Saturday, September 29, 2012

Listen

I did not delete your post. Blogger failed. I hit publish and got a blank. You may continue to post comments or not as you wish, but at least make a rational and informed decision.

I cannot make blogger behave. If I could it would be a far different service than it is. Do not assume I rejected you or your rather odd humour just because blogger burped.

You are welcome here. I'd tell you if you weren't. Harry can testify to that. He's seen me send a regular contributor away when they became intolerable. I would have told you if that was my intent.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

midg's vision of a pixie snit


Nasty Writing

So I'm scanning Internet articles that may be usefull for my very young writers, and I found this:

http://voices.yahoo.com/four-kinds-sentences-declarative-interrogative-484238.html

Now ... the lesson is accurate, but notice the writing:

"Did you know that many people assume that imperative sentences have no subject when they really do, the subject of imperative sentences is always you, since in these type of sentences, the person that is making the command or request is always asking you to do something. For this reason, the subject in imperative sentences is called you (understood) because, all though the subject may not be visible in the sentence, it is understood that the subject is always you."

How can one attempt to teach grammar when they don't understand it themselves? This is a run-on, complex, compound sentence. It is at best what grammarians call "Loose Conctruction." And where is the question mark? This mess starts with "did you" and ends in a period! NO NO NO!

"One must not loosely string together several ideas. Rather, he must subordinate the least important ones."

Grammar Nazis should feel free to comment.

Bad poetry


He bought me a dinner which was very nice.

He only invited me, there were no mice.

He bribed me with a book.

He bought me six.

That made it hard to beat him with sticks.

 

He apologized in a fashion most lordly,

I took the first part with a frown and somewhat boredly.

I’d heard that before and found it easy to ignore.

 

He was slow to get to the point;

As nice as it is I was getting tired of sitting in that joint.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “for this and for that.

Now you can hit me with a bat.”

 

I said my piece but my heart had melted.

We made up even if he deserved a brick-bat

And to be pelted.

 

He extracted only one promise.

Write no more bad poetry or find better rhymes.

I crossed my heart and hoped to die,

But it may have been mostly a lie.

 
For those who were upset by it, I’m back on the job. The old guy is chastised, and the young pixie is sorry for her rash response. I’m back to writing boring history books.

Adventures with Knobby Knees


Knobby Knees is working from home. He got a late start, but he’s up in his work room doing what ever mysterious things Civil Engineers do. I’m at my computer chatting with a bunch of friends about life, husbands, grandfathers, figs and such. KK sends me an instant message: 

KK: You’re very distracting.

Pixie: I’m down stairs. How can I be distracting? 

KK: You don’t have to be in the same room to be distracting. 

Pixie: How sweet. … Didn’t we already do THAT this morning? 

KK: That was almost five hours ago. 

Pixie: Dear LORD! Don’t you have work to do? Five whole hours, huh? 

KK: Four hours and fifty minutes. I have a Snickers bar in my desk drawer. 

Pixie: Are you trying to bribe me? 

KK: No, never. --- I’ll give it to you if you want it. Bring your cute black shoes. 

Pixie: Pervert! 

KK: Not me! 

Pixie: I’m not in the mood for a Snickers Bar. What else do you have? 

KK: You’re hard to bribe. 

Pixie: I thought you weren’t bribing me. 

KK: I’m not. You just imagined it. I have hard salted licorice  

Pixie: You stole my licorice! 

KK: No, no, you left it on my desk. Not my fault. 

Pixie: And what do you expect for the return of my licorice? 

KK: [deleted] 

Pixie: I can do that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pennance

Roses are red, Violets are blue
You sent me chocolate
Hoping I’d make up with you.
 
You sent me six emails,
Increasingly apologetic,
But it’s not working because
I’m still nearly apoplectic.
 
I’m a big girl you see,
And not the girl
Who sat on your knee.
 
Do not treat me with condescension,
Because as you see ….
There will be lots of tension.
 
You can send six ponies
And ten prancing horses,
Six missives all sappy and drippingly sweet,
And I’ll still smack you on the street.
 
Buy me a book,
Take me to dinner,
And promise that you’ll become a bit thinner.
 
I may accept apology 82
Or I may continue to spurn you.
Why can't men apologize for the right things
Instead of being royal pains?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Live Journal

I've managed to get my old Live Journal blog reactivated. Do any of you know how to export blogger to Live Journal?

This is religious. It will bore you. Don't read it.


My writing partner wrote this in answer to a question directed to him by one of his friends. He forwarded me a copy, knowing I am interested in the topic of Christian conscience. I've removed some opening material that contains personal identifiers and  other matter.


Removed by request of the author who feels that without the opening paragraphs the remainder misrepresents what he believes.

A number of you come here because of a history project you find interesting. I'm happy to have you visit, but you should know that I am no longer connected to that project. Address all questions and comments to Mr. Schulz.
 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stop being stupid

Months after my post about Linden Lab and Startek, an apologist has made comments defending both. The explanations they give do not reflect the situation as it was. I will not allow the comments.

I will not allow any comment favorable to either. Don’t be stupid.

Blogger changed its interface, forcing me into a posting system that does not work. This blog is suspended while I seek a new home for my blog. I changed my mind; see the next paragraph.

Okay, so, I can't sign in to anything today. I don't know if that's my computer settings or what. Frontier is having trouble too. I just got my internet back after most of a day. I'm too stressed to deal with the techie things (thanks for your offer to help, Anthony). Livejournal and wordpress wont accept my passwords. blogger will. I guess I'm staying here until I die or something.

I HATE YOU GOOGLE!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uncle to Pixies

I think I mentioned somewhere on this blog that our school district adopted a program for second and third graders developed by my writing partner and used in the school district where he teaches. It introduces little children to the classics in music, art, and literature but on a level they can understand. We use it in three of our schools. It’s a really good, fun program.

So … the three of us got permission to visit his class and watch “the master” at work with second graders. In case you’ve become disconnected from your childhood, these are seven year olds.

He read Thurber’s Many Moons to his class. I was impressed. Many Moons has all sorts of humor that goes right over the heads of seven year olds. There is an age and cultueral disconnect between seven year olds today and seven year olds of sixty years ago. But he brought the story to life and generated all sorts of discussion and speculation among the kids in the class.

My favorite bit of this was an exchange between Uncle Bruce and a little boy. Bruce asked the class if what they would do if Princess Lenore asked them for the moon. One boy said, “I’d go get it for her. I’d fly up there and push it down to earth. It would take three rockets though.”

This was a fun experience. He relates to the children on a different level than I do. I’m not certain how to describe the difference. He isn’t “parental.” I think I am a bit. The mommy bits of my life come out in my class. He is conversational, and, while he doesn’t treat them as equals in any sense, he is respectful. He managed to engage each child. He lets them express themselves. I do that. But he does it differently. I’m struggling to define the difference.

As he read, the students drew closer to him. This is a sign that he aroused interest. So, I’m setting at his computer while he’s still off teaching his classes and trying to adapt what we saw to my own class. And I’m puzzled. I’ll corner him over dinner tonight and discuss it. (Family and I have crowded into his house for the two days we’re up here.)

I get the results he gets, but I do it with more of a mommy attitude I think. From the time I walk into a classroom until I leave those children become to some degree my children. I don’t think Bruce does that or feels that way. He’s much more just a friendly man with a story to tell. While the students were drawing pictures based on the story, two of them got into a discussion of Batman. Bruce totally impressed them with his driver's license. Can you guess what his middle name is? Of course you can!

The three of us who observed his class this morning (I’m not namin’ names so I can’t get in too much trouble for sayin’ this) draw differing reactions from our students. This is personality based. I always watch for student reaction to teachers. (Do you know what a STAR walk is? We employ that in our schools.) After his class was over, Bruce escorted us out of the building and answered a flood of questions. As we passed down the main hall an endless stream of teachers and students greeted him or stopped to talk briefly. This is impressive.
One of the others who observed his class asked him if those were all his students. He said they weren’t, that many of them had never been his students. I’m impressed. I’m a bit envious too. His school district has plans for their program (one of those upon which ours is based) that include a big new facility. I can only wish.





Monday, September 17, 2012

Occasional's adventures with pocket change

Coin Collecting by Occasional Reader

This post is actually nothing to do with the science of numismatics – but is all about the travails of unloading heavy items from pockets and saving quietly on the sly. And how a casual habit CAN BECOME AN OBSESSION!

Prior to decimalization in 1971, the UK used to have what was called a threepenny bit – a strange twelve-sided coin that probably made sense at the time, but seems weird today. In those pre-decimal days, there were eighty of them to a GBP. Nonetheless, in another life I had a special jar to collect them, and though life was poverty row at the time, two LP records came out of it – Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan if I remember rightly.

Wind the clock forward several decades. When Mrs Occasional took early retirement from teaching, we had an arrangement where, since all my payments came in cash, every time a modern 2 GBP coin turned up she could have it. She did very well out of that – once we struck that deal, it seemed that everybody was paying me in an abundance of 2 GBP coins.

When she reached a magic age and got a pension, then I became mean and kept the 2 GBP coins for myself – along with all the other coins that people kept pushing my way. And so the special jar syndrome came back into being.

Actually, the modern version is a special tub with a slot that registers on top exactly how much it contains. Somehow the mechanism can distinguish between the eight different shapes of coin in regular use, which weigh Brits down and make holes in their pockets.

So, I filled the jar. The way I am paid it didn’t take long. Well, that looked good, so having a large spare empty coffee jar to hand I transferred the coins to it – and started again. When I reached a certain figure, I thought that I had never done this before, so perhaps just another arbitrary total ahead and then I had better bank it. But somehow it got out of hand, and the back of my wardrobe became increasing laden as coffee jars filled with legal tender went forth and multiplied.

I finally decided on a figure, and then another figure, and from here and there the coins came, until I reached the grand total of two thousand GBP. I know... I know... I could have banked it and earned interest, but have you seen the interest rates in the UK recently? Recession and all that?

So now was the time to break the news to Mrs Occasional. She knew I put coins away; she regularly unloaded the little nuisances on me, knowing I would do ‘something’ with them. But when I told her I had done ‘something’ – I had actually salted away two thousand GBP in the bottom of the wardrobe, causing the floor to sag below – well, there were two not unexpected reactions.

The first was surprise and delight. Ooh - what could we spend some of this money on?

But the other was horror!
HOW MUCH...?
IN THE HOUSE...?
FOR HOW LONG...?

What if someone broke into the house and stole it all? I patiently explained that any robber would give themselves a hernia trying to shift it, but strangely this did nothing to console her.

But yes even I, in sane moments, have to admit – it had got a bit out of hand.

So we recently had an interesting time with a table full of large jars of small coins, along with a huge pile of money bags. Add to the mix a rapidly diminishing bottle of wine and we were suitably distracted while counting.

Having finally bagged it, the next step was to bank it. My local post office doubles as a bank since all the actual banks have closed down in the interests of ‘efficiency’ and has taken bagged coins before. But even they nearly fell off their perch at the volume of bagged small coin that was wheel-barrowed up to the counter.
I suspect I will not be doing it again. In fact, I HAVE BEEN TOLD I WILL NOT BE DOING IT AGAIN.

But – perhaps just...just the first hundred next time... Shh – please, you won’t tell...

But hey – it did come as a bonus.

Exceptionally Rare Stamp from Harry's Collection

We know it's rare because Harry made it himself!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm sure I shouldn't find this funny ... but I do.

Hot, sticky, licky, kissy and a green bug

So … I’m over-whelmed with stuff. Stuff is the daily, weekly, and monthly accumulation of unfinished tasks. Boy, do I have stuff. … And I don’t want to do any of it. I’m at the point where the tasks that I must finish must be finished. (That was alliterative, wasn’t it?)

I had yesterday off. I needed the break. Other than a very intense morning snuggly, licky-kissing period with Knobby Knees, I slept from seven pm to eight am. I wrote maybe a page and a half. I read some. The reading was interesting, most of it from Mr. Paton’s magazines. (We’re still waiting on a bunch more.) I read one year of Arthur Adam’s magazine too. I’ve read all of this before, but I’m looking for some specific things. And I found them. Paton and his principal co-writers all rejected British Literalism, though they maintained some Age-to-Come belief. Adams did the same. They set up “straw man” arguments to deny Literalists their arguments.

Put in another context, literalism was a literary-critical approach to reading. It suggests that we should take an author at his word unless he gives us strong reason not to. But neither Paton nor Adams could sustain their doctrine without resorting to allegorical interpretation. That approach allows one to reach any conclusion one wishes by reading into the author's words something other than his intent.

So, I read bunches of pages to find that. I haven’t written any of it up yet. I’ll re-read all of it again.

Someone pointed me to an interesting post on the supposed Masonic connections of one of the main characters in the history we recount. I found interesting photos, and a trail of false proof. Typical. The photos are good though. Since they’re public domain, I’ll appropriate two of them. They prove our point. [Insert snicker here.]

I’ve had a number of small seizures during the last few weeks and have given up driving. We have inexpensive public transport. I’ve been using that until my doctor decides how to tinker with my medication. This is all very unpleasant.



Knobby Knees thumped in the front door about 11 am. He was grubby. He left early in the morning, driving to a dingy town to our east where they are staging Windmill generators. These are interesting things, certainly. But it’s not his job to prowl around in the dust and gravel or to crawl up on dirty BNSF rail cars. It’s the little boy in him that attracts him to dirty things. Anyway, he came home to clean up and to work from home for the rest of the day.

I fed him. He said he was starved. He didn’t look starved to me. But I fed him anyway, and sent him off to shower the grunge off his body. Did I ever mention that he looks kinda cute all naked and wet? This occasioned kissy, licky, snuggle part two.


Hot and Sticky Part 2.

I worked on week-after-next’s lesson for my Classics for Kids class. It’s a really fun class. We will read some Beatrix Potter stories and watch one video production. My uncle designed this program for his students, and our school district has adopted it. This is an excellent concept.

I wrote a bit more of my new story, finding, not surprisingly, a new, unplanned character. I think he will be a fun addition to the story:

I waited.

I grew drowsy.

She was lost in thought.

I brushed at a bug.

“Don’t!” she shouted.

My thumb bled.

“Not everyone here is friendly,” she said, “and even the friendlier ones will attack if you hurt them.”

I fumbled in my pants pocket, retrieving a wadded tissue and wrapping it around my thumb.

She held out her hand and coaxed the savage thing into her hand. It chittered at her, and, while I could not understand what it said, its angry tone was clear. Talatha listened patiently, occasionally making sympathetic noises.

“… But you know you do look like a bug to most humans,” she finally said.

An indignant response followed.

“Why did you think he would be any different? Because he’s my uncle?”

The creature paused. A sound very like a sigh and a shrug followed.

“You’re sorry, aren’t you Uncle Bruce?”

I nodded, though I wasn’t at all sure I was sorry. Cut me again and you’re a grease spot, I thought.

“Now tell my uncle you’re sorry for cutting him.” She urged me to hold out my hand. Is there a stronger word than reluctantly? There must be. But I held it out.

The nasty little bug landed on my hand. It was green with extra long antennae and smelled of singed moth wings. My hand twitched, setting the little thing to trembling. I resisted the urge to shake it off my hand, and he, for it was a he, stayed put. Remarkably, he no longer looked like a bug. He was an inch and a quarter tall, human looking though green and too slender. All that remained of the “bug” were the nearly transparent, yellowing wings.

He squeaked something to Talatha.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The A. T. and S. F.







Maybe it's better with some fixes. Dunno. I'll think abou it.

Night Walk
Chapter One: Introductions

“Life begins at forty.”

Ever hear that? Does anyone still say that? Don’t believe it. When I turned forty a quick assessment told me my gut had grown, my hair was graying and thinning on top and my glasses were crooked. I had my glasses fixed, went on a diet, and life toddled on un-renewed.

My life started at seventy-eight. My middle had spread more, my hair was nearly gone, and what remained was wispy white. I needed dentures. I was retired and tired. I was a widow of three years, deeply in morning for my life’s partner of fifty-two years. I missed my two daughters, one of whom lived in Belgium and the other in San Diego. They e-mailed more or less regularly, but that’s not the same as seeing them. I spent most days trying to write what I believed would be my last book and napping.

Napping is a pleasant occupation, and at seventy-eight I dozed at the drop of a hat. I dream readily, often of the past, but often enough of a distorted, sometimes regretful past. I was napping when my life began.
“Uncle,” was a vaguely heard word. It was followed by a gentle shake and repeated. “Uncle, wake up please,” was spoken by a pleasant, musical – and female voice.

I raised my right eyelid. I closed it.

“Please, Uncle. …”

Most of my dreams are realistic; some are indistinguishable from reality until I awake. My dreams are never of fairies, dragons, mythological beasts, monsters, or of baseball games.

I opened my eyes. Hell, why not! A dream’s a dream, and at my age even a nightmare has some entertainment value. “You’re a pretty little thing,” I said. “I wonder what undigested morsel …”

“I’ve read Dickens, Uncle. I’m not the ghost of Christmas anything. I’m James Patterson’s daughter. You’re my grand uncle.”

A sure test of dream state is to touch something. I touched her nose. It was solid enough. I was in denial about her wings though. They were large, a very deep emerald, and fluttering slowly.

“You really should wear something when you come calling,” I said.
“We don’t much,” she said. “Wear clothes I mean. Pixies don’t usually. Do you have a cookie?”

“I think so. In the kitchen” I got my over-sized butt out of my desk chair, and limping the first few steps, headed for the kitchen. If she had been real “company” I’d have asked her to wait. But who cares if a dream sees the un-rinsed dishes?

“I have stale chocolate chip cookies, fresh Oreos and some slightly-burned peanut butter cookies I made myself.”

“Good,” she said.

I shrugged and gave her one of each. “Milk?” I asked.
She nodded.

“So, you’re Jimmy’s child?”

She nodded again, climbed onto a chair, and waited patiently while I arranged the cookies on a plate and poured the milk.
Her feet didn’t reach the floor. She was four feet tall by my estimate. She did not look like a child. I never dream of small naked women. This was on the weird side.

Shoving way too much of a peanut butter cookie into her mouth, she mumbled something.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” I said. “No one can understand you.”
She swallowed hard, following it with a gulp of milk. “My mom says that. She’s right, of course. My mom’s almost always right. …” She inspected me. I don’t know how else to describe it. I was assessed, weighted, considered. “I am, as I said, your grand niece. … And I am a Pixie. And I am, as you’ve just guessed, four feet tall, minus a half inch.”

I nodded. “You’re also the strangest dream I’ve had in decades.”

“Larger humans often think they’re dreaming. You’re not. …”

“Prove it.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “Think about it. If I’m a dream, I’m an improbable one. You don’t believe in people like me, or in any of the extra-normal.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Dad told me you don’t … He told me you’d class me with demons and magic and deny I was real. Forget that. I’m here and eating your slightly-burned peanut butter cookie – which isn’t too bad, by the way – and I think you need to get acquainted with the rest of your family.”

I considered shouting “Demon Be GONE!” but didn’t.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want you to and because I may need some help. I have work here.”

* * * *

“Here” is a river city, the name of which I am not going to tell you. Don’t frown. There are reasons why I won’t tell. Important reasons. There are numbers of things I won’t tell you, more or less to protect the innocent and to keep tourists away. I’ve grown to dislike tourists.
The late-afternoon sun warmed the room. I can dream about sunny day, but I never feel the sun’s heat. Do you? A horn honked. The neighbor’s children shouted obscenities. (They really need to do something about their kids’ behavior.) The phone rang. I answered it. These were fair signs that I was awake. Maybe I was hallucinating; old people do sometimes, I think.

The call was from my congregation’s presiding elder. He wanted me to fill in for someone the next Sunday. “I’m not sure I can, Bob,” I said evenly. “Right now I’m not feeling – normal. I think I’m coming down with something.” I kept my back to the small, winged woman hoping she’d be gone when I turned around. Bob agreed to find someone else to give the Sunday talk. I hung up, paused, and turned.

“I’m still here,” she said. She smirked. She does that well. It’s a look of impatient patience, of toleration for those not in the know who ought to have been. “I’m staying here. I’m not going away. When you decide I’m real, let me know, and we’ll get down to business.”

I shrugged and reached for the pain pills I keep in the cupboard over the sink, shaking out two, then two more and swallowing them dry. Bad idea, that. I choked on them. She, swifter than the eye can see … okay, that’s an exaggeration … she quickly ran water into a rather dirty glass and handed it to me. I drank it.

“You’re not a very good housekeeper,” she said. It wasn’t an accusing remark, only an observation and true enough. But I resented it. What right does an hallucination have to criticize my mess?

I didn’t reply. I returned to my computer, rereading the last paragraph I’d written. I must have been dozing off as I wrote. It was awful. I deleted extraneous words and one complete sentence that seemed to say that one of the Marcher Lords had been hung by his wife. That, of course, was wrong and not at all what I’d intended to write.

From the kitchen I heard the clank of dishes and running water. There is a wide difference between the sounds one “hears” in the dream state and those heard in reality. This was real. But … do hallucinated sounds seem real?

I ignored it all.

“William was amiable and in no wise as strong as his father,” I wrote.

I heard the frig door open and close and the sound of a plate settling on the table.

“Earl William’s nemesis, Ivor ap Meyric was, according to Rees Merrick ‘little of stature, yet bigg and mighty of heart,’” I typed. I paused there, struck by the similarity between my tedious recitation and what her sister read to Alice. No wonder Alice woke to visions of a rabbit with a watch. Perhaps old age and ennui explained the singing coming from the kitchen.

I did not turn to the sound of her bare feet padding across the floor. I didn’t turn when she shoved a plate of salad onto my desk.

“Eat that,” she said peremptorily. “You’re on a diet as of today.”

“Excuse me, young lady, but I’ll eat when and what I want.”

“Not any more. …”

* * * *

Four days later, (I’m sure it was four days.) and I found her sitting on the edge of my bed. She was dressed after a fashion. She wore rolled up, unzipped, unfastened jeans, and she wore a tee shirt, slit down the back and tied in two places. The latter was a practical move, given her wings. They were, I noticed, mostly pink today.

“What’s your name?” I asked. That was the first crack in the wall of disbelief.

“Talatha,” she said. “I am the Ta' Sha El Nef. I'm a Pixie. … And you need to get up now. I made breakfast.”

My back snapped in a dozen places. My feet are chronically cold, and the cold floor made it worse. I felt along the floor until I found yesterday’s socks and slipped them over achy feet. Glasses …. I can’t see a thing without them. I felt along the top of my bed-side bookcase until I found them.

Life has its moments of clarity. This was one. I repressed a laugh. Her face was sweet and serious. Her wings blazed shades of pink and red. This was, I’m certain, the first I noticed the wing hair. The colors came from the wing fuzz. Oh, and if you ever meet a Pixie, don’t call it fuzz. It’s hair. It requires grooming. It’s not fuzz.

“Come. Eat,” she said. “Clean yourself up. We’re going out.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Night Walk

Rough Draft. I'll fix the broken bits later. Prolly all you're going to see of this until it's finished.

I decided that I don't like any of this. I'm starting over.

Night Walk
Chapter One

“Life begins at forty.”

Ever hear that? Does anyone still say that? Don’t believe it in any case. When I turned forty a quick assessment told me my gut had grown, my hair was graying and thinning on top and my glasses were crooked. I had my glasses fixed, went on a diet, and life toddled on un-renewed.

My life started at seventy-eight. My middle has spread more, my hair was nearly gone and what remained was wispy white. I needed dentures. I was retired and tired. I was a widow of three years, deeply in morning for my life’s partner of fifty-two years. I missed my two daughters, one of whom lived in Belgium and the other in San Diego. They e-mailed more or less regularly, but that’s not the same as seeing them. I spent most days trying to write what I believed would be my last book and napping.
Napping is a pleasant occupation, and at seventy-eight I dozed at the drop of a hat. I dream readily, often of the past but often enough of a distorted, sometimes regretful past. I was napping when my life began.

“Uncle,” was a vaguely hear word. It was followed by a gentle shake and repeated. “Uncle, wake up please.” It was spoken by a pleasant, musical – and female voice.

I raised my right eyelid. I closed it.

“Please, Uncle. …”

Most of my dreams are realistic; some indistinguishable from reality until I awake. My dreams are never of fairies, dragons, mythological beasts, monsters or of baseball games.

I opened my eyes. Hell, why not! A dream’s a dream, and at my age even a nightmare has some entertainment value. “You’re a pretty little thing,” I said. I wonder what undigested morsel …”

“I’ve read Dickens, Uncle. I’m not the ghost of Christmas anything. I’m James Patterson’s daughter. You’re my grand uncle.”

A sure test of dream state is to touch something. I touched her nose. It was solid enough. I was in denial about the wings though. They were large, a very deep emerald, and slowly fluttering.

“You really should wear something when you come calling,” I said.
“We don’t much,” she said. “Wear clothes I mean. Pixies don’t usually. Do you have a cookie?”

“I think so. In the kitchen” I got my over-sized butt out of my desk chair, and limping the first few steps headed for the kitchen. If she had been real “company” I’d have asked her to wait. But who cares if a dream sees the un-rinsed dishes?

“I have stale chocolate chip cookies, fresh Oreos and some slightly burned peanut butter cookies I made myself.”

“Good,” she said.

I shrugged and gave her one of each. “Milk?” I asked.

She nodded.

“So, you’re Jimmy’s child?”

She nodded again, climbed onto a chair, and waited patiently while I arranged the cookies on a plate and poured the milk.

Her feet didn’t reach the floor. She was four feet tall by my estimate. She did not look like a child. I never dream of small naked women. This was on the weird side.

Shoving way too much of a peanut butter cookie into her mouth, she mumbled something no one in this world could understand.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” I said. “No one can understand you.”
She swallowed hard, following it with a gulp of milk. “My mom says that. She’s right, of course. My mom’s almost always right. …” She inspected me. I don’t know how else to describe it. I was assessed, weighted, considered. “I am, as I said, your grand niece. … And I am a Pixie. And I am, as you’ve just guessed, four feet tall, minus a half inch.”

I nodded. “You’re also the strangest dream I’ve had in decades.”

“You larger humans often think they’re dreaming. You’re not. …”

“Prove it.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “Think about it. If I’m a dream, I’m an improbable one. You don’t believe in people like me, or in any of the extra-normal.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Dad told me you don’t … He told me you’d class me with demons and magic and deny I was real. Forget that. I’m here and eating your slightly burned peanut butter cookie – which isn’t too bad, by the way – and I think you need to get acquainted with the rest of your family.”

I considered shouting “Demon Be GONE!” but didn’t.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want you to and because I may need some help. I have work here.”

* * * *

“Here” is a river city, the name of which I simply am not going to tell you. Don’t frown at me. There are reasons why I won’t tell. Important reasons. There are numbers of things I won’t tell you, more or less to protect the innocent and to keep tourists away. I’ve grown to dislike tourists.

The late-afternoon sun warmed the room. I can dream about fire, but I never feel it. Do you? A horn honked outside. I heard the neighbor’s children shouting obscenities, which was real and usual. (They really need to do something about their kid’s behavior.) The phone rang. I answered it. These were fair signs that I was awake. Maybe I was hallucinating. Old people do sometimes, I think.

The call was from my congregation’s presiding elder. He wanted me to fill in for someone the next Sunday. “I’m not sure I can, Bob,” I said evenly. “Right now I’m not feeling – normal. I think I’m coming down with something.” I kept my back to the small, winged woman hoping she’d be gone when I turned around. Bob agreed to find someone else to give the Sunday talk. I hung up, paused, and turned.

“I’m still here,” she said. She smirked. She does that well, I’ve learned. It’s a look of impatient patience, of toleration for those not in the know who ought to have been. “I’m staying here. I’m not going away. When you decide I’m real, let me know, and we’ll get down to business.”

I shrugged and reached for the pain pills I keep in the cupboard over the sink, shaking out two, then two more and swallowing them dry. Bad idea, that. I choked on them. She, swifter than the eye can see … okay, that’s an exaggeration … she quickly ran water into a rather dirty glass and handed it to me. I drank it.

“You’re not a very good housekeeper,” she said. It wasn’t an accusing remark, only an observation, and true enough. But I resented it. What right does an hallucination have? I didn’t reply. I returned to my computer, rereading the last paragraph I’d written. I must have been dozing as I wrote. It was awful. I deleted extraneous words and one complete sentence that seemed to say that one of the Marcher Lords had been hung by his wife. That, of course, was wrong and not at all what I’d intended to write.

From the kitchen I heard the clank of dishes and running water. There is a wide difference between dream ‘sounds’ and reality. This was real, but I wasn’t certain about sounds heard when hallucinating. I ignored it.
“William was amiable and in no wise as strong as his father,” I wrote.
I heard the frig door open and close and the sound of a plate settling on the table.

“Earl William’s nemesis, Ivor ap Meyric was, according to Rees Merrick ‘little of stature, yet bigg and mighty of heart,’” I typed. I paused there, struck by the similarity between my tedious recitation of William, third Lord of Glamorgan’s history and Alice’s sister’s choice of reading material. No wonder Alice woke to a rabbit with a watch. Perhaps old age and ennui explained the singing coming from the kitchen.

I did not turn to the sound of her bear feet padding across the floor. I didn’t turn when she shoved a plate of salad onto the desk corner.

“Eat that,” she said peremptorily. “You’re on a diet as of today.”

“Excuse me, young lady, but I’ll eat when and what I want.”

“Not any more. …”

* * * *
Four days later, (I’m sure it was four days.) and I found her sitting on the edge of my bed. She was dressed after a fashion. She wore rolled up, unzipped, unfastened jeans, and she wore a tee shirt, slit down the back and tied in two places. The latter was a practical move, given her wings. They were, I noticed, mostly pink today
.
“What’s your name?” I asked. That was the first crack in the wall of disbelief.

“Talatha,” she said. “I am the Ta' Sha El Nef. I'm a Pixie. … And you need to get up now. I made breakfast.”

My back snapped in a dozen places. My feet are chronically cold, but the cold floor made them colder. I felt along the floor until I found yesterday’s socks and slipped them over achy feet. Glasses …. I can’t see a thing without them. I felt along the top of my bed-side bookcase until I found them.

Life has its moments of clarity. This was one. I repressed a laugh. Her face was sweet and serious. Her wings blazed shades of pink and red. This was, I’m certain, the first I noticed the wing hair. The colors came from the wing fuzz. Oh, and if you ever meet a Pixie, don’t call it fuzz. It’s hair. It requires grooming. It’s not fuzz.

“Come. Eat,” she said. “Clean yourself up. We’re going out.”

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Stamps of Romagna - From My Collection

Three on Rain, One on Sleep

THE SLEEPY SONG

By Jospehine Daskam Bacon 

As soon as the fire burns red and low,
And the house up-stairs is still,
She sings me a queer little sleepy song,
Of sheep that go over the hill.

The good little sheep run quick and soft,
Their colors are gray and white:
They follow their leader nose to tail,
For they must be home by night.

And one slips over and one comes next,
And one runs after behind,
The gray one's nose at the white one's tail,
The top of the hill they find.

And when they get to the top of the hill
They quietly slip away,
But one runs over and one comes next—
Their colors are white and gray.

And over they go, and over they go,
And over the top of the hill,
The good little sheep run quick and soft,
And the house up-stairs is still.

And one slips over and one comes next,
The good little, gray little sheep!
I watch how the fire burns red and low,
And she says that I fall asleep.

Three on Rain

Rain
Robert Lewis Stevenson

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

April Rain Song
Langston Huges

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk,
Thr rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night –

I love the rain.

Little Wind
Kate Greenaway

Little wind, blow on the hill top;
Little wind, blow down the plain;
Little wind, blow up the sunshine,
Little wind, blow off the rain.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

John Millington Synge

The Curse

Lord, confound this surly sister,

Blight her brow with blotch and blister,

Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,

In her guts a galling give her.

Let her live to earn her dinners

In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:

Lord, this judgement quickly bring,

And I'm Your servant, J. M. Synge.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Pixies Like Drums and they LOVE this music



Ode to Joy as a Flash Mob Event. The little girl who places the coins in the hat reminds me of me.



Doing it in a Big Way

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!


Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,

und freudenvollere.

Freude! (men's chorus: Freude! )

Freude! (chorus again: Freude! )

Freude, schöner Götterfunken*

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Deine Zauber binden wieder

Was die Mode streng geteilt;

Alle Menschen werden Brüder,

Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,

Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;

Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,

Mische seinen Jubel ein!

Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele

Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!

Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle

Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen

An den Brüsten der Natur;

Alle Guten, alle Bösen

Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.

Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,

Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;

Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,

Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Vor Gott!

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen

Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,

Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,

Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!

Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!

Über Sternen muss er wohnen.

Finale repeats the words:

Seid umschlungen, Millionen!

Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!

Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt

Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Seid umschlungen,

Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

Tochter aus Elysium,

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

Götterfunken!



Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Degüello



The band has played.
Plans have been laid.

Expect me ...



Never Peeve a Pixie

Monday, September 03, 2012

A pixie wrote this ....



Have you ever really listened to the words? Really listened?

By Julia Ward Howe
Who was a very, very old Pixie

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

To answer a question ...

This is my personal blog. It contains random thoughts, impertinent comments, stories about my children and old photos. I like antique photos. Some of them are of my relations, near and distant. Some are photos that interested me.

My writing partner and I maintain two history blogs. These are where we post bits of our research. One of these is an invitation only blog where partial and nearly complete chapters of our next book are posted. The other is public and more general. Access to the private blog is not exactly closed but we limit access. Curiosity alone will not get you access.

My writing partner maintains two other blogs, one for his students and one for private discussions between him and one of his former students. Neither would interest most of my readers. I have a school district blog through another service. I will not post a link. It is only for my students.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

On being mean to pixies

This is about writing religious history. Don't read it. It will bore you.

My writing partner tasked me with part of the introductory essay. This is an unpleasant task, and I know he stuck me with it because I have strong opinions about the subject. I’m supposed to write the bit about revisionism’s role in distorting the picture most people have of this history. He knows that I’ll only write what the evidence sustains. So what he’s really doing is challenging parts of my opinion. Ha! Two can play that game!

Thomas Daniels, a Catholic apologist, wrote an essay entitled Historical Idealism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t know Mr. Daniels, but I’m not sure Mr. Daniels would have survived one of my history classes. It’s not that he doesn’t present a huge amount of documentation. He does. Like many of his sort, he uses digital scans of key quotations. Writers like Daniels seem to think that no one will take them seriously if they don’t present a scan or photo of the original. There is, of course, a reason for their fear.

Many of these writers, including Daniels, want to give the appearance of evidence when there is none. They skip from a documentary photo to false conclusions. There is a strong element of what Daniels calls “Historical Idealism” in the writings of the groups we profile. This is true of COGGC, Advent Christians, and others. But Daniels and his ilk simply make things up. In Daniels case, that’s probably due to over confidence in his research, which is quite poor in some areas.

Daniels misstates the situation among believers in the Second Advent as it stood in the late 19th Century. I think he simply did not know what it was, that he was unfamiliar with contemporary thinking, and that he failed to confirm his conclusions. He failed to grasp the “Gentile Times” doctrine, confusing ZWT adherent’s expectation for that event and the then current parousia doctrine. He also consistently frames the worst possible motive for anything he thinks is untrue.

Daniels seems not to have done his own research but to have taken much of this work from a controversialist writer without significant attribution. This is a very poor product. He gets an F from me. There are other polemical essays that do a much better job of presenting this issue. One of these considers the Faithful Servant doctrine. Written in response to a book (God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years), it puts the lie to a statement about one of the principals in this broad movement.

Now this touches on an area where I have some issues. The man reputed to have written that book (it was published anonymously) would have known that what he wrote was not accurate. He lived during the era in question, knew the man personally, knew what was said before and why. He lied. When he wrote, he re-fought an issue that had not been important to anyone but some very small groups for decades. But the issue remained important to him. Instead of dealing with it forthrightly, he simply made things up. Lots of people on both sides of these issues do that. Often that’s due to sloppy research and ignorance. This was not.

There is a significant amount of revisionism in the books, magazines, polemical essays and broadsides that consider these movements. There are problems with some of the articles Daniels cites, often not the ones to which he points. What Daniels has done is give me more work than I need. I have to read his essay which is sixty-seven pages long – several times. Ultimately, Daniels will be a footnote and a comment. But I still need to dissect his arguments. I will pull out of the mass of quotations those few that really do project revisionism. (There are some.)

Some final observations: It is unethical to point to bad motives when other less severe explanations exist. This is bad history and bad morals. I’m sure Daniels was proud of his essay. But it’s a run of the mill product, something I would expect from a Freshman with no grasp of his subject. Photocopies without accurate analysis only provide a semblance of good research.

Imagine a Pixie sticking her tongue out at her writing partner! I'm doing it now.