Monday, January 26, 2015

From O. Reader


This is a rant. I don’t usually rant, and this is probably not the place for it – but I have ranted elsewhere, so I might just as well rant here as well. Normally my posts attempt to be mildly humorous, dealing with the vagaries of nostalgia and growing old gracefully – or rather, in my case, disgracefully. This is about age, but there’s not a lot to laugh about.

For a number of years we had increasing responsibilities towards my mother and her husband, who suffered from dementia towards the end. He died 18 years ago, so since then Mrs O and I have had sole responsible for my mother’s care. She is now 95, not far off 96. We have gone through all the problems of her going in and out of hospitals, and having an alarm button go off in the middle of the night when she fell or made it to the bathroom but couldn’t make it back. She adamantly refused to live with us, so this is done at a distance of about a mile. Mrs O ultimately ended up washing and dressing her for years, and I helped feed her, and we got her to her place of worship until a little over two years ago, when we just couldn’t get her back out of the car. Finally, about two years ago, it became permanent bed. Over the years we bought special beds, special chairs, you name it, and finally when our “get up and go” sort of “got up and went” we had care agencies come in four times a day to feed her and bathe her and ultimately just keep her clean and comfortable in bed. We regularly slept on make-shift beds at her place whenever there was any sign of a need, and were geared up to move in at night-time on a semi-permanent basis. And that’s when the Jobsworth people struck!

If you don’t know what I mean by Jobsworth, all will be revealed at the end.

My mother now eats pureed food – which we buy in from an excellent specialist company. She has a thickener put in her drinks – just in case something goes down the wrong way, although it never has. BUT – all of a sudden someone in the social care system cottoned onto the fact that the carers were giving her thickened liquids. Horror of horrors - they are not qualified! If they worked in a care home, they would be qualified – with even less actual qualifications, but because they work in the community, the rules say they are not qualified. It’s a policy you see. It’s a guideline – although actually, it is viewed as a law. And one size fits all. So who can feed her now? Well, the family can. But, but – they’re not “qualified.” Yes, but if something goes wrong, they are not going to sue are they? So how does the family get “qualified”? Well – er - the existing “unqualified” carers who have been doing this for a couple of years can train them...  Huh?

And if the family can’t do the feeding several times a day forever, the only other option – apart from the client starving to death – is a care home.

I have very negative feelings about the care home industry – probably because I have worked in it for the last 35 years. There has been a huge scandal in this country about horrendous things happening to vulnerable people in care homes, and in the most infamous case I was interviewed by the police twice as a potential prosecution witness. As it happened, the proposed villain of the piece – a doctor who owned a string of care homes and made his fortune – never got to trial. Someone attacked him with a hammer, and he was declared unfit to plead. The cases collapsed. It would be an irony if he ended up in the care system he was accused of abusing.

Anyhow, back to what actually happened. One evening a few months back, we had just got back from long trip to England for a funeral – when a phone call came through at 7.30 in the evening. An officious voice – we hear that the carers are feeding your mother with thickened fluids – they can’t do that. We’ve stopped it! Crunch! But, this is tomorrow morning – can’t they do it tomorrow until we can get our heads around it?  No – absolutely not – rules is rules, orders is orders, and we are only obeying orders. So what happens to my mother? There was some “flannel” as we call it here, but basically, that was our problem!  So to prevent my mother going without food and drink for the whole day, we dropped everything and did the feeding – as noted above, having been “trained” by the “untrained” carers who are still allowed to go there but only to change and wash her.

Finally, it came down to it. The rules say that only nursing auxiliary carers should feed her because she has a medical condition. But tough - they haven’t got any spare. That’s why it is all down to us and when we eventually crack up, a nursing home for her. Forget the government’s pledge to keep people in their own homes. Forget the fact that the regular carers have no problem feeding her whatsoever, and are up in arms at the slur on their capabilities. Forget the fact that my mother has had unsurpassed personal care and all paid for (by her and ourselves) - it doesn’t matter, you see, there’s a “policy.” We are not allowed to think outside the box.

In discussions at subsequent urgent meetings we try and get some sense. I ranted and Mrs O burst into tears. She was more successful in getting a sympathetic ear, although the results were the same, until we pointed out – er – what is this medical condition then? Answer – she has difficulty swallowing. How do they know? Well the SALT lady (Speech and Language Therapist) said so. But she’s never ever seen my mother! She’s never visited! She made a decision without consulting us down the end of a telephone! She just ticked a box! Consternation! Errm - they would have to look into this...

Anyhow, to cut a very long and tedious story short – we finally got the SALT lady to come and see my mother. It took three months of nagging to get it to happen, during which time the health authority that lobbed the hand grenade into our lives was conspicuous by their absence. And when she eventually came and did the examination – surprise, surprise, my mother may LIKE thickened fluids for “ease” but she has NO problem swallowing. Phone-calls are made with a mushroom cloud coming out of our heads – and this time the health authority backs down – the original carers can feed her again. Back to square one after three months of totally unnecessary grief.

If we were the family from hell and my mother looked like she was being abused, then I can understand the cavalry coming to the rescue. But we’re not and she’s not, and we have been praised by the doctors and nurses for our level of care for a relative. But this was a different department you see, and (umpteenth repeat) it’s a policy. That’s the mantra. Jobsworth.

We are still not out of the woods. There will be further future reviews – as there should be – and there’s always the chance that an officious social worker will find a new policy in triplicate designed to trip us up.

Are we going to complain to higher authority? We would certainly have done so if they hadn’t caved in, and my letter was already prepared. And when my mother is no longer with us, we will consider what we can say to prevent anyone else being needlessly put through the mill in the interests of bureaucrats ticking boxes. For now, it is a sigh of relief.

So – rant coming towards its conclusion – Jobsworth? It’s a folk song by Jeremy Taylor. I’ve sung it a few times in the past, but I suspect that the next time I go to a folk club and warble – it will be on my list.

The chorus goes...

Jobsworth, Jobsworth
It’s more than my job’s worth...
I don’t care, rain or snow,
Whatever you want, the answer’s NO.
I can keep you waiting
For hours in the queue.
And if you don’t like it

That’s the chorus. I think I am going to write my own verses.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just Because ....

Movie Review IV (From Harry)

Young man’s parents are killed and he is forced to live with abusive relatives. His only hope is an education in a very exclusive private school.

Note from the Pixie: I know what this is. But I'm keepin' me mouth shut. (Or is that my fingers still.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Man with No Name

Movie Review III

Lost name in the west of Italy.


I collect book. I like books. I collect stamps. I have a stellar stamp collection that was started two generations back. I like my stamp collection. I collect old photos and post cards. I "collect" interesting people. I have a small group of vintage to antique moccasins. I started that as a project in high school and kept them. I collect coins. I love interesting sea shells. But my favorite hobby is flirting with and seducing my pet Scotsman.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Headline

'Woman on top' is most dangerous sex position, scientists conclude ...

Headline in The Telegraph .... Scientists hard at work ... in Brazil. And just who funded this research?

Must have been a dull day at the Telegraph

Movie Review II

Demented gentleman with mercury poisoning frozen in time. ...

A book and movie. Name it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Movie Review

Lifted from an email from O. Reader ...

A young girl travels to a psychadelic landscape where she kills the first person she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
Name the movie!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Toe curling

            Some things amuse me and some are mildly distressing and some are just stupid. Can you tell I have complaints and concerns?

            Two of my classes ended for the semester today. They’re both lower-grades history classes. [We teach US history more intensively than most schools. First semester considered the era from the arrival of the first natives to just before the American Revolution. Next semester will take us up to near modern times.] So … we watched a movie in my 2-3 grade class. [Long John Silver to be exact.] We’d studied pirates, hence the movie.

            I let the students find a comfy place on the carpet. Two of the little girls stretched out near my chair. They can’t keep their pants up. I’ve talked to them before. But they’re oblivious. So one ended up giving me a really clear view of her pudgy butt, and the other let her pants creep down until there was almost nothing hidden from a front side view.

            I shouldn’t have to teach modesty to little girls. That’s their parent’s job. There is a time and place to be naked. But not at this age, not in my class, and never in school. … 

            The 4-6 grade class watched the same movie, though less of it because we had an elementary assembly that cut into class time. In that class I have a compulsive talker, rude, brash, and overweight by three times his expected weight. He never blows his nose. He has chronic sinus problems. I usually plunk down a box of Kleenex and tell him to “blow it.” Not that he ever does. He would rather sniff and slurp snot down his throat. He’s also nearly deaf. His parents don’t address either issue. So he’s full of snot and endlessly asking, “What did you say?” or “What did she say?”

            I thank God that I won’t have him or his lazy brother in any of next semester’s classes. Did I mention that I don’t like his parents either? I see I did not. Consider the statement made.

            My open house exhibits are all ready. That’s a relief. I have another day of parent conferences. They’ve all gone well so far. For privacy reasons I can’t post student work here, but I can tell you about one of my students. He has a history that no child should have, and as a result, he is accompanied by an adult to each class. He is in my creative writing class [4-6]. He came to us late in the first semester, and while we usually address the needs of talented, bright young people, we’re also able to tackle other issues. His first story was a scribble, but he took off in my class. His last story was a three page, single spaced story full of imagination. I have better writers in that class, but none who’ve progressed so quickly or so far. Events like this one make teaching worthwhile.

            I think OR believes I’m neglecting Mr. Adams. I am. I’m still looking at Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones was a fornicator, not quite a pedophile but maybe close, a thief, a liar, and a number of other bad things. He was also talented and lazy. I like him better than Mr. Adams who was just mentally creepy. I’ll get to Adams soon enough.

            So … I’m reading a volume from the Cambridge Medieval History. Dry, but interesting. Lots of dirty old men and wenches and such. I even found a reference to one of my distant ancestors and his mistress. Such family scandal!

            Daughters 2 and 3 were in Seattle on a school trip. Both brought me home a present. (And one for everyone else too.) They’ve been emotionally attached at the hip since infancy, but apparently they didn’t consult each other in the matter of presents. Dau 2 bought me a Space Needle coffee mug. It’s very nice. Daughter 3 bought me a Starbucks mug, also very pretty. It has pretty pink followers on it. I like pink. One can never have too many coffee mugs.

           I met one of the new teachers today. She’s a music teacher and gives individualized lessons in piano. She’s very nice, very smart too. I see a potential addition to our coffee mob.

            Did I ever tell you that my pet Scotsman is a good kisser? He just reminded me that he is. I think my toes are still curled.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Odd Stuff, Open House and such

            I’m continuing my pursuit of the bizarre. Among other things, I’ve read parts of a website entitled Marriage Equality. It’s a mixture of fact and wishful thinking. I am not recommending it to my blog readers.

            I’ve read major portions of two books on medieval era life. One is quite good and the other is a haphazard presentation of bits of medieval life. I’m looking for a third. I own it. I’ve put it back on the shelf and obviously in the wrong spot. It’ll take a concerted search to find it. There’s a section in it about 14th Century manor houses that talks about table manners. I want to review it.

           The things and acts and behaviors that attract people always interest me. Even when they have a huge train-wreckish, ick factor. And let’s face it, buster, some things people do are truly icky.

            Also on my mind is the “wise child” mythology. You’re probably more familiar with the foolish child stories. Red Riding Hood is one of those. So are Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. In the medieval era, most of the foolish child stories ended badly. They did not have the redeeming endings with which we’re most familiar. There are “wise child” stories too, many of them forgotten. In their modern retellings we find characters such as David Edding’s Aphrael, one of my favorite characters in any story, and Kipling’s Kim.

            The wise-child stories seem to have their roots in religious stories, some of them quite ancient. I’m new to this topic, mostly. So I really do not know. It is interesting though, and I think my surmise is accurate.

            Related to this are the resilient child stories. A 19th Century version would be the Goody Two-Shoes. It’s a charming story about a self-sufficient child. Some of you will know the title as a pejorative phrase, but it’s a story by John Newberry about an orphan girl who grows up to be an effective teacher. The original was published in the 1760s, but there is an Americanized version published in the 1830s that I like better. In that story she’s not an orphan but an adventuresome child who walks out on her own. She’s helped along her way by people who are strangers to her or not well-known by her. But they know her well. She’s given the gift of independence through the artifice of quiet oversight.

            On the history front not much writing is happening. We’re reviewing pages from four magazines, trying to connect articles in one to articles in the others. This is hard, slow work, but it is essential work. So that’s where we are, and it’s given me a headache.

            We have end of semester parent conferences today and through the rest of the week and an open house on Friday. We showcase student work. I saw part of the art department exhibit this morning. Our new art teacher has raised the level of student work to a startling degree. Super stuff!

            All of my classes are represented in the Open House. I’ve made books out of all the student writing. My lower grades history classes' interpretive art work fills another book. I hope this pleases the parents..

Writing Stuff

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Nice ...

An occasional comment would be nice.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Isabella of Angouleme, Queen of England

Below you will find an encyclopedia entry about Isabella. Because her descendants by both husbands intermarried over the next three hundred years, I am related to her in maybe a dozen ways. The most direct relationship makes her by 24th Great Grandmother. Read the article and tell me if you believe personality traits persist in families?

Isabella of Angoulême was the daughter and heiress of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême and Alice of Courtenay, who was sister of Peter II of Courtenay, Emperor of Constantinople and granddaughter of King Louis VI of France.

Isabella had been betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan, Count of La Marche, although the marriage had been delayed because of her extreme youth. A renowned beauty, reputed to have had blonde hair and blue eyes, it is said that King John of England became infatuated with Isabella, then twelve years old. The unprincipled John stole the enchanting Isabella from under Hugh's very nose, which resulted in King Philip II of France confiscating John's French lands, and the entire de Lusignan family rebelling against him.

His first marriage to Isabella of Gloucester had been declared invalid, since they were related within the prohibited degrees. Isabella's marriage to King John took place on 24th August 1200, at Bordeaux. She was crowned Queen of England on 9th October at Westminster Abbey. It was said that John was so besotted with his young bride that he refused to rise from bed until well after noon. Isabella was far younger than her husband but was possessed a volatile temper to match his own, resulting in a tempestuous marriage. Both took lovers and Matthew Paris referred to Isabella as 'more Jezebel than Isabel'.

Hugh de Lusignan, Isabella's slighted fiancée, had sought redress from his overlord Phillip Augustus, who promptly summoned John to the French court to answer for his actions. John refused to comply and accordingly, Phillip, acting under feudal law, claimed those territories ruled by John as Count of Poitou and declaring all John's French territories except Gascony forfeit, he invaded Normandy. Chateau Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart's impregnable castle, fell to the French after a long siege in 1203, it was followed by the rest of Normandy. John, his resources exhausted, was forced to flee the smoking rubble of his father's once great French Empire.

Isabella became Countess of Angoulême in her own right on 16 June 1202. She gave birth to a son and heir, Henry, seven years after her marriage to John, on 1st October 1207 at Winchester Castle. Another son, Richard, later Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans was born on 5th January 1209. Three daughters were to follow, Joan, later Queen of Scots, was born on 22 July 1210, Isabel, later Holy Roman Empress in 1214 and Eleanor, later Countess of Pembroke in 1215.

John died at Newark on the wild stormy night of 18th October, 1216, leaving England in a state of anarchy and civil war. Isabella and John's nine-year-old son Henry, described as being a "pretty little knight" was crowned King Henry III at the Abbey Church of Gloucester with a circlet belonging to his mother since his father had previously lost the royal treasure in the Wash.

The highly capable William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, was appointed Regent along with Hubert de Burgh. At the time of King John's death, London and most of the channel ports were held by the French. In a popular move, Marshall announced his intention to rule by the terms of Magna Carta, the French invaders were driven out and peace restored in England. Less than a year after his coronation, still a young woman, Isabella left her son in the care of William Marshal and returned to France to assume control of her inheritance of Angoulême.



I went treasure shopping today. I didn’t buy much, though there were some nice things. I passed by a partial set of Limoges. It didn’t appeal to me. But I found a depression era creamer and sugar in clear glass to buy. I don’t know the pattern. I’ll research it later. They were coated with old kitchen grunge, but a little soap and water made them look as new.

            I passed on some Ruby Glass items. I almost bought someone’s framed sketches. I may check back in a day or so. They were very well done. And I bought two books: 

Laurie R. King’s The Art of Detection. [If you haven’t read her Holmes mysteries, you’ve missed out.] and Sarah Bradford’s biography of Disraeli. Most biographers treat him more kindly than he deserves. We’ll see if this is any better. 

            I came home worn to the bone, even though I only teach two classes on Tuesdays. My eyes hurt, especially the one with lens replacement surgery.

            I don’t work tonight, and I intend to crawl into bed early, read something, and after a snuggle sleep the night away.
Honey, I found this on the pastry shelf. It seemed so lonely. Can I buy it?


I really like kisses. You may have noticed that. Knobby Knees is home today. ... Kisses! Sticky, huggie, wet, feely kisses. God invented them. ... just for pixies.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

From Harry


Saturday, January 03, 2015

Normal Behavior

            So … the girls are all away. Two of them are at their Gramps, playing with their baby aunt. (Its technically baby sitting, but it’s probably more running and yelling and throwing a bouncy ball than sitting.) Three of them are off to a party. That means that this has been a very casual, mostly snuggly day. At 4:00 pm I’m still in my fluffy, feeted jammies, not that the bottoms have been off a couple times since seven this morning. Not that you needed to know that. …

            I’ve been thinkin’ about the earlier post, and contemplating ‘normal’ behavior. We tend to call normal that which falls within culturally expected norms. In the United States that’s usually colored by Christian ethics. But that sort of ‘normal’ is usually the exception.

            Just before my ninth birthday we moved into a house on George Washington Way. That’s in the city where my aunt and uncle live. It was and is an upscale neighborhood peopled by the educated. It was a nice tri-level house, but with only four bedrooms we shared. Today, most of those who live there seem to be older, retired or nearly so. When I was nine, the place was full of children.

            I was shy and quiet. My introduction to the local child-culture was through my oldest sister. I was a tag along, introduced to kids my age through her association with older children. I wasn’t exactly Harriet the Spy, but I was observant. I watched. I listened.

            So … in this upscale part of town (now eclipsed by other areas and more expensive homes), among these well-educated, well-off families, I found ‘normal’ – right?

            Our social area extended four blocks north and south, and was two blocks deep. There were exceptions, but if I wandered outside, that was my limit unless I was with my oldest sister. On the south side we had two adopted boys. They had a clubhouse built on top of an old, dead snag. They enticed three of the local young boys into it, introducing them to anal sex. This came to light when the youngest of the seduced boys kept making a squeaking noise. His parents took him to a doctor. This was a huge, though quiet, scandal.

            A German immigrant family lived across the street from the bad boys. They had two children. The boy was nearly grown. I think my sister had a crush on him, though she probably talked to him no more than a dozen times. He went off to the University of Washington, leaving behind his younger sister. As far as I know she was never connected to any of the wild acts of others. She was very nice I think. She and my sister and some others of the older kids would sit in our back yard and gossip. She was fixated on the Devil and demons. I remember her telling one of the neighborhood boys he looked like Satan.

            Now he was handsome. I liked him. But other kids said things about him that I doubted then. But I really do not know the truth of any of it. He was, my sister said, very bright, talented. He wrote for the small neighborhood paper, and the articles were interesting. But some of the older, near grown boys didn’t like him. They claimed he’d had sex with a pony. True? Who knows.

            Next to him lived an oriental family, Japanese descent as I remember it. I played with their middle child. Invariably, when I was in their house, the youngest girl was naked. I thought this odd. But I have no conclusions to make.

            An older couple lived next to us. They had two children, a boy and a girl. The boy was vain. The girl was a slut, even if her parents didn’t know it. A block behind us was home to a little boy, four as I remember it, who’d had heart surgery. His parents never disciplined him because they worried that he might have a heart attack. He threw things and swore like a lumberjack. Next to that household was a family that came from old money. They were originally from Pennsylvania. The dad was an amateur photographer. They had three children, two boys and a girl. One of the boys was found by one of the older kids in the old irrigation ditch (now long built over), with his sister’s pants down. No one told the parents. The parents wouldn’t have believed it anyway.

            Up the block from them, on the corner, lived a much older couple. He would waddle out into his yard and insist we stay off his grass. We were never on his grass, but he yelled at us anyway. One of my sister’s best friends lived on the cross street. They had a boy and a girl near my age. They were fun. I still hear from the girl. We went to WSU together. She’s a neurologist in the Seattle area these days.

Next door to them was a truly creepy family. They had a girl and boy. The boy was about thirteen as I remember. He sexually abused his seven year old sister. This became a whispered topic among the young people, and finally he was put in therapy. He told a boy across the street, in my hearing, that he let their German Shepherd lick him where it mattered. I do not doubt his claim. They were a good Baptist family, attending the largest of the Baptist churches.

Next to them were two high-school aged boys. They swore endlessly. One of them tired to seduce my sister who was then thirteen. She thought he was a fool, and I agreed.

Up the street from us, and out of my allowed play area, was a retired couple. He was a short-wave enthusiast and very racially prejudiced. I remember him expressing his views to my dad, saying, “Well how would you feel if one of your daughters married one!” Yet, when the one black family moved in, he watched their daughter endlessly. He was a distasteful man, probably a pervert.

If I went with my sister and her friends, I was allowed to tag along down to the river. We found a pair of blood spotted panties on a beach rock. They would have fit me, which means they were small. I was 9 or ten I think. My presumption was that someone went swimming and forgot them. Looking back, that’s not a tenable conclusion.

This does not exhaust the list. Considering we lived there not quite four years, I accumulated a surprisingly long list of local scandal. “Normal” behavior is really rare, I think.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Knowing ...

How nice to have a pet-husband who knows and fills your needs! A nice morning snuggle. Then rushing to dress, apply prettyfying goo, and coffee served by my pet!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Skip this Post

            I’ve been reading medieval literature (Some of it is hardly literature.) looking for the antecedents of a religious philosophy. The late medieval period was characterized by moral tales. Some writers call them cautionary tales. Bad deeds are done; divine retribution follows. In many (probably the majority) the tales focus on the maiden gone astray. They’re usually short, probably told orally first then written. They give an interesting insight into the medieval mind and common morals.

            Many of these tales present an incestuous couple. Their lives end badly. The lesson is, “Dear Maiden, do not crave your brother or your father or your uncle.” That there are so many of these stories suggests that incest was common, but if one seeks fact beyond incidental accounts, disappointment follows. We don’t know how prevalent incest was. One writer said it was as frequent then as now. That’s a non-explanation. No one knows how prevalent it is now. A sociologist said that within the United States about thirty-thousand cases are reported each year. I mistrust the statistic, but assuming it’s near correct, one must presume many more cases. Usually an incestuous couple does not run out and shout, “I have sex with my brother and I like it!”

            I should interject the thought that I’m not writing about child-rape by a near relative. Though that is incest because of consanguinity, it is in fact rape. I’m writing of willing partners, seduced siblings.

            So we’re left with wild speculation. Your guess is as good at mine. I think. Probably. Within my medieval era family there are two known incidents of father-daughter incest. Most modern genealogies politely omit the father from the daughter’s “husband” entry. I can’t change the past, and I wouldn’t be me without these people in my ancestry. But I pretty sure I never felt sexually attracted to my father. And I never had a brother. If I had, I’d probably see him as I see most of my male first cousins: If we have a relationship, let’s have a trans-Atlantic one. You be as far from me as possible. The men in my family tend to be annoying and self-involved. They love themselves best.

            Religiously, the prevalence of incest tells us much about the Catholic Church as a purveyor of morals. It failed. This connects to my current research in several ways, none of which will find a place in volume 2, the book we’re writing now. There’s probably no need to elaborate beyond saying that a good test of religion is how deeply it affects its adherents. Medieval Christianity (including the heretical sects) gave adherents a feeling of holiness without the obligations.

            I have discussed this topic with my Coffee Mob a number of times. The results are always interesting. Within that group are at least two who had or continue an incestuous relationship. I don’t see it as my duty to call the police and inform. One of them had a continuing sexual relationship with her father through her twenties and into her mid-thirties. Distance rather than inclination ended the sex, but apparently not the feelings. She does not seem to be mentally unbalanced as a result. There is a daughter, a sweet girl who seems normal physically and mentally. The other group-member has an on-going relationship with her older brother. She’s in her early thirties. There are no children.

An unexpected Confession.

            You may find them umm distasteful. I don’t. Insane maybe. But they are my friends and they told me this in confidence. I don’t see their choices as a reason to break a friendship.

            Both of these women were raised in ‘religious’ families. The one that has sex with her brother (they share an apartment, so I imagine that’s fairly regularly.) is a friend from childhood. She has, she tells me, been having sex with her brother since she was twenty and he twenty two. It’s not as though they’re ugly and can’t get anyone else.

            Can I explain any of this? Probably not, and I won’t try. I believe that much that psychologists and sociologists write is bunk. (I’ve read a huge amount of that stuff lately.) There’s considerable denial of what seem to be obvious facts. One ‘expert’ lists only three kinds of incest. There are more than the sister-brother, mother-son, and father-daughter types he lists. I think many ‘professionals’ misstate the causes. I think they misstate the strength of the supposed incest taboo which exists more in the breach than in the keeping.

            One survey (very unscientific) suggested that three percent of Americans are incestuous at some point. This means that ten million Americans have some form of incestuous relationship in their lifetime, a figure we’re allowed to doubt. But the acutal number seems to be large in any case. Do I have a conclusion to make? No.

            I am, however, interested in the causes of inter-family attraction. One writer suggested that it was the ultimate in narcissism. Having sex with your brother is as close as one can come to having sex with self. This may be partially valid. But more realistically, one does what one cultivates in life. Not every decision is mature; not every object of affection is appropriate. But if you pursue it, dwell on it, you will do it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

So ...

            It’s after eleven o’clock, and I’m still up. Sad, huh? I believed I was on the mend some but managed to get sick in bed. I’m washing all the bedding. The sheets and a blanked are left. Another blanked is in the wash and a quilt is in the drier. All is not lost. At least my tummy feels better. … That’s a good thing.

            Knobby Knees thought I had the flu. What I have is a very potent medication to which my stomach sometimes objects.

            While the washer does its job, I’ve been busy writing. I’ve learned that I really don’t know how to spell effeminate. But, hopefully, I have now learned how.

A Pixie in Her Natural Environment.
[Note the Coffee, the Writing Tools, and the Books. Not seen in this image are the flirting toes.]

            Knobby Knees (aka my pet Scot) took pity on me today. My library spills over into the family room. There are seven bookcases in there, two of which were really ratty and too small. He disappeared off to town late this afternoon, returning with two new put-them-together bookcases. One is assembled and in place. The other will go up tomorrow.

            Back who knows when my grandfather painted over an ash wood beam. It’s as original in my work room. But it’s a nasty white painted over thing in the family room. Stripping and varnishing it is a daunting job that we’ve never wanted to tackle. KK says he can have it faced with nice, varnished wood. As I type this, that corner of the room is a disaster. Books are piled haphazardly; an old chest sits there, waiting to be returned to its proper place. A television destined for recycle is there. I may take a before and after photo. We’ll see. It’s a mess, but it should be back in order by the weekend.

            The shelves will still be less than what I would like. But we can’t afford custom-made bookcases. They will do.

            The story I’m writing has changed dramatically from its oral version. When I tell a story, my family interrupts to ask for detail or to make suggestions. Putting it on paper is a different matter. I’ve started it earlier in Tabatha’s life, added details and characters. I won’t post much of it. This is the ‘second version,’ the ‘naughty version’ that I whisper to my pet when we’re in bed or alone. Parts aren’t suitable for this blog.


But there is this:


            The Fens were not densely populated, but we had marriages on a regular basis, and those attached to father’s house were obligated to seek his permission. Some few sought the blessing, usually families that kept the old ways and worshiped in the groves with the wild women. To them father was rightful king, even after three hundred years of occupation.

            “Here,” Aunty said, “take the platter and serve our guests.” She loaded it onto my arms.

            “It’s too heavy,” I complained.

            She took it back with a frown and complaint. “You’re a slight thing; I despair of you ever growing to a proper size.” She reduced the load of honey cakes by nearly half and shooed me out the door. “Remember you’re his daughter,” she yelled after me.

            She meant my father’s daughter, of course.

            Few had arrived, but the hour was early in the predawn. An ox drawn wagon painted garish red and blue identified the family here for blessing. I served them first. The mother smiled at me. “I’m Isobel verch Roi,” she said.

            Her name was a combination of the old style and of the New Nobility’s speech. Isobel, daughter of the king. Certainly not the king who sat in the palace. “This is my mate, David.” David was interesting. He had the firm muscles of a Fenland’s farmer, but he also had the muscles one would associate with a Knight at his peak. Such a puzzle. “And these are our sons Rafe and Brand-Connor.” Two boys. Fourteen and twelve by my best judgment. The younger, named for heroes of old, was frank-faced and ruddy. The older was tall, thin, and though strong enough in build seem dainty, effeminate. A three-year-old girl sat on her lap, a thumb in her mouth and sleep in her eyes. “This is Hawice, our youngest,” she said.

            The girl who leaned into her mother’s side looked up wide-eyed. Before her mother could introduce her to me, she said, “You’re Tabatha the Chosen!” That was debatable. Old Aunt though I was. My mother agreed. I was uncertain. And I was embarrassed at the name and what it implied. [omitted sentence] “You herd the sacred goats,” she said.


            Now, back to laundry. I may get to bed sometime before tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it.

Balance and Patience

Hot Chocolate, Sleep, Child-Brides of the Medieval Era

            I’m swamped, working on three writing projects at once, each as important as the other. I’m dithering over which to work on first. My solution is to write this instead.

            So … I slept away a major portion of yesterday. I feel better as a result. So that’s good. But it was an otherwise wasted Monday. Mostly. I still treasure hunt among my own stamps (I have boxes of things I’ve accumulated since I was a child) for rarer varieties. I’ve found a few. I bought an auction lot of junk stamps too. That’s too harsh a descriptor. The lot was less expensive inflation era stamps. I was the only bidder. When one bids on messy lots, pages from an old but cheap album, the expectation is that the stamps are mounted haphazardly and that unless the seller verifies a watermark, it’s not the expensive stamp but the cheap one just misplaced on the page. But this lot was so inexpensive that I took the chance.

            The stamp in question was one of the German government official use stamps. There are two varieties that look identical, the difference being that one is watermarked with a “lozenge” pattern and the other with a network pattern. The difference in catalogue value is hundreds of dollars. I have the cheap specimen. So … here on the page was a stamp filling the scarcer stamp’s spot and another filling the cheapie spot. Knowing they were probably the same inexpensive stamp, I bid anyway. (Someone said, Hope springs eternal. I suppose it does.)

            The lot (about 40 stamps total) came yesterday. Some of them are useful as minor varieties or because they have interesting cancellations. But you know the one I checked first was the stamp in question. And yes! Finally! After years of “I want this” longing, I have one. It’s nice too. Some catalogues list it at three hundred dollars. It’s practical retail value is maybe eighty dollars, especially in the current market. But I now have one! Yipee! So I uttered a little ‘woop,’ loud enough to make my pet Scotsman turn his head and smile. Then I went back to bed without even a thought of a snuggle. (I think he was disappointed. But I was sick.)
A little yipee!

            I’ve been researching medieval – late middle ages mostly – family life. In some areas, England for example, marriageable age started at nine. Earlier in life marriages happened. It wasn’t that uncommon for a seven year old girl to be married off. A legal test of marriage at that age consisted of displays of mutual affection – huggles, snuggles, endearments. Today we’d see this as child abuse. And we are often uncomfortable with childhood sexual behavior. Then, both might well have been dead by thirty, so life was contracted. Life events often happened earlier.

            I know a fair amount about my family’s past. Books have been written about bits of it. You might study about some of my ancestors (near and distant) in history class. There are several examples of early-in-life marriage. One young lady was married at twelve (she may in fact have been eleven.) and outlived two husbands much older than she. She had lots of babies, but is supposed to have retained her beauty into later life. Another was married by royal decree at age eight to a boy who was then twelve. While in some of these situations the marriage was not ‘consummated’ until puberty, the boy bedded her right away. Puberty came to her at eleven. She had her first child just past her twelfth birthday. Burke’s abeyant peerage suggests that she birthed at least sixteen children, about half of whom lived to adulthood. What interests me is that she plainly loved her husband. Historical incidents show this to be so. I’m not sure I would have grown up loving a man who had intercourse with me when I was eight. But today is so divorced in thought and deed from a thousand years ago, that it is impossible to say.

            I met Knobby Knees when I was twelve and he was seventeen. I’m certain that if it weren’t for parental supervision and his good sense, I’d have open to any suggestion that he cared to make. So I have some sympathy for our distant ancestors who found themselves married at a young age.

Child Brides were not Uncommon in the Medieval Era

            There is a point to this. The semester that starts in what? Two weeks, or so, I think … will open with a consideration of family life in the late colonial era. Children in America and Brittan were still being married off as young as seven. We’ll discuss that, and other issues connected to family life. And for another project I’m trying to imagine what life would be like for a child bride in the medieval period.

            Later today I’ll return to the rebellious Mr. Jones. My writing partner and I differ on the amount of later in life detail to include. He wants me to re-verify the photo I found is the right Delmont Jones. I’ll do that in a day or so. Now I must merge what we’ve written into one document, return it to him and wait for his comments and fixes.

            Knobby Knees is off today. Now that I feel better, he’s very distracting. I’m posting this, making hot chocolate for two and snuggling! Writing can wait. …

Saturday, December 27, 2014

From Harry

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Because Harry Begged

Probably all you're going to get, because I'm writing up the version I tell knobby knees, but here are the opening paragraphs:

            I’ve told my story dozens of times – hundreds probably. And I never know exactly where to start it. I suppose it really starts with Old Aunt’s pig, but every story has its antecedents. So my story might easily start with my father. Or with my brother’s exile. Or mother’s death in child birth.

            We were old nobility. If the Eastern Isles had been defeated, my father would have been King of the Southern Lands and my mother Queen of the Northlands. But they weren’t defeated. (I was born on the three hundredth anniversary of our loss.) The Old Nobility submitted, compromised or died. My father’s ancestors submitted but refused to compromise. And my father was of the same mind and more blunt than he should have been. Lands and titles were taken from us, and he was made Barron of the Fenlands, a land of swamps and bogs and island farms, poor and pitiful and joined by causeways.

We were unwelcome at court. None of the Old Nobility favored us overtly; to do so was dangerous. So we lived an isolated life among peasants, an occasional outlaw, a herd of goats, Old Aunt’s piglets, and a troop of Wild Women, priestesses from the old temples who still practiced their religion in secret. We were relegated to a decayed manor house. Built of yellow stone, it lacked a roof to the second floor. The windows were unglazed, the fireplaces decayed and stopped up with bird’s nests.

Lord Brashford, a favorite at court, sent retainers to make our house habitable. (His mother was my father’s cousin.) Still, he did it on the quiet. I was five then. Fascinated by bustle of reconstruction, I was constantly in the way. Those Lord Barshford sent were of the old race. They paid us deference we seldom saw, even from the pesant farmers who were tied to our lands and to us. But they were soon gone, and we were alone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Treasure in a box

So ... in 1902 Germany issued a new set of Germania stamps. The basic issue is fairly cheap. There are some varieties that are not. One is listed in the Scott Catalogue as 96b or in the Michel Catalogue as 72II. It's a color variety and lists for about a thousand dollars. On the stamp auction sites "ask" is usually between five and seven hundred dollars.

While watermarking a packet of unidentified Germania issues I bought earlier this year to get something else, I found one! My goodness! (not that I have much of that, even if I try.) A 'gray blue' specimen plain as day. It's now in my album! I probably paid two cents for this stamp. How very nice.

An example of the 20pf Gray-Blue of 1902.
I couldn't get a clear photo of mine.

The Snuggle Cure

            Snuggles are good, especially so when I am unwell. I like snuggles. My girls have their own snuggle methods suited to their personalities. My oldest tends to limit herself to a brief but intense hug. When she was new to our family (She’s one of our adopted children.) she was a lap-sitter and an arm clutcher, but now that’s she’s grown, her huggie-snuggle style has changed. Kat is rough. Her snuggles are intense, involving a tight hug and a half sit. Her legs may go over mine. The tighter the squeeze and the more prolonged it is, the more satisfied she seems. Annie is my gentle child. Her snuggles tend to involve sharing a chair, sitting as close as she can, and unlike the others, she fills the time with chatter. Her conversation is part of her snuggle. I love her chatter.

            Not that I didn’t already really, really like our snuggles, but Knobby Knees, my pet Scotsman, snuggles best, especially now that I have trouble maintaining body temperature. He is a delicious snuggler. We have a complex of snuggles that may include lap sitting, caressing, to spooning. My preference is to be in the spoon. The most intimate snuggle is a face to face, go-to-sleep huggle He’s good at that. It’s comforting and warming.
Indulgent Dad: Knobby Knees as My Pet Dragon

            I think I’m going to put one of my oral stories on paper. I don’t intend to submit it anywhere or share it here. It’s for my own enjoyment. I may have lulu print a single copy just for me. That is if I like the finished product.

            I’m still struggling with Mr. Jones. My writing partner sent me some material today. It’s good, I think, and presents part of the story with clarity I did not achieve. This evening I’ll past it into our working document. There is a huge amount of material that takes Mr. Jones’ life to its finish in the 1930s. We’ll abbreviate most of that. It’s interesting, but only marginally relevant to the story.

            I think I’m growing a goat tail.

            I had a long conversation with someone I don’t like. (Not liking someone doesn’t mean I won’t talk to them.) He’s very interested in mythology, but most of what he thinks he knows is wrong. He has comprehension problems, and he’s mentally ill. He’s something like a vulgar, ugly spider. Distasteful but interesting. His view of life is coloured by his (mis)understanding of mythology.

            Not that you want to know, but I’ve missed four periods. I always panic when that happens. I’m not pregnant though. My periods have been irregular since Annie was born. Lately, their irregularity has increased. Next doctor visit, I’ll bring it up. I’m 37 and may be in peri-menopause. Medications can cause that too. But I’ll ask about it. In the mean time I pee on the stick, just to be certain. No little blue lines yet.

            My baby half-sister is staying with us until next weekend. She reminds me of Annie, except where Annie is fair and blond, she has her mother’s darker skin. The personalities are similar. Annie, Liz and my sister and I went shopping yesterday. I spent more money than I should, but we came away with nice shoes for the girls. (Do you have any idea how much shoes for five cost?) And I bought matching pink outfits with sweaters for Annie and baby half. Mostly because they begged and the outfits were sixty percent off.

Sister Exploring the Back Yard.

            I was worn out by the time we got home, but I had yesterday off and today too.

            I completed a set of rare-ish stamps for almost no money. These are Official Stamps (for government use) from Germany. They catalogue in the hundreds of dollars each in used condition. But most American collectors don’t care. A mint stamp of the same issue is very cheap. European collectors want them, but economic bad times mean that few expensive stamps sell for anything near catalogue value. So this is a good time to finish my set. Pictured below is one of them. This is the twenty-billion mark stamp for the high inflation period. It is listed at $250.00. I paid less than ten dollars for it. It was the last one I needed to complete a used set. I’m very pleased.


            I spend more time than I should imagining my current oral story. I think it’s one of the best I’ve told my family. Our heroine is pregnant. She’s off in a tiny village where she’s vanquished an evil baron and his men, taken young fraternal twins into her care, found a mysterious child in a temple turned church, sent back to the Southern Kingdom priests sent by a power-hungry archbishop, and befriended a Black Goat. There are several paths forward. I expect I’ll have to choose one today, because with the night off, they’ll expect the story from me. I enjoy telling my family stories. It’s fun, and best fun when they say, “Mom! What happened then!?”

Monday, December 22, 2014

From O. Reader

Some readers of this blog also read Rachael’s serious blog on Watch Tower History. A character named Albert Royal Delmont Jones has been featured there quite a bit recently, in material written by Rachael and a correspondent who calls himself Jerome. What follows is an imagined summary of ARDJ’s life, with a lot of supposition filling in the gaps.


So here I am in this ward. It is the smell more than anything. Stale cabbage, and bad drains. They say we are fortunate to be here – looked after free of charge. Everything is comparative I suppose.

It is the noise – some of these people aren’t right. How did I get here? It could all have been so different.

It started so well. I came from a good family, we owned land, we were respectable. I worked in stores, and handled the money. I was really good with money. I mean – OK – life got expensive and I started to cut corners, but until then, it worked a dream.  And I was attractive to women. You wouldn’t know it looking at me now, but oh yes, they used to go weak at the knees.

First there was Carrie. Quiet, domesticated. But boring though, so boring. We had those children. What were their names? I wonder where they are now?

And that Charles Russell. We started a magazine to tell the world about the coming end of problems. Oh what it was to have faith. But that’s all gone now. I was an editor. I founded my own magazine. It was a good magazine – but when I tried to be a bit more realistic, then some of those people turned against me. We did some good works though. We raised money for good causes. Some of it may have got lost along the way – I can’t remember now – but we meant well. I think.

I’d dropped the Jones by now – a common name, people much preferred the Delmont – in fact, several of my ex-partners even kept it.

And then there was Isabel. The papers called her a “raving beauty”. Hmm. All I can remember today is the “raving.” But we had some fun. Did we have some fun. The parties, the good times – but then the creditors caught up with me. But she was young, she had ambitions. And I started to find her tiring, very tiring. I bet her second husband found her tiring too. Over the years I’ve see her in the newspapers – no, perhaps I was well rid of her.

And then there was Bambina. What a name. What a woman. We had several good scams going. But then somehow she scammed me. I must have been losing my touch. I see she turned up at the Arbuckle trials – accused of bigamy. Did we ever get that divorce? I can’t remember. But Bambie – yes, memories of Bambie – I am sure she bounced back. Bambie always did.

And then Margaret. Well, that was a mistake. We lived with her parents. I told them a tale. They believed it. But it was domesticity again. And it was boring, so boring. And all these younger women I took up with – they all made demands. I got to the point where all I wanted to do was sleep.  It might have been the diabetes. So I did the decent thing – I really did. Faking my death like that, those clothes left on the beach – it meant she could pass herself off as a widow and claim the insurance. Yes, that was a good move. I wonder what happened to her? And her parents? What were their names?

So then it was try and try again. But now I seemed to have lost the touch. The Midas touch. Huh – the Delmont touch. But there was always going to be something else – somewhere over the rainbow. Do you know something? – that would make a good title for a song. If I wasn’t feeling so ill, I could even try and write something like that. It might make another fortune.

If I still had faith and still believed in heaven – but not hell (that’s one thing Charles Russell helped me with) – maybe I would be a bit worried now. But – I don’t know what I believe. All those people, I wonder what happened to them. Do they ever wonder what happened to me?  I’m glad they don’t know. But I’m tired. Maybe there is such a thing as reincarnation, and I can try and do better next time. But do better? What’s that? Be more boring? Make more money and this time keep it? I don’t know. I just feel tired, so tired.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Pakistanis are the enemy of Civilization - no matter where they live

From the Toronto Sun, September 8, 2014

There are 1.5 million street kids in Pakistan -- an estimated 90% of them have been sexually abused at some point in their lives.

Rape in Pakistan is so common, it’s barely taboo. Last week the Daily Mail interviewed a bus driver from Peshawar who says, after his shift is over, he likes to go into the slums and rape street kids. Sometimes he pays them a dollar. But often he doesn’t – he just joins in a big gang rape.

"Once, there was a boy on the bus and everyone had sex with him," he told the Daily Mail. "I did it too but what else could I do? They invited me. And he was that kind of boy anyway." He says he’s raped 12 different children.

This wasn’t a solitary rapist, hiding in the shadows, afraid of being seen or being caught. This was men joining together, unworried about social norms, unworried about someone stopping them.

A poll of 1,800 Pakistani men found that a third don’t think raping street kids is a crime – and they don’t even think it’s a bad thing to do.

And then there’s so-called honour killings – where families kill their own daughters for social improprieties, real or perceived.

Every year close to 1,000 Pakistani girls are murdered by their own fathers, brothers or even mothers, for "moral indiscretions" ranging from going out on a date to dressing in western clothing to marrying the wrong man.

What a horrific duality -- a country that has normalized the rape of children, but would rather murder its own daughters than have embarrassing gossip about them.

No wonder so many Pakistanis are happy to emigrate. Put aside the ongoing terrorist civil war, put aside official discrimination against minority religions, such as Christianity or even other Muslim denominations like the Ahmadiyyas -- Pakistan drives out its best, those who want a better life, a life of freedom and peace and safety.Canada is the [UN]lucky recipient of many such immigrants. The Sun’s columnist Tarek Fatah is a perfect example of that – someone so Canadian he probably has maple syrup in his veins. But not all Pakistani immigrants prefer our liberal values to those of the Peshawar bus driver.

Aqsa Parvez was a young woman who was murdered by her father and her brother for the honour crime of dressing and acting like a Canadian teenager. They imported the worst of Pakistan to Mississauga.

Rotherham, UK, has received another import: mass rape gangs. Between 1997 and 2013, that city of just 250,000 had 1,400 girls – as young as 11 – systematically "groomed," raped and prostituted by Pakistani gangs. Fourteen-hundred out of a city of 250,000. The girls were white Christians; in the eyes of the Pakistani Muslim gangs, they were sub-human, like Pakistan’s own street orphans.

Rotherham police knew all about it. But they were paralyzed with fear – fear of being called racist if they dared to act. They found the mass rape of a generation of the city’s girls less intolerable than the risk of being called politically incorrect or "Islamophobic."

Back to Canada. Pakistan is the fourth largest source of immigrants to our country – nearly 100,000 in the past decade. Most of them are wonderful, peaceful Canadians, like Tarek. [Wanna bet?] But how many are like the Peshawar bus driver, or the Rotherham rape gangs, or Muhammad Parvez?

Pakistan, like some [ALL] other Muslim countries, has a rape problem. Perhaps before opening up the floodgates, we might want to do something as simple as asking a prospective immigrant for their views on women, rape and honour.

Why Muslims will Never be Civilized and Why Pakistan is the enemy of Civilization

The family of two Pakistani Christian teenagers, who were gang-raped at gunpoint in the Punjab Province by four Muslim men, is saying that they are being threatened by influential people in their village and warned not to press charges against the attackers.

The father of the two victims, Ilyas Masih, told police that his daughters, 16-year-old Sehrish and 14-year-old Farzana, went outside of their house in the village of Jaranwala during the middle of the night on Dec. 3 to go to the bathroom, since there are no bathrooms inside the house. But when the girls went outside, they did not return. The family began to frantically worry and filed a missing person's complaint with the local police, in which a search was launched to find them.

The two teens were found the next afternoon laying unconscious along the side of the road several miles away from their home village. The girls were taken to a hospital and later told police that a well-known local landlord and three other men had taken them at gunpoint, took them away and raped them.

In their statement to the police the girls alleged that a local landlord Muhammad Shabaz and his three accomplices abducted them at gunpoint and took them to a deserted place where they 'gang-raped us,'" a local police official told PTI.

A local pastor named Razaq, who was told of the details incident by the two girls and has tried to organize legal representation for the poor family, told that the men threatened to shoot the girls if they did not go with them. Razaq added that once they got to the deserted location, the men ripped the girls clothes off and gang-raped them "many times."

According to a report by Release International, an advocacy group speaking out for persecuted Christians, the family claims to have been threatened against pressing charges. Additionally, the family also claims that the local police have "obstructed attempts to gather medical evidence."

Partners with Release International have vowed to provide the girls with the medical and legal assistance they need. Razaq explained that Shahbaz and his three accomplices were all Muslim and had previously been accused of rape by another Christian family in the village. Razaq added that the other Christian family compromised on a settlement after being pressured by influential people in the village to drop the lawsuit. Razaq fears that Masih and his daughters will continue to face the same pressure to settle out of court.

The police official said that Shahbaz has already been arrested, as the police found him when they were searching the known hideouts of the other three men involved in the incident.

The two girls have been so traumatized by the incident, that they are afraid to leave the house to use the restroom, and instead are using buckets inside of their house. According to, The Pakistan Legal Evangelical Association Development is collecting donations so that they can install a bathroom inside of the girls' home.

The Release International report also indicates that many of its partners have reported a "sharp rise" in the number of Christian girls being attacked in Pakistan.

Release International cited another incident in the Punjab Province that occurred in late November where a 14-year-old Christian was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry her captor. Local Christians and Muslims are involved in negotiations to have the girl returned to her family, but, so far to no avail.

Also in Novembe reported on a 16-year-old Christian girl who was tied and raped by six Muslim men, who owned the brick kiln where she is enslaved as a bonded laborer. In August, Fides reported on a 12-year-old Christian girl who was kidnapped by two Muslim men and three Muslim women and was later raped inside of a closed school by the men.