Saturday, September 10, 2022

Eric and the Wolves

 

Wolves Attack by Afanasij Sheloumoff with permission

This wonderful old story was told to me when I was a small boy by my great aunt "Kitty", the daughter of Henry Clutton the architect. She would read to us from a lovely collection of books seeding at an early age in all of us children and appreciation for good stories. The poem is published in the book "A Shell In My Pocket"


There are many tales of valor

That fill out history’s pages,

They touch our hearts when they are told

And ring down through the ages.

The Russian snows have many woes

That only courage resolves,

Not least the tale that will not pale

Of Eric and the wolves.


Eric was a Cossack lad

Who loved his master dearly.

He loved his mistress and their children

One could see that clearly.

At their lovely country manse

Through summer and the fall

Eric did the chores and errands

At their beck and call.

And should the day be fair and dry

He might take the children riding,

Down to the river’s shaded rills

Where sturgeon might be hiding.


Towards the end of autumn

When leaves come flittering down,

They start to think of closing up

And driving back to town.

Their route was through the forest

Then across the barren waste

To reach the gates of Rostock,

For safety they made haste.

That year the snows came early,

So Eric went out to the barn

To prepare the troika sled

For their safe return.


The family’s trunks and travel chests

Were tied to the luggage rack,

The lunch boxes and comfy throws

Stowed neatly in the back.

The horses had been watered,

Hitched up with buckle and lash,

And the whip and trusty Mosin

Were set beside the dash.

With doors and windows bolted

And house closed for the freeze,

They climbed up on the well stuffed seat

With blankets on their knees.


Eric was the driver,

At the reins he took his seat

With “walk on” the dunga bells

Went chinging to the beat

As off they go a trotting,

Trot trot trotting through the snow,

Each horse with a breast collar

And one with shafts and bow.

The side steeds at the canter

As they slip down the lane,

Past the fields to the forest

Heading back to town again.


Morning still was early,

The sun was on the rise,

On the ridge as they go trotting on

A group of wolves he spies.

With a “Trot Hup” Eric was singing

And the donga bells were chinging

“Troika here, troika there, 

To the town and to the fair,

Troika here, troika there 

Leather stuffed with horses hair,

Troika here , troika there, 

Omsk is just a bit too far.

Troika here, Troika there, 

Long live our beloved Tzar.”


As he sang they gained the forest

Slipping down the narrow lane

Past the naked stands of trees

Heading back to town again.

But still he saw them prowling,

And then they started howling

Howling and a prowling 

Keeping pace upon the brow.

The family members feared 

As the growing danger neared,

And the father armed the Mosin

As he could see them now.

“Trot hup” demanded Eric 

As he slapped upon the reins

And the horses strode on faster

And the blood pulsed in their veins.

Running then and galloping 

They’d picked up the pace,

The yapping wolves in a pack

Started to give chase.

On they came and closer

And the master took his time,

Barrel on the seat back

He waited for a line.

Finally the lead dog 

Was nearly on the sleigh

Then crack the forest rattled 

The wolf yelped in dismay.


The pack paused in their gambit,

They broke to make review

But in a trice a second beast

Took up pursuit anew.

On they came and quickly

The horses were at risk,

A second shot rang out but oh!

Misfortune, for it missed.

The third round hit the target

At which the whole pack reared,

They had now learned that gun shots

Were something to be feared.


But though they faltered and held back,

Some others on the hill

Were calling to each other

And chasing with a will.

Down they leapt together

Attacking from the side,

Eric snapped his whip

And it became a wild ride.

The horses now were frantic

Their breath steamed in the air,

The first wolf leapt, the rifle cracked 

And stopped it then and there.

The rest dropped back sniff him, 

For a moment there was doubt,

There were only two rounds left

In magazine and spout.


The team kept charging forwards

In fear they made haste,

Before them was the forest edge

And then the barren waste.

Faintly in the distance

Could be seen the Rostock walls

With its gaudy mechet steeples

And the safety of its halls.

Onward ever onward

They surge across the plain

But leaping on relentlessly

The wolves catch up again.


“Here take the reins.” cried Eric

To his master in the back

“Let me try to fend them off

When they next attack.”

So switching their positions

Eric manned the rear

Waiting till the lead was close

And the shot was clear.

Then crack the rifle echoed

The target fell away

Slowing the accomplices

Faltering in dismay.


In a trice they rallied

As fervent as before,

Leaping forwards through the snow

Gaining more and more.

Once close enough and sighted

The rifle gave its crack

But that demise did not deter

The others in attack.

Reaching for reinforcements

Eric seized the whip

Lashing out repeatedly

He made them feel its tip.


Each snap sent one yelping

As its snout was slashed,

But threats did not diminish 

For on the others dashed.

The horses were the target

As wolves came from the rear,

So Eric clambered up to

Ride postilion without fear,

Thrashing to the left and right

He kept the beasts at bay,

But some thing different must be done

If he’s to save the day.


Now half way across the plain

Eric knew what it would take,

The foes would need distracting

If they were to reach the gate.

Should a horse be taken down

It can’t be cut away,

The sleigh would stop and nothing

Could keep the wolves at bay.


So Eric jumped and ran off

With the whip in hand

Instantly the pack gave chase

Just the way he planned. 

He turned on them to stand his ground

The wolves leapt on to him.

While the troika got away

They tore him limb from limb.


The watchers on the Rostock gate

Could hear the dunga ching,

They gave the signal of alarm 

To let the travelers in.

The moment that they entered

The gates were then secured

Saving horses and the troika

And the family Eric adored.


There are many tales of valor

That fill out history’s pages,

They touch our hearts when they are told

And ring down through the ages.

The Russian snows have many woes

That only courage resolves,

Not least the tale that will not pale

Of Eric and the wolves.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Continuing the tradition - Burns Night

 


The Tam O'Shanter Restaurant in Los Angeles has been serving wonderful meals for their patrons for one hundred years. For the last forty two of them Dr. Neil McLeod has been "Slaying the Haggis" in style with a blade named Haggis Slayer, that must have slain more Haggis than any other blade in Chistendom, although the Guiness Book of World Records declined to print it. With pipes and drum and a dancer the the diners are regaled with Robert Burns' Address To A Haggis in taditional Scots style.  The proof of it is here in the video so click away.


Earlier slayings can be evidenced here: https://www.losfelizledger.com/article/a-good-auld-time-burns-night-at-the-tam-oshanter/  

and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCWY33-trEY

and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX3Z09bcluw

Los Angeles Daily News: https://www.dailynews.com/2018/01/24/why-the-hottest-party-in-l-a-celebrated-a-long-gone-scottish-poet/

La Weekly : https://www.laweekly.com/burns-supper-celebrating-a-scottish-poetry-legend-with-whisky-and-sheep-innards/

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Ngong the Giant

 The best news this Christmas season is from my dear friend Jim Covell who has been working on the soundtrack for our latest collaboration "The Legend of the Giant Ngong".  He has finished the album and it is being released on cdbaby and will be on iTunes and Amazon. The book that accompanies is beautifully illustrated by Sue Hooper-Laurie and is available on Amazon and elsewhere.







Monday, June 07, 2021

L.A. Blue - new poems


Nothing to do with Covid, this new book of poems is all about Los Angeles as it was, and hopefully will be again.  Filled with little nuances which you may not have known about or even thought about, these poems tell little secrects about the city of angles. Los Angeles will change you forever, you may not notice it at first, but one's perspective is altered. Here are some things to think about!

If you want to know how Farmers Market got started, or what the Hollywood sign used to say then you should take a peek inside.  There is even an explanatin of how Forest Lawn became a funeral park.

It was a busy year trying to make use of the openings in my practice schedule which seemed like Swiss cheese.  But working with Sue Hooper Lawrie really moved the writing schedule forwards. The idea of a book of poems just about LA began a long time ago, but finally there was enough material to pull together so here it is:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=LA+Blue+poems+by+Neil+Stewart+McLeod&ref=nb_sb_noss 


Blue sky every day

In sunny Los Angeles

An endless summer

At the Huntington Library
 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Paul Washer and Men Of The Word

 


Last night, April 21st, at Grace Community Church, 815 men sat under the instruction of our guest speaker, Paul Washer when he taught from 1st Corrinthians. His subject was God's call to young men, who need to "act like Men".  The discussion afterwards with Dr Brad Klassen (left) and Paul Washer (right) was moderated by Josh Petras(our high school pastor).

Men from seven to ninty four attended and were exaulted to take the lead and follow their God given responsibility to lead heir families inspite of fear.

The discussion will be continued when at the men's event this coming Saturday morning, April 24th, we expect 2000 men to attend when our subject will be "Not of This World"

The event is free, is at 8:00 a.m. and we invite all men to join us for a time of exhortaion, admonition and encouragement.

You can reserve a space here https://www.gracechurch.org/forms/829


Not of This World

When challenged about the world’s influence in our lives, most of us respond dismissively. We are quick to denounce the perverted trends of the culture and highlight our participation in the church. We may even sport a bumper sticker that declares, “not of this world.”

Yet worldliness is far more subtle than we often recognize, and this is precisely what makes it so dangerous. It thrives among those ignorant of its threats and na├»ve about its schemes, who think worldliness can be identified merely by sight, or mortified by a simple list of “dos and don'ts"—or the display of a bumper sticker.

The gravity of this problem is illustrated in the commands given by the writers of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul had to urge the believers in Rome to “not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). He exhorted the Colossian church to set their minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2) and reminded the Philippian believers that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). John stated it bluntly, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

The very fact that the writers of the New Testament address the topic of worldliness with reminders and warnings illustrates that even saints are prone to love the world. If this was a problem in their day, it is no less a problem in ours. As much as ever, we are in need of biblical reminders and warnings. We cannot afford to be ignorant. Therefore, this year’s Men of the Word event will focus on the problem of worldliness: how to identify its subtle features, how to mortify it, and how to cultivate tis antithesis—a life resolutely focused on Christ.

We invite all men to recognize the clear and present danger and join us on Saturday morning, April 24, for a time of exhortation, admonition, and encouragement.

Livestream of the event will be available at gracechurch.org/live.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

An Easter Poem - The triumphal Entry




The Folded Palm

John 12 ,“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  Dr. William Varner who teaches at The master's University contends that it was on a Monday that the Lord entered into Jerusalem, not a Sunday



I keep a palm leaf in my bible

It’s folded and plaited and dry,

It reminds me of when the palm fronds waved

In profusion as Jesus rode by.

It reminds me of that fateful day

When the fickle crowd faltered and failed

Turning from frantic welcomes

To denials, in the court where they railed.


“Hosanna”, they called as He rode in

“Hosanna” they cried out with zeal,

“Blessed is He that comes in the name

Of the Lord, King of Israel”.

How quickly their attitude altered,

As the Pharisees looked on with scorn.

How deep and complete their denials

When the trials were done with the dawn.


The Pharisees saw as He rode in

On a donkey, the Scripture fulfilled,

And they plotted within their jealous hearts

How the Son of Man would be killed.

How sad Jesus was when He saw them,

For He knew every thought, every plan.

He could see how the crowd would reject Him,

And desert Him to a man.


I ask myself if I’d deny Him

Had I been in the crowd long ago.

For even Peter who loved Him,

Denied Him, three times in a row.

He rode through the crowds on a donkey,

Anointed, the Paschal Lamb

He gave His life so that I might live

 - Sinner that I am.


So I keep a palm leaf in my bible.

It’s folded and plaited and dry.

It reminds me of when the palm fronds waved

In profusion as Jesus rode by.

It reminds me that He died for me

That He came to atone for our sin,

So that my poor soul might be saved

And on the last day welcomed in. 

 



A recording of this poem with music by James Covell is available on Spotify and iTunes
https://music.apple.com/us/album/when-the-spirit-moves/1411054434




Friday, October 02, 2020

Out On A Limb: Building a Tree House


 In 2003 a start was made finding a way build a tree house in the stone pine on the hill in our garden.  It took eleven months. It is hard to imagine that anyone would not want to have a tree house in their back yard if they had the chance. It would be a place for children to get out of the house, a quiet hideaway to sit and write a poem, or extra sleeping quarters for stay-over guests who want to try hammocks. Perhaps even a sweet heart get away where you could tell someone you love them.

Here with sequential photographs is a record of how our tree house was built, set out in a way that is instructive and easy to understand. After sixteen years the structure has stood the test of time.

The book is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1496158814?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860