Thursday, September 29, 2011

Game of Letters

I’m about ready for a sleep before work. This is one of two long shifts for me this week, but it shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t really have anything fun to say, just stuff. …

I love Sarah’s post. You should welcome her to our blog.

I like “road archaeology.” I’ve written about it before. I found a hundred yard or so stretch of pioneer road on a satellite photo. K. Knees is driving up that way in a week or so over a wind turbine project. I’m ridding along just so I can try to find on the ground what I can see in the photo.

I got some writing done today. Not bunches, though. I’m writing about a man named John S. Lawver. He’s an interesting man. His religious stance is what’s important for our book, but there are so many other interesting things. He was a Kansas pioneer. The American branch of my mom’s family lived not far from where he did in the same era. I wonder if they knew each other. There’s no way to tell, of course. But it’s an interesting thought.

Lawver helped found a little town in Kansas and was one of the first town officials. He was a police court judge too. He ran a green grocer wholesale house which was very small and very regional. Later he moved to Missouri. In 1876 he wrote a letter to a man named Storrs telling about his work on the Kansas frontier. He put in terms of trail blazing his evangelical work. It’s all very pioneer-oriented.

He and a man named Burr had a second-hand confrontation. That was through the pages of a religious magazine. Burr was a piece of work – self-righteous, confrontational, a trouble maker. I would not have liked him at all.

I found a book. I may use it in my middle school critical reading class. It’s Sorcery & Cecelia, Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot. The book is the outgrowth of a game of Letters played between two authors. I’d like to take the game to this blog, if I can get a player or two. It works this way: I write the first letter. I assume a persona, write to a historical time period. I have a basic plot in mind. I can’t tell you what it is. You respond in your own character. The letters must stay faithful to the time period, but can go where ever you wish. Anyone want to play?

You'd have to ask my mom about that ....

Uncertain. If the person who drew this finds it here, they should contact me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Post! Sarah ....

Say What?
or The Importance of Oral Story Telling

Every night before going to bed, I read to my husband. He usually falls asleep about two pages into the chapter and has no idea what is happening in the book (he only remembers the first two chapters), but I am practicing for when I have kids.

See, I love the idea of reading aloud. And not just reading aloud, but telling stories. I think every family has those stories that are retold every Christmas or family reunion. The one about Uncle John and Uncle Clark naming the cow Mesus because they couldn’t decide between the names “Me” and “Us”. Or how about when Aunt Rebecca called the cops because two pumpkin pies were missing and only after the dog had a bad case of the squirts did she solve the mystery of the Great Pumpkin Caper? (Names were changed to protect the innocent).

I especially love the idea of remembering stories. My Uncle Tom used to recite a story to my mom, “Pitty Pat the tabby cat never could remember… she went to the store and couldn’t remember what she was going for.” I grew up with that line in my head, but I had never seen the book. So when I became a librarian, my first family request (after reading all of the books in the world, given to me by a three year old cousin) was to find the book Pitty Pat the Tabby Cat.

Only, it doesn’t exist. I know. I looked.


For five plus years, I looked for Pitty Pat the Tabby Cat and couldn’t find it. Then, one day, a few months ago, after my Grandma entered the hospital on her death bed, I began a new and rigorous search to find the book.

And this time I found it. Only it wasn’t Pitty Pat the Tabby Cat; it was Pit-a-Pat. But the line about going to the store was EXACTLY as my Uncle would repeat it. I was fascinated by his memory, but he said that he would read it to my mom nearly every day. Repetition, particularly oral repetition, is wicked important (I lived in Vermont for two years; I can legitimately say “wicked”… still can’t say “soda” though), especially for kids.
The current president (whether we agree with universal health care or not) also thinks that oral story telling is important. Perhaps you’re looking for a beautiful poem about family? Or maybe you just want some poetry that will make you cry and consider those whom you need to forgive? Or maybe you’re looking for a great history hip hop rendition on the life of Alexander Hamilton?

Words are beautiful. But words read aloud are life.

So when was the last time you read a story aloud? When was the last time you had a story read aloud to you? Went to a poetry or short story or book reading? Wrote a hip hop rap about a famous historical figure? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?


Sarah Joy Freese is an intern with WordServe Literary. She loves cinnamon toothpaste, and she only has a 10% chance of surviving a zombie attack, according to facebook. To read more of her thoughts, feel free to check out her blog at


1. "And this time I found it.":
2. "family":
3. "forgive":
4. "Alexander Hamilton":

Sarah Joy Freese
Fiction Coordinator
WordServe Literary


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Students, Good Writing, Junk and Pain Patches

I have such interesting students this year. One of those in my novel writing class writes in a kind of half-cryptic “stream of consciousness” way. It’s an odd style, but very visual. Despite all the conventions he violates, the writing is very visual. If he wants to be a writer, he will be.

My all time stellar writer has been sick the last two weeks. I talked to her mom this morning. Hopefully, she’ll be back next week. She’s so far ahead of everyone else that she’s not missing much right now.

The huge surprise this year is a tiny thing, a pixie child if I’ve ever seen one. (And having made a few of my own, I know what I’m talking about.) I’m getting a taste of what my teachers experienced with me, I think. This child is a fourth grader. She’s in with the big boys and girls (sixth graders), and she can write circles around them. There is endless talent in this timid child. I’m so pleased to have her in my class.

My one problem student is in my high school writing class. I intimidate her. I don’t know why, but it’s obvious. This distresses me and it puzzles me. The master project in this class is to write a polished first chapter of a novel. As my writer friends know, the first chapter is the hardest to get right, and writing it requires all the skills needed for effective writing. Those who can, write as much more of their novel as possible. We analyze the writing as a class, putting bits of each project on the white board and doing a group edit. I try to make this as gentle as possible.

What distresses me is these kids have come to our school out of other schools in the district. They’re in this class because they’re bright, talented, truly exceptional young adults. Somewhere, some how, teaching grammar conventions seems to have died out in our school district. Especially early in the school year, I have to teach remedial grammar. This is not my job. But there is a major failure to teach grammar conventions in this school district.

There is also a sort of vocabulary displacement. Commonly, my students use unnecessary words and words the meaning of which they do not know. They think they know, but they don’t. So we have lots of discussion about what they wanted to say and what they really said.

I also teach them when and how to break the rules. This is more fun than teaching conventions. This is creativity at work. I tell my students that their words are not their babies; words are tools. A good edit does not murder their babies. This is a hard lesson for young writers to learn.

My classes were stellar today. It was a good day.

I toddled off to the Goodwill Store after my last class. I almost bought an antique pitcher but decided not to buy it. That was probably a mistake. I’ll go back tomorrow and give it another look. It’ll probably be gone by then. …. Anyway … I found a couple of books, though they aren’t all that special.

I found a Bible translation to add to my research library. I put off buying it new because it’s twenty-five dollars fresh off the shelf. This was new and unread. It cost me a dollar. This was good.

As most of my regular readers know, I like vintage fiction especially books before 1940. I found a really nice copy of Eleanor Chilton’s Shadows Waiting. It’s a first edition from 1927 with a few minor faults. I’ve never read one of her books before. But I’ll give it a read sometime this or next week. Dang! I shoulda bought the pitcher. …

My oldest has a dance rehearsal tonight. She’s now driving herself; so I didn’t have to take her. This is good and bad. She’s very responsible. But I worry about my children when they’re out of my sight.

Over on our history blog (the invitation only blog) we’re having a low key debate about the Methodist associates of one of the key personalities we consider. One of our first subscribers is wedded to a series of ill founded but common ideas. When we present new material he has an emotional earthquake. So … But that’s not a huge issue. It’s really not an issue at all. Our conclusions are often new and need a bit of confrontation and testing.

We’ve had two new subscribers too. One is a well known professor and political commentator who also writes on religious topics. It’s a pleasure to have him subscribe to the history blog. We have some really talented people as blog readers. Sometimes I wish they’d put their comments into the comments section of the blog instead of into a personal email. But my WP and I are happy to get any comment no matter how it comes.

I’m on a pain patch again tonight. They heat up, or this one did. I’m not sure why. It doesn’t say they’re supposed to do that on the box. But they work. I go back to work tomorrow; so this is the last day for that kind of pain relief. I have to be alert at work. These things make me drowsy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh dear oh dear oh

Typical Washington State County Officer's Badge. This one is from Clark County.

Here's the scoop with only a bit of exageration and a lot of attitude:

So … I spent hours in the ER on Saturday night. This was not fun, and it wasn’t needed. Long story made pithy: Our head of security couldn’t get me on our Nextel system. He knows I’m on the sickish side and found me in my office. I’ve told him before to just cover me with a blanket and let me be if I can’t talk. Not being able to talk does not mean I’m dying nor even close to dying, neither does it mean that my intellect is gone. There is a neurological disconnect between speech function and thought. It goes away. I have plenty of warning. So I went to my office and plopped down on my couch. He panicked.

The worst part of that is that he called an ambulance. And worse than that, they took me to St. Elizabeth’s. (Not at all its real name, but it’s a Catholic hospital. I’ve used in as the basis for a hospital in a long ago published short story and called it St. Elizabeth Hospital.) Understand that there are several hospitals here. We have everything from a huge regional medical center to a good size public hospital and two private, doctor owned hospitals …. And then there is St. Stupid’s. St. Elizabeth is the dumping ground for whore-nurses who cannot find employment in any of the other hospitals. As deputy Pixie, I’ve dropped off people with mental health, alcohol intoxication and drug abuse issues. You see things. There you see plenty of bad things. It is the hospital of choice for our local drug shoppers, illegal aliens, and drunks. Most of the medical staff does not have privileges in the other hospitals. A huge proportion of their nursing staff is on in-house probation for drug abuse issues. This is a bad place.

It is also closest to where I work. So this was bad. I’m stuck in a ward-like room with curtains separating two other beds from mine. Oh, yes, of course they aren’t beds. They’re tables with thin mats. Consider them torture racks. My officer tries to explain to them that I have neurological issues. I have a medic bracelet that says the same thing. The nurse who takes my vitals suggests to the doctor that I probably have overdosed on some drug. I’m in no condition to protest, but I can think like heck. The idiot doctor shouts in my ear as if shouting will make it so I can talk. They take a drug screen.

I’m starting to come out of it. I am woozy, but I can talk softly. I ask for the doctor. The nurse ignores me. Next nurse that floats by I ask for my purse. Who the hell knows what happened to my purse? I had it in my hand when I came in. When I go into one of these things, what ever I happen to be holding stays there in a sort of vice grip lock. She fumbles around behind me and finds my purse.

“This it?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say.

She reluctantly hands it to me. She acted as if I had contraband in it. In fact I did. Just not what she was expecting. She’s obviously thinking I have drugs in there. So she stands there. Fine. I do not care. I want my cell phone.

If you’ve read this blog for a long time, you know that my favorite partner is Phil. (also not his real name, but he looks like a Phil to me, and if I ever write him into a story, I will call him Phil.) Phil is under sheriff. I’m calling two people: Knobby Knees and Phil. If … I can’t get myself outa this dump.

So … I put on my best frown and say, “I want to leave now.”

The nurse says, “You can’t. You’ve been detained.”

A doctor can detain a patient for mental health evaluation. This, dear hearts, they treat as a no restrictions right. But it is full of problems for a hospital and doctor if they mess up. They are messing up. “I want to see the doctor now,” I say.

“He’s really busy,” she says. “He’ll be here when he can.”

So. … What to do … what to do … ?

I reach in my purse. It’s a nice black leather purse, shaped like a clutch purse but a bit bigger than that. Oh the wonders that are in that purse … I fish around in the junk. I have all sorts of junk in there, life’s essentials, actually. Gum. Mints. A wallet. A badge holder. They give us these really nice brown leather badge holders. I pull out my badge and set it on the torture table beside me. Nurse Twit’s eyes go wide.

“Tell the doctor I’m not a drug addict or drunk. Tell him I want to see him immediately, please.”

She is one unhappy camper. She leaves. I’m on the phone to K.Knees. He’s already on his way because my officer has called him. So did the night auditor and the head chef. Nice to have friends, huh?

Then I call Phil. You gotta know Phil. He’s very tall, and though my kids think he’s their own personal play thing and some sort of uncle and climbing toy, he can be the epitome of intimidation. Phil’s reaction is, “I’m on my way.”

The doctor comes in. He’s huffy. He’s rude. He won’t let me go until the blood work comes back and the mental health on-call person arrives. Then he looks down at my badge which sets there as if it were a chess piece threatening his kingdom. “Is that real?” he asks.

I hand it to him. Flip that thing open, sucker, and look at the ID.

“Are you trying to intimidate me?” he asks.

“I’m asserting my rights,” I say. “I want to leave now.”

Now nurse twit has called hospital security and some old dude with a chrome plated badge shows up. He’s not one I’ve seen before. They tell him to keep me where I am. He takes one looks at the situation and gets on his radio and calls for the House Supervisor. The real title is Patient Care Coordinator, but they call her house supervisor. Now this is one of the few people there I like. She helped my partner and me with a difficult patient about six months ago. Nice lady. We’ll call her Paula.

Paula shows up. Paula has whispered conversation with hospital security guard who has been chatting me up. Paula finds doctor. K, Knees arrives. I can hear him at the front desk. Phil arrives. He ignores them all and simply walks back into ER. “Hi Rach,” he says. Then to the doctor, who’s kinda reluctantly made is fat way back to my cot he says, “Why have you detained one of my officers?”

“I intend to sue him,” I say very calmly. Of course I have no such intention, but I do intend to make his life as miserable as I can for the next six months. And believe me I can. All I have to do is file a series of complaints. I filed the first one before I left.

Fat Doctore says, “We ran a tox screen. We’re just waiting for results.”

Husband says, (he’s there by now), “You were told she has a neurological disorder.” He named it.

“It was my opinion that it was something else.” Dr. Corpulent says.

I say to Paula, “I’m leaving now. I do not expect a bill.”

“By all means,” she says.

To Phil I say, “Should I file false imprisonment charges?” Okay boys and girls, that’s not something that works in this situation, but by God it was fun to say.

“Up to you,” he says. The man can look so utterly intimidating.

So I’m finally out and on my way home.

This morning I get three phone calls, the first of which woke me up from a rather delayed sleep. The PCC called and apologized. She called their legal person who called their Administrator and woke him up that night. Mr. Admin called next. I rehearse a series of complaints; he is suitably apologetic and states there will be no bill. I think, “Damn right there won’t be, fool.” But what I say is, “Thank you.” Later in the day their “Environment of Care” supervisor calls. That fancy title means that she is in charge of security and maintenance. She’s a nice person. I’ve met her before, most notably when there was a fatality accident. Their back cameras catch a view of a county road. She provided us a CD of the accident. Nice person, as I said.

I reassure her that her security guy was great. He did all the right things in a very difficult situation. I’ve been in similar situations. It’s hard to make good choices in tense situations. He did good.

My officer was very sorry. I’m not mad at him. I look awful when I’m sick. People honestly believe I’m going to die right then and there. He’d never seen me at my worst; in point of fact he still has not. But I know the panic I can cause. No problem there.

My husband babied me. He does that anyway. It’s nice. I like to be babied. At 2 am he’s at the all night restaurant picking up a Belgian waffle (with strawberries), just to make me happy. Besides, for some reason I’m always hungry after a seizure.

So … how was your weekend?

Now ... on to other things. I suggested to K. Knees sometime last week that he write a “living with the Pixies” post. He’s been working on that off and on. I’m not sure you’ll see it - At least not as it is now. Pixies need to keep some secrets. But it is funny, so you might see some of it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

treasure hunting pixie

Stuff from this week in no particular order:

I scolded two officials from India. I hope I ruined their day.

I blocked a really rude woman from following me on a social network site. I bet she has pimples on her butt too.

A gray fox with a white tip on its tail jumped up on my car. That startled me. Fun though.

The area where I work is overrun with cats.

I haven’t seen another dragon. I’m disappointed.

I bought a bunch of cheap Bulgarian and Chilean stamps. Almost all of them are from the 1940s. I decided to work on an old neglected Scott International vol. 2 (Blue Binder). Many of the stamps are inexpensive or can be found for sale at very low prices even if the catalogue price is high.

I have to rewrite parts of a chapter on doctrinal development between 1870 and 1876. The primary group we research rejected probationism, substituting a “fair chance” doctrine. Personally, I think Probation Doctrine is unscriptural, but my personal beliefs don’t matter in this context. I found an interesting article in an 1879 issue of The Restitution that clarifies bunches of things. I won’t have to write much to repair the section in question; maybe four sentences.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why people believe the improbable and impossible. Otherwise rational people do this. It’s a huge factor in this history too. The religion that is at the center of the book we’re writing is noted for this. They are unfairly singled out, I think. But there has been a tendency to believe the improbable. However, God in his kindness overlooks an endless amount of silliness.

The rear view mirror fell off my windshield. I discovered that superglue will not fix it. I’ll have to take it to the glass-fixit people.

I’m putting off writing the first parts of two chapters. Well … more accurately of one chapter. That one is mine to write. The other would be a re-write of something my partner produced. We have better research now than when he wrote that. So there are major fixes that have to be made. We have too many things going on at once.

And the poor old guy is still sickish. He’s lost more hair; he’s continuously nauseated. I talked to one of his daughters this morning. He’s not sleeping well, she says. He’s a big guy, but his face is growing thin. I don’t understand how he maintains his quick whit and dry humor when he feels that badly.

I took my oldest off to her favorite coffee joint. There’s a thrift store near the coffee house. I found treasure! I found a dented bud vase. But … it’s sterling silver. I will sell it for scrap, and my three dollars will turn into almost forty dollars. This is fun.

I have my own agonies and frustrations today. I’m going back to bed!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another by Charles Robinson

Charles Robinson

Stunning artwork by one of the greatest of illustrators. Alice appeals to me because we live in Wonderland, but don't notice. Alice had eyes to see.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When a Country only has a veneer of civilization

Only Savages Would Hurt a Child. Only cowards attack people for their faith. Shame on India.

Mob assaults baby and grandmother in India

BANGALORE, India—In the midst of a growing menace to law-abiding Christians in India, incidents of mob attacks continue to occur against Jehovah’s Witnesses in India’s southern state of Karnataka. The most recent assault took place on August 28, 2011, when a family of five were cruelly beaten in a village near Dharmasthala. Included in among the victims were the family’s 18-month-old baby and 60-year-old grandmother.

The Witness family was returning to visit a neighbor who had expressed interest in learning more about the Bible when they were accosted by a mob. After falsely accusing the Witness family of forcibly converting people, the mob began beating the two male members of the family with their fists and with sticks while the female members of the family suffered sexually degrading speech and even threats of rape. One of the attackers struck the 18-month-old girl, as she was being held in the arms of her mother. All four adults suffered injuries due to the brutal encounter that lasted for over an hour. Both the mob and the Witnesses filed complaints with the police. As has happened in previous incidents involving mob violence, the police initially refused to accept a counter-complaint by the Witnesses, while readily accepting the slanderous complaint of the attackers. It was only after seven hours of detainment that a counter-complaint from the Witnesses was accepted, after which they permitted the family to travel to a government hospital for medical attention.

Soon after, the Witness family was put under arrest on the charge of “maliciously insulting the religion or the religious beliefs of any class.” The attackers, however, were charged only with “voluntarily causing hurt.” The magistrate granted bail to the assailants, while the family, including the baby, spent the night in jail. The following day fellow Witnesses posted bail for the family and rushed them back to the hospital for treatment for their injuries.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been victimized by mob violence in Karnataka on several occasions during 2011. “These mob attacks on innocent people in India are deplorable, especially attacking a family,” commented J. R. Brown, a spokesman at the Witnesses world headquarters in New York. “No one should be victimized for sharing a peaceful Christian message out of love for God and love of neighbor.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Mystery Singer of Youtube ....

Widdershins! Guest Post

The Delightful De-lovely DeVienne Rachael, invited me to do a guest post the other day and I, of course, accepted!

I have guested hither-thither-and-yon over the last year or so, but never before as a ‘published author’. Oh, I do love the way that rolls off the tongue! So, right up front, thank you Rachael.

There are two things missing in my novel that you would normally expect form a story that bills itself as an ‘epic Science Fiction/Fantasy’. They are: ‘Good versus Evil’, and ‘Male Characters’.

Both of these remissions owe their genesis to my early years as a hard core Science Fiction reader. I started reading SF a little later than some, for no other reason than a lack of such books in my family home. We had a set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia (which I read, cover to cover, many times) and very little else. It wasn’t until I went to high school that I discovered libraries existed. We were supposed to use ours for research, but after I entered the ‘casual reading’ section, a single stand of shelves, I never really never left.

I came across a few Westerns in what is now called the YA genre, (anyone know who ‘Catsfoot’ is?) that were all about the adventures of grizzled/cynical gunslingers with hearts of gold and their young, and male, apprentices. (Not those sort of adventures. This is an, almost, PG rated blog, in spite of the occasional errant middle eastern bloke looking for goats)

There were other ‘boy’s own’, adventures; mysteries and historical ones (usually highwayman or pirate themed) … and then I discovered Robert Heinlein’s ‘Space Cadet’ and ‘Have Spacesuit, Will Travel’ * … ‘boy’s own’ adventures in space!
I was hooked. But after a few years the barbs started to sting.

With a few wonderful exceptions, almost every story I read had the same story arc: (the locations being changed to protect the innocent) A rugged hero with a tortured past overcomes great odds, and whups the dastardly villain’s butt to reclaim his crown/spaceship/whatever. Along the way he saves the damsel in distress and gains an adorable urchin side-kick who may or may not turn out to be his illegitimate child. The hero would always win because he was ‘good’ and the bad guy, sometimes a woman, lost because s/he was ‘evil’.

Eventually women writing SF/F began to be noticed by the mainstream and the arc started to blur around the edges, a bit. A new wave of male authors produced some amazing stuff as well. But still, if you dug deep enough, there they were, the Three Musketeers; Good, Evil, and Male Hero.

When I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, around 30 or so, must’ve been my Saturn return, I wrote what I was passionate about, SF/F. But not just any old Science Fiction and Fantasy. No, not this little black duck. I would write a ripping good yarn without the Musketeers. I would use a ‘force majeure’** to push my characters into situations where their best and worst natures would create the conflict that’s usually reserved for Good and Evil.

That took care of two of the Musketeers, but what about that pesky third one? What to do about him?

I could’ve just substituted a woman, but all those ‘-isms’ and ‘egos’ that that women heroes inevitably have to deal with before they can get on with the hero-ing, would be in the way. To say nothing of the fact that some bloke (her one true love, the tortured hero) would turn up in the nick of time and save her anyway!
There had to be a third option.

I always wanted my characters to be women. Well … why not all women? Women in the title roles, in the secondary roles, in the walk-on bits. Not a male pronoun in sight! Males might or might not be there, depending on how the reader wished to interpret the subtle inferences I occasionally scattered.

That quite effectively took care of the third Musketeer.

I had thrown to the four winds just about every, meme, and story arc Science Fiction and Fantasy relied on to tell a story. Jump-in-the-deep-end Widdershins they call me!

How did I do? Hm-mm … you’ll probably have to read Mortal Instinct to answer that.

And why is my nom-de-voyage Widdershins? Heh, heh, hehe …That’s another story!

This is the link to the eBook,

this is the link for the Kindle version,

and ask your favourite bookstore to order the print version.

* For more about what’s known as ‘Heinlein’s Juveniles’:

** Force Majeure

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stuffy Stuff, Late nights, and A. H. King.

So here I am up at midnight, eating a banana and fussing in my work room. I went to bed way early, but joint pain (one of my meds causes that and deep muscle pains) woke me up. I should go back to bed soon. But I finished rearranging a books shelf. That was good. In the process I found an extra copy of one of Ann McCaffrey’s books. I give away books to my writing classes. This will go in that pile.

While sorting I picked up a book and skimmed it. It’s a recent thrift-store purchase, and I haven’t read it yet. It’s a book on the Second Coming by a man named Frost. I haven’t researched him at all because this book isn’t relevant to my research. However, while skimming it I came across a single sentence that opened up a new line of thought. You have to love Miss Sara N. Dippity. Frost gives a long list of names of those who taught a “post-tribulational coming.” [I’m fairly certain that ‘tribulational’ isn’t really a word.] Among those named are C. H. Spurgeon. Now Spurgeon connects to our story through his hellfire sermons which were very graphic, very stupid and a bit annoying to pixies. This enlarges on his connection to our story. I’ll spend part of this week looking at what he wrote. It will probably only produce a sentence or two, but it adds significantly to the picture. At least I think so.

I have a short list of names to research. Most of these people are puzzles. There’s an H. A. King who’s shown up a few times. He didn’t seem important, but he is. One of the issues our research has raised is the doctrinal unity of the group we consider. In the early to mid 1880s there was a considerable doctrinal diversity. This is a hugely important point. I feel thick skulled because it took us months and months and months of research to see this. Pinpointing who believed what and the main magazine’s editorial response clarifies this picture. We aren’t writing that chapter yet, but we will fairly soon, I think.

On the disappointing side, we won’t be able to use a photo I found. The archive that owns it wants two hundred dollars for its use. One of those who sends us material found an alternative picture, a steel engraving, and it’s in the public domain. We’ll use that.

Well … I’m going back to bed now. My pain meds have kicked in and I have to be at the school early. I’m distributing books to one of my critical reading classes, and no one seems to know where they are. Fun huh? So, I’ll be there early and hunt them down. I’m fairly certain they’re in the basement book storage room. We ordered them new this year, and they’re probably still in their boxes. Someone may be on the receiving end of a pixie snit if they haven’t been processed …. If you hear a report of an earthquake in the great Pacific Northwest, ignore it. It’s just me expressing myself over the ineptness of a school district clerk.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stuff, more stuff and other stuff.

Well … I’m still working on my writing space, between washing clothes, cleaning the kitchen, answering emails (one of life’s crisis that one can either take calmly or over which one can mentally melt. I’m going for “calm,” but many in the writers’ group I belong to are in melt down mode.)

I had my desk all clean and polished and lookin’ spiffy. But, I’ve decided today was a good day to sort papers and it’s piled high with odds and ends of things that need to be filed. I re-shelved a bunch of books and found a new place for others. I really do need a new bookshelf.

The yard sale went well. I didn’t make bunches of money, but then I didn’t have that much stuff in it. What I had for sale was so-so stuff, except for a cavalry carbine scabbard. I found a nice home for that.

I have a few more stray envelops from which to soak stamps; then I’ll take them to the stamp club kids. It should make their day. I am conflicted over a box of old medals and such. I should probably sell these. I probably won’t sell those I can connect to family, but some of these things were in a cigar box and not connected to anyone. An example is a World War I era Prussian Pilot’s badge. I had family on both sides of that war, but as far as I know only one person from the American part was in the flying corps. If this has a family connection, I don’t see it. There’s a 1939-1945 Star. That can’t be family. At least I don’t think so. Anyway, I’ll sort this into what I know is connected to family and what has no obvious connection.

I found a silver plate serving platter that belonged to Gramma. I will polish that up sometime in the next two weeks. There are two pieces in that set. I’ve had the big fruit dish out for some time. This is something else I’m uncertain about. I may just put them up for sale. I can’t keep everything, even if I wanted to. These are nice pieces. There is also a pretty tea and coffee service, but it’s less expensive. I may sell them all.

I’ve a large accumulation of Landmark books. You may not know what they are. Published primarily in the 1950s, they were non-fiction presentations of famous people and events written for young people. Another series is “Childhood of Famous Americans Series.” Some of those are in that box as original editions, not the later reprints. I’ll probably sell these rather than take them in for credit.

I’m very tired, very stressed and in endless pain. I’ve talked knobby knees into bringing home some sort of take out so I don’t have to cook. Dinner will be a bit late, but not so late anyone should complain.

I’m still puzzling through the chapter I’m rewriting. Someone left a comment on our history blog that I don’t know how to address. I guess it’s subjective. We describe an act of a seventeen year old as immature. I can’t see it in any other way. The comment suggest it wasn’t, but the reasons for seeing it otherwise are the exact same reasons I have for seeing it as immature. … What to do …?

Friday, September 09, 2011

Compulsive pixie-ing

So … the last two days have been wild. Not consistently and unremittingly so; just off and on. Most of my time has been spent around the house. I have a “let’s get this place ready for winter” routine. That means all the bedding is washed, major clean up and fix up projects get done, and I clean up my work area.

The plumber just left. This house is old. Old houses always have problems and they have their personality. Within our house’s personality is the perverse desire to grow roots in the laundry room drains. It’s much easier to have the plumber come out in the fall than wait for the drains to back up in the winter. Also, the woman who rents the little apartment that used to be Gramma’s removed the lint filter from her laundry room sink. Lint and tree roots do not mix. I could verbally smack her, but her two brain cells would go into overload. I just bought a new filter and had Knobby Knees install it.

I bit my lip and crawled into the storage space. There are boxes and boxes of things in there, much of it from my Grandmother’s estate. I pick one now and then and sort out junk. My cousin is having an end of summer yard sale. I found a box of stuffed toys that came from her toy closet. She kept toys for us to play with when we were little. None of these matter to anyone. The ones that did matter were distributed when she died. So these are all going into the sale. I found a box of my research papers from way back when. I thought I’d lost them for good. A few rare pamphlets were in there. I’d written them off as lost for ever. But no. There they were. So that’s good.

I’m running out of shelf space. I need to replace two small bookcases with larger ones. I don’t have the money for that right now. But it’s a plan. I gave my oldest a pile of books to take into Hastings for credit. She has become a constant reader, mostly of adventure fiction. Our tastes don’t always coincide, but I’m glad she likes to read.

I get a regular stream of mail from people I know – relatives, former students from when I taught adults, friends and such. I soak off all the foreign stamps. One of those who writes to me always uses dated stamps, often from the 1940s or 50s. He collects stamps and buys the old unused stamps at below face value from a stamp dealer. I soak them all off and give them to children who collect stamps. Our school has an active though small stamp club.

Maintaining a personal research library is work. The biggest challenge is keeping it organized. This wasn’t a huge problem when I was a child and had maybe two or three hundred books. Now that we have maybe 12,000, books, pamphlets, individual and bound magazines, scarce broadsides and the like, it’s an endless and sometimes frustrating task. And … if you haven’t noticed … old paper can stink. So there is a negative ion generator to maintain, too. That’s not really hard. You clean one filter monthly and change one every six months. A negative ion generator is a must if you collect old paper.

I’ve been writing this between spurts of intense cleaning and arranging. I’m now hot and sweaty.

Last spring I took my badge off my winter uniform coat (the deputy pixie coat) preparatory to giving the coat a bath. I promptly forgot where I put the badge. It wasn’t a huge issue because I have a second badge for my shirt. I found it moving books. It fell behind some books. And remember when I said I lost my pocket book/wallet thingie? Found that too. See? Compulsive cleaning has a useful purpose. I also found a fossilized French fry way under my desk. I don’t know which child to blame for that one. …. And, judging by the rock-like state of this bit of evidence, my forensic sense tells me it’s been there too long for a third-degree interrogation of pixie children. ….

My girls and I have read two of the Lady Grace mysteries. Mixed reviews on that. Two of my daughters are now addicted, and we’ll buy them all. The rest found them too slow. I liked them. My writer’s sense would have led me to move some of the action to the first diary entry, but they’re still worth a read. Who ever writes these did not generate the interest Tamora Price does. My girls like Tamora Price novels. So do I. But Lady Grace novels are fun.

Hint of the day: A small paint brush is an excellent tool for dusting books.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Editing, Anon. Greeks and Geeks, Ear Licking

Well, I posted one of our mostly done (in first draft) chapters over on the invitation only history blog. It generated several emails. I’m not sure why the comments came in emails when they could have been made in the comments section, but it doesn’t matter. I like emails; they make me feel appreciated unless they don’t. So, people seem to like this chapter. I think that’s because it has new stuff in it. The ‘stuff’ is new research that is both interesting and which furthers the story. It explains things that were to me nagging puzzles.

However … Harry, there are no ear comments in this post; just so you know … the writing is crappy. It needs major fixes. There’s a totally meaningless sentence that needs to go or be rewritten. It contains extraneous words, non-essential words, which should die. I tell my students that our words aren’t our children. We don’t murder our children if we edit. But, even knowing this and teaching it does not make editing easier.

Another problem is displaced paragraphs and orphaned sentences. These show up when you cut and past to affect an edit. We have a few of those. I’ll take this to work with me tonight. I should have about two really dead hours where all that is required of me is to be there. I’ll mark it up and make fixes tomorrow.

I found a single sentence in a Lutheran clergyman’s book. It’s kinda cranky and a bit nasty. So it’s right up my ally. I added it to a nearly completed chapter this morning.

My writing partner sent some of this to a guy who writes articles for a major religious magazine after extracting a promise not to share it. I’m not sure I’d have done that, but it’s his decision to make.

Someone who shall remain anonymous sent me an article on the first chapter of John. This is good stuff. The details would bore you silly, but maybe the intent will not. He camps out on one of the more controversial sites. While there he came across a royal pain in the petunia who uses the name godrulz. Mr. Godr is a Pentecostal in the Azussa Street model. He regularly defends Oneness doctrine but describes it as “historical Trinitarianism.” Oneness is not Trinitarian teaching in the historical sense. The man is a bloody fool. Oneness doctrine is a modern, heretical belief system that is ultimately derived from first and second century Gnosticism. Bub, it ain’t Christian in any sense. So … the discussion was about a Bible translation committee’s ability and education. He denied that the principal member had translation skills, but admitted to an education in Koine Greek that was similar to this translator. He said he had two years “formal” education and was otherwise self-taught. I toddled over there and read his comments. Does the word “dork” have any meaning for you?

So Mr. Anonymous asked him to explain the anarthrous noun θεὸς as contrasted with the phrase λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο. Mr. Dorky Godr did all in his power to avoid the question because when answered within the context of the verses, it would produce a conclusion he would find faith challenging. So Mr. A has written a short article, appending some critical comments on Godr’s foolishness and on that of one other individual who tries to present himself as an adept student of Koine Greek. He ain’t. His sole ability is that of a reader of an interlinear text. Pfutt!

Anyway, as long as I’m not doing it, it’s fun to watch them stand ten paces apart and fire miniballs at each other. I just stand out of the way and watch. Godrulz has no clue with whom he is dealing. But then … the fun would go away if he did.

Ears … Harry? (Yah, I said this post didn’t mention ears, but I changed my mind) If I post six ear pictures would you be able to pick out the right ones? And when did you develop an ear based paraphilia?

Conversation with K. Knees when we were newly married, only mildly exaggerated:

Me: What are you doing?

He: Nibbling your ear.

Me: Last time you did that you got spit in my ear!

He: I didn’t.

Me: Yes, you did. It nearly made me deaf. You left my ear swimming in saliva!

He: You always exaggerate; besides, what’s a little spit between lovers?

Me: You’re so inelegant.

He: But you love me anyway.

Me. Yes, but no ear licking.

He: It was nibbling, not licking.

Me: Sure fooled me.

Guest Post - Occasional Reader


Cody was originally the title of a John Stewart song that my daughter heard – perhaps rather too often – on the cassette player on her way to and from school. But when she decided she wanted a dog – that was the name she chose.

Our lifestyle precluded pets that required a lot of attention, so fish and hamsters had been the order of the day for some years. But in my daughter’s late teens, suddenly there was the opportunity for a real pet – a dog!

My work was going to take me away from time to time, possibly leaving her on rare occasion on her own. A dog would be protection and company. Her best friend had found a stray dog in the rural area where they lived, and had taken it home, only to find out eight reasons why it had been abandoned – the number of puppies of indeterminate breed that were produced. They needed to have homes. My daughter had to have one! So – weakness prevailing – she did. And Cody came to our home.

A bright-eyed dog of very mixed pedigree – and surprisingly tall when grown and it stood on its hind legs, and placed its paws affectionately around your neck.

Of course, her best friend had an uncle, by some quirk of history a bit younger than she. He was visiting at the same time the litter of puppies were produced. He and my daughter have been married for over eleven years now!

So quite soon after Cody joined our family, our daughter moved on. They were not allowed to have animals in their first accommodation, so – what a surprise – we inherited Cody.
Cody chewed the furniture as a matter of course. He delighted in snaffling napkins from our laps at the dinner table and running manically around the dining area daring us to catch him. We put in a dog flap in the kitchen for when we had to go out for a half day, and he pulled up the kitchen floor covering and wedged it in the dog flap, with him outside. We came home in the pouring rain, to see a bedraggled mutt peering anxiously through the garden window. There was a television programme I just loved to watch each week. As soon as I settled down, he seemed to sense it and chose that moment to attack my trouser legs. My mother, already approaching eighty, came to dinner, and – ever friendly – Cody leapt onto her lap, and her cup of tea baptised the curtains.

Yes, we had some interesting experiences with Cody. It was a shame that we really had all the puppy behaviour, the chewy-poohy stage – and not much of the settled faithful companion routine. Memories abound. There was what was claimed to be an indestructible toy made of hard blue plastic, which – in a moment of total lack of inspiration – we named “blue thing”. Blue thing lasted about two days, and we were finding lumps of blue intermingled with what dogs do in the garden for weeks afterwards. Then there was the time in the garden he snapped at a bee and caught it. There was a moment or two’s contemplation, and then a most agonized look came over his face. Two of us had to sit on him, while the third extracted the sting, before a trip to the vets.

Ultimately we had to find him a new home. Our work pattern just didn’t allow for the time needed to care for a dog properly. More responsibility came my way, now necessitating my wife and I being away for several days at a time, and kennels had their own problems. So we got in touch with a charity that organised new homes and found him a better home.

There were several false starts. There was one elderly couple (I’m probably approaching their age now, but they seemed elderly) who wanted a dog to replace a long-standing pet. We took Cody to see them. It was explained that the previous dog had lived to be about seventeen and had been nursed and coddled and – without admitting it - turned into a grandchild substitute. We were shown with hushed tones the cushion on which the previous mutt had spent his last days. As a special honor the previous toys were brought out for Cody’s inspection. Cody eyed the bendy doll figure presented, and lurched forward. Chomp! He spit out the head and went in a manic spin around the kitchen. I thought “you’ve blown it, boy!” Surprisingly they kept him for a night, but the next day the man, having taken him for a walk, with ashen face and wheezy breath, admitted that perhaps a younger family would be better.

So finally, we re-homed him with a family with lots of kids, lots of noise, lots of mess, and he spent the rest of his days in paradise.

My daughter and son in law eventually moved from their flat into their own house, and – instead of presenting us with grandchildren (so far) – presented us with a grandpuppy instead. It’s not exactly treated as a child substitute – they seem to know that Walt Disney films lie – that’s why it’s called a dog. Now they have a pedigree Labrador. Docile, ever hungry, expensive when things go wrong which seems to be often – and probably the reason I am writing this now - currently under our roof.

Daughter and son in law are soaking up the sun in Cyprus. I am taking Muttley (not its real name) around the park, with treats in one hand, a pooh bag in the other (the fines if enforced are horrendous) – and, while warming slightly to the animal, am looking forward to the weekend when the dog goes back to its own home.

When my wife suggests a pet, I keep on suggesting goldfish.

Well ....

Monday, September 05, 2011

von Braunschweig und Lüneburg

Mommy, Daddy, the two girls. So what do you think, Harry? Do I look like the girl on her mommy's lap?

My mistake: The newborn is a boy. Tisk. I knew that.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Pleased Pixie

I found stuff. Good stuff. Stuff no one knows but me and now my writing partner and those who read our invitation only history blog. Such stuff. ...

Okay ... here's the scoop: One of the main characters in this history is a guy well call Chuckie. Chuckie's life is the subject of considerable myth. That's not of his creation, but some saw him as next to Jesus himself and there is this mythos that clouds his history. So ... he tells us that he joined a Congregational Church and he tells us when. Fine. There are a bazillion congregational churches. But if you go looking for one that fits the details you end up with exactly ONE. No more, no less.

Chuckie was introduced to Adventist and then Age to Come prophetic speculation in 1870 or so. He took to it like a goose takes to swallowing string. I've always wondered why. The why is that he came out of a Calvinist community that received regular preaching on premillennial themes. I found one of the sermons by his pastor. I found a book by another Calvinist that lived within doors of his house. That's the why.

This is prolly boring almost all my blog readers, but to me it's exiting as a prolonged and naughty nuzzle with Knobby Knees. Okay, so that's a wild exageration ... but it is exciting.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Captured German Gun - Paris 1919


Well, my writing partner is crushed by the rude reply from those [insert unkind name here] from Brooklyn. It’s his religion. We’ve gotten endless help from other religious archives, even when the material they send makes them look silly. His own religion treated him pretty poorly. I am sorry for him. He should write them a follow up letter and let them know how he feels about this.

I went junk shopping. I didn’t find much. Three books came home with me. I found a nice copy of Ronald Knox’s translation. It will replace a ratty one. I paid a dollar and a half for a copy of John Davies’ History of Wales. And I bought a first edition of Robert Nathan’s Road of the Ages. You’ve probably never heard of Robert Nathan, and you aren’t missing much. He’s one of those once prolific and widely read writers that everyone has forgotten and deservedly so.

Right now I’m reading Kitty Foyle. I’d love to use this in my literature class, but because there is some blunt talk about human relationships, it would never pass curriculum review. I don’t know why not – really. But I’m sure it would not. We have them read Great Gatsby. Kitty Foyle is no more scandalous, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

I also found an entire box of archival folders. I needed these! Finding these saved me tones of money. This was good.


Okay ... so my writing partner wrote a really nice letter to the boys in Brooklyn back on March 10th. It fell into a black hole. He called them and someone told him "we never got it." But they did. They lied. Big time. Bad boys ...

So today he gets a letter from them. It thanks him for sending some copies of things they'd never have found on their own ... because they're incompetent, lack interest, and beg from others. They will, however, not share. Their letter was a flat refusal to share.

Worse than that, it attempted to send him off on a wild goose chase for a copy that does not exist. Every researcher who's written about this since 1946 knows that outside their archive there are no known copies. They know this too. We have a letter from them written much earlier stating as much.

I cannot bring myself to dispise them, but I certainly do not respect them at all. We will write these books with or without their assistance. They certainly will not like what I say in my introduction.

The really grating thing from this letter was the closing paragraph wherein they state their expectation that we will share with them! How, in heaven's name, do they expect us to continue to share things with them when they will NOT share with us?

On a scale of one to ten, I rate them a zero.

Hans - Mt. Rainier Park Guide - About 1920

Photo by Jacobs, the Official Park Photographer