Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Harry being Gramps

Warning! Child Spoiling Grandpa

My grandchildren, Maggie and Corbin spent the night a few days ago.  It's hard to believe they are turning 6 at the end of this month. They are twins and they were born early, which is not uncommon. They spent their first month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital. They grew fast and by their first birthday they were on track for normal growth based on pediatric norms.

In the first 18 months everything seemed normal. They crawled, learned to walk, and climb into/onto things where they could get into trouble. But my wife started noticing things. With 34 years of teaching children with special needs, she began noticing differences in Corbin. Where he had started using words, he stopped. He was more disconnected to his surroundings, focusing on one thing that would hold his attention. We suspected he was having hearing problems, but that was eventually ruled out. Trains fascinated him. Thomas the Tank Engine being his favorite, and he loved playing with our iPads.

Finally Jayne convinced our daughter to have him tested. He is autistic. The school district that they live in has lots of educational programs so at age 3 Corbin started his school career. Both children are in kindergarten programs this year, but alas, in different schools. Both schools are within a mile of their home, but it means twice as many meetings with teachers and field trips.

Maggie is so smart. She probably will be in the gifted program next year. Besides playing with dolls she loves LEGOs. I encourage her to build her own designs and not just build from plans. I want her to develop spatial reasoning. Boys have long excelled there, but there is no reason girls can't excel in it as well. I challenge her with math and science thru LEGOs.

Maggie plays well alone, but she prefers to be with others (and the center of attention). She is very social. We take her and her brother to our local Kid’s Museum every week. It is filled with play activities sponsored by local businesses. There is a malt shop where children can dress up and play waitress or waiter and serve you plastic food, a theatre with lots of costumes, auto repair shop, ambulance, grocery store, not to mentions slides, climbing toys, and arts area, and so much more. Anyhow Maggie searches out groups of children to play with and has a great time until we tell her it is time to go.

Corbin has a great kindergarten teacher this year. He’s non-verbal, but we are making progress. He is beginning to use words although sometimes it is hard to understand what his words are. Most reading programs used in schools now are on computers or tablets, which Corbin loves. The trouble is he wants to do his own thing on them. His teacher dug into her bag of tricks and is using a reading program that was popular 20 years ago where the child matches word with objects/colors on cards. He is making progress.

There is no doubt to me that he is just as smart as any child his age. He loves books and he likes you to read to him. He pays attention and turns the pages when you finish the text on it. He even fusses at me when I start to adlib a story. The boy is smart. That is evidenced by all the ways he knows how to get into trouble. He is a born Houdini. There is a reason that there is a deadbolt and chain on the doors. He can’t reach the chain… yet. He loves the water. The Kid’s Museum has a splash zone he loves to play in. Recently he discovered the water fountain feature of our home refrigerator. He doesn’t use a cup. He just stands there and giggles and the puddle spreads across the floor.

So as you can guess, since my retirement Corbin and Maggie have become a big part of my life. I really can’t imagine a better way to spend my time.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Comments problems

The problem some encountered with leaving comments seems to have been fixed.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Songs were Extremely Rude. It was all so Very British

by O. Reader

Buxton part 2
            The reason we came to Buxton was a folk festival, but unlike the usual events held in fields with muddy campsites and suspect “rest rooms” and the like, this was held in a couple of theaters, with a huge “beer tent” erected between them.
            It obviously had a different “feel” to the usual, least of all was the actual comfort enjoyed by ourselves - and we have got to an age where comfort sort of rates high on the totem pole.
            I missed the stalls selling organic food and hippy beads, and offering tantric osteopathic experiences. I missed the sing-arounds, where people with voices like bathwater escaping could still make their mark. And I missed the open mikes where young hopefuls could have their 15 minutes of infamy and the club tents. Paul Simon appeared at the club tent at one of the first Cambridge Folk Festivals, and look where he went from there.
            So it was probably more a series of official concerts in halls including the beautifully decorated Buxton Opera House, which dates from the Victorian era, where we had previously been for several years’ worth of Gilbert and Sullivan festivals in the past.
            But it was a bit incongruous with the music and the audience. You looked around you in the circle balcony. Loads of grey rinsed perms and bald heads could be seen jigging about in unison, forming a sort of Mexican wave along the rows. You half expected some octogenarian to throw himself into a spot of crowd surfing, being propelled over the heads of the audience before disappearing over the side of the balcony to land with a thud in the stalls below.
            But it WAS nice to have reserved seats. Incongruous, but nice. And it really was nice to sleep in a bed rather than in a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent.  
            There were two extra events that we will remember. On the Sunday morning they organized a walk. About 200 turned up. It was billed as a gentle stroll, but this was organized by fanatics who walk ten miles and then do a gig. We climbed UP (and I mean UP) to a folly called Solomon’s Temple, and there a choir who had walked with us with banners sang some political songs that were also extremely rude. It was all so very British.
            Mrs O declined to go on the walk, but I went with daughter and son-in-law.
            Then straight after, ones aching bones were abused still further by a Ceilidh. This is a sort of country dance, barn dance - dunno what you would call it in the States. It featured a band and a “caller” who gave you directions. Country dancing - a blast from the past - involves mass groups of people swinging around and stepping on toes, and forever changing partners, sort of getting their hands on all manner of different people - probably the main reason for it as a social activity in the pre-movie-radio-TV-internet age. They attempted what they called the largest example of a dance called “strip the willow” which involves large numbers swinging around in unison - a bit like an old Shaker meeting gone wrong. And did this go wrong! Large numbers of people on collision course in hysterics. That it happened in the “beer tent” where dozens of different ales were available for consumption probably had nothing to do with it. Yeah. Sure.      As for the music? Some was good, some very good, some I could happily never hear again. I did note with sudden perception that many younger performers don’t know what to do with their hands. I find this a problem with public speaking, but having something in your hand helps. For singers it can be a mike or a guitar, even if you don’t actually play the latter. Without it, you get some who jig around with stiff arms like a demented glove puppet - or you have John Jones of the Oyster Band with arm and hand movements so choreographed you would think he was giving you a master class in deaf-signing while he sang.
            The headliner was a group called The Levellers, which may mean nothing outside the UK, and even then outside a specific niche in the UK. But in the 1990s they had the biggest selling album of the decade in Britain. Yet it never made the charts, but 16 year anti-social left-wing-leaning teenagers loved it, and it steadily sold and sold. They were very professional, very funny, very political but full of the self deprecation that characterizes many Brits, which other nations sometimes find hard to understand. They brought the house down. Forget the reference to crowd surfing above, by the end of their set all those in the stalls were standing and dancing, and many in the circle where we were. I mean, they interrupted our view of the stage! Attempts to stem the tide were futile. And this was “The Opera House.” Nice one.
            So it’s goodbye to Buxton and home to responsibility and seriousness and all that sort of stuff. Ho hum.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


            Almost no-one who reads this blog cares much about our history books, maybe two or three do. But it’s my blog and if I want to agonize over our current work, I will. So Thupp!
            First, my computer killed – sent off into the realm of lost electrons – a major portion of work. I got a few lines back. And I’ve started over. This isn’t as bad as it seems. The new version is better and less cluttered. But the work is slower going. That’s mostly because I’ve changed order and emphasis. I’m unhappy at the pace. But I have to work around being so sick I can’t stand myself.
            I think the private history blog is a failure. We invited people we thought would comment. What we ended up with is the same set of intellectual parasites and a few committed commenters. Probably I expect too much from blog readers.
            I watched my youngest daughter’s dance group rehearse. Two of them have real talent. One of them is umm flexible. I mean really flexible. I suppose I used to be too, though at nearly forty, I no longer am. The dance troupe’s choreographer tends to make the dances more erotic than is appropriate for young teens, but that’s not uncommon.
            My pet Scotsman is working on the irrigation system. It’s fairly old, so sprinkler heads need replacing. We usually wait until one fails totally. Replacing them all would have cost bunches. When he’s done today, all of them will have been replaced within the last three years.

            My oldest sister sends us a care package every so often: Candy, cookies, sometimes clothes, especially pajamas I like. Her latest came today. That’s always fun. Kat claimed open-the-package rights.

            I got rid of our old coffee maker [Proctor-Silex] because the pot dribbles, and I’m tired of wiping coffee spills off the counter. The new one is Black and Decker, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

            I’ve been up for hours. A serious nap is in order.

            The school district superintendent called with a job offer. I declined. I’m not well enough to return to work, and ... they employee idiots with whom I do not wish to work.

            Oh ... and this morning when I drove out to feed the goats I decided to walk along the river bank. Understand, there is a high chain link fence between our pasture and the high water mark. The navigable river act gives public access to the bank. So I’m on the other side of the fence walking, looking at the gravel and rocks. I usually find something interesting. Today I found a Native American stone fish weight, a modern dime, an agate, and a tangle of fishing line with lure and weights. I also slipped off a rock and soaked myself up to my knees. The water is still very cold. It stays icy well into summer. So, I scramble out of the water, slip again and end up soaked head to toe.
            Fortunately, we have an old washer and dryer out there. I plunked my soaked clothes in the washer, showered up in the little stone house, sipped hot coffee and watched the barges pass.   

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bruxton by O. Reader

Bruxton, about 1890


            I like the little town of Buxton. It was a Spa Town that gained huge popularity in the Georgian era, home to the gentry who wanted to take the waters. As fashions historically changed it went down the drain as it were, before coming back up as a tourist area for walkers and climbers in the Peak District.
            We came here for several years running for the Gilbert and Sullivan festivals. My grandfather used to put on these Victorian operettas at the Bradford Alhambra Theatre. It was how he and my grandmother met. So there was a family tradition for this, coupled with a natural liking for British satire and silliness. But then the organizers fell out with the local council over money and took the whole festival further north to Harrowgate.  Harrowgate is a nice town, but even further away from where we live. And looking after an elderly mother meant we couldn’t get away as before.
            But after a gap we have come back here for a folk festival. Actually, a sort of geriatric type of folk festival. The artistes are nearly all drawing their pension, and as for the audience - well, I feel positively young in comparison. So mud and paint and tents and chemical toilets have somehow lost their appeal, and the music is in a proper theater, with actual reserved seats, and a sedate beer tent next door, and nice self-catering apartments - yes, that’s where we are at.
            Buxton has a very fine second-hand bookshop, which is a bit of dying breed in the UK at the moment. Scrivners has five floors, numerous poky little rooms, winding staircases, and is probably a health and safety death trap. I spent a very happy time there this morning, although I didn’t buy anything. I have reached the point where I am selling more than buying, and have very specific lists of what I want. There were several things I would have bought in times past, covering film history, music history, theology, but now so much information is on the internet. It’s a strange rite of passage, going into a bookshop and coming out with nothing.
The same was true of the charity shops. For a quite well-heeled place - ritzy hotels and the main supermarket being Waitrose (probably only Brits would understand the connotation) there were a surprisingly large number of charity shops. It did mean that they contained some good gear rather than junk that a shop should pay YOU to take away. But even here, we didn’t get anything. Books? The same problem as for Scrivners. DVDs? We have so many that there was nothing worth having. Talking books? A few, but we had them all. Clothes? Well, I don’t do clothes. Well, I mean, I do do clothes, but begrudge replacing them. And Mrs O didn’t find anything either.
            What is most memorable are the conversations in the shops. You don’t normally go into a second-hand bookshop to hear a lady inquire whether they have any books written by Jane Eyre..? And the personal problems involving relationships and gynaecology that were being handled full blast in a North Country accent in several charity shops was most entertaining. Now I can do a passable North Country accent - it’s that distant Bradford connection - but I can’t do it here, and anyway, this blog is supposed to be PG. All I can say is women over a certain age in Buxton seem to have loud voices, few inhibitions, and unfortunate personal problems.
            So we’ve wandered around the park, had photos taken on the bandstand, wined and dined and nodded off in the chair, and now this evening there is the music.
            Yes, I remember, that’s what we came here for. Wasn’t it?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'd disattisfied with this and not sure why

Section Six

            The only seat left was next to a little girl. She was blond with eyes so darkly blue he thought they were black. A second look changed his opinion. They were definitely blue.
            “Whatcha reading?” he asked.
            She displayed the title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
            “I read that when I was about your age,” he said. “Any good?”
            “You mean, do I like it? Yes ... But fairies aren’t like this.” She nodded to the open book.        
            “What are fairies like, then?”
            “Nasty,” she said. She cut off the conversation by slipping off her chair and approaching the receptionist.
            He didn’t hear her question, but the receptionist’s answer was clear enough. “About ten more minutes,” she said. The girl nodded and resumed her seat.
            He fished in his inside suit pocket for the memo. “Robert,” it read, “You are tentatively assigned to Section Six, an inter-agency project. Details will be provided when you interview. Final approval is dependent on the interview and training. Best of luck.”

            “Are you here for the interviews?” He laughed at this. It was meant as a joke.”
            “I’m waiting for Mr. Scott.” she said. Her answer ignored humor. It was a statement of fact that did not answer his question. It was a conversation killer.   
            She wiggled in her seat. He was an elementary teacher for eight years before being recruited. He knew that wiggle. A bathroom was in order.
            “What’s your name?” He tried again.
            “Tabitha Darkblood,” she answered.
            “I’m Robert.”
            “Excuse me,” she said.

            She pointed to the restroom door. “I’ll tell him,” the receptionist said.

            Robert noticed things without being obvious. It was a gift, honed by training. Counting the little girl, there were eight people seated in the reception area. One wore a lieutenant commander’s uniform. He was navy. One wore a police uniform, but not from D.C. Robert was uncertain from where. The rest wore suits of varied quality, one of which cost as much as he made in a week. The rest were off the rack. Shoes were shined.

            He closed his eyes, not exactly dozing, but listening to the eternal buzz. A door opened. He listened.
            “Gentlemen,” a voice said. “If you would come this way ...”

Chapter two
            Robert found a seat in the second row. The room resembled a cheaply furnished junior college classroom. Two seats to each narrow table. A white board at the front. A desk. Counters and cabinets against the back wall. Two empty bookshelves.
            “This isn’t Men in Black, is it?” one of them quipped.
            “No, sorry, it isn’t. I’m Brian Scott, section coordinator. Your supervisors have selected you as best for our needs.”
            “So we’re the best of the best?” It was the same clown.
            “No,” Scott said. “Typically, those sent to us are losers. People that don’t fit – that think and behave in ways that mark them as underperformers. You’ve expressed politically or socially incorrect views. You believe improbable conspiracy theories. You don’t tie your shoes. You don’t wear socks.”
            Two of them looked at their feet. One grinned slightly.
            “Can you tell us what Section Six is – does?” This came from the policeman.
            “Briefly ... Section Six is an inter-governmental and inter-agency response team. We respond to unusual situations ...”
            Tabitha interrupted this by swinging the door open and climbing up on a chair, then onto the desk.
            “Glad you could join us,” Mr. Scott said.
            She nodded. “Potty,” she said.
            “So I understand. I was just explaining our mission.” She nodded again, and he continued. “Sometimes we investigate events of national or international importance, though the usual agencies are normally used for that. ... But there are times when, when things happen ... there are events that seem out of the ordinary. Those are our field.”
            Robert scratched his head, rubbed his nose. “This is an x-files kind of operation?”
            “I suppose there’s a vague comparison,” Scott said. “We don’t chase down aliens. But we do pursue the unusual.”
            “Such as ...?” This from the policeman.
            Scott thumbed papers on a clipboard. “Officer Patterson ...?”
            Patterson answered with a nod and a, “yes, that’s right.”
            “On the night of July third last, you responded to a disturbance at an abandoned warehouse on Wellhead Loop. You found a dead cat, a dead transient, and a limping dog. Describe the transient, please.”
            “He was dead; what else is there to say?”
            “Your report says he was ‘chewed.’”
            Patterson nodded.
            “It also says that the bite marks weren’t from the dog.”
            “As my captain pointedly said, I’m no expert.”
            “Tell us what else you saw ...”
            “It’s in my report.”
            “Yes, it is. And this is the kind of thing we investigate.”

            A few seconds of silence followed. The man in the expensive suit shifted in his chair. “My name is Davis. I’m an intelligence analyst. ... I saw a dragon once. It was a mistake to tell anyone that.”
            “I can imagine,” one of them said.

            “There are things out there,” Scott said, his words on the edge of the inaudible. “Things in which it is uncomfortable to believe. ... Let me ask you this ... Do you believe in fairies?”
            Snickers traveled the room. “My gramma did,” one of them said.
            “But do you?”
            A pause, and then, “Yes ... I saw one once.”
            Heads shook, a titter came from someone in the back row.

            “Gentlemen,” Scott said, “let me introduce you to Tabitha Darkblood. You probably noticed her in the lobby.”
            Robert nodded, grinned.          
            “Tabitha is here to illustrate my point. She will also further your training. Not everyone will succeed. Those who do not meet her standard will return to their previous duties without prejudice. ... If you would, Miss Darkblood. ...
            Tabitha stood on the desk, taking a slow turn as if modeling a dress. She favored pink. Her short skirt was pink, her knee socks a darker pink. Her blouse had two slits in the back. She wore black Mary Janes. Her hair was cut long, to the shoulder blades. She smiled. Her eyes reflected the ceiling light.
            And then her wings blossomed.

            “Nice trick,” the back row man said.

Thinking about the pet dragon ...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just because I like it

Life with the Dragon: Pixie Family Album part 2

"I wouldn't worry about the dragon. It's the Pixie that's the problem."

"Yes, Dear, he's the one."

Perils of Dragon Parenthood: "Yes, Kat, it's a very pretty dress, but it's way too short for school, and it's not raining."

Life with the dragon: A Pixie Family Album

In no particular order, these 'family photos' illustrate my life with my pet, shape-shifting dragon.

First Date: A contented dragon

Newly Married: Lots of Snuggles

You really need to stop getting spit in my ear!

Sure. Fly off to work and leave me to make the bed ...

Melting her Dad's Heart

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Random Thoughts, Or Pixies, Religion, Sex and Dragons

            Be prepared. This is another rambling post with almost no meaningful content.

            I lost significant work even though it was backed up. Both files went “poof.” My task, should I care to accept it, is to recreate it all today. But ... I’m writing this instead.
            Three of my daughters, the three oldest, are committed to a socially conservative, authoritarian religion. I don’t object. They’re mature enough to make that decision. Last night was their only Holy Day. They celebrate communion annually, arguably Jesus’ intent. I often attend that meeting. I write about this group. So I have some interest in their meetings, even though I write about their fairly distant past.
            The speaker’s name was Oscar. I know him from some years ago. He’s one of the few university educated among their pastors. He is not a fluent speaker, but he’s a personable one. Their public prayers are ritualized. Jesus prayed to his ‘father.’ They pray to their “dear heavenly Father, Jehovah God.” I think they believe that many words, flowery words, make their prayer more acceptable. Oscar prayed last. It was the highpoint of the evening. It’s not that he isn’t afflicted by the same stilted vocabulary, but his prayer was heartfelt, personal. It was something to which every Christian, no matter how they differ in doctrine, could say Amen.
            One of their pastors never fails to be offensive. We had a brief conversation, and I fended off his personal questions. He believes he should control all others. He’s an organization man in the guise of a pastor. That’s not uncommon among this group. Their opinions matter more than scripture.

            Goat Boy [AKA my husband] is working from home for the next few days with his phone turned off. Apparently there’s a significant contract available. He’s working on the bid. I’ll distract him only a little. He’s more than just Goat Boy. He’s also, when the mood strikes, a shape-shifting Dragon.
            I’ve told the girls to leave him alone while he’s working. (Two of them are home with some virus.) If there’s any distracting to do, I’ll do it, thanks.

 Distracting the Dragon

            If it doesn’t rain, our shoot it up group will meet and distance shoot. I’ll bring my 45-70 Highwall this time.

            I found some worked agate this morning. It was poking out of the pasture. These are roughly worked arrowheads, never finished things. They show up in pockets. Whoever worked them set them aside for later. They’re really lovely. I have an iron kettle full of similar. I’ll add these to the pot. Not long after we bought the land we found a lovely spear. The University of Idaho came out and worked the summer in out pasture. It was exciting.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Just Because I like It

Evil Washing Machines, Peeves, Writing History

            I’m in the process of closing down our history blog. The prime reason is abusive comments from a few readers, but there are other reasons as well. I won’t go into those. They’re secondary. Well, maybe I will discuss that later. We’ll see.
            The old washing machine goes bye-bye on Tuesday. [That’s tomorrow.] The new one is supposed to arrive same day. We had to remove a door to get the old one out. I did that all by myself with the help of my trusty screw driver and little hammer. I’ll probably need help putting the door back. 

            I’ve been peevish for days. I don’t like it when people present alternatives to my decisions. They’re mine to make. People who do that usually start by saying something such as, “Well, it is your choice, but ...” Rarely, someone who does that has a good idea. Usually, they just wish I was more like them. I’m happy being me, bad decisions and all.
            I’m tired of political moronism, political opinions based on feelings instead of thought. You can think differently than I do. But if your ‘feelings’ about right and wrong are based on the idiotic idea of equivalence, then I won’t like you much. I’m tired of self-entitled authority figures. LEO’s should not break the law to enforce it. Pastors are not God’s gift to mankind. Educators should educate, not put their personal opinions in place of parental judgment. Not every personal preference someone might have is an automatic right. I may want to throttle your sister, but it’s not my right to do so, no matter how good it might make me feel.
            Calling me names because of political difference will displease me. I probably won’t forgive you in the absence of an abject apology. The same is true if you call my friends names or insult them.
            My peeves are accentuated by my declining health. I can’t stay warm, even with the heating blanket turned up as high as it will go.

Other things:

            Since her stroke, my aunt blurts out what ever comes to mind. Sometimes what she says hurts others’ feelings. No-one seems to have a remedy except understanding and tolerance.
            Our research frustrates me. We’re writing two chapters that should be straightforward narrative. Some of the original source material leaves me with questions that we will probably not address. One reoccurring question is, “How can otherwise rational people believe this stuff?” The answer is multifaceted, sometimes nonexistent.
            I have an increasing dislike for several of the main characters. It won’t keep me from writing accurate history, and I hope my distaste does not show.  That’s not accurate. I don’t care if my personal distaste shows, as long as we write accurate narrative. I mean that I don’t want to be accused of unfairness.
            I have a mixture of suspicion and repulsion. One of these guys was an obvious fornicator. We have not reached the point of absolute proof, so we won’t say P* was a child-abusing creep. Of the three or four most prominent in this history, none of them was rational when it came to self. They all believed they were God’s special messenger, the bearer of advanced spiritual light. This derives from Christian Mysticism. We have to identify that as an antecedent belief system. We haven’t decided if we do that in this volume or in the next.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Madness of Pixes Part 178

We can title this post “The Mad Plan.”

            Those who read this blog regularly know I collect stamps, write history and herd children. Oh and raise goats, French Alpines to be exact. And if you don’t regularly read my blog, you now know ...

Goat Girl in her Element

            I don’t have a huge amount of money to spend on stamps, but patience sometimes brings stellar stuff my way. I have a generalist collection in the old Scott brown International Albums [1849-1940] and individual country collections for Austria, Germany and France. My Austria collection brought me a gold medal at an APS exhibit. But I’ve concentrated on my Germany collection for several years. I’m proud of it.
            We’re always in need of money to pay research expenses. Original research is often an expensive proposition. For example, we traced an 1881 booklet to a university in Georgia. A photocopy cost me over fifty dollars. It was an obscene fee. But they own the only known copy, and it’s key to part of the story we tell.
            We raise money through yard sales; we use royalty money from the sale of our already published books. We receive an occasional small donation. But we’re always in need for money.

Killing two birds with one stone ...

            So ... I’m off on ebay, ignoring the racket my girls are making, and LO! I find a lot of stamps on album pages. They’re German stamps. I have all of these but two. Some stamp dealers do not describe large lots. They post pictures and leave everything up to you. I always look closely, sometimes copying the dealer’s pictures into my photo editor for a better look. This lot had been bid up to ten dollars. I usually spend that or less.
           Most of it is common, things I have; some are ‘second choice’ stamps. But, there are three, maybe four [Bad photo], that are very expensive. Two of them I do not have. The key stamp is a Bavaria ‘Reich’ overprint in type II. So I bid. In the hours before the auction ends a minor bidding war starts. It ends with me winning. Total cost with postage is forty US dollars. I cringe, but I know very well that I can break this lot down into individual lots and probably [very probably] raise two hundred dollars. It’s worth the work. I end up with two pricey stamps I’d probably never own otherwise. [Scott Cat. about $500.00] And I replenish our research fund.
            Some pages I can sell as is. Some stamps will need a gentle soak to remove soil and old stamp hinges. But, dear heart, our research account is at less than ten dollars and I need to buy stuff. So that’s my mad plan.

 The 4 Mark stamp is Type II. I don't have this one in type II, or didn't. Now it's mine.

Other insanity.

            Probably no-one who reads this blog is really interested in my re-do the house project. I have boxes and baskets of things piled up near the foot of the south stairs, all of which need to be sorted. That’s this week’s project. Much of this is yard sale or Goodwill Store bound. A long-time friend has fallen into need. I’ve sorted out sheets and pillows for her. I gave her our extra vacuum. [Pet man bought me a new one.] The pillows are new, not used. I bought them hoping they’d give me some support post surgery. They’re nice and fluffy but they hurt my neck. So I have four pillows to give her if she wants that many.

            A good pillow is a life essential.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Junk shopping


            Aunt S. unexpectedly showed up at my door. The natural result was ... well ... we went shopping. I promised Goat Boy I’d buy a new switch for the washing machine. So off we went, stopping first at a fast food place to eat poorly prepared food and a Diet Coke that tasted like some sort of spray cleaner. I didn’t finish mine. This is my second bad experience at that McDonald’s. I probably won’t return.
            The appliance guy was very helpful. The cost was low, lower than I expected by half. So, what next? Why off to the nearest thrift store, of course. Aunty headed for the clothes racks; I went straight to the books. And I found some. Last school year I loaned out my copy of Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider and never got it back. That’s okay. I buy second hand children’s books knowing that most of those I lend won’t make it home. I found a new, unread copy. Nice. Ninety-nine cents nice. I also found two of the Spiderwick books I’ve never read and an Amelia Peabody mystery I’ve not read. Nice. All as new and cheap. It puzzles me that people buy a book and never read it. When new the Peabody mystery [Elizabeth Peters: He Shall Thunder in the Sky] cost almost thirty dollars. Why would one buy a book that expensive and never crack it open? Maybe it was an unappreciated gift.
            The Goodwill Store has one of the world’s most obnoxious clerks. He tells everyone he was a Marine and that he did two tours of duty in Iraq. I know some Marines; some of my relatives are or were Marines. This buzzard no more acts as one than an ant acts like an elephant. Last time I was there a very old man called him out on his behavior – a real soldier scolding a fake one. It didn’t do much good. But today, he wasn’t there. I mean the obnoxious clerk wasn’t there. I was much relieved.
            After the books I examined the china and glassware. There wasn’t much of interest, but I found two nice things. The first was a porcelain bell, blue and gold on white. It was very expensive new and is undamaged, certainly worth the two dollars they wanted. The other item is a child’s teapot, part of a larger set, but only the pot survived. It’s German, made in the inter-war period. The whole set cost some parent an arm and a leg back in the day. I collect antique children’s dishes. This was a nice find. It’s flawless.

            Aunty bought two blouses. She’s a very deliberate shopper, which is a nice way of saying she’s very slow and touches almost everything. So while she continued to shop, I looked at the shoes. Nothing for me there. But I found some nice boots that fit my baby half-sister, just the sort of thing she likes. Kids that age grow quickly. These were lightly worn if worn at all.
            Aunty is staying the night. That’s mostly because I insisted. It’s too late in the day for a slightly visually impaired old woman to drive the Interstate.   
            So, I’m today’s queen of junk shopping. And you are?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The toe cure ...

            Imagine the scene. It’s about five AM. I wake to find the other side of the bed empty. This isn’t unusual during the week. Goat Boy is up by then. But it’s unusual for a Saturday. I go exploring. He’s not in the potty. He’s not in the kitchen. But Lo! He is in the living room [parlor to you, maybe], on his back staring at the ceiling. A couch pillow is under his head.
            “Why are you on the floor?” I ask.
            “Hurt my back,” he says.
            I do not say, “But we didn’t have sex this morning ...” If his back is hurt, that might make him laugh, and then he’d hurt more. What I say is, “How?”
            He explains. He helped unload a heavy box at a job site. Now executives aren’t supposed to do that. Are they? But hey, the man on the floor is Goat Boy. He feels compelled to do things like that. Sticks his hand in everything. Very helpful.
            He moans.
            “Let’s take you to ER,” I suggest.
            He shakes his head. “I’ll be all right.” His health philosophy is that if you ignore a problem it will go away. Of course, that’s wrong headed. Ignore a problem and it usually worsens.  
            “Roll over,” I say.
            He’s skeptical. “Can’t. It hurts.”
            I insist. He complies.
            Now, dear-heart, this is morning. I’m in my pink, footed jammies. No sharp shoe heel, just the soft sole of my pajamas. I step onto his back and more or less squish his back from tailbone to neck. I’m greeted with a series of pops and moans. “Don’t stop,” he says.  
            “Lovely,” he says, when I step off. Okay, so I lost my balance and more or less fell off. But he is fixed. Well not fixed. That’s an unfortunate word in this context. His back is better.
            “Any time,” I say.
            I toddle off to the kitchen, making coffee and buttered toast. I smear strawberry jam on his. I like mine plain except for an obscene amount of butter. He likes his middling brown. I like mine burnt.
            We have a companionable moment over coffee and toast, talking quietly so we don’t wake anyone. It’s drizzling out but warm inside.

 The Toe Cure

Saturday, March 25, 2017

All sorts of things ...

All Sorts of Stuff.

            A few weeks ago my writing partner and I set aside the chapter on which we were working while we waited for some photocopies. We started another chapter, much easier to write because almost all the original source material is in once place. I’m not pleased with the writing, but the content is good. We’ll fix the writing later. There are some rough spots where we’re uncertain of the original writer’s intent. Usually that problem is resolved by reading and re-reading the source material. This author was grammar challenged. His questionable grammar poses a problem for many who write about him – and for us too. So much that fits into the abeyant chapter is found in the same paper that we’ve returned to writing it too. We’re writing both, concurrently.
            The principal character in this history is a mixture of self-deluded, sometimes shrewdly insightful, always slightly emotional personality traits. He was willing to believe improbable doctrine based on its cleverness. He believed in something called “Israel’s Double,” a view of end-times chronology based on a Hebrew word that has no relationship to passing time. He consulted Strong’s dictionary for meaning but missed the point entirely. So we deal with that, report it, and we will explain the logic fault.
            Our explanations must be sensitive. That’s probably the wrong word. He was wrong. We tell our readers he was wrong. But some of our readers still believe the “Double” doctrine. We will do all of this without insulting anyone – if we can.

            During the inflation era, Germany printed many stamps to address the progressive devaluation of its currency. In the early 1920s the postal authorities issued a numeral of value set first with a lozenge watermark, then with a web or network watermark. The lozenge watermarked stamps are inexpensive in basic type, though some of the varieties are expensive. The network varieties include three or four with high catalogue values, some over three hundred dollars. I’ve finally completed that set, and on the cheap. The last to come my way is the 30 pfennig, green. I bought it for five dollars and postage from a desperate stamp dealer in India. [Isn’t the Internet wonderful?] Now that I’ve completed the set, I’ve remade the album page.
            I’m helped in my quest for the rarer German stamps by the current stamp market. Germany is not a high demand area, especially in the United States which remains the primary market for philatelic items. So examples I could not afford say two years ago are showing up for little money. 

 The Stamps

            One of my best buddies is an illustrator. If you read fantasy fiction, you’ve probably seen her cover art. She introduces me to the work of others, sometimes to the artists themselves. [I’m not exactly jealous of their talent, but I wish I had time to develop my own artistic ability.] Many of them draw or paint fairly erotic art. You don’t see it on my blog ... because this is a mostly PG blog. But some of this is just amazing. Most recently she sent me pen sketches by F. J., a Japanese artist. Can’t post them, and keep my PG rating, but I like them. They remind me of my pixie characters.

Use your imagination. Why I'm not posting the artwork.

            I continue to terrorize our house. I’m replacing an antique cabinet with a regular bookshelf. I’ll sell the cabinet. I will yard sale two tables. I need my pet man’s help in the laundry room. I want to turn part of it into a pantry of sorts. With a large family and a smallish kitchen, we never have enough room to store food. I’m moving furniture in the family room, sometimes only to return it to where it was. I want a place for two watercolor sketches and an antique mirror. I’m still thinking about that. I will sell two small oil paintings. They’re nice but not that nice. I’m thinkin’ ‘bout selling a small desk.

            Now that spring is here we can resume our distance shooting matches. I want but probably won’t buy a three band Enfield. Way too expensive and I already have four nice long rifles. The last to come my way was a gift from a relative. It’s a Chilean Mauser with matching numbers and a very clear crest. I haven’t fired it yet.

            I’m still wobbly on my feet, but I am getting out more.

            I ordered the dress. See below.

            My oldest is traveling to Central America in April.

            My pet man is still a really, really good kisser.