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.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photographer Unknown - About 1910

My life with young pixies

I rinse a platter and put it in the dishwasher, reflecting on the amount of dirty dishes, not to mention silverware and glasses, generated by five pixie children and a Scotsman. I’m certainly not guilty of making this mess!

Dau number 4 watches with mild interest. “What’cha doing, mom?”

I note my antique ivory handled magnifying glass in her hand and cringe. “Rinsing dishes. Put that away and help.”

Dau 4 opens her mouth to speak when Dau 5 enters stage left. Stage left is through the dinning room to kitchen door.

“Hi, mom,” she says sweetly. “What’cha doing.”

“Dishes,” I say. "Kat is going to help."

Dau 5, ever alert to the nuances of her mother’s voice, looks askance at her sister. She notices my magnifying glass in her sister’s hand.

“You’re not supposed to play with that, Katarina Sophia!”

“I’m not playing with it; I am looking at bugs. See, there’s one right here.” She focuses the glass on the countertop.

“Is not,” Annie says. Hands go to hips in a gesture that mirrors one of my own. I repress a smile.

“Of course there is. It’s a red no-seeum. Take a look.”

“You may think I am, but I’m not stupid, Kat. … MOM, Katarina is teasing me again!”

“She’s trying to anyway. Here, one of you put these way.” I hold out two copper-bottomed pots. No one moves to take them. “Katarina, put these away please.”

She shoves my magnifying glass at dau 5. “Here,” she says, “watch my bug while I put these away.”

Anastasia takes the glass but makes no effort to look at an imaginary bug. “Where’s Liz?” she asks.

“At your Grandmother’s. She helping Grandma get ready for tomorrow.”

“Oh. I forgot.”

Katarina returns from the pantry, entering stage right. I am fairly certain she managed to stow the pots without causing a national disaster. At least I didn’t’ hear a crash.

“Did you look at the bug?” she asks.

Anastasia wrinkles her forehead as only she can. A little pink tongue pokes out, curls at the edges. She says, “No. I smooshed it instead.” She slaps the counter in illustration.

“Anastasia Marie Irene! You’ve killed the last of an endangered species!”

“If it was the last,” she says, “it won’t be lonely anymore.”

“Here,” I say, “give me the magnifying glass. You (I point to dau 5) rinse. You (I point to dau 4) load the washer and run it when it’s full."

That evening at Knobby Knees' Parent's House:

Snippet number one:

Daughter two whispering to her dad: “Your uncle Alexander talks funny, even more than you.”

Snippet number two:

Knobby Knees and I are in the kitchen preparing the desserts. Dau 3 walks in.

“What does Uncle Alexander want for dessert?” I ask.

Tall, lanky, dark-skinned and expressive, Isabella says: “I asked him if he wanted pumpkin pie, cheese cake or lemon meringue pie. He said yes.”

I cut a small slice of each and transfer them to a plate.

Later, still in the kitchen. Dau 4 walks in.

“Mom! What are you doing!”

“Sitting on your dad’s lap.”

She pushes the swinging door to the dining room-living room area and shouts: “Mom and dad are making love on the kitchen chair!”

Knobby Knees almost chokes. The other room grows really silent. Then a small voice says, “Well if they are, lass, you best not watch.”

“Oh!” she says, “I don’t mean that! Mom’s sitting on dad’s lap. That’s what I meant.”

The gentle voice (her grandda’) says, “Well, then, Lass, you stopped them just in time.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peeved Pixie Pouting

It's snowing again.

I misplaced an important research file. It has five important letters in it. It's here somewhere, probably filed in the wrong folder. I'll find it eventually, but this is a bad day for me, and I'll have to let it go. I've written about all I intend to write today anyway, but this is really distressing.

I'm in my cranky-pixie mode. Most people who pass as experts on the groups about which I write are not. They're anything but expert. Their research is sloppy, uncaring. They write for gullible cultists like umm Methodists or something ... Are Methodists cultists? Maybe I meant Baptists? Anyway they write for the gullible. I'm in my smack 'em on the nose with a newspaper phase today, so I wrote this:

“Some considerable nonsense has come from the pen of Ralph Orr, one-time editor and writer with the World Wide Church of God (Armstrongites). Orr asserted that Wendell predicted the return of Christ for 1874 and that he was responsible for the 2520 year count for the Times of the Gentiles. He says that after the failure of 1874, Wendell “replaced” that date with 1914. None of this is true. Gomes and Bowman suggested that Wendell provided a Seventh-day Adventist influence. This piece of utter nonsense should bring a sense of shame to the authors and their publisher Zondervan, though it probably does not.”

Now, that complete with footnotes is a smack on the nose. I don't know if my writing partner will allow that through the final edit, but i'm puttin' it in! I could enlarge on this, add other authors, be really pointed ... umm maybe I was really pointed already ... and really scold gullible readers too. Certainly none of our readers are gullible - one can hope, anyway.

My jar of pennies, practically my life's savings, disappeared today. Whiney daughter number 1 thinks she needs a new cell phone. I told her she had to pay for it, but she did talk me out of my jars of pennies. Who knows, there might have been some rare coin in there or something. I've probably been cheated out of my inheritance by a sixteen year old with a nag-syndrome.

I talked to a Campbellite yesterday. He doesn't like to be called a Campbellite ... which is fine. I respect that. The thing that made me giggle though is that he says "We're not Camel-ites, you know." Now I never thought of him as a Camel of any sort. That is sort of like a JW saying they're a "Jehoah witness." Leaving off the "'s" changes the thought!

If it wasn't so blasted cold, I'd drive over to the coin store and have the manager help me figure out a bit of coin-jewelry I found. It's a broach made out of a Mexican 8 Reales coin and two Japanese coins. I don't read Japanese and I can't find the moneyer's initials on the Mexican coin in my Kraouse catalogue. But it's an older edition. They're too expensive to buy new. The 8 Reales is from 1825 and has lots of detail. When it thaws I'll drive over and sell some scrap gold and if these three coins are as expensive as I think, maybe I'll sell them too.

I used to collect jewelry and buttons made of coins. It was a fun hobby, but I can't collect everything. I sold the button collection locally. The best parts of it were buttons made from Hungarian silver coins from the late 1700's. R. L. Stevenson talks about buttons made of coins in Master of Ballentre. (Did I spell that right?) ... nope -- it's Master of Ballantrae. Pixies don't spell well for some reason.

Aunt Shirley called. She's snowed in too, though they don't have nearly as much as we do. It's as cold up there though. When I was very young I loved the snow. Now with the low body temperature thing, every bit of cold makes me unhappy.

My favorite cousin is moving back to the U.S.A. She became my best buddy cousin the summer we were twelve. Her dad moved them to the US because of his work. She and her sisters stayed with us for a few months that summer. We're about five weeks apart in age. At twelve we could pass for twins. That's not true anymore, but people take us for sisters. She became very ill toward the end of that summer. Her aunt (I'm not related to her aunt) in a bit of Euro-snobbery talked them into seeking treatment at a hospital in London. But we have remained close since.

When her husband was posted to New York, she'd fly out and visit me three or four times a year. I'm happy to have her back. We'll plot world domination, critique the latest shoe styles, and wonder if a German husband or a Scottish husband is stranger. We've debated that before. I'm ready for round two.

I still want that blue dress. Even if it went on sale for half price, I wouldn't buy it. But it is lovely.

I'm thinking of changing the pictures in my work space. I have two watercolors in storage. One can stay there, but the second is a harbor scene. It's very pretty. I also have two bird prints. One's French from about 1850. It's not rare at all, but it is pretty. The other is an early reproduction of one of Audubon's prints. It is scarce. It would need a frame. I took it out of the ratty, broken frame it was in when I found it. I'll think about it all.

We're puzzling over the chapter title for the bit I've been writing. When my WP did the first rough sketch (you couldn't even call it a rough draft yet, but it was more than an outline) we called it Among the Second Adventists. This won't work now.

It's very dreary. I'm going to take a nap soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Deifenbach


Here's a bush, dear. I think this is the place!

We have nearly a foot of snow. I hate snow.

I don’t feel so good today.

I read (sort of) Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Arthur: The Seeing Stone. It is disappointing. There are some good bits, but they’re sparsely placed. It’s published by Orion Children’s Books. In all honesty, guys, my children would not read this book. It’s boring, ill constructed, disjointed and on the stupid side. This is not a book I’ll finish. None of my girls read past the first chapter. The kindest review came from daughter 2: “Stupid book, mom.” I agree.

One of our history blog readers sent me some articles from a magazine published in the 1850’s. This is helpful. I’ll use these in the chapter I’m researching now. They leave me with the same puzzle I’m trying to solve. I'm puzzled by one guy’s choice of associates. He associated most often with people who held a doctrinal view differing from his own in a key area. He preached with them, traveled with them, and was mentioned in their magazines.

Well, I just got back in the house from helping Knobby Knees clean the snow off his car. I may never be warm again.

I get a steady stream of blog visits from Moslem countries. Without fail they’re seeking pornography. Search terms are things like “Sudanese Girls Naked,” “Hairy Armpit Women.” Today I got this: “male goat sex movies.” This comes from Eskisehir, Turkey.

I can see it now. A scrawny, greasy faced dude, swarthy with unwashed hair, sitting at his computer in Eskisehir. On the wall behind him a faded photo of his great grandfather with his bayonet sticking through a pestiferous Christian Armenian woman. On his right is a black and red poster screaming “Kill KURDS Now!” On the desk behind him is a folder inviting him to become a Jihadist in Yemen where the Goats are Hawwwt, the women subservient and the food is good when you can find it. He’s searching …. For movies …. Not just any movie … but one with a male goat as the STAR! Typical Turkish male, if you ask me - the hope of his country in the years to come. Maybe he should try youtube.com. There’s probably a goat sex movie on youtube. Everything else is there.

I’m still cold … Next I have to clean off my own car. Winter is nasty. We usually have mild winters. Coffee’s done. I’ll be right back. … There, that didn’t take long. God invented coffee, you know, just for pixies, though we share.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

linden lab second life

I had this post up briefly and took it down on the expectation that my complaint was being addressed. It was not. An individual from startek.com, the contractor that adminsters second life terms of service complaints, finally contacted me, refusing to investigate my complaint against one or more of their employees. This post is back to stay:

Friday, November 12, 2010
Linden Lab Second Life
The Second Life virtual world has an abuse report system. Those now in charge of that system are using it to target residents they do not like. This is appart from any actual violation of terms of service. At least one member of the TOS staff is a troll/griefer and sympathizes with others of that ilk.

The Second Life experience is seriously flawed. There is no effective management of the TOS team. Customer service is poor. They ignore "tickets" at their whim. There are unresolved tickets that are months old, ignored because the guilty party is a Linden Lab employee or contractor.

If you are considering using Second Life, be aware that some Linden Lab employees favor the griefers and trolls and some of them abuse their power at will. Because their performance is not monitored in any meaninful way, they feel immune from consequences.

If you call the customer service number to complain you will be told to "file a ticket" (which you've probably already done and had it ignored for weeks) or file an abuse report. Neither of these things work because those running that operation are the abusers.

If you are a Second Life user, now is the time to seriously ask yourself why you continue to suffer the abuse that fills that environment. Maybe you've seen one of the news reports or television shows that glorify Second Life and are inclined to try it. I urge you not to do so. However, if you do, be prepared for what you will encounter.

Second Life will soon admit children into an adult environment. One can only hope that this will lead to a public exposure of those running the Linden Lab Second Life environment.

By allowing, turning a blind eye to it, or otherwise permitting it, Second Life fosters pedophilia, bestiality, virtual world prostitution and the abuse of innocent visitors. Linden Labs denies all of this. My personal experience reveals that they thrive financially off a digitalized sex industry as disgusting and virulent as it is in the real world.


This post has been visited by two THREE Linden Lab employees, one of them from the Hayward, California, home office, and one a lawyer. Further visits are expected. This would be in line with a pattern of intimidation toward those who post negative comments about Linden Lab's Second Life environment. I may be sick, but I'm not dead yet. You picked on the wrong woman, boys.

On Lake Michigan

Leda and Lucy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Books, Wishes and Naps

So … my shopping buddy, Shirley, drove down, and we flitted off to our favorite junk store. It was really crowded. In addition to the Saturday afternoon regulars there were tones of people, many of them smelling of old sweat, beer, garlic or ten day old clothes, looking for Christmas presents. I survived. We pixies are resilient!

I didn’t find much though other than my usual pile of books. Shirley found some chairs she thought she might want, then decided not to get them. Probably a wise decision. Her house isn’t that big and you can only cram so much into it. I found a really nice rosette pattern, lace table cloth. I don’t entertain formally all that often, but I like pretty things. This is probably from about 1940. It’s yellowed with age, but it will clean up nicely.

Books! Yes, I found nice ones! I found the mid 1940’s reprint of Ford’s Illinois, both volumes. It is as new. Pricey in that condition. When I had my book store, I’d have asked a hundred dollars for the set. I picked up an older Modern Library edition of Frost’s poems. I have to be in the mood for Frost. But I bought it anyway. I like the older Modern Library books.

Anne McCaffrey is one of the people that inspired me to write. I’ve read almost all of her books and own most of them too, but I found one I did not have. And I found the first three volumes of Mary Stanton’s Unicorn books. I haven’t read these. They’re juvenile fiction. I read lots and lots of juvenile fiction. One of my classes next semester will by a reading/writing “club” based on YA and juvenile mysteries. I plan on presenting four books ranging from a Nancy Drew mystery to Fairy Tail Detectives. We’ll write short mysteries too.

My one pretty item is a sugar bowl. I do not know the name of the pattern, but the style is Edwardian. It is filthy having sat in someone’s over-the-stove cupboard for an eternity. I have it soaking out in the sink. It’s very unusual.

Aunt Shirley and her one daughter want to toddle off to Tacoma to see relatives soon. I think this is a bad time of year for that. They usually take the train. At least I won’t worry about them driving the nasty Cascade passes.

I saw one of my former students from back in the Pixie Prof. days. We had coffee in Starbucks and gossiped. She’s much more adventuresome than I and into fantasy fulfillment. (Well … I don’t KNOW about that kind of fantasy, but maybe) She has skydived, rock climbed, that sort of thing. She wants to learn to fly an airplane now.

I have lots more to say, I suppose, but I work tonight, and I should be in bed sleeping already.

At the Movies - Guest Post by "Occasional Reader"

Home cinema is all very well, and it is wonderful to collect the films you really love to watch again and again. But nothing can replace the collective experience of being in a movie theater – particularly a large and full one – as emotions like laughter and fear are transmitted throughout the whole audience. As an ardent film buff I have one memorable moment from 1962.

There was a double bill in a local run-down movie house that we called the “flea pit”. The main attraction for the audience must have been some horror picture because that night the viewers at the front of the auditorium were virtually all male in their late teens and early twenties. Perhaps the girls were with their boyfriends further back – I don’t remember – but where I was sitting that night was male. It was likely a double X bill. In the UK, certificate X meant that you had to be sixteen to get into the cinema. The picture that caught us all out was “The Miracle Worker” – also certificate X. Why the authorities decided that those under sixteen should be protected from this movie I still cannot fathom.

It was always a very noisy experience at this cinema – what was sometimes wryly called “audience participation” – often an entertainment in itself. The film started with the usual shouted witticisms and occasional missiles of empty ice cream tubs thrown about. (I think the limited staff used to melt away unless something really serious happened). But soon things quietened down dramatically as everyone found themselves unexpectedly engrossed in the story of Helen Keller, blind and deaf from nineteen months – and the efforts of partially sighted Annie Sullivan to reach her and help her. Anne Bankcroft played Annie and Patty Duke played Helen. They had already played the roles for a couple of years on Broadway I discovered much later. When the battle to get Helen to fold a napkin was played out – for slapstick laughs to begin with – there came a dawning realization that this movie was a bit out of the ordinary. A few nervous laughs, and then the audience were silent. You could say absorbed.

But the real killer was the last few minutes of the film. A house-trained Helen plays up when presented to her family who have always misguidedly spoiled her. An attempt by Annie to exercise control results in a major tantrum and Helen is dragged unceremoniously to the pump to wash. Suddenly, there at the pump as the water splashes over her hands, the penny drops. Helen remembers the word she knew before illness robbed her of sight and hearing – and repeats in baby talk the word “water”. The connection is made – the hand signs she has mimicked throughout are words and things – the bridge to true communication is made.

I can remember it vividly today – row upon row of macho young men sniffling away into their popcorn – then making sure the evidence was wiped away before they left the cinema.

The decades have gone by – I bought the film on VHS and then DVD – now sensibly reclassified as PG (parental guidance only). It still packs a punch. One can see the staginess in some scenes nowadays, but seeing that end I am transported back to the 60s and an emotional wallop I hadn’t been expecting and really wasn’t prepared to deal with the first time around.

There are other films that stay with one that also have that special effect – “Twelve Angry Men” “To Kill a Mockingbird” – every so often (perhaps when ill and in need of a comforter) one goes back to them. But for me – it has to be the Miracle Worker. It was the best film Anne Bankcroft ever made – and she made several good ones.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Little Dancer ... from a newspaper clipping two years ago.

sorry about the quality. best I could do with an old clipping

Life is so Confusing ...

My blog fluctuates in readership dramatically. Some days I get a huge number of visitors and somedays, like today, almost none. It's very confusing. I always feel that it is my fault.

But, that's not what I'm really writing about. Numinous is a perfectly serviceable word for a feeling of “special.” It is the root of much that is religious, though not necessarily that which is spiritual. It implies a belief that divinity is present.

If you think about it, much of the earth sings to us. It is our home, as spoiled as much of it is, and it calls us to us in various ways. Some places are breathtakingly beautiful. Some are dirty and common. And some call out our name. They’re the special, the right places of the earth.

I have one of those. I found it a few weeks ago when I was being deputy Pixie. There is a low income housing project built in the late 1960’s. Indifferently maintained, it is occasionally the home of the less than desirable among our citizens. I don’t mean the poor. I mean the truly wicked.

There is the usual high-rise apartment with its dirty hallways stinking of stale food, moldy plants, sweat and marijuana. There are many single story apartments. The grounds are well maintained. Planted with evergreens, most of them native to our state, the trees have grown stately. Between two rows of the single stories is a grove.

Entering it was a startling experience; it was a true experience with the numinous. It felt right. I felt sudden contentment, and few things make me content anymore. Understand that I do not regret being discontent. A vague feeling of discontentment, sometimes a sharp burst of anger, helps me live through the day. They’re proof that I haven’t yet sunk into the mindlessness to which I am destined. But this place was full of peace. It was as if I stepped out of my hurting body and damaged mind and into a thirty or forty foot diameter bit of Eden. In that small place is the world as it should be. I would have willingly stayed there all night.

Why I felt that way is a mystery. One of many in my life. I long for that place. On the nights when it’s part of our patrol, I always find a reason to get out and check that bit of property. I can’t stay, but I can look, experience. The trees and grass suggest God’s love to me. It’s not at all like Mt. Rainier that suggests Divine majesty. Or places in the Oregon desert that suggest an endlessly expansive mind behind existence. It’s peace in a small space.

None of this is rational. But comfort in life depends on not being totally rational within its human definition. Creation isn’t exactly rational, but it is reasonable.

None of this makes sense, does it? Except probably to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry ...

Tell me you're okay. Breathe. Say something ... i'm worrying about you.

Religious Paranoia

When I wrote Pixie Warrior I enjoyed writing every chapter. I admit that getting the first chapter right was a challenged and sometimes frustrating, but it was fun. My current project has stopped being fun, and if I hadn’t invested months of frustrating labor into it, I’d stop. I may stop anyway.

The religious movement we’re profiling fractured and there are many small sects and one principal group that are its living children. Without exception the smaller groups have been helpful when possible. Often they don’t have, don’t know, or have never heard of the issue I raise, but they’re open handed and as helpful as can be. Of course every religion has its less than desirable people and I’ve met them too. There’s one person who poses as an expert. He knows what you know and he knew it first, even if he hasn’t a clue what you’re talking about. He camps out on various Internet Boards until he gets tossed off. I met one of that bunch who worships a man dead since 1916 and is terrified to cross a dead man. Fine. Still those who represent those groups in any sort of official way are helpful when they can be.

We’ve called on the archives of several religions. All of them with two exceptions have been exceptionally helpful. A university in Boston with Methodist connections has a lazy archivist. The issue isn’t secretiveness, but willingness. We found a way around it. However the Methodist archive in South Carolina put forth extraordinary effort on our behalf and didn’t charge us a dime. The same is true of an Episcopalian archive. The C&MA archive gave us everything we asked for and went looking for other things on their own initiative. Church of God – General Conference scholars have helped freely. A Christadelphian historian provided us with scans of important documents at his cost. (Probably far less than cost, actually) The principal descendant religion is paranoid and secretive.

While I am not naming them in this post because I am not their enemy and I don’t want an adversarial relationship with a religion some of my family share, I have reservations about any religion that feels documents well over a hundred hears old should be closely held. They feel that a detailed history of their religion will show it to be ordinary, less than the one true religion. There is a sort of mental illness in that approach, and there is an overweening pride in it. If the Bible, which they claim to believe, exposes the weaknesses of its Noahs, Lots, Abrahams, the founding fathers of Israel, the Apostles and everyone else, then what does a religion that believes it must hide its past have in common with the faith of Christ – or the faith of Abraham?

They make me angry. Our history does not hurt them. If anything, it presents them in a better light than they’ve managed on their own. I do not wish to be a proponent of a paranoid religion. For two cupcakes and a Hershey bar, I’d chuck this and shelve all the work we’ve done.

The one saving element is that the most prominent of the descendant religions is not the same as what we’re researching. It is a different religion. Sadly, it is also the custodian of most of the important documents.

Official secretiveness extends to individuals in this religion. They don’t want their religion held up to scorn. They have a strongly held adversarial mentality. There is much more to be gained by a clear presentation of the facts than there is by having others pry them out of other (sometimes extremely inaccurate) sources. We are, by presenting an accurate history, solving a problem they won’t solve for themselves. Their paranoid secretiveness stands in the way.

I am – once again – seriously considering dropping out of this project. I simply cannot put my heart into it. This issue is also affecting my heretofore positive view of this group. I may differ theologically, but I have held many of their adherents in high esteem. My disposition is to re-examine my kindlier view, and the more I do so, the less I find to like.

A historian should like their subject, even if they detest some of the individuals they profile. I no longer like this subject. This has been a colossal waste of my time. I have little time to waste, and if you’ve read this blog for a while you know why. At this point I resent every second I’ve put into this project.

I’m making no decision this week. I’m tired of dealing with religionists crazed by an artificial self-view. Christian faith is supposed to be simple, a straight forward personal relationship with God and his Christ. Organizational paranoia is not a manifestation of the Christian faith as I know it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Elizabeth of Bavaria; Empress of Austria; Queen of Hungary
24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898
A beautiful and interesting woman. A distant relation. Stabbed through the heart by a Nihilist.


Still my Favorite

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Soldier's Story

Not exactly a work of fiction, but neither is it nonfiction. Let's call this a 'tween tale.

A Soldier’s Tale

He was never a nice man. He wasn’t especially a nice boy either. But he was smart, a reader of westerns and chemistry books, a champion Monopoly player, a card counter before it came in fashion. He could memorize cards played in Rummy and calculate what was in the other players’ hands.

His father was a bootlegger and carpenter. His grandfather drove a coal wagon for a mill and was a blacksmith. His great grandfather was a run-away princeling who took his bride to America and failed as a farmer.

His mother was a part-time whore in the 1930’s. There were – we’ll call them events – connected with that, and he tried to hang himself on the clothesline pole sometime in 1934. This was probably the event that healed the breach between his mother and his father, but it remained a deeply troubling event always, affecting his view of women.

In that same year the family moved to a small town in the Western United States. He thrived in school, though he was disruptive. He finished his work quickly and wanted to socialize. He was sent home with a letter from the teacher sometime in 1938. By 1940 he was a UCLA studying chemistry.

I don’t know where he was on December 7, 1941. The woman he later married was in her bathtub. The radio was playing in the next room, and she learned of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor while soaped and sopping.

Our chemistry student was never able to approach life head on. Science was his outlet for straightforward thinking. Life had to be approached circuitously. So instead of walking to the nearest recruiting station he wrote to his draft board and asked why they hadn’t drafted him yet. They read the letter and sent him by return mail a letter starting with the words: “From the President of the United States, Greetings.”

He found himself in Georgia where he did his basic training. It’s not absolutely certain, but it appears that when he was shipped out to England he left behind a “Georgia Peach” very pregnant, very unmarried and never contacted again. As I said, he was not a nice man – ever.

He'd never fired a gun before. During rifle training his instructor shouted at him to pull his butt in. What he meant was for this novice soldier to pull the rifle butt in against his shoulder. Our Chemistry Major turned Army private pulled his buttox in. Try firing a rifle in that position.

He took a chemistry book with him. He read it over and over until the hardback was softened and flexible. It was his one contact with reality. He missed D-Day, but he didn’t miss the Battle of the Bulge or two other dramatic battles. He was a private, then a corporal, finally a staff sergeant. Because he was a chemistry student, in typical army fashion he was placed in the Chemical Corps as a munitions carrier.

He was frightened. He slept in foxholes splattered with the brains of his dead companions. He was left alone with one other soldier in a hostile German village, barricading himself in a house after locking the family whose home it was in the basement. He stole three stamps out of a stamp album. They weren’t worth much, but he liked them. They found a place in his collection when he got home.

He remained with the army of occupation, serving as a civilian court clerk in the US Military courts. He spoke some German – quite a lot of it actually – and because of that he administered the oath to those called to testify.

He was bored. He typed up forms for medals. Once in a fit of boredom and wild imagination (maybe he thought it would impress the girls back home) he typed up a form for the Bronze Star for himself. No one caught it, but it played on his conscience later, sometimes.

I cannot tell you more. Later in life he became well known in his chosen field. But he never became a nice man. Certainly he was never a good man. But he was a soldier.

BIG Boomie things ...

Wild SEX!

Okay, so this post hasn't got a THING to do with wild sex. Bet the title got your attention though.

Well …. I lost two important papers. That means it’s time to sort what’s in piles on my desk. I am one messy researcher. I’ve misplaced two newspaper articles from 1881 and 1882. I’ll slowly sort while I’m doing other things. [Update: I found 'em hiding in the wrong folder. Silly me.]

The other things on my list are maybe a dozen partial rewrites to accommodate new material. They’re scattered through several chapters. Also, we changed our collective mind on how to approach one issue. I’ll revisit our notes sometime today. I also have some footnotes to revise. This entails adding little bits of things.

Observation 1: While state secrecy may be necessary, there is no reason to withhold 100 year old documents.

I also have some thank-you emails to write to various people. I wrote most of those after I got off work early this morning. There are nice people out there. I appreciate every one of them.

Observation 2: Soncinianism is stupid, but your belief in it won’t make me think you stupid. Does that make sense?

You never know what your blind spots are, because by definition you don’t see them. One of the most helpful things has been the blog comments on our history blogs. Even when they’re wrong, it helps us see how people think – and what they think on these subjects.

I write all of these notes to myself, and then forget why. I should be more expansive with my notes-to-self. I wrote down the title of a book published in the mid 17th Century, and now I have no memory of why it was important.

I have to start a new three-ring binder today for more modern material. These are bits and pieces of current items about one of the sects I research. They’re no use for this project but interesting enough to save. There are a few internal letters that have come my way, some newspaper articles, and odds and ends. They may be useful later.

Three pitiful perverts visit this blog. One’s an old woman from Minnesota, a sexual predator and “reformed” alcoholic. One’s a twenty-something skate-boarding pedophile from Sweden who comes to look at the photos of children I sometimes post. Many of the child photos are of my relatives and ancestors. I wonder what my dead aunts, uncles, and distant grandparents would think about his posthumous interest in their childhood photos. He used to hang out in skate parks watching the little boys who all thought he was creepy has heck. The third is Oklahoma City Girl. While her husband was off doing his duty to his country, she was fornicating online. They don’t seem to ever get enough of this blog.

It’s unrequited love, I suppose, though the thought makes me shudder.

Observation 3: Many people do not really understand what they read. They do not have a firm grasp on their own vocabulary and thereby miss the true meaning of what is written. Never guess at a meaning; question every word you read.

Okay, I’m back. Miss me? So, I did bits of rewrite and edit on one chapter. Took longer than I thought it would. I’m now more than a little tired. Thankfully I do not work tonight. Huge day tomorrow though. I teach all my classes and work until seven am the next day at my “real” job. Oh, well. I’ll live – maybe.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Edward's Daughter - Louise - About 1877 I Think

She married a Scot too. .... Not a bad man for a Liberal MP. Even Louise's gramma liked him.

A princess

More bits

The last five days have been "thinkin' 'bout it" days. I have two brief quotations from longer articles. The originals have been lost, and these bits are all that remain. We've spent the last two days dissecting the quotations. I think we've succeeded. This is good. Now we must write it up. My W.P. (Writing Partner. You didn't forget, did you?) sent me a rough draft of the paragraphs. I think he quotes too much of the quote. I'll prune that down and send it back to him.

The longest of the quotations is confusing if used as a block, and most of it isn't pertinent to the story. I ran across these about five years ago when I read a three volume work by a man named Peters. His book was an evolutionary development. He started writing it in the early-mid 1860s and published it twenty years later. Some of it is excellent. Large stretches of it are illuminating. Some of it is simply silly.

I've written little this week. I rewrote four paragraphs and sent them off to W.P. He sent them back with his suggested changes. I sent them back to him with the changes and additional. Now it's time to read the entire chapter again for continuity.

One of our regular history blog readers likes to speculate. Sometimes this is helpful, but usually it's just ... dang it! I hate sports metaphors! ... from left field.

So much for that. Now on to important stuff! Dau 1, Dau 2 and one of their grandaunts went off to see a university sponsored dance troup. I think aunty was scandalized. My daughters liked it.

The phrase Angry Mob is tautological. Knew that, didn't you? "A mob is a turbulent crowd or a riotous assembly. Therefore, angry is superfluous when associated with bob, which implies riot, tumult or turbulence." See?

Answer and reply should be carefully distinguished. An answer is given to a question and a reply is made to an assertion. Got it? Of course you do.

According to Frank H. Vizetelly, Litt.D., LL.D., "bonehead is a vulgarism for numskull or blockhead." ... And here I thought they were all vulgarisms. Silly me.

I'm spending part of the day off in the 18th Century looking for things I'm certain are there, but I'm not sure where. This search will probably give he a headache.

My WP is still sickish. Poor old man.

My shopping buddy is driving down. We'll go shopping late this afternoon.

I'm going to be deputy Pixie for four hours tonight. We're looking for someone, a real bad'un. I can't give details. He's a level 3 sex offender. As I said, a bad'un.

Knobby Knees is trying to rescue a project that may be cut. He's stressed.

Rule of thumb: Only a total idiot would make a pumpkin pie with lard.

I saw a dress in the little gift shop/fancy store thingie that leases space from the place where I work. Gack! I want it! But it's 450.00. Sigh. It's dark blue.

I've been thinking about Gods and Goddesses. Most of them were a nasty bunch. Some are interesting. A shape shifting Greek god who wanted to seduce an olive tree growing virgin is just creepy. A Babylonian goddess much given to umm there IS no way to put it delicately ... she liked to be licked. Wasn't too particular about what did the lickin'. She is on the odd side. Goddesses should have standards, shouldn't they? If they were more than the echo of race memory or the imagination of perverts - if they were real - and you met them, you'd probably not like them too much.

Priesthoods degenerate. This is always true, even among well-intentioned religions. Don't believe it? Give me an example where it is not so.

Butter is good. Margarine is not.

I make good potato salad.

I like bleu cheese dressing best.

I think the woman who moved in across the street from us is either a criminal or insane. Or maybe she's just stupid.

My parents taught me to treat people of all races equally. I do. I hate stupidity no matter where I find it. However, lately I'm having a hard time with little Hispanic criminals, clueless Arab immigrants and the whore who stands on the corner near the Conoco station. Probably none of this has a thing to do with race but derives from attitude.

Education is not a cure for stupidity.

It’s only about ten a.m. and I already need a nap.

And how was your day? Oh … say … I need something interesting … Anyone wanna write for my blog? Call it a guest post. I’m waiting for Gary to end his book tour. He promised me something, but it’ll be a while. So any of you? Your choice of topic. Just remember we’re mostly PG here though sometimes I think we drift to R. Anyone? Hey! You! Occasional! How about you? Got something to say? Widder? Fairy? Anyone? Harry? Come ON guys!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Victoria Louise and THE Dress

I found stuff ...

Me ... in the Goodwill Store.
Them ... on the shelf ...

Kirk Munroe: The Copper Princess, 1898
Gordon R. Dickson: The Dragon on the Border. [He's such a delicious writer.]
Eoin Clfer: Artimis Fowl. A nice hard back to replace our ratty paperback.
Eldon Thompson: The Crimson Sword. [My first experience with this writer.]

Now on my self.


E-mails, Chinese Food, Photos and such

Okay, so I have this bit in the works. I’ve thought it through dozens of times. Without all the details, at the climax there is pixie music. The music is based on the Hohenfriedberger Marsch, except instead of a military style band, it’s clarion turmpets and base drum. That changes the music dramatically. Now, how do I put that in words?

I’ll think about that. I’ve tried a few sample paragraphs. None of them are satisfactory. Discribing music is difficult. This entire scene is hard to write because of the visuals. I tend to rely on minimalist descritptions, but I can’t here.

There will have to be longish, tightly-written description for this to work. Holding interest through description in an art.

I made oatmeal cookies. They’re almost all gone. They went off in lunches today. At least they all liked them. Oatmeal rasin cookies were my favorites when I was little. What the heck am I saying! I’m still little. What I meant was “when I was young.”

I rewrote three paragraphs today. I know that doesn’t sound like much. But I’m stickin’ controversial stuff in ‘em, and I want them to past the three tests: 1. Accurate; 2. Fair; 3. Well-written. These paragraphs take a swipe at both the pro and con people. They’ll probably make both parties a bit angry. I want to mitigate that by being as clear and accurate as possible. My W.P. rejected the first two versions of this, mostly because my natural crankiness flowed through them. I agree with him. As written they were snippish.

I’m still considering re-contacting the one party. If I do, I’ll send them a rough draft. The paragraphs remain blunt, but they’re not snippish. A footnote tells who rejected our request for access to an 1881- document. I’ll point out (assuming I do write this letter) that it would be far better to give us access so we can 1. rely on the original documentation; 2. remove the footnote that details their paranoid secretiveness, and 3. not be placed in the position of relying on the testimony of someone with an obvious agenda and questionable accuracy.

I don’t expect a favorable reply.

So … I’m sorting through junk and papers today. Time to throw some of this out. Then there is laundry. Something’s wrong with the rinse cycle. It’s leaving soap. I’ve had to double rinse everything today. Not at all fun.

I’m looking for a photo of the pass between Westwood and Susanville. I know I have one taken when the road was a dirt trail. I cannot find where I filed it.

This is my one day off, and my first day off in fourteen days. At least I have three very light shifts this week – and one monster twelve hour shift. I hate those.

Oh … my writing partner just forwarded the most interesting email from one of our regualr history blog readers. He visits here too, but he never SAYS anything very much at all ever sorta. He should. I like him. His email contains much more helpful stuff than the dreck I’ve been forced to consult. … As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m heading off to rewrite! Thanks “occasional reader”!

Umm where was I? Oh yah, I found one of the Darkover novels in my favorite bookstore. (That’s the Goodwill Store for the uninformed.) It’s okay but not as good as those written by Brady alone. Still, I’m happy to have it. ALSO, I went prowling the kitchen wares section and found some really nice Wedgewood covered baking dishes. I only bought one. I didn’t need the smaller size. But today I’m thinkin’ that I should go back and get it. It’s the stuff with the rich brown glaze. Very nice.

Accounting messed up my check, well the direct deposit. Honest, I did not yell at anyone. But it’s stupid to mess up your boss’s deposit – at least I think so. Anyway it’s all fixed. Or as Annie sometimes still says fix-ed.

OH! I just reread the email occasional reader sent. (didn’t know I was gone, did ya?) And instant messsaged my writing partner. I think he inadvertently solved a major puzzle! One of they guys whose life makes up a major portion of our story says that they publshed in 1876. Now this seems to be nonsense. It’s left us both puzzled. Another says they published material as a quarterly issue of their magazine in 1877. Got that? Good. Okay so the magazine was published as a semi-monthly from at least August 1, 1877. Ergo, id est, or some such Latin phrase, the first issue of the quarterly was in 1876! Makes perfect sense. No?

This is good! Okay … so Mr. Occasional Reader … that means (I think) that I just said “thanks!” and now you are suppsoed to post and say, “welcome.” It is SO hard to train blog readers …

Now, my little toes are cold. The wind is freshening too. I think we’ll have Chinese take out tonight maybe. Sounds good to me anyway. .. Okay now I have to actually do stuff other than write this nonsense. See ya!

Posted once before ... A return engagement

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Good history is more than a relation of events. It probes motive, reactions and setting. Of these, motivations are the most difficult. People don’t always leave a clear statement of motive. Sometimes motivations are complex, convoluted, even hidden from the actors.

My practice is to let actions speak for themselves. If I find a clear statement of motive, I’ll use that, even if I suspect a more complex motivation. It’s a dangerous practice to attribute motives to others. Most of us do that in daily practice, but a historian should not be common or casual with the characters of those they profile. Even the bad’uns deserve enough respect that we present their “badness” accurately.

This doesn’t mean historians don’t have clear points of view. We do. Good research often changes them, sometimes dramatically.

Now this has been an issue between me and my writing partner. I said that wrongly. We agree in principle. I believe we have insight into a major decision made by one of those whose acts and thoughts we chronicle. He’s less certain. We’ve been winnowing that wheat for weeks.

Another frustration has been finding a quotation we both know exists. We read it months ago and did not copy it because we saw no use for it. Guess what! So now we can’t find it. …. We will eventually.

People do not like the audio version of Pixie Warrior. It’s the voicing. I’m disappointed. I liked it, though I would have chosen different voicing. I hear my characters differently. But I still thought it was worth listening to. This depresses me. I’m going to stop mentioning it, stop pointing people to it. They can read the paperback when it’s finally released.

I’m easily depressed these days anyway. So much is going wrong. If I were more of a princess – say I was my umm who do I pick? Ummm Say I was oh umm some Spanish princess married to a French prince … and say I was mouthy and smart … I’d probably be plotting to have heads roll. However, one can’t chop off the heads of the incurable.

I’m having a lot of trouble with mental focus this week. This is bad.

I got an offer from someone interested in our research. They wanted me to contact a former member of one of these sects. We get a steady stream of low grade contacts from those who wish to use our work for their own ends. I’ve already read what she has to say. I think it’s very much like something I’d rake out of our barn. There is only one usable point, and if I include it, it will be reluctantly.

Unfortunately the original material belongs to an organization that has become increasingly paranoid. They declined to share it. This leaves them vulnerable. Far better to share what is real than to hold oneself open to fabrication and speculation. And how would it matter. This was clear back in 1881. They have too much invested in an unrealistic view of their place in God’s scheme of things.

The world is not as they see it. Close maybe, but not really. I’m fairly certain that if we move forward into the mid 20th Century (the current work covers 1850-1890 roughly, though the real focus is 1870-1887.) we would find ourselves the object of even more distaste and mistrust than we are now.

I do not like this. I’m not their enemy. My writing partner shares their religion. I may write a personal letter to the person at the heart of this and ask them again for their cooperation. The problem with that is last time I wrote to an organization, (not this one) I had people show up at my house. I don’t want special visits from them. Thanks. I have friends among them some of whom were close to my mother. That’s my limit right now.

I’m not getting a post office box just for that either. That’d be silly. I’ll think about it. It seems perverse for them to flatly and insultingly turn my writing partner down over a simple request and then have some of them camp out on this blog and the one we just suspended. It’s as if they wanted – more than wanted - believed that our work product was theirs by right, but they were under no obligation to share. And then there were the two really insulting and one stupid bit of humanity that used their isp to haunt both blogs and make stupid comments.

If I have my way, and I just might, we will say that we made the request and they denied it, leaving us with only an opposition source. Our readers can make out of that what they will. I’m not sure how much of what the “opposition source” says I’ll use. I don’t see her as very reliable, though she probably is with two paragraphs.

I finally got rid of the last of them. I won’t detail how; just take my word for it that he was shocked and ran like a scared mouse. He won’t be back. Not soon anyway. Now we got one request to join the reader list for the new blog that I’m thinking we will turn down. My writing partner emailed them for more personal information. The IP number is the issue. It traces to … well a pixie needs some secrets, right?

So far this bunch have used an ISP that is labeled as theirs; a surrogate IP from Canada and one from Denmark. Persistent bunch, huh? Breathtakingly stupid.

Anyway, I’m sick. My writing partner is still feeling poorly too, so we’re not making top speed. I want to get this done. I may never write again, and I want this finished.

It would be nice if more people read my blog. I like my faithful readers. I just would like a few more. When I get really depressed, as I am now, I’d like to shut it all down and just go hide somewhere.

Oregon Coast

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Pigs in Tails and Sandy Marshmallows

Do you know who Alistair MacLean was? Of course you do. You just forgot. He wrote The Guns of Navarone. See, I knew you’d remember. Well, I’m kinda sorta rediscovering him. I’m reading his South by Java Head. The first chapter could have used a good edit, but this is an excellent book. Find it. Read it.

Another writer you should discover is Laurence Edward Alan Lee. He wrote as Laurie Lee, and you’d probably know him by that name if you know him at all. Read As I Walked Out one Midsumer Morning. Lovely book.

I talked to my writing partner for about an hour this morning. We’re remodeling a chapter. Now’s the time to do it. We only have about twenty paragraphs. But it’s obvious we need to alter our approach. Mostly this will mean elaborating on what we intended to present in abbreviated fashion. It’s apparent that many of those interested in this history do not understand the development of the Advent Christian Church and it’s cognate churches and fellowships. I don’t think the missunderstandings are great; a bit of detail should tackle the problem. (Don’t you hate sports metaphores?) ahem … a bit of detail should remedy the problem.

My cousin called from Spain. She’s trying to make me jealous. Didn’t work. I have no desire to go through a full body scanner and a pat down, thanks. If I can’t drive there or ride a train, I’m not interested. Now if she were off in Lincoln City, Oregon, watching the storms and all bundled up on a beach with a roaring fire and sandy marshmallows, I’d be jealous.

I have a rather distant cousin – actually my mom’s cousin – who’s been involved in German politics for years. He’s finally given it up and decided the world has gone nuts and he’s too old to deal with it. This may be the first rational thought he’s had in two decades.

Knobby Knees is off to a funeral this morning. Someone he worked with died. I did not know them and I’m sickish, so I did not go. I hate funerals. When I die, I want to be cremanted and have the ashes placed in my great gramma’s vault. Don’t ask me why. That would be asking for rationality from a pixie. It doesn’t exist.

Some people are very bossy. The rules here are I’m the bossy one, you’re not.

My W.P. and I have been exchanging emails on the nature of first century church government. I think he’s full of hot air, and he thinks I’m just wrong. That’s okay. This goes on all the time. He’s a nice guy – for a cranky old man. Smart too. I never discout what he says, no matter how strongly I may doubt it at first.

My headache is a bit better. I’m sure that’s not the result of blog writing. It’s probably the result of over-medicating myself an hour ago.

Thought for the day: Dressing up a pig in formal attire and giving them a title doesn’t make him less a pig.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Child and Fae

I can't read the artist's name. It comes from here:

Hubertus and the Royal Goats


I have a rediculously long name. I only use part of it. The girl in this photo is Victoria Louise. She contributed the "Victoria Louisa" bit of my name. We're related on my dad's side of the family.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One Angry Pixie

I just lost my one day off in the last 14. I think I'm beginning to hate my boss.

Simple love so well expressed

Bookworms, Nematodes, Knobby Knees and Attitude

Long hard week for me, and I’m very tired. I’m not making satisfactory progress with our current research. Perhaps that’s not true. A lot of generalized reading has given me some hints; call it a faint trail to follow.

I see much of what has been written since 1970 about the groups we follow as wrong. Some of it is misleading by abbreviation. Some of it is the product of less than thoughtful, less than careful writers. They just don’t “get” it. For instance, some of them read events backwards. One of these groups became a “church” about 1902 but existed as an “association” from 1854. As an association it was fluid and those who identified with it held a variety of views. As a church with a stated creed its focus narrowed and so did the number of those associating with it. This took place over time. In 1874 the editor of one of their magazines picked a fight with the “age to come” believers. It was quite nasty.

Now most of my bloggies don’t know or care what Age to Come doctrine is. It’s important to my story though. So bear with me. Anyway, this rather vulgar, stuck-up editor suggested that the age-to-comers were stupid. The age-to-comers fired back. There was a division. They weren’t the same anyway, ever. The belief systems overlapped. There were Adventists (Sunday brand) who became age to come believers and for a long time they called each other brother, not that they always meant it. The belief system predates the Millerite movement, something many of those who write about it overlook or conveniently forget. A very interesting German writer postulated that system in the 17th Century, and it predates him. It is arguably an apostolic doctrine. Take my word for it; I’m not proving anything here – just spouting off.

So the age-to-comers were divided too. Argued like cats and dogs over who got to eat the nice snackie treat. Several conferences seeking unity came along. These removed them more and more from the “Second Adventist” sphere. Add to this mess the many Millennialists who weren’t at all Adventist in thought. Many of these were Lutherans or Anglicans. Fold in a few Methodists and stir gently. So, to identify the antecedent groups as a monolith with irregular facets of doctrine is wrong headed. Yet people persist in doing that. We have to tell this story in one … yup, just one … chapter. That means giving enough detail to disabuse others of a persistently held but wrong view and still keep our topic intact.

Three years ago I had a conversation with one of the successor church’s historians. It was very unsatisfying. They are more interested in perpetuating a myth. Sadly, they don’t see it as myth. There is some considerable fear among their writer/researchers (none of whom are interested in history as history) that probing the era before 1870 will fracture their world-view. (Yes, yes, I know there’s a very serviceable German word for that. Forget it buster! I write in English most days.)

Now, on to other things ….

Dau 1 is back on her feet and off to school. She had several essays to catch up on. She did quite well. She doesn’t completely grasp persuasive essay format. And she sometimes writes as she talks, adding words to text that have no place in good writing. We all do that, I suppose. But she should get presentable grades on her essays. I know she’s my daughter, but I’d give her an A on two of them and a B on the third. I don’t know enough about her science essay to judge it fairly. She is more liberal in thought that I am. I think we all start life as liberals to some degree. I’m a mutt politically. I know I occasionally make what some would see as a far right statement on this blog. I’m not an ultra-conservative though. I’m just mouthy.

One of God’s great inventions was the coffee bean.

I had a blog visit from the UC Davis president’s office. Haven’t a clue why. Stop and say, “Hello.”

Knobby Knees is being obnoxiously Scottish today.

My front garden is a mess.

The leaves are falling off my dogwood. Fall leaves from a dogwood are a rich red.

I’m frustrated by the increasing cost of books in my field. Hey, a poor pixie needs to pinch pennies.

Speaking of pennies, I found one of those World War 2 era steel cents in change.

My cousin is off in Spain on vacation. I’m not jealous. I have no desire to go to Spain. I want to go to Oklahoma City! Ummm no, I’m not insane. I need to visit the historical society library there. Let’s face it, naming cities “Central City” and “Oklahoma City” shows something less than inventiveness. Those names just don’t have the ring of say … Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo has its own song for goodness sake! Central City has a song?

I feel like overly used old shoes today. Tomorrow is my day off, finally. All I get too. One blinkin’ day. If my boss is still throwing fits, next week will be worse. I’m trying to be patient with the school district. I know finding me a full-time teaching position is dependant on funding, and money is hard to come by right now.

I’m a compulsive blogger, prolly.

Frank H. Vizetelly, Litt.D, LL.D, was a pronunciation Nazi and a snob, but his little book is fun to read even ninety years later. It lets one peek into period speech. Want an example? “Fussed in the phrase ‘all fussed up’ is erroneously used to signify a state of mental agitation, for fuss is unnecessary bustle in doing anything.”

Okay, true. But who’d have thought of this bit of dialogue: “Martha? She was all fussed up ‘bout it. I doubt she’s calmed herself down yet.”

Well … what do you expect for off the cuff writing?

An example of grammar snobbery: “Breakneck speed. An absurd phrase, for if one traveled at breakneck speed one’s neck would be broken. The phrase, however, is used by many thoughtless persons.”

Another: “breathless silence is the silence of death, for only the dead are breathless. A momentary silence is to be preferred.” Now I don’t like the phrase “breathless silence” either. Think of it as spreading margarine where butter is needed. But his objection is just silly. I bet his mommy never let him exaggerate.

See? Lots of fun things in a rather silly little book.

And how was your day?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

This photo speaks for itself ...

shtuff ...

So ... it looks as if I’ll be teaching more classes next semester. Eventually I want to quit my other job and just teach.

Over on our history blog someone posted a comment disputing a paragraph in one of our rough drafts. They're wrong. Period. Eventually I'll redo the footnote that goes with it though. If this person raises this objection others will too. I'll have to dissect the quotation bit by bit and connect it with the group it references. We did not anticipate this - rather off focus - objection. But since it's been raised, we'll have to address the issue. Better now than after publication, huh?

I like strawberry jam; I like grape jelly; I like orange marmalade .... I hate paper jams.

I'm exhausted. My boss threw a huge temper tantrum on Monday morning, and I had to work on my normal day off. I won't have a day off until Friday which means I will have worked 13 straight long shifts. He's being unpredictable and nasty. I'll deal with it for now. If the district comes up with a FTE job (full time equivalent. employment full time but spread between more than one school), I'll take it.

This has been a very bad month as far as health issues go. Dau 1 has been out of school almost a week now. We took her to the doctor this morning. I'm just not doing well. I've out lived the doctor's predictions by nearly 12 years, but I have to say, life sux right now.

Still, the whole affair is interesting. I know that seems odd. One of these posts I'll have to explain some of what goes on. One of the Russian writers, and I no longer remember which, had a similar disorder. He wrote about it briefly. I should find the quotation and elaborate. This disease has its paradise moments. They are just that too. Moments, that is. There is a moment of vivid colour, vivid vision and clarity, a feeling of well being. It lasts a fraction of a second. But that fraction of a second is as close to paradise one can get without being there.

There are other interesting effects. There is a state in which I can visualize things with the clarity of a photograph. Some of the images are of places I know, but many are not. They're the productions of my mind that come unbidden. They can last a fair time, maybe up to a minute. It's like looking at the world through a pin hole. There is a world shift. It's as if one is dreaming when they are not. It's a displacement from one reality to another - the stuff of science fiction. But it's really the operation of a slowly depixilating mind. At least it keeps me fascinated while I'm suffering.

When I was young and first went off to a university hospital the doctor asked for a detailed family medical history going back as many generations as we could take it. We can trace this nastiness back generation by generation to the mid 1600's. And before there there are incidental records. There is no name for the underlying condition. It seems to be unique to our family. We have distant cousins in Europe who are similarly afflicted. If it skips a generation, it drops off that branch of the family tree. It shows itself in various ways, all neurological. Identifying it as an inherited underlying condition is relatively recent.

There are - I'm at a loss for the right word - factors? that cannot be reversed. Much of the family married cousins, not always close, but sometimes very close. The last cousin marriage took place in the 1850's. This compounded the inheritance problem. It also makes it so I am my own sixth cousin and my own first cousin ten times removed. So ... most of us are blond or red headed, many of us are short, a fair number have been regarded as devious, brilliant, or nuts. And some of us are really ill.

My uncle says that because our family history has Leofric the Bad, Charles the Bald, Charles the Fat, and some guy labeled "the impecunious", he had no hope.

I shouldn't be posting this, should I? I'm in the mood to talk about it. If I reconsider later, I'll delete the post.

Caroline and Wilhelm Ernst

All dressed up. Let's Party!