The adventure of Siblings





A short story that takes us through the power of the written word and preconceived notions, and all the small and big ways that life walks it´s very own and beautiful way.



Photography, and web adaptation by Michael A Koontz 2015, a Norse View Imaging and Publishing



Music of the day Sail into the black - by Machine Head

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration








Chapters and pages, library and language menu to the left of the screen














The Baltimore Station was hot and crowded, so Lois was forced to stand by the telegraph desk for interminable, sticky seconds while a clerk with big front teeth counted and recounted a large lady’s day message, to determine whether it contained the innocuous forty-nine words or the fatal fifty-one.
Lois, waiting, decided she wasn’t quite sure of the address, so she took the letter out of her bag and ran over it again.










letters from Weird Howard



[then again, aren't we all perfectly imperfect, as we are.]





“Darling,” IT BEGAN—“I understand and I’m happier than life ever meant me to be. If I could give you the things you’ve always been in tune with — but I can’t Lois; we can’t marry and we can’t lose each other and let all this glorious love end in nothing.
“Until your letter came, dear, I’d been sitting here in the half dark and thinking where I could go and ever forget you; abroad, perhaps, to drift through Italy or Spain and dream away the pain of having lost you where the crumbling ruins of older, mellower civilizations would mirror only the desolation of my heart — and then your letter came.
“Sweetest, bravest girl, if you’ll wire me I’ll meet you in Wilmington — till then I’ll be here just waiting and hoping for every long dream of you to come true.

“Howard.”

















She had read the letter so many times that she knew it word by word, yet it still startled her. In it she found many faint reflections of the man who wrote it — the mingled sweetness and sadness in his dark eyes, the furtive, restless excitement she felt sometimes when he talked to her, his dreamy sensuousness that lulled her mind to sleep. Lois was nineteen and very romantic and curious and courageous.








The large lady and the clerk having compromised on fifty words, Lois took a blank and wrote her telegram. And there were no overtones to the finality of her decision.
It’s just destiny — she thought — it’s just the way things work out in this damn world. If cowardice is all that’s been holding me back there won’t be any more holding back. So we’ll just let things take their course and never be sorry.
The clerk scanned her telegram:


“Arrived Baltimore today spend day with my brother meet me Wilmington three P.M. Wednesday Love
“Lois.”


“Fifty-four cents,” said the clerk admiringly.
And never be sorry — thought Lois — and never be sorry ——






























Under

the Blanket of night and dream is where tomorrows amber day field is born









Trees filtering light onto dapple grass. Trees like tall, languid ladies with feather fans coquetting airily with the ugly roof of the monastery. Trees like butlers, bending courteously over placid walks and paths. Trees, trees over the hills on either side and scattering out in clumps and lines and woods all through eastern Maryland, delicate lace on the hems of many yellow fields, dark opaque backgrounds for flowered bushes or wild climbing garden.

Some of the trees were very gay and young, but the monastery trees were older than the monastery which, by true monastic standards, wasn’t very old at all. And, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t technically called a monastery, but only a seminary; nevertheless it shall be a monastery here despite its Victorian architecture or its Edward VII additions, or even its Woodrow Wilsonian, patented, last-a-century roofing.
Out behind was the farm where half a dozen lay brothers were sweating lustily as they moved with deadly efficiency around the vegetable-gardens. To the left, behind a row of elms, was an informal baseball diamond where three novices were being batted out by a fourth, amid great chasings and puffings and blowings. And in front as a great mellow bell boomed the half-hour a swarm of black, human leaves were blown over the checker-board of paths under the courteous trees.








Some of these black leaves were very old with cheeks furrowed like the first ripples of a splashed pool. Then there was a scattering of middle-aged leaves whose forms when viewed in profile in their revealing gowns were beginning to be faintly unsymmetrical.
These carried thick volumes of Thomas Aquinas and Henry James and Cardinal Mercier and Immanuel Kant and many bulging note-books filled with lecture data.
But most numerous were the young leaves; blond boys of nineteen with very stern, conscientious expressions; men in the late twenties with a keen self-assurance from having taught out in the world for five years — several hundreds of them, from city and town and country in Maryland and Pennsylvania and Virginia and West Virginia and Delaware.
There were many Americans and some Irish and some tough Irish and a few French, and several Italians and Poles, and they walked informally arm in arm with each other in twos and threes or in long rows, almost universally distinguished by the straight mouth and the considerable chin — for this was the Society of Jesus, founded in Spain five hundred years before by a tough-minded soldier who trained men to hold a breach or a salon, preach a sermon or write a treaty, and do it and not argue . . .

Lois got out of a bus into the sunshine down by the outer gate. She was nineteen with yellow hair and eyes that people were tactful enough not to call green. When men of talent saw her in a street-car they often furtively produced little stub-pencils and backs of envelopes and tried to sum up that profile or the thing that the eyebrows did to her eyes.




















Later they looked at their results and usually tore them up with wondering sighs.

Though Lois was very jauntily attired in an expensively appropriate travelling affair, she did not linger to pat out the dust which covered her clothes, but started up the central walk with curious glances at either side. Her face was very eager and expectant, yet she hadn’t at all that glorified expression that girls wear when they arrive for a Senior Prom at Princeton or New Haven; still, as there were no senior proms here, perhaps it didn’t matter.
She was wondering what he would look like, whether she’d possibly know him from his picture. In the picture, which hung over her mother’s bureau at home, he seemed very young and hollow-cheeked and rather pitiful, with only a well-developed mouth and all ill-fitting probationer’s gown to show that he had already made a momentous decision about his life. Of course he had been only nineteen then and now he was thirty-six — didn’t look like that at all; in recent snap-shots he was much broader and his hair had grown a little thin — but the impression of her brother she had always retained was that of the big picture.

And so she had always been a little sorry for him. What a life for a man! Seventeen years of preparation and he wasn’t even a priest yet — wouldn’t be for another year.








Lois had an idea that this was all going to be rather solemn if she let it be. But she was going to give her very best imitation of undiluted sunshine, the imitation she could give even when her head was splitting or when her mother had a nervous breakdown or when she was particularly romantic and curious and courageous. This brother of hers undoubtedly needed cheering up, and he was going to be cheered up, whether he liked it or not.
As she drew near the great, homely front door she saw a man break suddenly away from a group and, pulling up the skirts of his gown, run toward her. He was smiling, she noticed, and he looked very big and — and reliable. She stopped and waited, knew that her heart was beating unusually fast.
“Lois!” he cried, and in a second she was in his arms. She was suddenly trembling.
“Lois!” he cried again, “why, this is wonderful! I can’t tell you, Lois, how MUCH I’ve looked forward to this. Why, Lois, you’re beautiful!”

Lois gasped.

His voice, though restrained, was vibrant with energy and that odd sort of enveloping personality she had thought that she only of the family possessed.
“I’m mighty glad, too — Kieth.”
She flushed, but not unhappily, at this first use of his name.
“Lois — Lois — Lois,” he repeated in wonder. “Child, we’ll go in here a minute, because I want you to meet the rector, and then we’ll walk around. I have a thousand things to talk to you about.”

His voice became graver. “How’s mother?”

She looked at him for a moment and then said something that she had not intended to say at all, the very sort of thing she had resolved to avoid.
“Oh, Kieth — she’s — she’s getting worse all the time, every way.”




















He nodded slowly as if he understood.
“Nervous, well — you can tell me about that later. Now ——”
She was in a small study with a large desk, saying something to a little, jovial, white-haired priest who retained her hand for some seconds.
“So this is Lois!”
He said it as if he had heard of her for years.

He entreated her to sit down.

Two other priests arrived enthusiastically and shook hands with her and addressed her as “Kieth’s little sister,” which she found she didn’t mind a bit.
How assured they seemed; she had expected a certain shyness, reserve at least. There were several jokes unintelligible to her, which seemed to delight every one, and the little Father Rector referred to the trio of them as “dim old monks,” which she appreciated, because of course they weren’t monks at all. She had a lightning impression that they were especially fond of Kieth — the Father Rector had called him “Kieth” and one of the others had kept a hand on his shoulder all through the conversation. Then she was shaking hands again and promising to come back a little later for some ice-cream, and smiling and smiling and being rather absurdly happy . . . she told herself that it was because Kieth was so delighted in showing her off.
Then she and Kieth were strolling along a path, arm in arm, and he was informing her what an absolute jewel the Father Rector was.








“Lois,” he broken off suddenly, “I want to tell you before we go any farther how much it means to me to have you come up here. I think it was — mighty sweet of you. I know what a gay time you’ve been having.”
Lois gasped. She was not prepared for this. At first when she had conceived the plan of taking the hot journey down to Baltimore staying the night with a friend and then coming out to see her brother, she had felt rather consciously virtuous, hoped he wouldn’t be priggish or resentful about her not having come before — but walking here with him under the trees seemed such a little thing, and surprisingly a happy thing.
“Why, Kieth,” she said quickly, “you know I couldn’t have waited a day longer. I saw you when I was five, but of course I didn’t remember, and how could I have gone on without practically ever having seen my only brother?”

“It was mighty sweet of you, Lois,” he repeated.

Lois blushed — he DID have personality.
“I want you to tell me all about yourself,” he said after a pause. “Of course I have a general idea what you and mother did in Europe those fourteen years, and then we were all so worried, Lois, when you had pneumonia and couldn’t come down with mother — let’s see that was two years ago — and then, well, I’ve seen your name in the papers, but it’s all been so unsatisfactory. I haven’t known you, Lois.”
She found herself analyzing his personality as she analyzed the personality of every man she met. She wondered if the effect of — of intimacy that he gave was bred by his constant repetition of her name. He said it as if he loved the word, as if it had an inherent meaning to him.
“Then you were at school,” he continued.
“Yes, at Farmington. Mother wanted me to go to a convent — but I didn’t want to.”
She cast a side glance at him to see if he would resent this.

But he only nodded slowly.




















“Had enough convents abroad, eh?”
“Yes — and Kieth, convents are different there anyway. Here even in the nicest ones there are so many COMMON girls.”

He nodded again.

“Yes,” he agreed, “I suppose there are, and I know how you feel about it. It grated on me here, at first, Lois, though I wouldn’t say that to any one but you; we’re rather sensitive, you and I, to things like this.”
“You mean the men here?”
“Yes, some of them of course were fine, the sort of men I’d always been thrown with, but there were others; a man named Regan, for instance — I hated the fellow, and now he’s about the best friend I have. A wonderful character, Lois; you’ll meet him later. Sort of man you’d like to have with you in a fight.”
Lois was thinking that Kieth was the sort of man she’d like to have with HER in a fight.
“How did you — how did you first happen to do it?” she asked, rather shyly, “to come here, I mean. Of course mother told me the story about the Pullman car.”
“Oh, that ——” He looked rather annoyed.
“Tell me that. I’d like to hear you tell it.”








“Oh, it’s nothing except what you probably know. It was evening and I’d been riding all day and thinking about — about a hundred things, Lois, and then suddenly I had a sense that some one was sitting across from me, felt that he’d been there for some time, and had a vague idea that he was another traveller. All at once he leaned over toward me and I heard a voice say: ‘I want you to be a priest, that’s what I want.’ Well I jumped up and cried out, ‘Oh, my God, not that!’— made an idiot of myself before about twenty people; you see there wasn’t any one sitting there at all. A week after that I went to the Jesuit College in Philadelphia and crawled up the last flight of stairs to the rector’s office on my hands and knees.”
There was another silence and Lois saw that her brother’s eyes wore a far-away look, that he was staring unseeingly out over the sunny fields. She was stirred by the modulations of his voice and the sudden silence that seemed to flow about him when he finished speaking.
She noticed now that his eyes were of the same fibre as hers, with the green left out, and that his mouth was much gentler, really, than in the picture — or was it that the face had grown up to it lately? He was getting a little bald just on top of his head. She wondered if that was from wearing a hat so much. It seemed awful for a man to grow bald and no one to care about it.
“Were you — pious when you were young, Kieth?” she asked. “You know what I mean. Were you religious? If you don’t mind these personal questions.”
“Yes,” he said with his eyes still far away — and she felt that his intense abstraction was as much a part of his personality as his attention. “Yes, I suppose I was, when I was — sober.”




















Lois thrilled slightly.
“Did you drink?”
He nodded.
“I was on the way to making a bad hash of things.” He smiled and, turning his gray eyes on her, changed the subject.
“Child, tell me about mother. I know it’s been awfully hard for you there, lately. I know you’ve had to sacrifice a lot and put up with a great deal and I want you to know how fine of you I think it is. I feel, Lois, that you’re sort of taking the place of both of us there.”
Lois thought quickly how little she had sacrificed; how lately she had constantly avoided her nervous, half-invalid mother.
“Youth shouldn’t be sacrificed to age, Kieth,” she said steadily.
“I know,” he sighed, “and you oughtn’t to have the weight on your shoulders, child. I wish I were there to help you.”
She saw how quickly he had turned her remark and instantly she knew what this quality was that he gave off. He was SWEET. Her thoughts went of on a side-track and then she broke the silence with an odd remark.
“Sweetness is hard,” she said suddenly.
“What?”








“Nothing,” she denied in confusion. “I didn’t mean to speak aloud. I was thinking of something — of a conversation with a man named Freddy Kebble.”
“Maury Kebble’s brother?”
“Yes,” she said rather surprised to think of him having known Maury Kebble. Still there was nothing strange about it. “Well, he and I were talking about sweetness a few weeks ago. Oh, I don’t know — I said that a man named Howard — that a man I knew was sweet, and he didn’t agree with me, and we began talking about what sweetness in a man was: He kept telling me I meant a sort of soppy softness, but I knew I didn’t — yet I didn’t know exactly how to put it. I see now. I meant just the opposite. I suppose real sweetness is a sort of hardness — and strength.”
Kieth nodded.

“I see what you mean. I’ve known old priests who had it.”
“I’m talking about young men,” she said rather defiantly.
They had reached the now deserted baseball diamond and, pointing her to a wooden bench, he sprawled full length on the grass.
“Are these YOUNG men happy here, Kieth?”
“Don’t they look happy, Lois?”
“I suppose so, but those YOUNG ones, those two we just passed — have they — are they ——?
“Are they signed up?” he laughed. “No, but they will be next month.”
“Permanently?”
“Yes — unless they break down mentally or physically. Of course in a discipline like ours a lot drop out.”

“But those BOYS. Are they giving up fine chances outside — like you did?”




















He nodded.
“Some of them.”
“But Kieth, they don’t know what they’re doing. They haven’t had any experience of what they’re missing.”
“No, I suppose not.”
“It doesn’t seem fair. Life has just sort of scared them at first. Do they all come in so YOUNG?”
“No, some of them have knocked around, led pretty wild lives — Regan, for instance.”
“I should think that sort would be better,” she said meditatively, “men that had SEEN life.”
“No,” said Kieth earnestly, “I’m not sure that knocking about gives a man the sort of experience he can communicate to others. Some of the broadest men I’ve known have been absolutely rigid about themselves. And reformed libertines are a notoriously intolerant class. Don’t you thank so, Lois?”








She nodded, still meditative, and he continued:

“It seems to me that when one weak reason goes to another, it isn’t help they want; it’s a sort of companionship in guilt, Lois. After you were born, when mother began to get nervous she used to go and weep with a certain Mrs. Comstock. Lord, it used to make me shiver. She said it comforted her, poor old mother. No, I don’t think that to help others you’ve got to show yourself at all. Real help comes from a stronger person whom you respect. And their sympathy is all the bigger because it’s impersonal.”
“But people want human sympathy,” objected Lois. “They want to feel the other person’s been tempted.”
“Lois, in their hearts they want to feel that the other person’s been weak. That’s what they mean by human.
“Here in this old monkery, Lois,” he continued with a smile, “they try to get all that self-pity and pride in our own wills out of us right at the first. They put us to scrubbing floors — and other things. It’s like that idea of saving your life by losing it. You see we sort of feel that the less human a man is, in your sense of human, the better servant he can be to humanity. We carry it out to the end, too. When one of us dies his family can’t even have him then. He’s buried here under plain wooden cross with a thousand others.”
His tone changed suddenly and he looked at her with a great brightness in his gray eyes.
“But way back in a man’s heart there are some things he can’t get rid of — an one of them is that I’m awfully in love with my little sister.”
With a sudden impulse she knelt beside him in the grass and, Leaning over, kissed his forehead.
“You’re hard, Kieth,” she said, “and I love you for it — and you’re sweet.”




























Back in the reception-room Lois met a half-dozen more of Kieth’s particular friends; there was a young man named Jarvis, rather pale and delicate-looking, who, she knew, must be a grandson of old Mrs. Jarvis at home, and she mentally compared this ascetic with a brace of his riotous uncles.
And there was Regan with a scarred face and piercing intent eyes that followed her about the room and often rested on Kieth with something very like worship. She knew then what Kieth had meant about “a good man to have with you in a fight.”
He’s the missionary type — she thought vaguely — China or something.








the Missionary type



[that fed the hungry souls in rural China.]





“I want Kieth’s sister to show us what the shimmy is,” demanded one young man with a broad grin.
Lois laughed.
“I’m afraid the Father Rector would send me shimmying out the gate. Besides, I’m not an expert.”
“I’m sure it wouldn’t be best for Jimmy’s soul anyway,” said Kieth solemnly. “He’s inclined to brood about things like shimmys. They were just starting to do the — maxixe, wasn’t it, Jimmy? — when he became a monk, and it haunted him his whole first year. You’d see him when he was peeling potatoes, putting his arm around the bucket and making irreligious motions with his feet.”
There was a general laugh in which Lois joined.

“An old lady who comes here to Mass sent Kieth this ice-cream,” whispered Jarvis under cover of the laugh, “because she’d heard you were coming. It’s pretty good, isn’t it?”
There were tears trembling in Lois’ eyes.











































Then half an hour later over in the chapel things suddenly went all wrong. It was several years since Lois had been at Benediction and at first she was thrilled by the gleaming monstrance with its central spot of white, the air rich and heavy with incense, and the sun shining through the stained-glass window of St. Francis Xavier overhead and falling in warm red tracery on the cassock of the man in front of her, but at the first notes of the “O SALUTARIS HOSTIA” a heavy weight seemed to descend upon her soul. Kieth was on her right and young Jarvis on her left, and she stole uneasy glance at both of them.
What’s the matter with me? she thought impatiently.
She looked again. Was there a certain coldness in both their profiles, that she had not noticed before — a pallor about the mouth and a curious set expression in their eyes? She shivered slightly: they were like dead men.
She felt her soul recede suddenly from Kieth’s. This was her brother — this, this unnatural person. She caught herself in the act of a little laugh.
“What is the matter with me?”








She passed her hand over her eyes and the weight increased. The incense sickened her and a stray, ragged note from one of the tenors in the choir grated on her ear like the shriek of a slate-pencil. She fidgeted, and raising her hand to her hair touched her forehead, found moisture on it.
“It’s hot in here, hot as the deuce.”

Again she repressed a faint laugh and, then in an instant the weight on her heart suddenly diffused into cold fear. . . . It was that candle on the altar. It was all wrong — wrong. Why didn’t somebody see it? There was something IN it. There was something coming out of it, taking form and shape above it.
She tried to fight down her rising panic, told herself it was the wick. If the wick wasn’t straight, candles did something — but they didn’t do this! With incalculable rapidity a force was gathering within her, a tremendous, assimilative force, drawing from every sense, every corner of her brain, and as it surged up inside her she felt an enormous terrified repulsion. She drew her arms in close to her side away from Kieth and Jarvis.
Something in that candle . . . she was leaning forward — in another moment she felt she would go forward toward it — didn’t any one see it? . . . anyone?
“Ugh!”

She felt a space beside her and something told her that Jarvis had gasped and sat down very suddenly . . . then she was kneeling and as the flaming monstrance slowly left the altar in the hands of the priest, she heard a great rushing noise in her ears — the crash of the bells was like hammer-blows . . . and then in a moment that seemed eternal a great torrent rolled over her heart — there was a shouting there and a lashing as of waves . . .

. . . She was calling, felt herself calling for Kieth, her lips mouthing the words that would not come:
“Kieth! Oh, my God! KIETH!”
Suddenly she became aware of a new presence, something external, in front of her, consummated and expressed in warm red tracery. Then she knew. It was the window of St. Francis Xavier. Her mind gripped at it, clung to it finally, and she felt herself calling again endlessly, impotently — Kieth — Kieth!
Then out of a great stillness came a voice:
“BLESSED BE GOD.”

With a gradual rumble sounded the response rolling heavily through the chapel:
“Blessed be God.”
The words sang instantly in her heart; the incense lay mystically and sweetly peaceful upon the air, and THE CANDLE ON THE ALTAR WENT OUT.
“Blessed be His Holy Name.”
“Blessed be His Holy Name.”
Everything blurred into a swinging mist. With a sound half-gasp, half-cry she rocked on her feet and reeled backward into Kieth’s suddenly outstretched arms.







































“Lie still, child.”
She closed her eyes again. She was on the grass outside, pillowed on Kieth’s arm, and Regan was dabbing her head with a cold towel.
“I’m all right,” she said quietly.
“I know, but just lie still a minute longer. It was too hot in there. Jarvis felt it, too.”

She laughed as Regan again touched her gingerly with the towel.
“I’m all right,” she repeated.


But though a warm peace was falling her mind and heart she felt oddly broken and chastened, as if some one had held her stripped soul up and laughed.









































Half an hour later she walked leaning on Kieth’s arm down the long central path toward the gate.
“It’s been such a short afternoon,” he sighed, “and I’m so sorry you were sick, Lois.”
“Kieth, I’m feeling fine now, really; I wish you wouldn’t worry.”
“Poor old child. I didn’t realize that Benediction’d be a long service for you after your hot trip out here and all.”

She laughed cheerfully.

“I guess the truth is I’m not much used to Benediction. Mass is the limit of my religious exertions.”
She paused and then continued quickly:
“I don’t want to shock you, Kieth, but I can’t tell you how — how INCONVENIENT being a Catholic is. It really doesn’t seem to apply any more. As far as morals go, some of the wildest boys I know are Catholics. And the brightest boys — I mean the ones who think and read a lot, don’t seem to believe in much of anything any more.”
“Tell me about it. The bus won’t be here for another half-hour.”

They sat down on a bench by the path.
“For instance, Gerald Carter, he’s published a novel. He absolutely roars when people mention immortality. And then Howa — well, another man I’ve known well, lately, who was Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard says that no intelligent person can believe in Supernatural Christianity. He says Christ was a great socialist, though. Am I shocking you?”

She broke off suddenly.
Kieth smiled.


“You can’t shock a monk. He’s a professional shock-absorber.”
“Well,” she continued, “that’s about all. It seems so — so NARROW. Church schools, for instance. There’s more freedom about things that Catholic people can’t see — like birth control.”
Kieth winced, almost imperceptibly, but Lois saw it.
“Oh,” she said quickly, “everybody talks about everything now.”
“It’s probably better that way.”
“Oh, yes, much better. Well, that’s all, Kieth. I just wanted to tell you why I’m a little — luke-warm, at present.”
“I’m not shocked, Lois. I understand better than you think. We all go through those times. But I know it’ll come out all right, child. There’s that gift of faith that we have, you and I, that’ll carry us past the bad spots.”

He rose as he spoke and they started again down the path.
“I want you to pray for me sometimes, Lois. I think your prayers would be about what I need. Because we’ve come very close in these few hours, I think.”
Her eyes were suddenly shining.
“Oh we have, we have!” she cried. “I feel closer to you now than to any one in the world.”
He stopped suddenly and indicated the side of the path.
“We might — just a minute ——”
It was a pietà, a life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin set within a semicircle of rocks.
Feeling a little self-conscious she dropped on her knees beside him and made an unsuccessful attempt at prayer.
She was only half through when he rose. He took her arm again.


“I wanted to thank Her for letting as have this day together,” he said simply.
Lois felt a sudden lump in her throat and she wanted to say something that would tell him how much it had meant to her, too. But she found no words.
“I’ll always remember this,” he continued, his voice trembling a little ——“this summer day with you. It’s been just what I expected. You’re just what I expected, Lois.”
“I’m awfully glad, Keith.”
“You see, when you were little they kept sending me snap-shots of you, first as a baby and then as a child in socks playing on the beach with a pail and shovel, and then suddenly as a wistful little girl with wondering, pure eyes — and I used to build dreams about you. A man has to have something living to cling to. I think, Lois, it was your little white soul I tried to keep near me — even when life was at its loudest and every intellectual idea of God seemed the sheerest mockery, and desire and love and a million things came up to me and said: ‘Look here at me! See, I’m Life. You’re turning your back on it!’ All the way through that shadow, Lois, I could always see your baby soul flitting on ahead of me, very frail and clear and wonderful.”
Lois was crying softly. They had reached the gate and she rested her elbow on it and dabbed furiously at her eyes.
“And then later, child, when you were sick I knelt all one night and asked God to spare you for me — for I knew then that I wanted more; He had taught me to want more. I wanted to know you moved and breathed in the same world with me. I saw you growing up, that white innocence of yours changing to a flame and burning to give light to other weaker souls. And then I wanted some day to take your children on my knee and hear them call the crabbed old monk Uncle Kieth.”
He seemed to be laughing now as he talked.


take a look at the sky, just before you die


“Oh, Lois, Lois, I was asking God for more then. I wanted the letters you’d write me and the place I’d have at your table. I wanted an awful lot, Lois, dear.”

“You’ve got me, Kieth,” she sobbed “you know it, say you know it. Oh, I’m acting like a baby but I didn’t think you’d be this way, and I— oh, Kieth — Kieth ——”
He took her hand and patted it softly.
“Here’s the bus. You’ll come again won’t you?”
She put her hands on his cheeks, add drawing his head down, pressed her tear-wet face against his.
Oh, Kieth, brother, some day I’ll tell you something.”
He helped her in, saw her take down her handkerchief and smile bravely at him, as the driver kicked his whip and the bus rolled off. Then a thick cloud of dust rose around it and she was gone.
For a few minutes he stood there on the road his hand on the gate-post, his lips half parted in a smile.
“Lois,” he said aloud in a sort of wonder, “Lois, Lois.”
Later, some probationers passing noticed him kneeling before the pietà, and coming back after a time found him still there. And he was there until twilight came down and the courteous trees grew garrulous overhead and the crickets took up their burden of song in the dusky grass.













The first clerk in the telegraph booth in the Baltimore Station whistled through his buck teeth at the second clerk:
“S’matter?”
“See that girl — no, the pretty one with the big black dots on her veil. Too late — she’s gone. You missed somep’n.”
“What about her?”
“Nothing. ‘Cept she’s damn good-looking. Came in here yesterday and sent a wire to some guy to meet her somewhere. Then a minute ago she came in with a telegram all written out and was standin’ there goin’ to give it to me when she changed her mind or somep’n and all of a sudden tore it up.”
“Hm.”
The first clerk came around tile counter and picking up the two pieces of paper from the floor put them together idly. The second clerk read them over his shoulder and subconsciously counted the words as he read. There were just thirteen.

“This is in the way of a permanent goodbye. I should suggest Italy.
“Lois.”


“Tore it up, eh?” said the second clerk.

























Benediction

Was written by

F. Scott Fitzgerald



Author(s) and photography

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Michael A Koontz

To the daisy that is my sun and inspiration

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Last Few Published Books and Articles

  • Available Fine Art & Lifestyle products by Mike Koontz. All of our products are produced and sold through #Society6.

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Your own life is your style
    contemporary art & products for your healthy fit life style



    Each of us is the sum of our own unique lifestyle, thoughts, and touch. Be it in person, or through the way we live. This uniqueness is evident even in our own persona. Each and every one of our life choices in all of life´s big and small moments. It is further, ever-present in the way we have slowly built and shaped the castle and life which we call our home.
    You can feel and see it, in the choices of your clothes, and other peoples fitness regime. It is persistent throughout our art choices and the way we train and live our very own healthy fit life.
    It is forever present inside our deeply individual thoughts, and it is perpetually stamped in the essence of our unique nature. Read on beyond the break and dwell deeper down into today's fitness school question.

  • Fitness school, question 44: What is the actual weight of one cm3 lean muscle mass, and will that weight per cm3 be able to also differ ever so minuscule between fit people and out of shape people (generally speaking that is).

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    A healthy life is a daily process created by making healthy science based choices.
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 44 in our School of Fitness.
    Time for a short and sweet little one.
    As stated in the subject line, lean muscle mass has another weight/density ratio than fat, so a body mass that is made up of more fat and less lean muscle mass will display a bigger mass at a lower body weight, while a body that has a greater amount of lean muscle mass will actually have a higher body weight compared to what its body mass might make you believe.


    Read on beyond the break and dwell deeper down into today's fitness school question.

  • Pressmeddelande: Biologiska mångfaldens dag 2019 tar en tur i naturen för en stund med naturfoto och fitness prat i Höga Kusten.

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    a Norse View & Scandinavian.fitness.
    Biologiska mångfaldens dag 2019, Höga Kusten, Sverige.



    Humlesafari, fladdermuslyssning, fjärilsbingo, krypletning och fågelvandring – den 22 maj uppmärksammas den internationella FN-dagen Biologiska mångfaldens dag med en mängd olika evenemang runt om i Sverige.

    Den årligen återkommande bmf dagen är numera en av Sveriges största naturhögtider och 2019 arrangerar naturorganisationer, kommuner, skolor, myndigheter,företag och privatpersoner över 200 aktiviteter runt om i landet, från Kiruna i norr till Ystad i söder. Det görs både för att visa upp vår artrika natur och för att uppmärksamma en av vår tids stora ödesfrågor – den oroväckande snabba förlusten av biologisk mångfald.

    I Höga Kusten arrangerar Mike från a Norse View och Scandinavian.fitness en dagstur ut i naturen där vi blandar naturfoto i en vacker insjömiljö och faktabaserat prat om kost, träning och hälsa.




  • 'The solitude of lonesome birds nest and winters white caress'.. Thoughts from a moment in life, spring 2019.

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    You are life itself.
    And life resonates in response to you....



    At any point in time there is a history of past moments, both lived and never experienced which all lead up to and beyond the here and now.
    Strings of time and lives stretching further out from this particular point in time as wilderness own roadside of multiplying pathways reaches out, leading perpetually forward and away into the branching future.




  • Fitness school, question 43: Will a daily shower of daylight increase your body's capacity to deal with a long range of biological issues?

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    Fitness is built upon the science of you.
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 43 in our School of Fitness.
    You already know that getting outside for your daily daylight shower is tremendously good for #VitaminD production and keeping your circadian clock healthy & primed.
    But that is not all.


    Getting out and about in daylight also boost your t cell capacity.

    But what exactly does that mean?, read on beyond the break and dwell deeper down into today's fitness school question.

  • Fitness school, question 42: Will maintained fitness reduce menstrual pain for the majority of women?

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    Fitness is built upon the science of you.
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 42 in our School of Fitness.
    Fitness has been established in scientific studies in the last few years as a health-improving daily life painkiller.
    Making it even better is the fact that it comes completely free of cost and nerve-wracking & time-consuming doctors appointment and unhealthy side-effects. Lowering pain and debilitating health issues such as arthritis while fortifying your lifespan and health.

    But is that tremendous gratis painkiller effect applicable to menstrual pain too?.

  • Wildlife Facts: Camelopardalis, 'The camel that could have been a leopard'.. What animal am I talking about right now?

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes

     

     

     
     

     Arctic Sunrise - Year 4.5 Billion
    The camel that could have been a leopard.

     


    One of planet Earth´s most unique land-living animals still roaming about in the wild also happens to be one of the cutest and most enchanting, and gentle colossuses that have ever existed. Yet, somehow, despite the towering size and unique characteristics of these majestic critters they are also one of the lesser talked about wildlife stars. And so it happens that by now they are like so many other species highly endangered without anyone really paying attention.

    But perhaps that is the reward that life gave these majestic beings that float across the land they call home as if they are majestic land dwelling whales. A backseat in the human consciousness as we proceeded to decimate their global population with 40 or so % in less than 30 years.

  • Fitness school, question 41: The science of our human fitness anatomy. Scalenus Anterior, medius and posterior.

    Quality time needed: 1 minute


    Fitness is built upon your own anatomy.
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 41 in our School of Fitness.
    Beneath the tasty, delicious joy and sexiness of a life built on plant-based food and fitness, the weights you lift, the miles you walk and run. The mountains you climb, and the sandbags you punch and kick there is not just a burning passion and increased life quality. Nor is it just a question of the enhanced health and joy you can touch and feel deep inside both body & mind.
    No, there is also this marvelously progressive thing called science. Because all the physical fitness things, the sweat and healthy living discipline that others see are ultimately powered by the all-encompassing facts of biological life.

  • Fitness school, question 40: The science of sugar and intestine tumors... In both mice & men.

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Yet another study on food & health.

    Looking at the impact of sugar in food and beverages.



    Sugar is a much beloved sweetener. Craved like a lovers touch by most biological beings that dare to ever look into the abyss and allow its tastebuds to grace this natural force of addiction.


    But as much as all things living seemingly enjoy the taste of sugar and more modern artificial sweeteners. Scientifically speaking the bad health impact of sugar ( from obesity to diabetes and cancer risk, poor dental health and non existing nutritional value ) and other sweeteners have thankfully turned countless of humans into die hard "no sugar" please sentinels. So let us take a brief look at a brand new 2019 study and let us find out if this study too will add even more reasons to say no to sugar and other sweeteners in your food and beverages.

  • Fitness school, question 39: Telomeres, the fancy sounding tail that connects healthy fit aging with fitness activities. Dive right in as we take a look at recent studies.

    Quality time needed: 13 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 39 in our School of Fitness.
    I have talked about telomeres in years past, and fitness too obviously :).
    But such is the world of fitness, science, and health, it often revisits old "truths" and sometimes upends them because our knowledge has deepened, while new studies at other times will simply fortify and acknowledge what we already knew to be true.
    So what will happen today as we travel back to the world of that peachy sounding telomeres thingy that keeps wiggling its cute little tail inside of us? Let us find out.
    My Question:.
    For this particular study, published in European Heart Journal, Nov 2018, we´ll uncover what happens to the length of our telomeres when we do long distance endurance training, high-intensity sprint intervals, nothing at all or lift weights in a so-so way in the gym ( yeah, color me unimpressed by the strength plan in this study, but hold on to that thought as you read on because I will get back to the fairly inadequate strength training and why that too matters. ).
    The question, which option is the best for maintaining the length of our telomeres and what is the worst?.

  • Anthropocene & the survival of our brilliant but simpleminded species. Just another morning.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Breakfast stuff and morning thoughts.

    climate inaction is an existential threat.



    Nothing fancy or big worded to say today, I am just drinking some tasty fresh black coffee while various death metal songs keep pumping through my livingroom gear.
    Yes, what a glorious morning :).
    But while I am enjoying my morning routine, getting ready for the gym and my own workouts as well as the health and fitness regimes of today's PT clients I am also reading up on science and sustainability from around the world. And one of the pieces that stand out is a tonally laid-back piece by Swedish outlet DN. They spent the better part of a month or so following Swedish sustainability advocate Greta as she continues her quest to bring much-needed awareness to the sad state of the world and the essential, deep-rooted changes we as a species and global civilization urgently need to undertake.

  • Fitness school, question 38. Is obesity itself tied to diabetes type 2 and coronary artery disease?. Yes or no?.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 38 in our School of Fitness.
    Time for a short one.
    Obesity is no friend of the bettering of our health and longevity.
    Just as how the old school act of serious bulking never did anyone's health and fitness levels any favors. And pointing this scientific reality out is not about fat shaming. It´s about helping the world and its individuals turn the tide toward better health, and better fitness. And doing so does not remove peoples individual right to pick whatever body size and fat percentage that they so prefer.
    My Question:.
    We already know that obesity ( and a fat powered high BMI ) increases unhealthy factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And it often increases depression, drowsiness and general sedentary choices. Which indirectly leads to worse health in numerous ways. But if a person with a high fat powered BMI is deemed healthy as far as those traditional markers are concerned is excess fat itself still bad?
    Put in another way, will a higher amount of excess body fat still lead to worse health even if your bloodwork turns out ok and you do not feel depressed and drowsy and you do hit the gym?.

  • Fitness school, question 37: Can something as simple as a reduction of daily walking decrease our lean muscle mass in a noticeable way in just 2 weeks time?

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 37 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, it is once again time for you to put your thinking cap on before you proceed without hesitation through the hallway of healthy fit wonders and science :).
    You already know that keeping fit and lifting your weekly weights and doing your daily cardio is nothing but a rejuvenating choice. It's good for your strength, duh.. It is wondrously good for your harty heart health, and it aids your cognitive and creative processes. It scientifically speaking lowers depression and tardy drowsiness. And if you have been keeping up with me over the years, you also know that keeping fit on a regular weekly basis also lowers your physical age by quite a noticeable margin too.
    But even small ordinary things like taking a daily walk carries with it a huge life long health and fitness impact.

    My Question:.
    What happens with our skeletal lean muscle mass for people above 70 years of age if they take a few thousand steps more or less per day for 2 weeks time?.
    Read on to reveal just how big the impact of that tiny change can be below the break.

  • Fitness School, Question 36, Will lifting weights 1-3 days per week be enough to lower cardiovascular related mortality?.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 36 in our School of Fitness.
    All forms of fitness activity is a tiny little pill of good health no matter who you are.
    But is the simple act of lifting weights one to three days per week enough to substantially lower the risk of cardiovascular related mortality?.
    Yup, that is how easy and straightforward question number 36 turned out to be. And why? Because we have a brand new study to lean back on when it comes down to the (obvious) answer.
    Read on to reveal the complete Q and A below the break.

  • Going beyond 1.5C. Our world and daily life behind the IPCC report.

    Quality time needed: 27 minutes


    Cause & Consequence.

    Life on Earth laid bare by the IPCC report.



    But before we head on over to the meaty real life data of our reckless modern day life, which the 2018 IPCC report painfully laid bare, walk with me as I step out on frosty cold northern shores for my morning walk.

    Just a Thursday, spent on northern shores.
    And this is the way I started this gorgeous little Autumn day.

  • Roundabouts in the milky way galaxy. The duality of a sustainable earth, and interplanetary living.

    Quality time needed: 14 minutes


    Walking through the gates of autumn.

    We see a brand new dawn.



    Life itself is this majestic mirror world of brilliance and incompetence. Eternally merging and reflected, individually disengaged yet perfectly synchronized and attached to each other and everything else.

    Like the leaf that finds itself stranded on the wayward peaks of a stormy ocean. They are each others counterpart, yet entirely different. Individual objects, entwined and interconnected. Disengaged and perfectly unique.

  • Into Autumn, the spider´s lullaby. Random thoughts on life from another gorgeous day.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    Walking through the gates of autumn.

    Together with a tiny little spider.



    And today, there´s officially a full-blown Autumn song playing out there in nature. Gorgeous and sunny, on a Sunday =). Wind free, except for the tiniest of breeze that you can almost not see or feel as it slowly makes it way through the crown of leaves that towers above.

    But it is, none the less, Autumn.
    The colors of the trees reveal it. The pale blue September moon that hangs high up in the middle of the day is another telltale.

  • The anatomy and fitness function of our gorgeous human ass ( The mighty three we call the Gluteus ).

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes


    The gorgeous strength of Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

    The science of health and fitness should always be your lifelong guide.



    Fitness is as wonderful for your health as it is for landing you a more sculpted and capable body over time.
    But that will never change that even fit people (quite a lot of them) are doing the right things for the wrong reasons. Case in point the fit and good looking girl you can see in the IG video I am linking to, she obviously trains hard and regular while being in great shape, and she does know quite a few things about the body and the science of staying healthy and fit.
    Which is wonderful on all counts.
    But like so many other gym goers she is seemingly misinformed about a few things too ( on the other hand, so are we all :P ). Allowing wrongful information and knowledge to shape her choices and the choices of other people that gulps up everything we fit people believe to be true. However, if you are willing to listen to it the beautiful science of health and fitness will guide you towards a better body and better health and better workouts if you pay attention to real fitness science instead of personal opinions. You see, there is nothing wrong with the exercises she is doing. But outside of the wonderful world of human anatomy, there is no such thing as an upper or lower butt muscle as far as your exterior appearance goes, nor is there a meaningful difference as far as your practical fitness capacity and workout goes.

    Click through and let us talk about Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

  • Earth over shoot day is one of many events and situations during the year that signals the mindless gluttony of our evolving hybrid species.

    Quality time needed: 8 minutes


    Planet Earth - studies & life in the Anthropocene.

    A new way of life is needed.



    But what is it exactly? And why is something that sounds so cute something truly terrible that we need to take seriously as a global whole.
    To most people, it is more than likely just another ridiculous phrase keyboard warriors throw around once a year while they too waste this world to the point of no return.
    But this ever-moving yearly event day is anything but deadly essential.

    Every year this day signals the point in that year where we have used up all the naturally replenishing resources of this planet.
    And beyond this point, the planet is losing its inventory for the next year(s) ahead and it's capacity to restock.

    Which if we are talking about corporations and business leaders is something that would cause pretty much every corporate leader out there to die from a heart attack if it persistently happened to their business. But when its Earth, people just shrug their mindless shoulders and look the other way as if the greenhouse we are subsisting in isn't the singular thing that feeds and house us all.

  • Fitness facts: How and why does the range of motion in any given strength exercise matter?.

    Quality time needed: 10 minutes


    Diving down into a range of motion and squat study.

    The science of health and fitness should always be your gym guide.



    Right now, if you enter any given gym, the wonderful world of barbells will conjure up as many opinions as there are fitness girls on Instagram, no matter the subject.
    And plenty of opinions are exactly that, personal opinions, formed by peer pressure in the gym, on social media, or by fit vixens looking to make a bigger following by posting daily stuff which may or may not be factually correct.

    There are out of date school gym coaches still living in the past, badly informed parents, friends, big brothers, big sisters, commercial interests only looking out for the next conference call, as well as uninformed writers working for big tabloids which just happened to draw the assignment to make a puff piece on fitness.

    So let us instead look at science and what it actually has to teach us about the range of motion for any particular exercise. And for the purpose of this article, let us focus on a Squat centric use case since legs and ass are thankfully all the rage anyway :).

  • Moments from the Anthropocene, the fox and my morning coffee.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    The scent of black coffee.

    And wild breakfast companions.



    'Today' (another today ) while enjoying my first cup of coffee standing outside on my sun-drenched porch, I could hear something sneakily make its way through the underbrush and thick tall grass and florals that intermix with the deep dark, and thankfully, untouched old forest at the edge of my property.

    Fast forward just a little bit and I could start to see the movement in the thin youngling trees and the tall flowers. Something was out there, touching here and there making the wild plants and florals sway as it drew nearer me.

  • The savagery that is the carnivore dietary plan vs the science of health and fitness.

    Quality time needed: 15 minutes


    The error of your way.

    Could be spelled 'the carnivore diet'..



    A growing number of people in the world adopt healthy, fit living by going increasingly more vegetarian for a long range of personal reasons and or due to scientific reasons. Some of those reasons often include the substantial increase in cancer and diabetes risk that eating red meat and highly processed foods causes, or the impossible mathematics behind an entire world eating ever higher amounts of meat, or the incredible amount of pollution that animal food production causes.

    And facts are, that all those reasons are equally good, sound and true, so it does not even matter why you do it. It is a good and healthy choice to eat less red meat, and by doing so you will contribute towards a healthier you, and a healthier world.

  • Anthropocene: 12 vaquitas left in the world before they too face the ultimate end of line which is called extinction.

    Quality time needed: 5 minutes


    The vaquitas are sadly not alone.

    This is the Lost World of Planet Earth.



    Around the world, the vaquitas are sadly not alone, there are countless of animal species, plants and all that´s facing the threat of extinction in ever greater numbers. And the pace is accelerating, so it´s not business as usual.
    Worse, this is all down to man-made issues.
    It got nothing to do with prey and predatory fluctuations. And it got nothing to do with natural events and Earths naturally changing cycles.

  • Let us talk about the concept of 'Half Earth' and why both Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN and I share the opinion that it is all about 'Whole Earth'.

    Quality time needed: 7 minutes


    People & Planet is just a mutual ecosystem.

    The Lost World.



    A long and well established connective tissue in the way I talk and write, and think about health & fitness is that we are all connected through this global ecosystem we all share.
    Which is why I have over the years pointed out that living in a sustainable way is ultimately all about health. Individual health & planetary health. People that are opting to eat shit just isn't healthy.
    Neither from a planetary or individual perspective.

    Just as how healthy fit people that´s living unsustainable, just isn't healthy living people either.

  • Fitness School, Question 35, Let us dig deep down into 'standing barbell row' and the complete amount of muscles it will engage and activate.

    Quality time needed: 3 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 35 in our School of Fitness.
    Once we venture beyond the glorious realms of leg and glutes training, there is the never-ending hallway of kicking and boxing to explore and conquer.
    But what else lies beyond the joy of those fit & healthy cornerstones?.
    Well, if it was not obvious so far in life, martial arts and legs and glutes have their equal in the colossus that is weighted back training.
    And when it comes down to weighted back training, actually, when it comes down to working the upper body at all, there is one exercise which I will never hesitate to put front and center (together with deadlift), and that is 'Standing Barbell Row'.
    Here is my question:
    Standing Barbell Row will challenge and work you from top to toe.
    But can you list all of the muscles which you will activate when you do this bad boy in a properly challenging way?.

  • The things we see in the rearview mirror, the world meat free week, and Scandinavian winter scenes.

    Quality time needed: 6 minutes


    Views we catch in the rear view mirror as we leave #worldmeatfreeweek behind us.

    The Lost World.



    Good and healthy vegetarian food is able to provide health & fitness improving nutrition for far more people, despite polluting much less and using up a lot less landmass vied towards animal farming.
    And you can quote me on that because that simple statement is 100% based on science & clear-cut facts instead of peoples personal opinions and conjecture.

    In fact, food production from animal farming is already using up 83% of our global agricultural land. Yet, it is only managing to deliver about 18% of the calories we consume. And does that situation not sound completely unsustainable and fool-hearted to maintain?.

  • Fitness School, Question 34, Is there a connection between weighted leg and glute training and your brain maintaining a healthy neurological cell production?

    Quality time needed: 4 minutes


    Fitness School
    Do you know the right answer?.



    Question number 34 in our School of Fitness.
    Yes, we absolutely love our leg and glute day. The challenge it provides is a huge mountain of fun to climb every single week.
    But, did you know that you are not just strengthening your lower body when you are building stronger legs, ass, and hips?. Of course, you do. You know damn well that those leg days are crucial for the health and wellness of your lower back and abs too. And it sure does tax your heart and metabolic functions too. However, let us go upstairs towards our brainy area with this question.
    Here is my question:
    Is it true that weighted exercises in the gym for your leg and glutes will increase the production of healthy neural cells? ( which are crucial for the capacity and health of our brain and entire nervous system )

  • The Lost World XVIII and the enemy of all things living. #Connect2Earth

    Quality time needed: 9 minutes


    This is the lost world XVIII.
    And how life in the Anthropocene is the tale about the enemy of all things living.
    Healthy living is nothing but the science of life.



    With the rising tide of the Baltic sea far beneath me, I towered the surrounding world.
    Looking out from the crest of the Scandinavian coastline. This was still a place lost in time and mist. A mountain entirely dressed in green and trees, moss and berries, sand and soil, and it is, as much a mountainous castle growing ever taller as it is the place where salt and cold black water comes crashing in to embrace the land of the Vikings.

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