Friday, May 29, 2009

Grenoble, 1925

From a three volume photo album.
An Around the World Trip - 1925

Blood ... Sweat ... Tears ... and More Sweat

Long day, huh? Well, it was for me. …

I’ve started on the room next to my office/library area. Since Grandma died it’s been used as storage. So it’s full of boxes and furniture and stuff. It is destined to be a sitting room. I’ve worked on it most of today. I’m …. say … five feet into a very large room, opening boxes, sorting, throwing away, cleaning and sweating. The executive summary? Two fifty-five gallon bags of trash. Three boxes for a yard sale. One box for the Goodwill or the Crisis Nursery.

I resurrected three oak shelves that belonged to Grandma. They’re big hulking things made in the 1970’s, but they’re also quality pieces of furniture. I can’t afford new. So my personal taste must bend to what’s available. One unit is in place, polished up and filled with pretty things.

There is an antique table in there. It needs refinishing. I don’t know if we’ll keep it or donate it to a charity thrift store. Grandma’s couch is in there. I will have that hauled off to our living room. It’s nice.

I found a box of sea shells -- Two, actually, but I combined them into one box. I put a few of them on my shelf, and the rest in a new storage place. Most of a box of old vcr-style videos will go into a yard sale. I think Grandma got these for grandkids to watch, but I don’t remember most of them. One of them was never opened. Grandmother collected antique child’s dishes. I found a box of those. I have no place to display them, but there IS one more room in this project. We’ll see.

I have three boxes of undecideds. They’re the what-do-I-do-with-this things everyone accumulates. Probably most of it will go to a charity. My mate wants an ugly seascape hung somewhere. … Not over my dead body. I can see all sorts of pictures and paintings in the far corner. I’ll find a nicer one. I’m sure there is at least one nicer.

Now I’m hot and sweaty. I need a bath. I need two baths. Maybe three.

Frustration ... Finding the Lost ... Purple

Life frustrates me. It’s no secret that I have an inherited neurological disorder. I share it with several others in my family, and though it manifests itself in different ways, we all suffer from it. Suffer indeed. …

My memory is affected. I lose things easily. I lose track of days. If I’m really sick, I lose the memory of entire weeks. This week I lost a notebook. It is a cast-off from one of my girls, something used for school one year, partially filled and then discarded. Thrifty soul that I am, I saved it. Okay, sentimental soul that I am I saved it. (Both are correct.) I saved it for the blank pages and the scrawled doodles that make me smile. On the blank pages I’ve written notes to myself and most of a new short story is written in it. It’s gone. I think I left it at work, but no one has seen it. I’m so upset I could cry.

It’s a good story, but it’s all in that notebook. I’ll never be able to recreate it as it was.

But, life has its fun side too. This morning we found four old bottles. They’ve turned purple by the sun. Three are plain. Of these two are medicinal or prescription bottles and one is perfume. The fourth bottle is very old. It has an applied neck that joins the molded body about an inch down. It’s marked Colgate Perfume and New York City. They’re all in nice condition. I’ll add them to the bottles we already have.

I couldn’t find a photo of the exact bottle. The one above is similar, but shorter. The one we found is taller, more slender, and it’s turned purple. I said that, didn’t I? umm yes, I did. …

I used to call the historian part of me my “non-pixie self.” But that’s inaccurate. Pixies are inquisitive; most of us find truth an essential to well-being, though I’m sure we’re as prone to self-delusion as is anyone. So, I’m not using that phrase anymore. Pixies are historians.

This pixie was more than pleased to find an entry in a guide to American periodicals published in 1879 that solved a historical controversy. It takes the matter out of the hands of polemicists and documents the actual state of affairs. My writing partner has summarized our find on his blog, and it will find a place in our history book.

Everyone is impatient for the book. We keep finding new material. … But I think we’re about ready to send it to the printer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More of the Mystery

Here is more detail from the mystery photo.
The toddlers appear to be twins, maybe triplets, if the child obscured by the girl in black is included. I think the brother and sister with the casped hands are dancing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mystery Photo

This is one of two related mystery photos. Three years ago I bought a lot of six books from an ebay dealer. I only wanted one of them, but you take things as you find them. I found two negatives tucked inside one of the books and had them both developed. They seem to be of the same city, and I believe that it’s an American city.

The streets are not electrified. There are no automobiles. That helps date the negatives. There are few other clues. This photo shows a street organ player and dancing children. Over the door nearest the horse’s ear is the name S. Pomeranz and the number 610 but no street name. There is an S. Pomeranz listed in the 1910 Census as living in Buffalo, New York. But there is no certain connection and this photo predates the Census by at least thirty years. There is a Solomon Pomeranz in Brooklyn in 1918 or so, but with no firm connection.

The building in front of which the children have gathered has a small sign reading “horses boarded,” Another sign reads, “office in the back.” One window is broken. Another child looks out a third floor window. A sign hangs over a door. It is mostly unreadable except for the name Foley. A girl is watching over the third floor fire escape. The next building would probably yield an identification. However, its signs are unreadable. There is a manure wagon by the organ.

Two girls are dancing together. There is some focus on the group sitting on the steps, but it’s not universal. A second pair of girls is dancing together; they’re visible next to the one horse’s head. What seems to be a brother and sister stand with hands clasped behind their backs.

So, how good a detective are you? Can you identify this city?

Cabin in the Big Woods

This photo was taken by a friend to both my grandfather and great grandfather. It shows a cabin in the Lassen County forests that formed the basis for the little cabin shared by the pixie family in my novel Pixie Warrior. It still stood and was in remarkably good condition when I was little. I understand it is gone now, though there seems to be uncertainty about its real fate. This photo was taken about 1918.

I'd like to return to Westwood someday and see it as it is now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Life puzzles me. I puzzle me.

People tell me things I’d never tell anyone. This has been so since I was very young. Friends told me of things they’d done, confessing both the brilliant and the stupid things. I learned of secret desires, some shameful and some innocent. I learned of secret fears. And I learned to puzzle through why they shared these things with me.

I’m a high-maintenance friend. I have expectations of true friendships, and I try to make them clear. So, I’ve always had a small circle of those I consider true friends. But I am friendly to many people. I smile; I’m helpful to everyone if I can be. I’m patient within limits. I’m also terribly intolerant of some things. Since most of my friends detest the same behaviors, that’s not usually a problem. None of that explains why people tell me things.

This week I learned of another’s bathroom experience with a boyfriend when she was twelve. It was a guilty secret that she had to tell someone. She chose me.

He stood in the bathroom while she peed. She told him not to look, but he did. Now you can’t see much when a person is sitting on the potty. But he looked. Later, she let him look at what a 19th Century risqué painting called her “treasure.” He didn’t touch, just looked. They did this a few times but stopped when she asked to see what was behind his zipper. He turned red and refused apparently quite adamantly. She didn’t have sex. They didn’t really touch. It was all show and tell. But years later it was a nervously told secret. Her story unconsciously included humor. I won’t recreate it because it was unintentional, and her story was intended as some sort of delayed confession.

I would never tell this story if it were my experience. At twelve I’d have felt stupid for letting a boy look. I’d have felt worse for letting him look and then being deprived of the chance to fulfill my curiosity too.

I also learned of two embarrassing self-induced health problems. I was told of something another had seen that made them gasp. I’m not sure I would have gasped, exactly. I’d probably said something about misdirected affections and wondered about a carpet roll as a sex object. … But I’d probably not have told anyone what I saw by accident. Embarrassment is best left between the original parties to the event.

Do I have stories? Certainly. I only tell the funny ones, never the serious ones. I’m not comfortable sharing the more personal and certainly more private elements of my life. I never have been. So why people choose me as the repository of their secrets is a great mystery. I must make them feel safe. I don’t consciously cultivate that feeling in others. I don’t want them to view me as a safe harbor and I’m not particularly their friend, just friendly.

Life has such puzzles.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seeing with Other Eyes

Sometimes I wonder about places. I don’t mean that I wonder about their history or who lived there or what deeds were done there. I wonder about what might have been done there, what other use the place may have found.

If you travel up the highway to Vantage, Washington, you pass a series of high basaltic cliffs made from layer after layer of dramatic lava flow. They look like giant fortresses gone wrong. As you near Vantage you see a high mountain. Oh, it’s not high in the sense the Cascades are high, but it’s imposing. A castle should sit on top.

The second picture above shows the cliffs over the Columbia at Vantage. You can buy it as a fine art print here:

On the way you pass an abandoned gold mine. It’s hard to see. It should be the lair of dragons or a pixie cave with the bits of treasure we accumulate. We like shiny things. If we find a coin or a horde we are likely to take it, not for its monetary worth, but for the glitter. We have no use for money, though some of our mates do.

Horses used to run the ridges. The dramatic photo above was shamelessly taken from here: and shows Wild Horses Monument near Vantage. You rarely see wild horses now, but sometimes you do see semi-wild horses and deer and bear and owls and blue heron and beaver.

There is an abandoned power station. All that remains are the concrete walls. It was built in the 1920’s I think. In reality it’s not a power station, but the abandoned hulk of a fairy lord’s castle. Wicked deeds were done within its walls and valiant acts followed. The fairy lord’s bones bleach in the sand near there. It just takes eyes to see.

As I know the story, a Pixie of the first family rescued her sister from the wicked fairy. She stabbed him between the scales on his chest. I saw her fly at him as fast as wing would propel, and drive the blade through his iridescent chest burying it up to the hilt. I saw him fall, and I saw the look of surprised amazement on his face. They always look surprised when they die. It’s as if they believe themselves immortal. They’re not.

Engraved on the blade is Tinga Ya Sha El yee Sha’el. Translated that means The Sword of El the God of Sha and of Sha’el. It was made of a block of fine Portland steel back in the early 1920’s by a Norwegian blacksmith who found a home in Pekin, Illinois.
Pixie Sword - One

"Are you sure he knows how to do this?" I whispered nervously to Anna. Anna's stride is far longer than mine, so I flew beside her. My wing's lazy flutter blew a gentle breeze over her.

"You're better than a fan, cousin." She giggled. "This is nice."

"Anna! This is important! He can make a sword? A good one? One my size?"

Anna nodded. "He makes knives. It's his hobby. They're beautiful."

We turned up a narrow alley. Red gravel crunched under Anna's feet. I could smell the place. I like the smell of horses. I don't like the smell of old oil and gasoline. I liked the smell of gasoline better then than now, but it was still unpleasant. This place smelled of these things. And it smelled of the man.

A pixie can tell much from a non-pixie's scent. Before I saw him I knew him to be old. I knew him to be gentle. And I knew him to be strong. He smelled of strength. There are those who think that sort of inner strength magic because it flows from the heart into the flesh. It is not magic. But it is powerful.

Karl Erikson was a Norwegian blacksmith turned auto mechanic. If you wished your horse shod, you brought her to Karl. If you wanted your magneto fixed, you saw Karl. There was no one else.
I gently set myself on my feet and stood at the large door. This had been a stable. Wagons had been sold here. They still were, but not nearly so often. Now you could pick out a tractor from a book, and Karl would order it for you.

Anna stepped into the doorway. She was framed by sunlight, and her hair was breathtakingly beautiful. I wanted her to speak. I wanted her to get to business. She was motionless and quiet.
Karl noticed her shadow. Without looking up he said, "Hello, Anna."

Anna remained silent. Karl slowly raised his face to meet hers. Just as slowly, he laid aside an old and rusty file.

"Hello, Karl." There was more in her voice than a simple hello. I raised my eyebrows. It's a shame Annalise couldn't see my expression. It would have made her blush, and she would have laughed. But, I was well blended. Had she turned to look, she'd have only seen the doorpost.
They were a good thirty years apart. That's nothing among pixies. That's a great difference among those of your sort. But love is love.

I didn't have time for love. I rustled my wings. Anna glanced my way and nodded almost imperceptibly.

"So shy today, Anna? What's on your mind?" Karl's eyes showed concern but his mouth slowly widened into a grin.

"Karl, what would it cost for you to make me a short sword?"

"For you Anna? Nothing."

"It's for a friend. She'd pay. I told her about you."

"About me? And what did you tell her, Anna?"

"I told her you made the most beautiful knives."

"Nothing more?"

"Is there more to tell, Karl? If there is, I'd tell her that too."

"I'm old Anna. I told you, I'm old. …"

"Not to me, Karl. But, I really need to know about the sword. Can you make it? Will you make it. She'd gladly pay."

"Anna, I usually see the people I make knives for. I've never made a sword, only knives. But, yes, I can make it. For whom am I making it?"

"She's a cousin of mine."

"Does this cousin have a name?"

"Her name's Sha'el."

"Shaw-Ell? What is that, Romanian? Greek? I don't know that name."

"She was born in California. Why's her name important? Sometimes you're the most exasperating man!"

Karl's grin grew wider. He nodded. "Yes, I suppose I am. But you like me anyway. I could engrave her name on the blade. How do you spell it? What kind of sword does she want, anyway?"

Anna's face went blank. She started to giggle. Finally she was laughing. Karl picked up the rusty old file again and turned his attention to it, though he kept glancing at Anna. A small grin played around his face. He shook his head the way people do when they enjoy but are puzzled by the actions of others.

I tugged at Anna's sleeve. She bent down and I whispered in her ear. I've seen the like of Karl's expression before. There is always uncertainty and a bit of panic when one is introduced to an otherwise invisible pixie.

What I whispered was, "I need to talk to him myself. Will he understand? Will it … Well, will it affect anything that's between you two?"

Anna straightened herself and looked at Karl. "I don't know," she said in a normal voice.
She slipped her arm around my shoulders and gave me a little squeeze. I looked into her face then into Karl's eyes. Confusion found a home there. It had grown roots and was sprouting fruit.
"Anna, are you …?" He fell into silence. One can let go of the blending quickly or slowly. Neither is better at mitigating shock. I chose to do it slowly. The air ripples when one does that. I let my wings appear at the edges. Karl sucked in air and held his breath. I let them fill in with all their colours. Karl let out his breath. I let my body's blending slowly flow away. Clear as glass, but visible, Karl could see my form. He blinked. He swallowed. Then my blond hair took its colours, and my skin glowed. When the glow was gone, I was fully visible.

A revealing almost always brings me pleasure. Returning to one's normal state feels good, unless it's done suddenly. Sudden un-blendings are disorienting. Gradual un-blending is like slowly sinking into the war springs of Aigara. The true pleasure, though, is in the disbelief, or the look of fulfilled certainty, that fills human faces.

"Karl, ... flies." Anna's bemused voice found a smile to match.

"She flies?" Though addressing Anna, his eyes remained on me.

"Yes, Karl. But what I meant was, if your mouth hangs open much longer, you'll catch a fly."

"A fly?"

"Maybe flies. Karl, this is my cousin Sha'el."

He nodded. His eyes were still fixed on me. I smiled.

"Does ... does she know she's naked?" He blushed.

"I'm sure she does. She's a pixie. They don't wear clothes much. ... Karl, I know you've seen a naked woman before. ... "

"And she wants a sword?"

"Karl, you can talk to her. She won't bite; well, she won't bite you. Ask her what she wants."
I had enough entertainment at Karl's expense. I fluttered across the space between us and took his hand, bringing the back of it up to my forehead. There are promises implicit in that gesture that few humans ever fully understand.

"Beautiful," Karl whispered. Wing colouring effects large humans that way – especially men. I don't know why.

I smiled and his eyes crinkled.

"You're a little thing," he whispered.

There is no use denying it. Even for a pixie, I'm short. But I stood as tall as I could, perhaps even a bit on my toes.

"Is there a sword in that?" I indicated the blackened and rusty file.

He laid it into the palm of his left hand, and, with his right, held it as if it were a sword or long knife.

"Well, Little One, if you only want a pretty decoration - yes. But there is no true blade in this. Its shape lies. No blade made from this would retain an edge, and the metals too brittle." He studied my eyes. "It's just scrap. Scarp has its place. This is not a blade." He grew silent, his eyes fixed on the rusty file. Finally he set it aside. "So, Little Miss, why do you want a sword?"

"Karl," Anna was grinning, "‘Little Miss' is a bit informal for a princess, isn't it?"

He laughed. "Well, she would be a princess, wouldn't she? So, Princess, what do I call you?"

"I'm Sha'el. I'm the Sha Ta e-yit. My papa calls me Sha. Grandma calls me "dear-heart.' My sisters call me El ... I don't mind if you call me Little Miss. I really don't."

"So, they call you almost anything but Ellie?"

"No one calls me Ellie ..."

A more serious, a harder more focused look shadowed his face. "Why a sword?"

"Because of this." I pointed to two red marks on my right ankle.

"Looks like a snake bite. You want a sword because of snakes?"

"Not snakes. Fairies. It's a fairy bite. I almost died from it."

He nodded. "And the fairy?"

"It's dead. I squished it ... They're not all small. ... But they're all bad. I'm going to kill T'al. I need a sword."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Okay, So I Got it Wrong. ....

In September 1894, August E. "Ed" Timmerman, a rancher, completes a cable ferry at the future Columbia point, near Richland. Realizing the place would be an ideal place to build a cable ferry, he buys land, builds two towers on either side of the river, and launches the ferry. It operates until 1931 when automobile bridges render it obsolete.

Building the Ferry

Timmerman had been raising cattle in Grant's Meadows, which is what Columbia Point was called at the time, when he realized it was an ideal spot for a cable ferry. He built two towers, an 80-foot behemoth at Grant's Meadows and a 40-footer on the east side of the Columbia, and draped 3,000 feet of three-quarter-inch cable between the two. When work was finally completed, Timmerman and his friends celebrated with "a keg of beer and lots of old-time eats" (Kubik).

Timmerman charged a quarter for a person on horseback, a dollar for a wagon or buggy or, later, an auto or truck. Horses and cattle cost a dime each and a sheep cost a penny.

The Timmerman family operated the ferry until 1924 and then sold it. The ferry shut down for good in 1931 due to competition from the Pasco-Kennewick auto bridge.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More or Less

I'm more or less (don't you love the definiteness of that phrase?) worn to the bone. I took in three more boxes of books to exchange for credit, and returned with three books. One I found at the bookstore, and the other two at a thrift store.

I love Brian Jacques' Redwall series and found an as-new copy of Martin the Warrior in hardback. I found a single volume of McGiffert's History of Christian Thought. I found volume two only, but I'm still happy with the find. I'll read it tonight. The third book is a nice copy of Josephine Lawrence's Next Door Nighbors. Lawrence wrote girl's stories in the 1920's. This is one of a series. All the half-tone illustrations by Clara Burd are present. Her illustrations remind me of an earlier era, say the 1840's.

I've included an example of her artwork.

Progress ....

This is a photo (Sorry about the bad quality. We're still working on the lighting in this room) of the South West corner of my work space. It shows some of the book shelves and some of the residual mess. The shelf on the back wall extends down a short hallway that leads to the north stairs. I wish this were a better photo. I lack talent and my camera doesn't work well in the dark.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ephemera and Life's Inequities

Ephemera is printed matter designed to be of short interest. It may be a booklet or pamphlet, a flyer, a handbill, a poster, a ticket or bookmark. Sometimes bits of ephemera illuminate significant historical events. I have a large collection of ephemeral material, and some of it is hard to organize.

Easy to organize are periodicals and booklets associated with specific religious movements and their cognates. It’s much harder to organize the small disconnected bits. I’ve been sorting things stored in boxes and folders and putting them into archive sleeves. A more orderly arrangement will follow, but right now I’m sticking them into three ring binders in random order. When they’re all in archival protectors I’ll sort. I’ll do a gross sort by group affiliation and a more refined sort by type of material. Letters will go together. Handbills appear by year if known. It’s time consuming and occasionally frustrating.

This morning I took an acquaintance to the Food Bank. In some ways this is an unnerving experience. Some of those there were repellant, nasty, vulgar. Some sad and tragic.

One man intruded into everyone’s mental and physical space. He was tall, very fair skinned, and had a shaved head. I’m not adept at age estimation, but I think he was in his mid to late thirties. He suffered from allergies and snuffled constantly, occasionally wiping it onto his bare hand. A restroom was no more than ten feet away, but it was an hour before he used it, blowing his nose once or twice and returning to his seat.

Part of the time he spent on the phone to his bank worrying over his balance. He let it fall into a negative balance and admitted that he did this purposely. Now in my estimation you cannot live into your thirties and not know that there are significant fees for overdrafts. It only takes one mistake with your checking account balance to discover this. He whined and fussed and they reduced his fees. He was also very loud. I could tell you his name, his address, his account number and his telephone.

He wore dirty off-white pants and a sleeveless undershirt. He made up for his shaved head by being hairy everywhere else. He was determined to show off hairy armpits. The armpit hair grew down his body about a quarter of the way. His chest and back were equally fuzzy. He would have made a bald man envious.

Two women and a man spent their waiting time making one cell phone call after another. They were trying to arrange a party that seemed to be connected to some business venture, something connected to beauty products I think.

A thin and elegant Oriental woman sat against the far wall. She was very uncomfortable. My guess is that being poor is a new experience for her. She was probably in her late forties, still pretty, and plainly stressed.

The one that made me hurt in my heart was an older man with silver hair. He was doing his best to look nice. He wore a white shirt and tie. There was blood on the right collar from a shaving cut. He seemed unaware of it. On second thought, he may have been aware because his chin was clean. He had cleaned off the blood somewhere. Otherwise he was spotlessly clean and carefully shaved.

He wore an ill fitting wool sports coat. I came away with the impression that he knew good clothes when he saw them. This was British cut and expensive once. He wore pleated corduroy pants. They didn’t go with the wool coat, but they were clean, and there was an attempt at colour coordination. They were too short and ended at his ankle. Here is a man who once knew a better life and who was doing his best to preserve his dignity. He left me feeling very ambivalent. I mourned his poverty and silently praised his attempt to preserve something of pride and dignity.

It was a depressing experience. I’m glad the Food Bank is there. My friend is in his old age. His funds are depleted and he and his wife subsist on very little. I take one of them to the Food Bank every two or three weeks.

My friend contrasts greatly to some of those there. He isn’t as neatly kept as the man I described above. I’m not sure he ever was, though I’ve seen photos of him from twenty or thirty years ago in an elegant and expensive gray three piece suit. He was very handsome. The way in which he contrasts the most is in how he sits. Where most of those in the waiting area are in constant motion, with jiggling feet, wiggling hands, mouths that will not stop, he sits very still. He does move occasionally, mostly for comfort’s sake. He looks almost bored, though that’s deceptive. He is a keen observer.

Sometimes he’s a bit confused. When he’s sick that’s more pronounced. On those days we postpone the trip to the Food Bank. Life is tragic and unfair.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Site of Timmon's Ferry

When I was very young my parents and grandparents would take my cousins and me here to shoot B.B. guns at sticks floating in the water. It's a protected archaeological site now. A native village was near here. We would kick the beach gravel looking for arrowheads. I still have two small ones I found. I always came home with a sack of pretty rocks picked out of the beach gravel.

I'm not sure when the ferry went out of business, though it was sometime before 1940. The old cables are still visible in the water, or they were when I was last there. I found part of a fulgurite on the upland just beyond the photo's edge. It's broken off, but still interesting.

Pixies live on the other side of Columbia Point in the trees that fill the lowland areas.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I really need to find a use for this ....

I swear this is a real conversation. I heard it myself. This takes place in an Emergency Room Lobby.

Man in wheel chair to security guard who is sitting in a small side office: "Good job if you can get it, huh?"

The security guard nodds, more in acknowedgment than in answer. ...

Man: "Do you always work Swing Shift?"

Guard nodds.

Man, persisting in a conversation the guard obviously does not want to have: "A friend of mine used to work Swing. He delivered cupcakes. He told me that getting up at three a.m. every morning left him constipated for thirty years."

Nurse wheels man off to exam room ...

I so need to find a use for this ...

This is an Insanity Report

I don’t understand why I always underestimate the complexity of projects. Still, if I fully understood all the ramifications of each mad project I undertook, I’d hide in a closet.

My home office/writing space is starting to look like a real room. Just ignore the piles and bits of things sitting on the floor. Fourteen bookshelves are organized. Two are partially done. Hopefully they’ll both be in order by end of day tomorrow. That leaves ten more to go. Money is always a consideration, but I need to replace one of the bookshelves. It’s rickety and too small for the space and for the books I wish to put on it. Come to think of it, all my bookshelves are make-do bookcases. Most of them are second hand. Clothing children is more important than pretty shelves.

I’ve taken loads and loads of books to my favorite bookstore. I now have about three hundred dollars in credit. I have four more boxes ready to go and many boxes of unsorted books. Probably about half of what’s left in boxes will go.

Lost in the unopened boxes are my Emerson’s New York Magazine bound volumes from the 1850’s and my set of Francis Parkman’s works. These I’ll keep. I’m not sure what else is in the boxes. Some have been in storage for the last four years. Now I have a larger space, I’ll unpack them and decide which of them I want and which to take in for credit.

If clutter and sorting were the limit of my insanity, I’d survive. I’m not sure I can survive an emotional and moody fifteen year old daughter. … I don’t remember being that edgy when I was fifteen, though I suppose I was. It’s hard to remember life shrouded in the residual hormonal haze that remains from one’s mid-teens.

At fifteen I wanted to raise Arabian horses. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to travel to distant lands, and I wanted to breathe underwater. My aunt and uncle were scuba divers, and their stories set me musing about what it would be like to breathe water as easily as one breathed air.

I also wanted to be a treasure hunter. I hiked the wastes near our house, exploring abandoned settlements, old farms, and desert tracks. I liked pioneer era glass and looked for old bottles. My treasures lined the window ledges in my room.

Other Musings

My Work in Progress is about revenge. People survive, prosper or die based on the quality of their lies. Most of the lies I hear are improbably and flawed. People do not lie well, and most lies fail because they lack plausibility and continuity.

What if a series of small lies each plausibly told produced the semblance of a believable truth?

A lie is easier to believe when wants to believe it. Probably we all believe comfortable lies without any doubts – or if we have them, dismiss them without examination. Convictions uncritically held make believing a lie easier. It is easier to lie to those predisposed to belief.

Suppose you see someone as a victim, and they indisputably are one. Are you more inclined to also see them as innocent? Being a victim doesn’t mean one is also innocent.

The Rules of Life

Life has rules. Can you list them? Neither can I, though there must be a master list somewhere. Does God have pockets? Perhaps he keeps the list there.

There are categories of rules, though I’m not certain how to name them. Let’s call the first by some Imposing name, say ummm … Rules of the First Order. That works, I think

Rules of the First Order include things like gravity, a rule that makes jumping off high buildings unwise. Other laws of creation such as Entropy fit in this category.

Second Order Rules are the rules of good behavior derived from first order rules. (Remember the “Don’t jump off a high building” rule?) They do not consider the possible but define the wise. Violation of these is a violation of natural order producing consequences one most certainly will regret. Dating your neighbor’s goat may be possible, but it’s probably a bad idea.

Third Order Rules are human contrivances and may be either good or bad. They're the human laws that regulate society or individuals. It’s good to stop at a red light. Everyone knows you should drive on the right side of the road though some countries have contrary rules.

Fourth Order Rules are often given more importance than their rank would merit. These are of our own making. They’re how we order our space and regulate our associations. These rules are usually poorly constructed, but we all have them.

I can list these with more certainty than any of the others. Among my rules of social order are these:

1. I choose my own friends. I will befriend or reject another based only on my choice and according to my standards. I need not befriend your friends simply because I like you. Insisting I like those whom you like or detest those you reject puts you on a short path out of my association.

2. I regulate my physical and social space. You do not.

3. My behavior choices are mine to make. My beliefs and feelings are at least as valid as yours. Telling me you “don’t give a damn” about my feelings or beliefs makes me less likely to respect yours. You will instantly end any association we may have had and you forfeit any expectation of tolerance.

4. I will not accept blame for the consequences of your choices. I expect to suffer for my poor choices. I will assume neither the blame nor consequences of your poor choices. I will, however, quickly reject further association with you if you seek to pass either on to me.

Put another way: I will protect and support you while you carry burdens you shouldn’t have to bear. I will not carry your responsibility. That is yours to carry. Dump it on me, and I’ll drop it and maybe you as well.

5. I will tolerate much. I will tolerate uninformed and misguided opinions as long as they do not hurt anyone. I will tolerate your love for Limburger as long as you eat it when I’m away. You can get crumbs in the bed as long as it’s your bed and not mine. But toleration has limits, usually redefined daily.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Just Stuff and Pixies

I don’t often stray from my main research interests, at least not in any significant way. Oh, I read about other topics, and my curiosity is boundless. But I don’t usually pursue a topic in depth if it’s outside the areas to which I’ve devoted my research. I’m about to make an exception.

The nature of First and early Second Century church structure and governance intrigues me. My interest isn’t purely academic. I have a personal interest too, but I will approach this research with the same respect for original sources that I always have.

The original sources are few. The principal source is the New Testament. There are secondary sources, such as I Clement. I’ll have to reread all this material, scanning it for hints to the way the first century church functioned.

There are some natural divisions too. These include the apostolic congregation in Jerusalem as it was before other congregations were founded; the post Pentecost congregations, the small house churches formed by those who were persuaded by the Pentecost event and who took their new faith home; the evangelical congregations, those formed by Paul and his associates and by other First Century evangelists; the early post-apostolic churches.

Probably no one who reads this blog is interested in this, but I am. Not many read it anyway. It’s not as though I have a large and interested audience. …


We have a reputation for mischievousness. We get blamed for all sorts of mischief. The moorland drunk who loses his way blames it on us. He says he was “Pixie-led.” It’s a scurrilous lie! We could care less what his fate is. He’s chosen it, and we neither punish him for his choice nor rejoice at his bad end.

But there are those we watch, and we enter into their life. These we scold or praise, help or hinder as needed. They’re family to us, children of our children and their children for all their generations. An author whose name is lost chose this bit of Pixie history as the basis of his or her story. It appeared in the September 7, 1867, issue of The People’s Magazine. It tells the story of Egbert and Norah, especially Norah, and how Pixies intervened in her life:

“A tribe of Pixies lived in a grand old wood near the house in which Egbert and Norah resided. They were Pixies who had taken an interest in the fortunes of this family for many generations, always patronizing and favouring good boys and girls, and always punishing the naughty ones.”

If you’re curious enough to hunt up the story, you can find it on Just search “pixie queen” and “People’s Magazine.”

Aunt Shirley and I went thrift store shopping. That’s always a favorite past time. I found an etching by Don Swann, jr. It’s not rare, just pretty. It’s inappropriately framed. I’ll fix that on my next day off.

Another Winter scene near Westwood from an Eastman Studios postcard.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Westwood in the Winter

Pixie Warrior ( is set in and near Westwood, Lassen County, California, and in the Pixie Home Forest. Most of the action near Westwood takes place in the winter. Here is a nearly contemporary photo of a Westwood winter.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I found it! Them! ... what ever ...

I found the missing archival binder mentioned in an earlier post. All the booklets are in it; none missing. The only thing lacking is the quality in little gray cells. ....

I went junk store shopping. I found a Terry Brooks book I haven't read and two Piers Anthony books both of which I have read. I bought them anyway because they're hardbacks. I like hardbacks much more than I like paper covers.

Yipee! (over the missing folder, now found)

Oh Good Heavens, what a mess!

Well, I’ve undone most of my progress. Areas I had as I wanted, areas where the floor was clear of books and papers are now jammed with piles of other books and papers! This happens every time I tackle the next book case.

My research collection contains many small pamphlets and old periodicals, some dating back to 1708. These go into archive sleeves and then into three-ring binders. I’m reorganizing these. I’ve discovered that I’m missing the binder with most of my material from the 1940’s. As recent as they are, most of them are very rare. I’m worried that they are gone.

I open my library to others, though less frequently than I used to do so. Things go missing. … I’m afraid this is what happened. Four or five of the pamphlets, mostly those published in Germany, are irreplaceable. They will be gone forever. I’m hopping that it’s not really missing, just mixed in with another larger accumulation that I have jumbled up on another bookcase.

The bookshelves I’m arranging now contain some of my rarest material. There are a few 17th Century books, but most are 18th and 19th Century books on prophetic themes or on Conditionalism. I’ve probably invested way too much money into this material, but I do try to be thrifty. Much of it has come off ebay where it was listed by people who did not know what they were selling. Some of it I paid significant money for. Alas. Books cost money.

So, what sort of books am I talking about? Well, random order from the middle of shelf two:

Robert Fleming: First Resurrection, 1708.
Samuel Clarke: Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, 1733. [Ex-Philadelphia Library Company with provenance].
Samuel Clarke: Being and Attributes of God, 1716.
Samuel Clarke: Concerning Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion, 1716.
Samuel Clarke: Several Letters to Reverend Dr. Clarke with Answers, 1716.
Samuel Clarke: Clarke on the Promises, 1823 edition.
Isaac Watts: Nine Sermons, 1813.
An American Layman (Elias Boudinot): The Second Advent, 1815.
Granville Sharp: Remarks on Prophecies, 1775.

This shelf has a total of forty-eight volumes on it stretching from the 1690’s to about 1840.

Organizing all of this in the new space has been a bigger headache than I expected. I thought I would be finished by now. I’m not even near done.

My pixies have been busy telling me stories. If I get time, I’ll post the start of a short story later.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dear Harry,

You went the wrong way. Here is the Google view of the old tennis court and surrounding forest. It's not as it was when I was seven, but it's close enough for you to see what I meant. Just beyond the tennis court and to the North West are some early graves. There is only one headstone, but if you look closely you can see depressions in the forest floor where other graves are.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Blue Lake in Lassen County

Places Pixies like to visit. Photo shamelessly stolen from here:
Visit that site for more photos. Lovely.

The Search for Fairies and Pixies

My grandparents lived in Westwood, Lassen County, California. My great grandparents lived there too, but they were long dead by the time I was born. We have a family history that extends nearly to the village’s founding. It was a place of mystery to me, a place of forest shadow, of animal noises, of hidden streams and pleasant swims in a near-by lake.

My mother had a stash of Frank L. Baum’s Oz books left over from her childhood. She read them to me one prolonged summer vacation. We sat on my bed upstairs in my grandmother’s little house. I found it all plausible. I studied the illustrations of Glinda the Good’s soldiers, with their pretty ruffled skirts and heart-shaped decorations. I cut out and colored hearts and pinned them on my sleeve to the great disgust of one of my older male cousins.

Grandma and grandpa lived on Fir Street, and it was a short walk from there into forest, and the younger of us trailed behind older cousins into that mysterious place. (It's changed much since then, and not in good ways. There is industrial development where we used to walk. ) We walked down nearly disused and sometimes overgrown dirt tracks. We wandered through sparse forest. We explored a long abandoned cattle pen, and we made a hideout, a forest fortress, in the overgrowth around an abandoned tennis court. The tennis court is still there, not much different from what it was when I was seven.

Seven was a year of mystery for me. It was a year of extreme bad and gentle goodness. I was in the hospital for prolonged periods that year, often afraid, sometimes lonely. The journey to Westwood was welcome relief. And the thought of fairy creatures living just on the edge of human society, just beyond normal ken, but in a reachable place was exciting to me.

My cousins found bits of old cars, discussed hunting and baseball. They were males all of them, but tolerated me as a shadow. If toleration slipped, my grandfather stood as a wall between me and them. While they talked, I looked. I collected license plates from the forest floor and ended up with a plate from each year from 1920 to into the 1960’s. I though anything newer than that wasn’t worth while. While I did this I looked for the gates to fairyland.

I wandered off by myself one day. It was easy to do. My mother thought I was in the back yard, playing in and out of the garage. I was. But it’s two short blocks to adventure, and I walked them. I wasn’t gone long enough to be missed, probably not even a half hour. But I was by myself and no longer the shadow of older cousins who at 12 or 13 thought themselves grown up.

One sees things in the forest, and alone you hear things. The pines sigh, birds twitter, lizards skitter. A place of ordinary aspect becomes numinous. The forest glows when you’re young and alone. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. I peered at the place where it was seen and there was nothing. The voices of little creatures became nearly intelligible. I listened but their language was untranslatable. A small and timid lizard sat stationary at my foot, afraid I would squish it. I encouraged it to move and was as afraid of it as it was of me.

I saw no fairies. They don’t live in Northern California forests, but pixies do. I met them that year. They, who are not much bigger than I was, claimed me for their own. They whispered that I was their lost sister. With tinkling voice they welcomed me home. They wove their story into everything I did that visit and to every visit after. And that is where Pixie Warrior, my fantasy novel, finds its start.