Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:

Yesterday morning while watering I noticed my elderberry bush had a large supply of bunches of ripe elderberries. Late in the morning I took a bucket, clippers and a pole with a hook on it out and harvested several pounds of the berries with the intent of making elderberry, pancake syrup. When we got home from lunch I stripped and washed the berries and put them in a blender. I ended up with 7 cups of berries, blended down to 5 cups. Then I strained the solids out and was left with a quart of juice. I added four cups of Splenda, 1/8th of a teaspoon of cream of tartar (which I may not have needed, but just to be on the safe side), and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I then heat, stirring until I achieved a rolling boil. I turned down the heat and let it cook for about four minutes after which I set it aside to cool. When cooled, I bottled it in a sterile bottle and refrigerated.

This morning Nancy had a fasting blood test. After staying up all night studying for it, she left the house this morning without taking her crib notes with her. I, however, remembered to take the bottle of elderberry, pancake syrup with me. So while she sat for the blood exam, I had pancakes with, you guessed it, elderberry syrup. How was it you ask? Well, let me put it this way. If I had not strained the solids out, I would have more than I presently have; and, that would not be a bad thing.

I cleaned up the Phantom 4. I checked the blades and decided that they might still be usable once I got the blackberry stains off the. So, I cleaned them and installed them and put the Phantom 4 through some of its paces this morning. Yes, the blades worked just fine. I still have to learn to control the camera for composition. It seems to have a bias for the angle of the selfie I sent you yesterday. I obviously have a lot more learning to do.

This morning when my drone was about 200 feet up, the neighbor’s cat walked under it just a few seconds after I hit the home button. As the drone descended the cat looked up and kept a wary eye on it. As the drone got closer to the ground, and the spot where the cat was standing and watching, the cat made a beeline for cover and ended up under the Ridgeline.DJI_0014 email.jpg

My smartphone, which houses the Phantom 4 app, keeps telling me the app has a virus and I should uninstall it. I keep ignoring the warning. However, I read a news report that the Pentagon, which had been using the Phantom, ceased using it because the app that runs it sends information back to its manufacturer—like photos and GPS locations. The Phantom is manufactured in China. I suspect it is the app’s built-in sending of information to China that causes my phone to object. Funny, my phone was manufactured in South Korea. If I were paranoid, I would worry about the Chinese and Sout Koreans having too much information about the defenses around my house—specifically the 6-foot fence (I have already camouflaged the gun emplacements).

Warmest regards, Ed

058 A Prophet and An Explorer

Fiction in 752 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017

[Space, the Other Universe] “I think you are trying to get inside the alien craft as close as we are to the surface,” said Agent White. “Indeed, we are closer than the last time.” Then pointing to the surface, “There is the mark you made with the chalk the last time. Which way shall we go for our next sub-surface survey.”

Special Agent Fleishman said, “I don;t think it matters as long as we stay on this asphalt like surface away from the structures that look like rocket nozzles. For if I were building a space craft I would put more protection in the bow and most of the engines astern. From here, I would recommend port or starboard, either would do nicely.”

“Port, starboard, bow, stern, why don’t you just point. If you are going to talk nautical, I will have to stop and think,” said Agent White, “The closest I have been to an ocean going vessel is in a theater seat watching the film Titanic XVI.”

Special Agent Fleishman pointed; and, Agent White aimed the propulsion valve attached to her air tank the opposite way. After a few seconds of movement, she used her propulsion valve to stop them and lower them the few centimeters to rest on the surface of the alien craft. She then used her propulsion valve to hold the two of them and the portable x-ray unit on the surface of the alien craft while Special Agent Fleishman operated the unit.

After several minutes Agent Fleishman said, “These reading look identical to the ones we took earlier. I’m guessing the space that Walter suggested from the earlier data continues at least this far. What say I take a look?”

“Are you sure that is a good idea?” asked Agent White.

“No, but at some point, we are going to have to separate so you can drag that,” he said pointing to the portable radar unit, “back if I am wrong and pivot into solid matter.” He unhooked his tether from hers and the one attached to the radar unit and said, “I’ll be right back. If I am not, then that won’t be of much use to getting into this spaceship.” Special Agent Fleishman vanished.

[Spaceport Redemption, Cafeteria] James was standing on a chair so the 200 or so people gathered could see him. “The One True God was clear,” said James. He swung his arm in an arc to include all gathered before him. “You were to return to your homes and await further word from him. He will instruct you soon.”

A woman near the back of the room stood up, “I do not mean to question our One True God. We all are uncertain about the future and what to expect. Can you not tell us more?”

“I have not been told more,” replied James. “However, if I were you I would make some decisions about what in my life is worth carrying with me and what I should not carry with me. What has value; what does not.”

The woman stood stock still and contorted her face, turned her head and then snapped to as if called to attention. “That is a heavy burden,” she said, “but, I will go now and search my soul for value in the things in my custody.” She turned and walked to the door. Others, slowly, one by one, stood and followed her. Finally, only one old man remained. He looked up at James and said, “I used to be a prophet until Nikud stopped talking to me. It was a great loss. Do not get used to his voice. Do not need his voice, for surely, he will abandon you as he did me. I do not know what my failure was, but I feel he has forgiven me.” The old man turned to go and then stopped turned around and said, “May Nikud show you kindness now that he has taken you as his prophet”

[Space, the Other Universe] ‘There are times that 23 seconds can seem like an eternity,’ Thought Agent White. ‘and this is one of them.’

Special Agent Fleishman materialized in the same spot he had pivoted from 24 seconds before interruption Agent White’s thoughts.

“Thank God you were not entombed in this,” she said pointing down to the surface of the alien craft. “What did you see?”

“I didn’t see anything,” Special Agent Fleishman replied, “We didn’t bring portable lightning—I need a flashlight.”

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