Thursday, December 29, 2011

Friend Harry

Harry is out of the hospital. You'll be glad to know he wasn't pregnant. (We all hoped he wasn't, right?) He's still feeling rough, but he is home. Feel better quickly, Harry!

So ... too much peace and quiet is a bad thing, no?

Other than chatting online with a few friends and exchanging emails with Occasional Reader, I’ve been updated previously written chapters. Details trickle in. Some of the changes are minor. (We came up with a slightly more exact date for the sale of some property.) Some of the changes are major. An obscure booklet published in 1911 shoved an event ahead from 1872 to 1878. The change in dates produces a major change in the story. So … as I said … I’m doing mostly minor but important edits today.

One really interesting bit is finding out that one of the principal characters was a Wall Street investor. I’d like to follow this trail. I’m not sure we can. We have a few dates when he was in New York City, apparently on business. We have the single statement that he was on Wall Street in the mid-1880s maybe until the late 1890s. That’s it. As with many of these fragmented statements, there is no real trail. However, sometimes a serendipitous find will explain what hard research cannot. One can hope.

One of our challenges is religious mania. Now that’s an old fashioned term, but a good one. Some of those we profile were sane as you and I, except in matters of religion. One of the most prolific writers is a man named Johnson who saw himself as “the earth’s high priest.” Go figure … So we have to balance what he writes against other things. He is ummm ‘mistaken’ often, but right often enough that we cannot ignore him. So here I am on page 434 of one of his books. He says stuff. And “stuff” it is, until one gets about half way down the page. I’m inserting a fragment of this into one chapter. I’ll support it from another source. I’ve learned that it is dangerous to believe anything Johnson says without additional support.

It’s quiet here today. That’s always spooky. Daugthers 3-5 are at a counsin's playing board games, making and eating popcorn balls, and being loud. But they’re not being loud here. Dau 2 is reading a book. Dau 1 is sound asleep. Knobby Knees is off to that God forsaken town of Pasco, Washington, where he is looking at warehouse space for some project. Ever been to Pasco? No? Good … avoid it.

There are dark demonic holes in the universe. They blight our existence. Yakima and Pasco, Washington are just two of them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Occasional Reader and the Mystery of the Cardboard Boxes

So ... It's not a cluttered attic, but it's as close as I can come.


TIDYING THE ATTIC

One of the delights of a public holiday is the incentive – with a bit of prodding from family – to “sort out” the attic.

Our family are inveterate hoarders, each individually denying it, but collectively having to fess up. The manuals on clutter advise that if something has been in storage for longer than a year, you no longer need it. Dispose. Promptly. Be Firm. Now. Humph.

So this last holiday we ventured into the attic. The first thing we managed to clear were the ancient cardboard boxes for electrical appliances that had long since gone to that great scrap heap in the sky. Even then, there was a lot of stuff.

Books. Not books we regularly use – they fill the actual rooms in the house below the attic, but ones kept “just in case” or for nostalgia reasons. Plus tons of my daughter’s stuff. She got married well over eleven years ago, and lives in a house that is larger than ours, but somehow we still seem to be the repository.

So what books did we unearth, and what nostalgic memories came flooding back? My first taped box unearthed books on conjuring. As a teenager I was well into magic tricks. My very first paid job (part-time) involved demonstrating conjuring tricks and other “toys” in a department store leading up to Christmas. I veered into magic tricks involving “thought transference” which didn’t sit all that well with my religious convictions – although I KNEW that what I did was trickery, because I KNEW how it was done. Outlets for demonstrating my “powers” were sort of limited in my circle, and the hobby took a back seat and soon disappeared off the radar. But yes – a couple of books as a distant memory – there they were, unopened for – well, quite a long time.

Then there were the textbooks on Gregg’s shorthand. Ah yes – Gregg’s shorthand. Because I planned to work for nothing for a religious charity, I needed lucrative part-time work. Secretarial – a well-meaning relative had this idea – shorthand-typing – that was it! Actually, it never was – but I went to classes and got my 100 wpm shorthand and 50-60 wpm typing. It was not exactly a macho teenage boy thing – I ended up as the only male in a class full of girls. Ten years before I had been the only male in a tap dancing troupe in a pantomime in which my father appeared – that was absolute purgatory – but now this was rather nice. As it happened, copy typing was already pushing shorthand into the cold, and anyway – I soon graduated to composing letters for others typists to produce – and at 50-60 wpm it was generally easier to knock them out myself and save on staff. But yes – Gregg’s – all those lovely short forms and perfected arguments to put down all those deluded people in the UK who still struggled with Pitman’s.

My wife’s hoard included the Montessori nursery nurse course. She started work in nursery nursing, before going to Spain to work for the same religious group as I had, when it were still illegal in the dying days of Franco. After detours in life – a major one was marrying me – she became a college lecturer in Spanish, French and Portuguese. Now “retired” she is conquering Welsh. (In-joke – Doctor to Patient – Don’t worry Mr Jones – we’ve found the problem – you’re not dyslexic – you’re Welsh!)

And the fiction books! Now we are both on eReaders, all sort of fiction gets stored in the attic – just in case. The detective fiction – ranging from the strict puzzle based on conjuring principles, with cardboardity of character to match, to modern authors where the turn of phrase is everything, and the plot incidental. Two whole boxes of Simon Brett. A TV producer and sitcom writer, who knocks out numerous tongue-in-cheek pastiches of the “golden age”. Phrases that stick in the mind – a description of the hero’s estranged wife driving a yellow mini – “She roared into the school car park like an avenging slab of butter” – a dodgy receptionist – “a simpering teenager of 45, with hair from a color chart not supplied by God”. Those boxes got opened – a lot of tidying up time lost – before they were ultimately lugged downstairs.

Cartoons books by Styx. No-one today has heard of him – but he was very prolific in his day, and on occasion originals turn up on eBay. The jokes were thin even at the time, but the drawings were brilliant. I modelled my own style on his when illustrating a couple of books – for him it came effortlessly, for me it was hard work.

Notes and visual aids for long ago courses I taught. Actually, one of them did turn up as useful. A few years ago an anxious phone call asked if I could drop everything when illness knocked out someone taking a modern version of the same course – it was all set up and no-one wanted it cancelled. A frantic scrabble in the attic unearthed from nearly twenty years before all my notes and drawings and jokes – (very important to keep people awake) – and being self employed, I was able to make up the lost money in the days ahead. So they all went back into storage with new material thought up for the occasion. Who knows – I might get asked again in another twenty years time...

So where has it left us? All the dead cardboard boxes went into the dumpster. Bootloads of stuff went to our favorite charity shop – and we only bought a little in return – honest. But I don’t know what it is, the attic looks a bit tidier, but overall it still looks very much the same.

Possessions multiply to fill the space available for them – and for hoarders the process just keep on going. I just hope we don’t get totalled crossing the road together and someone else has to try and make sense of it all. They would have a job.

Widder's "Mask"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Get Well Soon, Harry!

And make sure they give you the right meds. This guy is a five year old boy. Two days on the wrong pill did this. Also ... fair warning ... last time I checked into a hospital I came home with a baby. ...

Too much fun!

Sowerby

Bring it on, Fairy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Comments

I am not getting enough blog comments. Some of you are neglecting your duty to pixie kind!

Crosseyed

So ... I worked all day to pin down just two points. The net result was a single sentence and a footnote. Well, that's not exactly true. Tomorrow I'll write up the results of the second search. That'll be a couple of paragraphs, but they'll be an important two paragraphs.

Daughter 5 and the fairies had a huge fight. The baby fairies landed on her banana cream pie and left tracks. They got stuck in the banana goo. She put them in a jar, clamped the lid down tightly, poked holes in it and cut a new peice. Mommy fairy went nuts, and they had this huge and loud discussion over fairy parenting, or I should say the lack of it.

I made her let the babies out of the jar, telling her they were fairies and not bugs.

"They shouldn't act like flies then, should they?" she snorted.

The babies weren't hurt. They spent most of their time in the jar licking pie filling off of each other.

I think they gave me a head ache.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Noah's Ark Found! 1893

Batavia NY Daily News, July 29, 1893

Knobby Knees and Bits

Knobby Knees: Why are you frowning? …. I didn’t do it!

Me: Huh? Oh no. I’m not frowning at you … yet. I’m thinking about a dead guy.

KK: Why? Did someone forget to bury him?

Me: No, silly. I can’t find the information I want.

KK: Maybe I could whisper it in your ear ….

Me: You’d just drool in my ear again. What is this thing you have for ears?

KK: You have cute ears. …

Me: Cute butt too …

KK: I’ve noticed. …

Me: I know ...

KK: What are you looking for?

Me: I want some biographical bits. … Details that seem not to exist.

KK: You have cute bits ….

Me: You’re not paying attention!

KK: Yes, I am.

Me: Not to what I’m saying?

KK: What?

Me: That’s what I mean …

So ...

Explain to me why one of the BBC presenters says "pressurized" for "pressured." There is a huge difference in meaning. ...

Explain to me why some of my Brit friends say "chat to" instead of "chat with." Do people from the UK talk past each other, at each other, or to each other? They certainly don't share the same convesation except incidentally if they only chat to each other in preference to chating with each other. You need to stop abusing your prepositions ....

... and then I found this in a religious text: "she could have found some other Scripture that would have been equally forcible." This is a verbatim quote taken down in shorthand by a Mr. L. Jones. One presumes the original speaker said "forcible." I want to know why. Was is common in 1907 to confuse "forcible" with "forceful"?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fairies in the Marmalade

Mystery Photo

Between being too sick for words and yelling children, I’ve done some good stuff today. I’m pushing to finish what will be chapter one for the new history book. I’m in what has been the most difficult part. Recovering someone’s childhood from chance remarks is iffy. My writing partner culled quotations from someone’s articles and speeches, wrote it up as a narrative, and I’m adding bits and dropping things that don’t seem to contribute to the story or which are duplicate thoughts. Dang chapter is already too long. The end is in sight though … at least for this chapter.

I’ve added my own ‘finds,’ quotations and stray thoughts the main character wrote that I ran across. Well, that’s not the right phrase at all. I actively looked for them. I also spent a lot of time sizing up what others have written. There is more myth out there than solid history. A man named Zydeck wrote a ‘biography’ of this guy. Zydeck’s book is fantasy fiction. The man should be ashamed. Instead, he seems complacently self-pleased.

The baby fairies are about the size of house flies and just as annoying. Apparently fairies do not believe in monitoring their children. They either live or they die and they might grow up. At least this is the case with the small fae. I try to get across to the mommy fairy that she needs to watch her children. She pouts at the scolding, but she does listen … reluctantly.

This is the last time I’m extracting one of these things out of the jam or honey! I had to throw out a whole pot of marmalade. You don’t need the details. I keep yelling at my own children to put the lid back on the jams and jellies, but it’s like pounding nails into concrete.

My aunt is toddling off to Tacoma next week. She’s going off to see her sister for a few days. She always comes home from that visit stressed. The two aunts are fun separately. Put them together and one of them is her oblivious, wheedling self, and the other does a slow fume.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Old booklets and Fairy babies.

Well … I’m rather proud of myself. … Sick or not, I think I’ve done some stellar research. I’ve found hints of things for months. The hints lead me to believe one of my major – probably the major – characters we profile in our new history book was influenced by Benjamin Willis Newton. Newton was a superb writer, though in a typical 19th Century style. If he had written fiction, we’d still be reading his works and discussing them in literature classes.

I started buying Newton’s smaller works maybe five years ago, mostly on a hunch. Some of them are quite expensive, but I always buy the neglected items from on-line auctions rather than pay book store prices. Along the way we have acquired some key booklets and one book, all of which presented doctrine so similar to those we consider in our new book that I became one suspicious Pixie. Two more showed up on ebay, at inflated prices I might add. I added them to my watch list anyway. Sometimes things do not sell. I have a fair ability to estimate of what will sell and what won’t – at least at the price asked. I was certain these two booklets would not sell. They didn’t.

I waited to see if the seller would relist. I learned the hard way that if I ask a seller to re-list, they often do it at a lower but still inflated price. They have interest, right? So they’re reluctant to decrease the price. There’s a Life and Advent Union booklet on ebay that has been listed at $40.00, since the first day. The practical worth of this booklet, given the date of publication is $15.00. Because another dealer has it listed on abe.com for nearly two-hundred dollars, the seller won’t come down. It doesn’t matter that neither of them can find a market for it at those prices. So, I just wait and watch. Sure enough the seller re-listed. No one bid. We now own the booklets. The oldest is The Prophetic System of Mr. Elliott & Dr. Drumond Considered. This was published in 1850. Ages ago someone added a protective cover to this stitched booklet, and it remains in spectacular shape. The more important booklet is Atonement and its Results. This was published in 1882, but it is a reprint (with revisions) of a series of tracts published much earlier. It is, dear hearts, all about Substitutional Atonement. Now other than maybe five or six of my regular readers (who could comment more often, if you ask me) most of you could care less what substational atonement is. However, it plays a huge role in several chapters of our book.

I can’t prove it yet … notice the yet … but if Pixie’s were the betting sort, I’d say Chuckie read at least one of the original tracts. I’ll spend days verifying this, of course, but I’m convinced. Conviction alone does not meet any sort of solid evidentiary standard, but it’s a good start.

We have fairy babies. Twins. They arrived this morning at 4.42 am. More later. One observation: If you let the fairies move in, put the lid solidly down on the honey pot.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Ick, Dead People, Fairies

So … here I am. Miss me? I’m still sick. But I’ve been writing furiously. The only really bad thing other than the persistent ick is that I also had “an episode.” I came home from work, got in my warm jammies, walked over to my bed and fell into a seizure. I hit my head on the way down. My old Victorian drop-leaf table reached right out and smacked me on the side of my head. This was not fun.

I’ve been contemplating the dead. Historians do that, you know. I was going to write a longish essay on getting to know dead people, but I feel really icky again. So I’ll skip that. Perhaps tomorrow.

I’ve been turning the pages of my stamp albums without paying much attention to them. It’s a bit of distraction that allows me to focus on other things. In this case it’s a dead guy. (Yes, I know I’d save the essay for tomorrow.) But I’ve not been totally inattentive. I like my stamp collection. In the early 20th century as many as four out of five people in Germany collected stamps. (I read that in an old newspaper article. Don’t know if it’s true, but I suspect it is.) It’s a nerdy hobby now, but I like it.

I’ve been buying a few each week. With the economy as it is, a careful auction shopper can come up with bargains. I’ve only gotten zinged once. I bought some Bolivian stamps that turned out to be reprints. That wasn’t all bad. I collect the reprints too. But I thought I was buying the genuine article. I’ve focused on my French area and German albums, the German album most intensively. Instead at looking at the individual sets, I go for the larger lots. I find that the low end dealers, the penny-listers, will sometimes have a real gem stuck in a lot of common stamps. I’ve managed to acquire some really nice semi-postals that way. I could never have afforded them otherwise.

If I thought you all were at all interested, I’d post some photos of album pages. But I know most of you aren’t. Stamp collecting is a soul-centering occupation for me. Turning the pages, looking at the familiar colors and pictures, the odd things, the bits of history, calms me when I’m sick and distressed. I’ve looked at lots of album pages the last few weeks.

We bought two booklets for our research collection. I’m really impatient for their arrival. They’re both by the same Brethren author. The exclusive Brethren sit at the periphery of our research. I suspect they have more of a place in the 1871-76 period than we have suspected. I’m not really focused on that yet. It’s just an educated guess. But when relevant tracts and booklets show up at auction, I bid on them if they aren’t too expensive. This pair was originally listed at a very high price. No one bid. The seller dropped the price to 9.99 and we were the only bidders. They are exceptionally rare items. I’m pleased.

The blue-house fairy is gone for now. Lots of things have happened, not all of them pleasant. On the funny side, the male got himself stuck in a canning jar. I have some old 1858 Mason’s patent jars on a shelf. He and his mate were sitting up there. (I still have trouble understanding their high-squeaky voices, but I’m fairly certain that she was telling him off for something. She’s getting cranky as her due date approaches.) He was sitting on the edge of a wide mouth jar; she took a swipe at him; he leaned backwards and fell in. Because he landed on his back, he couldn’t right himself. She panicked, squealing loudly, scolded him some more, and finally flew down to get me to help. That little female is one tough cookie.

I rescued him, of course, sliding him out of the jar onto the kitchen counter. He sat on the edge and pouted for a good hour. There’s danger afoot in the fairy world. I’m afraid I’m at the center of it. I have a major decision to make soon.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

New Era-Gleaner (New York) April 16, 1885

The Old Dudes and Words

It started with a word. Things like this usually do. My writing partner sent me a roughed out intro for what is supposed to be chapter two but will probably end up being chapter three. It started with this sentence: “When Russell insinuated himself into the meeting at Quincy Hall, he started on a path that would lead to an examination of the three principal strands of prophetic thought.”

I took his work which was part outline and part rough draft, added to it and sent it back. The first sentence did not concern me. As he used it, “insinuate” means to introduce slowly or gradually. I think the word fits because he seems to have entered a meeting in progress. I’m pretty sure he didn’t fling the door back and stomp down the isle to a chair. After I’ve added my bits I email it back and we fire up the cell phones and discuss it. He says to post part of it to our history blog, which I do.

Enter stage left one of my favorite blog readers. He thumbs his dictionary (Okay … so he being a tech savvy old guy, he may have used one of the online dictionaries. But being old-guyish, he probably used one of those paper things …) and has an “ah ha” moment. He writes to me saying:

“It’s only a question of semantics and style, but I just wonder if "insinuated" could be open to slight misunderstanding? My dictionary defines insinuate as to maneuver oneself into a position of favor or office by subtle manipulation. It has a negative connotation. Did you mean that? And being strictly historical and pedantic, did not CTR's position of favor or office, however obtained, come from his own independent study group - not from the Age to Come congregation at Quincy Hall?”

Ah! The wonders of multiple definitions. … Now I don’t address this. I did not write the offending sentence. Old Dude writing partner did. So I write back: “Why do you always assume that I wrote the bits you don't like? I've forwarded this to Bruce, since the sentence is his.” As I hit send, I snicker, muttering “Let the tease begin.”

Old guy probably wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose. He is now suffering angst. He writes back: “I did think afterwards that, although posted by you, it sounded like Bruce - and I should have cc'd him with the email - sorry - please don't take it personally. I like most of what you both write - honest!”

This, dear hearts, is too good to pass up. I write: “What's this ‘most’ stuff?” To this he replies: “Ermm - nearly all - well, virtually all, well practically all...waves white flag and retires for the night...”

Who says historians have no sense of humor. … So I pass all this on to my writing partner and we debate the sentence. I suggest a neutral word like “entered.” He squints at me from his chair (I’ve driven up to his house) and says in educated, considered tones: “We could use slithered.” I spilled hot coffee on myself.

“Yes, we could,” I say. “Or oozed. Oozed is a good word. I like ooz.”

Now I’m noted for my cranky refutations of nonsense usually in a footnote. Pixies can be academically cranky. So … WP sends me a section for another chapter. Sample? Read on …

“Opposition writers, particularly former adherents, often seek in Russell’s faults justification for their disaffection. This is problematic behavior, leading to wild speculation being accepted as fact. If one asks why such justification is needed, a blank stare and prolonged embarrassment often follow. That in turn is followed by an indignant response. But if one no longer believes Watchtower doctrine, is justification needed? The roots of these uncritical and sensationalized presentations sometimes rest in a rejection of strict behavior standards. Again, one might ask if justification is needed, and if it is needed should it lead to a sensationalized, falsified record? If justification is needed, is not it sufficient to say, “I don’t want to live by these standards”? At best criticisms from former adherents undermine the exaggerated claims made by some of Russell’s admirers.

“Some claims are manufactured out if the fevered imagination of those who lack a passing acquaintance with the principles of logic, who lack any appreciation for research and evidential standards, or for whom attacking their former religion is a hobby to be pursued even at the cost of historical verity. Two of these pseudo-historians write through a drug-induced haze that fosters in them a belief that they are immensely clever. Alas, this is a mistaken belief. Those who parrot them uncritically are either lazy or gullible – perhaps they are both.”

Now that “drug-induced haze” bit will probably go. I’m sure it was fun to write though. And it is true. You can find web postings by these two where they admit the drug use. … But it will probably go. … And yes, it produced a reaction when I posted it on the blog. I’m not going to tease over this one. … I’ve teased old guys enough. Next in line is my pet knobby kneed Scot, as soon as I stop running to the potty to be sick.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Well ... I'm not dead ...

Sure feel close to it though ... Fever, aches, ear aches, bad attitude, groans, ithcy nose. Yup, I'm sufferin'. Where IS all the sympathy?

On the home front, I've been cajoled, begged, blackmailed ("your students have been blessed by your teaching") into changing my mind about quitting the school district. I've relented in part. I'm going to continue to teach but with half the load I carry now. Bribing me with a fancy certificate didn't work. It was the "I'm sorry I'm a jerk I was born that way" apology from the principal that did it.

If I feel better later today, I'll tell you more about my adventures with the fairies. Right now, I'll tell you this, though it's out of place in the story. The little female hid in my shoulder-length hair when I went junk shopping with my aunt. I always check the "wares" section for something nice. Usually it's all junk. When I passed the soap dishes she went into a jumping up and down frenzie. One of them was shaped like an old fashioned bathtub. Just her size. I bought it. She soaks her pregnant self in that miniature tub. I sympathize. I've been there.

Anyway, more about that later.

Right now (when I'm not posting this or running to the bathroom to do what one with the ick must do) I'm finally writing up all our notes on American Literalism. I'm trying to make a fairly complex subject as simple as possible. Our first go at this was just awful. We've debated it, done more research, debated it some more. We've discussed where this fits in our outline. It's enough to make my writing partner lose more hair, which he is rapidly doing. Soon enough I'll be taking a chamois cloth with me when I drive up there ... just to polish his bald pate.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Old Stuff

I keep my old pamphlets and booklets in archival sleeves. I just finished filling another three-ring binder with the odd bits I've purchased recently.

He's the list:

John Thomas Duffield: Discourse on the Second Advent, a Discourse Delivered at the Synod of New Jersey, in the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, N.J., October 16, 1866.

G. S. Faber: Napoleon III: The Man of Prophecy, 1865.

The Present Shame and Future Glory of the House of Israel, 1866.

J. N. Darby: The Dispensation of the Kingdom of Heaven, no date but c. 1860.

Bishop Hopkins on the Prediction of the Second Advent in 1843, 1843.

William N. Pile: Six Lectures on the Bible and How to Study It, 1897.

N. Wilson: Prophetic Destiny of Russia, England, Persia, Africa, and the Jews, 1878.

Mystery, Suspense ... Oreos!

I’ve read and re-read a single page document dated February 27, 1896. It’s a bill of sale. The terms are vague. A store and all its fixtures are sold together with additions to the structure. It’s an odd document, but not really unusual in contents. It comes from an era when one could own a building but not the land under it.

It is strange for what is omitted. The dollar amount is omitted. I’m not certain why. All it says is that the sale price was paid in cash and notes. My pixie-historian’s sense tells me that there is more here than meets the eye. Lacking further evidence, there is no way to pursue this.

This is a historian’s puzzle. Some of these puzzles cannot be resolved. There may, in fact, be no puzzle at all. I’ve read thousands of words written by the man who crafted this document. He is vague even when appearing to be specific. He dates things to an approximation. He writes of about this year or that. He speaks of things happening near that time or this. He deals in vagueness, and he does it for no apparent reason. So this may be nothing more than additional vagueness.

I don’t think this document covers any great sins. I don’t mean that at all. At least I don’t think I mean that. I feel as if I am missing something here. I wish I knew what it is. I’d post the paper here, but I don’t have permission to publish it on an open blog.

I need an Oreo.

The Smell of Silver Polish

Such a day … such a nasty day. The weather is bad; it’s windy and overcast and on the cold side. But, that’s not why this is a nasty day. No indeed it is not. This house was built in early 1940s, and at one point it was divided in two. When I inherited it, we restored it to single dwelling status, but we left the heating system intact, mostly. We left the two old furnaces in place as back-up for the heat pump system. They provide the fans for circulation. Cost was a factor. Replacing the two old furnaces with a single new unit was enormously expensive. To balance the system, we have to keep the double doors between what used to be two dwellings closed. It’s much easier to remind a gaggle of girls to shut the doors than it is to fund a new furnace. Besides, Knobby Knees assures me that these old (read antique) American made furnaces are better than what comes out of Mexico these days.

The fan motor died. Four hundred and thirty dollars later, it’s working again. This was not fun at all. I had to use property tax money to fund the furnace. Now I have to make up the tax money out of household money. Dang it! Of course the old motor was almost as old as I am, and it owed nothing to no one.

So … bad enough, huh? But pixies are compulsive reorganizers. I decided to move my biggest bookcase … by myself. Result is a four inch long slice in my arm.

Observation 1: P51s are still hot, and Richard Candelaria is one of my heroes.

I need a pie safe, one with a lock and key. I’ll have to bake more than I planned because they keep disappearing. Everyone’s innocent, of course, even if every last one of them including knobby knees has pumpkin breath.

Observation 2: I need a butler who loves the smell of silver polish.

Such tempers - Insulting a soldier and result - 1847

Tortured Grammar, Incest and Cumbrous Lawsuits - From a letter to the editor August 28, 1847

From Widdershins to Harry

Monday, November 21, 2011

My life with fairies - No. 2

You have to understand that there are several kinds of small fae. Some of them look very human, and, aside from their size and wings could pass for human. These have considerable human genetics. They’re usually attractive little things. They know it and strut it, but they’ll also gouge your eyes out and eat them for desert. Carry a sword, and never date one.

The two that have adopted us are not of that sort. They’re human looking after a fashion, but there is so much of “other” in them that you’d never mistake them for anything related to pixie or larger human. They tend to be shades of brown, though emotion will change their coloration. Their heads are very narrow; the eyes large and black; their lips are thin, their teeth sharp and pointy. They have, as do all fairies, considerable attitude.

There are smaller fae than these, but they’re hard to see and can do little damage because of their size. Even other fairies tend to ignore the smallest of the fae. The pair that has moved in on us is from a group treated as low class. Larger fairies alternately abuse them, teat them as pets, slaves or a ready food source. They lead a hard life. One would suppose that they would band together for their own protection, but they have no real unity and often abuse their own. That’s why I ended up being the … what? Damn it! Sometimes I feel as if I’m their mother or something.

I found them backed up against a wall by others of their kind who wanted the female. I’d have left that alone, except the male was protecting her. That’s unheard of. So, I pulled one off by his wings, (They screech when you do that.) pinned one to the wall with my sword, and batted three or four away. The two I rescued took refuge in my hair, and I’m stuck with them.

They treat our house as if it were an amusement park. I’ve had to stop them from swimming in the potty. The male thinks jumping up and down on the flush lever is true fun. If they had their own way, I’d have no privacy. And my dear Lord! The male flirts with anything female, even dolls.

Because their voice is high-pitched they’re hard to understand. My youngest seems to understand them best and translates for them. They wanted to sleep on my pillow. I forbade that in very plain terms, but they snuck under the bedroom door. Every time I moved one or the other of them scolded me. Finally – at my husband’s suggestion (Let’s call that ‘insistence’) - I shooed them out of the bedroom. Oh my soul! Have you ever seen a fairy pout? I thought pixies could pout. …

My youngest solved that problem by shoving one of her dolls out of a doll bed and giving it to them. I remind her that they aren’t our sort and that fairies of all sizes are dangerous. She just smiled and said, “Oh they won’t hurt me.” I’m not sure where she gets her confidence, but they treat her as if she were a goddess. This may have to do with the mirror and brush incident.

They were flying around my head while I was brushing out my hair. The female (I usually call her Mary. I can’t pronounce her slithery, oily name.) ran her fingers through her hair. Her unhappiness was apparent. I ignored it. They have poor hygiene and probably never comb their hair. The large fairies are vain, but the little ones are just umm natural may be a good word for it. It never occurred to me that given their social status among their own kind, they probably never had the opportunity to care for themselves past an elementary level.

Anastasia saw this through educated eyes. They’re doll size. If you have a doll, you comb its hair. Right? So she coaxed them into her bedroom and combed out the little thing's hair with a miniature doll comb. This sent them into raptures of delight. (I read that phrase in an old novel once.) Putting nail polish on the little fairy’s toes and fingernails was a challenge. A magnifying glass and water color brush did the trick.

Now yesterday morning, early, way-way early Katarina, daughter four, shook me awake. She stood beside my bed, blurry eyed and popping those tiny marshmallows in her mouth. The two fae stood on her shoulder rattling off something in their squeaky voices so swiftly that I couldn’t understand it at all.

“What?” I asked. “And why are you eating marshmallows at four am?”

“They threw them at me,” she said. It sounded rational, but in this house one never knows.

“Huh?”

“They say that the blue house has fairies. Bad ones.”

“The blue house is vacant. Go back to bed.”

“Someone moved in this morning. I mean yesterday morning. You were sleeping.”

I held out my hand and the female landed on it. “Talk slowly,” I said. “What’s going on.”

“Fay-eer-ee,” she said. She gestured in a way typical of someone indicating large size. She made a knife cutting gesture up her belly and then a chewing gesture. This was bad.

Pixies can smell fairies. Our house smelled of these two, though my knobby-kneed Scot couldn’t smell them. You have to be pixie to have a nose that sensitive. So … what to do?

I grabbed my coat and slippers, and headed out the door. The two little ones followed. I figured we were safe that time of day, but I took my sword in hand and hoped the police weren’t patrolling our street. I didn’t want to explain an eighteen inch blade engraved with silver-chased phrases.

The blue house is six houses down from us. It’s been vacant for seven months. It wasn’t vacant anymore. And, yes, it smells of fairy. Not little fairy, but the big kind. I’ve killed my share of them, but it’s not easy and it’s not at all pleasant. It is, however, more than a little satisfying to bring down a rogue fairy and watch the blue iridescence creep over their bodies. It’s the mark of death and decay in fairy kind.

Old News

Amazing things turn up when you're looking for something else. Take, for instance, this news article from the Markdale, Ontario, Standard of September 6, 1883:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pixie Children, Vinegar, and Small Fairies.

Daughter 5, talking about Daughter 1: “Don’t talk to her! She’s cranky. I think she’s allergic to herself.”

Daughter 3 comes into kitchen. She is sipping her peach flavored water. I am cooking. She puts her water on the counter next to my bottle of white vinegar. Result is one startled pixie child.

I’m being followed by fairies. … This could be bad.

I’m overwhelmed with work.

I have written the intro part to one chapter six times and junked it as many times. I need to make the complex seem simple, not more complex than it is.

I rescued a pair of small fae. They’ve attached themselves to me. It reminds me of the time when I tutored a clueless young woman with Siamese cats. I loathe cats. They thought I was their personal chair.

I found one of the small fae bathing in my tea water. They have no manners.

The female is pregnant. I hope it’s not twins. I don’t know what I’ll do with four of these creatures. She likes coffee. If I don’t watch her every minute she hangs on to the side of my coffee cup and sips. She almost fell in once. I don’t share my coffee with small fae – not willingly anyway.

They’re sitting on top of my monitor as I type. I won’t tell you what they’re doing. We don’t discuss that in polite company. Shameless creatures!

They sit on my shoulder when we go out, hiding in my hair. It’s very disconcerting. I tried losing them in a candy store. They love chocolate, but apparently they like me more.

House training the small fae is a challenge. It’s not as though you can paper train them. They don’t like litter boxes. They do like African Violets. It seems to work for the violets too.

Their voices are very high pitched, so they’re hard to understand. I haven’t figured out their names. More or less I just call them what ever comes to mind. They always know I mean them.

They have very sharp teeth.

When the male is angry or upset he turns a delightful shade of purple.

Their base skin color is a dark mahogany brown.

They invite their friends over, but I make them have their parties in the back yard. I will not have a house full of high on chocolate fairies bouncing off walls and doing lord knows what embarrassing thing!

My life was complicated enough … though we haven’t had any mice in the neighborhood since they adopted me. The squirrels are terrified of the female, but I think the huge gray squirrel and the male are drinking buddies. Here is a good place to note that root beer may be non-alcoholic soda fit for children, but it will leave a small fae loopy for two days.

I’m thinkin’ I will have to keep notes and submit them to the royal society for the preservation of fae, crypto-critters and trolls.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fame - Guest Post from Occasional R.

FAME



The hit film and subsequent TV series FAME spawned a huge disco hit in 1980 – unsurprisingly entitled “Fame”. The lyrics included the words: “I’m going to live forever, Baby remember my name”.

I wonder how many readers of this blog can name the singer who had the original hit. If you are a child of the eighties you might manage it – Irene Cara actually. But if you didn’t give the answer before the buzzer went, the words “Baby remember my name” take on a certain irony.

The words of the song reflect a common human desire to want to be remembered – by someone – be it family or friends. And for others a bit more ambitious, the desire to even leave some kind of mark on “civilization”.

Looking back a century or more, the past masters at perpetuating their own memories had to be the Victorians in Britain. One only has to visit a 19th century municipal cemetery to see some amazing memorials to “the great and the good” of Victorian society. It was put rather nicely by a newspaper columnist – if you can’t take it with you, at least you can show the rabble you once had it!

However, this yearning for terra firma immortality can be quite useful to others if their hobby is family history. Unless your ancestors were all serfs or ag labs (agricultural laborers), they often strived to leave their mark in some way. And even the ag labs left interesting records – if only parish payments for tribes of children born out of wedlock.

A branch of my wife’s family came from a small town we will call G. It is actually quite a famous place today, and it used to have a huge second-hand bookshop where I picked up stacks of material on the lunatic fringe of Adventism. But, I digress. Back in the early Victorian era, it was a small market town, and the key ancestor, JH, was mayor several times over. Looking at it objectively today, it was “big fish in small pond” syndrome, or as H G Wells would describe it, “in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is King”.

Trawling through the Town Hall archives we came into the era of photography, and there we found a picture of JH – a pompous gentleman, extremely stout, posing by a globe, and so very pleased with himself. When he died, the papers gave a suitable eulogy, and a team of black horses pulled the hearse down the main street. Although his grave – discovered while tramping around the cemetery in the rain - was not the grandest by far. Perhaps his descendants had other uses for his money.

But while alive, JH did all he could to perpetuate his own memory. In his own honor, he donated to the town an ornamental drinking fountain. The ornate relief depicted a scene from the Gospel of John, chapter 4 – Jesus and the woman at the well at Sychar. Jesus talked of living water as a metaphor for everlasting life, and the woman – perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer – put the two together and came up with everlasting water...

The inscription below the image dwelt on JH’s beneficence and mayoral accomplishments.

Old newspapers showed that JH personally chose where his memorial should be installed –

directly in front of the gas works, as a fitting symbol of Victorian enterprise and progress.

Of course, as always, time moved on. The gas works ceased to be glamorous; they became the back end of town, and ultimately were abandoned and demolished. The frontage of JH’s fountain then languished as scrap metal in the corner of the council yard until an enterprising businesswoman with an eye to local history rescued it. By sheer chance we stayed in one of her properties for a vacation some years ago and an idle conversation rescued the subject. The big question had been what on earth were they going to do with it?

With a bit of lateral thinking, the council decided that it could go in the local bus station, fixed to the wall of the rather run down public toilets (or as US readers might prefer, rest rooms. However, in Britain, public toilets are not a place you would want to rest!)

So to this day, if you visit the town of G, JH’s proud monument to himself is firmly affixed to the wall of the local public conveniences. To our shame, we actually have a nice shiny photograph in our album of irreverent descendants pulling faces in front of it. (In the UK the technical term is “gurning”).

So what was that whirring sound we could hear? Probably JH spinning.

What was it that an ancient writer in Ecclesiastes wrote? – Fame? Ah – sorry Irene – Vanity of Vanities – all is Vanity.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I think I topped Anthony on odd and obnoxious search terms

Today .... from Egypt (of course) an Arab pervert came to my nice, tame blog looing for "Naked mother seduces son." As if!

You guys are such perverts! A curse on you and all your perverted brothers.

Dau 5

Daughter five has gotten more 'please consider our university' letters. Last one from U of W. My comment on that is: I'm flattered that you want my daughter to attend your university, but Cougars rule and Huskies drool.

Okay, so I didn't really send that ... but it crossed my mind.

My life with Pixie children ...

Daughter 2, looking over my shoulder: What’cha doin?

Me: Writing.

Her: Is it boring?

Me: Do you mean am I writing something boring or do you mean is writing boring?

Her: [Looks at me blankly] Yes.

Me: No, it’s only semi-boring. [I giver her a huggy pat thingie].

Her: Everyone’s still asleep.

Me: And you’re bored. … or hungry?

Her: Yes.

Me: To both?

Her: Yes.

Me: I bought French Toast Sticks. Why don’t you make us some, and we’ll watch a movie and eat them.

Her: Okay!

Me: [shouting after her] Don’t drown mine in syrup!

From Gary Inbinder

In my new novel, The Flower to the Painter (Fireship Press, 2011) Marcia Brownlow, the artist-heroine of my story, emulates her idol, the English artist William Turner. The following brief excerpt describes Marcia's impressions upon first viewing three famous Turners in a London museum.

I saw the great Turners for the first time and understood what Duncan meant about the ‘eye’. In Rain, Steam and Speed, a powerful engine emerged from a shimmering cloud of white and yellow highlights; reflected and refracted light defined solid objects. Turner was the first artist to interpret his world at fifty miles per hour, and he had preceded Monet by more than thirty years.




In The Fighting Temeraire, I saw more than patriotic nostalgia for Nelson’s navy, iron men and wooden ships. The blazing sunset and the ghostly old warship towed to her graveyard by an officious little steam tug was a requiem for a lost world. I recalled Edmund Burke’s famous words, “…the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.”


While viewing Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, I recalled a story Duncan had told me about a critic who chided Turner for not painting the portholes on a ship. When Turner explained that light shining on the ship’s hull obscured the portholes, the critic agreed, but complained that he still knew that the portholes were there. Turner replied, “I paint what I see, not what I know.” I wondered whether the greatest eye of his age sympathized with the enraged Cyclops blinded by the mocking little trickster. I also pondered the coming of a new era of painters who relied upon an inner eye to paint what they knew of their interior world. Perhaps, as Teeny observed, their deceitful hearts would betray their true eyes as they turned away from the tangible, external light and toward an inner darkness.


The Flower to the Painter is now available in Trade Paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, and other retailers. Thanks for inviting me back to guest post on your blog! Gary

Child - India, about 1930.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Anthony!

Roses are red,

violets are blue,

Pixes don’t write serious poems

even if you do.



Love is fine,

Kinda devine,

I like mine with cluddles and kisses

from someone who will do the dishes.

Hi, Anthony!
November 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Visit Anthony here: http://anthony-pacheco.com/

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Widdershins to Harry:

widdershins said...



Harry? help!!!

Widder wants help with the picture puzzle. See below.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

just .... NO

"We need the leadership of Barack Obama," Mr. Sarkozy said after the two leaders huddled to start the meeting of the world’s industrialized and large developing nations. “We need the solidarity and support of the United States of America.”

We saved France financially when we made the Louisiana Purchase. We ignored French support for the Confederates and did not pursue reparations after the Civil War. England had to pay millions. We gave France a pass. We saved your butt in two world wars, even though French Forces fired on American forces in World War 2. I'll be damned if we should save your sorry Franco-German butts now. Grow up, Mr Sarkozy. Save your self. Use your resources. Use your leadership (If you can find where you hid it), and stop whining.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Treasure Hunting Pixie

I went treasure hunting with my Aunt today. It’s always fun to haunt the junk shops, even if I don’t find anything. But I have to confess that my Aunt who is over twice my age can shop long after I’m exhausted. She did that today too.

"So," you ask, "what did you find?" Books, of course:

A nice copy of S. King’s Fire Starter to replace a now worn and ratty copy.

Rick Riordan’s The Last Olympian. This is part of a Young Adult series. Fun books. My daughters love this series. I found a like-new copy for forty-nine cents. Nice, huh?

Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Real Story.

Laurie R. King’s O Jerusalem. If you’ve never read her Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell stories you’ve missed out. This is a like new, unread copy.

… and then there were two history books:

Meacham’s American Lion and Johnson’s Thence Round Cape Horn.

You realize that I’m about to run out of space for books. This will ruin my life. I’ll have to move into a castle or something.

Now, at the Goodwill Store they bring out new items in big bins and let the customers paw through them before and as they’re put on shelves. I always avoid the crush though my aunt shoulders her way in. We were about ready to leave when the crowd thinned and I could look in the bin-carts. On first glace it all looked like junk or at least things I did not need or want. I shuffled a few items into the next bin and there … down on the bottom … were six Candlewick Pattern bread plates, the copper wheel engraved type, and one cup and saucer. There was also a cream pitcher, the tall pattern, not the short stemmed type. I’ve been collecting Candlewick as I see it. This is a nice find.
So how was your day?

Fair Warning to a Fool

"Raise high the black flags, children. No prisoners. No pity. I shall shoot any man I see with pity in him."  -- Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt


The message is in the music.

And you thought the first one was easy ...

where in the world is this?
Twenty questions. Widdershin's is up.

Monday, October 31, 2011

From Harry ...

Searching for the little town that wasn't there (anymore).

Rachael knows I love puzzles (like her real name, address, and phone number) and she tantalizes me with hints. She also drives us all to distraction with pictures of long dead kings, ships, and even train wrecks.

Recently she has posed the question of discovering the location of a town that was wiped from the face of the earth nearly 70 years ago. The aerial photo was accompanied by the hint that it was "Once one of the busiest and most secret places on earth, now returning to the desert."

'Secret' and 'desert'' I immediately thought of the Manhattan Project and the Trinity atomic bomb test site in the area of Los Alamos, New Mexico. I searched long and hard using Google Earth to fly over the land at an altitude of about 6000 feet (where roads are clearly visible along with a host of other details. Just like real search pilots I set up a grid to cover every inch of the arid, desert lands of New Mexico. I also did scans of Nevada and parts of Utah.

Widdershins helped by making a couple of guesses and our pixie helped in return to limit the search area by excluding most of the desert areas of the American West. She also assisted by giving a major hint by way of the photo of that desolate school building, aka Hanford High School.

By Googling the Manhattan Project I discovered that the fuel for the first A-bombs was produced at the Hanford site. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was established in 1943 and covered 586 square miles. The land was bought under Imminent domain and 1500 people were relocated mostly from the town of Hanford.

By Googling Hanford, Washington I matched the school photo that Rachael posted and learned of the town's short history. Founded in 1907, the residents were given their eviction notices on March 9, 1943 by the US government. "Hi, we're here to help you!"

I finally went back to Google Earth and told it to take me to Hanford. With quiet aplomb the program zoomed down on the desolate landscape that once was a bustling town that "boasted a hotel, bank, and its own elementary and high schools."

I had missed it before because my earlier scans had concentrated on areas that had the same background colors as Rachael's original view. My version of Google Earth has photography that is only a couple of months old. All the colors were different and the abandoned streets are nearly invisible, but when you look closely you can recognize the features.

So there it is. Another mystery solved. Hanford is gone, but not forgotten. Nothing remains but crumbling pavement and the outlines of a few house foundations. The school building is still there and believe it or not, still used from time to time as it is stormed by heavy armed SWAT teams in training. The pixie still personally perplexes me with her puzzles, but I'll keep digging. "I'll get you yet, my fine pretty!"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Endless

I have an endless amount of things to do. I'm in the middle of re-writes for a key chapter. I’m reworking our outline - again. Two more planned chapters have gone away, folded into another chapter. There isn’t enough documentation to warrant a chapter - which is regrettable because the material is very interesting. I’m reading furiously trying to fact-find for my writing partner. I have a partially written chapter that’s waiting on us to resolve a difference in emphasis. My writing partner wants to include material I don’t see as important. We’re still discussing it, and I continue to add bits in other sections. Also, we have an outline for that chapter’s introduction, but I’ve decided not to write it until the remainder is finished. My rational is this: Additional research changes the picture. What we first planned to write is accurate, but it suffers from lack of perspective. Our vision of events improves each week, sometimes each day.

So ... that’s where I am with that, at least in abbreviated fashion. Oh ... there is one additional thing: One of the subscribers to our invitation-only history blog has a fixed-in-stone view of events between 1870 and 1876. It’s a common view, but it’s not sustainable from the documentation. He is very reluctant to give up a new discredited view. I think this is going to be a problem among our potential readers. Many of them have the same view, and for some few of them their rejection of their former religion rests in at least a small part on maintaining that view. They believe that a man named Russell lied when he said he was never an Adventist. They want him to be a liar. They want him to have been an Adventist (not SDA but Second Adventist) because they see Adventism as disreputable. Russell didn’t lie.

All of this is colored by the really faulty and partisan histories to come out of the Advent and Church of God movements. Church of God writers refer to the Advent Christian Church as their “sister church.” The most recent AC historian makes it seem as if the two churches have been best buddies for generations. Neither assertion is true. In the 1860 and into the late 1870s, they fought like animals, hissing and spitting at each other, expelling from fellowship those who believed as the other group did. Church of God/One Faith believers saw the AC Church as a daughter of Babylon. Recapturing this without over doing it or leaving anything unsubstantiated is a challenge.

So ... last night was surprisingly quiet at work. I saw one brown fairy in the parking lot. I shooed her off. She was probably the smallest fairy I’ve seen and a very fast flyer. The wildlife in this area continues to do strange things. A moose swam the river last night. We have a herbaceous border around the parking lot. He made a dinner out of some of the plants. I also saw a huge flight of bats. Usually if you see a bat at all, it is a loner. Last night a large group flew over us. Someone told me they live in the trees along the river. I don’t know, but that sounds reasonable.

As quiet as it was, by the time I got home I was worn to the bone and I hurt. I put on my pink feeted jammies, made hot chocolate, answered an email, and crawled into bed. Knobby Knees had to leave early, so I only had about an hour of snuggle time. He’s off across the state for two days on a project. After Kknees left, I toddled off to my work room bed. I didn’t want to climb stairs and it was close. I slept until ten thirty. Sleep is nice. I wish I was back in bed now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reclaimed by the wilds ...

Once one of the busiest and most secret places on earth, now returning to the desert. Can you identify it?
Nope, it's not Area 51. ... But it is in the American west.
Nope, it's not Los Alamos. Wrong state.
It's not in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, or any of California.
Hint: World War 2

Big Hint: The only original structure remaining at the above site. This was originally a school. Later the Army used the building for construction management offices.

Ground Level View as it is today.


Manhattan Transfer never sang about this place, but there is a connection.

Tracy & Co. (1859-1863)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm boring you all, aren't I?

That means one or more of you must write an exciting guest post or find someone else to write one. It's your duty!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If you look closely ....



... you will see a Pixie in this video. Go to 1:10 and then to 2:47.

Monday, October 24, 2011

History lectures, Book lists, a Fairy

So, here’s the scoop. … I’m feeling better today. I toddled off to lecture a 20th Century Lit class on the social aspects of World War I. Their questions took us off into areas I had not anticipated. It was fun. The class read All Quiet on the Western Front. Understand that I like that book, but I’m a rebel when it comes to reading lists. I’d have sent them off to John Buchan’s Thirty-Nine Steps. But it’s not my class.

Philosophically, I think young students learn as much, maybe more, by reading interesting books than they might from reading books that fall with in the “canon” of 20th Century classics. That some call that sort of reading list “the canon” suggests a hide-bound almost religious attachment to it. Pfutt!

Kitty Foyle (Christopher Morley) is more fun than Great Gatsby, and the writing is better. (This is my blog, and I can write literary heresy if I want!) Morely was able to foreshadow character development far better than Fitzgerald and not leave you bored. It comes down to eyeglasses or a seven year old who forgot her panties to her life long embarrassment. Personally, I think the seven-year-old’s story is more telling than an obscure symbolism involving spectacles.

I’d rather have them read Miss Pinkerton: Adventures of a Nurse Detective, than umm well, you name the modern classic that everyone is supposed to admire but bores you silly. So maybe these are “sub-classics.” (I just invented the term. Like it?) But they’re good books and tell one as much about culture and good writing as any of those that teachers feel compelled to recommend but which bore students silly.

There is a nearly forgotten literary past that we should resurrect.

Anyway, we talked about the social elements and conflicting world views found in Europe and America pre-war. We talked about women on the front lines, especially the Salvation Army volunteers and the nurses. All sorts of ‘stuff” crossed our path. The students hated the gore found in All Quiet. War is brutal. Even in the religious history that I write, it sticks its monstrous head into our line of sight. We describe the Allegheny Arsenal explosion in the new book, and that vision includes the body parts and singed bits of clothing of the young girls who worked there. Its not an attractive picture. But it is part of the story.

We discussed the conflicting social forces in America and the decisions individuals had to make. That the war was used as an excuse for revenge against unpopular religious and political views was also part of your discussion. I did not get the feeling that these were the most deeply thinking students I’d ever met. I did not send them off to Tuchman’s Guns of August, but I regret that. I should have.

So … enough of that …. Now on to fairies.

Do you believe they exist? … Of course you don’t. I didn’t either. But remember the dragon I saw? I wrote about it here, and you were all polite enough not to laugh at me. How kind. … Anyway, I saw a fairy, one of the small ones. It was blue. It flew right by me when I was standing in the parking lot at work. I couldn’t tell if it was male or female, though I’m inclined to believe it was male. It was about six inches long. Its wings were as blue as its body, though nearly transparent. It didn’t look at all like the small fae in one of my not yet published pixie stories. My small fae are essentially human looking with skin tone within what is normal for humans, except for a bit of iridescent scale on the chest. This thing was blue head to toe. Its hair was swept up into a kind of peak; its feet were narrow and out of proportion to its height.

For a minute or so I stepped out of what we think of as reality and into one of those other worlds that exist within our own.

You can comment on this, of course. If you snicker at me, I’ll pout.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Drollerie Press

Pixie Warrior was published by Drollerie Press in 2007. The company is closing due to the owners declining health. Pixie Warrior will go out of print within a few days.

I do not anticipate self-publishing the book. I intend to finish the history book I'm co-writing and abandon writing. Today I submitted my resignation to the school district for which I teach. I do not intend to return to teaching at any level.

I'm considering closing this blog. If there is anything you want from the old Live Journal blog, now is the time to save it.

Sorry for the drama. I've hit rock bottom with health issues piled on top of a bad week at the office and the bad news about Deena. I'll be better next week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Play

The letter game consists of an exchange of letters based on those I 'send.' Submit your letters via email, using the one attached to this blog. Click on View my Complete Profile. You must stay in character. The year is 1876. Mystery and adventure happens on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Letter 3 in the Letter Game. Letter 4 tomorrow

Letter 3

Cooper’s Bay, New York
29 March 1876

Dear Aunt Jane and Uncle Peter and all my many cousins,

Your favor finally caught up with me, and I was pleased to peruse it. Cousin Andrew can, if he doesn’t mind me saying so, find a better match than Penelope Lynch-Stanton. I am, of course, saying so even if he minds. Penelope simply does not meet his intellectual standard and he will find her company boring in not too many years. I realize there are other attractions, but over the long term they will pale. Surely my opinion will not matter, but that has not (as you can see) stopped me from expressing it.

Our journey to this wilderness was tedious. The principal part of the journey found us in a railroad carriage. From New York City we traveled northward along the Hudson River to Albany. American railroads are no more comfortable than British railroads, and I did not expect them to be. The cars are designed differently, and one is thrown in with a variety of personalities. Some of those with whom we shared our carriage made an interesting study. A small boy maybe five years old kept leaning over the back of the bench in front of us. He studied us as if we were preserved specimens. We do make an unusual trio: Molly with her flaming red hair, Sarita in her native garb, and me. I am uncertain which of us he found the strangest.

The trip up the Hudson brought into our line of vision some entrancing sights. I enjoyed it until the train’s rock and sway took its toll on my posterior. It is impossible to sleep on a train. At least it is for me. Molly managed to sleep peacefully for miles, most of them passing with her head resting either on me or poor Sarita. We crossed the Hudson at Albany and ended our rail journey in Saratoga. Saratoga is a lovely city. I would have been content to stay there. As it was we had a single night in the Grand Union Hotel. I felt as if I were a princess.

Tuesday that week found us on another train that ultimately deposited us in a village some forty miles from Cooper’s Bay. Cooper’s Bay is a post village. Unlike the City, it receives mail only three times a week, and if one wishes to travel there (God alone knows why anyone would) you wait for the Postal Stage. There were just the three of us and our driver and some sort of assistant. The two of them rode up top, and though we were alone in the stagecoach there was sufficient evidence of passengers past. The coach smelled of old sweat, of staleness of an indeterminate origin, and of rotted straw. The contrast with the Grand Union could not have been greater. The Grand Union was immense and spacious, built as its name implies in grand style. We took one of the “family suits” and were very comfortable. The coach was cramped and not meant for human habitation, no matter how brief. The feather beds in the Grand Union were pleasingly soft and vermin free. Nothing in the coach was soft and the vermin was evident.

The road to Cooper’s Landing was once a plank road. Most of the planks rotted to fragments a decade ago or were purloined by locals for building material. It’s rutted and dusty. It must be pure mud during and after a rain. One is surprised by jolts and shaking when the coach finds a stretch of remaining planking. I bit my tongue as a result of one such jostling. It was very painful.

The village itself is very small, consisting of two unpaved streets that run north to south and four cross streets. It boasts of 300 souls, but many of them do not live in the village but on surrounding farms. It is not an unpleasant appearing village, though one cannot say with any sort of honesty that all of its citizens are pleasant either in appearance or comportment. We are on the west shore of Lake Champlain. Across the bay from us is a saw mill that employs many of Cooper’s Landing’s males. The slightly sulphurous scent of newly sawn wood drifts our way. It is not an unpleasant smell. Most of this area is of a gentle slope ending at the lake shore. The house father has leased is south of town by perhaps a mile and up hill. We live on the one promontory and find ourselves in the last house save one. The road ends in a carriage turnaround. Across from us is a lovely newly built brick home. Behind it is the old one it replaces which I am told was built sometime before the American Rebellion. It seems vacant now.

Much care has been bestowed on our neighbour’s house. It is of two stories and painted a pale yellow. A brick wall of herringbone pattern fronts the house. There are well kept flower beds just starting to bloom in this cold lake air. An older couple live there. Molly, who is ever forward even when uninvited, made their acquaintance the first day. She did so by the expedient of walking across the road and introducing herself. They are caretakers of a small child. The child is odd. I shall probably tell you more of her in my next letter.

Being on a hill, our front door does not exit onto the same level as the road. One must climb five steps to reach road level. The steps are of well worn granite. I’m certain it is my imagination, but they look as if they are the ancient relics of eons past. They are simply out of place here.

I received yesterday a letter from Cousin Thomas to whom you sent a copy of my letter. I do hope you are not match making again. I am sixteen to be sure, but I haven’t been properly presented yet and I certainly will not be ready to take any man seriously until I have settled in my own mind what my future should be. I will, however, write to Thomas tomorrow. I do remember him and I remember his mother, Aunt Rebecca Katherine. He wrote at some length about the party where Dodgson was quest of honor. I do not remember that man, famous for his books though he may be, with much fondness. He seemed to be a queer one with his eyes too much on the younger of us girls. Do you still correspond with him?

Abundant love to you all,

Victoria Sophia

Letter 2 in the Letter Game - Harry's Voice

Eagle’s Bluff on the James
Tuesday, March 28, 1876

Miss Victoria,

It was a delight to read your letter, although it took the long road to reach me here in Virginia. Our dear Aunt Jane thought kindly of her American kin and had your letter copied and sent to her cousin, my mother. It is so quite amazing that it only took the better part of a month for your words to travel to London and thence back to America. Usually the March gales have an onerous effect to the ships traveling the Atlantic at this time of year, but the schooner Justine, out of Plymouth, made good time in it’s crossing to Norfolk. It took nearly as long, six days, for the mail coach to come from Norfolk to Petersburg before the latest papers and dispatches reached us.

Dear lady, where are my manners? I realize that I have been sitting here, pen in hand, rambling on about mundane things, and I have yet to introduce myself to you. I am your cousin Thomas Fitzhugh. My mother Rebecca is cousin to Lady Ann. You and I had met several years ago, although I doubt I made any impression on you. It was on the occasion of a garden party for the Reverend Charles Dodgson, a gentleman with whom I was unfamiliar. The grounds of the estate had been gaily decorated with large playing cards, red and white roses, and a large open area had been set-aside for Croquet. There were birds called flamingos in the fountain, and a large white rabbit wandering freely about the garden. Someone had tied a large red velvet bow tie around the animal’s neck, which made him quite a ridiculous sight. There was a young maiden with curls following the rabbit around, trying to induce him with a carrot to be still so she could pet him. That my dear cousin, as I am sure you will remember, was you.

Your father had made a business visit to London from India and brought a rather precocious ten-year old with him. I had recently arrived in London. With the help of Uncle Peter I had enrolled in the Royal Polytechnic Institution with the hopes of studying the physical sciences. I was particularly interested in the workings of electricity and wished to learn all I could about its properties and applications.
I admit I was somewhat uncomfortable in the company of so many finely dressed ladies and gentlemen. You, my dear cousin, were not. You blithely ran in and out of small groups in conversation, chasing that white rabbit and receiving laughter from all except for a small Indian woman in a sari who vainly attempted to gather you up and keep you from making a disastrous mess of your dress and petticoats.

Thinking of all that now has brought me out of my darkness for awhile and I hope when you get this letter, you will write back and tell me more about your adventures in your new home in New York. Please do not be so hard on us Americans, northern or southern. We may seem crude to your sensibilities, but there are many kind-hearted people in this growing country. Hopefully as you spend more time here, you will find that you will enjoy it.

Respectfully your servant,
Thomas

Taking Pictures

Repost (Because I like it) of Pixie and Satyrs



Centennial Ticket



Widdershins wants a translation ....


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just because


Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,


Tosturiaethau fel y lli:


Twysog Bywyd pur yn marw—Marw i brynu’n bywyd ni.


Pwy all beidio â chofio amdano?


Pwy all beidio â thraethu’I glod?


Dyma gariad nad â’n angof


Tra fo nefoedd wen yn bod.

Ar Galfaria yr ymrwygodd


Holl ffynhonnau’r dyfnder mawr;


Torrodd holl argaeau’r nefoedd


Oedd yn gyfain hyd yn awr:


Gras â chariad megis dilyw


Yn ymdywallt ymâ ’nghyd,


A chyfiawnder pur â heddwch


Yn cusanu euog fyd.

Childhood reading ...



While I'm waiting for you to write your letters for the letter game, I'm going to ramble about my current research. A man named Charles is probably the most prominent of those we consider in our work in progress. He was an organizer and a promoter of religious views that he held dear. Absolutely none of them were unique to him, which is as it should be. If one seeks the original apostolic 'truth,' then one follows old trails. One does not forge new ones.

Of all the writers that influenced his thinking, the most neglected group is those authors he read as a child. We cannot point to many of these by name. We can consider the young adult genre as it existed in the 1860s and 1870s. We've found surprising things.

All of this is preliminary to my question of the day: How profoundly were you affected by your childhood reading?

On first though, I'd have said that I wasn't greatly affected by what I read as a child, but that’s not true. I lived in Oz for weeks, sometimes months, depending on how much I liked the book I was reading. I still live in ‘other lands’ much of the time. The Oz books taught me how to create other worlds and other places and to see what isn’t there. The summer between fifth and sixth grade I read a history book published in 1927. I found it among my grandmother’s books. That book taught me critical thinking, and I learned reading comprehension from it. I read and reread paragraphs from that book until I learned how to remember exactly what I read.

So … how about you? How did your childhood reading affect you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Letter - March 2, 1876

The letter game begins. Read the letter below. Assume a persona. Write to me. Send your replies to me via email, using the one attched to this blog. The adventure begins ...

New York City
2 March 1876

Dear Aunt Jane and Uncle Peter and all my many cousins,

I miss you all intensely. Sarita has been an endless comfort, and Molly has been too in her own way. Molly has been with us for so many years that she sometimes forgets that she is our maid and considers herself part of our family though in what way shifts according to her mood. She is, in fact, a year younger than I am, but occasionally sees herself as my mother. Without fail Sarita puts her in her place and equally without fail Molly will forget it all within minutes. Sarita is the only mother I’ve known having been my ayah since mother died. I have no memory of mother, only two photographs taken in Calcutta, one on her wedding day and one when Governor General, the Marquise Dalhousie, visited our home right after the Sepoys mutinied. Alas, an eighteen month old infant retains few or no memories, though I like to imagine that I remember her face. So as I said, Sarita has stood in my mother’s stead and holds a place of great affection in my heart which she guards jealously against any motherly incursions from Molly.

We were all suitably relieved when New York City came into view. The trans-Atlantic crossing was far less agreeable than the much longer transit from India to London. The seas played havoc with our dispositions, and a feeling of well-being eluded us all, except for papa who seems immune to rough seas, coal smoke, and the rough talk of sailors.

We entered the City through Castle Garden, an old fort converted to receive immigrants and visitors to this wild land. Perhaps some day civilization will come to America, but judging by the ill tempered immigration officer, it may happen in another century. This year is the centenary year of the Republic, but a hundred years have not taken the savage frontier out of its residents, if one can judge by the squat, rotund, unwashed immigration official who processed us through Castle Garden. In fairness, I should say that that our stay at the Ashland House was delightful. The staff would have done credit to any of the finer hotels in London, even the Irish bellboy who took charge of our trunks was acceptable. At the very least he was not outrageously Irish, meaning he was sober and washed.

Papa was very busy our first week in the city, and we were left to our own devices. We hired a cab for the day and toured the more suitable parts of the city. The Cooper Institute is an agreeable enough building, though I am told it is unbearably hot and poorly ventilated in the summer. We lunched at a small café near a very narrow church with an exceptionally tall spire. Though I know Uncle Peter would like to know its name, I am at a loss to recall it. A rather disagreeable man with a full black beard debated a religious point with his companion at the next table. That he was earnest I have no doubt. That he was polite is in serious doubt. He was not, I should think, anything at all like what an American gentleman should be, but for that he is a more common type in the City. His companion did not share either his fervor or his loud voice. That at least was a relief.

Father spent most of our first week in conference with our Consul-General in New York, Edward Mortimer Archibald. He is Canadian born. He has a high and rounded head, bald as little Peter’s bum, except for wisps of cross-combed hair. He is a well-spoken man. Personally, I think he’s a bit stuffy, but most of father’s acquaintances and peers are.

I should prefer to stay in the city, but father says we leave for Lake Champlain two days hence. I am not enamored of the idea. Why we are to be left in some desolate village on the shores of a coldwater lake while father enjoys the larger American cities is beyond me. We leave for the wilderness. (All of America outside the larger eastern cities is the habitation of frontiersmen and savages and rustics.) Father leaves for Washington in the District of Columbia. I should rather go with him. But it is not to be so. I tried pouting which usually works with father. The technique failed this time. “You’ll be safe where I put you,” he said. No amount of quizzing explained why I should be safer in the wilderness than I would be with him. All I got for my efforts was a frown and a quelling, firm voice. There is no crossing father when he has that mood on.

In compensation he has promised to take us to Philadelphia when the great fair opens. I am anxious to see the fair. I am sending this at Molly’s hand. I think it is safe to trust her with this letter from our rooms to the front desk. Mail is picked up and delivered twice a day in this city. I pray this letter does not go astray.

Share this letter with all my friends and relations. It will save me writing dozens of letters when one will do. I wish I was in London, in your sitting room, having tea and cakes and watching Percival Cudworth pretend to be a butler. He really is a dear old man. What will you ever do when the aged major domo dies?

Victoria Sophia