The Shepherd's Story of the Bond of FriendshipThe Shepherd’s Story of the Bond of Friendship

Once upon a time in a land that knew war there lived a little boy with his family. His family knew all too well the turmoil that was caused by living in such an area. People from here and there disagreed with one another.

One night the father brought someone home with him. It was a little girl, and her name was Anastasia. She was not much younger than the boy. The father had promised the girl’s father, through a bond of friendship, that they would be friends no matter what. The little girl had lost her parents, and the man had agreed to watch over this child as his own.

The family lived together for a time, several years passed. The boy would often carry Anastasia with him. One night two men came to the house. They had dinner, and things seemed fine. They went upon their way, and the father served as a guide for a while. Soon other people showed up. They killed the two men and killed the father. They said the family had harbored robbers. The mother, the boy, and Anastasia had to leave.

They went and lived somewhere else for a while, which wasn’t far away. There they met someone named Aphtanides. Aphtanides was kind to the family and became a good friend to the boy. He was a fisherman. The family grew to miss their home, so they went back. It had been destroyed, but they rebuilt it. Anastasia grew into a beautiful young woman.

Aphtanides went away to the sea and had many things to tell the young man when he returned. Aphtanides and the young man agreed to perform the vow of friendship that the boy’s father had performed years before. It was a solemn occasion, and they took it seriously.

The two friends talked, and Aphtanides asked the young man to reveal the desires of his heart. The young man loved Anastasia and wanted her for his wife. It turns out that Aphtanides also loved Anastasia, but as he had taken a vow of friendship with the young man he let him have Anastasia. Anastasia was married to the young man, and he remained friends with Aphtanides.


There is quite a bit of history in this story. The town this boy lived in was most likely Naupaktos, but Hans might have had something else in mind. Naupaktos is a town in Greece, near Delphi and Mount Parnassus, as mentioned in the story. The city is also called Lepanto. What this story says about the area is true. It was a war-torn area. There are several reasons the area experiences so much turmoil. During the days of the Oracle, as in the Oracle at Delphi, people sought to have control over the oracle. Supposedly, there was a crack in the Earth from which emitted gasses that induced trance-like states. This is where the tradition of the Oracle supposedly came from. An old woman got high, and the priests interpreted what she said as Apollo’s word.

As time went on, the area became a battleground for other reasons. As you know, the Ottoman Empire expanded over vast portions of the Earth for a while. The Ottoman empire only got as far as Lepanto. They suffered a terrible defeat in the Gulf of Lepanto, which caused their expansion to slow.

The idea that there were Turks still ruling over some Greek people in this story is probably not far from some of the things that happened. There would have been bloodshed and people killing other people for not very good reasons.


This story is longer than many of Hans’ stories, so a summary does not do it justice, but the theme here is friendship. Aphtanides loved the same woman his best friend loved. Instead of trying to take her, he let his friend have her. That takes some dedication. That takes a whole lot of dedication.

You can make a relationship work with anybody if you try hard enough. Heck, you could probably make a relationship with a soda can work, but you would have to try really, really, really hard. We are not all that tough. Liking someone makes a relationship a whole lot easier. Both of these young men liked Anastasia. They were not going to have to try very hard for that relationship to work, but their friendship was the relationship they valued more.

Aphtanides chose to be the one who gave the girl up because his best friend liked her. He had sworn this oath of friendship, and he paid a heck of a price for it.

I guess you could say the theme of this story is, “Besties for life,” but one of them is going to be sadder than the other one.



I don’t know how I feel about this guy giving up the woman he loved. It seems awfully sad. I know he did it for noble reasons, but I would have preferred him to be happy, especially since Anastasia had essentially been the other guy’s sister.

Weigh In

Marry your adopted sister? Yeah or Nay?

Would you give up what felt like the love of your life because your best friend loved him or her?

The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring WarrenThe Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren

Spring decided that she wanted to provide most of the food she ate from her small plot of land, about a quarter of an acre. Spring did not live out in the country where she had ample room; she lived around other houses. This is the story of how she lived off of her farm for a year.

Spring’s children weren’t altogether enthused about her experiment, but since they already had geese, a duck, chickens, and some other plants, it wasn’t that far of a leap. At first Spring found that eating zucchini all the time wasn’t that appetizing, but then she learned the art of zucchini recipes, a few of which are in the book.

Things didn’t always go how Spring had planned. She had more of this vegetable than she ever thought was possible, this vegetable didn’t grow right, this one got too much water, the water bill was too high, a tree fell in her salad garden, and that’s just a few events.

As the year progresses, Spring gets better at dealing with setbacks. She gets better at being a gardener and her family gets better at eating lots of vegetables.


What I liked

I liked Spring’s adventure, even though I wonder if Spring Warren is really her name. I think it’s neat that she endeavored to grow so much of her own food. It’s a worthy task. I liked that she seemed so calm about the thing. I honestly don’t know how this woman eats so many vegetables. I mean, I like vegetables, but she ate a lot of vegetables.

What I didn’t like

The whole thing was rather enjoyable. There isn’t really anything I didn’t like.


I love hearing about people’s lives and their gardens.

Weigh In

Would you grow your own food for a year?

If you had to grow your own food for a year, would you be malnourished by the end of the year?

The Metal Pig

The Metal PigThe Metal Pig

In the city of Florence, there is a well-known statue of a pig. It is cast in bronze and water flows from its snout. The beggars of the city all know where the pig is. Children are often in the habit of hanging from the pig to take a drink of water directly from its mouth. The snout of the pig is a shiny polished bronze while the rest of it is green.

A little boy had been out begging one day, but did not have any money for his efforts. He took a drink from the pig’s mouth. Instead of going home, where he knew his mother would scold him, he climbed upon the pig’s back and fell asleep.

He awoke because the pig was running. It had come to life. It ran all over through the city. The pig told the boy that he could only come to life when a child was upon his back. The pig ran past other statues in the city, which were also alive, including Michelangelo’s David. The pig then ran into a gallery full of all manner of wonderful works of art by the masters. Then the pig ran to the church of Santa Croce where many learned men are entombed.

The boy soon woke up. The pig was not awake; it was a statue again. He went home, dreading his return. Once at home, in a filthy mean little place, the mother demanded what money the boy had begged. The boy had not begged any money. The mother was angry and began to shout at him. A neighbor woman came in to see what all the noise was about. She accosted the mother for treating her son so, but the mother said, “He’s my son. I can murder him if I like.” The two women got into a fight and the son ran away.
He ran to the church he had been on the night before. He leaned upon the burial place of Michelangelo and cried and cried. He was there all day. An elderly man had seen him. At the end of the day, the elderly man invited him home with him. The man turned out to be a glove maker along with his wife. The elderly man went and talked to the boy’s mother, and she said it was ok for him to stay. They would turn him into a glove maker as well.

The couple owned a little dog, which had to go outside in a little coat because its fur was shaven so close to the skin. The boy, at first, got along with the dog, but as all boys do, he soon did boy things, which included teasing animals, this the woman did not like. She scolded the boy. One day the boy helped an artist carry his materials. The boy wanted to watch him paint, but it was not time yet. The artist befriended the boy somewhat, and the boy began to learn to sketch.

One evening the boy ran out to visit the metal pig. The dog had followed him, and it was cold. The pig was just a statue and did not come to life when the boy sat upon its back. The boy wanted to get the dog home because he knew the glove maker couple would worry about the dog, but the guards caught him and accused him of stealing the dog. They kept it at the guard shack until the boy could prove whom the dog belonged to. The boy ran home to get the couple, who were upset about the dog. The man went and retrieved the dog, but the woman had had enough. She kicked the boy out of the house.

The little boy was taken in by the artist who befriended him. He grew up to be an artist himself. One of his paintings was of a little boy upon the pig’s back, but the painting hung in the gallery with a piece of black crepe because the artist had just died.

The End



Hans can’t leave death out of a story, can he?

The works of art mentioned in this story are all real, but perhaps the last works of art mentioned as created by the little boy. I couldn’t find the paintings that the boy supposedly painted when he grew up. They may exist, and this story may have been based on a real artist, but I can’t find that information. If you know, please comment.

I’m impressed with Hans’ knowledge of the art world. Florence is home to a heck of a lot of art. Hans mentioned so many famous pieces of sculpture and so many paintings. They’re all real. You can go and see them.

The most important piece of art, the metal pig, is real. It’s called Porcellino, which means “piglet.” It’s in Italy, but there are also copies all over the world, and its nose is polished because people keep rubbing it. The tradition was to rub the pig’s nose for a safe return to Florence. I’m sure children drank out of the pig fountain as well.



Was the pig really alive? Probably not. The ride upon the pig’s back was just a dream. The boy learned something from that dream though. He learned about the art world. He learned how things could be captured on paper and in sculpture. Once he was gifted with a couple who encouraged him just a bit, he was able to practice and learn. When he was then gifted with a mentor who could teach him art, he became an artist. The pig showed him what art could be and what the boy could create. The boy then followed his path to becoming an artist.

If the pig had not shown the boy these things, he might have never been an artist. While it is true that he died young, he was able to create some amazing artwork. It was all inspired by what the pig had shown him.

Remember that you can be that spark in a child’s life. You can show them something that will



I want to go see this metal pig.

Weigh In

What do you think of the family the boy has?

Do fountains hold any significance in your life?

The Wicked Prince

The Wicked PrinceThe Wicked Prince

Once upon a time there was a wicked prince who terrorized the lands all around. He desired nothing more than to add to his wealth and his lands. He conquered all sorts of nations and did unspeakable things. He brought home an enormous amount of wealth to his homeland. His people had no idea of the terrible things he had done. He made the kings of defeated lands pull his chariots, but no one caught on.

The prince wanted more and more. He did not have enough wealth, even though he had conquered so many lands. He soon erected statues of himself in all the conquered places. The priests did not agree with him. They told him that he might have been mighty, but God was still mightier than he.

The prince decided to wage a war against God. He had a beautiful ship built. It had a tail like a peacock’s. Each eye was a gun. Eagles were tethered to the ship, and they caused it to fly. The ship rose up and up. God sent one lone angel against the prince, and the prince returned with what seemed like all the firepower he had. One drop of blood fell from the angel and onto the ship, but the weight of it was so great that the ship plummeted to the Earth. The prince was half dead when the ship landed in a tree, but he swore he would conquer God.

The prince spent seven years building other flying ships and developing new weapons. He and his ship once again rose into the air to conquer God. God was ready though, he sent a swarm of gnats to pester the prince. The prince swatted at the gnats but could not hit them. He ordered for costly coverings to cover himself, but one little gnat got inside. It bit him, and it stung. The prince threw off his clothes and danced about because the spot burned so much. The soldiers looked on upon the man who had dared to oppose God, but was conquered by one tiny gnat.

The End



There are stories about people trying to conquer God, the most notorious being the story of the Tower of Babel. People wanted to build a tower to get to God. They built a tall tower, but their efforts were foiled. God caused the tower to fall and the people’s languages to be confounded. God proved that, even though, the efforts of the people had been mighty, they were not enough to conquer him.

It’s the same with this story. A man tried to conquer God because he saw God as the only thing greater than himself. He had already conquered everyone who was weaker, and now he turned to that which was stronger. He lost because he just wasn’t as mighty as he thought he was.



There are two imperative things we should take away from this story.

The first is that this prince seemed wonderful to his people for quite a while. The people praised him. No one suspected him of all the nefarious things he had done in order to gain such wealth and prosperity. That’s how it all started. We did see that gradually the priests became less accepting of him. In the beginning, though, everyone thought he was great stuff. That’s how it always seems to be with dictators.

In the beginning, everyone thinks their ruler is so wonderful, but things don’t stay that way. People outside of the country know better, but the people inside of the country like all the new changes that are happening. Then things slip a little. Things slip a little more. People hear things. Bad things start to happen. People eventually realize that their ruler isn’t as great as he or she had seemed. I can guarantee you, that, by the time this prince started his second war with God, his people were quite the discontented lot.

The second thing we need to take away from this story is that this prince was defeated by gnat. How tiny is a gnat? A gnat is pretty small. This man was so much bigger than a gnat, but yet, it defeated him. We have to remember that we may be big compared to other things, but those tiny things can pack a punch. Most likely, the prince was so concerned with all the big things, that he never even imagined that something so little would defeat him.

It’s not just the big things that will get you; it’s the little things too. Be wary.



This guy–what a dork.

Weigh In

Who wages a war against God and thinks they’re going to win? There’s a song with a line that goes something like, “I fought the law, and the law won.” Same concept.

Do you think this prince was too concerned with the big things?


Cemetery Girl by David BellCemetery Girl by David Bell

In a world where you are tasked with raising a child and keeping him or her safe, one of the worst things to happen would be for that child to disappear. You would feel heartbroken, and you would blame yourself, but what if they came back?

Tom and his wife Abby are living a terrible half-life, an imitation of the real thing. Tom takes the dog, Frosty, to the pound. Frosty is the last living link to their daughter, Caitlin. Four years ago Caitlin disappeared while taking the dog for a walk. As the dog cannot speak, no one knows what happened to Caitlin. Leads have dried up. The case has been put on simmer. Abby wants to hold a fake memorial for Caitlin, just to feel some closure.

Tom and Abby decide to split. Their lives are just too different now. The disappearance of their twelve-year-old daughter has taken the tender things away from their relationship.

One day something surprising happens. There is a lead. A young woman who works at a strip club has a story to tell Tom. She says she saw his daughter, Caitlin, there in the strip club. She was with an old man, perfectly described by the witness. Everyone tells Tom not to get his hopes up, but it’s the first real lead they’ve had in years. A sketch is released to the public.

Meanwhile, Tom’s relationship with his brother is also strained. The younger brother, Buster, who has been in some trouble with the law, refuses to acknowledge that there was anything bad ever going on at the house while they were growing up. Tom and Buster butt heads continuously over things and seem to have falling-outs weekly.

Tom’s phone rings one day, and it’s the police. They have his daughter. Sure enough, Caitlin is there, alive, at the police station. She asks Tom never to ask where she was and what happened. Taking Caitlin home is strange. She is a different person now, and no one yet knows what the relationship is between Caitlin and her captor. How did it happen? Why didn’t she try to run away sooner?

Things go from bad to worse before any semblance of progress appears. David begins to think he sees another girl, much like Caitlin in the cemetery beside the park. First, he thinks she is a ghost of Caitlin, but the truth comes out. The truth that does come out would break any parent’s heart.


What I liked

I’ve read similar books, some of them were actually true stories, such as Jaycee Dugard’s memoir. Girls are frequently taken and for various reasons. They’re taken away from parents, who, no doubt, blame themselves to a large extent. What could they have done? There is nothing they would not give to have the chance to have their daughter back again. This book shows the harsh reality of getting the daughter back. It may not be the fairytale reunion you had always dreamed of. Things may have been happening that have completely changed who your daughter is. I liked the psychology of this book.

David weaves in enough self-doubt to put and edge on the whole story. Any of us would doubt ourselves. Any of us would have trouble with this situation. Tom’s life seems very authentic to


What I didn’t like

We are looking at a case of Stockholm syndrome here. We are talking about a little girl who was taken away from her family. Her emotions and not fully developed brain played a part in her being able to believe the things she believed of her captor.

She was only twelve years old when she was taken. Twelve is such a malleable age in a girl’s life. You women know what I’m talking about; the men have no idea. At twelve, you are just going through puberty, or you recently went through puberty. You’re not a little girl, but you’re not a woman either. You believe everything everyone says about you. You have not developed the bit of thicker skin that comes with growing up a few years and facing some more grown-up challenges. If someone tells you you’re fat, you believe them. If someone tells you that you’re ugly, you believe them. If someone tells you that your parents don’t love you anymore and that you should stay with that person, you believe them.

Just as an aside, let this be a reminder to all of you–be careful of what you say to girls that are twelve and around that age. You might say something to them that damages them for life. The psyche of a preteen girl is a fragile thing.

If this girl had been a little older, by just a couple of years or so, she would have been able to resist this man just a little more so. Give her four more years, and she would have gone kicking and screaming.



This book is a fast and entertaining read that will leave you wondering what’s going to happen next.

What the Moon Saw-Summary

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Summary

What the Moon Saw has gone through all thirty-two of its nights, but I wanted to look back over the entirety of this story that took over a month to tell. I wanted to look back to the beginning and examine the story as a whole.

At the beginning of the story, an artist had recently moved to the city and felt very alone. When he looked at the night sky, he saw the familiar face of the moon. The moon promised to tell him a story each night. The artist might paint the story the moon told to him so that he would have a wonderful storybook.

The moon did come to the artist, not every night, but the moon did come many nights. The moon told the artist stories from all around the world to the artist. He spoke of Germany. He spoke of Sweden. He spoke of China. He spoke of India. He spoke of real things.

The things the Moon tells the artist are fascinating because many of them are real. Vreta Abbey is a real place. Gulte Rothschild is a real person, and she really did refuse to leave the home of her poorer days. Hans managed to include a world history lesson. I’m quite impressed with how much Hans seemed to know of the world outside of his country. He spoke of far away places with a fair amount of accuracy.

Hans didn’t have the internet; he had to get all of this information from traveling or from books; this meant Hans was either quite the traveler or quite the bookworm. Why wouldn’t Hans be a bookworm? He was a writer.

The Moon’s stories were great and varied, but there are some things I would have liked to have read in these stories.

Hans mainly sticks to European history, or near European history. Europe has had relations with China and India much longer than the other continents of the world. All the stories Hans tells are very European. I have to wonder why he didn’t think to include a story about Africa or the Americas. As widely read as Hans seemed to be, he must have heard stories about Africa and the Americas. The moon shows its face to all the world, not just Europe and Asia. I feel that the story would have been more complete with tales from other places.

The moon never goes back to speak directly to the artist after the introduction. We know the artist is there throughout the entire story, but the moon never has a heart-to-heart with him again. I would have liked to have known if the moon’s nightly stories helped the artist. Did the artist really make his storybook? Did he feel less lonely? Did he finally acclimate to living in the city? Did he become a successful artist? What happened to him? The moon leaves us hanging rather abruptly.

I have to wonder why Hans wrote thirty-two nights of the moon coming to see the artist. There are only thirty-one days in a month, or thirty, depending on what month it is. Hans would have had an entire cycle of the moon if he had only written thirty-one days. Hans obviously took some liberties with the moon and how often a person could see it. The artist wouldn’t have been able to see the moon every night. It might have been a new moon. It might have been raining. The moon wasn’t going to be there every night. The artist states that the moon did not come to him every night and there is a stretch of two weeks where the moon did not come at all to the artist, but this doesn’t exactly match up with the phases of the moon.

The number thirty-two doesn’t seem to match up with anything real. It almost seems as if Hans just got tired of writing about the moon. I’ll never know because Hans is gone.

Even though there are questions I have about the story, I still found it entertaining and interesting. I really like the idea of the moon going all these places and seeing all these things. I liked the idea of the moon looking down at us all and taking an interest in our lives. This artist was sad and lonely. The moon kept him company, if that’s not a nice thing to do, I don’t know what is.

Moon by Ashe ArterberryWhat the Moon Saw-Thirty-Second Evening

This story is the last evening the moon speaks to the artist. Let’s start off with a quote from the story.

“I love the children,” said the Moon, “especially the quite little ones—they are so droll. Sometimes I peep into the room, between the curtain and the window frame, when they are not thinking of me. It gives me pleasure to see them dressing and undressing. First, the little round naked shoulder comes creeping out of the frock, then the arm; or I see how the stocking is drawn off, and a plump little white leg makes its appearance, and a white little foot that is fit to be kissed, and I kiss it too.

Um…yeah, we’ll talk about that later.

The moon is looking upon a house seemingly full of children. There are several children whom all share a room together. They’re of various ages. The older ones are jumping about doing all manner of things. The mother often sits in the room until the children begin to fall asleep. The youngest child, a girl, is not very old but can say her prayers as well as any of the older children. Every single night she says the Lord’s Prayer. Every single night she amends the Lord’s Prayer with something mumbled and spoken so fast that the mother cannot understand.

This night the mother asks her daughter what she has been saying after, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The girl replies, “and plenty of butter on it.”

That was the thirty-second evening.



Hans was a weird dude. The more I learn about his personal life, the more I realize that Hans was just an oddball. He was definitely talented, but he was also definitely weird. He never married, although he fell head over heels for several people. He kept a diary, and he wrote about some of his loves, including self-love. Hans was not shy about writing about self-pleasure sessions in his journal. Maybe he thought no one would ever read it. I don’t know.

Even though, Hans was a weird guy; I’ve never read anything hinting at any inappropriate relationships with children. The bit of this story that I quote in the very beginning of this post seems a bit inappropriate. The wording is saying the moon likes the watch children undress. Look, it may have been ok at some point in history to say that you liked naked children, but it’s not appropriate today. You can’t ever tell someone that you like to watch children undress unless you want to go to prison.

Don’t take this bit of passage as inspiration or advice. Even though it may have been completely innocent in Hans’ day, it’s not innocent now. I know that says a lot about how we twist things, but it also says a lot about how there are a lot of pedophiles.


Kids are funny. This little girl prayed for butter on her bread. Everything is better with butter, even butter. That meme about Paula Deen and butter is the truth. Everything needs butter. Please don’t use margarine; it’s practically plastic.

Butter tastes good, that’s why people like it. This little girl liked butter. As a result, she prayed for her bread to have butter. The Lord’s Prayer is about daily life. It’s not about any extras. It’s just about living from day to day. Bread and water are subsistence foods. Living on bread may not taste that great, but it will keep you alive. You may be thrilled to live off of bread at first because freshly baked bread is amazing, but you would get tired of just eating bread. Butter on that stale bread would make your day and also add a few calories and some fat.

This family was probably a little on the poor side. There may not have always been butter. This girl had experienced a lack of butter and therefore did not take butter for granted. She thought it important enough to pray to God about.

Butter may be a little thing, but it was important enough for this little girl to pray for.



This story makes me want to have fresh bread and butter. Too bad about wheat making my gallbladder hurt.

Weigh In

What’s something funny a child in your life has prayed for?

Is everything really better with butter?


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