Grey Avatar – ‘Spiked Coffee’ – Part 1 of a Grey Wayfarer Serial

Happy Sif’s Day!

Grey Avatar – Part 1

I can speak from personal experience that if you are tired enough, you can sleep anywhere. In my case, I was sleeping on a park bench in the city’s main park. I slept here because the police had a tendency to patrol the roads where they could look into the park but rarely got out to deal with the homeless vagabonds like myself. Luckily it was also the middle of spring and the weather was arming up. I could get by with my jacket and trail boots. Didn’t like hats unless it was super cold.

Waking up, I realized I had slept Into mid-morning or so by the sun. It was chilly but not windy. A perfect day in some people’s minds. I sat up and checked all my things. Everything was present from my backpack to my trail boots. I was getting better at being vagabond and homeless.

How long had it been now – a year. That terrible day when my whole life had crumbled. They had pronounced her dead you see – my wife that is. I didn’t go back to work and then one day I just packed everything into my backpack and walked out. I haven’t been back. I have learned how little it takes to be and stay alive since that day.

If you see me on the street though, you would not think me homeless. I know ways to keep my hygiene up to snuff and keep my clothes in good repair. I pay attention to my hygiene and appearance. I even have a debit card and what little I earn goes into it. It’s enough to afford a gym membership to one of those national chains. So always a place to work out and shower is available to me and I use them. I have gotten in good shape (muscled and still standing tall despite my age), and daily showered, brush my teeth, and trim my beard. My beard is getting grey like my medium hair. Try to get a haircut once a couple months and then it is usually a buzz cut (minus the beard) so I can grow it a while before the next haircut.

It’s my eyes that tell you that I am different. If my wife were alive and you asked her, she would tell a tale of how she fell in love with my grey-blue eyes which she would describe as getting lost in the sea after a storm. It’s the one place you can look at my face and still see me as I was – hopeful, but sad. My fifty-five years weigh heavy, but I still stand straight as I can.

I wander. It’s what I do now. I don’t stay in a single place for more than a few weeks. Then I look up the next city that has a gym where I have a membership and move on to that one. I work a little and observe. I do a lot of watching people. Lovers, partners, workers, street vendors, police, and others. I see them all and for a short time watch their story unfold in front of me. Then I write what I see in my notebook. Once a notebook is full, I mail it to a friend to keep for me. She is the only one who knows where I am at all times and is sworn to silence. I don’t have a phone or address, so she can’t write back. But she promised to keep the notebooks until I return to get them.

Today I met a most interesting person. I would not be exaggerating if I were to say this person changed my life forever, but it is one of those tales that may require many entries to tell. I am not even sure of my own sanity at this point which I have heard means I am perfectly sane just perhaps have experienced a shock.

It started with meeting a fellow vagabond. Older than me and looking far more interesting. He looked like a wizard of sorts with his long beard and hair that was pure white. He was wearing a jacket and jeans so that through off the wizard vibes. But he had a long staff-like walking stick that was actually pretty cool with its steel banded ends. I looked a little opulent for him as the rest of him suggested wanderer,

He, interestingly enough, also had a cape with a hood that he kept over his head just enough to hide his eye. Yes, I said eye because where his left eye would be was an eyepatch of black fabric. Under the cape the bulge of a medium-sized backpack was apparent. He walked straight and tall which indicated for his age he must be still in great health and shape. But his face was otherwise lined with lines of concern and courage. If you get that you get that.

He approached me and I stiffened up naturally as I tend to do when I know someone wants to talk to me, but I don’t know who they are. I was intrigued by this man, but I could sense that he was not all he seemed to be on the surface. When he spoke, his voice was both wise and commanding.

“Leif Johanson, I have need of your assistance.”

“How do you know my name?”

“I know many things. Your name is simple enough to know”

I paused here checking my brain for any time I had revealed my true name to anyone. I don’t use it much except when needed for financial or legal matters, which are very few anymore.

“So what do you want with me, seeing you have gone through the trouble of finding out my name?”

“It was very little trouble actually, let’s just say a bird told me.”

It was then I noticed the two ravens. One was sitting on one of the branches near our conversation. For the life of me, I didn’t hear it fly to that spot even though I had been on this bench all morning. The other was further away sitting on a garbage can. Suddenly I felt more watched than ever. An uncomfortable feeling for a people watcher and a wanderer who likes to fly under the radar.

The stranger chuckled at his statement and I was now more uncomfortable.

“So what do you want with me?”

“Well, let’s not talk here. I would rather we talk over coffee. That coffee shop behind us will do. You can hear me out and I will buy you whatever drink you like and given the chill this morning we will both know the simple pleasure of a warm place, a warm drink, and a warm conversation, business though it may be. Will you accept my hospitality and hear me out?”

I did not dislike him but there was something about him that caused me to be on edge. But my ethics about hospitality, seeing he used the word, is that it is rude to turn it down if offered as hospitality. Just as rude as not to give it when necessity demands it.

“Very well, I accept your hospitality sir.”

We entered the coffee shop and found it empty as it was mid-morning. The early rush was over and the staff was waiting for the noon one in a couple of hours. We ordered our drinks. I ordered my standard hot chocolate, as I don’t like hot coffee very much, but I did want a warm-up before I returned to the park. The man I was with ordered black coffee but with a coffee bean I knew was expensive. He had high tastes. Who am I to say anything about this. In the summer I would be buying an iced coffee ( I prefer mine cold) and with the same attention to the bean I wanted. Vagabonds have their rich excentricities at times.

Once we got our drinks which only took the staff a couple minutes we found a seat as far away from the counter as the stranger I was with would walk. He wanted our conversation to be private as much as possible, apparently.

“Yes, this will do.”, he said.

At first, we said nothing as he pulled out a flask from inside his coat and added some of its contents to his coffee, and then offered some to me.

“More of your hospitality?”

“Yes, actually. This is mead. It will both sweeten your drink and enlighten your mind.

I nodded my acceptance, as I felt once again that hospitality rules required it. I didn’t think this man had any more to do with me other than offering me a proposal and this was a public place. I didn’t think the coffee would be spiked.

The mead combined with my hot chocolate was delightful. I actually felt fairly warm after a few sips and I felt a little more alert and mindful. If it was spiked I felt it would do the opposite, so genuinely magical. Perhaps my new acquaintance was a wizard after all or at least an alchemist.

“Thanks, this is very good.”

“Welcome, now to my proposal.”

Then he touched my hand and the world faded from existence.

End of Part 1

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Rethinking Things (Sorry I Have Been Out)

Happy Mani’s Day!

Whenever discipline breaks down, there is a cause. In my case, I just was not enjoying writing on this blog the last few times. I also am still wrestling with my apartment and getting it where I like. For environment is important otherwise it becomes too distracting. Mostly though using this blog strictly for a journal has not worked as well as I had hoped. The goals part has when I have done it but this blog has always been best when I write about things like philosophy, Norse mythology, or just plain fiction that I created. This has to e the daily creativity side of me for it to work. This has caused me to rethink things.

So I have decided to look at my six focus points as still valid but moving to a paper journal to keep track of them. What in need to do here on The Grey Wayfarer is talk about them more philosophically, with a dash of Norse Mythology, and perhaps just plain allegorically present them with creative works. I am not completely sure of the details but change is coming. I will let you know more tomorrow. of the details. What I do know is that what is more therapeutic to me is not the type of writing I have been doing here. This needs to change. See you tomorrow.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Minimalism – Returning to My Philosophical Roots.

Happy Mani’s Day!

Since making my decision to reign from teaching ASAP, I have been reviewing my minimalistic philosophy of life. Mostly, on the practical side, I have to reduce the shit in my possession so I can fit everything into my car and go back to Michigan. But the rest of it is renewing some things I had forgotten. Stuff remembered that would have helped me with what I am going through now if I hadn’t remembered it too late.

Does this give me joy?

Does this give me sense of purpose?

Does this add value to my life.?

These are the questions at some point that I stopped asking and got off track. Had asked them about teaching or some of the things I have bought with my money I would probably have had a better sense of purpose and more money. So as I prepare to move back home, stuff is leaving my life.

I first learned of this concept many years ago when I was still a Christian reading Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline and then I read his later book – Freedom of Simplicity. Now, one might say this is a Christian thing until you realize every major viewpoint seems to have some discussion about Minimalism in its most base form – living simply. Stoic philosophers sing its praises without even a reference to a deity. Does it fit with the Nine Noble Virtues – I would say ‘yes’. It is more important to work with purpose than accumulate. More important to work on one’s self than acquire things from others.

This last few days, I have been getting rid of things and with each trip to Goodwill or each tip to the dumpster, I feel the load of life’s burden getting lighter. I have fewer things than last week and yet I feel like I have gained something – freedom from the desire to possess.

One particular trial in this was not as one might expect – my books. but rather my games. I have a load of Avalon Hill wargames I collected in my younger days that I have had through many travels and moves. I have held onto these forever and yet today I set aside 2/3 of them to take to Goodwill. I asked myself – ‘when was the last time you played this? It came up surprisingly often – ‘never’ and at other times ‘decades ago’. Some collectors will have them if they stumble into the right Goodwill and find them. But it felt so good – like giving up a dormant part of the past so I am open for something else to enjoy or be more productive. Letting go and gaining freedom. That is simplicity, that is minimalist philosophy. It brings real peace.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Thoughts on 2022

Happy Sif’s Day and Happy New Year!

I look back on 2022 with frustration and some sense of self-discovery. It’s amazing how much those two go hand in hand.

My frustrations stem from a lack of satisfaction with where I am and what I am doing. I dislike Texas for a lot of reasons. I don’t enjoy the politics of it; the sub-tropical climate without any season to speak of; unless you count moving from green to brown of the foliage at times. The people are friendly enough but their viewpoints on life deeply seep into Christianity. The Bible Belt is alive and well. I reminded of a Viking saying about Christians – “Don’t trust them – they talk peace but carry a sword”. Christians are on the defensive so they are apologetic and kind. Just wait if the tables ever turn. I remember the 80s and 90s all too well. Politics, Climate, Religion, and Oh, Yes. Houston is without a doubt one of the worst-designed cities on the planet. One of the costs one expects in a city is that its design would help with is transport costs. But no, Houston is designed in such a way that you have to drive everywhere, even down a couple of blocks because public transport is a joke and sidewalks are non-existent as far as I can tell. Overall, I would say the environment fits me like a size 6 shoe and I have 10 and a half feet.

Top it off, my dissatisfaction with being a public school teacher has grown to the point that I want to be done at the end of the semester. I will finish out my contract and call it good. I hear most don’t last between 2-5 years so I am in good company. For me it is a little different – this job requires me to care too much – much as I did as a pastor. This is bad for me personally for a number of reasons. I am burnt out from caring about so many. I just can’t do it much longer. I hope that makes sense. It’s not that I don’t care about people, but the direct involvement in a lot of things in everyone’s life – I just can handle based on the simple fact that I get tired of doing it. I am worn out from that, I now understand I am probably too old to get that fire I used to get from helping people like that back. I will send myself to an early grave with the stress of my emotions. I no longer can help at a deep level without it triggering a lot of the Grey for me. My empathy is killing me at this point.

It’s this fact that has triggered The Grey a lot for me. It has led to the self-discovery that when I help others, I fail to take care of myself. This is not about selfishness – it’s about self-preservation. I getting too old for this shit. I have a lot of goals I have yet to achieve and this is not the way. My self-care has suffered and I can’t let that continue.

So in Viking Spirit, I am planning on ending my raid into Texas this summer and heading back home – north – back to Michigan. I can handle one more semester as long as I know it is the last one. But also during this semester, I need to get back to my coping mechanisms that keep the Grey at bay and make my life better overall. I need to once again put myself first. Getting Back to lifting weights, proper diet, writing, reading, meditation, and plan simply being a voice in the world for the NNV and Reason. To live the Viking Life in the modern age.

I suppose the one positive of raids is the plunder is good. I have made more in the last year and a half than four full years of ministry. That said, teaching is a tough job that deserves more. I think I can do better now that I have some measure of what it means to focus on things. Just wish I had a shieldmaiden by my side to help me with the burden of life. That would have made things easier. I haven’t found any shieldmaidens in Texas, maybe they are all northern gals. So I would be headed in the right direction. Tomorrow’s post will have more details on my vision for 2023.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Re-Imagining The Grey Wayfarer

Happy Sol’s Day!

I haven’t sat down and written in forever; partly, it is the lack of inspiration. The other part of it is the time excuse but that is what it is – an excuse. To be fair to myself, I am learning a new job that is time intensive. That said, I have made a point to keep working at work and home at home. So is it a time thing or a making the time thing and then being disciplined about it. The latter is more likely. Mostly, I have just been wrestling against my depression.

Yes, The Grey, my old traveling companion down the road of life. It is at least a consistent companion if nothing else. Mostly it stems from being alone most of the time. I make enough money to survive and get ahead on paying debts but not much after that. I spend a lot of time at home alone. I thus do a lot of thinking -gasp – and that is a dangerous pastime as everyone knows. I am wrestling mostly with my future choices. What do I want to be?

I was the Rabyd Atheist for a while but the thought that kept running through my head was “is this what I want to define me?” I now think while I remain an atheist with a great deconversion story, I want that to be it. There is more to me than being an atheist and I want to search that out what that might be.

I am a social studies teacher in high school, but that is losing its allure as well. I think after so long as being the guy who called the shots, I don’t see that as often as I feel every time I turn around someone is joggling my elbow. Teaching is a craft to be sure but I find it time-consuming and frustrating for the above-stated reason. Honestly, I would rather e writing and hiking somewhere. Is it possible to make a living with some other job and still have time for the things I enjoy? It’s something I need to research.

As to this blog, I am Re-Imagining it to be something else. I still follow pagan philosophy and the Nine Noble Virtues. The issue is the application for me these days. Putting things into practice. So perhaps It is time to journal on these efforts again. We will see. In the meantime, you can see that I am still around and alive and well, despite the Grey.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


“Naming Day” – The Grey Wayfarer Pub – Episode 3

Happy Thor’s Day!

It’s been a month since last I wrote. I have been busy and now is the time to journal the results.

First I Had to personally move into the top-floor apartment. It was actually a simple affair with a single bedroom for my king-sized bed with some room to spare and a fairly spacious bathroom next to that. The entire front was an open loft-like arrangement with a kitchen, dining nook, and a living area which I devoted to my books a reading chair, and a sofa for guests. No Television. Comfortable and functional. Honestly, I spend very little time here except to get some sleep, eat, and do some reading at the end of the day.

The basement is more of my second home now. It is my alchemy lab in truth now. Several tables with chemical and alchemical apparatus covering them. One whole wall is now devoted to ingredients for my potions. Part of it though is my brewing equipment for my own alcoholic beverages. In particular, I have chosen to go with Mead. Mead is expensive and for good reason – honey. But I have discovered one thing about it as well. Because the ingredients are in some senses precious – the potions I make with mead have been shall we say more potent.

Now the real trick to alchemy is the magic part. It has to be drawn from your own inner philosophy and inner most beliefs. Theology does not work for me anymore and is quite frankly unstable as nitroglycerin as far as results. It’s the fact that theology is made up for the most part and lives in a double fantasy of sorts. It requires a lot of cheats and leaps of logic to get it to even be usable and even then its effects can be quite weird. It’s why the cure for vampirism eventually failed as theology is my magic force that doesn’t hold the magic that well. The cure had a shelf life and then the magic didn’t work at all once I didn’t believe.

So as I am setting up my lab I was also experimenting with products to sell and I have found that from a physical base form point of view mead is damn good at holding magic and tends to actually act as an enhancer of magical effect. So my mead production began at once. Thankfully the base magic I add to it makes the fermentation process go even faster. The base magic in general is the simple philosophy of living a virtuous life. The basic effect of the mead is that it quickens thought and reflection as well as having enough kick to knock a frost giant on his ass.

The rest of the magic is to take this base mead and add different ingredients and effects to make it more specialized. I have a lot of experimenting to do but the alchemy is working again and for that, I am thankful as I want a local brew to sell.

The bar itself is now nearly complete. Stools are redressed in grey vinal with a silver sheen and the five booths are much the same. The bar is restocked and the small cooking alcove is fixed up and stocked as well. I redid the bathrooms as they were pretty much trashed. I basically made two unisex bathrooms with nice fixtures and set up to do pretty much everything regardless of the sex of the occupant. I am just thinking ahead on that I suppose.

Finally, I added some touches from the old pub. I had my silver shield and shotgun shipped in and placed them under the bar. The painting of Miss Wine from the Pub. Her naked reclining form fits right at home here in the pub. Last I knew she had left the US to take an undisclosed job for the Shields. It must have been pretty hush-hush as even I couldn’t get info on it and I have pretty high clearance. That said, the painting was done by a man who knew his oils and made her beautiful and restful. Last, of all, I put up a small sign next to the painting – “Clothing Optional”. Some things will never change for me.

Outside there now hangs a sign which up to today was covered to prevent it from being read. But today I removed it as it is the official naming day for the pub. Both sides have the same scene of an old man traveling a path. Above him fly two ravens and two wolves are on the path with him. The word along the top and bottom: “The Grey Wayfarer”. Not so coincidentally, this is also the name of my new Mead “Grey Wayfarer Mead”.

I am happy with the place and the grand opening is in two weeks. Now all I need to do is hire some staff.

Author’s Notes:

Starting something new, forward in the timeline, but returning as something low-powered is tough unless there is a good explanation.

In this case, it is the bartender who has changed. He is having to rediscover and rebuild and so his power is diminished and his friends are scattered requiring him to make new ones (although some old characters might make a guest appearance). This means the change is causing a reset.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Nine Noble Virtues – “Discipline”

Happy Odin’s Day!

Discipline – “I do what is necessary and right of my own accord without bribe or threat.”

I know of no person who has accomplished anything without discipline. Discipline I doing the right and necessary things over and over again. A person does this not because they are bribed or coerced, but because simply that they are the right things to do, they are necessary to do.

For me, the focus has shifted to being a little more specific. To do the right and necessary things out of habit. Daily habit. This means coming up with routines.

As overall virtue, discipline helps us all in more than the daily accomplishments of life. Its connection with honor is unmistakable as doing what is right without bribe or threat is also an aspect of honor. The habits of a person’s life lead to a disciplined life of honor. It is one of those virtues that crosses over into a lot of areas.

Discipline can also be shared with others. Discipline is given as a virtue to others through training, teaching, and instruction. None of us learn from others without accepting their discipline of what they tell us to do.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Nine Noble Virtues – “Courage – Fear is a Choice”

Happy Odin’s Day!

“I will face my fears and defend my family and kindred from all dangers”

As a Christian, I was sold on the notion that perfect love casts out fear. Until you realize that the organized monotheistic religions all live and continue to exist based on fear of hell or punishment. There is no real love in it. So love doesn’t really cast out fear.

There is also the statement that Fear is not real. But the statement kind of indicates fear is a choice. I am not sure about that completely, but I get the sentiment that we choose in some ways to let fear paralyze us. It is a choice to be fearful. Or perhaps we chose to deal with our fears by either submitting to them or dismissing them and forging forward despite them.

The only part of this philosophy I truly follow when it comes to the Nine Noble Virtues is to face my fear and defend those who I love as an action. Courage is the force that overcomes these. Courage is the choice to defend rather than to run.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Memorial Day

Happy Mani’s Day!

For those of us who live in the USA, Memorial Day is pretty sacred as far as national consciousness. It’s a day to remember those who have fallen and died in our wars. To honor their sacrifice of life for the freedoms we enjoy today.

For me, it is also a day to remember those who died that served. They didn’t necessarily die in combat but they spent part of their life serving so I still remember them.

My Grandfather, Capt. Edward William Raby was not really my biological grandfather, but he did adopt dad and served as a B-17 pilot in WW2. Not wounded, he did find himself in some very interesting situations that resulted in two distinguished flying crosses. He said it was more of he crashed his plane and the crew survived – twice.

My dad has a less dramatic story to tell. He was a chaffer driver for admirals in Florida and his most memorable moment was the Cuban Missle Crisis of which he was a part. At six-foot, two inches, he must have cut quite a figure in his dress whites with a sidearm. Probably why my mom fell for him.

In any case, I love these two men even though they are gone. To all the honored dead today we lift our mugs and say “Hail, to the honored dead!”

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.


Not a Great Week (Summer Planning)

Happy Sif’s Day!

From a Discipline standpoint, this wasn’t a great week. I am about to shift my life for the next couple of months, but mostly it is a sickness that has kept me from having a lot of energy. Between the end of the school year and this illness, I have been tired and lacking in focus.

That said excuses are not something that sits well with me. So I am looking at using the summer to make adjustments and move forward in a different way. So my summer plans have a lot to do with gaining knowledge, getting back in shape, and getting more consistent with my habits. So with that in mind, I am heading to Michigan for a couple months.

  1. Time to get some walking and hiking on the trials. Part of getting back in shape and getting some fresh air away from the city.
  2. I have teacher training to finish to be fully certified and for professional development.
  3. I and the gym need to get reacquainted – more getting in shape.
  4. Summer Reading List
  5. Camping out – getting back to minimalism and living in a tent for the summer should get me a little different perspective. Hopefully, this will carry over into other things.
  6. I am going to think about teaching but in the broadest terms about class management mostly but also an overall approach to the curriculum.
  7. I am looking at my Atheist activism with more of an overall approach and hoping this will give me some better ideas.

Time to sail home for a bit and regroup. Then come back for another year of pillaging Houston.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.