Thursday, April 30, 2009

Truth Telling and Mess Resolution

Over on one of the religious sites I follow (my non-fiction self writes religious history), they’re debating lies, liars and lying. It’s an interesting debate, even if it’s focused on bashing one particular religion. When do lies become serious? When to petty lies become a conspiracy of falsehood?

My writing partner is a religious man after his own fashion. He has posed as a female online to catch bad boys and bad girls. He’s been a convincing twenty-something woman and a twelve year old girl. I wish I could give you details, but I can’t. Is a lie in the interest of a good a bad thing?

Our work in progress is filled with deception in the interest of both vengeance and justice. The bad guys all die or go to jail by the end. (We haven’t decided the fate of the meanest and worst yet. I think he dies; my partner thinks he confesses all and goes to prison where he will probably make someone a nice girlfriend.) But that result is achieved by violence and lies. And by whom? Ah, that’s the question. If we do this well, you will be certain you know. At the end, you’ll be less certain. We’ll see. This is our first book of this sort.

Oh, yes … my writing space re-do. What a headache this has been. I can see the floor in areas that were hidden by piles of files and books. I’m shifting books between two book cases. My pixie brain divides my fiction up three ways. Fantasy and SF go together no matter the era in which the book was written. Some mysteries all go together. Nineteenth century through the 1930’s fiction all stays together. Nineteen-forties and fifties fiction stays together. I’m uncertain why I prefer this order. ...

Anyway, I don’t like the way I first arranged this. So I’m moving books. And I’m finding more books I’ll turn in for credit at our really spectacular used book store. Sometimes I really miss the book business.

That pre-1940 fiction isn’t in any sub order yet. I’ll arrange it alphabetically later. Want a sample? The first shelf is about half filled; in random order it contains:

Euwer: By Scarlet Torch and Blade
Strong: Typhoon Gold
Oppenheim: Treasure House of Martin Hews
Ballentyne: Life Boat
Farson: The Way of a Transgressor
Barrie: My Lady Nicotine
Abbott: Rolo in Holland
Hope: Bobbsey Twins on a House Boat
Blank: Beverly Gray: Sophomore
Bower: Flying U Ranch
Churchill: The Crossing
Churchill: Inside the Cup
Curwood: Danger Trail
Saxe Holmes Stories
Richardson: Pirates Face
Norton: Phantom Yacht
Roche: Beside a Norman Tower. (If you’ve never heard of this, if you’ve never read it, find it and read it.)

I estimate I’ll have about 200 books to take in for credit. I have a hard time parting with books, even ones I don’t really want to read again. Pixies horde.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sha'na's Forest

In Pixie Warrior (Drollerie Press), Sha'na, High Queen of Pixies, found a second home in Northern California forests.


From After Sunset By Rosamund Marriott Watson

From Tales of the Dartmoor Pixies

HAVING given a brief description of the two more important places traditionally regarded as haunts of the pixies, we shall now proceed to notice a spot which is said to have been formerly much favoured by them as a trysting-place. This is New Bridge, on the Dart, and an examination of its charming surroundings will compel us to admit that the fairy elves most certainly displayed a keen appreciation of the beauties of nature in selecting such a spot for their place of rendezvous.

The course of the noble riser after leaving the bridge at Dartmeet lies down a deep valley, overhung with rugged tors, the sides with coppices of oak. On one hand rise the rugged summits of Sharp Tor and Mil Tor, and on the other the granite piles of Bench Tor, overlooking the hollow known as Langamarsh. Beneath the first two, and very near to the river's brink, is Lug Tor, not crowning an eminence as is usually the case, but being situated on a comparatively level piece of ground in the bottom of the valley. At a short distance it presents the appearance of a ruin, the dark ivy which clothes some portions of its perpendicular sides, tending considerably to produce this effect, while the jackdaws which build their nests in its crevices, and are frequently to be seen circling around it, keep up the illusion. The Dart rushes down through the narrow valley with impetuous course, leaping out, ever and anon, in fine cascades, its path being marked with foam. On emerging from this valley the river becomes more tranquil, and the scenery on its banks of a softer nature. On one side cultivation has taken the place of the barren rock-strewn bank, though on the other the heathery moor still rises from its brink. And so it pursues its course, until a little further on it sweeps beneath the grey arches of a picturesque bridge, and glides onward between thickly fringed banks.

This is New Bridge, and the piece of sward between it and the foot of the steep gorse-covered hill, is the ground whereon the pixies in the days of our grandfathers were wont to meet and indulge in moonlight revelry.


Dangerous Occupations … such as cleaning sewer pipes, killing rats with a sling shot, or going thrift store shopping with a pixie … are a challenge. Can you tell I went thrift-store shopping today? Such fun! And such treasures.

I bought books. I no longer sell antiquarian and used books, but a bookseller’s heart never changes. It’s hard not to buy things with an eye to resale. I put about a third of those I picked out back on the shelf. I only buy to read these days. So I left behind a pile of 1940’s and 50’s dog stories. They don’t interest me other than as collectable books. I put back a book on the Pacific Northwest written by Earl Stanley Gardner. It was ex-library anyway. That one was a hard decision, because local history and travel do interest me.

So, what did I buy? I found an abridged Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon, the intermediate version. I gave my copy away a few years ago and regretted it afterwards. So this was a pleasing find. The other nonfiction book I purchased was Lake Ontario by Arthur Pound. (1945) This is part of the American Lakes Series, and the copy I purchased is a special printing done for The Georgian Bay Line. It’s signed by a company official, by the author, and by the series editor. It’s a nice find and an interesting book.

The rest of the books were fiction. I don’t know if you’ve ever read anything by Elswith Thane. I found a copy with a dust jacket of Dawn’s Early Light, part of her Williamsburg Series. Her style is dated, but she was a good writer. I purchased an exceptionally nice copy of Emily Noble’s Happy Holiday, a romance novel from the late 1940’s. I don’t know why. I don’t usually read romance. Next on the pile of books was Baynard Kendrick’s Death Knell. It’s a Duncan Maclain mystery. It was published in 1945, though the copy I found was a cheaper edition by Triangle Books from two years later. The last book was James Oliver Curwood’s The Flaming Forest. This is a first edition. You ever read any of his books? You should read at least one. You will have to adjust to an older writing style. I also bought two fantasy novels, both recent. One is by Terry Goodkind and the other by Tad Williams.

Other treasures? Yes! I found a pretty Fenton Hobnail dish. It has a ruffled edge similar to Silvercrest, but without the clear glass. I have just the place for it.

It was a nice break in a tiring day. I enjoyed the shopping.

I’m still working on my writing space. I hauled out two large sacks of scrap, mostly old files and old cardboard boxes. It’s frustrating. Every forward step seems to bring a half step backwards. Cleaning up a mess shouldn’t produce more mess, though it seems to do that. I also have a beautiful picture I want to hang. It won’t fit in the available wall space. It will find a place in the family room. It has such warm colours. I’d love to replace a large winter scene, but I don’t have anything else for that space.

The pile of books destined for the local used book store has really grown. I’ll have to get some of them out of the house tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Below Sheeps Tor - Dartmoor

Pixies are known to have lived here as late as the Parlimentary Troubles.

[I shamelessly stold the photo from here:

Taking a Break

I stold the pixie picture from here:

I’m working on two things at once. We pixies can multi-task! I’ve been sorting files, and when that becomes so boring I think I might die, I work on another bookshelf. I’m arranging the first of three that are devoted to fantasy and science fiction. One is full, but it won’t stay in the order I have it. Books as yet unpacked will replace others in this case.

I should probably alphabetize them by author, but my brain has never worked that way with books. On the top shelf is the ten volume set Junior Classics, the 1918 edition. They’ll stay. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, four volumes from the Easton Press series on social theory, some 19th Century school books, a book on ballet and a 1905 almanac finish that shelf. Not fantasy, you say? No, but related.

The next shelf has all my Brain Jacques books. Tamora Pierce is there, The Chronicles of Amber, Tolkein and then miscellaneous fantasy.

Shelf three has my R.A. Salvatore books, my David Eddings books, and Terry Goodkind. Not to be rude or anything, but Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series is spotty. I loved some; some of it gave me headaches, and one I never finished. I’ll go back to it. These are followed by odds and ends, things by authors whose books are represented by a single volume.

Shelf four: Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, Weiss and Hickman or just Weiss. The next two shelves are miscellaneous, a mixture of the very good and the not so good. All my Anne McCaffrey books are there, Heinlein, Asimov, Gordon Dickson and many anthologies are found there. Some of these will move. Eventually I’ll put all the hardcore Science Fiction together. I have to find it all first.

Along the way I found my missing Windows disk. That was good. I found an old hand made knife that went missing during the move. How it ended up in a box of books, I do not know.

Pixies in the Forest

Pixie Warrior, my fantasy novel, is set in a small lumber town in Northern California near the end of World War I. Here is a photo of the town from that era.

The Wicked

Wickedness is usually quite ordinary. Ever notice that? The bad deeds that shock us never spring fully-grown from the wombs of unsuspecting mothers. (That’s a mixed metaphor if I ever saw one!) What I mean is, exceptionally bad acts have their roots in smaller, less significant thoughts and deeds.

I watch the people who live near where I work. Across from us and down the street is a large apartment complex. It was built in 1949 and has the plain, boxy appearance common to many post-war buildings. When new, it was a desirable place. Now it’s the haunt of the nearly homeless, drug addicts, social misfits, the down-and-out, and the criminal. It’s very low rent and very dirty.

The apartments are small one room and bath affairs, with seven larger apartments on each floor. Most of the ground floor is vacant office space. The entrance doors are tiger oak but so grimy they’re coated with human goo and dirt.

There is a Conoco station and convenience mart across the street. I get gas there sometimes. At night a stream of seedy, unwashed individuals cross from the apartment to the mini-mart to buy beer or tobacco. Some merely stand and look, seeking an opportunity to steal what they cannot buy. Or they prowl the parking lot seeking discarded cigarette butts.

I feel sorry for some of them. They’re mentally wounded, incapable of functioning. They become a problem for me when they show up where I work seeking a place to sleep. They’re easy to spot. Someone with a week's worth of dirt on their clothes and a life time of deviant thought in their mind doesn’t blend into a lobby lined with carvings, floored with elegant carpet and filled with ivory coloured leather chairs. Security must be called.

Usually, these people never make it to the door. They’re found in the parking lot and promptly ushered off before they make it to the building. Security is a major expense for us.

Some of them are the embodiment of ineffectual wickedness. No great planning hides behind what they do. They just live and react. Two of them are registered sex offenders. The police send us warning posters. They like little girls. In a more orderly world, they would not still be alive.

Unplanned wickedness is the norm. What planning I see is usually ill formed, spur of the moment. But there are a few who are smart, devious, cold, calculating. These don’t live in the nasty apartment down the highway from us. They live in the more expensive homes on the North and West ends of town. The difference between the wickedness that dresses in a three thousand dollar suit and the wickedness that gets its coat at the mission is only one of appearance and skill, and not at all one of stature.

Whores show up in my work in progress. (I’m calling it Whore of Babylon Beach). I’ve seen them on the street and in the hotels. They range from the crack-whore with the rotting teeth and sunken face and with her constant itch and jiggle, to the expensively dressed, educated conversationalist. I know how and why the crack-whore took up the trade. I puzzle more about the well-dressed and well-spoken whore who is everyone’s dinner date for a significant fee. One presumes it’s the money that drew them into the trade.

Yes, they’re a puzzle. …

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Treasure Hunting, Writing and Why My Back Hurts

Pixies like treasure. Dragons are said to horde it, but that’s a myth. Dragons are just untidy. What you take for dragon treasure is just litter, and any gold or silver found in it is accidental. Being possessive of litter isn’t at all the same as hording treasure. … Now, back to pixies. We like treasures. Leave us a bit of hair ribbon and we’ll think we’ve found treasure. You can curry our favor by giving us a ribbon, a lovely hairpin; a nice pair of shoes will get you married if you’re not careful. (One of these days I should tell you about pixies and shoes.) We like shiny things.

Living among larger humans connects me to other kinds of treasure. I like to prowl your second-hand stores for it and add pretty things to my nest. I especially like silverware, plate or sterling. I don’t like stainless steel dinner ware at all. I don’t like how it feels or looks. Sliver has a pleasing feel both in my hand and in my mouth.

I use silver plate dinnerware. Expensive? No. I find it in thrift stores for nominal cost. If I’m patient I can find nice pieces with little or no wear for twenty cents. They need a good polish, and then they’re fit for use.

Occasionally I find something really nice. I’ll post a picture of three spoons later. They’re mid to late 18th Century, probably from a Boston maker, thought the mark is also similar to a South Carolina silversmith’s, and I’m not certain which one made it.

Pixies like to brag about their bargains. Can you tell?

The continuing struggle

My “work in progress” is a revenge murder mystery. Writing this has been more difficult than writing fantasy fiction. When I create a fantasy world, it’s mine to do with as I wish. A murder mystery needs a bit more realism. It calls for research into areas one need not pursue in fantasy.

There have been days when I’ve been content with a few sentences scratched on a tablet. Other days have produced most or all of a chapter. Writing it has been interesting.

When I wrote Pixie Warrior, I drew the characters from my own family. My children are in that book. I’m in it. I suppose a bit of me is in the dark mystery I’m writing, but my children aren’t. I’ve put people I see on the streets in it. I work near an area haunted by the kind of people who are finding a place in this book. They’re marginally sane, often on drugs or simply drunk, accidentally evil, or determinedly wicked. I’m also exploring how an ordinary person can fall into a darkened life, and how some people draw other to themselves even though they may have no truly attractive traits.

My writing partner found a photo of one of the people we research for our non-fiction work. This will go up on the history blog soon. The woman whose photo it is was a missionary to China in the 19th Century, and died there in 1911. She looks so stern, but she was by all accounts an exceptionally loving person. She rescued children from sexual slavery. Anyone who managed that especially in that era wins my heart.

The room

I’m still working on my new writing space. Another book shelf is in order, and another will be filled and in pixie-mind order by the end of today.

I’ve hauled out two more large sacks of trash. My antique Chinese rug is drying from its cleaning. Not all the spots came out, but it’s nice enough to use. I’ll have it on the floor tomorrow.

My poor back

It aches. Moving boxes of books and papers did me in. I should have gotten the goat to do it.

Belle Grapes Foote

Friday, April 17, 2009

Continuing Fight for Order ... Or Writing Space Gone Wild

Oh, my, I am tired. I’m still working on my new office space. I’m still emptying boxes of files and sorting. This is a tedious job. Sometimes I find a file that mystifies me. I can’t remember why I saved that material or what earthly good I thought it was. Into the trash with it!

Then I discover long forgotten interesting things. I found a series of 19th Century newspaper clippings (microfilm printouts of them) about odd things found in coal mines. I’ll continue to save those, though I have no immediate use for them.

I also found a box of photographs that I’d mislaid. These are old family photos. One is of a lovely young woman named Belle Grapes Foote. She was my great grandfather’s cousin. My dad kept in touch with that part of the family until the death of the last of those he knew. And there is a mystery photo of a young girl who looks Hispanic or perhaps Pilipino. I framed it, though I can’t connect it to anyone.

I found an old cut pile, Chinese carpet stored in Dad’s basement. I’m going to try to clean it later today. It has brown spots on it. I’m not sure what they are, probably coffee or just age. If I can clean it, I’ll put it on the floor by my desk.

I don’t have curtains up yet. As a stopgap measure I’ve put up two large bits of cloth I rescued from Mom’s stash of things she couldn’t throw away but for which she had no use. (You had to know my mom.) I think I want to put up blinds and sheer or lace curtains. I haven’t made up my mind. That’s a ways off anyway. I still have mountains of stuff to sort.

It’s evident that I’ll have to put two of my bookcases in the next room. There is a good space for them there. I’ll put Western History (Cowboys, Indians, Explorers and Immigrants) there. And I think I’ll put my collection of bound journals there too.

I have some framed medals. I don’t know where to put them. There are family things from past military service both American and 19th Century German States. Some shooting medals, both Swiss and American are framed. I’d like to put them up, but I don’t know where. They may go into storage. Oh, there’s also a box of 19th and early 20th Century lodge pins, and someone gave me a set of Russian Apollo-Soyuz pins. They worked on the project. I’d like to display those too. I just have no space for all this junk.

I can see that a shelf I have organized will have to change. I’m not sure what I will do. I research and write about prophetic movements, people who believed in the impending end of the age. I have a large collection of reference material published between 1664 and the 1920s. This is hard to organize, even in Pixie-Brain order.

I’ve made a mess of the floor. I’ll have to sweep and vacuum today too. Such fun. But it should be a good work space when I’m done. I’ll try to post a photo of Belle Foote later.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Frustration and Blogging

Well, I’m back to blogging, not that I ever stopped. It's just that I let this blog die, and it's the one people associate with me as a Pixie. I suppose I shouldn’t have let this blog die. But I did. I have one follower left who has probably forgotten she follows it. Everyone else has removed their links to it. But, I’m back.

I’m in the middle of a horrendous move. Oh, we’re not moving to a new house. I’m moving my library and office space. I’m now one frustrated Pixie. Moving about ten thousand books, innumerable files and the trinkets accumulated by several generations of my family has left me frustrated and worn out.

I have all the book cases in place. They’re all filled but the books are in order in only three of the book cases; the rest are yet to be sorted.

I don’t use anything like the Dewy Decimal System. I use Pixie Brain Order. For instance the bookcase nearest my ratty mid-Victorian drop leaf table is filled with mostly history books. When I’m not writing about pixies, I am a historian. None of the books in this bookcase are Working books; they’re just books I like, have read, and re-read.

A sample ordering from shelf three, counting down from the top: Jugenstil Post Karten (gorgeous illustrations!); The Heart of Europe (A travel book from 1918); Abyssinia (1901 edition); Seabrook’s Adventures in Arabia; Myntinger’s Head Hunting in Solomon Islands; Paris in the Terror; The Adventures of an American Slaver, Robertson’s Whales and Men; Whipple: The Challenge; Tschifferly’s Ride (A school teacher’s horseback ride from Argentina to New York City in the 1920’s)’ Harrer: I come from the Stone Age; Valentin: The German People; Niagara in Politics; The Clarke Prize book: Essays (1894); Phillips: Life and Labor in the Old South; The Johnstown Flood; Bundling (Betcha don’t know what this is little bit of history is about … Okay so maybe you do.); Our Southern Highlands; History of Hamden, Connecticut; Legends of Lassen County.

See, no sensible order there – Unless you have a Pixie’s brain, and then it makes perfect sense.

I’ve been fussing over where to put the fragments of family history and my odd little things. I have too much junk.

I also have a growing pile of books that will go to my favorite used bookstore. They’ll give me credit. I’ll probably waste it on books, bringing back into my house clutter I’m trying to end. Such a life!
The one nice thing about this move is there is room for a bed. Some of you (assuming someone will actually read this blog again) know I have health issues. I’ve put a bed in the room. It will save me from having to climb stairs when I feel poorly.