Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pixies Can Do This - Can you?

Why we do it better ....

So. ... here I sit chewing chedder cheese and sippin' my first cup of coffee ... and reading an email forwarded to me by my writing partner. The email comes from one of the writing and research staff of a religious body with its headquarters somewhere in the eastern United States. It's in answer to an email my writing partner sent. The email is informative and helpful. This person's emails always are when he actually has the information we seek. And my WP says he's a really nice guy.

Okay ... got all that? So in the heart of the email I find this sentence: "Your interest is much different than mine, since you include miscellaneous biographical and commercial information, and if I had seen something that related to spiritual matters, I would definitely have requested that a copy be made." Now think about that ...

and ask yourself this question, "What part of life does not relate to spiritual matters?" That this writer ignores the life details of those about whom he writes explains why their histories fail to connect the dots and lack significant and explanatory material. I think their approach is wrong. It's not professional quality history. The underlying supposition is that their religion is divinely guided. I won't dispute that presumption, but I ask this, "If it is divinely guided, who is it that God is guiding?" (umm maybe I should have phrased that better.) The answer is people. The history of any religion is the history of people. You cannot divorce the history from the people who made it and write good history. Can you?

I puzzled about this when I read their last major history book published in the 1990's. It's a good read, and for a generalist history it's not bad. But it lacks detail in key areas and, while it doesn't lie (unlike some books I could name), it misdirects. Even that is not intentional but is based on the presumption that they have "the truth."

Truth does not stand or fall by the acts of worshipers. There is no need to hide details. And details give life to the story.

Monday, May 30, 2011

And now the news ...

7:02 The Pixie awakens, deciding that it's nicer to snuggle a warm bodied Scot than it is to put feet on the floor and move. Closes eyes.

7:50 Pixie and Knobby Knees head to Kitchen. Coffee is made. Plans are laid.

7:59 Dau 1 asks if she can make waffles. "Yes," the pixie says, "if you clean up your mess." K. Knees heads for the bedroom to dress. It is a holiday, but he must work until about 2:30 pm.

8:30 aprox. Waffles are eaten and mess is cleaned up. Pixie is at her computer wondering where a CD went.

9:03 Pixie has finished another cup of coffee; located the missing CD; put five books back on shelves; and spent a pleasant few minutes re-living the morning's snuggle, which was quite nice. In the process of finding the CD she also found a french fry. This is a clear indication that one of her daughters ate at her desk. A quick survey of all daughters produced: 1. A prompt denial. ("What? Are you mad? You'd beat me with a stick!" Okay so I made that up.) and 2. The information that Knobby Knees ate a hamburger at my computer while I was sleeping.

9:06 Pixie looks at pile of work and sighs. She opens CD and begins a search for the facts ... just the facts ... and nothing but the facts. A fresh cup of coffee awaits.

10:01 By this time the Pixie had located the article she wanted and added a paragraph with footnotes to one chapter. She has located an archive of personal papers belonging to a George Storrs. This is good. She did not know this existed. Her coffee has grown cold, but she's drinking it anyway. The house is suspiciously quiet. Pixie does a head count of children.

10:35 Pixie is pursuing a fugitive fact. Checks blog and finds blogger killed the formatting on this post. Fixes same. Reaches for a CD containing a large digitalized library to find a name. Her coffee is colder than before, but she’s still sipping it.

10:45 Pixie's cell phone dies. She charges same. Pixie cannot find name in archive. She frowns and thinks evil thoughts, then moves on to another topic.

10:51 Pixie wonders why disk is no longer working. Discovers she removed it from drive. Reinstals disk while speculating on the state of her brain. Resumes research.

11:12 Pixie's eyes now hurt, but she's read through hard to read scanned text and revised a section of one chapter. This is a yipee moment. She's still wondering about George W. Young. She decides to hunt him down.

11:19 Pixie is pouring more coffee, having drunk the last of the cold cup. She puts music in to play and is taking a break to talk to friends. First she runs to the potty as fast as her scrawny legs will carry her ... because of coffee.

12:35 [PM] The Pixie has finished chatting up her friends. In the process she suggested to a rather rude Pakistani that the world will be a better place when Pakistan achieves civilization or becomes a series of radioactive craters. That seemed to upset him a little, but he went away. I have no idea why that upset him since he seemed to want America turned to ash. Turn about is fair play, right? ... Pixie played four quick games of fish with her children.

12:45 The Pixie is helping Dau 1 fill out an online job application.

01:34 Pixie is back at her computer. Daughter 1 is cranky because though the job description said they would take an application from a 17 year old, they refused her application because she was not 18. Way to go Hastings books! I knew there was a reason I shopped at an indi-book store.

01:50 The Pixie decides to write an email to Hastings books. It is to the point but not cranky. Pixie feels better having complained. Pixie begins reading an article entitled John Wesley - Post or Premillennialist? by Kenneth O. Brown.

01:52 The Pixie, finding herself bored silly by the above mentioned article searches for George W. Young again. She discovers him in a Brooklyn Business directory. Or she things that this is probably the same guy. She thinks things are looking up, but she has a sudden craving for chocolate. Alas, there is none in the house.

02:10 The Pixie receives emails from her writing partner and replies to same. She starts a new three-ring binder labled Genesis: Notes. Many holes are punched and papers shuffled.

02:48 Pixie children are 1. being obnoxious; 2. are bored; or 3. want to play depending on which child you ask. This interrupts Pixie's hole punching. Daughter 1 reminds Pixie that she hasn't eaten lunch, thus mildly scolding the pixie for not eating and offering to make the pixie a snack. Pixie is AFK at this point.

04:26 Since last updated, Knobby Knees returned home and quickly left again to buy frustrated pixie black ink, taking assorted children with him They haven't been heard from since, and the Pixie suspects an ice cream swaray. Pixie is online chatting with a friend. Sink the Bismark is playing. Next up is North to Alaska!

05:04 Pixie has finished a full pot of coffee. Pixie is still talking to a friend online. The man who's supposed to repair our front door is outside making a huge racket. I didn't even know he was supposed to be here today. Knobby Knees has called and is bringing home dinner. He didn't say what. Dau 4 wants to play Aces, a game my uncle invented to keep my sisters and me occupied when we were dau 4's age. It takes at least three to play. If we can get a thrid, the game is on! Fun game.

While I'm in a music and dancing mood ...

Glenn Miller, his orchestra, Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, The Modernairs, the breathtakingly talented Nicholas Brothers, and the lovely Dorothy Dandridge. … Just because

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Westwood, Lassen County, California - About 1918

Opera House under construction.

Westwood, Lassen County, California - About 1920.

Looking toward the Red River Lumber Mill. The first part of Pixie Warrior, my first book, is set in this little town and near the time this photo was taken.

Happy Grandpahood x 2, Harry



Just because ... Bet you can't!

Okay ... so ...

I can't play an instrument, though I'd like to learn the Pan Flute. I lack the coordination to do that well. I tried to learn keyboarding when I was ten or so and kept at it for a couple of years. I just couldn’t make my fingers work. My neurological condition affects my coordination. So that’s pretty hopeless.

But … I can sing well enough to please myself. I think Harry heard me sing once. Ask him if it was awful. And … I like to dance. Knobby Knees and I swing dance … and this pixie and her pet Scot can do this … >

Didn't know pixies could do that, did you?

Well ...

Road Archaeology. The original road bed is the dark line next to the "new" road.

Occasional Reader sent my writing partner and me stuff ... and such stuff. And he wrote an article for our history blog that represents spectacular research. His article solved one of our "to be researched" questions in expert fashion.

This is super. It also means I'll be abandoning satyrs, goats, Greek gods, Old Testament parallels and such for significant rewrites of things. Such fun. These "bits" materially improve our book. Thanks Occasional!

Hold a sec, guys. I need coffee. ... okay, I'm back. Miss me?

So, as I was saying: I'll be doing some serious fixit stuff based on Occasional's research. First, however, I must clean my desk. It's messy ... again.

Now, on to other things, the first of which is an enquirery into Harry's well-being. How are you Harry? Where are you Harry?

Then there is this:

Week before last was a bit rough with long hours at work, a trip to see my Aunt and Uncle and to help them with some confusing paperwork. I'm still not sure we got that right. One never knows with state agencies. Along the way I engaged in a little road archaeology.

Old roads fascinate me. I got lost in the Cascades following an overgrown logging road. I was a pre-teen and it was scary, but I walked myself out of the forest after about three hours. I think I told that whole story somewhere on this blog. Anyway, to one's right when driving into the city where Aunty lives is a long straight row of trees. It's isolated from the highway, but you can get down there by turning at a shopping center, driving to the end of that road and then walking down a restricted service road. There's also a bike trail for part of that. The road is more direct.

There isn't much to see except the old roadbed and a largish weir box from the 1920s. It's city land and open to metal detecting. The only problem is I don't have one of my own and didn't borrow one for this trip. Still, it was interesting.

Before I left, Knobby Knees and I had one of our rambling discussions about everything and nothing. Along the way I mentioned that I needed some new panties. That drew no more reaction than suggesting I needed new dish towels, and I didn't expect it to. (New shoes would have been a different matter.) So, anyway, I get home. The house is empty. I make coffee. (Did I mention that God invented coffee?)I head to my work room planning on plopping my rather scrawny butt onto my desk chair and writing. I can't plop though because there is a pretty package on me lumpy chair.

I regard it speculatively. (I'm certain I'm related to Sherlock Pixie.) The tape is crooked; the ends are folded into triangles but not neatly. The bow is slightly askew. I don't check for watermarks, but I recognize the paper as left over from wrapping a present for my dad and his wife late last year. The wrapping isn't as messy as it would be if one of the youngest of my children did this. Daughter three wouldn't have bothered to wrap it. Daus 1 and 2 like those gift sacks with the glossy print paper. There are at least three of those in the catch-all closet. There is, then, only one conclusion. The Knobby Kneed Scot went shopping and bought me something.

When we were newly married I sent him off to the store to buy some necessary things. (Read: Sanitary Napkins) I thought he was going to faint. Now that we have five daughters, three of whom also use "necessary things," he's used to it. But ... I wonder what kind of courage he mustered to wander into Victoria's Secret and buy me three pretty "Cheekies." At least I don't have to go panty shopping at Wal-mart. He probably paid three times what I would have, but they are undeniably pretty. I like them. Isn't he sweet? For a pervert I mean?

“Cheekies” as you may imagine show … umm … well a bit more butt cheeks than granny panties do. (More than a bit more, actually.) I’m not sure that my scrawny, little butt warrants the exposure, but since he’s the only one to see it, it’s okay.

So ... Harry, I'm worried about you. Tell me what's going on. ... And Occasional .. THANKS FOR THE STUFF!

I’ve decided that were I single and looking, and I could find one … I’d date a satyr if he were cute, had some self control, and knew how to play checkers.

The Fauns by Leopold Kowalsky

Saturday, May 28, 2011

P. Philippe - Lady with Mirror

18th Century French Bronzes - Satyr and Nymph Pair

I dunno ... you might have to be American to understand this one ...

A Pirate with a paper towel draped over his head walks into a bar, and the puzzled barkeep asks, "Why do you have a paper towel on your head?"

The pirate eyes him dismissively, saying, "Arrrh Lubber, I've got a bounty on me head!"

Music of the Katra Pixies Sounds Much Like This ...

Greeks were perverts ...

My goodness, but the Greeks were perverts. I know the broad outlines of Greek mythology; I probably know more than the broad outlines. And I knew that some of the anti-Nicene Christian writers used the violent and perverted acts of the gods as an argument against paganism and for Christianity. That was, in fact, my introduction to the seamier side of the mythology. (I read the ten volume set of The Anti-Nicene Fathers once upon a time.)

George Stanley Faber, a 19th Century clergyman and writer saw in the pagan gods an echo of the sinning angels of Genesis. No reputable scholar who wants to keep tenure would suggest that today, but his book is provocative and thoughtful. I read it once or twice. It does not at all touch on the truly strange bits of Greek myth. Who knew, huh?

Well … obviously many did and do. There is a significant literature on Greek sex-worship. Many of those books are illustrated with vase paintings. One of these is euphemistically entitled Satyr and Deer Sniffing Each Other. I saw the illustration, and this pixie believes they’re doing a bit more than sniffing. The painting is neither the worst nor particularly outstanding in … ummm … strangeness.

One true puzzle is the concept of the penis bird. I have my own unauthoritative opinion about their significance. For the irrepressibly curious the penis bird is a phallus with wings and chicken feet. Yes, you read that correctly. What ever class of being it represents was obviously very single minded.

Some writers say the most outrageous things. One “scholar” suggested that Pan was depicted as part goat because a buck can service … are you ready for this? … 150 does in a night. Obviously this guy never visited a goat farm. There ain’t no goat capable of that, not even an old Scottish goat with knobby knees.

This is ruining my rather playful view of satyrs. Damn it. I may have to account for some difference between my nice goat-boys and girls and the extremely perverted nature of Greek myth. I’m still interested in some aspects of the mythology though, especially the cultic dance. If it makes it into my story it won’t be the same. Instead of being a dance leading to more or less consensual rape, or at least wanton sex, it will become a “mate for life” choosing dance. Someone has to give these creatures some morals, don’t they?

Sorry. No photos with this one. I can’t find one tame enough to keep this a PG(13) blog.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On becoming a footnote

Our history book is cited as a reference in an as-yet-unpublished paper entitled "The Bible Students and the Divine Plan: 'History Connected' From Prophetic Chart to Multimedia Spectacle." It's very well written and very interesting.

If Plutarch and a Christian Saint say they're Real ...

then they must be, right?

"Plutarch in the life of Sylla relates that a satyr was brought to Sylla. And St Jerome in the life of Paul the Hermit fays that St Anthony had seen one of them likewise. And that another was seen by all the people of Alexandria in the days of Constantine." –Creeche’s Lucretius as found in A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain, London, 1795, volume 13, pages 513-514.

Such an interesting bit of research, no?

Modern artists have such interesting visions of fauns and satyrs, some of them quite disturbing. Scott G. Brooks' work is always a little unsettling. His people are misshapen and often lewd. Below is his Goat Girl.

You can visit him here: http://www.scottgbrooks.com/ If you choose to visit this site, what is said above should be viewed as advanced warning.

The very talented artist who posts as Jernvotten presents fauns to us as moody, maybe displeased, a mixture of lithesome beauty and distorted visage.

You can fisit him here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21277408@N02/ Be warned that some of his artwork may disturb some of my readers. He's exceptionally good, however, and has illustrated fantasy fiction.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From Harry ...

I think my mom is kind of special. Of course all sons should feel that way. But my mom was one of the few. She joined the WACs in World War II. She was one of only 140,000 women in the Women’s Army Corps. She worked as a practical nurse at the Fort Bragg Army Hospital.

Somewhere along the line she meet a handsome young sergeant from Virginia who had been shipped back from the Pacific after recovering from malaria and was now training Signal Corps radio operators. I guess they hit it off. After VJ Day they both were discharged, but he didn’t forget her. He kept writing and one day he drove up to Cleveland, married her in the city clerk’s office and took her home.

I was doing a little reading up on the WACs of WWII and I came across the lyrics to some of their songs that they sang. This one is short, but I think the Pixie will like it.

K-K-K-K- P

(Parody of the chorus: K-K-K-Katy)

K-k-k-k- P, Dirty old K. P.
That’s the only Army job that I abhor;

When the m-m-m-moon shines over the guardhouse
I’ll be mopping up the k-k-k-kitchen floor

C-c-c-c- cootie, Horrible cootie

You’re the only b-b-b-bug that I abhor;

When the m-m-m-moon shines over the guardhouse

I’ll be scratching my b-b-b-back until it’s sore

Heist Society

I’ve been reading Young Adult books with adventure/mystery elements. We’re picking new books for one of the critical reading classes for next school year. This is usually fun, but the book I read yesterday, while moderately well written, was not a fun read. It was disturbing.

Ally Carter’s Heist Society entertained my oldest child. She’s not always a thoughtful reader. She reads to be entertained, and in fairness to Miss Carter, the book got a glowing recommendation from Daughter 1. From me it gets a pass.

The main character is a girl named Katarina Bishop. Katarina is a teenage criminal who’s trying to leave “the life.” She returns to it to rescue her father who a mafia-type bad guy blames for an art theft. Katarina and her teenage friends pull of a museum heist to save the day, entrapping the man who has threatened her father.

The book glorifies criminal behavior. What ever entertainment value there is in this book dies because it glorifies criminality. There is not enough “redemptive” value in this book to recommend it. Every criminal act is presented with relish. There is no balance between goodness and wickedness. The book is essentially amoral. Worse than being amoral, it glorifies criminality and is thereby immoral.

An author is entitled to write what they will, and the agent who signed Miss Carter, in this case Kirsten Nelson, obviously did not find the book objectionable. Neither did Disney-Hyperion, the publisher. I do. No amount of clever writing makes up for the degree to which this book glorifies criminality.

My oldest daughter wants to read book two when it is released. I will not discourage her, but we will have “the let’s use some good sense” talk. Daughter 2 did not finish the book, shrugging it off as “boring.” It is not within Dau 2’s current interests, so that wasn’t surprising. Dau 3 read it and pronounced it “stupid.” Her more exacting summary was that it was more “realistic” than Artemis Fowl, meaning that where Artemis Fowl is blatantly exaggerated, Heist Society is presented with more probable dialogue. She contrasted that with the improbability of teenagers as master criminals. She also had the same objection as I do. They’re crooks and they glory in being criminals.

The implication that Katarina Bishop will become some sort of modern day Robin Hood, righting wrongs through otherwise criminal acts, is not enough to save this book. Read it if you wish. It won’t find a place on our reading list.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Well the Goat seems to Enjoy it ...

And just to make it easy for "Occasional Reader," I'm not related to either the goat or the man.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beatrice, Princess of Savoy

Really a pixie. Don't tell anyone.

Sophie von Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

From an old Post Card. Sophie was really a Pixie.

Sybelle and Hubertus von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Well, here I sit confused by ...

From a Greek Vase.

… Greek mythology. And I thought historical research was confusing .... One thing I discovered is that the editors of the Oxford Classical Dictionary were prudes. If you choose to present an authoritative view of ancient mythology, shouldn't you also present it frankly? I think so.

So why is it I have to toddle off to books written in the 18th Century to find what I want? Victorian prudishness is alive and well. Our middle and high schools present Greek Mythology. In high school it's presented in a third year literature class. It's candified. Of course you can't tell the little boys and girls about shape-shifting Greek gods who abducted and rapped each other's children, who fostered bestiality, who were just nasty blokes all around.

Probably, given the state of society, the Olympian gods are alive and well and still practicing their mischief. I'm interested in the story of Mercury and Penelope. There are, it seems, two main versions of it. The most common one is taken from a bit of nastiness that included dialogue between Pan and Mercury. The other, and to me more interesting version, tells of her seduction during a cultic dance. This is probably closer to the original, though I'm not any sort of expert on Greek myth. My problem is that I’ve found this in only one source, a book published in the early 18th Century. But since I write fiction, I am not bound to total accuracy.

There is strong evidence that cultic dances included the costumed personification of the gods and some considerable licentiousness. This characterized eastern Mediterranean cults. You can find an example in the Bible. The goat cult takes endless forms, persisting in the Mediterranean area until the middle ages. The Knights Templar and the nature religion that was called “witchcraft” in the Middle Ages both manifested elements of it. It included simulated sexual intercourse with goats, and on some occasions the simulation became a reality. It is usually seen as a fertility rite, but my impression is that it’s an (there must be a good word for this) empowerment rite. Intercourse with the personification of the god brought the promise of power, not simply the promise of renewal. Looking at sexual rites as fertility rites seems simplistic. The underlying issue is power. Participate and you have the promise of power.

Cultic Dance from Third Century Vase

I’m not willing to call this a false promise. We derive a sense of empowerment form all sorts of things, and if we feel empowered then we just may be. Where today a sense of empowerment may come from wealth, knowledge, ability, then it could come from ritual. We have our own rituals too, some of them personal and some congregational. Watch any group – a board meeting is a good example – and you will see ritual in what they do. The distribution of seats and tablets and pens at a board meeting may look different from naked or nearly naked worshipers circle-dancing and having goat sex or being soaked in pig blood, but they still establish power among the hierarchy of individuals.

Religion is about empowerment. The Babylonian practice of virgin-whoring in the temple taught lessons of dominance more than it gave voice to a misguided sense of continuing fertility. The ancient gods were a disreputable lot, and they're still worshiped under new names and in newer ways.

The idea of incarnation seems to come from cultic belief that gods could inhabit their worshipers. (Do not cite me as an authority.) If a god could inhabit a cultic participant, then he could become flesh. Anyway, I'm still poking at Penelope’s story because I want to use the idea of cultic dance in a story. We'll see.

I want to craft two dances for the story, a pixie celebration and a wicked fairy cultic dance. I don’t write “x” rated stuff, so I won’t be using everything I find. But an improbable story is best told when it resembles reality.

On the research front, I located an article in the October 1989 issue of Methodist History. (I did warn you somewhere that Methodists seek world domination by boring us all to death or by feeding us donuts and bad coffee?) It’s a longish article, but distilled I think it will condense to maybe two sentences. But they’ll be two useful sentences, I ken.

I also found a really helpful issue of The Literalist. (I found all of volume two but will only use the one issue.) It contains an excellent history of the Literalist movement. As with Mr. Storrs’ life, not all of it is useful, but all of it is very, very interesting. It means, however, that must rewrite the introduction to one chapter. That’s okay. It will be better than it now is.

Roland Perry - The Siren

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Penelope and Mercury

Am ancient carved amethyst originally found in the collection of Prince Poniatowski.

Pan's Daughter by Roland Hinton Perry

Pan’s parentage is attributed to several of the gods. The most commonly believed story was that he was Mercury’s son by Penelope. Penelope spurned Mercury’s love, so the myth says, and being of devious mind he changed himself into a handsome he-goat and approached her while she was herding her father’s goats. She found him handsome indeed – as a goat if not as a god – and Pan was born of the union.

just because i like it ....

sweets new blog

sweets is a canadian author. she's started a new blog:


Well ...

An Illustration from Beutiful Gems

I'm sick in my tummy today, and I'm taking the night off from work. My bed and I have a close and snuggly relationship today. I hope I didn't give this stuff to Shirley. She came down yesterday to drop off some stuff for my kidlets and to take me treasure shopping. It was fun but I only found two books and no other treasure. I did find a baby blanket that still has the store tags on it. I bought that as a present for a friend who's expecting her first.

The books are a bit ratty, but I bought them anyway. I found a McGuffey's New Fifth Eclectic Reader. Usually when I see those they're reprints done in the 1970's. This copy is the 1866 edition and has the leather spine. Most of these old readers were passed through many hands and sometimes through several generations. This copy has three names from the Redding family of Minneapolis. The edges are frayed and the corners are bumped, but it's a fun book.

The other book is H. D. Northrop's Beautiful Gems. It's in bad shape, but all the gorgeous steel plate and lithographed prints are there and unharmed. I'll remove them and trash the rest of the book. Except for the prints the pages are high-acid and decaying. There is no saving this book, but I can rescue these gorgeous prints.

I have been struggling with two stories for Pixie 2, neither one of which is making me happy. One seems to have no resolution that makes sense. It's turned into one of those daydreams that may be interesting, even fun, but which do not have the potential for a solid story. The other is more workable. I'm still struggling with motive and characterization, but it is moving forward. One of the main characters is a librarian. She's been the most difficult. In my mind she's young. On paper she turns into a grandma. Stubborn woman!

Oh I forgot to mention that there were papers and old bookmarks stuck in the Northrop book. One of these is a football program from the town where my writing partner lives. I know some of the teachers and administrators in that high school. I think I'll send it to them. It's from 1946.

What little I've been out of bed has been spent writing about Mr. Storrs. He's getting on my nerves! I found a really interesting newspaper article about him. Writing up the content has been a challenge. Mid 19th Century newspaper grammar was invariably convoluted; sometimes it was just awful. (Want a giggle? Read your Fowler and note his comments on newspaper grammar.)

A friend to our research located a microfilm of an important paper. She emailed me contact information, but this thing costs bunches of money. We may have to work around not seeing it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Miss Sara N. Dippity, Onion Soup, and White Tail Deer

Funny what happens when you’re off researching stuff. In the first book in our history series, we mention a Daniel Robinson. We ran across him in the Religious Notices section of the New York Times way back in the 1860’s. So we wrote up what little we could find and moved on. He was a minor player and neither of us lost sleep or hair or grew freckles over the small bit of biography we found.

I ran across him again two days ago. Way back in the 1830’s the morally and mentally unstable editor of a Methodist magazine (You gotta watch out for those Methodists, I tell ya!) accused George Storrs of all manner of bad things because Mr. Storrs wrote an article critical of Methodist editors and their response to the slavery issue. A church committee was formed, three ministers examining the issue. They found Storrs innocent. The editor threw a fit and acted in a very childish manner. (Hey, he was a Methodist. What can I say. Today you see them as staid, not to say dull witted imbibers of coffee and donuts, but they’re probably plotting world domination via ennui.) One of the committee was D. I. Robinson.

Robinson soon took up the anti-slavery banner. Later he followed Storrs into Adventism, and then into age-to-come belief. Interestingly another individual on that committee also took up Age to Come belief. This is Miss Sara N. Dippity at work.

Knobby Knees put the coffee grinder away, which means I’ll never see it again – at least until he comes home. It’s probably in the garage, a desk drawer, behind a chair, or sitting in plain sight. With Knobby Knees, one never knows.

Why did I get more comments on my nose than on my toes? One of the mysteries of life, I guess.

I’m thinkin’ that we’ll tell more of the anti-slavery story than I wanted. The more I look at this, the more important it becomes. It illustrates Storrs’ approach to other issues. When I told my writing partner this I got a very polite “I told you so.” Men! Old men! Smart old men! Sheesh.

Today I’ve been writing up a man named Charles French. French was a Unitarian Congregationalist deacon who took up the Millierite Adventist message. He fell out of favor in 1843 for advocating a kind of sinless perfection for the converted. … And then he died. We wont say much about him, just enough to put his meeting with Storrs into context. French made one of the first end-of-the-age charts back in 1839. I can’t locate a copy. I’d like to have a nice photo of it to use as an illustration.

I also found an article by Joshua V. Himes published in January 1841, advocating the return to favor of the Jews. This is unexpected – and very interesting.

Some kind soul sent me a program for a large summer convention. They want me to go, of course. The program does seem interesting, and I just might go. They present these in a series each year, and one of them (several actually) will be held where my writing partner lives. I could go eat Shirley’s corned beef (always better than mine) and bribe her into making her delicious cherry cream pie.

Last night I wandered off to the kitchen near closing time. I begged French onion soup and cheese cake from the chef and we gossiped for an hour. This is really not just gossip. When I visit with staff I find things out. Never underestimate the smarts of a maid, houseboy, or anyone else. Afterwards I walked out back and came face to face with a white tail deer. They’re such pretty creatures. I’ve seen far more of them this year than normally. It’s unusual for them to come into town, but we’re within sight of the river, and she probably wandered from the trees along the bank.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Facts of Life

Questions on the facts of life from a reader’s perspective.

Why do Frenchmen insist on being obtuse?

I’m reading S. Reinach’s Orpheus: A History of Religions. It was largely nonsense when written, and it’s worse now but still interesting. As much nonsense as it contains when dealing with the ideation of religion and its origins, he writes some worthwhile things. However, to find the interesting things one must wade through sentences such as this one: “The word religion being what custom has made it, it is necessary that a minimum definition, as Taylor calls it, should be applicable to the term in all its acceptations.” That’s the English translation. The French seems no better.

I’d like to know why I’m a compulsive book organizer. I no more finish with a bookshelf than I find myself reconsidering the entire arrangement. Bookcase seven, shelf two in no particular subject or title order except that which exists in a Pixie’s mind:

Pepeta; Collected Poems of Robert Service; The Works of Rabelais; Balzac: Droll Stories; The Three Musketeers; Plato’s Republic; Dialogues of Plato; O’Neil: Nine Plays; Treasure Island; Anthology of Children’s Literature; Little House in the Ozarks; Cooper: Letherstocking; Wind in the Willows; All the Peter Rabbit Stories in separate volumes; McCann: Complete Cheerful Cherub; James: Portrait of a Lady; Dreiser: Sister Carrie; Stringer: Prairie Stories; Elliot: Felix Holt; Another copy of Treasure Island (though I have no clue why); Novels of Dashiell Hammett; Chesterton: Father Brown Omnibus; Goldsmith: Vicar of Wakefield; Machiavelli: The Prince; Jane Eyre; Dickens: Our Mutual Friend (this needs to move to where the rest of the Dickens stories are. It’s been miss-shelved by mischievous hands.); Romeo and Juliet; Robinson Crusoe; The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde; Train: My Day in Court; Brothers Karamazov.

If you can figure out the brain that created that order, I’d be grateful. No rude comments, please.

I like pretty things, but pretty is a matter of taste. Let me illustrate this. I have a black basalt statuette that was a gift. It’s of a hula dancer who is naked on the top and wears a skimpy grass skirt on the bottom. Most of its life in my possession has been spent in a box. It’s not exactly ugly, and for what it is, I suppose it’s not poorly done. It’s a matter of taste I guess. The person who bought this for me (now deceased) thought it was pretty and that I’d like it. It was a nice thought, but somehow it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not sure why.

High Noon! - Guest Post from Harry

It was twelve noon on a warm Saturday in late February. Mom met me at the door.

“Where have you been? Jayne is in labor!”

My mother was frantic. She had already driven her car around close to the side door of the house.

“I stopped at the store after my eye appointment”, I replied as I went into the next room where my young wife was waiting, reclined on the sofa.“How are you sweetheart?

How close are the contractions?”

I was trying to act relatively calm. How calm can you act when you are about to have your first child? I didn’t know much, but I knew that my job as her Lamaze coach was to project confidence that everything would be all right.

“ About six minutes apart.”

“Okay, good. I’ve got time to eat something.”

Now before you think I had gone completely mad, which just so happened to be my mother’s opinion at the moment, we had gone through a Lamaze class where we had been told over and over that the first delivery could take up to sixteen hours or more. The coach, yours truly, should get a good meal, if possible, because I was in for a long day with very few breaks. With my mom still spinning like a dervish and leading Jayne to the car, I grabbed a sandwich.

The drive to the hospital was uneventful. We checked in through the emergency room and after a quick exam, we wheeled up to the Obstetrics floor. Jayne was nervous, anxious, though outwardly composed, and slightly dilated. The nurses quickly got her to her bed, prepped and connected to the monitor. Jayne’s nurse must have read the Lamaze manual too, because when Jayne started complaining about pain, she started quoting the same line about how long the delivery of the first child ‘normally’ is. She had forgotten the cardinal rule of birthing babies – babies follow their own schedule and no two births are the same.

We had been in the delivery suite for over an hour now; it was a little past 2 pm. Jayne’s contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart, but more intense. Her water had not ‘broken’ yet. The morning shift of nurses was leaving and the afternoon/evening shift was coming on duty. They were of the same opinion that this would be a long delivery. Jayne had a different opinion and she wanted drugs! Now!

A couple who has practiced for a Lamaze delivery is supposed to use mental focusing on a point in space and breathing exercises to control the pain and avoid the use of anesthetics that could be harmful to the baby. Besides it was the only way at this particular hospital that the father could be present for the delivery. Although this was 1977, our small, county hospital was not as progressive as many larger hospitals. Fathers-to-be were expected to smoke their lungs out in the waiting room while mothers-to-be suffered at the hands of their nurses, who knew best.

Jayne finally convince the new shift nurse to examine her again. She was surprised to discover that Jayne was fully dilated and quite ready to delivery. The doctor was called at home. Luckily he lived just five minutes away. I was told to gown up. When the doctor arrived he broke her water, and we wheeled into the delivery room.

The Lamaze plan had been thrown out the window earlier. Jayne had been given some pain medicine. The doctor wanted to give Jayne an epidural that blocks pain from the waist down. Jayne was asked to take a sitting position while he inserts the needle in her spine. I’m trying to help hold her up. He tries twice. Jayne has a slight curve in her spine that prevented it from going in. I’m hyperventilating through the hospital mask. I step outside for a moment to catch my breath.

Back inside Jayne is now seated in a birthing position. The doctor gives her a local anesthetic. Two pushes and Kate is born. 3:29 pm on a warm, sunny February afternoon, just a little over five hours after contractions began. She is eight pounds, three ounces and twenty-three inches long with blue eyes and just a little blonde hair.

Yesterday Jayne and I had a quiet dinner with my mom. I asked them both what they remembered about that day. Mom said she remembered how stoic Jayne was. I like that word - stoic. I think it describes my wife very well. She was calm while my mom was very nervous. Jayne remembered arguing with the nurse on the morning shift and how the doctor made her apologize the next day for not listening to her patient. Jayne likes to be right, which is why I have made it a policy to always say I am sorry for nearly everything that happens in our house.

Now 34 years later my baby daughter is about to be a mom. I’ve watched her grow from a baby, to a child, a teen and young woman. Things have come full circle. This time Jayne and I can both be nervous as we wait for word. Thanks to cell phones, we will be heading to the hospital as nearly as fast as she and her mate will. Then a new chapter will begin.

Toes, Slavery, Mr. Storrs

So, I’ve been pulling my hair out today. Usually we have too little material for my mental comfort. I’ve spent the morning trying to prune out an excess of material. I’m working through the documents reproduced in Matlack’s History of American Slavery and Methodism (1849). There is an endless amount of really interesting material, almost none of it relevant to our history. I’m conflicted. I want to use it ALL and can’t. We should write a separate biography of this Mr. Storrs I suppose.

Where we need documentation is in the period between 1863 and 1869. I sent an email out seeking some material but have received no answer yet. We can work around the lack, but I’d rather see the original material instead of secondary (though often nearly contemporary) sources. Still – I did some good work today. I think we need to elaborate on Storrs’ initial conversion to Christianity. The primary descendant group would not recognize his initial conversion as a true one. This is silly, of course, and would not have found a favorable response among First Century Christians who instead of discounting the conversion of someone who understood doctrine imperfectly accepted it and taught the person a more accurate doctrine.

Toes! Yes. Most of us have them. My sneaky pet Scott took a photo of me on my knees fishing behind a chair for a dropped paper. I’d post the toe part if I could get it to pixelate better than it does. The rest of the photo is not fit for blogger consumption. It’s not that I’m naked or nuthin’, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to post a photo of my scrawny butt, no matter how well covered. I think I’ve mentioned that K. Knees is a pervert of sorts.

Lemme give it one more edit thingie … hold on … okay … so this is Knobby Knees’ view of the cute feets that turn him all melty and such. I expect as many comments form this as I got over my nose … I can’t make the photo any better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Guessing Game

... for Occasional Reader though everyone can play. This is prompted by his guest post. So ... here's the deal ... I'm related in some way (or not at all) to one or both of these women. Your best guess goes in the comments section ...

Maria Jose' - 1930 I think.

Henriette von Schönaich-Carolath (seated at the desk) with her governess. December 24, 1932.

Guest Post by "Occasional Reader"


It is strange being without internet access for nearly a week. The family all went away to a beautiful holiday park, with lakes and trees, and birds and badgers, and accommodation that suited the range of ages in the party. But for the internet, you have to travel. I was encouraged vigorously by my other half - I really spend far too much time on the internet at home – this was vacation, we want some more of your attention please!

But now, towards the end of the vacation, other half and daughter are well and truly installed in the spa, son in law has gone off mountain biking – and I think he’s getting a bit old for that, let alone me!! - so to travel to the local bar and cybercafé suddenly seemed both logical and justifiable.

So what have I found? Hundreds of emails – mostly junk but some quite important – giving me a week’s worth of catch up. (I think I will need another vacation just to get over that!) And then there are the various blogs and message boards I read – covering my profession, my hobbies, my religion, my music – my everything really.

For inveterate net junkies, one of the advantages of the internet is that we can compartment different aspects of our lives. In my case, professional colleagues don’t have to know about the singing, folk world friends don’t have to know about the religious activities (but should guess) and religious students don’t have anything to raise their eyebrows about from ones extended literary activities of highly dubious quality. And one can have the satisfaction of hiding behind a wealth of pseudonyms to keep all apart. Just don’t mix them up or give away too much, so that the trail comes back to you – although frankly, unless you are doing something illegal or unprofessional, personal privacy is all you have to worry about.

And so to the Pixie blog, which was the first one I have visited on my partial return to civilization. It was good to see Sha'el back in harness, but also to read recent posts and understand a bit more detail about her situation. Knowing a bit of someone’s background you can understand better where they are coming from – and also what blog comments might be inadvisable. The phrase “light blue touch paper and retire three hundred paces immediately”* comes to mind! But she still retains privacy for herself and family in the REAL WORLD, which is how it should be. Although in idle moments one occasionally tries to work out which photos might be Pixie ancestors and which are straightforward “cut and paste” from that great scrapbook in the ether.

On a serious note it was good to learn that her health is better for the moment. Like other posters here I feel sort of fatherly protective at times, having a daughter of similar age, who also has to deal with specific health issues.

And I have every reason to be very grateful to her and her uncle. Wearing one of my research hats, they have supplied me with gold, and I hope I have supplied them with a bit of bronze and silver from time to time. Long may their blogs continue.

*A warning on fireworks way back in the distant when. That's okay; I didn't know that either. -Pixie

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am not related to this child ...

... but one of my blog readers may be ...

I need one of these ...

Remember Occasional Reader's Bible Code Post?

I got this visit today:

Referring URL http://www.google.co... in psalm 46&spell=1
Search Engine google.com
Search Words was william shakespeare coded in the bible in psalm 46
Visit Entry Page http://wardancingpix...ible-code-twits.html
Visit Exit Page http://wardancingpix...ible-code-twits.html

Someone in Hawaii is seriously interested in this topic.

Cute toes, strange men and Mr. Storrs .... not in that order

Well … it’s time to start putting together bits of notes, partially written sections and such. I’m not at all satisfied with what we have, but then I seldom am. So … here’s the story: A man named George Storrs was persuaded to join the Methodist Episcopal Church as a young, newly-married man. He’d been a captain in the Vermont militia and attended a well-known academy for at least a year. His wife died after suffering horribly. Storrs married her sister afterwards.

Storrs was led to advocate the abolition of slavery through his understanding of the Bible. Most American Abolitionists were religious and saw slavery as a sin against man. This put him in conflict with his church and with many of his neighbors. He was arrested twice and a famous poet wrote a poem about it. He left the Methodists over this issue.

In the later 1830’s Storrs read a tract by a rebel theologian named Henry Grew. It was on the death state (called the “intermediate state” because it stands between life and resurrection). Storrs was convinced. He produced a small tract, then a book. The book made its way into the hands of a man named C. F. French. Calvin French was a minor light within the Millerite Movement. He traveled to Vermont to meet Storrs who let him preach end of the age doctrine to his church. They were mutually convinced.

While Storrs doctrine eventually triumphed among the majority of Adventists, it was not without a nasty fight characterized by bitter and acrimonious words. Millerism failed, and Storrs returned to his roots when it came to last times doctrine. By 1844 he was no longer an Adventist. Some today describe him as a “well-respected Adventist.” This is utter nonsense. He turned to Literalism, drawing censorious comments from his former associates. Some of the post prominent among them reviled him and lied about his new views.

Though many see Storrs as following others in to what was quickly called “age to come” belief, he was in point of fact first among this group to advocate many of these teachings. He was in no way the originator of them, however. They stem from the New Testament and from British (Primarily English) and German theology dating back to Piscator and Mede and before. Age to Come belief was the mainstream and Millerite Adventism was the modern aberration. None of those credited by CoGGC and Christadelphian historians with the doctrine’s introduction deserve the credit.

From 1844 through 1863 Storrs was an age to come believer, though independent of various developing bodies. In 1862 he was persuaded to reject the belief that God would resurrect the irredeemably wicked only to judge them and kill them again, a barbaric and unscriptural teaching. He and others formed the Life and Advent Union to advocate that one doctrine. It was the one unifying doctrine; other beliefs were diversely held. By the late 1860’s Storrs had modified his views to the extent that he believed many more would be resurrected than most of his associates thought. Storrs rejected “probationism,” an insidious doctrine that teaches that this life is a probation before God whether one is aware of the divine rule or not. God is not unfair, Storrs wrote.

He broke with the Life and Advent Union and restarted an independent ministry advocating that more expansive view of salvation. Storrs was against any sort of organizational structure beyond the local level. He believed that Christians should be free to debate doctrine. Debate was healthy and productive if it improved understanding. Storrs would not have approved of the dictatorial hierarchical development among the principal antecedent group. While he exerted undeniable influence, he would not have associated with them because of the movement to stifle debate and limit theological initiative to a select few. It is doubtful that he would approve of them at all.

Storrs wrote important tracts and papers, edited books and journals. He is no where in the literature presented accurately despite the abundance of documentation. It is assumed by many that he led a man named Russell into Adventism. This is wrong. Storrs doctrine as it was expressed in the late 1860’s until his death was contrary to Second Adventist doctrine.

Our challenge is to write this up in a coherent, well-documented and convincing way and not produce a separate biography of Storrs. I’m going to start patching together our bits of research and partial write-throughs this week. Then I’ll pass all of this back to my writing partner and let him go at it.

We really need to see all of the issues of Herald of Life published between 1863 and 1869. We don’t have access, but I don’t thing we’ll suffer from it. I’m sending off an email to someone who might just have them. We’ll see.

So much for that. Now consider this: Men are odd. At least my pet Scotsman is odd. But you learn things from your pets if you are observant. For instance, I’d probably never have known I had cute feet if he hadn’t told me so. He’s kinda a cute foot, cute shoes, cute butt sorta guy. (If that shocks you, don’t read it.)

I’ve been exposed to male thinking all of my life. Most of us are. We have fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, and such. I have never divined how they think. Have you? I mean … here I am sitting in my comfy chair, sipping coffee. K. Knees may be sitting across from me doing the crossword or something. It’s a nice, agreeable moment. There’s no need to talk. We’re comfortable in each other’s presence. And he looks up and says, “Thanks for breakfast; it was good.”

Breakfast was an hour past, but it’s nice to be thanked. I say, “I’m glad you liked it.”

We return to silence. I sip a bit more coffee, deciding it would be better with something sweet. So I make my way into the kitchen and slice up the last piece of cheese cake into two thin bits and bring him some. He smiles and says his thanks.

I sink back into my chair and put fork to cake when he says, “Are you going to wear your black shoes today?”

Now most of my shoes are black. All of my dress shoes are, most of my causal shoes are except for the ragged things I wear to work in the gardens. They’re pink, or were. And I have two nice semi-dressy pink pair. God invented pink. Pink is nice. … All that having been noted, I know which pair he means. As with Warm Vanilla body wash, this particular pair puts him in mind of pixie mating practices and distant forests. (I think I already mentioned that 1. he’s a guy and 2. he’s odd.)

“Yes,” I say, even though I hadn’t thought about it at all.

“Are we going to the mall?” he asks. This seems a non sequitur, but one never knows with K. Knees.

“We could,” I say. “I want to buy a book at Barnes and Noble.”

“Would you be wearing your blue dress?”

I pause at this … If the wheels are grinding in my brain, it’s not much of a clash of gears. I know where this is leading.

“I can,” I say. A sip of coffee and bite of cheese cake follow. He remains silent, concentrating on his crossword puzzle. I let the silence extend for a minute. “Where did you intend to remove it?” I ask sweetly.

“What?” he asked. “What ever gave you that idea?”

Men. They’re both predictable and unpredictable. Such puzzling creatures …

In the years I’ve lived with Knobby Knees I’ve learned that he’s a kind, considerate slightly though nicely perverted man who talks with a vague accent and likes pancakes and my cute butt and toes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Very Fiesty Pixie Child


I suppose I owe my faithful readers an explanation, but I’m reluctant to give it. Harry observed in the comment trail that I probably wasn’t telling you how sick I am. He’s a very perceptive man. When I crash the entire world turns dark, and I retreat from life. Depression commonly follows a seizure. The seizures are relatively short episodes, but the after effects can linger for days. It’s usually when I’m in that state that I want to shut everything down, stop writing, and hide myself under the covers.

When I was seven I woke up in the local hospital with my parents and grandparents standing at the foot of my bed and only a partial memory of how I got there. Our back fence bordered a park. We could step out a gate into the park and play on the toys. So this was home territory for us. Mom could see us out the back windows. The rules were that we were to ask before we wandered out there. I didn’t ask. I opened the gate and went alone into that park.

Things happened there that need not be described. A family was picnicking in the park. They were aware of me, but they thought I was napping on the grass. They associated me with another family with whom I had no relationship. After some time one of that family became concerned and went to check on me. An ambulance was called. I left the back gate open, and my mother noticed it. She found me just as the ambulance arrived. I do not know how long I was in the park, though it is my belief that it was not long.

I spent a lot of my seventh year in hospitals. I have had a complex of seizures since. The seizures themselves are not inherited, but a very perceptive doctor at the University of Washington Hospital probed for a family history because the tendency to have seizures can be inherited. My mother’s hobby was genealogy so she took on the health history project in a big way. She created a chart that included first and second cousins, aunts and uncles and ancestors back to 1600. There is a generation by generation history of neurological problems that extends back to a young woman who died of uncontrollable seizures in 1692. Beyond that there is an incidental history going back to a man named Alfred who lived in the 10th Century.

The seizures were complex and of many types, including what you may understand as a convulsion. Most of them are not of that type but are something more subtle though often as frightening and dramatic. The most commonly occurring type is something called A-Typical Temporal Lobe Seizures. There are other issues as well that I do not intend to describe. The doctors suggested that I would die young. I have outlived their expectation by over a decade.

Life is a daily war and I see myself as a warrior of sorts. Sometimes the battle goes poorly and I consider a retreat, even surrender. I learned quickly that people shun the sick. I turned from a very gregarious child into a somewhat reserved person. I tended to associate with people older than myself. There were two reasons for that. Older people were more interesting to me and I did not handle my peers questions and comments well.

Meeting Knobby Knees was a turning point for me. I was twelve years old and a junior in high school (Yes, yes, I know … but those are the facts.) and taking some classes at the local Junior College. For my non-American readers, a Junior College is a two year institution rather than a four year college. The state paid the tuition. Knobby Knees thought my oldest sister was the hottest thing since fresh baked bread and invited himself to our cafeteria table despite my sister’s obvious annoyance. I remember telling him exactly how annoying he was. My opinion of him changed within weeks.

He did not connect my sister and me to our mother. Mom was one of his teachers. She taught American Literature and World Literature. He liked mom and often chatted with her after his class; it was last period of the day. He told her that he liked me. Huge shock, right? Mom said, “You do know she’s only twelve, right?” He didn’t. He just thought I was exceptionally small. (“What are you, some sort of midget?”) This led to all sorts of complications, as you can imagine.

I was a kind of a school pet. Many of the students were protective, knowing my age and circumstance. All of the teachers, especially the principal, saw me as something like their own child. I could not have misbehaved if I wanted to. But I loved that irritating boy.

We got to know his family. Mom knew his mother on a vague sort of basis. Sometime that summer I told his mom that I was going to marry knobby knees “some day.” She handled that fairly well, I think ….

Anyway K. Knees asked my mom if he could take me to the Prom. Mom was one of the Teacher-Chaperones. She put endless conditions on him, though she probably should have given him a flat “no.” He had to ride with us. We had to sit at her table. Oh … the conditions were endless. He was teased endlessly about dating mom, but I had a ball at the ball.

We were eventually married. He was and is my best friend and protection. He is the boundary of what is safe for me. This doesn’t mean I’m not a social person. But as far as a human can be one, he is my anchor. I am now a very private person. Most of my closest associates and friends come from within my very large and very extended family. I am still sick. I am, though I resent it thoroughly and deny it at every opportunity, a very fragile person. This does not mean that I can’t go eyeball to belly button with those who deserve a dressing down. Women are almost always stronger than they believe they are.

Life with K. Knees is an adventure. Life with me must stress him endlessly, though he seldom shows it. All of this is explanation for my periodic crash and threat to end the blog. I don’t do it to get you to comment. I do it when I’m withdrawing from life because I’m losing the battle.

You may have noticed ...

Blogger Broke big time. To fix it the deleted everyone's most recent posts and comments. Curse you Google and all your Blogger Techs. Curse you with some dreadful Old Testament curse or something. Or may your cooties be large, your Oreos stale and your voice squeeky!

I'm greatful it's fixed though.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I'd bet 20 Oreos to your two glazed donuts you can't do this

okay so i still feel like dirt, but i'm back ... and

We got this email. Emails are nice if they aren't spam or from a twit. This one came from someone who's read bits of our Work in Progress. It said:

"Your book will probably end up being one of the most definitive studies done on the subject."

Monday, May 09, 2011


Dieses ist mein letzter Journaleintrag. Gott segnen Sie. Gott segnen meine zuverlässigen Leser. Alle Sachen haben ihr Ende.

Auf Wiedersehen.

I at least need a break. Come back in a few days.

Because someone asked ... the words in German:

Edelweiß, Edelweiß,
Du grüßt mich jeden Morgen,
Sehe ich dich,
Freue ich mich,
Und vergess' meine Sorgen.
Schmücke das Heimatland,
Schön und weiß,
Blühest wie die Sterne.
Edelweiß, Edelweiß,
Ach, ich hab dich so gerne.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Just Obnoxious

Some of the worst “contrived” news comes from the religious media. Today’s example comes from The Catholic News Agency. Rashae Ophus Johnson wrote an article entitled “New Catholics overcame challenges on journey into the Church.” The poor capitalization is hers. This is a bit of exaggerated propaganda. Mrs. Johnson profiles recent converts, one a Native American, one originally a Mormon and the last one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I write about and research the last group, so any comment is going to draw my interest. Mrs. Johnson, who is associated with the Archdiocese of Anchorage, claimed that a “Vanessa, who asked that her last name not be used, due to tensions caused by her conversion, grew up in a family of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, where she was taught that the harlot described in the Book of Revelations represents the Catholic Church.”

Perhaps there really is a Vanessa. Perhaps she was associated in some way with the Witnesses. Witnesses do not teach that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon “described in the Book of Revelations.” [Dear heart, the name of the Bible Book is Revelation, not Revelations. In Catholic Bibles it’s usually called The Apocalypse.] If there was a Vanessa and she made this claim, then her association with Witnesses was tenuous. If Vanessa did not make this claim, then Mrs. Johnson made it up opting to propagandize at the expense of truth.

I do not question the validity of “Vanessa’s” conversion. I do not know Vanessa or anything about her circumstances. If there is a Vanessa and she wishes to be a Catholic, that’s fine with me. (Is this where I say something like, “some of my best friends are Catholic”?) My objection is the tendency among reporters whose Christian identity should bind them to truth and accuracy to fabricate for the sake of sensationalism.

Mrs. Johnson has provided us with an example, though it is neither the worst one nor even an especially bad one. It’s silly. Damn it! Stop being stupid!

The real problem is that this stupidity was picked up by other Catholic media and repeated endlessly without any one of the responsible editors giving it the slightest critical thought. So pages and pages of this material appear on endless Catholic web pages, and each occurrence calls into question the ethical standards of the webmasters and editors involved. Propagandize your religion if you wish. I have no objection to that. Do not lie to do it.

When Apples were New to the Territory - About 1900

The Dragon Sword

From Pixie Warrior by that short scrawny writer, umm me. …

Grandmother went to rescue her child. Much violence and recrimination passed before Grandmother learned the truth. Seven pixies and a dragon died. The dragon, young and inexperienced, fought when it should have fled. The man who killed it felt he’d helped pixie kind and done a great and righteous deed. His shield displayed a slain dragon and his sword hilt was fashioned with a dead dragon as its device.

The deed was irreparable, and Grandmother mourned the loss of dragon friendship, her dead pixies, and even the unwise dragon kid. When the knight who’d served Grandmother so bravely died, she took his dragon-sword and put it in the cave of memory. Save once, it has remained there since.

Grandmother led us to the back of the large chamber and then down a very narrow passage. To the right was a small, ill-lit room. It seemed to have a glass or crystal box with a sleeping pixie in it.

“What’s that Grandmother?” My voice seemed surreal and loud.

“It’s the body of Sha, the daughter of Tanath who was daughter of Eve.”

Grandmother looked sad. "She was my mother. After Tanath died, she filled the role of mother to us all.”

We didn’t enter. We passed other rooms and alcoves with interesting things. Some were puzzling. I wished to know the significance of a broken sea shell and I badly wanted to know the meaning of a very small hand carved wagon. It seemed carved from one piece of wood. I didn’t ask. Silence seemed more appropriate.

We passed a sword with an elaborately decorated hilt. I yanked on Nanny’s tail. “The dragon sword?” I whispered. She nodded. Seeing it made me very sad.

The path we followed led downward and the passage narrowed until Papa had to turn sideways to pass. It seemed to be getting warmer too. No one asked, “How much farther?” I wished they would. And I wanted to know why we were here instead of out killing the foul worms.

The twins were still very small, but they flew with more force than either Nanny or I and they understood immediately where I wished to go. They spurted ahead of us and arrived seconds before we did. They were breathing normally.

Nanny and I gasped for breath. I pressed my hands to my burning chest, and Nanny bent over, grasped her knees and spit up phlegm.

“I think my wings are falling off,” she gasped.

“Nonsense,” I said. “They’re cute as ever and attached as well as before.”

“So, what do we do?”

So, I told them what I needed and what I wanted each to do. We tried to combine stealth with speed and flew as quietly as possible down the tunnels of the Hall of Memories. I knew exactly where I’d seen the Dragon Sword. It was a formidable weapon, long and double-edged. And it was still sharp. It was the only weapon in the Pixie Home Forest that I was positive would kill the great beast. I would not let Papa die!

We found it quickly enough. It lay where it had been stored since it came into pixie possession centuries before. I lifted it from its rest. It was very heavy, and, for someone my size, it was unwieldy. But I didn’t plan on swinging it. I only wished to kill with it—and that in the most effective way I could. My sisters and Nanny exchanged knowing looks. We probably stood too long lost in some sort of awe at the simplicity of this weapon and the possibilities it possessed. I cannot accurately testify to the individual feelings of each of us, but I can tell you how I felt. Holding that ancient weapon gave me a sense of purpose and a feeling that I would succeed. It’s really strange when one thinks of it. I was not fully grown. Now that I am, I stand a full three feet eleven inches. Then, I came just past my papa’s knees. I could barely hold the sword. The whole thing was silly and dangerous. But, I had a vision in my mind of what I wished to do, and, more importantly, how it was to be done.

“What, exactly, are you children doing here?” It was Momma’s sister, the one who guarded the gate.

Nanny spoke first. That’s probably because my mouth was hanging open and I was trying not to piddle. She’d scared me. By the time I could talk, Nanny was in charge.

“We’re on the King’s business. And shouldn’t you be guarding the gate?”

“King’s business my eye! I don’t think the Queen has any idea where you are.”

“I suggest you return to your duty and do it now.” Nanny spoke most coldly.

There was no argument in what she said. There was an implied threat. And
Momma’s sister took it up.

“You spawn of a goat! What do you think you can do to me?”

“Nanny is my friend,” I said evenly. “And she is the Queen —my mother’s— niece. You insult my mother. You may be an aunt of mine by birth, but if you persist you are no friend to my family.”

She ignored me. Her eyes were locked onto Nanny’s. Nanny didn’t blink.

“You may call me what you wish but my father isn't a goat. He's a Macedonian Pixie." Nanny took a deep, calming breath. "From my father, I inherited a rather cute tail that the princess likes, a hair color no other pixie has, a stubborn and insistent nature, and a very hard head. Get out of our way, or I’ll demonstrate these qualities to you by removing your wings and shoving them down your wicked throat. We are on the King’s business!” Then, to us, Nanny said, “Take it and go!”

Reluctantly, I freed myself from Momma’s grasp. I jumped into the air and flew out over the crater that had been the Sha nesting grounds. This drew an instant reaction. Mother screamed at me to get back. Katra’mia abandoned Mother and flew after me. My sisters blocked her way, fluttering between us.

“Babies, you must come back. This is not safe.” It wasn’t safe. We had no thought of safety. We planned to kill. Killing is never safe. And we planned to rescue. That is seldom safe.

My sisters spoke. “Cousin Mia, today we are not babies. Today we are Those Who Sing, and Sha’el our sister is become the Warrior.”

Even I who was most familiar with my twin sisters’ uniqueness was surprised at their now very adult sounding voices. It was a rich and melodious blend that made a single voice.

Mia’s eyes grew wide. “Indeed?” she said.

“Give me the sword!” I shouted.

My sisters placed it into my hands, and its weight made me drop a few feet.

“Go sister!” they shouted.

“Make it hot!”

My sisters blew flame on the blade until it glowed. Pixies can stand extreme temperatures, but the hilt became hot enough that I noticed it with discomfort. I dropped out of the sky toward the beast. I called Papa repeatedly. I got no response. For a moment I shared my mother’s belief that Papa was dead. Papa wasn’t dead, but he was hurt. He lay in the rocks both unable and afraid to move.

He was badly burned by the acid. Yet, he did hear my voice. He tried to rise, and could not. He tried to cry out and could only moan, and that so low that I could not hear it. His hand collapsed onto his chest.

It is as if a simple shirt pocket had become a quite magical place. First from that pocket had come a spear point that had kept him alive and had wounded the great beast so that it bled steadily. Papa felt the other two trinkets my sisters and I had entrusted to him. And an idea formed in his pain-clouded mind. He pulled out the large silver coin that was my favorite. He tipped it to the sun until it caught its bright gleam and the light flashed across my eyes.

“Papa!” I whispered. “Papa’s alive!!” I shouted and my voice echoed off the cliff walls. The repetition of my own voice and the gleam of my own coin gave me new strength. I pulled the sword up into readiness. No longer did I let it pull my arms down as if it were an unwanted weight. I flew at the great beast.

As much as it had bled from the wound Papa inflicted, it was still strong. It struck at me, and struck at me again. It almost swallowed me whole, and I could not strike a blow. I withdrew into the air.

The air darkened and the flutter of many pixie wings met my ear. My mindless aunt, angry that she had not prevailed against Nanny, had sounded the alarm and hundreds of pixies had responded. They lined the rim of the great basin. Pixies may be silly, but we aren’t usually stupid (though I admit that a few of us are). They sized up the situation instantly, yet none of them were brave enough to try to aid me. I didn’t wish their aid. They would get in the way. I had to do this alone.

I flew at the beast again. It reared up and snapped at me. Again I retreated. On the crater rim, my mother watched with renewed hope and greater worry.

My sisters said, “This will never do.”

“Don’t touch that vine,” one of the pixie fighters said to Sha’áil. “It’ll give you a really bad rash.”

“No it won’t,” she said. “I’m immune. Besides, it likes me.” And my sister chattered to it in her strange way.

The vine swelled and shuddered. It trembled down its length into the basin below. It ripped its roots from the ground and shot its length across the basin to twine them around the great worm-beast’s tail. It didn’t leave the beast defenseless, but it did tie it to one spot. This was truly what I needed!

I dove at the great beast’s head and dropped the sword straight down. A prayer to Ya Sha El, the God of Sha, followed. It never occurred to me that the hilt was heaver than the blade.

Almost as soon as I released it, the sword turned point up. I was certain I’d failed. I was nauseous with fright, but I flew after it. I grabbed at it and only just managed to set it into one more lazy mid-air spin. It was enough. It struck through the beast’s head and pinned it to the ground. The blade was still hot, and I could smell burning flesh. It would probably make a more dramatic story to say that the great beast struggled to free itself and fight, but it was most certainly dead before its head struck the ground.

Katra’mia pulled Mother to her feet when I loosed the blade. They were beside
me when it struck. Mother was searching the rocks for Papa by the time the
beast’s head hit the ground.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Thinkin’ and desperate wants …

Well, I’ve about got my workroom-library area in usable condition, and that will deprive me of my excuse for not putting words on paper. It’s not as though I’m neglecting this. I’m mentally sorting and reading. I read through a small booklet published in the 1830’s titled “Mob Pretense Under Law.” A Methodist preacher was arrested (in New Hampshire, that modern bastion of irrational liberalism) for being a vagrant. The real issue was his Abolitionist views. He wanted slavery to end, not a popular view anywhere in 1830’s America. He believed in the essential equality of men as advocated in the New Testament where among Christians “there (was) neither free man nor slave, Jew nor Greek.”

There is endless detail for this period of his life. George Storrs (that’s his name) went from one controversy to another, but this was a center piece of his life. If one claimed to be a Christian, then one should act like one was his solid belief. That among Christians this view had fallen out of favor by 200 AD seemed not to matter to Mr. Storrs.

He’s an easy to like man. There are several who show up in our history who are easy to like, aside from what I may think of their doctrinal fancies. He believed that Napoleon III was the anti-Christ; that the great pyramid probably contained messages from God; that Anglo-Americans were the lost tribes of Israel; and that phrenology was a promising new science. All of these things seem extreme now, but they weren’t then. Consider the difference between being a “flat-earther” in 1000 AD and being one today. It would have made perfect sense to be one in England of 1000 AD. You’re loony if you’re one now. We’re accustomed to thinking of the 19th Century as an age of invention and science. It was also an age of wild speculation and credulity. Charles Forte would have had a ball.

So … most of my ‘thinkin’ has been a process of selection. I don’t want to leave any of this out, but most of it isn’t part of the history we’re telling.

On the desperate wants front, more blog comments from more people would be nice. Harry always thinks I mean him. Sometimes I do, but mostly I have a steady flow of blog visitors who never say anything. When we get to really desperate wants, we come to books. I want a first edition of Daniel Morgan’s When the World Went Mad: A Thrilling Story of the Late War Told in the Language of the Trenches. I have a photocopy, but I want the real thing. Apparently it’s very hard to find. One historian of World War I told me it was not just hard to find but rare. I can believe that. Morgan comes into our story in the 1920’s, and we’re no where near writing about that era. I would still love a copy of this book.

I need a nice, pretty wooden box. I think I have one in storage. As my health more and more resembles drying algae, I accumulate more and more pill bottles full of nasty bits of modern medicine. I need something nice to store them in so they don’t spill off the edge of my work table.

I got a very nice late-night phone call from Mr. K. Knees. He called me at work during my slack time. And Harry … he did indeed buy me fancy chocolates, those huge truffles made in San Francisco that cost a startling amount but taste like heaven.

Tomorrow will be one nasty day. I’ll cover my own shift and a good chunk of someone else’s. Counting road time, that will be fourteen hours. The shift is twelve hours. It takes me a half hour to organize on both ends and there’s a half hour driving time both ways. I do not look forward to tomorrow. I also repeat this mid-week next week. I think they’re trying to kill me or something. At least they’ll feed me two meals, and I intend to eat something nice and expensive. Chef tells me that we have steak and lobster on the menu for tomorrow, but I think I’m having Steak Dianne.

4 (3 ounces each) center cut beef tenderloin medallions, trimmed of all fat and pounded to 1/2 inch thick, chilled
1-1/2 ounces clarified butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped fine
1/8 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup mushroom caps, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, fresh if possible
2 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce brandy
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Ground black pepper, fresh ground, 1/8 teaspoon or to taste
In a small 8- to 10-inch saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the tenderloin steaks, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, increase heat to medium-high and saute exactly 2 minutes on each side. Remove them to a plate and chill in a refrigerator for 5 minutes.

Preheat a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add clarified butter, then add the Worcestershire sauce to the butter. Place the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in the center of the pan with the tenderloin steaks around the edges. With a spoon, stir and toss the mushroom mixture. After 2 minutes add the lemon juice and season the ingredients with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Turn the filet mignon steaks and add the thyme, chopped parsley and dried mustard powder. Cook the steaks to the doneness you like. Leave them in the pan and add the heavy cream and chives. Tilt the pan slightly, and pour the brandy into the front edge of the pan, turn the heat to high and let the flame (or if electric, light with a match) catch the brandy's vapors and ignite it. Swirl slightly, turn off the heat and let the flame go out.

Place filet mignon medallions on plates and top with the sauce from the pan.

Note: You may want to slightly undercook the filet mignon steaks prior to adding the cream and brandy so that the reduction process of making the sauce doesn't overcook them.

Serves two