Friday, December 31, 2010

Ice cream, Pea Brains, and Vanilla Wafers

I think I’ll make home-made egg noodles and dumplings. Probably I’ll make beef noodles. We all seem to like that best. I make the noodles very eggy and thick. Thick is good.

I actually bought a small group of stamps for my collection. They were “for cheap,” and I couldn’t pass them up. I paid the huge sum of 4.50 for some stamps from New South Wales, now part of Australia. They’re in good shape, except for one.

When you write religious history you make yourself a target. Heck! Get published in any fashion and someone will complain, want to persuade you, think you’re the devil incarnate or God. I don’t want to be persuaded. I want to rabble rouse! Okay, what I really want to do is have more coffee and find better, more accurate sources for what I’m researching. But that doesn’t stop people from sending me stuff.

I’m not even sure how they got my address. My publisher won’t give it out, and I don’t give it out even to my favorite internet stalker. But, Lo! Here, in my mail, is this tract from some Pentecostal group in Texas. I’m sure they’re convinced that I’m one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel and in desperate need of salvation. But I really don’t want this sent to my house.

Let me put it bluntly. Pentecostalism as taught by every ecstatic church I’ve examined is not scriptural. It’s a crock. Sending me your tracts won’t dissuade me from that opinion. Those TV evangelists you guys either love or hate or both? I’ve met a few. They seem convincing to you? Why? Actually, that’s straying from the point. My mail box is sacred. I have to skip and dance around it five times for every piece of junk the morning mail brings – just to sanctify it, mind you. It’s tiring. Stop sending me stuff.

Now, I’m not the only one. My WP (writing partner to the uninitiated) found a tract in his morning mail too. No, no! It wasn’t from some misguided ecstatic who thinks emotion is proof of holiness. It came from the Chicago Bible Students. Oh, the tract wasn’t theirs. It was from The Dawn Bible Students. I can see more relevance for this tract. Those groups are descendant groups to one of those we research. But still … guys … Dear OLD Bruce has said over on his blog not to do that. Didn’t you read it? Sure you did. And you thought you’d send your cra … umm material anyway? Why?

Don’t you suppose that both of us have read mountains of that stuff? You think sending Bruce (that’s his real name, by the way.) a simple-minded booklet will persuade him? You really have a high opinion of yourself. We both have read your material. My WP can summarize it, often pointing to an exact page where one or the other of you said some interesting –though often nonsensical- thing. If I haven’t persuaded him to my views, which are (even if I say so) better thought out than yours, you won’t persuade him to anything. You might bring him to a state of annoyance. (Always a bad thing. I know it is, I’ve been expert at it since I was a toddler.)

Yes, yes … I know you’re all well intentioned. But can I be offensive for just a bit? Please? We’re smarter than you are. I’m prettier than you are. (Prolly can’t say that about my WP who’s mostly bald, weighs more than he should, is pretty darn old, a bit on the wrinkly side, has thin lips developed from gritting his teeth over stupid behaviors, and has owl eyes.) I’m probably also – I’ll confess – meaner than you. … You paying attention at all? Prolly not. Okay so let’s try this:

The stuff you send is printed on paper. I throw it away. I don’t even read it fully, skimming it for content only. You’re abusing the planet. God says those who are running the earth will be brought to ruin. It’s in Revelation somewhere … chapter 11 I think. Your religious litter is depleting the earth’s resources. Sinner!

Now … for the news:

I finally got my Ice Cream!

I found some really pretty red shoes for Annie (aka Dau 5; aka Anastasia Marie) You have no idea how varied my daughters’ taste in clothes is. They go from a nudist in bud ( you gotta watch that one like a hawk) through frilly-pretty, to sophisticated-elegant. Clothing these strange creatures is a challenge.

There was a gang shootout day before yesterday. No one died, only because of bad aim. Two Hispanic twits shot it out. One is in St. Elizabeth’s and the other is in the Hoosegow. Ever wonder where that word came from? I have. I’m just too lazy to check. One of these days, sans names and identifying details, I’ll have to tell you about my adventures with budding Hispanic thugs.

I found a single Vanilla Wafer on my desk this morning. My Nancy Drew sense tells me that dau 3 used my computer.

And how was your day?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Coffee, Dau 5 and Sipping, and seeking the lost

God invented Coffee for Pixies who write.

We haven’t written much this past week. My W.P. is still on the sickish side. He and Shirley were down here yesterday. He spent the day in the big regional hospital here having tests. Shirley and I sipped coffee, gossiped, commiserated with him off and on and toddled off to the Goodwill Store.

I didn’t find a single book to buy. I almost bought a history of railroads and a history of the Midway Battle. But I decided not to. I always look at the pictures; sometimes there’s a nice print. Not yesterday. The only thing I found worth spending my quarters on was a cruet. And that bit of glorious glass is a mystery. It is hand blown into a mold with a heavy pontil mark on the bottom. It’s octagonal and roughly bell shaped. The handle is hand applied. It is decorated with copper wheel cuts. I can’t date this at all. My best semi-educated guess is early to mid 19th Century. Not a bad find. It’s very pretty. It was two dollars.

The last two weeks have been work-intensive, so I’ve done little writing. My writing partner left me with a sheaf of notes for a chapter he’s working on. Good stuff I think. I’m still trying to track down a physician turned preacher. I’m not finding what I want, but I am finding other interesting things.

People have their blind spots. I do. Everyone does. It’s interesting to see what they are. I’ve been re-reading a book by a man named John Thomas. Originally written in 1860, it’s an odd mixture of ancient and medieval nonsense (read heresy) and flashes of profound insight. It’s tedious, rambling, discursive, boring, and interesting by turns. I wouldn’t be rereading it if I didn’t need to look at it in a new light.

In a few days I’m going to post a list of names to our history blog. I have this long list of possible names to stick on a few anonymous letters. All I know is that they were written by a physician resident in Pittsburgh in 1857. I have a list of the doctors who lived in Pittsburgh at the time. I cannot find in the list any familiar names, but one of our regular readers might be able to see something I don’t

A three-way conversation:

K. Knees: If I make coffee would you have time to sip some with me?

Me: Not much time …

Dau 5: Don’t say “sip”! That’s such a nasty word!

Me looking at K. Knees: [!]

K. Knees to dau 5: It’s a perfectly ordinary word. …

Dau 5: I know! But it sounds nasty to ME ….

Someone pointed me to a forum post over at one of the controversial sites. Apparently a former adherent wants to organize her own religion simply to oppose her former religion. I thought the entire post was stupid. So did one of their groupies. He wrote a long, rambling post about why that wouldn’t work, why it wasn’t necessary and about taking personal responsibility for one’s own decisions. In my experience, almost none of that bunch ever assumes responsibility for their plight.

Anyway … back to rambling on about stuff.

I have a list of things published by a former adherent in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Mot of this isn’t of interest, but some things are. I simply can’t locate any of it. I suppose this isn’t high priority now, but it is frustrating to know something was printed but is now not readily available.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I shouldn’t volunteer for things. I’m sick. Half the time I need help myself. And here I go volunteering to help someone else. And now I’m in way over my head. Here’s the story:

Friend A, a nice friend, has Grand Mother. Grandmother is going into Assisted Living. Grandmother has lived in the same house for decades, and grandmamma is a hoarder. I thought my mom was bad! You have no idea!

So … we’re cleaning out the house, trying to save what is good and trash what isn’t. I’ve worked on grandmamma’s bedroom for two day, three and a half hours a day. I have a five foot long space cleared out – mostly. It was two to three feet deep with old purses, boxes of makeup. Old bills and receipts going back to the 1990’s and stuff that no sane person would keep. I found nice jewelry stuck in with old buttons. Three dirty forks that hadn’t seen the light of day in a decade. How did she live like this?

I’ve found about forty dollars in change. She stuffed baggies full of small change. There was money stuck in purses. In that small space I found about fifteen purses, ranging from Prada and Louis Vuitton to things that had to come from the dollar store or something similar. I’m worn to the bone.

In the process I broke a picture frame and dropped a lamp. Neither thing was a tragedy. The granddaughters are sorting stuff in the living room. When I find jewelry it sets off a minor discussion. Is it good? Should we sell it? Is one of us keeping this? Which? It’s been civilized so far. You have no idea how much jewelry, most of it total junk that I’ve dug out of containers, boxes and such.

I’m done for the day. I’ll go back tomorrow, or maybe this afternoon for an hour. This is sad. It reminds me of my mom, who also hoarded stuff, just not nearly this badly, and it makes me sad for Grandma to A who lived in this mess unable to sort or sell or discard. I’m not exactly a stranger to her, but I feel as if I’m invading her privacy and making decisions for her. It’s not really so, but I feel that way.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A broken thinker thingie and liars who lie.

"Why not try to cerebrate occasionally?" - Philo Vance

“But I did not think you had it in you, Mycroft, lowering yourself to actual ratiocination.” S. Holmes via Michael Kurland

Well … I don’t get my one day off. Life sucks lemons some days. Anyway, my boss asked sweetly with just the right note of desperation in his voice … and promised money instead of comp time. So, fool that I am, I said yes.

This is a put stuff away, file things, and think ‘bout things day. Not that my “thinker thing” is working too well today. I’m more frustrated than thinkie. …

We ordered a tract from e-bay. It’s a small six page anti-kinda tract. We bought it knowing it was obnoxious and stupid. I didn’t realize how stupid until I read the whole thing. It’s a work of fiction gotten up as “a true testimony.” Well … there is obviously nothing of the ‘true’ in this testimony. It’s the story of “Emma Doolittle” who was converted to Millennial Dawn at the age of fourteen. You read merrily along and come to this: “I came to the place where I had to sign a card as a full member of these Russellites. I took this to God in prayer, to ask if He would have me take this step.” Got it?

Okay … ‘cept the “Russellites” did not have members sign a card of any sort. Assemblies of God and their antecedent groups did. Russellites did not. So this would make sense to its intended audience, but it makes no sense to those who know the makeup of Millennial Dawn congregations. It’s all a lie. Typical AG/Pentecostal move, right up there (prolly “down there” would be more accurate) with Sidney Watson and his ilk. Anyway Mrs. Doolittle – the non existent – tells how she was guided by a dream her ten year old daughter had and just prayed and prayed and prayed until the light dawned and she burned up all of Russell’s books and didn’t leave “root or branch of Russell’s teaching in my home.” The holy spirit (prolly 90 proof) told her to do it and to just get her big butt outa bed even at 4 am and burn it all. So she did. What trash!

So, why did we buy this? Because of the first paragraph. Much of what is at issue is how these groups saw themselves and how others saw them. The first paragraph provides an essential part of that story, even if the rest of this thing is a ill contrived lie typical of the Assemblies of God Church. The truth of the matter is that Russellism hit the Pentecostal movement very hard in the 1890-1920 period. They bled out to Russellite congregations. So Pentecostal groups poured out a stream of Anti-Russell material, almost none of it well written or accurate. But since it addressed their own members, it was slanted toward their experience. I doubt that this material reclaimed any from Russellism. It may have closed the mind of some, however.

But this lying bit of propaganda will find a place in a footnote. It is probably the only useful thing the real author of this ever did – provide me with material for a footnote.

Looking for Summer - Take two

I posted this last year about this time. It's probably as close as you'll get to Knobby Knees' view of the c. r. s. b. ... Ten points to whomever can figure out what c. r. s. b. stands for.
I presume Harry's given up: Cute Really Scrawny Butt.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why no one can take the Associated Press seriously

"Russia borders North Korea and after China is considered the country with the closest ties to the reclusive communist government in Pyongyang."

From an article by EDITH M. LEDERER. And she went to school where?

So ... Pixies can be wrong sometimes ... and it's not my school's fault! Thupp!

Sore Butt - Progress - Stupid Magazines - Dumb Professors

My cute little butt is sore. Hey! If my husband says it’s cute, who am I to argue. Anyway it’s sore. Now there’re many reason for a woman to have a sore butt, most of them totally intimidating to males. Have a baby or two, guys. You’ll know what I mean. No? If life were fair men would have to be pregnant the last 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Think about it. You’re walking your poor wife up and down the hospital hall way, and she’s holding tightly to your hand. True love, right? Wrong. She’s really trying to break your fingers. She’s thinking, “Do this to me again, and I’ll murder you!” Okay, so it isn’t as bad as that, maybe. And probably you guys couldn’t handle being pregnant too much. So how about you just get the morning sickness and hemorrhoids. … And in some cases the cracked tail bone, the tears and stitches and such. Sore butt indeed! There’s a long list of sore butt causes …

… But the immediate cause of my sore butt is my desk chair. I need a new one. That’s the problem, you see. This chair isn’t new. It’s old – as in really old – and I thought it was “cool beans” cool. But nice to look at doesn’t mean nice to sit on. I need a new chair.

I’ve been looking over our work product for the new book. We have about four hundred fifty double spaced (except for block quotations which are single spaced) pages. We’re about two thirds done. This is going to be a big book, far bigger than we planned.

There’ll be a final edit process, of course. Some of this will be deleted, re-written, smoothed out. We will have to format it too. Sux to do this yourself. We’re considering an ebook format too, but I’m not sure I would like that. The advantage is things that can only be black and white in the print version can be in color in the ebook. The disadvantage is that an ebook is easier to illegally copy.

Now … women’s magazines are iffy. It’s not that I don’t read my share, but some of them just irritate the devil outa me. Why should I pay four dollars to buy a 130 pages of advertisements, pictures of models who look like goats with bad make up, photos of shoes I’d never wear, priced at an amount I’d never pay. It’s not that I don’t like nice things, but 900 dollars for a pair of shoes? I wouldn’t pay that if I could burn that much money without a blink. Besides ugly is ugly even IF it’s expensive. Now the shoes I have in mind were Prada. I’ve had my Prada adventure. It was a purse. And yes it was a real Prada purse. Okay. But I paid $12.50 for it at a Goodwill Store. I kept it for about six months and decided that I really didn’t care all that much for it, high fashion or not.

My uncle sold it for me on ebay. Some happy soul paid ninety dollars for it and wrote a nice email afterwards saying how pleased they were. I was more pleased to have the $90.00, thanks. I’m just not interested in uncomfortable, ugly shoes no matter how expensive they are.

And … why would I pay four or five dollars to take a survey to tell me if I’m good in bed, compatible with my husband, smart about human sexuality or if I should marry my current boyfriend? Excuse me! If I’m too stupid to answer those questions on my own, paying for a bound collection of advertisements with a few stupid quizzes at the end will not solve the problem.

I’m not against - umm. I’m starting that poorly. A couple should be able to choose what they find acceptable sexual practice without the interference of others. I say this with the one reservation that dangerous, hurtful things are not healthful and are wrong. But in general sexual exploration and experimentation with your partner is up to you. Silly magazine articles raise expectations that are as interfering and wrong as the religious censoriousness of others.

Some of these magazines are the opposite end of the string that connects to those who feel sex is somehow dirty. My husband and I are Christians. I was a virgin when I met him (and if he wasn’t he sure hadn’t learned much from prior experience). We never needed a magazine to tell us how, or what, or when to do ‘it.’ These magazines are just silly. And for God’s sake, why would I care what Katie Couric might have to say?

In the Bible book of Genesis, Abraham plays with Sarah his half-sister-wife. The way he played with her, though meant to be private, identified him as her husband. Sex and love are supposed to be fun, not regulated by a book of advertisements.

Speaking of close marriages, two of my former students who live close and I spent an hour at Starbucks deep in gossip. One of them is acquainted with the Columbia University professor who was arrested for a consensual sexual relationship with his adult daughter. Such divided opinion. … I think that I don’t know what I think. There is a moral and an ethical problem here. They are not the same. The morality of their decision is one issue. The State’s interest in regulating consensual incest is another. I think it’s a waste of the State’s resources to regulate the mating behavior of adults past their majority. I also think that saying that there is no such thing as consensual incest is stupid.

The idea seems to be that everyone will run out and have sex with their relatives if it were suddenly legal. Pulleeeze! It happens enough as it is. People will do what they wish to do with or without a law. The State’s interest is civil order. Moral interest belongs to individuals and non-state entities. I’ve probably started a huge discussion … or not. I can honestly say, I’ve never been sexually attracted to my brother. But then I don’t have a brother. (That was supposed to be funny, but somehow it didn’t make the cut.)

Anyway … I’m not sure how I got from a sore butt to this professor and his idiot child. Freud would prolly make a big deal out of it. I’ll submit myself to analysis later.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Miss S. Dippity

I’ve been reading until my eyes hurt trying to get a clear understanding of a guy named George Washington Stetson. My progress has been spotty. My writing partner is trying to pry information out of a reluctant source. Typically this guy answers in a sentence or two. He’s terrified of being cited as an authority because he feels his church’s highest authority should be the sole source for “truth,” even “historical truth.” This is, of course, a form of insanity. It’s certainly not scriptural or even good sense. If my writing partner felt that way, this book would never have gotten beyond being a wish.

I like the guys who are a bit edgy and self centered. They talk about themselves over much, leaving us a trail to follow. Stetson almost never wrote of himself. Still, I’m not without clues. I’ve spent most of this morning combing some of his confusing articles looking for the sources of his theology. I found a few things, but nothing spectacular. He lived in an era when owning books was an expensive proposition. (Isn’t it still!) So recreating his library is an important task.

We can’t find key issues of an Indiana religious newspaper. We’re missing the entire month of October 1879, and no one seems to have those. I wish someone had saved them. So many ephemeral things – throw away items in their day – are important now. It makes research difficult. Still, there is always Serendipity. Notice the Capital S. It’s as if Serendipity were a living, pouty child who shares when she’s in the mood and hides things under her pillow when she’s not. So there is some hope that these issues will show up.

We found a tract that way. My WP bought it off ebay. He was the sole bidder which is always nice. Now the tract itself is obnoxious. But what it says adds to our story. The seller kindly posted the first page, and if there is nothing more in the following pages, that first page is worth the nine dollars we spent.

There’s an article in a British magazine from 1874 signed by a G. W. S. We have a nice bound volume of that year. I read it twice. I do not believe this is the right person. There are two articles by him in that year, one signed J. W. Stetson because of a misreading of his handwriting. Neither is ‘specially helpful.

On the good side, my rebellious printer is back up and running more or less correctly. On the bad side I’m getting windows errors and can’t trace the problem. My anti-virus removed some nasty malware, and that started the problem I think. Dunno. I did a system restore, but that did not remove the error. Computers suck lemons, if’n you asks me.

Now … on to other things.

My oldest has a two day old attitude going. I may beat her with a stick soon. (Not really)

I am still playing with my stamp collection and wishing I had a bazillion dollars to spend on it.

Someone gave us a huge can of cashews. Nice! And almost all gone too. I’m eating some as I type this.

It snowed again, but not as bad as last time. We got about two inches of snow this time, but it’s very cold. I hate the cold.

I seriously need a vacation, or just a pot of hot chocolate.

It’s a really dismal day – overcast, gray, cold. Narsty.

I’ve wondered off and on all day why one of Annie’s shoes is on my desk. My children are on the strange side. Such unpredictable creatures.

The magazines I wanted off of ebay did not sell. Maybe they’ll relist and lower the price.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I must be boring everyone silly

I either offended everyone and their brother, or I'm boring.

My blog readership has declined by almost half this month. That's a lot. Perhaps it's time to shut it down and focus on other things.



Oh, Snap!

I’ve been watching the comments develop over on our history blog. We have two people who want to describe one of the principal characters as an Adventist. He wasn’t. There is no sense that he was an Adventist. The facts do not support the claim.

They do not have a feel for or an understanding of the complex Second Adventist movement of the 19th Century. For one of them, that is probably excusable. The other of these gentlemen has no excuse. It is supposed to be his field of study.

I suppose I’m cranky. I don’t feel well and I’m easily peeved. But it is a historian’s job to present matters not was they wish to see them, but as faithfully to the known facts as is possible. I wonder sometimes if these two gentlemen are stubborn or simply haven’t probed deeply enough. Hanging to a definition pulled of the polemical internet sites is silly.

Everything being sorted out in the discussion has been presented before. Put as simply as I can. We’re right. They’re wrong. Now, having said that, this at least shows us what issues we need to address. Ultimately, I believe these two gentlemen will not be persuaded because they do not wish to be persuaded. Giving up a long-held and cherished idea is hard.

Admittedly, understanding some of these things came to us with a struggle, and we have the advantage of having read things they haven’t and won’t be able to read without investing a significant amount of money and effort. …. One last question though … Why is there always someone ready to jump in with an ill-considered comment when they’ve been warned they’re only seeing part of a chapter? It’s exactly like replying to a question before you hear it.

“Mom, can I …”

“No. You can’t.”

“But, MOM!”

“The answer is no. Don’t ask again …”

“’K, Mom. I just wanted to know if I could help you clean the kitchen.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Some kind person sent my writing partner the text of the document I mentioned earlier. He called me at about six a.m. to tell me. This is nice. I like nice. Thanks, Kind Person.

Now ... having read this short document, my question is, "What the heck was so secret about this?"

People puzzle me no end. I can understand Cute Pink Shoes Envy. (Pixies have to guard their shoes!) But I cannot understand why anyone would withhold this paper. It puts the signers in a very favorable light. It puts the lie to much of what is said on the internet. My Dear Lord and all his little creation! Just print the thing up in some article. Put it out there! They have this wonderful printing company and all sorts of really talented graphic artists. Make a brochure with limited text and loads of photos. Put this in it. Hey, I'd want one.

My Writing Partner is still trying to get access to a ledger book. I'd give that up. We don't really need it, even if a careful analysis would add details. I admit, though, that details tell this story. As most have it now, the history is distorted because of lack of detail. If he succeeds in prying this out of their reluctant hands, so much the better.

They seem to think that they can't get in trouble for what they haven't said. Experience should show them that's a false premise. You can get in trouble for what you don't say. When you're a huge target, the more forthright you are, the better off you are. Wake up, boys!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tiny Flowers - Germany, 1897

Double Blep

Well, a friend of my Writing Partner sent a package of stuff. This is good. It contained a tract from 1882 that neither of us has seen, and nicer copies of some other items. The 1882 tract is very interesting. I don't think it adds to historical events much if you consider a straight chronicle. But it gives a bit of insight into one of these characters personalities. I'll think about that for a while.

The blep part of this comes from another package. A guy who lives across the river from friend noted above contained some pages of photocopy and one digital scan. Now we already have the bit of scan we got from this guy. Or we had it for a tiny bit. Someone else sent that to my WP with the understanding that he could look but would delete it. I didn't even get to see it! But it at least provided evidence of a sort. So WP writes to friend B. Friend B says, yes, that's the real deal. He adds I have some stuff you might want to see. Okay? Great! So WP writes back and says can we have a copy of document C. Answer: Maybe. Do we get document C. NO! What the heck is so secret about this thing?! What we get is a very clear black and white scan of some signatures.

Now, dear hearts, the signatures are prolly the most important bit, but, this is disappointing. At least we have it in a form we can use, though I'm not comfortable crediting "Courtesy of an Anonymous Contributor from New York." It will have to do unless we can pry this out of someone's stingy hands.

The tendency toward secretiveness on the part of the religion involved marks it as one step away from being a suspicious cult. They deserve the reputation they have. They bring it on themselves by this inordinate and unnecessary secrecy.

So ... double Blep!


I’m bouncing around between three different things today. I’m reorganizing my work-room-library-sick-room space (again). I’m researching a man named George Washington Stetson. I found some interesting things about his early life and his parents. I’m not sure we want to use it. I emailed it all to my Writing Partner. It’s his call. It’s only one paragraph and I think we should include it. I’m also trying to catch up on laundry, a never ending task in this house.

My W.P. emailed Dr. Golden (Vincent Golden is on my “good guys list.) at the American Antiquarian Society over a misattributed quotation. I’m certain we know what magazine it actually came from. We traced it by the date of publication, August 27, 1872. That’s such an odd date, and of all of the Adventist periodicals only one seems to have been published on that date. The quotation references an earlier letter to the editor. We’re tying to hunt that down too. We see that as crucial.

Stetson wrote that letter. His history isn’t clearly understood. The major history of one of the descendant movements gives him about three sentences. This is mostly because they don’t know nuthin’. Because none of these people joined the Seventh-day sect, researchers have tended to ignore that church’s publications. This is a mistake. In the earlier years everyone read everyone else’s magazines. The clear separations came later. So, I’ve been looking through the Review and Herald. I found members of his family, but no sign of him.

I seriously need a new bookshelf. Believe it or not, I do have room for one, maybe. I would if I pruned out the old VCR tapes that no one watches any longer. There’s a huge amount of kid’s videos that have been outgrown. With those gone I’d have room for books.

I have an endless headache today. Those are bad news. They make my eyes hurt and my sweet disposition suffers. …

[Later] Well, I think all I’m doing is making a bigger mess. I decided to move some books around. I should have ignored the impulse. I think I may be at this for weeks!

I read Bernard Cottret’s biography of John Calvin. Have you ever read a book with good stuff in it but found the flowery, stultifying language so boring you had to work to find what you wanted? Well, this book is like that. It wasn’t a waste of time, but it bored me silly. There are better biographies of Calvin out there. This is not at all a well-done biography.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons Learned: Or one of the Facts of Life

If you put a heavy and full water bottle in the pocket of your sweat pants, hold a cup of coffee in one hand and a plate in the other and try to climb the stairs, you might not reach the top with your dignity intact.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


My desk is a disaster. I’ll have to sort and clean now …. I need a literary maid.

We posted the first part of the chapter we’re working on over on our history blog. I’m still not happy with this, but you have to work with the documentation you have. Lack of money really hurts us sometimes. A lot of our problems would be solved if we had enough money to hop on a train and chug off to Boston for a month.

This has been a bad day for me. I wrote some this morning, but most of the day I’ve spent in bed. I looked at one of my stamp albums for a while, and I wrote a couple of emails. That’s about it.

It snowed today. I’m tired of snow. At least we didn’t get buckets of it this time.

Shirley may come down tomorrow. I hope she does. I always enjoy her visits. We’ll go shopping at our favorite junk store. Speaking of which, I found a really nice late 19th Century (educated guess) milk-glass bowl. It was greasy, grimy and just generally nasty. Some soap and water, and it’s now spectacular. I put it on top of the bookcase to the right of my desk.

My friend Eve is looking for Bible translations. She asked me to look for a Scofield Reference Bible. I had an extra, so I gave her that. I’m not sure why she wanted one. It’s just the King James with Scofield’s notes, many of which reflect his Brethren beliefs and are a bit silly. Religion is often a silly business.

In the mid-19th Century it became fashionable to suggest that much of Genesis is mythological. Many Christians remain scandalized by that view. It doesn’t bother me especially. I think that whole discussion misses the point. For example, the world is full of creation myths. They are explanatory. Things are as they are because some god spit on the clay and made mud men. I wasn’t there to see it; I don’t know.

I think that the Genesis creation story differs in purpose. It’s not primarily explanatory. Instead it defines relationships. It’s an us verses them thesis. The True God isn’t a sun god, or moon god, or the goddess of chaos, because he made the sun, the moon and tamed disorder for his own ends. Chaos is his tool, not an entity in itself. There is no goddess with sagging breasts whose body forms the vault of heaven because God formed the heavens, creating the “firmament.”

This list could be extended. But I think you get the point. (At least I hope so.) The purpose of the narrative is to discount what others worship, to demote the pantheons into mere formed chaos, the work of a greater divine hand. So it doesn’t matter if one classes it as myth. What matters is its purpose. And that purpose is forgotten in the debate.

There is, however, a long list of points seen as mythological and “un-scientific” that really are not. The idea of atmospheric firmness was once laughed at, but ask any rocket scientist about reentry problems and reconsider the idea of a “firmament” as distinct from what is above it.

Christians distort the story too. Bad Christians, bad! One religion finds proof of the rabbinical fiction that the ages of man are broken into a week of thousand year days. The reasoning is common in the 19th Century, but only one religion holds to that nonsense today. I’m not sure why. There is an endless debate over how long the “days” were. This distracts from the story’s original purpose, and much of the debate is mere fancy. The reasonableness and rationality of the Genesis thesis is lost on these debates. This rather than naming the creation account as myth is the truly harmful thing.

Others are more qualified than I am to consider these things. I’m no longer interested in debating these issues. I was interested once. I wrote a paper for a religion class - once upon a time – that was designed to show how one could handle parts of Genesis commonly seen as legendary as history instead. It scandalized my professor, even if he gave me an A.

I have moved on to other things. I’m more interested in why people believe what they believe than in what they believe. The answer to that puzzle is illusive. The quest for answers has made me more skeptical of my own beliefs. We’re all irrational creatures. Any rationality humans have is very superficial. (I think that accounts for the essential failure of the Rationalist movement of the 19th Century.) I don’t mind being irrational, as long as I know that is what I am. Seeing ourselves as easily misled by our own feelings, inclinations and thought process is a sort of protection against untoward results.

I still want those bound magazines that are on ebay. I just can’t justify the expense. Dang.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Life with Pixie Children, or How I Learned to Embrace Confusion

The preliminaries:

Someone gave me a huge can of cashews. This was nice.

My oldest daughter is a crab.

I still want the magazines listed on ebay.

Remember the wishful thinking about stamps for my collection post? My uncle read it and scrounged through his extras box for similar items. He mailed me a bunch of stamps. How nice.

Life with Pixie Children:

If you’ve never had the experience, you need to understand that when a mommy is in the potty, she really has no privacy. Even with the door locked, it’s nonexistent. Girls camp outside the door and you have a conversation like this:

“You in there, mom?”


“What are you doing in there, mom?”


“What stuff?”

“I’m going potty. Then I’ll wash my hands. … What do you want.”

“Nothing. I just wanted to know what you’re doing.”

This conversation is played out in dozens of variations, evolving with the age of the child. Got it?

Okay … Good. So, now, it’s a real mistake to forget to lock the door. This is so even if you’re not doing anything particularly private. For instance, here I was brushing my golden locks and wondering if I should wear my pretty pink dress or my dark green with kinda earth tones brownish thing. (Doesn’t sound pretty does it? But it is.) So, in the middle of a brush stroke, Dau 5 shoves the door open.

“Hi, mom. Whatcha doing?” She starts peeling off her pajamas.

“I’m brushing my hair,” I say. I pause, notice the fall of the pajama top onto the floor. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a bath. I’m gritchy.”

“I think you mean gritty. …. Last night was your bath time. What happened?”

She turns on the faucet. “Arpita and Liz took too long and they used all the hot water. I went to bed.”

“Oh,” I say. And I mentally calculate how long it will be before dau 4 finds out someone has taken her bathroom time. We have two bathrooms. And from the days when my grandfather divided the house in two, we have two water heaters. … But with five girls and two adults, it’s never enough.

Annie, that’s dau 5, grabs a towel outa the bathroom closet and throws it onto the floor next to the tub. She swishes the water with her foot, and adjusts the temperature. Then, out of the blue she says: “Kat has a penny stuck to her butt.”

Now this is news.

“Why does she have a penny stuck to her butt?” I ask.

“Dunno,” Annnie says, “but she does. I saw it when she got up.”

I ponder this, visualizing a penny “stuck” to Katarina’s little butt. I visualize one glued on; then I try to picture one taped on. I can’t imagine either of these alternatives fitting dau 4’s personality. Now she might, in a fit of boredom, draw one on some body part, but I doubt she could successfully draw one on her butt. Besides Annie just said “stuck on.”

Annie more or less dives into the tub. I think about saying, “don’t splash water on the floor,” but I’ve said that hundreds of times. I forego it this time.

Daughter four enters. The predictable conflict ensues.

“Hey,” she says. “It’s my turn!”

“Use the other bathroom,” I say.

“Can’t. Dad’s in there! He takes longer than you!”

“ … Well, take a bath with Annie, then.”

I receive the predictable frown. “There’s no room …”

“Yes, there is. Neither of you is exactly full size you know.”

Dau 4 shrugs and strips. … And, sure enough, there is a penny stuck to her butt. It’s not glued on. It’s just stuck on – held by skin to penny vacuum I guess.

“Why do you have a penny on your butt?” I ask naively.

“I don’t!” She’s indignant.

I peel the penny off her butt, hold it out. “You don’t now, anyway.”

She looks at it blankly.

“Oh, I forgot. I spilled pennies on my bed. I slept on it I guess. … And it stuck.”

I’d analyze the psychology of pixie children, but it’s beyond my ability.

That, however, is the story of the wayward penny.

How Depressing ...

A bound year of The Prophetic News and Israel's Watchmam is on e-bay. Too much money and not absolutely relevant to our current research, so I won't bid. But I would love to have it. I haven't read the year listed (1881), but I suspect I'd find things in there to use. Oh well. Such is life.

I think I'll take a nap now. ... Prolly later I'll come back all rested up and ready to tell the story of my life among pixie children, the tale of the penny, the story of the popping baloons, and the exitment of baby-sitting your daughters' new aunt. ... maybe.

I got up early to go buy a turkey. They were on sale. Alas, all of them were gone by the time I got there. However, I bought a nice tramazu. I figure once everyone gets home it will be gone in an hour. There's just about seven slices in that. Enough for a taste for everyone, I think.

Second Life - Linden Lab - Startek - - A continuing failure

Startek and Linden Lab - A "working" partnership.

So, the Lindens send out a satisfaction survey. I filled it out. Lots of negatives, Mr. Linden. My summary - you did ask for one - was that Startek favors trolls and griefers and should be fired. Will they? I mean will they fire startek and their inadequate staff? Since money means more than customer satisfaction, I'd bet no.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wanna Peeve a Pixie?

Pretend you're educated and pronounce "tour" as tore. You all just have a great day.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Mild frustration, a headache and patience

Okay ... here's the scoop: In one of our chapters we use this very helpful quotation were person A says of person B's Bible Chronology that "it is the best I have ever seen." Got it? Ringing endoresment, right?

Nope. Not. Okay? It's really kinda a gentle slap. The chronology is someone else's. It's the same as saying, 'the best part of your blinkin' book came from someone else.'

We're on the same path now, right? Good. So ... Person A also reviewed back in 1849 someone else's book using similar terms. I'm fairly certain that it was in 1849. I've been turning pages of an old magazine trying to find that review. I now have a headache; I'm running out of patience and I'm taking a nap now. ...

I expect cookies and milk when I get back!

"Udderly Udder"

Dau two: “… she’s just udderly udder … and I think you should talk to her about it, Mom.”

Me: “You’ve been reading S. S. van Dine, haven’t you? … and that’s “utterly utter.”

Dau two: [pause] “udderly udder. …. That’s what I said.”

Me: “Yes, that is what you said, but the word is uTTerly not uDDerly. Huge difference.”

- - - -
When these sour old maids break loose from their inhibitions I understand they do the most utterly utter things. But I just can't bring my mind to picture Julia with a bevy of jealous Romeos. - S. S. van Dine's The Green Murder Case.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Hawaii - 1939

The Adventure of the Boxes or How I was confused by perverts

Cover art from the book "Sheep Girl." There is no way that looks like a sheep!

Back last summer I posted about my boxes from a storage company auction. It was listed as “mostly books” based on an examination of a box or two. So I bought this for very little money. If you read the post you will remember that I found some really interesting things and a huge haul of pornography. The man who owned this stuff invested a small fortune in porn magazines and books in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Titles such as “Goat Girl,” “Getting her Goat,” “Sheep Girl,” “Rammed by a Ram,” and others filled several boxes.

I set the project aside. I went back to it yesterday. There can’t be that much pulp porn in the whole world, right? So while everyone was off to who knows where, I snagged four boxes from the barn and brought them home. Consider this the Adventure of the Unopened Boxes.

So, I take a deep breath and cut the tape on box number one. And …. You guessed it! (or maybe not) No porn in that box. Old jeans. A Full box of old jeans. What the heck am I going to do with ratty old jeans? I check the pockets. You never know, right? There might be money in one. Total money found: once cent.

At this point my cell phone rings.

“Hello, Pixie here.”

“What utter nonsense.”

“Oh, hi sis. What are you doing?”

“Talking to you, moron. Where’s my mixing bowl?”

“I don’t have your mixing bowl. [Insert name of sister number two here] has it. I’ve never had your mixing bowl.”

… long pause

“You sure?”

“Certain. …. You’ve sworn off Coffee again, haven’t you? You’re cranky.”

Back to the boxes.

I approached box number two with less trepidation, zipping the tape off with some …. What’s a good word? Umm Gusto seems so masculine. Umm umm well I cut the tape quickly and yanked open the top. Papers. A huge box full of papers. I find old papers interesting, so I sort. There are tax returns from the late 50’s through the mid 60’s. They’re no earthly good to me. There are some business letters and invoices. They ain’t pretty or nuthin’. Those bits went into a throw it away pile. There is a shoe box full of newspaper clippings none of which are interesting to me. They’re wedding announcements and such. They all seem to be from Ohio. This is pretty much all trash.

There is a program or sorta visitor’s guide to the 1939 World’s Fair. This I’ll keep. I’ll probably sell it to a local woman who collects World’s Fair items. There’s a phone book from Rochester, Minnesota from 1952. Its cover is gone. That’s trash. Lots and lots of things like this that are of no value to me come out of that box. By the time I have it all sorted, I have a very small pile of interesting things.

At this point I take a potty break (and yes I washed my hands). I get a Coke out of the frig. I read my email. Most of it is not all that interesting. One email is from a former relation by marriage. (Does that make sense?) He is a professor of psychology. Back in the dim, distant past I took one of his courses. He is interested in human sexuality and deviant behaviors, which probably makes him an academic pervert. (Don’t gasp, I’ve said this to his face and his reaction is to laugh.) So, he asks me how my dad is, how my sisters are, how my family is, what am I doing he asks. (Yes, I know that should all be separated by semi-colons, but I’m too tired to fix it.)

So I tell him about my box adventures and the porn including Goat Girl and the other books. Here is an excellent place to say that who ever wrote that book didn’t know a thing about goats. That I suppose is a confession that I read it, or enough of it to get the drift that the writer was clueless. I hit the send button, returning to my unopened box adventure.

Box number three. I’m on a roll! Box three is fun. There are all sorts of things. No need for a long list, but there’s a small box of costume jewelry. Nothing really super nice, but vintage and on the pretty side. My friend Eve loves this stuff. I’ll keep one broach with green glass leaves. She can have the rest. There was a cracked piggy bank. It had about fifteen dollars in quarters, all silver. This is a great find. I’ll sell these to the coin store. There are some souvenir spoons. They’re only silver plate, but pretty. They’re pre-World War I spoons with national coats of arms. These I’ll keep. I love vintage silver. Lots of other things. A photo album that seems to be from the 20’s and 30’s. I may scan a few photos later and put them up here.

At this point Dau 5 calls and asks if they can stay one more night at grammas. I talk to Knobby Knees’ mom long enough to make sure that 1. She’s okay with that and 2. She can get them home in time for school. I decide that one more Coke won’t kill me, though it might send me to the bathroom a bit more often that usual. Alas, there is no more. But there is a can of root beer. That works. I check my computer. I have a new email from former uncle by marriage, dr. professor academic pervert. I see I forgot to mention that he has a huge collection of vintage porn. He calls it “research.” Can you see me shaking my head to that?

He wants to know what I am doing to do with the dirty books and such. I type back, “huge bonfire” and return to my box adventure. This was probably a mistake, Because – you guessed it! – Box four has more of “the stuff.” This is more of the same. Some of it is about incest, some more pony or donkey loves sister, brother, girlfriend, Aunty May or whomever. The cover art is bad on most of this. I don’t mean as in vulgar or pornographic, though it is that. It’s sketch art poorly done. The hawwwt donkey on the one cover looks more like a cow, and I’m not certain the “girl” is actually human. So, I shove this all back in the box and tape it back up. My goodness this guy was a huge pervert.

I hear the “you’ve got post” notice that I salvaged off the old AOL 2.5 program and use in place of the mail ding. It’s professor pervert. He wants to buy it for his “research library.” Now there are at least two universities that have pornography libraries and several professors who do. He’s one.

This leaves me with an ethical problem. He really is a serious writer and educator. If you read abnormal psychology or one of the human sexuality journals, you’d know his name. But can I in good conscience sell him this stuff? I don’t know. We do need the money, and he offered a nice amount. What to do … what to do?

So, what would you do?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Second Life - Linden Lab - Startek ... A Major Fail

Text of an email

Dear Ms Bradford:
I am deeply concerned over the lack of response from startek Second Life TOS administrators. Earlier today I reported Tranny Resident. He is still online. As I indicated in my abuse reports, this is "john," a well-known griefer/troll. He has been banned under hundreds of names. See the list below.

As happens frequently since you took over Second Life Abuse Report functions, this report was ignored. When the Lindens ran their own system, it would have been acted on within fifteen or twenty minutes. Even when the ontynes ran it, we could get that kind of response.

By using the SL AR system, Ahern/Morris welcome was cleaned up and reopened as a newbie dump area. Since you assumed responsibliity, many have noticed that the long-term griefers are returning and acting as they always do with immunity. There is a major failure to act on the part of startek. It is obvious that your staff [1] does not care; [2] includes some who are themselves either SL griefers or sympatheic to them and [3] that you target the most helpful people in SL, either suspending us when we're ganged up on and mass ARed or ignoring reports the Lindens would never have ignored.

You need to address these issues. If you don't others will. I am logging selected Abuse Reports that represent a consistent "fail" on startek's part and forwarding the logs by registered mail to Linden Lab. While I have no ill will toward you personally, I see your company as engaged in a massive failure to act. We're rapidly returning to the bad old days, and that is due to starteck neglect.

Tranny resident's past screen names include:
Tedward Zeplin
Dicky Aiten
Tits Bobair
TeeEhftwo Engineer
Buttox Qork
Bananahive Beeswing
Pullda Primswitch
Kickrocks Beedit
Roxen Boxen
Moxxy Boxen
Cortana Foehammer
Manic Danick
Asschew Badger
Sonic Acoustic
Neveragain Absent
Hinderer Chronowire
WakeyWakerly Bakerly
JesusSaved Bellflower
WhoKnow Broono
BustMy Cheri
Bishesbetta Arkwright
Newport Cygnet
Polishdat Chrome
Lasser Beamish
Kabul Aboubaker
Tornado Aftermath
Worthless Puddlegum
Squishfacekisses Aho
Grapetor admiral
Genocide composer
Lakesblow banx
Chubbers Dawlish
Gay Brandi
Cole Cyprus
Black Thorr
Elysia Chiwanga
Rash Inventor
Wisconsin Sabretooth
Kane Sugarplum
Gay Kingsley
Gay Soup
Dorky Faith
Champion Johnsky
Jizz Bubble
Nipple Mode
Thom Millar
Spacesausage Wikifoo
Thom Twist
Gay Bohannes [? On last name]
Joo katana
2late2apologize azov
saul silent
umad aie
jown auster
tranny resident

Each of these avatars has been banned for life. Yet you allow him to persist in Second Live now, ignoring the very people - including myself - who devoted a massive effort to clean up a welcome area.

I regret that you have made this an adversarial situation; it's certainly not my fault. You need to check out your own staff.

Best regards,

R. M. de Vienne, PhD

- - - -

If you use the Second Life program and are as dissapointed in the new ToS administrators as I am, email your complaint to:

Detectiving stuff and Stamps

I am home alone today, my family scattered to the four winds. Three of my kidlets are at their gramma’s. One is in Seattle on a field trip. The last is off with her daddy to Portland. So here I sit. No noise. What ever will I do with a quiet house? Clean it, maybe?

I have been turning pages in my German States and Early Germany stamp album. It’s a nice enough collection. I wish it were better. I simply do not have the money to spend on it these days. Early this year Knobby Knees surprised me with some nice stamps that he found on e-bay. Actually they aren’t stamps but envelope cut squares from Brunswick. Most American collectors ignore those, but I like them. I’d rather have the entire envelope, but they tend to be expensive. When you have a bazillion children you watch your pennies.

I have a very nice France collection too. Same problem there. I’m to the point where it’s hard to add to it, simply because I either need the money for something else, or I can’t afford the missing stamps. I am watching two ebay lots, but I really expect them to go for more than the little I can spend. The lot I want most is described as album fillers, but I can see some nice things in it. There’s a lot of duplication and most of this I have, but the few really nice things mean I’m interested. I already know it will go for more than I wish to pay. I send the link to my WP. He collects and could use some of these too. We’ll see.

My Writing Partner is teaching a workshop based on students' collections. Sounds like make work, huh? But it’s not. The goal is to create active and competent researchers. If his students are anything like mine (and I’m fairly certain they are), they come to us with shaky reading skills and in need of critical thinking skills. This seems like a painless way to develop those skills.

I’ve been scrounging my junk box for stamps he can give to his students. I really don’t have many to give him. I trade off or give away things I don’t need fairly regularly, so I’m not finding much to give him.

I am probably not going to buy any stamps. It’s all wishful thinking. I really need to spend that money on some books I need for my research collection. We have some major (for us) research expenses coming up. There are two really expensive photocopies to pay for. I’ve tried very which way to get this material without spending bunches of dollars, but best I can see there is no way other than paying the price and gritting my teeth. There’s a bound collection of religious magazines from 1803. This is an under-appreciated magazine. I have an idea that once we reference it, finding affordable copies will become impossible. That happened with two books we mentioned in our biography of Nelson Barbour. … And I really wanted those books!

I have a really ratty volume of the 1807 issues. It was an ebay find. The binding is broken and no one bid on it but me. I’m very happy to have it. I want as much of the set as I can find before we start using it in footnotes. More than footnotes – this will become the subject of at least one paragraph if not two. There is another year of this on ebay, but the owner wants nearly one hundred dollars. It’s not selling for that; it’s been listed for ages in their store. If I’m patient, I will find it else where. We have all the issues of the Millennial Harbinger that matter, and most of these came off ebay. I traded for one year. Now that was an interesting experience. My WP bought a huge pile of booklets to get one for his library. I saw the rest and begged them off of him. That gave me about 70 items to sort and research. I kept five. Some I sold on ebay. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have kept a few more, but live and learn.

Many of these were either SDA or Church of Christ booklets. Our Campbellite interests stop about 1839. And before 1839 there are only a few articles in the Christian Baptist and in the Millennial Harbinger that matter. We have those, so none of these pamphlets mattered. Did I make the money! The one Seventh-day pamphlet sold for 87.00! I traded two Disciples booklets for a year of Millennial Harbinger. It was fun! High finance among the book traders! The problem is we don’t find things like that often. Sometimes, but not often.

Now my WP bought us a set of bound pamphlets way back when. The description said something about bound pamphlets, mostly about bee keeping. There is indeed one booklet from 1844 on bee keeping. There’s a pamphlet on the “potatoe famine” and a few Unitarian tracts. So that was all in the description. Then there were photos. And such photos the seller provided! There was the title page of a very, very scarce booklet on spirit rappings from 1853. We would have bought it for that alone … but there was also a photo of another booklet: An Enquirery – Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Three Letters. It’s from 1841. Now let me tell you, there are probably fewer than 12 originals of that booklet left. We pooled our pennies and bid on this. We had to pay a bunch (for our poor purse) – not quite seventy dollars – but it now sits on my library shelf.

This is fun. It’s also frustrating, because we see things we want badly and even though they do not go for much, often it is too much for our slim research budget. Bleck! And Blep!

We also have to be really selective. A copy of Ogilvy’s Day of the Lord is on ebay for not very much. We could buy it. But it is only of very marginal interest, so neither of us has. If I find buried treasure in my garden, I’ll buy it. Otherwise, I won’t.

I love finding these things though. It’s almost as much fun as the actual research.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Disorderly Order - Orderly Chaos

Life is so complex. Is life supposed to be this complex? Probably not.

I’ve been working my way through “stuff” my writing partner sent me. I think the entire history of the religious movements antecedent to the one we’re researching is misdirected. It is, at least, when it touches on our research. But I believe the major histories to be deficient and misleading.

A book written in the 1870’s and another much later focus on the AC view of their history. They are helpful, but they are distorted. The SDA history is worthless. Written by a man named J. N. Loughborough, it is the worst of the lot. It has no value. Loughborough does not deserve the title “historian.”

There is a recent three part history of the Advent Christian Church which, while informative, is self-serving and hides more than it reveals. I’ve read several short histories of the Restitution churches and all the issues of a history newsletter published by the largest of these bodies. Because their heritage is diverse, these tend to be snippets and sometimes so removed for context that they mislead.

One article was written to deny any connection between CoGGC and C. T. Russell. There is nothing in that article that is accurate. Russell was a restitutionist in the One Faith/Blessed Hope setting from 1872 to 1876. He attended One Faith meetings. His doctrine was One Faith doctrine. (Now this is a confusing statement because more than one group used those names. He was most closely associated with the group represented by a small circulation paper titled The Restitution.) He remained such until essentially disfellowshipped by them in 1878. We’ve told none of this yet. Research is on-going.

This puts his statement that he was never an Adventist in a new light. I get the feeling that people will not like this bit of our book. For the last 100 years people have taken the approach that Second Adventism (in this setting non-SD Adventism) was the prime influence on his early years. Turns out that this simply isn’t so. He owed his thought to the Restitution/Age-to-Come movements. It is wrong to identify these people as Adventists, though they had some doctrine in common with the Millerite descendant organizations.

The difficulty for us rests in meticulous documentation coupled with as brief an explanation as is possible. Because this is new and so different from what most have written, we must make this as complete and accurate as we can. There is no room for error or confusion. We have at most forty double spaced pages to devote to this. Try putting three hundred years of history (1600-1900) in forty pages and have it be satisfying to readers who are coming to this for the first time.

This has appreciably slowed our work.

A friend suggested that I have two personalities. That is nonsense. I have a complex personality. Saying the unexpected does not mean that I have a second personality; it means that you haven’t learned all there is to know about me.

I have other interests besides religious history. And my view of what religion is and what social obligations should be is more complex than most of my friends realize. I am an orderly anarchist. Think of it this way: The one who created the universe is the preeminent mathematician. It functions on detectable rules. Divining these rules and their effects is the heart of science. Yet, the universe is a chaos generating machine, full of unexpected glory and mad destruction. People are built on a similar basis. There are evident rules of human existence. But we’re unpredictable and disorderly. Why would you expect me to be any different?

And don’t give me that, “but you have such an orderly mind” stuff. I plainly don’t. My thoughts bump into each other, and the resulting friction and chaos create their own order. You can’t blame that on me.

I have a strong streak of mysticism which is odd considering I reject a mystical approach to life and thought. Chaos! I believe all humans are out of touch with reality. The world is never what we think. We are not what we think. We search for order within a creation whose underlying law is organized chaos. If we really want a theory of everything it’s this: God made it all. What he made is in constant flux. The rules are his own and more complex than we comprehend. Under the rules is chaos – the dropping of leaves from trees into a random pattern that is beautiful to the eyes, pleasing to the mind, but in essence chaotic.

Okay, you can laugh at me now. Scorn is allowed. But that is what I think.

In many ways those who have preceded us in probing into the history we’re examining have sought order where none exists. This has led them astray. When I was very little (substitute young. I’m still little.) I wandered off from my grandparents into the forest behind their house. My cousins and I spent hours out there during the summer, so it was a place we knew well. Almost all of that forest was new growth. There had been a forest fire back in the 1930’s that burned right to the edge of town, and the burned trees were salvaged by the lumber company that owned the town. They became Venetian blinds, plywood and fruit boxes. But some of the old growth trees remained. There were three that stood together as a group. I found that spot to be slightly mysterious, certainly awesome in the sense in which that word should be used.

I sat leaning against the daddy of those trees. The forest floor was soft, padded by layers of pine needles. I idly scraped away pine needles vaguely wondering how deep they were. About a foot down I found old fruit jars. My great-grandmother said they would have been from her teens, making them from the early 1900’s somewhere. She was born in 1903. So let’s say these were from about 1915. Now think about that. The ground around those trees seemed undisturbed. Pine needles do not lend themselves to footprints. We children knew this was not undiscovered country. We played there daily throughout the summers. Our parents had played there before us. But there were no traces. All the evidence was under the surface.

As we write, we find ourselves scraping more and more of the surface away, and the story is as surprising as finding the old fruit jars was.

I’m not writing today, only reading. I’ll take a book to work; usually the hours from 3 am until I’m off (which is 6 am both weekend days) are dead. Very little happens then, giving me free time.

Thinking is never a straight forward process for me. I have lots of things to digest. I’ll get out one of my stamp albums and turn the pages, looking at the interesting postage stamps, wishing I could afford the ones I miss from my collection, and let the random thoughts coalesce. Sometimes this works best for me.

I also want to think about a story I’ve told to myself dozens of ways. None of them have been satisfactory. I wish I had musical talent. This story calls for knowledge I do not have. I want to turn a well known piece of music into pixie music. I have to do that in words. If I can pull that off, I think it will really add to the story’s end and be a bit funny.

Oh, one other thing: I’ve read a series of books written in the 1970’s. They’re more than a little nasty, though there is writing talent in some of them. This is for another project far down the line. I was left with questions probably the most important of which is why do some find self-degradation an attractive, useful practice? Got me. I still don’t know.

Friday, December 03, 2010


I spent a lot of time on the phone with my writing partner. He finally relented and will let me take what we had intended to be about six or ten paragraphs from one chapter and turn it into an entirely new chapter. This messes with our outline, but it’s very fluid anyway. I’m tickled pink!

This will mean extensive research but we need to present in a convincing way information that will be new to most of our readers. Because it is different from what most believe, we will have to document it meticulously. This adds work, but it will make for a better history. My WP is dumping a bunch of things onto a CD and sending it to me. I’ll start with those documents.

To keep a promise, he has been secretive about an 1881 document. I understand the need to keep confidences. So I’m only mildly peeved. However, he told me today that we should have a good photocopy of it within two months. This is good news. This tickles me pink too.

God invented Pink. Of course God invented all colours. But he must especially like pink. He didn’t paint the sky pink but reserved it for highlights at sunset and for precious living things. Some of my roses are a luscious pink. God did that. Think of all the wild flowers that are pink! And then there are birds with pink plumage. And some of the most important bits of the human body are pink. God likes pink and so do I.

I have pink shoes (three pair), a pink sweater, a really pretty pink dress, pink panties (no peeking!) and pink jammies. Because of my body temperature problems I wear snuggly jammies – things with feet. They’re fleecy and warm. Most of those zip up the front. My favorite pair doesn’t zip. Instead of being one piece, they’re a three piece outfit. My oldest sister found these in Belgium. (She travels to Europe for her job about four or five times a year. Means she gets groped by pervert TSA agents, doesn’t it?)

Anyway, she was in some child’s clothing store in Brussels looking for something for her kids and saw these. (I’m small, remember? And when I say small, I mean short and scrawny, okay? See photo somewhere on this blog. Look for the really, really scrawny thing.) So she bought these for me. I love them. The top is long sleeved and pink. It is pull over. It has pink ribbons. Ribbons are nice. The bottoms are pink! Of course. And they gather at the ankles like a sweater sleeve might. (There’s prolly a name for that, but since I never learned to sew, I have no clue what it is.) Then … then there are the booties. They’re a bit like elf booties without the long turned up front that looks like something Sherlock Holmes would store his tobacco in. They are booties, not slippers with hard soles. So by the time I get this all on, I’m really quite toasty.

Now Knobby Knees thinks they’re hot – not ‘hot’ as in warm but “hawwwt” as in Oh My Dear Lord and Little Rabbits Let’s Take Those Right Back Off! A little at a time … But understand, this is the same guy that thinks Warm Vanilla Body Wash is an aphrodisiac. The same guy that thinks my cute, black-leather size two and a halfs make me look like a fertility goddess. He’s a Scot. That should explain it all.

So I get home from work in the early AM, four AM to be exact. I figure it’s safe to wear these. He’s asleep. Any notice-taking would be in the morning. So I quietly scrounge for a snack. Just as quietly munch it (Granola cereal because one of my ne’re-do-well children ate the last of the cinnamon toast cereal.) at my computer. Read the emails. Put the bowl in the sink, slip up stairs, slip into to my PINK! pajamas and quietly slip into bed.

I do my wiggle my butt and feet, ruffle my pillow go to sleep stuff and roll over onto my side. Big sigh and semi-snort snore from KK and he rolls over to spoon. Big arm pulls me close … Maybe say forty minutes later I’m reassembling my pajamas, and fishing around in the bedding for the missing bootie. Pink! It has magical properties. God made pink just for Pixies.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mullberry Street - New York - 1890 maybe

Westwood, Lassen County, California

The snow roller. Probably the winter of 1918. The setting for Pixie Warrior (Drollerie Press) is this village and the surrounding area. A photo of what that winter was like.

Sha'el's Birth Forest Today

Still one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Pixie Warrior is set in this forest. These, however, are new growth trees.

Mt Rainier from Seattle - 1911

An Asahel Curtis photo, hand tinted on glass.

On today's roads it is a two hour and forty minute drive from Seattle to Rainier.

Think about that.

This Mountain is enormous.

One of my favorite places in the whole world.

Pixies Live Here

On a crystal clear day, you can see this mountain from where I live, even though it is not close. 14,408 feet. An active volcano.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The River of the West

This river tugs at my heart. Important events - important to me - took place along this river. For me, this river is always a place of peace and majesty and mystery. Some of the pictures in the video are taken near our house. Enjoy!

Just because

Sung as it should be ...

This is the "I can't think of a suitable title" post

Sigh …

Many of my classes were sparse today. More snow, freezing rain and just plain cold. I hate the cold.

I wrote a bit today, not nearly as much as I should have, but I’m having some bad days. Probably you’ve experienced a feeling of déjà vu. Most people have, I think. It’s always an interesting experience, something to puzzle over, but usually explainable. As my poor depixelating brain searches for the off switch, I have the opposite experience. Lately, it has become a more frequent and more disturbing event.

Do you have any idea how disturbing it is to find familiar surroundings suddenly unfamiliar and to find yourself lost in what should be your own comfort zone? Can you imagine walking down a path (or hallway or driving a road) you know well, and finding it new and confusing and experience a rush of panic because you are lost among the known? This happens to me. I grasp for control and reason, knowing that I really am not lost. I’ve learned to hide my panic and continue to function until the newness, the sense of being lost in familiar territory, passes. Usually this is a very brief event. This past week these occurrences have become more frequent and more disturbing. They last longer too. This is frightening in itself.

I am caught between anger and fright. I’m resentful that I suffer for something over which I bear no responsibility. I did not take drugs; I did not expose myself to vulgar and common practices that cause disease; I have lived a life that is rather ordinary, neither extremely sinful nor very saintly. I try to live by my beliefs, and if the result has been indifferent, I do not see myself as much worse than others who suffer less. Sometimes I find God a disappointment. I sometimes feel that I take better care of my children than he has me, and I have tried to live as if I were his child. If I am his child, I am an unwanted one.

I do not pretend to understand life or theology. All those things that were verities for me when I was in my teens and twenties have become uncertainties. The world is not what I believed it to be. It seldom is what we think.

Enough of this moaning. … or maybe not. Our poor old house, as much as I like it, is old. We have the plumbing problems that go with old houses. The basement drain needs attention. Knobby Knees is cleaning out the room where it’s located. I wish he’d discard or donate most of the stuff in there. But he says he needs it. This is a huge project and we go through it about twice a year. It’s easier and cheaper than digging up our back yard and replacing a complicated system of drains.

I found a silver bowl. It’s a nice quadruple plate bowl from the early 1880’s though it’s in a pattern that was more common two decades earlier. (I can date it by the hallmark.) It’s not in top condition, but it is still presentable. It was midnight black, but now glows as well polished silver can.

Just to get out of the house, I talked Knobby Knees into taking me to the Goodwill Store. He doesn’t like that place very much, but he kindly took me. I found some books. I always look for books.

My kids and I like the Artemis Fowl books. I found the one book in the series we did not have. That was nice. I get to read it first!

I found a nice copy of Elizabeth Haydon’s Rhapsody, and I found Eldon Thompson’s Crimson Sword.. I usually like anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley and I bought and read Lady of Avalon. It was a bit disappointing. I’m not even certain why I found it disappointing. Maybe it was the play off reincarnation. I don’t’ believe in reincarnation, and it takes a lot for it to please me as a story element. The last book in the lot is Barry and Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers. One of my daughters is reading it.

None of us is essential to planetary well being. None of us matters. If God really is aware of a sparrow’s death, he cares less for me than for it. Don’t post and tell me I’m just depressed! Of course I’m depressed.

San Francisco - 1906

Pages from a Photo Album

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Golden Fleece

As unfair as it is, only little boys playing at being important get this.
How about givin' the girls a chance too?

Dear Harry (And anyone else who wants to read it)


Most of our family’s traditions do not center on Holidays. We don’t celebrate most of them. But we do some other things almost ritually. There is a formal dinner we attend when we can. It’s an annual affair and most everyone who is invited is related at least distantly. There’s another half-annoying, half- really-fun dinner and gossip affair that rotates among some female relatives. I wrote a short story about it once. I called it The Real Merovingian Conspiracy.

My Great Grand Aunt used to be the – what do I call her? – Chiefest princess of that affair, but she died some years ago. She was nearly one hundred. We visited her in Strasbourg when I was twelve, I think. Dad got us lost somewhere in France. He insisted on driving, and well, you know men and directions. But we found our way there and had a nice time.

Anyway, back to this princess’s dinner (at least we all like to think of ourselves as princesses for the evening, and just maybe some of us really are): It has its forms that go back to 1884 or so. I think 1884 is the right date. It was more or less a mommy-daughter-cousin dinner way back when. With the passage of time the degree of consanguinity was grown.

It’s a dress up, look pretty night. And by tradition we bring these leather portfolios. Now inside is the real conspiracy! I’m giving away long-kept secrets here! Oh, nothing in there is anything like a Dan Brown novel. The portfolios are really glorified photo albums, containing baby pictures, photos of our family and such. It’s a “my vacation was better than your vacation” and “isn’t he/she so darling” kind of exchange.

We plot world domination by pretend match-making. (I think the actual who married whom to guesses ratio is very poor). We eat dinner. We gossip about Knobby Kneed Scots and which son of whom married what unsuitable daughter of whoever. One of us, whom I will not name, (it’s not me!) always gets a bit tipsy. Sometimes she shows up that way. Sigh.

Three years ago it was held here. There were seventeen of us that year. It was fun. One odd bit came from a man who was on the school board with me five years ago. (I served out the remainder of another’s term.) He was not an agreeable sort. We clashed repeatedly.

So I walk into the hotel lobby with one of my cousins. Now, remember this is a dress up, play, pretend night – sorta. Call it old traditions remembered. So I have on a – let’s call it a red ribbon pin thingie with fancy enamel and some poor sheep hanging from a chain thingie sorta. He feels compelled to talk to me. I try to ignore him.

He says, “They make really good reproductions of those, don’t they?”

I say, “This isn’t a reproduction.”

He’s so curious he could die. He asks all sorts of questions that I deflect or ignore. Our aunty arrives. Her helper wheels her into the lobby. He’s a huge guy and always flawlessly dressed. Very imposing.

So school board witless twit says, “Hey, what is going on here?”

Rolf, (not his real name at all. His real name is very common, something like Hans or Jack or Peter or Thaddeus) sees this guy. He gives him the raised eyebrows assessment.

Aunty, in her imperious way, merely points our direction. Rolf wheels her up to us. Stupid wants an introduction. I ignore him.

Rolf eyes him. Rolf steps between him and us, essentially pushing him back five steps without touching him. Now that, dear heart, is a really useful skill that I have never learned.

Twit is – excuse the vulgarism – pissed off. “I want to know what’s going on here,” he mutters.

There’s more, but that’s the main bits. I need a Rolf. But since I can’t afford a caretaker that looks like he could crush rocks with a look, I have cultivated a mommy-brooks-no-nonsense look.

We also celebrate our wedding anniversary. This is usually at a local hotel. We eat; I give Knobby Knees something he probably doesn’t need and he gives me something pretty. The girls behave, mostly, and we have a good time.

Most of life is ritualized. I don’t believe most people understand how ritualized their behavior is. But I know mine is. Ritual keeps me functioning through difficult days.

Sherwood House, Westwood, Lassen County, CA 1928

From Harry

Fiddler on the Roof is one of the best musicals of all time. I love when Tevye sings “Traditions”. His life, the life of his family, and the life of everyone in his village revolved around long-standing traditions.

As I sit back in my easy chair, stuffed with turkey and ham (me, not the chair), I find myself pondering traditions.

My wife gets all the ingredients for Thanksgiving ready the night before, but I have to peel and cut up the white potatoes and sweet potatoes in the morning. My son sets the table and when my daughter arrives she makes the gravy.

I’m not allowed to start playing my Christmas CDs until dinner begins, but I cheated this year and started playing one while I was on KP. Mom arrives and tastes the dressing and gives her approval. These are the little things that make up our holiday traditions.

My son, who is known better for off-the-wall blessings, when asked to say Grace, outdid himself. He asked God's blessing for our good health, for all our blessings in the past year, and to bless the generation to come. I couldn't have said it better.

After dinner and watching the Cowboys win a game that they spent the entire first half trying to lose, the tree was erected. I let my son and future son-in-law do that and then I was required to take on my role as lighting director, winding the strings around the tree.

Now, out comes the box. It’s an old cardboard box, at least 50 years old, if you can believe it. It has three compartments for the ornaments. Inside is the most amazing rag-tag assortment of ornaments and balls you have ever seen. One of them is the oldest ornament Jayne and I own. It is a cheap, blue, plastic teardrop shape with a plastic Nativity scene inside. It was part of a 4-piece set we bought our first Christmas together. The others are lost or broken. It looks like crap, but Jayne hangs it high on the branches in a place of honor.

My mom's eyesight is nearly gone now, but she used to make ornaments every year. There are angels and trees made of beads and wire, pinecone ornaments made of folded ribbons pinned to Styrofoam eggs.

There are the children's ornaments with photos on one side and their crayon scribbles on the other. There are nutcrackers, birds, snowflakes, elves, snowmen, Santas, little stuffed animals, a soccer ball, a musical clef.

On the tree my Enterprise NCC-1701 hangs near my daughter's basketball goal and my son's choo-choo train (which was lost until this morning when my wife found it in another box). My wife probably has an ornament from students for every year she has taught.

I hang my share of the ornaments and sit back and watch my family as the tree fills up with memories of Christmases past.

In years to come some of the ornaments will move to other homes. My daughter will have her first child next year. She will be starting her own tree, her own traditions. One day my son will do the same. The lights might be LEDs now, the ornaments constantly changing, but the traditions will go on.

Postscript: I do really like my daughter's boyfriend, future husband, and father of my first grandchild. I hadn't seen him since before my daughter made the joyous announcement a week and a half ago.

When they arrived yesterday, I shook his hand and said with a straight face, "It has recently come to my attention that you have been having sex with my daughter."

He blinked twice and then replied, "She made me do it."

We all had a big laugh.