Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. K. Knees

K. Knees: [Sipping early morning coffee, looking pensive] You always seem to know what I'm thinking. How do your do that?

Me: That's nonsense. I can't read minds.

K. Knees: [Rolls eyes toward ceiling] What am I thinking now?

Me: Pervert!

K. Knees: See!

Me: So that was a test?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

From a Pixie's Research Library

Shelf 1Aa

John Locke: The reasonableness of Christianity, Boston 1811.

John Locke: A common-place book to the Holy Bible, Boston, c. 1840.

John Locke: An essay concerning Human Understanding, New York, 1825. Two volumes bound as one with other essays bound in.

Edward Wells: An Help For the More Easy and Clear Understanding of the Holy Scriptures: Being the Book of Daniel Explained, London, 1716.

Isaac Newton: Observations on the prophecies, London, 1732.

James Peirce: A vindication of the Dissenters, London, 1717.

Isaac Ambrose: War with Devils and Communion with Angels, Glasgow, 1737. Both works bound as one.

William Whiston: The accomplishment of Scriptural prophecies, London, 1708.

Shabby Decay and Stuff

I'm supposed to be sleeping. I'm not, as you can tell. I'm still struggling through the changes in my medications. On the good side, things are not as dark as they were. On the bad side, the deep muscle aches are awful.

Okay, enough whining. ….

My desk fronts a window. All the spring weeds are sprouting in my poor garden. It's been too cold to work out there, but we have to start next week no matter what or they'll take over the world. Garden weeds are the plant kingdom's version of wicked Fairies.

I'm sorry if I seemed cranky in a previous post. I am cranky, and I know it. I'm trying hard to be nice, polite and sweet - failing of course, but I am trying.

It's very dreary out. The clouds are stacking up and turning gray. It's supposed to rain tonight. I don't mind the rain as long as I don't have to be out in it. Water soaked wings can ruin my disposition. This should be a fairly light night. I hope so. The past two weeks have been very difficult because of my medication issues.

I've sorted through insurance papers today until my eyes are crossed. Do they have to make this stuff so difficult to understand?

Oh! I found a like-new copy of the Paragon edition of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. It's a lovely book, illustrated in color by June Goulding. It's not at all a rare book, just a pretty book. Lewis Carroll may have been a horrid pervert, but he could write.

That touches on my current fretfulness. As I see it, my writing ought to improve. The more I write, the better my writing should be. I'm so profoundly unhappy over the quality of my writing that I could bite basalt. I don't know what's wrong with me lately. Everything I write is trashy, amateurish.

There are many exceptional writers out there, but the person I hold up as the standard would probably surprise you. You may never have heard of her. Back in the late 1940's a German historian, Veit Valentin, wrote The German People. It was tanslated into English by Olga Marx. (She also translated works by Gustav Schwab and Stefan George.) She set an English language standard few meet either in academic writing or fiction. I should write that well. Maybe I will - some day.

I also found a really nice, nearly as-new copy of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. This is the first American edition (volume 2 only), and it still has a very sound dust jacket, though it is sunned on the spine. I already have all the volumes of his History of World War II. This is the better book.

My oldest has fretted about career choices for two years. Right now she's thinking strongly about becoming a radiology tech. I do not know where that choice came from, but I will support her in any decision she makes. She already has a scholarship to any university in the state. All she has to do is keep her grades at their current level. But her interests have ever been practical and not academic.

Her fight with learning disabilities has been long and hard fought, and she maintains a nearly 4.0 grade point. It has been painful to watch her struggle.

I'm very discontent today. I know it comes from my medication problems, but the knowing does not make it less debilitating.

I heard from my grand uncle John. He turns 90 this year, I think. I'll have to check that. You'd think I'd know. He sent me a check and told me to buy something I really wanted. He's been very partial to me since I was a baby. It's nice to feel loved. Real love even among family is a rare quality.

There's a street in the Queen Ann district that's fallen into genteel but shabby decay. I'm thinkin' a wicked fairy lives there, hiding among humans. He'll probably die in a few days. Probably he'll die of a well aimed arrow strike.

Clara, Princess of Chimay


Photo is of uncertain date and taken in the snow.

Clara was a wild-child and pretty darn naughty.

"The Princess Royal" in 1904

Gabriela and Irmgard

Such dresses!

Princess with 'tude.

Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands

Feral Pixies

Dau 4: Mom? Do you wash between your toes?

Me: Yes, dear. Do you?

Dau 4: Yah, but I don’t think Annie does …

Me: Why? Do her toes smell funny?

Dau 4: Sometimes. … But she said she didn’t.

Me: You asked her? Why?

Dau 4: I just wanted to know.

Me: And she said she didn’t? … I think she just reverse-teased you. Score 1 for Annie.

Dau 4: Huh?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rambling, ranting, and when I'm done ... Ice cream!

My uncle and aunt will be here this afternoon. He's coming down to our large regional hospital for more tests. I simply refuse to be the subject of any more tests, probes, prods or any such thing. But his health issues are more complex than mine. I hope they spend the night. It's not an awful drive, but it is tedious; besides we'd love to have them for a few days.

Shirley and I will go junk shopping while he's hooked up to wires and such. It will be good for both of us to get out. We both love Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody stories. I have some she can borrow. I introduced her to them. If you haven't read one you should.

Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson are archeologists. The first story takes place in the late 19th Century and each successive book takes one forward in time. These are well-told stories. Their son, nicknamed Ramses, was a precocious child. He grows up through the series and has his own rather unusual children too. It may seem strange for me to say so, but I identify with Ramses-the-child. There is much of me as a child that is in Ramses. I was a self-taught reader at three and drove my parents and teachers to the verge of … umm something awful, I'm sure, ... with questions and comments.

I'm writing this post as an excuse for a break. I've been up since four-thirty. Some people have no conception of international time differences. …No names shall be named, but since she reads my blog (Hi, cousin!) she will know who she is. I ran down to the store and bought Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches. My uncle's diet will let him eat just one, and they are one of his weaknesses. I normally teach my classes today, but it's an in-service training day. As a .5 employee I am exempt from this. So that's nice.

I need a secretary. My files are more complex than you probably imagine.The chapter, that's right - one chapter, that I'm working on now has generated six four-inch, three-ring binders full of photocopy, printout and email printouts. I will need some of this for other chapters, so eventually they will be folded into other binders. This is getting to be a full time job.

My uncle and I have been discussing the disposition of our research collection. He wants it to go to a repository in Brooklyn. This is insanity. Donating it to that archive would be like flushing it down a toilet. No one would see it again. There is no public access. I favor Atlanta Bible College Library. They're exceptionally helpful and there is public access. Neither of us is immortal, and I won't ignore his wishes if I outlive him. But I would like some sort of agreement. As I see it, we have four items that should go to the Brooklyn People. They would look at the rest and shrug their shoulders. Their understanding of this material is minimal.

While we have invested carefully and frugally, it is now a very valuable collection with original volumes dating back to 1664. Some of this is autograph material. Much of it simply isn't for sale anywhere or is unique. An exampleof the unique is a single volume of Joseph Priestly's Notes on all the Books of the Scriptures. This is volume one of the American edition of 1803. It was nicely rebound in three quarter leather in the 1850's for Horace Lorenzo Hastings and has his name imprinted on the spine. Hastings is important in his own right.

Now if I still had my bookstore, I'd price this at six hundred US dollars. I'd be prepared to sell it for maybe four hundred dollars, but that's not likely. Try to find an original major work by Joseph Priestly and you'll see why. Only two original editions of minor works by him are for sale world wide. (I just checked.) And the least expensive is three hundred dollars. This is not a minor work. The association with Hastings makes it monetarily more valuable. The people off in Brooklyn know who Priestly is and something about his place in the history we re-tell, but they seem to have no clue at all who Hastings was or his place in it or in American and British religious history.

We have four volumes (all printed within Priestly's lifetime) and two pamphlets by him. They date from the late 1700's to the early 1800's. A safe estimate of monetary worth would be thirty-two hundred U.S. dollars. Having access to this material, if you're a serious researcher, is beyond calculable worth. Why would we send this or anything else to a dark hole into which no outsider is allowed to peer?

Let me give you another example. I found a volume entitled An Help For the More Easy and Clear Understanding of the Holy Scriptures: Being the Book of Daniel Explained after the following method ….. This is a first edition of a work by Edward Wells, printed in 1716. Now this book appeals to me on several levels, not the least of which is that I'm descended from the Welles/Wells family. But from our perspective, this book is important resource material. There are currently no copies of this available anywhere. A conservative estimate of retail worth is seven hundred and fifty dollars.

Not one person who sits in an office in that Brooklyn-based institution would know how this is relevant to their past. Access to this book is difficult at best, even if you seek it in a library. I cannot see giving this to the Black Hole of Brooklyn. I could extend this rehearsal of examples, but it would be to no good point.

Now, my uncle's interest is in helping scholars connected with his religion. (I use the term "scholar" loosely in this context.) That would be fine by me (or is it 'with me'?) … ahem … That would be acceptable to me if their archives were open. They're not. I should also clarify that I know and respect many of the "Brooklyn People." I met one of them named John Barr, who has sadly I might add, passed away. My uncle introduced me to the Barrs. He was gentle, fun, well-spoken, smart and as true a Christian as I've ever met. That I like, love in some cases, these people does not change my rejection of the very idea of a closed archive.

Enough of this … Back to work!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Wicked Napoleon III and other follies

Back in the mid Eighteenth Century, students of Bible prophecy, many of whom were serious men (and women) with a touch of religious dementia, focused on France. They thought France was a country of evil destiny. One of them predicted revolution and anarchy in France, which he saw as a precursor to the last judgment. When the French Revolution seemed to fit the bill, these gentlemen (and a lady or two) really went off the deep end.

Otherwise serious Bible students took this theme up, writing articles, pamphlets and books about it. When Napoleon the Third came on the scene, many fixed on him as the probable anti-Christ. Now very little of this is part of the history we’re writing. Some of it is though, and we anticipate (maybe) writing something covering that era too. Men who strongly influenced one of the principals in our story wrote of Napoleon III’s role as Anti-Christ. Seriously.

A well known American Presbyterian turned out a book. Michael P. Baxter wrote articles and a huge book full of nonsense. (Baxter was a nut-case). An ex-Methodist clergyman named George Storrs produced a pamphlet. We have these and others like them in our research collection. Today one of the more significant of those books we did not have came in the mail.

Richard Cunningham Schimeal, a Presbyterian,
Beleived Napoleon III was the Anti-Christ

Back when this stuff was written a short title was rare. Our Victorian Era ancestors loved to dip pen in ink and add just one more thought. The title of this one is: Napoleon III. The Man of Prophecy; or, the Revival of the French Emperorship Anticipated from the Necessity of Prophecy. A British writer, George Stanley Faber, wrote this in 1852. It saw at least two British and one American edition. Faber wasn’t exactly insane, just a true believer. He was an odd combination of the shrewd, the scholarly, and the credulous.

Faber's Book.

It is easy to poke fun at these writers from our seat in the 21st Century, but it is unwise to do so. These were serious men, seeking solutions to important social problems within the flow of history and in the Bible’s pages. These men also attacked Slavery, one of them opening a Church in New York City where in the 1850’s blacks and whites shared seating because they are equal in God’s sight. The same faith that led men such as this one to expect an Anti-Christ in their day also led them to reject slavery. Some from this group furthered basic woman’s rights when the idea was unpopular in the extreme.

Was believing Napoleon III to be the Anti-Christ folly? Yes. Were these men all fruitcakes? No. Some were, most were not.

I’m very depressed. They’re fiddling with my medications. One of the side effects noted in the fine print they stuff in with the medication is a warning about depression. So having upped the dosage, they’re now backing it off. I’m just starting to come out of it, but the world seems a very dark place right now.

I’m mailing off a check today for a really important document. I have a report to write for our school’s web page. My legs hurt. My tummy is hungry. My ears ache. My skin is dry and itchy, another side effect of that icky medication. I feel like filling the tub with skin cream and soaking in it.

If I can talk Shirley into driving down tomorrow, we’ll go junk shopping. I haven’t been in a while. I have two piles of books to take in for credit. I’m still cleaning out my 1940’s and 1950’s fiction.

When Daughter 2 was a toddler she smooshed a sterling silver bud vase. I kept it, though it was pretty much junk. Now that silver is almost forty dollars an ounce, it’s no longer junk. It’s money. I’m selling it to the precious metals guy today.

Hate it, Deening out with Io

Io was a nymph. Zeus was naughty with Io. The preferred pronunciation of her name is eye-oh. Got that?

Assume someone has sent you a note saying, "Let's dine out." You read it out loud. You come to the word "dine." Do you say deen or d-eye-n? You say d-eye-n, of course.

So why, when these two perfectly easy to pronounce words are combined, do my Brit. friends suddenly change it all to Eye-oh-Deen? This is, of course, one of life's mysteries.

I hate the new story I started. I may junk it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You can't go backwards

... only forwards ... but sometimes I wish we could ...

Continued ...

I was far less concerned that her toes hung over the cliff than I was with her wing color. Her wings were a smoky, dark purple that betrayed the anger and deep sadness that boiled with in her.

This was an ill chosen place, but she came to it often. Da'ana's leap was named for a half-fairy who had thrown herself off and simply refused to fly. I could do nothing about an event that happened when few men walked the earth and I was as yet unthought and unborn, but I could do something about this.

She did not hear me. I stepped forward, and our wings touched. She turned her head and smiled faintly.

"Granddaughter …" she said. It was not a query, only an acknowledgment.

I took her hand and turned it palm up. I raised my right hand over it and let the pendant and its silver chain slink into her hand.

She grasped it tightly. Closing her eyes, she turned her head skyward.

"He's dead," I said.

She nodded. Her eyes remained closed. A tear formed at the corner of each eye but they stubbornly refused to fall.

She sighed. "Tell me …"

I told her briefly and bluntly what I had done and how I had done it.

"His blood is still on Tali's pendant," I said.

I could have washed it off and presented it clean and fresh.

"I smell it," she said.

"We should clean it off."


I understood.

"… I'll wear it this way until it's done."


She turned inward and the passion that had briefly filled her eyes was gone. I left her to herself and her thoughts.


I sat neck deep in the hot spring. Few people of your sort go there. It's a hidden place though not pixie hidden - and certainly not fairy hidden. It's a watery hole not far from the banks of the Yakima, hidden among wild grasses and Russian Olive trees gone wild. There are many places like that. They're the haunts of adventuresome human children, reclusive and wandering men and an occasional pixie.

That my hands and feet would be wrinkly as prunes crossed my mind. But the thought didn't get me out of the heat and wet.

The place was rank and smelled of river swamp. But the warmth was soothing. Besides, some humans pay out their wealth to luxuriate in hot water and mud. Who knows why when it is freely found.

One of the small ones landed on my shoulder. I have many sisters, and she was the newest. She was two weeks old, exceptionally bossy and demanding, a good flyer, and my mother's chosen messenger.

"You'll be late," she said.

"I'm not going."

"Mom said that you should come."

The words "mom said" were her seal on every opinion or order. She believed that once mother said something it was law. I, however, had been considered adult and free for 1472 years, two months and ten days, but I chose not to argue.

"I have time." I smiled at her serious face. "Want to join me?"

"Not in that mud hole. … Besides I had a proper bath today. … This place smells bad."

I nodded. Most of this world smells bad these days. "Tell mother I'll be there. I won't be too late."

"Promise!" she said.

This was another of her verities. If one promised they would most certainly perform. Katra'sayin had much to learn, but then she was only two weeks old. The world is not what we think. At two weeks none of our kind sees it as it is.

"Promise" I said.

Wiggling Butts, Fluttering Wings

These speak to a Pixie’s heart in differing ways. What do they say to you? It’s Austrian, not German. Enjoy. Wiggle your butt to the music. Watch the Pixies dance!

One of the best ever American Marches

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is on ebay ...

and i really, really, really want it. Unfortunately it is in the UK and costs about fourteen hundred US dollars. I still want it though ...

Confused Pixies versus Rebelious Computers

The replacement CD (see story below) came today. This, dear hearts, is swell. This thing is a major research tool, and I’ve been lost without it. This is good, right? I mean that it came?

So here I am, a newly awake pixie, coffee in hand – or more accurately on desk near my hand – ready to try it out. I insert the disk, and my DVD goes nuts, starting and restarting, vibrating the whole house and making a God-awful noise. Now, you need to know that when I got home from work this morning I snatched the last piece of anniversary cake, sat down at my computer and read emails. I left the plate and fork on top of the computer.

My instant detectiving (Yes, I know that’s not a word. But for now it is.) traces part of the noise to the fork vibrating on the plate. I remove the fork and plate, but all is not fixed. My DVD drive is still starting and restarting. It thinks it’s in pain.

I open the “computer” folder and try to explore the disk. No dice. I try to remove the disk. The computer acts as if it’s going to cough up a fur ball, and I get a message that suggests Windows Explorer has stopped working. Dang it!

I restart my computer and get the disk out. This sleepy-eyed Pixie installed the cracked disk instead of the new one! (Dork!) The fix, of course, was to insert the new CD.

I frown at it, making mental threats of abuse if it fails to work. It behaves beautifully and I’m back in business!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Forgotten Glory

1879 Soldier's Cross; War Service Medal; Commemorative Service Medal; 1912 Balkan War Medal

Attn: "Dan" w/FDC, LLC

Do I really interest you that much? You won't find what you're looking for here. All you're doing is raising my daily "hit" count. I'm not unhappy that you come here, simply puzzled. If you had any sort of talent (even half a brain), I'd be getting entertaining comment posts from you.

Old Stuff

I like old magazines – I mean really, really old magazines. I don’t buy many of them, and I especially don’t often buy things unrelated to my research. That doesn’t keep me from wishing though.

I have a nice set of Emerson’s New York Magazine from the 1850’s. They were very, very inexpensive and an Antique Mall find. They’re interesting and useful. They were a resource for something I wrote for a class I taught.

What I really want is a set of Gentleman’s Magazine. These are very expensive. I don’t own any of them, though I have read a few. It’s just wishful thinking. They’re much more interesting than the Millennial Harbinger, a religious magazine. I own those because they’re relevant to my historical research, but they are mostly boring as heck. I also own the seven years of Christian Baptist as the reprint volume done in 1852. Again, most of that is totally boring. But they’re both historically significant.

But Gentleman’s Magazine is just fun. Some years have been scanned by Google Books. Pick a year at random and read bits. You’ll see what I mean.

I like Harper’s Magazine too. Those are not too expensive. But I don’t have room for them, so even if I can slowly buy nearly the entire set, I won’t. I sold the last of those I owned four years ago.

One magazine I do buy, when I can afford it, is Christian Observer. There is an English edition and an American edition that reprinted it. The American edition tends to be less expensive. Oh the stuff in there! Arguments, cannibalism, wild natives in wild places, explorations, politics as they were from 1802 into the 1820’s. Such fun.

I only own two years of this magazine because of expense, but I am patient. Eventually I want to own every issue from the first through 1820. That’s probably wishful thinking too.

I have one issue of something called The Reformers. This was published in Pennsylvania in the 1820’s. It’s not connected to Campbellism. It is a mystery mostly. Poorly written, poorly printed, it is still very interesting. I’ve never seen another issue. The one I own came from ebay with a collection of pamphlets I bought to get something called Extracts from Priestley’s Catechism (1798).

There are numberless magazines published in the US and UK from the 1780’s to Mid-19th Century. I find most of them interesting. Our local library has most of the Civil War issues of Harper’s Weekly. A competitor was Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. These are full of illustrations and lots of fun.
Nene Thomas for Bradford Exchange.

The dark comforts me. Darkness is not inherently evil. It is a rest state, a time of peace.

I shift slightly in the chair. It’s not a chair I would choose for my home, but it faces the door. I’m listening to the sounds beyond the door.

I compose myself, letting a quiet deep breath out, find the closet in which I store my distracting thoughts, and wait.

Cars and trucks sound like distant shrieking wind. The highway is two miles away, but the sound of tires on pavement is still loud. It’s 1:47 am.

A breeze freshens. A leaf tap-dances down the street. Its erratic movements sound like foot falls. But I know the sound well; it’s just a leaf dead since last fall and destined to become dust.

Cars stop. I tense. Red and blue light oscillates against the side window. It’s a traffic stop. The officer’s voice sounds youngish.

They leave. It’s 2:21 am. The house is cold. They’ve set back the heat to under sixty degrees. I pull my coat tighter and turn up the collar. I don’t like the cold.

My butt is growing numb. I shift to the other side of the chair, leaning on the leg that hurts least.

I am as nearly still as I can make myself. The air feels differently, more dense. I strain to hear anything out of the pattern to which I have become accustomed.

It is 2:47.

A dog’s tags tinkle against its collar. The sound moves to the right and fades. And there is a shuffling sound I can’t identify. It’s stealthy, secretive, cautious.

I tense.

The sound resolves itself into a footstep. Then several. There is less caution now.

He is on the porch. Keys tinkle. There’s a cough and a snuffle.

I stand, silently. I take an equally silent but deep breath and release it.

The deadbolt grates against the recess. It’s withdrawn with a snap.

I raise my right hand, reaching over my shoulder.

The door sticks, then swings open.

His eyes widen.

I touch my blade’s hilt, grasp it and throw.

He falls to his knees. His hands go to my blade. Blood, black in the dark, spreads down his front.

The blue glow of fairy decay shows on his arms and face. He remains balanced on his knees, but he is dead.

I brace one hand against his forehead and yank my blade from his throat, wiping it on his shirt.

He sways backwards then falls to his side.

The keys are in the door. They sway slightly.

I’ve come for two things. This act was the first.

I remove a pendant from his neck. This is the second. It stinks of fairy blood, but it will wash off. I wrinkle my nose and repress the urge to spit.

I turn the key. The door is locked.

The key I’ll keep. It is proof that vengeance is done.

Outside the air is crisp. I am warmed by this act of justice. I remove my borrowed clothes. They will go into a dumpster. The pervious owner will be puzzled at their loss, and they will puzzle more over the jewel I left in payment. Perhaps they will believe it fake. Perhaps they will have a jeweler confirm it real. I don’t care. I’ve paid for the use. I’m not responsible for their wisdom or its lack.

I look skyward. The air is clear. I flutter my wings, hopping into the air. The joy of flight supplants the joy of justice well served.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ice Cream Seduction

So … consider my weekends. I don’t really have weekends, exactly. I usually only get Monday off. Yes, yes … that makes me a busy pixie. But consider my week ends … or in a more specific way, consider the weekend two weeks past.

It’s Saturday. I’ve slept late because I worked until seven a.m. I awoke, as usual, with my mind clouded and wondering what train hit me. Knobby Knees has coffee made and is his usual solicitous self. Daughters 1-5 are scattered around the house. I hear thumping upstairs and figure Daughters 1 and 2 and dancing in their bedroom. I wish they’d stop but I’m too far into fog to shout up the stairs and I’m too short to thump the ceiling.

I sip the coffee.

K. Knees brings me a piece of hot buttered bread. This stuff is baked regionally. It’s full of seeds and grains and it’s nummy. Mr. Knees bought the butter. He doesn’t know the difference between salted and unsalted butter. But it doesn’t matter much. It’s good.

I take a bite and follow it with another sip of coffee.

“Feeling better?” he asks. Before I can answer he asks: “Want to go to the garden shop with me?”

I grunt something that’s as close to, “No thanks” as I can get. One eye is now focused.

Daughter Five thumps up the stairs, spies me and takes a dive into my lap. I get a huge, slightly wet kiss and an equally intense hug.

“Hi, mom,” she says.

She settles into my chair. We’re both small so we both fit with a bit of squeeze. She tentatively reaches for my toast. I nod an okay and she takes a bite.

The side by side snuggle lasts long enough for her to take one more bite. “Where’s Liz?” she asks.

I haven’t a clue.

“Outside,” her dad says. “Riding her bike.”

Annie starts for the door. Her father shouts, “Don’t forget your bike helmet!”

She does a pirouette at the front closet door and scrounges for her helmet. It’s purple.


K. Knees has departed for the garden shop. Children have shifted locations. I’m at my desk sorting a mass of now very disorganized photocopies, print outs, letters, emails and such. I used to put this stuff in file folders. These days I put it in three ring binders sorted according to keyword or personal name. I’m on my third cup of coffee … my third BIG cup of coffee … and slowly stapling, punching holes, and attaching sticky notes.

K. Knees returns. He has bought six more or less useless items, some weed and feed, parts for the faucet that was damaged in the freeze, and soft serve ice cream cones for everyone.

My children have a sixth sense when it comes to sweet things. They buzz around him like bees, and five of the cones are gone instantly as are the children holding them. A bunch of “thanks dad” comments are thrown over shoulders. They scatter.

He brings me mine. It’s dipped in chocolate. Nice man.

He pulls a chair away from the wall and plops himself down next to me.

“What’cha doin?” he asks. This is a creditable imitation of dau 4, and it makes me smile.

“Sorting papers.” I hand him the hole punch. “Here,” I say, “you can help.”

He wrinkles his nose as if the hole punch smelled badly. “I have papers of my own to sort,” he sniffs.

“If you do it can wait. … Humor me.”

We establish a staple, label, hand-off, punch and insert papers in binder routine. This is working well.

He is in the mood to talk. We gossip about family. I nod understandingly when he complains about his assistant. (If the word ‘dork’ has meaning, this would have been the time to use it.)

I hear the phone ring. It’s not my cell. I’m in not going to run to the dining room to answer it. Either one of the girls will get it or it can go to voice mail. Sure enough, I hear scurrying little feet. The phone is answered and no one calls for us, so I presume it’s for dau 3, 4, or five. Daughters 1 and 2 have cell phones.

Annie (dau 5) runs up the stairs.

I hand K. Knees more papers. He punches holes and inserts the pages into my binder.

I hear the stomp of feet upstairs. Dau 5 clomps down the stairs and runs into my work-room-library space.

“Can I go,” she shouts. It’s a breathless shout.

“Go where?” I ask.

“Grammas! She says Anabeth is here and we can spend the night. Can I go?”

Daughters 1 and 4 arrive. The question is repeated.

Questions are asked. Gramma is called back by K. Knees who asks his mom if she’s certain she wants that many kids in her house. Grandma is certain.

Backpacks are stuffed with stuff. Liz’s is so full and heavy it looks as if it will split open. Liz has taken the Boy Scout motto to heart. It’s full of stuff she might need; she is prepared!

Daughter 1 wants to walk. This idea appeals to them all, but I’m doubtful. It isn’t a long walk, only about a mile and a half. But I’m always uneasy when they’re afoot. K. Knees intervenes. He sets some rules. You may not walk on (insert name of main arterial street). You must stay together. The two youngest must hold hands with the two oldest when crossing streets.

This works. K. Knees follows them outside and watches them while they wander down the street. I am right behind him. We’re probably an overly protective lot, but I feel better watching.


Daughters are out of sight and we return to the house.

“What were we going to do next?” K. Knees asks. Obviously he is bored with hole punching.

“You were going to punch holes … and …” I pause to analyze his disappointed face. “And you were going to lean over and nuzzle my neck and whisper sweet nothings into my ear. Plainly you were going to seduce me.”

“I was?”

“Yes. You were.”

He has a quirky half-smile. It always shows up when he’s been ‘found out.”

“Can we skip the sweet nothings and the nuzzle and get right to the seduction?” he asks.

I nod, grab his wrist and more or less pull this lanky, knobby kneed guy up the stairs.

And … how was your weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Our experiment with open access for our history blog was a total failure. It’s gone back to private access. There were several factors, but it was still a hard decision. Someone posted a link. They must have, though I do not know where. Our site meter did not detect link based traffic, but we had almost a hundred visitors on the first day. The number is attractive, especially for a low-interest subject.

Along the way we attracted an ugly troll who visits this blog regularly. He’s an administrator for a web hosting company. He’s also a petty criminal who thinks he’s brilliant but is something short of a moron. On his web site he has what he thinks is a photo of me. It’s not. But Mr. Brilliant and his associates think it is. That’s fine. It does me no harm. It gives me an occasional laugh.

We deleted one person from the access list too. This person wanted control of our project, telling me he was in the top 99.999999 percent in the IQ range. I almost dribbled coffee out my nose. Everyone but .000001 of the population is in the top 99.999999 percent. What he meant to say was he was in the top .000001 percent. After I was done insanely giggling I passed it on to my writing partner. He’s gone.

Another person emailed someone I’ll just call Mrs. A. suggesting that we maligned her in one of our posts. We did no such thing. Mrs. A. without having read what was written contacted my WP expressing considerable upset. The Old Dude wrote back sending her what we wrote. Things are calmer now. But … the person who cause that trouble will go away next.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dang it.

We ordered the Bible Study Library from a Bible Student group in Illinois to relpace a disk that no longer works. The new one came today. The CD is cracked and the case is broken. I think I'm mostly unhappy.


They're sending us a new one. This is good. I'm mostly happy now. [insert giggle here.]

Monday, March 21, 2011


My editor at Drollerie Press is very ill and I've been given to someone else. This means the release of Pixie Warrior as trade paper is delayed again. I'm very concerned for my editor. Deena and I work well together. Besides, she's a very nice person.

I do not know who is in charge of my projects now. This is more than a little frustrating. I feel as if I'm going on a blind date!

Sherlock ...

Your comment touched me to the heart. Thanks.

This video is my response. This bit of music is sometimes attributed to one of my very distant grandfathers. While that attribution is doubtful, this version refelects a Pixie's approach to life, even when it is difficult:

You know what?

Writing to my writing partner to complain about me will not endear you to either of us. Just don't do it. Especially now. ... He's not well. He's old. Guess who's answering most of his emails, especially those that require some research ... That's right; it would be me.

So here are some thoughts:

1. Appealing to someone else to monitor my behavior went out the window when I was fifteen.
2. If I make a decision, it's mine to make. Live with it or get off our history blog.
3. While I appreciate the many readers who contribute material, doing so does not insinuate you into our project. It does not make you any sort of partner in our work. We have these 'lovely' people who help (Occasional Reader and Corey, Ton, Dr. Maiano and Baptized Believer come readily to mind), and they help without any expectation but our gratitude. I haven't met any of them except by email or blog post. But I can tell you that these are great guys. Follow their example.

You have no expectation that we will let you into or control any part of our project. Don't presume that sending us a scan or offering some service will result in some partnership. You are always free to write your own book, do your own research, and originate your own project.

4. The temporary experiment with an open access blog is going to end soon. Repeat this foolishness and you'll find yourself deleted from the access list.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

See, It Helps to Know ...

It helps to know people who know .... My WP's friend identified this Henry J. Grew as the son of Henry Grew. It's an entirely different person! Who knew?! See ... it saved us from that dreaded condition known as "egg on the face."


Knobby Knees, Phrenology, and the Very Weird

Though I’ve done some re-writes and edits, I haven’t written anything significant all week. Well, that’s an exaggeration. At least one bit was good and new, but very brief. I’m doing a lot of fact checking too. I found one major flaw. We identified an Anglican bishop as an American and a member of the Disciples of Christ. I think this was the result of an edit gone wrong. It’s not as though we didn’t know who he was. But then, that’s why you do fact checking.

My writing partner sent me his rough on the abolitionist work of one of these characters. It’s way too detailed for this book. We need to cut it in half. It’s not that it isn’t interesting and well done. It’s not part of the story, except in an incidental way.

It’s difficult to pick and choose. Some things are incredibly interesting but have no real place in the story beyond a footnote. We have an insane preacher with a huge back story. None of that is part of the history we’re following. We have a street preacher who stood on New York City streets with a huge cross festooned with purple ribbons. That’s only in a footnote. Fun story though. There’s an anti-guy who wrote a small pamphlet. He was in Coffeeville, Kansas, when the Dalton gang tried to rob and shoot up the place. That’s no part of our story; it’s not even suitable for a footnote. But it is interesting.

We try to keep as much of the side details as is prudent. We just can’t record every extraneous detail.

It would help if we had more access to the personal papers of some of these guys. My partner has been pursing a set of journals for four years. Family members kick up a fuss and won’t share them. I can only imagine why. Recently he made contact with them again and was passed on to someone else. They didn’t see fit to reply.

The journals of one of these guys is housed in a research library. They simply refused to answer queries. There’s another journal in Canada. We were refused access. That last one we may try to get again.

The personal papers of most of those we write about are long lost. We do turn up an occasional item. A Civil War era letter from one of them to his wife turned up on a collector’s site. It didn’t contribute much, but it did contribute a helpful bit of detail.

We find bits of things of questionable worth. My preference is to give a full name – first, last, middle – when we can. We will mention a man named Henry Grew, probably giving him a couple of paragraphs. His story is really from the era before that we’re considering. So … his middle initial is J. Who knew! But what the heck does the J. stand for? Now one bit that will make it at least into a footnote is Mr. Grew’s interest in phrenology. I’m not sure this has ever been published before. I’m fairly certain it has not been. In 1836 he traveled around New York giving lectures on the subject.

Today phrenology is seen as a quack science. Then it was seen as a real breakthrough. So one cannot judge his interest based on today’s opinion. From his interest others in the broad movement of which he was a part were drawn into it. The things we believe … Sometimes I despair over our species. But it makes for fun history.

If I get time, I’m going to write up a Knobby Kneed Scot story. He’s such a strange creature. Men are puzzling in themselves. This man has layers of attitude and can’t help himself. It’s all that Scottishness what oozes out of him. (He’s got cute knees though.)

While I am writing this the “other man” in my life emailed me. My writing partner wrote off to one of his friends who might know what the J. in Mr. Grew’s name stood for. That’s good. I haven’t a clue, and I’ve looked in all the usual places.

I should probably take back that “other man” thing. Someone will misunderstand. He’s a relative, a friend, a scholar of considerable attainments, a story teller, (occasionally to boring length), a teacher of merit, a good writer. He’s old enough to have changed my diapers, and in fact did more than once.

Good. Now that that’s all clear, we can move on. …

On the princess front, my favorite cousin will be here in June. We will put on our cute shoes and go shoppin’! When we were children, people often mistook us for twins. I’m not sure why. We weren’t identical, though the resemblance is startling.

I want to learn how to restore antique firearms. Yes, yes, I know. That’s not at all princessie or nuthin’ but I still want to learn. I will probably shelve that ambition. Still, it interests me. My grandfather was a self-taught gunsmith. Somewhere floating around the family is a 1903 .306 (I think) Sringfield he restored. I watched him work on it off and on one summer. It was fascinating.

I like to shoot. I’m a good shot. I could never bring myself to hunt. I’m not against hunting for food. I used to enjoy the camping. I just don’t want to shoot the animals or gut and skin them.

I broke my glasses last night. I look like a nerd now with my lens held in place with white pipe string. I’ll get them fixed on Monday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pickles (Hey! I needed a title, didn't I?)

I hurt one of my student’s feelings today. She’s in my writing class. Understand that these are gifted students. There is real talent in this group. She has visions of being a published writer, but she stuffs her sentences with puzzling and unneeded words. Sometimes you have to translate English to English to read what she writes. It was her turn for a critique. I know her feelings were hurt.

Wait until she is introduced to the real world of writing and publication. … Between now and then even if she hones her skills, she’ll have to learn to grit her teeth and listen to critiques.

I had to use an alternate room for one of my classes. My regular classroom was needed for HSPE testing. It worked out well, though I had to prop open an outside door for air. The room they gave me is a nursery. It’s usually used for the ECE Certificate class. Umm prolly none of you knows what ECE is … Early Childhood Education. If you plan on a career in pre-school education, this is the required certification. The certificate is earned through one of the area’s Junior Colleges.

I am seriously depressed today for no apparent reason. My classes went well, other than the hurt feelings. I felt good this morning. I’d slept a solid 12 hours. The world seemed bright. And right now it seems a very dark place.

Maybe it’s the weather. It’s raining and chilly. I usually like the rain, but today is especially dreary. It’s one of those rains where instead of the earth getting a good bath, things turn to mud. I wish it would just pour and wash all the crud away.

Did you know that shooting a Contender .45-70 pistol can about knock a pixie on her butt?

I should be asleep. And that’s where I’m going now.

Scattered Thoughts (So much nicer than saying 'Scatter-brained)

My writing partner made me delete a post on the history blog. I’m not happy about it. It was a well deserved scolding. The only one to react was an innocent party, and that I regret.

I may have deleted it, but I still think it! If it were up to me, the person behind my scold would be deleted from the access list forthwith! I do not trust him; he’s pushy, demanding and obsessive.

A subtext here is that I’m simply not doing well right now. I’m under endless pressure. And I’m carrying most of the administrative burden for our project. I’m very unhappy.

On the good side, I’ve resolved a problem with one of my history students. She picked a project that involved research into her own family. Her family’s history is not a pleasant one, and no one is cooperating with her. We’ll change focus.

One of my relatives is having a yard sale soon. I’ve been loading boxes of out-grown clothes and “stuff.”

Yesterday I started pruning out my bookshelf of 1940’s and 1950’s fiction. I need the room, and much of this I won’t read again. I’m keepin’ the really good stuff. The rest can go into the bookstore for credit. My credit balance has fallen to one hundred fifty dollars or so. Time to raise it.

I want to replace a book case too. It’s a nice old one, but it’s not adequate. I can’t afford any thing spectacular. This time of year, I can hardly afford anything but essentials. We have dance projects coming up. Costumes for five girls are overwhelmingly expensive. Also, Arpita’s senior pictures are coming up. She graduates next year, but for some reason the school wants photos by the end of this school year. I didn’t bother to ask why. There’s probably a reason, though it may be a very, very silly one.

I spent most of yesterday writing bits and pieces. As we write we annotate some paragraphs with questions or the comment “Develop.” I attended to bunches of that. The really nice thing was a serendipitous discovery made while filling in one of those “Develop” blanks. We leave motivations mostly untouched. We are not gods so that we can read the hearts of those long dead. However, if we find a clear statement of motive we will use it.

Got that? Good.

So one of these characters is soundly hated a hundred fifty years later. He disturbed the religious order of his day. Some hold him accountable for their own religious misery, never once assuming blame for their own decisions. They suggest that he wrote and taught for the money. This is hardly so. He was a committed believer, even if I shudder at some of what he believed. So … I’m scouting out information on a small broadside he had printed toward the end of 1886 and there IT is! A letter written by him to a John Patterson in February 1887. …. Huge old statement of motive made unconsciously. He meant it as advice to a new evangelist, but it screams out motive. This is good. It’s a lovely letter.

I used it to add two paragraphs to an already “finished” chapter. I’ll revisit it later today too and add just a touch more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Pixie's Aphorisms

The world is an irrational and illusive place. Men pride themselves on rationality, speaking their beliefs with conviction. Almost none of our cherished beliefs are rational. Human belief systems are snakes in the belly.

I have much more sympathy for the Apostle Thomas who doubted than I do for Peter who rashly promised, believed and acted.

We create personal mythologies. We do this to protect ourselves from an irrational world, but because they are myth they lead us further into an irrational state.

Human clarity is limited by stunted perceptions. We do not see what God sees. So we perceive only a fragment of reality.

If one simply observes an area for a while, it changes. What one first sees is not what is really there.

Not all hallucinations are really hallucinations.

Sometimes being paranoid makes good sense.

We do not live in a world populated by gods and goddesses but in a world thick with demons. Fight the demons.

It is a mistake to feel compassion for the wicked.

One’s language affects how they think.

Poor grammar distorts the thought process.

Most people are uncomfortable with who they are.

I love the song of life, just not the words.

Even profoundly silly questions can further the quest for accuracy.

Always look for what you don’t see. Nothing is as it seems.

Do not trust yourself.

The May Queen

Marie José Charlotte Sophie Louisa Amélie Henriette Olga Gabrielle

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One of the people for whom Victoria Louisa Gabriella Henriette Rachael Michelle Elizabeth was named.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Plum Duff, Earth Science and Zetetes

A friend of our historical research sent us a really scacre booklet by “Two Bible Students.” The two Students are J. Jones of Birmingham and Albert Smith of Leicester. Now of the two Smith is by far the most interesting.

Smith saw himself as a true Bible Student and Scientist. He was one of the founders of the Flat Earth Society, and for him it wasn’t a joke. He believed the earth was a round, flat disk. Calling himself “Zetetes” he associated with a socially prominent woman in an effort to prove flat earth belief. Even an Anglican bishop joined them.

In 1914 he and Jones wrote a booklet against Millennial Dawnism. It’s a mixture of shrewd observation and insanity. (So much of this type of thing is like that, that this isn’t a shock.) We’ll use a small snippet of his comments to illustrate outside reaction to several doctrinal speculations. But the fun part may find itself relegated to a footnote.

Hey, footnotes can be fun!

Okay … so, remember that “Zetetes” was a serious flat earther? His nemesis, Millennial Dawn, suggested … GASP! … that the earth was a planet! (Shocking!) Worse yet, MD suggested that there were other worlds beyond our own. (I’m not sure my little heart can take this!)

Mr. Smith-Zetetes responded indignantly: “Where do we read in the Bible of ‘our earth as a planet?’ or of other worlds than this?” Apparently if the Bible doesn’t mention something, it simply does not exist. I wonder how Zetetes explained … say … umm … toe jam. Or Plum Duff? Or umm eye glasses?

Plum Duff with Rum Sauce

2 large eggs
1/2 cup melted vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups cooked prunes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cold milk

Rum Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum
Beat eggs well.
Dissolve brown sugar in hot, melted shortening and add to eggs.
Add cooked prunes that have been drained and mashed with fork.
Sift flour and add. Dissolve soda in milk and add last.
Fill greased pudding molds 2/3 full, cover lightly and steam one hour over rack in large cooking pot.

Serve hot with Rum Sauce or whipped cream.

For Rum Sauce: In small saucepan combine sugar, flour and salt; slowly stir in water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining sauce ingredients, mixing well. Serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Little Dancers

The Dancer

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Just Because

The Royal Review

R. M. de Vienne
In the royal review were men on horses – At least twenty-two.
It sounded like we were at the zoo.

There were drums and horns and musicians to play them.
The noise was so loud that it sounded like mayhem!

Then came the queen in her carriage.
Beside her rode half of the baronage.

The rest followed behind.
If they were disturbed by the poo on the road, they gave nary a sign.

Soldiers with high stepping boots followed along
Singing loudly a risqué song.

Girls dressed quite gaily threw roses and shrieked.
You’d think each of those soldiers was an Arabian sheik.

Another band followed with a dancing bear
And a juggler singing a jaunty air.

Along trailed a troop of pixies twirling and jumping;
Some of them on drums were a thumping.

Then came the trumpets blasting a note
And fifteen men they recruited off a boat!

The trumpets pealed like thunder was near
And along came the princess at the rear.

She whispered to her horse named Snookie,
“I’m only doing this so I can have a cooke!”

“I’ve bathed and put on these pants and boots;
I’ve rattled this saber and shouted some hoots.”

“I’ve refrained from pouting too;
And I’ve pretended not to see all this goo …”

“If you get me out of this without too much ado
I’ll find some nice stallion to marry you!”

Castle Shopping

For Sale: France .... only 20,400,000 Eu. Cheap! Let's you buy it for me!

philippines - About 1920

Sunday, March 06, 2011

So ... the conversation sorta went this way ....

Dau 5: Mom, do all princesses live in castles?

Me: No, dear. You know they don’t.

Dau 5: Shelly says they do ….

Me: Well, they don’t … Who’s Shelly?

Dau 4: Smelly Shelly … She’s in Annie’s class.

Me: [Raises eyebrow] Perhaps we should call her something other than Smelly Shelly. …

Dau 5: Mom, are you a princess?

Me: Sometimes.

K. Knees: [An unseemly snicker]

Me: All girls are princesses sometimes.

K. Knees: [Another snicker accompanied by rolling eyes]

Dau 5: I told Shelly that you’re a princess. She says you can’t be because you don’t live in a castle.

Me: Castles are expensive to own and maintain. … Besides, Snow White lived in a cottage …

Dau 2: Yah, and with a bunch of guys too!

Dau 5: [Flashing an irritated look at her sister] … But she moved into a castle later … … … Besides … She wasn’t real, was she?

Me: I never met her. Maybe she was real … what do you think?

Dau 4: Oh she was real all right. … Those ruby-red lips! No one could make those up! [She puckers up and makes a loud kissing noise.]

Dau 5: [Pointedly ignoring Dau 4] Do we live in a cottage?

Me: No, our house is bigger than a cottage. We couldn’t call it a cottage.

Dau 5: But it’s not a castle. Why don’t you live in a castle?

Me: Ask your grandpa. I think he lost it in a game of chance played with a dragon, a monk, and two airline pilots during a layover in Morocco. ….

Dau 5: Grandpa played chance with a monkey?! Umm what’s chance?

Me: [Ignoring snicker from rude Scotsman] A game of chance is gambling. … And as far as I know your grandpa was never in Morocco. …

Dau 5: Can we buy a castle?

Me: Ask your dad after he balances the checkbook. … Annie, Castles cost tones of money. No … we can’t live in one. Besides there aren’t many castles in America. We’d have to move to Scotland or somewhere where they have them. And we’d have to find the money. Maybe we could sell your sisters to an evil prince in exchange for a haunted, ruined castle. … And maybe

Dau 5: Mom! … Did anyone ever live in a castle?

Me: You mean in our family?

Dau 5: [Nodds]

Me: Yes, long before you were born.

Dau 5: Can I be a princess?

Dau 3: You can be an annoyance. …

[K. Knees frowns mightily. I go shush!]

Me: Right after you find Prince Charming …

Dau 1: Except he’s hundreds of years old now and wrinkled and probably smelly.

Dau 5: So I can tell Shelly you really are a princess.

Me: Tell her the real word is Fürstin. … And tell her that you’re related to the princesses Briar Rose, Snow White and Melusine. …

Pixies, Anthony and Giggles

On Pixies in 4th Edition Dungeon and Dragons
by Anthony Pacheco

In Wizards of the Coast 4th Edition Dungeon and Dragons role-playing game, the pixie is curiously missing from the monster compendium.

I find that odd, and let me tell you, as a Dungeon Master, I cannot have run a proper game without pixies. If we’re all going to get our geek on, geek is going to include the mostly invisible flying trickster fey making the much needed appearance during the woodland trek.

In D&D, when you don’t have published materials to support your game, you’re supposed to make it up yourself; otherwise, you are a bad nerd.

So I did.

Now, pixies have a long tradition in D&D. The Advanced D&D pixie was quite the prankster, traveling in packs and pulling jokes on innocent woodland travelers, or, in the case of some evil critter despoiling their woods, going all pixie-Rambo, usually with the help of elves or gnomes. They carried tiny bows that shot arrows that would put you to sleep: Save vs. Sleep or wake up with a really bad hangover and in some precarious position, such as wearing your old lady’s panties.

But I digress.

To understand my custom 4th Edition pixie, one needs to be somewhat versed in current D&D cosmology.

D&D 4thEdition Cosmology: The Quick and Dirty Version:

The Primordial Powers That Be from the Elemental Plane of Chaos created “the world.” The gods of the Astra Sea said “Whoa, that be cool shiznit, let us play with your creation by putting intelligent life on it so we can be worshiped.”

The elder primordials said “No way, no how. In fact we’ll just destroy the world rather than share.”

Then the gods said, “Um, I don’t think so, roll for initiative,” and then kicked the crap out of the primordials.

The Elementals didn’t go down without a fight. During the struggle, bits of the gods’ home and the world intermingled and got torn up a bit, creating the Feywild, and the Shadowfell. Or perhaps they already existed, left over from the creation of the world. No one can remember.
Also during this time, the Abyss was created from the Elemental Plane of Chaos, but that is a completely different story.

The Feywild and the Shadowfell are somewhat mirror images of The World, but not quite. Suffice it to say pixies, as all fey, originated from the Feywild.

And thus we come to the real reason pixies don’t appear in 4th Edition D&D: Wizards of the Coast hasn’t released a Feywild compendium yet. See, it’s all about the money.
Anyway, there are fey that appear into the world because the Feywild is closely connected to the world. For example, this is where elves originally came from. They were eladrin that made their way into the world and decided to stay, eventually becoming another race.

Pixies, on the other hand, were brought to the world by a bunch of drunk wizards.
And boy-howdy (and boy-howdy is a technical term), this really pisses pixies off to no end.

On the Origins of Pixies in The World

See, in the Feywild, pixies were a diminutive, all-female species of fey that minded their own business. They spent most of their time alternating between trying to improve their tans, engaging in snowball fights, and occasionally hunting big bugs, mice or other vermin in exchange for beads, baubles and other shinny things like polished stones or the occasional gem. Each pixie was born pregnant, and had a single daughter or twins, depending on how much raw magic she had been romping in while flitting about the Feywild.

At least, that’s the way it used to be.

Unfortunately, for the pixies, the world is a dangerous place. Over time, the races that lived on the world grew in power. Sometimes, this power touched into the Feywild.
Long, long ago, a society of wizards gathered in the great Vestole forest. The Vestole is a big place; these wizards lived because the natives of the forest left them alone, and the peoples surrounding the forest left the natives alone. Mainly, because if these neighbors poked at the natives, the natives went all barbarian on their asses and would spend a couple of months doing the rapine and pillaging cha-cha.

As wizards left to their own devices were wont to do, they gave themselves a fearsome name so nobody would bother them. And lo, these wizards called themselves The Anachronistic Society of Tree Hugging Wizards.

Well it was catchy at the time.

But I digress.

Anyway, as wizards who enjoy relative safety are wont to do, they got bored. You can consider one of their “meetings” going like this:

“These damn barbarians are too uppity about their women,” said the Human Wizard.
(Uppity = “cut off your head”)

“Indeed. Another brandy?” answered Another Human Wizard.

“Of course.”

“We could try to conjure up another homunculus companion,” Another Wizard added.

“Oh, Gods, that thing was terrible, about as feminine as a squishy rock,” replied the Human Wizard.

“Actually, I think it was a squishy rock,” said Elven Wizard, suddenly interested in that conversation. And drunk.

“We need something with spunk. Something playful. Feminine, easy, and in no need of commitments.”

“Oooo, that sounds like pixies!” said the Elven Wizard.

“What’s a pixie?” asked Human Wizard.

“A small, diminutive naked feminine fey that flits about the Feywild. They’re not too bright and easily distracted with shiny objects. And they are mono-gendered. They have no need for commitments.”

“Are they horny?” asked Another Human Wizard.

The elf scratched his head. “Not really. But they are naked.”

“Do they drink?” asked Human Wizard.

“Oh, Gods,” said Elven Wizard, “everybody in the Fewild knows you never, ever give a pixie booze!”

“So what you’re saying,” said Another Human Wizard with a gleam in his eye, “is we need a summoning ritual, with a temporary enlargement spell, some beads, and a whole lot of booze.”

“Pretty much,” admitted Elven Wizard.

“You males are disgusting!” said the Half-Elven Wizard.
Human Wizard snickered. “Said she who’s had a beefcake apprentice aged seventeen to twenty-two for what, a hundred years?”

“Shut up,” said Half-Elven Wizard.

“Does the current one even cast spells?” asked the Elven Wizard.

“Men!” said Half-Elven Wizard, stomping off.

Thus, the Great Vestole Pixie Debacle was born. It took the (male) wizards over a year to work out the finer points of the ritual. Most of the time spent drinking and giggling, much to Half-Elven Wizard’s annoyance.

The (male) wizards cast the spells, and a summoned a gaggle of pixies. After the initial shock, they were amazed at the world in which they arrived. The wizards were charming, gracious, and invited them to a party, in which there were beads, dancing, and, more importantly, booze.

Everyone knows that the party was about as debauched as wizard parties ever were. Indeed, “debauched” is an elvish word derived from de’banoico, which roughly translates to “night of lost wizard pants”.

What is not known is what exactly happened to the pixies, which woke up back in the Feywild with a hangover, shiny beads, various bent wings and sore in places a pixie was not meant to be sore. Some say it was the combination of the spell and the fact that a pixie had never left the Feywild. Some say it was the Half-Elven Wizard’s passive aggressive disproval by tinkering with the rituals. Some say it was all of that and too much dwarven brandy.

Regardless, those pixies were suddenly unable to have daughters. Worse, whatever affliction they had, they spread to the other pixies, and suddenly pixies could not reproduce.

It took the pixies almost a year to link the party to their current problem, but the sudden portals that opened exactly a year later were the last piece of the puzzle. Hurried plans were made. Knives were sharpened. And the wizards greeting the pixies that answered the summons had no idea they were coming face-to-face with a full flight of one of the most dreaded fey in existence: the pixie warrior.

It was a battle all right, and the wizards lost. They were expecting more of the same. Indeed, they were all already drunk. What they got was angry 59 inches of armed pixie snit. There was blood. Lots of blood.

To say that these pixies had a temper would be a gross understatement. They demanded answers, and to prove to the wizards that they were serious, they spent some time dancing with the Half-Elf’s apprentice. In the air. With knives.

The wizards labored all evening the next day, concluded that while it was not possible to put the pixies back the way they were, they could modify the summoning ritual to make them fertile while in the world. Able to breed, that is, with males. Human, elves and half-elves, in particular.


This re-angered the pixies. They spent several hours taking their frustrations out (again, with knives), on Another Human Wizard, and drinking the rest of the booze.
The (drunken) pixie warriors told the wizards to proceed. Casting such a powerful ritual under pressure was fraught with peril, and the Elven Wizard died. Exploded, actually. From within.

The mighty ritual was finished. Flushed with arcane power and certainly no pushover by any means, Human Wizard did what humans have been doing when faced with pixies in a snit:

He apologized. Profusely. Begged forgiveness, even.

Now Human Wizard was not a terribly bad looking man. Some said he was even cute in a bookish kind of way. The pixies, being fast to anger and fast to forgive, accepted his apology, which seemed sincere given the fact that he had great magical power flowing through his veins and yet declined to re-engage the drunken pixie warriors.
Then they descended on him after putting away the knives.

They say he lasted an entire week before he died of exhaustion—but he died with a smile on his face.

Over time, the pixies mellowed out a bit, and stopped killing wizards whenever they found them. But to this day in the Vestole, every week around midsummer, a cute male will find himself in a fairy ring with his pants missing and beads braided in his hair, along with a terrible hangover. Everyone also knows if a male is especially, um, skilled (at flattery)—the pixies let him keep his memories.

Then again, some say that is a pixie curse.

And nobody never, ever, gives a pixie booze.

The 4th Edition Dungeon and Dragons Pixie Warrior Description


Pixies, like most fey creatures, can fey step. Pixie warriors are very skilled in fey stepping in combat, using the dreaded pixie snit Encounter power to decimate groups of enemies.

Pixies appear as tiny, flying naked feminine humanoid with multi-colored, diaphanous wings. They can also appear as a svelte, small humanoid female roughly 4’11” in height, also with wings. In either form, the pixie warrior has the same combat statistics.
Stat Block

A pixie warrior uses Coordinated Pixie Melee Foo when attacking with another pixie warrior, immediately flying into a pixie snit at the first opportunity. On enemies she is not trying to slay, the pixie warrior will use her Pixie Smooch power or flee the battlefield in order to reassess her combat options.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Your post did not show up in my mail. Re-send it to rmdevienne @ yahoo . com

Things ... and x's.

"Fine Art" as ethnic propaganda.


I purchased a pile of prints to get just one. There are about sixty prints varying in quality from lovely things done on quality paper to magazine clippings. Some are lithographs, some etchings. (I think I know the difference.) The one I wanted relates to our new history book. The whole pile was for sale on an auction site, and I was the only bidder. So I didn’t invest much, something under ten dollars.

What I wasn’t prepared for is the overall quality of some of these things. In the sales photo they looked like a pile of magazine clippings and such. A few of them are. They’ll go down to the art teacher. She collects things like that for her class.

Some of these things are Russian. There is beauty in the Russian prints. I wish I could read the name. One of them, obviously by the same artist, has a signature in Latin characters, but all I can read of it is “Boris.” Boris was a pervert I think, but Boris was an artist.

I can only post a small portion of the picture. (I don’t do xxx posts. R rated sometimes, but not xxx.) Enlarging this portion has degraded the fine line definition, but it gives you an idea of his ability.

There is series of five by an anonymous artist. I’m not sure of the nationality of this artist. There is nothing to indicate the source of the prints, though they seem to have come from a book. I’ve posted a smallish bit. Again, the fine line definition is degraded, but I think you get an idea of the quality. These are propaganda prints, portraying Russian ethnic minorities as brutal, inhuman creatures. As with most effective propaganda, there is an element of historical truth in the pictures.

A huge amount of these are lithographic reproductions of famous paintings. I’ll sell those to an antique dealer who specializes in old prints. She’ll love this stuff. Some of these things are tattered and ugly. I’ll just trash those. The one I wanted is oversized, but I’ll get a great image off of it for our new book.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Because God Makes Pretty Things ....

Another of the Songs noted earlier.

Every time ...

Pittsburg, Texas - About 1910

Every time I think we've got a satisfactory understanding of something ... one of us finds details that are too intriguing to ignore. …

We haven’t started on the last chapter yet. That’s quite a ways off. But we discuss it frequently. Tentatively we’re using the title “Out of Babylon.” It will summarize our research, presenting an analysis of the forces that created new ecclesiastical identities among Barbourite adherents.

Briefly, the most prominent of these groups was forced into a separate identity. This was not their first choice. One of the most significant forces at work was the rejection by their home-churches of new and often unorthodox doctrines. None of these doctrines were new in the sense of being a new religious theory. All of them are ancient and some of them apostolic but abandoned by mainline churches.

Many churches were pugnacious. Doctrinal difference meant more in the late 19th Century than it does today, and some denominations beat on the brotherhood of believers, even those who were in the same church, for minor differences. For instance a report made to the 1883 Texas General Association conference suggested that Baptist churches were deeply troubled, “that associations have been divided in counsel, some rent asunder; churches have been torn by factions, and brethren alienated, and strife engendered.”

Not to be too unkind to Baptists, but this hasn’t changed much in 150 years. Only the issues have changed. In June 1883 a Baptist minister in Pittsburg, Texas, was “excluded” from the church for teaching some of the doctrines found in a small paperbound book published two years previously. This is an excellent example of the forces pushing this group into a separate identity.

This story is told in a letter to the editor in the March 1884 (if memory serves me) issue of one of the principal journals. The clergyman’s name is omitted. Now, this leaves me discontent. Do you know how hard it is to pin down names? This is a major challenge!

My writing partner emailed the library in Pittsburg, Texas. We haven’t heard back. I came up with the name J. W. Ferrell. He was the Baptist pastor there in 1870. There are so many J. W. Ferrells that I don’t know more yet. Besides, these people moved constantly. It was rare for a man to stay with one congregation for a prolonged time.

I am on a crusade to identify this man! All my detective skills are being sharpened; I’m practicing my frowns, I shouted “eureka” two or three times just for practice. I am on the trail! A Pixie almost always gets her man. … I hope.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Pixie Bits

I’m taking a break form research. Not a long one, but a needed one. Mostly I’m catching up on other things. I read Margaret Macmillan’s Paris 1919. It was originally published in the UK as Peacemakers.

I should write history as well as Ms Macmillan does! This is a fun, tightly written, well-researched book. I especially liked the way she lets us into the characters of the principal and some of the minor actors. I’d probably been harder on Wilson than she was. I detest Wilson as a religious hypocrite, a racist pig, a sexist and clueless politician who thought he was smarter then he proved to be.

This is worth a read. I’m recommending it to my creative writing class. Ms Macmillan is expert at characterization within the limits of a sentence or two. This is just excellent.

I’m back. …. Didn’t know I left, did you? I’m back, coffee pot in hand, ready to type on …

My oldest is home sick today. Bronchitis. It always makes her asthma flair up too.

I discussed my concerns over my critical investigations class. To successfully complete this class a student must undertake a major project that demonstrates critical thinking ability and major research into a topic. I encourage them to pick something they already find interesting, and many of them use their hobbies as a starting point. As an example, three of my young men are trading card game players. They’re researching the underlying concepts, designing their own cards, and creating a game of their own. While this may seem more like play than learning, if you create at all you know it’s a challenge to one’s thinking ability. This class is all about teaching smart kids how to think and reason and how to become problem solvers.

This is a Middle School class, and parental involvement is a given. However, two of my students are in there because their parents saw it as a kind of basket weaving class. I’m not a babysitter. I’m a teacher.

The best thing to come from my conference with the principal is three more computers for the classroom. If the problem continues, he’ll give me a teaching assistant too. I’ll re-evaluate this in two weeks.

Occasional Reader’s new guest post is below. Enjoy! His post made me dig out my P. G. Wodehouse books. Crime Wave at Blandings Castle remains my favorite. I have a really nice Jeeves Returns as a first edition with original dust jacket. Crime Wave entertained me most of a long and hot summer’s night when I was in my early teens. It’s one of those books you keep and read again and again. You UK people would know this book as Lord Emsworth and Others.
Another book to read over and over is Kipling’s Kim. Ever read it? You should.

Occasional Reader - Guest Post

Jerome K. Jerome

I just like this picture.

I blame it all on Mr V.

Mr V was our form tutor for three years in junior school. A florid faced man, he’d been a pilot during the Second World War, and was known to hurl blackboard rubbers across the class room with deadly accuracy. He probably would not have lasted long in teaching today.

But I liked Mr V, and I liked the fact that he read stories to us some afternoons. One such story he attempted, was Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat.

Mr V did try. He would start one of Jerome’s anecdotes – Uncle Podger trying to put up a picture, or Hampton Court Maze, and would dissolve into laughter, with tears streaming down his face, watched by a mixed group of slightly puzzled nine year olds.

Later, when I was 12, my father took me out for the day and bought me the first Penguin edition of Three Men. I still have that battered volume today. A youthful hand has amended Jerome’s features with a bushy beard and a pair of Buddy Holly spectacles, and the misnomer “perfect binding” as used for paperbacks resulted in what is best described as a “loose leaf” publication – but there is no way I will part with it.

Jerome K Jerome was a product of history. The compulsory education of all children in late Victorian Britain resulted in a new class of author –less than middle class – with new themes for the masses who purchased books and journals at the Railway bookstall. Pompous critics of the day dubbed Jerome as ‘Arry K ‘Arry – because of his use of slang of the “lower classes”, but much of his style had echoes of Dickens and Austen. A clever use of language – the English understatement for serious matters and overstatement for trivialities – made his best books readable and re-readable.

Jerome had a mixed life. After disastrous family fortunes, grim poverty, then numerous jobs including being a less than successful actor - he later wrote several amusing volumes about “The Stage” – things started looking up. Three Men, written when he had recently returned from honeymoon, is his most consistent humorous book – a trip by three men (and a dog) up the River Thames in a skiff – with various anecdotal digressions. They get so far, the weather gets worse and they give up. That’s about it. If that bald description puts you off, try it. You will either laugh and love it, or as one friend to whom I heartily recommended it complained – “but it doesn’t have any story...”

Once established, Jerome edited two journals and wrote numerous other books and plays. Nearly all have been forgotten, although when they all conveniently went out of copyright in Britain in the 1970s, about a dozen were republished. Some still have parts that are very funny – my favourite are the essays that bulked out Diary of a Pilgrimage (1891).

Like many others, Jerome was not happy to be a humorist. Like the clown who yearns to play Hamlet, he yearned for what he viewed as more worthy achievements. He wrote serious books – some quite good, and a couple after sad experiences in the First World War, quite dreadful – all of which have sunk without trace, apart from aficionados and completists and Project Gutenberg. He wrote a quasi religious play, The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1908), which ran and ran and is still occasionally revived by amateur societies today. Alma Reville (Mrs Alfred Hitchcock) wrote the screenplay for a 1935 film version, starring Conrad Viedt, which not surprisingly added a bit of death and destruction that Jerome would not have recognized.

From my first acquisition as a 12 year old I went on to collect Jerome seriously. There was a second-hand bookshop in Ealing that put volumes away for me for when I returned to London. I would turn up after perhaps six months away and they would always remember me – which was nice. They also saved books of a certain religious group for me as well. One rare Jerome volume came from a friend in the film industry – a lady preserved forever in a bit part in Calvalcanti’s Nicholas Nickleby (1947). I joined the Jerome K Jerome Society and wrote for their journal.

So this is my ramble on Jerome K Jerome. He rambled too – that was his style. No one could call it great art, but something that makes you laugh, or even just smile a bit, can’t be too bad a thing.

As I said, I blame it all on Mr V.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Books ...

Well ... I bid seventy dollars which is all I could raise, even with an outside contribution to the effort. I was outbid. I'll live, but I'll pout for two days!

Knobby Knees, Promises Kept, and Flights of Fancy

Knobby Knees …

Now you may think this is about how much one can love a Scot with Knobby Knees, or maybe it’s about hot sweaty snuggles under the covers …. But no … It’s about yielding to another’s interests.

So, give a man an interest in engineering and you create chaos. You may go to an antique mall looking for a vintage table that will fit with your kitchen’s period decor, and you may have cajoled a knobby kneed Scot into coming along by promising things having to do with Vanilla Body Wash, those cute black leather shoes, and not much else … Well, what ever it takes, right? And you wander from booth to booth and sales area to sales area looking at tables that would fit in with a kitchen that’s starting to look as if it came out of some 1948 issue of House Beautiful. And there it is! A chrome and red beauty that looks as if it were new. And maybe, just maybe it’s the one ideal table.

K. Knees, being said Scottish Engineer, does engineerish things, flipping over chairs and looking at welds and discussing – oh dear lord and little rabbits and their progeny for the next ten generations! – for everyone within twenty feet to hear the nature of different welding systems and the nature and quality of the welds on the chair frames. … As if anyone in their right mind cared about welding systems and such. It’s a table, for goodness sake! Something to put food on, eat at, gossip around … that sorta thing.

Okay, The Guide to Practical Pixiehood suggests that no table should be bought that does not fit within the allotted kitchen space. So, in my best imitation surgeon’s voice I say, “Tape measure.”

Tape measure plops into my hand.

“Hold this end,” I say. Peremptorial commands work best when K. Knees is being analytical.

He dutifully holds the end. And I stretch the tape over the table. It is too big for space A. Since there is no space B, this is not the table.

Now, you’d think that fulfilling my part of the bargain would be enough, right? I mean we were in the store for under an hour. It’s not as though I drug him from antique store to junk store and back, all day. …. But, no.

I become the draggee. I’ve been in that boat before … Well not exactly THAT boat. Because that’s what we’re driving out miles into the countryside to see. A boat. More specifically a cabin cruiser built in 1958 that now sits neglected in some farmer’s back barn.

We get lost, of course. He’s driving.

We find ourselves, because I keep 1. County map A and 2. City map B in glove compartment. Men and maps!

So … there it is in all its non-glory. This thing looks as if Noah rejected it way back when. Does that disturb K. Knees in the least? No, of course not. He wants to buy this thing for an outrageous amount of money and “restore it.”

I raise an eyebrow.

He smiles engagingly.

“Does it float?” I ask.

“Hasn’t been on the water for ten years,” the farmer says, trying to be as jolly as old M’Donald. He comes off as if he were some back alley mugger in overalls.

“It’d be expensive to fix,” I observe. I get the distinct feeling that no one is listening to me. At least the Old McDonald didn’t say something like, “aye yup.” Thankfully we don’t live in Maine.

K. Knees and farmer Brown scramble up onto the Ark Royals’ deck. Oh heck, it’s really named the Daisy Mae. It should have been named the Daisy Duck … or better yet, the Daffy Duck. You’d have to be daft to even think about buying this thing.

I stubbornly keep my feet on the ground. I’m feeling sea sick just looking at this yacht or glorified battle ship or row boat or what ever it is. And I’m praying … “Dear Lord, please bring my husband back to sanity or give me permission to beat him with a stick.”

The Lord of all things, he who protects Pixies from the vagaries of Scotsmen must have zapped him with invisible lightning. That engineerishness kicks in and he starts analyzing the thing. And he (thank you, Dear God!) talks himself outa the boat.

Is our adventure done? Oh heavens no. Why should it be?

We’re driving home – or we’re supposed to be. If it’s homeward it’s in a strange direction. “We’ve never been on this road,” he says. “I want to see where it goes.”

“Why?” I ask sweetly.

“Just curious.” He smiles.

I frown.

“You aren’t lost are you?” I ask. Honest, I was not gritting my teeth. Teeth-gritting is such a bad habbit!

“Oh, no.” he says. “I know where we are.”

So we drive past little shabby farms, strange holes in the ground, a mostly dead orchard that was probably planted by Moses, a stray calf that seems to have made the center of the road its home, and stuff. Lots of stuff.

I’m nodding off. Riding in a car puts me to sleep if I’m not driving. But the breaks jolt the car! I’m now wide away and looking for the terrorists or the pizza sign. What I see is a field strewn with old cars in various states of disrepair, decrepitude and disuse.

An engineers dream, I’m sure.

We wander the field, looking. What ever it takes to keep K. Knees content is (usually) okay by me.

“I wonder who owns these,” He says.

I don’t respond to that. God knows I wanted to, but I was too busy hoping he never found out. He might want to “restore one of them.”