Monday, January 31, 2011

A Scatter-Brain's Scattered Thoughts

Well, here I am, dead tired, but feeling very satisfied. I’ve got my class binders in order. All my students are accounted for. I found an error on each of my class pages. Someone stuck a seventy-five dollar fee on each class. This was a huge mistake. Only one of my classes requires an expenditure. Two books, both fairly inexpensive, must be purchased for that class. The books are children’s novels. I’m using a Nancy Drew mystery and Fairy Tale Detectives to teach critical reading to middle school students. The Nancy Drew book is fun, though the style is dated. Fairy Tail Detectives is just spectacular. This should make learning how to become a thoughtful and critical reader fairly painless. We’ll also read a Sherlock Holmes story or two and write our own mysteries.

My writing class has return students. This is always good. Two of my best ever are coming back! And I get students in another critical thinking class that I had in Writing or History. Very nice. I like it when my students like my classes.

Yesterday I went without sleep to write through a major section of a chapter. That frontier doctor-evangelist left a satisfying trail. My writing partner sent me his draft and rewrite of mine. I rewrote that and sent it back. He rewrote that. I rewrote what he rewrote. It’s about done, and I’m moving on to an interesting character named John T. Ongley. I found his wife’s obituary today. And my WP sent me his file on the guy. I’ll do the first draft this time. We make a great team, I think. We try to make the writing seamless in style, though I’m sure we don’t always succeed.

We also re-wrote a nearly finished chapter to accommodate some new material. This was good stuff. WP sent me off to find the source of a rather distinctive doctrinal statement. We did good. WP sent along some fella’s Master’s thesis. It had a comment on doctrinal origins that we used, but the primary source isn’t as this umm person thinks. … Nope.

And … I gotta say … having read his thesis … that I would not have turned in that paper. The research is poor, mostly from secondary sources. The best he does is quote from some reprints of old magazines. Some of his conclusions miss the boat, and the next two ships too.

My new monitor is up and running. It’s a twenty-eight inch ViewSonic that was given to me by a friend. It’s almost brand new! Oh boy Nelly, is this great or what? I can actually read digitalized microfilms on this thing and not get a headache or eye strain. Woopie!

I watched about five minutes of a movie on the new monitor. Stellar! What a nice present this was.

Thanks for playing guess the songs. The unsolved ones were St. Louis Blues March, My Country ‘tis of Thee, (God Save the Queen to you people across the Atlantic), Garry Owen, and I Did It My Way.

Ida Outhwaite

Confused at Cards


Saturday, January 29, 2011

come on guys .... you CAN do this!

A give away to illustrate how it works:

City in Florida (Orlando) ; plumbing issues (think pipes)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Can you?


To win you need the exact title. Extra points for most famous singer/player.

This one is from Harry: Pisa; illuminating device, right angle. I guessed "That's Amore" and that is the wrong answer. Can you do better?

City in Florida; plumbing issues.

City in Missouri; stomping feet; in a movie.

Wronged Texas Cowboy. NEW CLUE: Dark Eyes

Common to the USA, the UK and Prussia. The words differ. Title for America. HUGE NEW CLUE: My Country, Your Queen, Their Kaiser.

Paying full price for the ale. Boots. NEW CLUE: "The Seventh"

Feet. Nancy Drew didn’t sing it.

Stubborn resistance through out his life. Nevada.

Over an atmospheric effect. And certainly not here.

She wants a man with resilience, daring-do; bravery and grit.

Prison; a plait on a deciduous growth.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My laugh of the day ...

Many thanks to Lady JoJo for pointing me to this photo. Best laugh I've had in a week!

Now all I need is one of Dan.

I wonder if FDC Servers would send me one?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Plots against sanity!

John Fiske

Teacher’s meeting today. This was a planning conference for next semester. One can always count on one particular teacher dominating the conversation … because she has 1. A totally disorganized mind; and 2. the worse case of verbal diarrhea I’ve even seen. She always says the most but with the least significance. She did not disappoint us today. In fact, she left me with a headache.

After the meeting I dove off to the Goodwill Store to shake the buzz out of my ears. I looked at the glassware first. There were a few nice things, but nothing I wanted. I found a book though.

Oxford University Press published an edition of Charles Williams’ Tallessin and his Region of the Summer Stars back in 1954. It’s expensive today, especially in nice shape. I found a copy in a clean dust jacket. Seventy cents! How nice.

One of my favorite blog readers will be away for a while. Probably off on some secret mission to lower Africa chasing the nearly mythical jujubean beast or something. You never know with my blog readers. A few of them probably secretly work for Mi 4 and two-tenths or some such agency. Or, failing that, they work for some insidious School District bent on the mental decay of American youth!

Oh … back to school stuff. I got my review back. Very flattering. I like to be flattered. Also, the principal recommended a significant raise. So, I may not quit at the end of the year. I can’t make up my mind.

I get regular blog visits via cirtexhosting. Who ever you are …. You need to tell me why you’re on my blog because I’m associating you with an internet Troll who uses that hosting service for his stupid and marginally legal web page. I don’t want to be mean to the innocent. Just give me a clue as to why you’re here. Failing that, I’ll presume I’m right and act accordingly.

Say, do you know who John Fiske was? I’m not sure anyone reads his books anymore – other than an occasional pixie writer. I like his writing. He was an excellent historian, though focus has changed since he wrote. He was willing to admit to mistakes, striving for painstaking accuracy. When he could he got to know those involved in the events he discussed. And … he wasn’t afraid to point out moron-ism when he saw it. It makes his work spicy. If you don’t read anything else of his, read The Mississippi Valley in the Civil War.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Wolf’s throaty growl did not deter Red from rearranging the furniture …

My library and writing space is a total disaster. I added one small book case, and you have no idea how much trouble I’ve made for myself in the process. I’ve been shuffling books most of the day, trying to put this in some sort of workable order. Besides, I’m the world’s messiest researcher. I can’t research and write without making a mess that an unsanitary dragon would find pleasing.

Hopefully this re-do will reduce the mess and make my work easier. When I’m working on a chapter, I keep the appropriate three ring binders on my desk. The chapter I’m working on now has generated six large and three small binders. I’ve moved a small book case that held children’s books next to my desk. It will hold the working binders. When I’m done, it can go back to other uses.

My book shelves mutate anyway. Consider the one directly behind my desk chair. The top shelf has a set of children’s books published in 1918 and some other stuff, mostly really old old as in back to 1808 or fine leather bindings. The rest of it, six shelves from floor to top, is all science and fantasy fiction. Some of my favorites are on these shelves, some of them signed to me by the author. Okay, got it?

Now because it’s close to my desk, it gets more than its share of abuse. Pixie children leave things on the shelf edges. There’s a small girls shoe on the next to the top shelf. Don’t ask me why or where its mate is. I have no clue. We managed to find a place on it for “but this is my favorite rock” rock. It’s a piece of quartz with dark basaltic veins running through it that daughter five found along the river. It’s a swell rock – probably belongs outside with a hundred other similar rocks – but favorites are favorites.

Stuck on that shelf is a small Mississippian culture pot, a home-made fishing tackle box that contains a set of Monopoly cards and tokens from the original 1935 set. That belonged to one of my great grandmothers. I see I’ve put my good pen up there. I wondered where I put that … now I know. I’ve stuck a file folder across the top of the books. It contains a pixie story, mostly finished, that will go into Pixie 2.

Shelf down has pretties on it. They find a place on the space left in front of David Eddings and Terry Goodkind. There is a hand blown and hand cut cruet. This is a nice piece. It’s at least mid 19th Century, though I think it’s much older. I can’t find anyone here who knows. There’s a small lead-glass pitcher that is last quarter 19th Century, a lovely floral Aynsley dish, and a small silver bowl. Fine. Looks nice. But stuck across the top of the books is a tray of small bits that I’m researching. This isn’t their home, and when I’m done writing this, they’ll go where they belong. Messy Pixie!

You get the idea. I’m messy. Well, the cure has made it messier.

A small amount of money was donated to us to fund photocopies. We’ve about spent it all, and in a few days my writing partner will post on the history blog what we spent it on. The most interesting thing is a photocopy (cost us an arm and a leg too) of a booklet from 1881. This is a copy of the only known original. Getting this took infinite patience. We also used the money to get digitalized copies of several years of really scarce age to come magazines. (Age-to-Come is a Millennialist doctrine that is apostolic in origin and best represented in the 19th Century by American congregations influenced by the British Literalist movement. Bet that explanation didn’t help much.) We bought a small tract as an original. It’s a polemic and stupid, but it helps with an important point. We bought a small pile of tracts from the 1860’s. That almost exhausts the money. We have about twenty-five dollars of that money left, and it’s committed to a digital copy of a magazine published in December 1873. There is only one known copy. I wish the money had gone farther.

I’m going to sell three cameras this week. One of the local stamp and coin guys collects old cameras. I don’t take photos with these anymore. There are two 1950’s Pentax cameras and one 1930’s German made 35 mm. I’ll put the money into our photocopy fund. I wish original research wasn’t so very, very expensive. … And I wish I wasn’t so messy!

This past week hasn’t been very productive. My writing partner is still on the sick side and my life has been a disaster. We share the same underlying inherited disorder, though it shows in slightly differing ways. Early last week I had a seizure at work. I get some warning and went off to my office. I turned off the lights and plopped myself in my big blue soft chair and tried to will it away. I had three seizures within an hour and a half. This is on the dangerous side, and I wasn’t able to communicate my distress. Fortunately they stopped.

When they don’t stop, you get hauled off to some nasty hospital and they shove an IV in your arm with anti-convulsants and a bunch of narcotic and you are pretty much at the mercy of a misfiring brain and evil trolls who look like nurses. It’s not a fun experience. But it will save your life. I know.

If I’m going to die from this one of these days, I’d rather be home than at work. Thanks. There is no ideal way to die, but a nice hot coffee with vanilla ice cream to dunk in it and a comfy pillow and a nice quiet room would help. I’d just as soon be asleep. Dear Lord and Little Rabbits that’s morbid. … Sorry

Anyway, back to mess … I’ll probably be working on my disaster of a room the rest of the week. I need a maid and a secretary and some cheese cake and some umm umm more space and umm a filing system that I can’t destroy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Cannot Believe that ...

I simply refuse to believe that two Gentlemen with the good taste to read and post on this blog would even KNOW that this movie existed .... Let alone that one of them actually has the opening lines memorized.

BIO, Help For ...

This is for “bio”. The rest of you can ignore it.

Bio, dear, your avatar is “ghosted” aka “zombified.” You can’t sign on without getting “The system is logging you out.” Here’s how to fix that.

1. Download Emergence Viewer
2. Open the viewer but do not try to sign on.
3. Click on Edit. The Preferences drop-down will show.
4. Click on Preferences Drop-Down and change your start location to “home.”

So far so good .. right? Now the trick is this: The Linden servers log you out for one minute out of every seven. You do not see this. You’re going to enter your Avi name and password. Select “Save sign on name and password” or what ever it is in Emergence.

Sign on. The message will come up. Hit return, hit return again to re-sign on. Keep doing this until it lets you sign on.

Sometimes it will not save your name and password. You will have to re-enter it on each attempt. Be persistent. It will get you back on to the system.

You crashed or signed off near a sim line. That’s bad. Try to move away from the sim line as fast as you can.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The truly odd ...

I love finding things like this book ....

That's only volume 1. You can find the second volume by searching the title on google books. Enjoy the truly odd.

A comet ... with a dragon in it ... actual recorded history ... All true too. Maybe
In February 1173, firey battles were seen in the air. Probably dragons.
In 1177 fire filled the skys over England. Some saw a dragon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wanna Play Detective?

The helicopter in this photo is a Sikorsky S92. I believe this photo was taken in the UK. I believe the men in the photo work for or are connected with one of these companies:

CHC Helicopter Corporation, Thales UK, or the Royal Bank of Scotland. Just possibly one may work for the British government.

I need a clear identity for these men; even identifying one of them will help.

So, how good a detective are you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nocturnal Plotting, A Child's Tent, Solving historical puzzles

I’m back to boring everyone, aren’t I? Dang … I lost my links to everyone’s blog when my computer died. Fairy and Widder …. Put the links to your blog in the comments section so I can get them back please.

My writing partner had me post part of a chapter we’re working on over on the history blog. It isn’t near ready and I’ve already found stuff that changes some of it. Trying to recover the life of someone who was well known in the 1860’s but who has fallen into obscurity is difficult. We found bits of things in a brief history of the Bible Student movement, but they were not sourced.

I tracked down some of the original material in … of all places … The Congressional Globe. The Globe was what the Congressional Record is today. The one sentence mention in The Globe puts him in Ohio in 1854. That one sentence reference was enough to take me to a two page congressional report on a War of 1812 (We wupped your butts at New Orleans) veterans request for a pension. This frontier doctor named George Washington Stetson was one of the doctors who examined the old soldier. Good stuff. So, I had a county of residence. I went looking for directories. Sure enough, I found him as a physician in New London, Ohio in 1851. Now this is a bit earlier than I had expected. This puts him there before his first wife died …. Are you following any of this? … This is new. It changes how we present some matters over his oldest children and gives us a probable “why” to his sending them back east to relatives.

Now combine this with a letter he wrote to one of his children in 1864 and we have a totally different picture. It’s not enough though. I need to follow up some hunches here … I’m just uncertain as to where to look.

So much for that …

Yesterday was my short night at work. I got off at four a.m. this morning. It takes about a half hour to drive home if I take the interstate. The other way is a nicer drive, and safer in winter, but I wanted to get home. I was tired.

Tuesdays are usually quiet nights for us. The census is usually low; we don’t have too many drunks or creepy people. It’s most times a sleepy shift. When it’s quiet I find things to do that I don’t do on busier nights. I walk around and observe. I talk to the night staff, and I admit to having favorites among them. We have a front desk person who was born in Thailand. She’s interesting and fun. There’s a housekeeper who makes me laugh. The room service cook on the night shift will ply me with English Trifle and talk my leg off. You get the picture, I’m sure. … So when the night security guys change in the really early am, I walked the outside with one of them who keeps me entertained. He’s prolly my dad’s age and used to be a highway patrol officer way back when. He imagines himself as a Scottish warrior of some sort and travels off to Scotland once a year to breathe the air. I can do a decent Scots accent – it comes from living with Knobby Knees. I tease him with it.

Now … we’re outside and down near the south end of the parking lot. The area down there has changed dramatically in the last two years. It was nearly a war zone and icky at night. Many of the old buildings have gotten a face lift and more genteel business occupy them. One of the new businesses is a pasty shop and café. It opens at two am and the smell of fresh baked glazed donuts fills the air. It’s nummy.

I left my purse locked in my office as I always do. I look at Mr. Scottish Warrior of skinny mien and doubtful ancestry, and say, “How much money do you have?”

He is puzzled. I repeat the question.

“Twenty some dollars,” he says. “Why?”

“Loan it to me for a bit. I’m going to buy us donuts.”

He laughed at me! But we walked the two blocks down to the shop and I bought two large sacks full. We walk back, each of us savoring one. I get him his money and make the rounds of night employees.

I was a well loved (for my donuts) boss last night!

Okay … so I finally get home and find that K. Knees has his company truck parked in the drive way. I have to park on the street. I briefly consider my options and decide that he’s going to be foot warmer as punishment. Besides its fun to make him squirm. This is on my mind when I open the front door, but I quickly lose the thought.

Gentle snoring did it. Now that never comes from Knobby Knees. There is nothing gentle about his snoring – ever. This is kidlet snoring. To the right as you enter is the entrance to the dining room. I can see the corner of the table and it’s been turned into … I’m uncertain what. A fort or tent or something. Sheets hang off the table, giving it a skirt of sorts. And sticking out from under the skirt are two little feet. Annie has crafted a sleeping space under the table.

Anastasia sleeps around. No, no, not in that way! You can’t depend on her being in her own bed. Most often she’ll just climb in with Katarina who shares a room with her, but you’re liable to find her in anyone’s bed, assuming they let her in – or on the floor, or couch, or in a chair. Once I found her sound asleep sitting on the potty. Such a strange little girl.

I peek under the sheets. She’s totally unaware. I cover her up with her blanket. (She kicks off covers.) and head for the kitchen. I get me little self a bottle of water and head upstairs.

I strip off my dress, find my footed jammies and get under the covers. Then I remember that I was going to freeze the Scot with cold feet! Well, too late. He gets a reprive.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Distracting a Pixie

French Colonies Pair and Reunion 1851, never used.
Stamps to make you gasp.

I suppose stamp collecting is really nerdy. I’ve collected stamps since I was four years old. It’s an absorbing, and for me a calming, hobby. My dad got me started. He collected as a boy, and I found his old album in a closet. There was a smaller album, an old red Scott Modern Album, and a cigar box full of extra stamps. He gave me the little album and the box, showing me how to mount the stamps in the album with stamp hinges using stamp tongs to hold them. I know he thought I’d tire of it quickly. I didn’t.

When I was about ten he bought me an album for US stamps and fed my hobby out of his pocket. We’d sit at the dining room table and play with it. It turned into a nice collection, but I was much more interested in his old album of stamps. They were all foreign stamps. The album was an old, old Scott International Junior Album, old when he started to collect. We eventually traded.

Others fueled my collection too. Eventually, I ended up with a set of the old brown Scott International Albums. There are five volumes that cover the years 1840-1940. My favorite is the 19th Century Album. I’ve put more effort into it than any of the others. I also have separate collections for France, Germany, Austria, and Latin America.

When I was in my late teens someone organized a flea market in the gym of an elementary school in Richland, the town where we lived. My mom loved flea markets and yard sales. We went. At one of the tables sat an elderly man with stamps. He lived within bicycling distance of our house. He sold stamps and supplies out of a spare room. We became fast friends.

He cut prices for me. I know he did. And he let me work off the purchase of some more expensive items by organizing his stock books or by helping unpack and sort the large crates of bulk stamps he’d order to keep his little shop supplied. He bought three really ratty albums from a local collector. They were a mess. I bought a few stamps out of them, but I wanted them all. One of these was a 1901 edition of Scott’s International. It was jammed with stuff, much of it still on paper or damaged. But I wanted it anyway. Finally I asked him how much for each of the albums. He thought for a moment and said, “I’d have to get two hundred dollars each.”

I did not have that kind of money. We’ll yes, I did. I had it in the bank, but my mom and dad would have fainted at me drawing out six hundred dollars for stamps. So, I set my mind to buying a few stamps at a time out of the albums as I could afford them. But I continued to turn the pages of that old album and the wheels in my brain turned.

Finally, I decided I would buy the oldest album, that from 1901. I did not tell my parents when I drew out the $200.00 dollars. The reason I decided I could and should do this was a careful assessment of the first few pages of that album. The first pages were all US stamps. I examined them carefully, checked the catalogue, discussed them with him. He saw them as faulty, and some were. I believed that soaking off the old hinges and paper fragments would make them more desirable.

It took me a full year to empty out that album from USA to Zanzibar. I cleaned out the USA section first, a page at a time. I held my breath as I looked at an early 19th Century three cent stamp. There are very common varieties of that stamp, and one that is to say the least Rare. Note the capital R. The rarity depends on the presence or absence of an impressed grill work. …

I put my newly soaked and cleaned up stamps, now free from the old linen hinges and paper fragments, in glassine envelopes and took them along when mom and dad drove over to a neighboring city. In a little strip mall, hidden in the back was a stamp and coin store. I’d wander off to it while they shopped in the big drug store and the hardware store. It was managed by an old curmudgeonly ex-policeman. He was nice most days. The owner was nicer, but he spent most of his time in the back running a mail order coin business.

I pulled my packets out of my purse and said, “I would like to sell these.”

“Let me see what you have,” he said.

I handed them over and his eyes widened.

“Where did you get these?” he asked.

“They’re from an old album I have. I don’t collect US stamps. I want to sell these if you’re interested.”

He looked at them long and hard. He offered me eighty dollars.

“What about this one?” I asked.

“Those are really common,” he said.

“Would you check the grilling?”

He raised his eyebrows, but nodded. After about a full minute during which he stuck the stamp under a huge backlit magnifying glass, he brought it back. He put in on the counter exactly between us. He paused. “Four hundred eighty dollars for the lot,” he said.

I nodded. We did the deal. I put the two hundred dollars back in my bank and the remainder in my secret hide my stuff spot.

I sold stamps piecemeal for three years. … And I bought the other two albums. This was a fun experience. I invested six hundred dollars in the three albums. I made close to $2200 total from selling the excess and the US stamps I did not collect. … One of the most pleasing moments happened when the old stamp dealer who sold them to me was turning the pages of one of my albums and said, “Where did you get these. These are fabulous.” They came from him, of course. But they had been gently soaked free from the scraps of dirty paper they had been affixed to and neatly mounted in my album.

Collecting stamps still relaxes me. I don’t buy them often. Five children and the bills they generate limit my collecting. But I enjoy turning the pages of my old albums and looking at them.

Probably none of you collect stamps. It’s a nerdy hobby; I admit it. But it is satisfying to me. And I do still seek the bargains. Right now I’m trying to find the last two stamps of a set printed by Mexico in 1887. Because of a paper shortage, they used ruled tablet paper; so the stamps have blue lines through them. There are stamps printed on wasted Tsarist money, on military maps, on odd bits of native made paper. They intrigue me. There are hard to detect reprints done by the Hamilton Bank Note Company for various Latin American countries. There are stamps printed illegally in Paris, some of which actually did postal duty. I love things like this.

Today is a “I need distraction” day, and I’m sitting here with one of my old albums open on my desk wondering if I should put together an exhibit. I’ve done that. I’ve won bronze, silver and gold APS medals, but I haven’t exhibited in a very, very long time. Probably I won’t, but I do enjoy the peace just turning the pages and looking gives me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cheese Cake and Coffee

Coffee Shop - New York City - 1924
From a Photogravure

Without a doubt, writing fiction is much easier than writing good, solidly researched history. I’ve sat in front of this digital monster from the early hours. In that time I’ve changed little bits of things, read a lot of poorly written articles from 1869, found one startlingly clear if somewhat misguided article, and written three short paragraphs.

It helps to know that I’ve also drunk a half pot of coffee, eaten a small piece of cheese cake, thought about Knobby Knees, worried about our leaking outside faucet, and thought about assorted disconnected things.

I’m taking a break – obviously, I’m writing this post. – and well … writing this post. This is my night off. It should be fairly quiet here. Most of my kidlets are off with their gramma.

I almost never write about dau 2, but I will today. She is only daughter 2 by age. She is my first born. She is my self-appointed protector. She is sober-minded. When she was little she was a total daddy’s girl. That’s changed in the last few years. Of all my children she is the one who is aware of parental mortality. I wish it wasn’t so, because knowledge of that sort is a burden best not born until late in life.

She has many of the qualities of daughter 5. She is gentle, smart (I’m allowed to say that. I’m her mom.) and observant. Unlike dau 5 she is shy, reserved, quiet, until she knows you well. There are days when she bears burdens that no child should bear. These are self-assumed. I know the compulsion well. I did the same as a child. It took a major re-thinking of life for me to make a dent in that practice.

Unlike her sisters who are funny in ways that are natural and unintended, Elizabeth has a dry and often unexpected wit. Most of her peers do not see it. It takes an adult mind to grasp the humor behind what she says. There is a maturity beyond her years. She is a voracious reader. She prowls my bookcases and reads eclectically. I have a really nice leather bound 9th edition Britannica. I bit my lip when she took her first volume off the shelf, saying nothing because though the books are rare – rarer still in that binding – she knows how to take care of a book. She has skimmed through, reading extensively from some articles, most of those volumes. And she has a memory that is startling.

She and dau 3 are connected at the hip. They’re only a few months apart in age, and they make an interesting pair. Daughter three, Isabella, is Bengali, with eyes so dark they look black from a distance. She has the rich red tint Bengali’s have in their hair. In the sunlight it’s like fairy gauze. They are not related by blood, but they do many of the things that twins do. If they are apart for a while, they feel compelled to check on each other. Text messages slither through the ether, and cell phones ring.

Daughter 3 (number 2 in the order of entry into this crazy family) is very open and friendly. She sparkles. She turns heads, not just because of her exotic beauty, but because she exudes niceness. One would think that the quiet, reserved one and the outgoing one would not feel so bound up in each other, but they are.

My children are mysterious, unpredictable, odd. Certainly they get all of that from their dad. I’m perfectly normal. Right? Well ….?

I’m still very exhausted. That’s more or less my normal condition, but the funeral and visiting relations took a lot out of me. I find myself thinking about uncle John frequently. I did anyway. It’s just that now, the thoughts do not lead anywhere. When he was alive thoughts of him would lead to a phone call, or I’d hop in my trusty car and ride the five blocks to his apartment. He was a resident of a very nice assisted living home. We have no complaints at all. They treated him with respect, caring for him as he should have been.

Other than the ones that live locally, all the family have returned to their homes. None of the living are as old as John was, but we have some who are well along. I am not prepared to deal with any more loss. …

Now … I’m really pleased with our current research. The irritating thing is that it’s required some major re-writes, slowing us down. But, the heart of good history is accuracy, and we’re walking into areas unexplored for a hundred and fifty years. It’s very like finding a cave full of treasure. It’s exciting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living in the heart after the soul is dead.

Born near Edinburgh in 1918 when the World was growing weary of war. John grew up in a world destined to sorrow. The promise of November 11, 1918, was betrayed by greedy men and devils. John saw service in the next World War with British forces in North Africa and elsewhere.

John was tirelessly kind to me. I met him late in his life, marrying his grand nephew and giving him great-grand nieces who sat on his boney knees, laughed at his funny stories and begged him for pieces of salt water taffy. If he had an addiction it was Taffy and hard salted Licorice.

John loved me as if I were his own, and I love him back with all of my heart. I confided in him when there were others to whom I was more closely related by blood. The family I married into and mine join in a common ancestor two centuries back; so there was no close relation except through the heart.

I never knew John when he was young, though I have seen and own photographs of him as a child and as a young soldier. He was rakishly handsome then. John was a gentle man and a gentleman.

He was my biggest encouragement when I started to write. He listened patiently through many readings of chapters and parts of chapters. He had a keen wit that alternately bit fools and made tense situations dissipate. John was a scholar, a reader of obscure books, a hoarder of old papers, a sender of unexpected presents. He loved roses.

John is dead and in his grave. I shall miss him always. God remember you, John. I certainly shall.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life is worth an occasional pout

This has not been a writing day. I’ve been on the phone to several of my husband’s relatives, and I’ve sorted through a mass of papers, throwing away the useless and stacking the useful.

I feel sad today. It’s a day where nothing seems to go as it should. I put the wrong laundry soap in with Knobby Knees dark clothes. He’s allergic to most laundry soaps. I had to wash it twice. That’s not really a huge thing, but it is symptomatic of today. I’ve tried distracting myself with a book. That didn’t work even though the book is really, really good. I looked at my stamp collection, mounting a new addition in my 19th Century album. It’s an early issue from St. Vincent with minor flaws. Because of the perforation flaw I was able to buy it for very little. It arrived in yesterday’s mail.

I tried to hook up my new monitor and found I bought the wrong connective cord. The easiest solution is to keep the cord and buy a new mouse. Don’t ask why. It just seems the easiest to me. Besides, I need a new mouse. I made my way into the basement storage area where K. Knees keeps his computer bits and bobs (shudder), hopping to find a cord. We have cords! … None of them fit.

One of my regular blog readers hasn’t shown up today, and though I only know him through emails, I’m worried about him. I’m probably borrowing trouble, but … well … why not?

When things are bad for me – and they really are today – I seem to review every stupid thing I’ve ever done as far back as my memory goes. It’s a damaging practice. I cannot undo things I did as a child or thoughtless things I said.

My writing partner forwarded an exchange of emails between himself and another historian. He is so patient. She sent him a précis of a book published in Danish (in translation to English soon, I understand) that considers the principal descendant body of the group we’re writing about.. (Dear Lord! What a tortured sentence that was!) It’s historical crap. (Excuse the swear word. It’s about the only one I ever used except for Damn.) He wrote back to her explaining all the errors. I’d have ranted, I think.

A historian has no role in a polemic. It’s wrong to engage in a polemic in the guise of history. It casts the writer in the role of a fool and a liar … call it a lying fool. Yup. Does. I have no tolerance for that at all.

We have four letters written by one of those we profile. I’ve read and reread them, trying to get a feel for the man. There’s a tender letter to his daughter in New York written when his youngest son was born. It occurs to me that it also tells things about his beliefs. When he expresses his hopes for the child’s future, he tells much about his expectations for the next twenty years or so. I didn’t see that the first time I read the letter. I should have, I suppose, but I didn’t.

We wrote an chapter based on earlier research. It’s reasonable enough, but we’ve found so much since that it needs a rather dramatic rewrite. It caused a huge reaction from some of our history blog readers the first time. Two thought we were really off the track. Wait until they see the new research. … Not only were we on the rick track, but we didn’t know the half of it.

I have an email to answer. I don’t understand their question; I hate that. Dear Miss [insert name], will you please translate that into Standard English? Simply not kind.

Yankee Doodle!

… So I like Yankee Doodle … and I like drums so thupp! Enjoy.

A Child's Death and Evil Trolls.

The dead in Arizona deserve some respect. There is no respect, even self-respect, in politicizing the death of a child. Yet, Democrats are doing that. I am no friend to Republicanism, but what the left is doing is wrong.

Using a child’s death to stifle the views of those with whom they disagree is immoral. The Sheriff (guess his political party) has done it; the priest who delivered the funeral oration did it (guess his party), various senators have done it; the news media have gone wild with it. Shame on you ALL. Shame on PRI and Celeste Headly and her partner who thinks he’s the omniscient being he played on Star Trek. Same on CNN, Shame on Yahoo News. Shame on you all.

You do not know what inflamed the wicked man who fired his pistol into the crowd. You invented everything to suit a political agenda. You are not fit to rule. You are not suited to your job as a reporter or presenter. You are not fit for human society.

God curse you and all your ilk.

In loving memory of Sir John Stewart who loved me and mine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Guest Post from Harry

Babies, Bagels, and Barbeque

My daughter is going to have twins this coming summer. Everyone is excited. My wife has gone into full-blown mother hen mode and is planning everything from clothes and furniture, to making sure that our daughter, who is a perfectly capable young woman, gets plenty to eat.

She and her boyfriend were at our house for breakfast recently after Christmas. We were in the chasing bits of egg with toast stage and having a lively conversation about baby plans. David reached over to her plate. It amazed me how quickly my sweet baby girl switched into a she-devil.

What the $%&@# do you think you're doing?

Just taking a bite of your bagel.

Are you crazy! You're taking food away from my babies!

We all laughed, but David quickly put the bagel back on her plate.

Last weekend my wife and son drove down the interstate to help him buy his first new car. They then drove a little further to buy barbeque from King's Barbeque in Petersburg. When I was eleven and started wearing braces, the orthodontist was in Petersburg and we would stop at King's. Fifty years later, it is still, IMHO the best barbeque in Virginia.

My wife gave my daughter a pound of barbeque which she took home and finished in two days. David, who loves barbeque too, didn't get a bite.

We had to go back to the dealership yesterday to pick up the permanent tags for the car, and of course, went back to King's. My dear wife purchases several pounds of barbeque for us, my mom, and Kate and David. We bought four pounds for the mother-to-be and another just for the father-to-be. We're hoping she will let him eat some.

Frustratingly Crazy

The Pixie is back but only 25 percent of me is here. My computer is back after a clean wipe. It's fast again, virus free, and all smilely happey. Right? Well IT may be happy, but I'm sitting here contemplating a huge Pixie Snit. Okay? Got it?

There is now an admistrative pasword for each function. That's okay, except my pasword does not work. The techie who fixed this for me put in a simple pasword I can change, except it doesn't work. So I can't install anything. I'm stuck here on icky Internet Exporer because I can't download by browser of choice.

I can't write because I can't reload any word processor program. I can get on the internet and frown. So maybe it's a cranky frown. I admit to some minor crankyness here.

On the good side is a new monitor. It's new to me, anyway. And it's nearly new in fact. Some day-trading, relativley clueless guy bought a huge twenty-eight inch ViewSonic flat screen. His adventures in high finance led him to disaster. The techie ended up with this monitor and gave it to me. Tada! New monitor. Free.

Nice, huh? So I emailed Mr. Techie over the pasword thingie. This will not last! I shall overcome the mad ways of the digital empire!

Oh ... also ... Consider this. I'm sitting at my desk lastnight. All the financials are done. The place has fallen into a sleepy, drowsy quiet. I'm reading a file folder full of stuff - well that's not accurate is it, now? It's a three ring binder with printout and photocopies of articles and a small book. I'm happily reading along and I find IT. The 'it' is an article written in 1868 by a man named Benjamin Wilson advocating a doctrine called Concurent (or Simultaneous) Resurrection. Now this is important, because it shows where a guy we'll call Charlie got his stuff. It's another nail in the intellectual coffin of those who wish to say Charlie was an Adventist. Dear old Charles was a One Faith believer, not at all the same thing.

Good stuff, huh?

Okay, so I'm not takeing the time to spell check or nutthin'. I'll come back later and fix all of this. Probably after I get my new monitor working and the pasword problem solved.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


My wretched computer is being fixed and upgreded this weekend. I an napping. Don't expect much from me until later.

Friday, January 07, 2011

H. V. Reed and mental frustration

So ... we've spent more time than it's worth writing up a bit of biography of Hiram Vaughn Reed. Reed is interesting enough, but I think we wasted time on this. I may rewrite the whole thing and reduce what is now four double spaced pages long to three paragraphs. I haven't made up my mind, and I'll have to consult my WP since he wrote most of this.

I'll think about it. He is important, but I think we give him too much space. I'll print it out and read it over during my free periods at work. All the biography seems to drown the last four paragraphs. I want to focus on why he's important without obscuring it all in biography. Yet, some biography is important.

This is proving to be more difficult than I expected .... Some of this probably belongs in the chapter which will precede this one. So much research remains to be sifted for that one that all we have is a very rough and frequently changing outline. Now it will be a key chapter. It's obvious that almost everyone writing about origins and identity haven't got a good understanding of the subject. I read Richard Nickels' history of the Seventh Day Church of God. He frankly admits to having no real grasp on influences and identities. While puzzling it all out, he wrote: "Correlation is not necessarily causation, nor proof of direct connection." This is probably the best thought he presents.

What is helpful to us is his description of the disunity among Age to Come belief systems and individuals. This part is well and thoughfully written. We will use some of this material after we verify the quotations.

I'm very unhappy with how the chapter we are writing is progressing. I get the feeling we're actually writing parts of another chapter. Probably some of this will move later.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Disorder, Orderly Chaos, and Vanilla Extract

I’ve been in a panic for half a week. Typical for a Pixie writer I suppose, but it’s never fun. We spent some significant money on some photocopies. Right? Important stuff. I’m working on bits that require these photocopies. …. Poof! Gone! Disappeared into thin air, the ether, thrown into the trash or just otherwise gone. So it’s been a bit of panic.

I’ve looked in file folders. I went through every file folder and stray paper I have out. Believe me, that’s quite a pile. Three of them a foot tall represent the current state of messy research. They were not there. Not even a torn corner or a hint was to be found.

Now, also in my work area are three ring binders of more or less neatly organized papers and documents both as originals and photocopies. That’s where all these lose papers (or most of them) belong. So, today I open one of these to retrieve a photocopy of a letter printed in an Indiana newspaper …. And you guessed it …. Right there, where it belonged was the set of photocopies. Such unexpected order threw me off!

This could ruin my theory that the universe functions through orderly chaos. I, at least, seem to function through simple chaos with no detectable order. However, finding the missing copies was good. I feel much better about myself. I mean, for once I actually put something where it belonged. Who cares if that meant I could no longer find it!?

Dau 3 is baking. Dau 3 could not find the Vanilla Extract. She takes after her mommy, I’m sure, since it was in plain sight and right where it belonged. I reach it for her. I drop it. It goes sploosh. My kitchen now smells of boozie vanilla extract. This is the real stuff, real vanilla extract in twenty-five percent alcohol. At least it’s a pleasant smell.

And how was your day?

Oh, Hiram Vaughn Reed is a mostly obscure 19th Century preacher. Today he is mentioned only in connection with his daughter and his wife who were well known writers. Sophia Elizabeth Armstrong Reed, his wife, became quite famous and her works are still cited, though somewhat negatively today because of political correctness issues. Myrtle Reed, the daughter, was a novelist. You might remember her as the writer of Lavender and Old Lace. But papa Reed is the focus of my research. It’s been very frustrating.

Fortunately for us, my WP shares information and research with the Church of God General Conference historian, Jan Stilson. She’s preparing a really interesting Encyclopedia and sent her research on Reed. This is very generous and very, very helpful.

I spent most of my writing time organizing the parts of her research that apply to our own. There is a very deep connection between the bodies antecedent to COGGC and the groups we’re writing about. The connection is flatly denied by one COGGC historian, and Bible Student historians ignore it totally. It’s way too important to ignore.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sha'el's Forest Today

Sticky-Spit Kissing and Boy Cooties

So … I woke up hungry at maybe 4 am and crept down stairs for a snack. I fished around in the frig for something that sounded nice. Now I’m not pregnant, and I don’t any comments from the peanut gallery, but what I decided on was sliced raw mushrooms and chunky blue cheese dressing. I decided to carry it back up stairs … mostly because I heard Knobby Knees staggerin’ off to the potty and I had plenty to share.

We put the tray between us and nibbled mushrooms dipped in dressing. Between bites we had a whispered conversation about everything and nothing. We talked about the frozen faucet that will need repair when it warms up. He asked if I really intended to quit teaching at the end of the year. I’m ambivalent about that. I may change my mind. I’m just so tired and sick that something has to give. Anyway, we finish our mushrooms and return to sleep.

That’s all prologue to what follows.

In the late morning I gather up the tray and bowls. As I take the last step off the stairs, I find Daughter #4 standing in front of the big window watching the rain. She’s more or less kissing the air. Each “kiss” is accompanied with a little ‘pop” noise made by her lips parting.

I set the tray down and walk over to the window. She’s watching the rain, mesmerized by it. “Whatcha doing?” I ask


“What are you doing?”

“Watchin’ the rain.”

That is obvious, of course. I framed the question poorly. So after pause during which I fall into the same mesmerized stare at the rain, I re-ask it. “Why are you kissing the air?”

“Oh … It feels good.”

Now, in fiction this would be called a lingering kiss. Or someone would write that their lips parted reluctantly. It’s really a sticky-spit kiss - except there’s no one on the other end. As inelegant as “sticky spit” sounds, it’s exactly what this kind of kiss is. I know them well … Anyway, I’m intrigued by her answer and I find myself sticky-spit kissing the air too. She’s right. It feels nice. Not as nice as if there was someone on the other end – say someone with knobby knees and a slight accent, maybe six feet tall and kinda cute when he’s not being annoying.

It’s a contented moment: Mother and daughter staring at the rainy street, sticky-spit kissing the air. This hypnotic moment is broken by the appearance of said knobby kneed person.

I’m aware of him. I can see him reflected in the window. I can see the puzzled look on his face.

“What are you two doing?” he asks as if it weren’t self evident. I mean anyone can tell we’re staring at the rain and sticky-spit kissing the air. Right? You’d have known if you’d seen us.

So, I answered accordingly. “We’re looking at the rain …. And sticky spit kissing the air.”

Big pause. You can almost hear the grinding sound his brain makes as it seeks to change direction.

“Why?” he asks

“Feels good,” Dau 4 says.

He walks over.

“Try it I say.”

He looks doubtful.

Now anyone knows that sticky-spit kissing is not at all the same as fish kissing. He fish kisses. Dau 4 gives him the ‘boys can’t get it” look. I say, “You’re not doing it right.”

He says, “I’m not?”

“No,” I say. “Here, do it like this.” And I showed him how to pucker just right, and then part one’s lips with a slight sticky pop.

He tries again. It’s better.

I grab his tie and pull him down. (He’s a good foot and three inches taller than I am. Face to Face requires that he bend down or I stand on a stool.) “Pay attention,” I say. And I do the whole sticky-spit thing in slow motion. “Now you do it.”

He does. And -these moments must be carefully crafted- I stick my sticky lips on his and we smooch.

Dau 4 makes choking sounds. “Eww …what are you doing, Mom?”

I come up for air and say, “I’m kissing your father. … It’s not like you’ve never seen us kiss before.”

A short pause from Dau 4 and then, “I’m never kissing a boy.”

Her dad says, “You’ll feel differently about that in about six or eight years.”

I say, “Keep that thought. If you kiss a boy you get cooties.”

Her dad nods.

Dau 4 gives me her “how ridiculous can you be?” look. “I don’t believe that,” she says.

“It’s true,” her dad says.

“… and too many boy cooties are bad,” I add. “Too many of them and one of two things happen. …”

K. Knees looks puzzled. I continue.

“… either you turn into a boy or you get pregnant …”

Dau 4 frowns. “You’re teasing me. I know it.”

“Nope. Where do you think you came from … Too many boy cooties.”

Horsetail Falls on the Columbia River - 1923

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Block Quotations, Numinous Junk and Spooky Trees

My poor WP is still sickish, but we’re getting some things done. I struggled over two paragraphs this morning. I do not know why some paragraphs are harder to write than are others. The issue was a block quotation. Deciding what to include and what to omit from the original text gave me fits of umm fits. We’re very careful not to change the intent of material we quote. It’s a major sin to change the intent of another writer’s words, but some of these guys were endlessly wordy. It was a Victorian era convention to over write everything. So I read through a small broadside from 1882 trying to pick out just those sentences that conveyed the point and flavor of the original.

The broadside is anonymous. I think it was written by a woman named M. F. Russell, but that’s only based on a comparison between this and a poem she wrote. I’m not including that observation in the book. There is no way to verify it, and it’s not well-founded; it’s only a good guess.

The chapter all this is in was supposed to be about twenty-two pages long. Guess what. … It’s forty pages long. This is not good, but I don’t think we can reduce it by much.

Okay … enough of that. Now off to the truly weird stuff …

Numinous is a perfectly serviceable word. It describes a sense of religiousness, of the holy. It can probably be extended to cover a sense of “creepiness.” Everyone experiences this, though many discount it, quickly erasing it from their mind. I have my own experiences with it. I wrote in another post about the grove of trees that seems Extra to me. I have no basis beyond mere feeling. But then most of what we do is based not on rationality but on feelings which are usually ill considered and irrational.

Just into the county off one of the major East to West roads is a kind of Pub that serves food but mostly is no more than a “let’s go get drunk” place. They have an excellent security staff; so there’s seldom a problem. Behind the business section on that road is a patchwork of residences. Behind the “pub” are some high-end houses. So, all is normal, right? Oh, add in a hotel down the road, some miscellaneous businesses. Normal. Totally.

Between the pub’s parking lot and the houses is a large vacant lot five house lots deep, and about three wide. I’m not good at estimating distance, so let’s just say it’s a good sized lot. There is one tree. The rest of the lot is covered with native grasses. I’ve spent several nights parked in the shadows across the street. What we were there to spy out I’ll leave unsaid. We didn’t see anything important anyway. Most of our time was passed in idle conversation and in watching the drunks come and go.

The pub is a popular spot. So patrons park down the street, and some of them have to walk by that vacant lot. It took little observation to see that without exception they did not want to see the lot. They especially did not want to step into it. If one of them strayed off the sidewalk, they quickly stepped back on to it with a vague look of panic. This is an unvarying pattern. After closing (2 am by law here) it was apparent that our time there was wasted. I got out of the car and wandered over to the lot, shining my flashlight into it.

Let me tell you … there is a feeling associated with that place. I debated walking back to the far fence. Good sense told me it was perfectly safe. My sense of creepiness told me it was a dangerous place. It’s not a holy place. It’s not the haunt of wickedness. But it is one of the dangerous places on the earth. That is my irrational feeling, and one I apparently share with the pub’s patrons and the area’s residents.

I went back in the daylight, and found myself standing at the verge and reconsidering. Right at the path there are a few fragments of concrete, leftovers from pouring the sidewalk. There is no sign of any activity. No footprints. No bike tracks. Nothing. No one goes there. When I was a child I would have played in a lot like this one. There are many children in the housing project. No child has left her footprints on this lot.

I explore my feelings and thoughts when I have an experience such as this one. There is no rationality behind the feeling, but I always come away with the sense that the world is in its nature irrational and full of dangerous places – places where the danger has nothing to do with wicked people or the usual forces of nature. This leaves me with two natures. The vaguely superstitious me, cautious where there is no need simply because of an irrational approach to life and the analytical me have an uncomfortable peace. We agree to disagree.