warm late summer day. The pedestrian, who was used to escaping observation due to his unremarkable looks, was now sticking out with his black trousers among the short-wearing waterloving tourists. So, hoping to avoid the eyes of holidaymakers, the father chose a street along a row of bungalows on the right edge of Bala. The Catholic priest’s business in town was the same as that of most people during holidays. He came as a tourist, although not as a craving-for-sightseeing or games type of tourist. It was not the people Father Brown came to meet; mostly, he wanted to avoid them. Nevertheless, during the stay, his figure, donned in dark, could be seen queuing to rent a boat and even for a cone of ice-cream from time to time. Usually, after a square breakfast at De Hoxar’s guest house, he would get on a boat and row to some corner of the lake, where yacht would not be sailed, and stay in his buoyant prayer closet reading a good book or praying. Now father’s prayers were not the set ones such as “Our Father,” although he loved the Lord’s
Prayer. Father Brown thought that enjoying nature and marvelling at its beauty with the heart full of wonder and gratefulness was one of the most genuine prayers a man was capable of. Hours of solitude and the expectation to hear God’s whispers in most diverse forms, often in a sunset and at times from the lips of a cook or a confessor, trained his ear to notice the voice of God also in the crying child. The priest turned to his right and then back in search for the source of that one uncorked sob that interrupted the quiet of the silent tears. The boy of about six years of age was crumpled at the edge of a viridescent pond holding in his palms what was once a mature green frog. While approaching the boy, the father stared at the green and red mass of the dissected animal, turned his eyes away from the repulsive view, and then glanced at it again. Having a hobby of murder and robbery investigation, the father was not new to the graphic displays of murder victims. Yet, the posture of the child, his silent tears and the view of the lost treasure, created some of the most intense feelings in the chest of the priest. To his horror, the observer noticed more animals, scattered all around the tiny pond and floating in it. Some of the frogs were beheaded, some were squashed and a few were ripped apart. It was clear that the killing was not the result of some boy’s games, such as inflating the amphibian and then blowing it up alive. Luckily, such games were not common among the boys of this little town in Wales. No, the vivisection was intentional and done for some reason other than butcherly fun.
Father Brown approached the broken-hearted child and inquiring about his grief kneeled besides him and placed his hand over the boy’s sunken shoulders. From their little conversation, the priest learnt the boy’s name and age. But for a while, not a word passed their lips. The father understood that in Tommy’s eyes the frogs were not just frogs. The boy mumbled: “Pirate was their fapa-pa and my clo-closest friend.” He knew them by name, of course the names Tom had given them himself. After a period of silence, the priest offered to help bury the boy’s friends and even say a prayer in their honour. Tommy consented and after a strange ceremony the two parted and went on their ways. Forgetting all about his empty pipe, Father Brown returned to his bed-and-breakfast room in deep thoughts. For the first time, during his unofficial detective’s career, the priest experienced a very strong dissatisfaction about a murderer being unpunished. This time nobody will try to solve this perplexing the crime, there will be no inspectors and no questioning. But this was not the main reason for the father’s frustration. “A crime unrecognized is more dangerous than a brutal breaking of the law. Somebody just stabbed the little boy’s heart and this killer will not even be on the wanted list,” the father thought to himself. The next day, before the Mass at the local church, Father Brown was invited for a cup of tea with Bala’s priest. Once a priest, always a priest, he knew. So the father had to introduce himself to the local clergy even when on a holiday. So here he was, sitting on the balcony of
the rectory with a cup of milky tea facing the town’s Catholic church, a Gothic architectural masterpiece and a gathering place of all the respectable townsmen. During the small talk with Father Ogenboon, who was a foreigner and representative of the Jesuit order, Father Brown noticed a line of boys and girls entering the church for their Sunday school meeting. “Do you know any of these children,” inquired Father Ogenboon noticing his guest’s narrowed eyes and intense observation of the parade. “Yes, Tom,Tommy. I haven’t got to know his second name,” answered the priest as he leant back in his chair. “Oh. Tommy. I have not seen this boy in church since last year. Yes, he has a second name, but everyone just calls him Tommy. I reckon, partly because he is just a child, and partly because nobody knows if it is fitting to mention his father’s name. You see, the boy has lived with his grandmother almost since his birth. Tommie’s father perished in the war and his mother left town upon hearing the news of her husband’s death. Some say she killed herself and others that she has gone insane,” explained the Dutch priest with a rising feeling of shame that comes with realization that one has just gossiped. “I am not sure, how much the old lady has told the boy about his parents,” he added. “She is a devout woman, but she stopped
forcing Tom to go to church.” The priest was telling the truth. Tom certainly attended church before, indeed many times indeed. Tommy’s grandma used to take him to the services every Sunday. Once he fell asleep next to his devout grandmother in the front pew. The pew is not a mere bench but an ornate wood monument for prayer that has a peculiar addition, a little kneeler and a wall with a tiny desk for prayer books. A boy five years of age is entirely invisible behind such prayer furniture. He had been scolded many times: once for playing with tiny brass bells during the Advent, another time for making the sign of the cross with the left hand and for many more reasons. Certainly, every child goes through years of correction about these vital behaviours concerning one’s soul. The odd thing about Tommy was not his mistakes, but that he cared very little for being corrected. No, it was not out of disobedience or lack of reverence to the adults and clergy but simply because he was not all that terrified of their God. “Mr. McCocky, the Catechesis teacher, was very upset that the boy stopped attending the classes,” said the local priest breaking an awkward silence. “Once he mentioned to me that Tommy has got the queerest of ideas, such as that God has created lizards and frogs for a boy’s enjoyment. What do you say about such fancy?” inquired Mr. Ogenboon.
Reluctant to instruct the priest he hardly knew, Father Brown answered in haste: “Apparently, the boy possesses a great fascination with animals. I do not see anything sinful with that.” He finished his last sip of tea, excused himself and turned towards the church still with a pensive but somewhat brighter face. Seeing that the class had not started yet, Father Brown introduced himself to the teacher. Then he spoke a few words concerning Tom, who to nobody’s knowledge, came only to pray for his green friends. “I see that you take good care of this orphan’s soul,” Father Brown complimented the teacher, who in hearing the words, blushed and answered something about it being every Christian’s duty. Then the priest continued, “I have grown to love this boy very much and I would like to give him a gift.” He searched his leather suitcase and slipped into Mr. McCocky’s hand a tiny book titled The Princess and the Goblin. Then he asked if the teacher would be so kind to read it to the boy on occasion and exclaimed that fairy-tales benefit religious education greatly for such stories involve kids’ imagination. During the weeks to come, Mr. McCocky learned what Father Brown knew all along: the book was not written for children alone.
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
Sotiria and the Dragon By Viktoria Lebziak
A long time ago in the country called the Emerald Land, which was right in the middle of Heaven, there lived most peaceful and kindest creatures called the Galans. If you had a chance to see them now, you would probably feel quite insignificant in front of them. The Galans were very high creatures, two or three times taller than ordinary earthly people. They had blue blood flowing in their veins which painted all their bodies in a striking blue color. However, some wise Galans used to explain this unique tint of their skin by the fact that they lived so close to the heavens so that they started reflecting their color. Not surprisingly, Galans’ eyes were also blue, maybe because of their blood or maybe because they so often looked up to the magnetic sky. Most interestingly, Galans’ eyes used to grow bigger and bigger with time depending on their ability to see through the things around. The wisest Galans in the Emerald Land had charming blue eyes that occupied half of their faces. However, the
Galans’ entire country was no less charming than its extravagant inhabitants. To an outside observer, this land may have appeared too bright and too glaring even to the point of losing one’s sight. Indeed, this Middle heaven land was like an emerald covered in a silver garment of stars adorned with the golden ornaments of the sun. This land never knew the darkness of the night. The sun simply did not want to leave this beautiful place and its dwellers even for a moment because it fell in love with them. The multitudes of trees sang their gentle melodies; their leaves reminded the icicles in which the whole spectrum of colors was joyfully and lightheartedly playing. Emerald rivers and lakes were sparkling so royally as if the stars descended on them and started dancing. Massive clouds which surrounded Middle heaven served this country as the mountains. If earthly people ever tried to climb them, those mountains would surely appear too soft for their feet. However, for the Galans those clouds were as solid as earthly rocks. Each single mountain had its unique shape and size; some of them were so clumsy and awkward that the Galans could not stop laughing at them. But there was one exceptional mountain which was the highest in the whole Emerald country. Its peak could touch the heavens side. One old Galanian legend even said that if a perfectly good person climbed that mountain and touched the sky, he would become immortal, but if the sky was touched by an evil person, this wicked person would
instantly melt. Each faithful Galan knew this legend since childhood and believed it; however, nobody in the country was brave enough to consider himself perfectly worthy to touch the sky. May my dear reader not think that the Galans were in any sense evil creatures, on the contrary, they were genuinely friendly and kind, just not perfect. Overall, Galans led a serene and harmonious life which was not interrupted by any tangible sort of evil. They were quite prosperous in their main occupation: they collected jewels, molded them and transported them to Middle earth. Frankly, their Emerald Land was abundant in precious stones; Galans received them freely from their Northern heavenly neighbors in the form of a rain once in a month. Galans’ life could not have seemed more peaceful and well-balanced. But there existed one ugly thing which at least occasionally disturbed their sleep and their acute sense of smell. On the top of the most hideous mountain, in a huge wooden house, there slept a monster called Terafobos. His dreadful snoring could have been heard at the other end of the Emerald Land and his massive body exhaled the most poisonous and spiteful smell the Galans ever smelt. This frightful creature had the shapeless giant body of a wingless dragon and the most gruesome dragon face. His body was always cold as ice, but his dreadful eyes could produce blazing flames of fire. Even though Terafobos was such an ugly dragon, he could not inflict any harm since he was in a deep sleep. The oldest Galans still remembered those ancient times
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
when Terafobos tried to conquer the Emerald Land, enslave the Galans, and turn the beautiful country into the land of darkness. The Galans bravely fought against the monster, but all their efforts appeared in vain in comparison with the strength of Terafobos. So the Galans did not have a better choice but to ask the King of the Heavenly country (who was also the greatest Magician) to help them out in that terrible war. The King laid a magic spell on the dragon and made him sleep, but the spell had one major condition: Terafobos would continue sleeping only as long as someone sang to him. Since then, the Galans sang without ceasing beside the bed of the monster. In the entire country, there was no single Galan who did not have an opportunity to sing to the creature. Surely, the Galans had an idea of killing Terafobos, but the King warned them that the monster could not die by anybody’s hand. So, for already countless centuries the Galans sang to the monster so that he would continue sleeping. They gradually got used to his presence and were not afraid of entering his wooden house and spending hours beside his bed. However, the very existence of this horrific beast in their beautiful land and the fear of a possible failing of their singing task always disturbed the Galans. His motionless presence became like a sword hanging above their heads. On one rainy day when most of the Galans were busy collecting jewels which were falling from the heavens, one young Galanlady called Sotiria was appointed to sing to the monster for the first time in her life. Her parents and brothers used to visit the wooden house each week, so she did not feel very scared. She climbed up
the hideous mountain and entered the house of Terafobos. At first, her beautiful blue eyes did not notice the dragon because all her life Sotiria used to look at the light of the sun, and even slight darkness hurt her sight. Gradually, she became used to the dark room and started singing so that the Galan-lady who was singing to the beast earlier could go home. When she was left alone with Terafobos, Sotiria stepped closer to the monster and, while singing, began examining his features. “Poor creature,” she thought and added, “And poor me if he wakes up! How is it even possible to be so ugly and dreadful? Hmm… It seems like he was beautiful longlong-long time ago. But probably back then he was also good. I can’t even imagine how his mom must be disappointed with him!” While singing, Sotiria went around the beast and checked if he was indeed as mortally cold as everybody was saying. “Uh! Even the waters of our coldest rivers are warmer than this creature,” she exclaimed in her head. “And he had even lost his wings somewhere. Such a shame for a dragon! But what about his eyes? They are so big, but closed. I wonder what color they are. I am sure that at least his eyes are beautiful. Can they be blue like mine? So sad I would never know the color of his eyes... Won’t you show me your beautiful eyes, dreadful Terafobos?” To her misfortune, Sotiria got so interested in the monster’s eyes so that she asked her question in voice and forgot about singing for a tiny moment. But this one second was enough for the dragon to wake up. He opened his gigantic eyes and looked at the girl who was fearfully shaking besides his bed. Sotiria was completely wrong: the monster’s eyes were
terrible and chilling; they were red as blood and piercing as blades. The monster caught Sotiria in his cold and massive dragon paws and gladly exclaimed: “Such a fortune! An ugly little Galan for my first breakfast in centuries! I will start with you, my dear singer, but after that I will go and destroy your entire detestable country and its hateful blue dwellers! I will turn this country into the land of fire and ashes. I will make the sun hate this place and eventually leave it. There will be no more light in this land and nobody can dare to stop me from my just revenge!” After this terrible speech full of rage and hatred, Sotiria felt completely desperate and almost dead. She was so young and full of life and blossoming beauty that any thought of death troubled her tremendously. (Galans lived up to 500 years and Sotiria was only 50). She started thinking about her family, people, the entire Emerald Land, and the horrifying destiny that was awaiting them in the next hours. Out of fearful desperation, Sotiria decided to trick the dragon. “Stop!” she screamed while shaking inside. “Don’t eat me! Please!!! I will prove useful to you and you will only thank me for my help. Listen, you have been sleeping for half a millennium already. But during all this time the wisest Galans of this land were preparing an arm against you, a huge white sword which shines as the sun and pierces as the sting of death. Even the greatest Magician Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
who put you under the sleeping spell saw this sword and enchanted it so that you would surely die of it. Terafobos, you won’t be able to destroy the country and the Galans until you destroy this sword! But you will never be able to find it by yourself because it is hidden in a secret place which only the Galans know about. But if you don’t eat me, I will lead you to this place.” Of course, there was no real sword. The Galans never even tried to make one; they were naively hoping that the beast will sleep eternally. It was just the first idea which came to Sotiria’s mind in order to prevent the dragon from having her for breakfast. The next moment the monster shouted: “Such a nasty little Galan! I thought that this abhorrent land could only bear the same hateful creatures, but there is still some darkness left in this Middle heaven! But why should I believe in your sword fables?” “Why wouldn’t you believe me, dreadful Terafobos?” screamed Sotiria. “You know that you are incomparably stronger than all of the Galans who live in this land and that you can still destroy all of them (including myself) even if there is no sword. But if there indeed is a magical sword that has the power over your life, would it not be better to destroy it? The Galans are such faithful and noble creatures that
none of them would ever show you the way to the sword. But I will because I hope that you will remember my genuine help and spare my life at least for several days.” Terafobos was impatiently listening to the girl; one part of him wanted to eat, but another longed to destroy this sword and after that the entire Emerald land. The dragon thought that he would eat this Galan-girl anyways. So he finally decided to obey and follow her. Indeed, what can a little Galan do to the powerful Terafobos? “You won,” said the beast. “Lead me to this secret place where this detestable sword is hidden and I will spare your little life.” Even though Sotiria was fatally scared from the inside and out, she was happy that the monster at least agreed to follow her. Terafobos never explored the Emerald Land before because it seemed to him so ugly in all its majestic glaring. Sotiria’s heart was beating so loudly that she could not hear herself speaking, though she perfectly heard the roaring and tooth-grinding of the beast hobbling behind her. “I know the shortest path,” Sotiria whispered in fear. “We will go through the forest. Follow after me!” The dragon anxiously hurried to the forest; he wanted to catch the sword as soon as possible. He
hated the feeling of being obedient to somebody’s commands, plus he was quite hungry. If only Terafobos knew to what special forest the Galanlady had just led him, he would have eaten her right away. All the Galans were avoided entering this forest because of the magical birds that dwelled in it. Their singing made everyone who listened to them blind. Therefore, just before entering this forest with the beast Sotiria plugged her ears with a wooden rind. But as soon as Terafobos heard the charming but deceptive songs of the birds, the sight suddenly disappeared from his dreadful fiery eyes. The monster exploded in rage and started roaring in such a long and malicious voice that the birds left their nests and flew away. Sotiria felt so scared that she almost fainted, but she pulled herself together and started screaming back at the monster: “Stop it! Stop it! Are you so silly a dragon that you want your eyes to burn? We are coming close to the magical sword and it shines so strongly that your eyes would certainly explode if you even glance at it. Only the Galans are able to look at the sword and keep their big eyes healthy. You know perfectly well that we are used to the light of the heavens and any kind of sparkling is pleasant to our sight. But anybody else who tries
to look at this sword would surely loose his sight until he destroys it. Now you can’t see anything, but this is to your advantage, Terafobos. As soon as you touch the sword your sight will come back to you.” The dragon valued his eyes not only because they allowed him to see, but mostly because they produced fire with which he destroyed things. As he heard that his temporary blindness would protect his eyes from the shining sword, he calmed down and stopped bursting in rage. He took Sotiria by her neck, lifted her up and started shaking her: “You little artful Galan don’t even dare to play tricks with me! Lead me quickly to this hateful sword otherwise I will devour you right now. You must know that my nose works as good as my eyes. So don’t even dare to run away from me because I will find you by your despicable galan smell!” Finally he put crying and trembling Sotiria on the ground and they continued their unpleasant journey. They went through one large valley, crossed a narrow river, and began climbing up a mountain. After several hours of walking, the monster began growling and showing his discontent. “How long should I still walk, wicked Galan? Where is this disgusting sword hiding? You
better hurry or my stomach will soon have some food to celebrate!” “We are almost there, please don’t be angry!” anxiously responded Sotiria. “I can see it shining right before my eyes. Just several steps left and you can take and destroy the arm which was created to destroy you.” Finally, they both reached the top of the mountain. It was the highest cloudy mountain in the entire Emerald country and if the reader still remembers the old legend, it was exactly the same mountain from which it was possible to touch the sky and gain immortality or death. Everybody in the earthly and heavenly countries perfectly knew the legend including Terafobos. Surely, he would never try to do such a foolish thing as touching the sky. But at this particular moment he was blind and did not know where he was. “Uh… At last, we came,” said Sotiria. “Here is your sword hanging right above your head. Reach out your big paws and take it. And let’s put to an end its wicked life.” At the same time Terafobos impatiently stretched out his massive shapeless paws and touched the blue sky that was right above his head. And immediately, he started melting. “Oh, you wicked Galan!” he screamed in a great terror. “What
have you done to me? Where is my sword? You deceived me! You deceived me…” Terabofos made a loud and piercing shriek full of rage and desperation so that the mountain began trembling. He endeavored to reach the girl with his huge paws, but his paws started melting too. His “wicked life” was soon over and the Galans could now live in complete peace. Sotiria stood at the top of the mountain and observed how the dragon completely morphed and turned into streams of dirty water which fell down the great mountain. But before leaving, she looked up at the sky which was so close and tempting to her and continued staring at it for a long time. Since those memorable times, the Galans never experienced any kind of evil or ugliness in their Emerald country. The horrible dragon has melted and formed a big and crooked river with grimy bitter water impossible to drink. The story about brave Sotiria who saved their country from a horrific monster had become the main legend of their land and the favorite fairy tale of their children. Some Galans even said that Sotiria eventually touched the sky and became immortal. But this is the beginning of yet another legend.
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
The Creature and the Tower By Taran Gingery
There once stood a mighty army. It was made up of thousands and thousands of soldiers, standing tall and proud, and spread out as far as the eye could see. Their emerald spears reflected the sunlight, pointing straight and true to the heavens above. However, this army did not stand in silent vigil over nothing. It guarded a tower. This tower, soaring above the jade army that surrounded it on all sides for miles around, was a glorious and terrifying sight. For miles around, any enemy could see it and would know that to overcome it would take more siege weapons than they could possible devise. The tower was reinforced with spikes to guard her against any ambitious warrior would might try to take it on by physical strength alone. Once a small warrior had tried to use them to climb the tower, but the spikes were constructed in different sizes, so that eventually he came to one too small for his feet and slipped and fell to his death. Even so, at another time, a different warrior was able to use the spikes to his advantage, but after overcoming them, he found that the tower was further strengthened with massive battlements, built on and around the tower at varying locations. These are constructed to spread their sturdy frames around the tower to shield it from enemy
weaponry. At the same time, they are smooth as well as strong, so that the enemy warrior soon found his attempts to climb the tower befuddled by these battlements, on which he could not find a strong foothold. So, he too stumbled and joined the bodies of hundreds of enemy soldiers who had bravely fought their way through the jade army and yet been defeated by the tower. It was not the tower itself that drew so many brave warriors, but she that dwelled on top of the tower. No one had ever seen her, for she hid herself within a cocoon that billowed out around her in pink hues. It folded and wrapped itself about her in delicate, satin sheets that seemed to barely shelter her from the wind and yet, within this cocoon, she felt hidden from prying eyes. She needed to be. For it was here that her innermost being was kept. The very essence of her soul was kept atop that tower. No enemy soldier had yet to violate her inner sanctum and catch a glimpse of it, yet the tower and the army was in place to guard her against such an onslaught. For the rumor was that such a powerful essence would bring much power if consumed. It was this rumor that brought many enemies far and wide. So it was on a magnificently sunny day that the Creature came. There was no warning of his arrival, except for a brief murmur of disquiet that spread through the emerald army like a ripple through
the sea. Then suddenly, its approach could be heard. It was an extraordinary sound, such that no one had ever heard before. It was a harsh, grating noise that permeated every pore of the tower and filled every emerald spear with terror. The voice of the enemy could be heard far and wide, long before its speaker could be seen, and the air itself vibrated in its wake. The enemy was still a long way off; in fact, it was only a speck on the horizon, when a fearsome gale swept down in front of it like a storm. The wind came crashing down and rendered the army of emerald spears powerless. Helpless, they fell before its strength and were flung onto the ground like so many matchsticks. The enemyâ€™s shadow passed over the vast, yet immobilized army, and their jade spearheads, scattered as they were over the earth, did nothing to hinder his flight. Soon, she on the tower could see the enemyâ€™s coming. Yet, this was no ordinary enemy. To the Creature, the sky was nothing. Unlike those who are confined to the earth, the heavens were no obstacle between him and his prey. Yet, he did not fear the ground; indeed, he scarcely heeded it and rarely did his feet touch it. He moved through the air at will and the world did not bother him. His hunger was great and, this being his first flight of the day, his senses were strong and immediately, he felt her essence on the fortified tower and smelled her fear.
The Creature came into full view and moved directly towards his prey. She could see him now in all his grotesque magnificence. He was large in size and his body was fat and gnarly and covered in knobs and bumps, giving him an old and hardened appearance. His legs, six long and spindly extensions, stuck out at awkward angles around him. These, as well as his head and body, were covered in sticky, sharp hairs that took hold to whatever touched them.
coon. There he stood, his repugnant odor filling the enclosed space. All around him, on the floor of the cocoon, was spread out her essence, the components that made up her being. They were like tiny specks of golden matter, each element more precious to her than jewels, for without them, she would cease to be. Thus, with every step the creature took, the cocoon trembled and tiny particles were scattered through the air.
These were not his primary weapons, though. The Creature’s head had bulbous eyes through which nothing escaped his sight, but he also had jaws of great power that could crush anything he seized. He was also equipped with a massive sword with which he could cut down his enemies with a single blow. His great membranous wings spread out on either side of him and created the wind that went ahead of him, sending out his horrible stench that proclaimed his imminent arrival.
The spiny hairs on the creature’s feet ripped open the floor of the cocoon and his mighty jaws consumed every essence particle that touched his mouth. As more and more specks gathered in the air, more and more of them landed and were trapped on the monster’s hairy back. And as each essence particle was lost, she felt intense pain as though some invasive power was destroying her from the inside out. After some time, the Creature had eaten his fill. His swollen body was coated in essence particles and there was little left on the cocoon floor. With what little of her being that was left, she begged him to leave some part of her, but it was as though he could not hear her thoughts. Instead, he spread his mighty wings and, with terrible vibrations that shook loose whatever silken walls were left standing after his assault, he flew away, dropping golden particles in his wake.
Thus the Creature approached the tower and alighted on one of the battlements. The prickly hair on his feet and body prevented him from falling off of its sheer surface. With every beat of his wings, the tower vibrated as though caught in a mighty earthquake, and slowly, step by step, the creature advanced on her canopied cocoon. She trembled with every step he took, but she was powerless to stop him. All her defenses had been stripped away by his hideous form. His jaws clamped furiously on the billowing sheets and he tore at them with his feet. They were no match for his strength and they quickly gave away, falling
to the ground in tattered crimson shreds. Eventually, he tore a hole large enough to thrust his entire body in and so he entered the co-
With his departure, the fierce storm abated and the soldiers once again stood upright, their jade spears once more pointing to the sky. There was nothing left for them to guard, though.
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
The tall tower still stood, its battlements still spread around it in a protective swathe. On the top, however, nothing of her could be found. Her essence was gone. The beautiful pink walls that had kept her safe were tattered and blown away. The invasion was complete. The Creature flew north. Freed from the comfort of her cocoon floor, she traveled with him, powerless and afraid. Suddenly, her essence particles began to glow. They seemed to take on a mind of their own in her defense. Indeed, even the particles that the Creature had eaten were shining forth from inside him with a burning light. The particles shone stronger and stronger until, even compared to light of the sun around him, the Creature was brighter and became like a small shooting star blazing across the sky. The more the particles shone, the stronger she felt, and the more confused and blinded the Creature became. His flight became crooked, as he sighted another tower off in the distance and moved towards it clumsily. This tower was similar to the last. However, there was no cocoon built on it, but there was a large,
round, closed box. Because there didnâ€™t seem to be anything in the box, there was no army guarding it, but it was fortified with battlements, on which the Creature landed once again. This time, the Creature was frantic. The essence particles were blinding his eyes and burning his rough skin. Inside him, the particles had melted her down into her purest form and now she was blazing through his system, seeking escape. The Creature scratched at himself with his feet and beat his wings rapidly, shaking off as much of her essence as he could. She fell on and around the round box, radiating with beauty and smoldering like tiny coals that burned holes in the top of the round box and fell in. The Creature suddenly vomited the essence from his mouth, as she expelled herself fully from his body in her purest form as a sheer, golden liquid. She was free! However, she could not prevent herself from seeping into the box. Once inside she sensedâ€Ś someone else. The tiniest particles of the essence of another being, yet his essence had not reached its full potential.
The moment her essence touched the other, light sprang forth from it. The entire box began to glow and shake. The other essence began to sparkle intensely and she felt herself being united with it. She did not understand what was happening, except that she felt a more potent sense of loss than even when the Creature had attacked her in her cocoon. It was as though her soul was being taken away and being used by another. Suddenly, the merge completed. At that moment, she felt a flash of unexplainable joy, in herself and in the other essence, as can only be felt when new life begins. The power of their joys combined burned itself into the Creatureâ€™s eyes and he could not bear to be in their presence anymore. Spreading his wings and, slipping a little on the battlement in his haste, he flew away, never to be seen again in that place. Then she felt nothing. The round box slowly began to open, as the red colored walls of a new cocoon began to appear and the yellow hue of a young presence twinkled from within.
Don’t Forget to Floss
This is a
brief story about Sir Paleskin the cook and a King and a Queen who of course, once upon a time and not any other time, lived in a lovely golden shoe, with their daughter, by the name of Godiva. The imperial family did not give their child a middle name. Many in the royal land were advanced in years and so a second name would have been too much of a challenge to remember. Their noble lives were quite nearly perfect. Yet, alas and alack - Godiva was immensely unhappy. She never smiled nor laughed. For you see, she had lost her sense of wonder while playing in the grand and abundantly green outdoors of Windsor. It happened rather unexpectedly and unfortunately, at the precise moment when the great Windsor winds blew from every possible curve and corner while the princess was busy with singing songs about teacups and muffins. On that unfortunate day, wonder flew off with the cool and crispy breeze into the great pastures of England and was never heard of or seen again until… Before we embark upon the thrilling adventure that is ahead of us, one may have questions that need to be answered, such as, ‘why a shoe and not a bonnet?’ or ‘is there any significance in the unusual and somewhat discombobulating fact that many citizens of the Shoe Kingdom
were aged and lacked significantly in the skill of recollection?’ Well, it is all quite simple. You see a bonnet is designed to fit and cover one’s head, which means that without a head, the hat cannot hold its own shape. It is dependent and cannot be trusted in times of great trial and distress, especially considering the wild winds that inhabit the lands of Windsor. The neighboring kingdom once tried to use a bonnet as a dwelling place, but their lack of common sense and foolish valor had led them to complete destruction and piercing laments for five whole years. As for the memory issue, since Godiva lost her sense of wonder and no one else in the entire kingdom owned one, everyone has forgotten about it and slowly but surely reality lost its proper aroma of surprise mingled with a heaping spoon of admiration. From then on, intellect preceded imagination, visions withered away and many had to start wearing spectacles in order to see beyond their noses. One day, the queen took the initiative and made an announcement to the inhabitants of the (not so lovely anymore) Shoe Kingdom and beyond. “We will give our finest and richest piece of land to the one who can make Godiva happy and remind us about something that we have forgotten,” declared the queen and the king added, “indubitably.” Many determined souls tried to squeeze at least the tiniest smirk from the princess, but her negative disposition was set in stone. A distinguished musician came from afar and played his rhythmical tunes on various instruments. A
joker attempted to use wit and a pinch of constructive sarcasm to bring back something that was long forgotten and even a fairy was invited to sprinkle some magic dust upon the princess’s frowns. Unfortunately, all sincere and some not as genuine attempts resulted in an unquestionable disaster. With every futile effort, the cloud of gloom seeped deeper and further into the kingdom and life of the royal family. Their faces turned as pale as a blank white sheet of paper, marked by the emotion of an uncomfortable bizarreness and horror. The aged forgot they are alive and the young settled for vain adventures of mere existence. By the time every single person was set in his and her bitter ways, a new cook came to work at the queen’s shoe. His name was Sir Paleskin. Sir Paleskin had a talent for not only preparing a hale and hearty breakfast or a tantalizing dinner, but he also had the genius and the knack to cook up some good laughter and giggles amongst the gloomiest of individuals and other living creatures. When the Bonnet Kingdom was struck by the great disaster, Sir Paleskin was the one who stopped their ghastly laments. For five years Windsor had to
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
awaken to the shrieking sounds of grief and relentless sobbing. Even the majestic oak trees and sturdy bushes began to shrivel up at the endless sounds of cries and roars of the Bonnet Kingdom. Humans could at least use earplugs to prevent the inescapable sounds of dread. Yet, not all living beings had the providential gift of ears. Because of this seemingly small and insignificant lack, loomed an outbreak of a great and brutal battle at the outskirts of Windsor. The tension that was caused by the thunderous laments was so thick and palpable that one could almost smell its pungent stench. That very unpleasant odor of desolation brought Sir Paleskin to the country. No one really did figure out how and why Sir Paleskin ended the loud cries. The only thing that was known is that one morning creatures and people were greeted by the soothing sounds of chirping birds and a cool breeze instead of the hideous shouts of despair. So, how did Paleskin get to the Shoe Kingdom? Since the Bonnet Kingdom was leveled to the ground, Sir Paleskin was able to see far and wide (this was one of the fortunate sides of the unfortunate calamity). Looking around swiftly and meticulously he spotted at the very edge of the earth a murky cloud hanging over the Big Shoe. Then, he was reminded of the times when he once traveled in those lands many years ago and had the most satisfying experience of warmth, childish bliss and infinite moments of brisk admiration at anything and everything that was in his sight. However, now it was the very opposite feeling that suddenly arose in him and clasped his whimsy personality. As Paleskin gazed at the Shoe his heart was gripped by an overwhelming sense of plain sadness and an all-
overriding blandness. Everything appeared to take the shape of the ordinary. Nothing and no one had any special or distinctive features- all was uninteresting and commonplace. Reality stood in the form of its own literal implication. Bare and yet at the same time owning the same features as before the wicked winds blew into Windsor and swooped wonder away from Godiva’s back pocket. “Muffins and teacups,” he hummed out quietly, gathered his pots and pans and turned to the shortcut that led straight to the Shoe Kingdom. Sir Paleskin did not have to look hard for a job since the royal cook lost interest in cooking and moved on, in his opinion, to more serious matters of napping and adverse existence. The royal family did not have many skills when it came to food preparation and so they lived off of plain and flavorless foods cooked by the Queen who claimed to know three and a half recipes. There was only one positive thing about her cooking- no need for toothpicks. From the time when the woodworkers decided to go on strike toothpicks have become very scarce and in many parts unavailable altogether. So the Queen made a decision to grace Paleskin with her cuisine as a welcoming gesture into the new job position. Although wonder was absent, good manners still prevailed and the table was set in a way one would expect it to be in a real Kingdom, even if it is a shoe. The Queen was swift and prepared the welcoming meal in a matter of minutes and the four of them sat down for the royal dinner. Sir Paleskin took the first bite and had to put much effort into not spreading the bite over the dinner table. “No wonder this place is so dreary,” he thought to
himself. “One would definitely be miserable when eating food such as that. No flavor, no aroma and I already feel indigestion creeping upon my insides.” It was a long and tiring evening and at the end of the day Paleskin needed a good nights sleep to prepare for tomorrow’s heroic acts. Next day the new cook remembered that one citizen of the Bonnet Kingdom repaid him for all the help by bequeathing one last toothpick to Paleskin. “Grand. I shall present it to princess Godiva.” For you see, although the Queen prepared meals that did not require a toothpick, the princess seemed to have something stuck in between her teeth and she had been bothered by this inconvenience for many years now. So, Paleskin decided to prepare a delicious meal for the family before attempting to remove the evil spells that the Shoe Kingdom was under. Little did the hero know about the situation and yet, the lack of knowledge did not come in the way of his heroic destiny. Just as Paleskin had planned, after the family had their superb, flavor and aroma filled meal, he humbly presented the gift. “Ah, finally,” she sighed. “Ever since that windy day I seem to have something wedged in between my teeth and have not been able to get it out for years now.” As the toothpick moved around the princess’s royal oral cavity, she found the problematic spot and with one brisk push the particle was pushed out and swallowed. To everyone’s surprise Godiva smiled. At first Paleskin was slightly baffled at the situation, but after a moment he regained his composure and asked the princess to check her back pocket. It was empty. “Ah, no wonder… no wonder…” the royal cook kept on rumbling with a delicate smile
on his face. “Now I remember that windy afternoon many years ago. I was on my way to the Bonnet Kingdom when I saw and heard you singing about muffins and teacups. It was quite lovely, I must say. Then, came the wind from the left corner and then the right as it flapped your back pocket and out came a tingling smidgen of something rather delightful and it landed right in your mouth as you were saying ‘muf’. Since I am quite old in age, I was not able to fight the strong winds and come closer to inform your majesty of what I had witnessed. The winds kept on blowing me further away from your Kingdom and eventually I could not remember what had happened, only the song remained in my memory, which I hummed proudly to many people while journeying to lands afar…” As they sat around the royal table listening to the old man’s story, the cloud of gloom shrunk and eventually disappeared into the thin air. Wonder filled Godiva as she was dangling her feet while still listening to Paleskin’s stories about his journey to the Bonnet Kingdom and the Shoe. You may or may not be surprised, but the story does not end here. Although, the Shoe Kingdom resides at the edge of the Earth there is still much more to tell and wonder about… how sir Paleskin brought joy to the Bonnet Kingdom, and why did the winds decided to blow on that day when Godiva was singing and playing in the great green outdoors of the Windsor land? I WONDER…
Illustrations by Gulsun Tiurubajeva
Merry Christmas From