Thursday, March 29, 2012

Distant Gramma Showing off her Dress

Treasure in the Mail!

So, I’m kinda living in mental fog today. I haven’t written anything and don’t intend to. I am in need of sleep, but I got out of bed for a pain pill and some reheated coffee. The mail came while I was zapping the coffee with mystery microwaves. Usually that means a bunch of advertisements, a bill or two, and an invitation to the Lutheran Church. (I have no clue why they send those to me. I’m not Lutheran. Lutherans are either boring or … boring. Hey, I listen to the Lake Woebegone News!)

Today’s mail was full of treasure. I bought some really inexpensive stamps. These came. I way under paid for these. This is nice. But the real treasure was a book. The main character in our first history book absolutely detested Jonathan Perkins Weethee. That makes Weethee a person of interest. (Doesn’t that sound all detective-ish?) We already own one of his books. Does the word “turgid” have meaning for you? But we read lots and lots of poorly written books, so I’m used to the suffering.

Weethee

I found this one on ebay and was the only bidder. It is called The Eastern Question in its Various Phases. It’s a huge book, about eight by ten inches and 638 pages. I get the same impression of this one as I did of the other. The man did not know when to stop writing nonsense. But, dear heart, this is true treasure. Weethee, a geologist by trade and a college president, was a controversial figure. Many saw him as abusive. His books are scarce to rare. We now own two of them.

The Book

I learned years ago to thumb through the pages of every used book I buy. Sometimes you find things: four leaf clovers; bits of paper, money, letters, photos. Once I found a letter signed by Henry Clay. Sure enough I found something in Weethee’s book, a promissory note from the 1890s. This is “right up my alley” cool. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, other than put it in the box of “cool beans” stuff, none of which fits with any of my collections, but all of which are on the neat-o side.

Now, on to the stamps. The most interesting of the stamps I bought is a small group of inflation era stamps in multiples. A block of four of the 10 Milliarden (Billion) Green is cancelled with the Holland-South America Line ship’s cancel. Think of that. It took forty billion marks to mail whatever was sent. There’s a block of fifteen One Billion Mark stamps, with clear and appropriate date cancellations. There’s a block of fifty Five Billion Mark stamps with Railroad cancellations. Fun stuff.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cranky Pixies

I’m dead tired. I sat up too long after work. Knobby Knees is off to the uncivilized bits of Europe, and snuggling a cold pillow didn’t appeal to me. I slept about three and a half hours, finally giving it up. I’ve been delaying writing up bits of things that came our way after we’d more or less finished some chapters. In the last hour I tackled one of them. Remember in the previous post I quote a bit of cranky old manism produced by my writing partner. It’s my turn.

A Norwegian named J. S. Haugland, a former adherent of one of the descendant religions, produced a pitiful master’s thesis in 2000. You can find it on the Internet. I may teach middle and high school students now, but that wasn’t always so. If I had been Mr. Haugland’s advisor, I would not have found his work acceptable. It lacks the credibility that only original research could have given it. Even where it appears to be based on original research, it is not. I am, of course, familiar with the original material, and I’m fairly certain his advisors were not. So I probably see what they did not. Mr. Haugland, your work is a major fail.
Here’s how I tackled Mr. Haugland’s bit of nonsense. See if you don’t think a youngish pixie can be as cranky as an oldish, old man:

Jan S. Haugland suggests that Russell manipulated the facts in regard to Object and Manner: “In the … 1906 autobiographical Watch Tower article, Russell clearly left the impression that his booklet Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return was written before he met Barbour.” Haugland was almost exclusively dependent on secondary sources, and his approach was colored by his antipathy to Russell based on his status as a former Witness. Standards for a Master’s Thesis vary by university, but one wonders how a reputable university found his acceptable absent any research into original sources. Anyone familiar with Russell’s biographical article, first published in 1890, would see as nil any chance to manipulate the facts. All of the principals were living. The readership of their magazines overlapped. Other things Russell wrote were challenged by them, but they did not challenge his presentation of facts in regard to Object and Manner. A careful reading of the original article reveals that confusion regarding the publication date is a modern phenomenon. A mere 13 years separated publication of Object and Manner and first publication of Russell’s article. Many of those identifying with Zion’s Watch Tower in 1890 had been in the movement from early days. It is regrettable that poorly researched nonsense such as Haugland’s comment sees publication.

That’s it. That’s what I say. I’m stickin’ to it, Bub. He makes another assertion equally false based on nothing beyond personal opinion. I’ll address that too, but in another place. Things like this weary me. In an ideal world we would not have to notice them. Men like Haugland and Edmund Gruss who have history degrees, but who do not know how to research or who do not wish to do their own research give me indigestion. It is possible to oppose another’s ideas and still present an accurately told history.

Some of those we write about were first class “fruitcakes,” some were evil bridge-trolls. An A. D. Jones was a cheat, a liar, an adulterer in religious guise. We write about a fair number of hypocrites who managed to scold others for whey they had previously done. We profile a Christian and Missionary Alliance clergyman who taught that sex with him was a way to purity. We don’t invent this stuff. We don’t manufacture it out of personal opinion. If one invents, one demonstrates a lack of professionalism, even of morality.

Dealing with this “stuff” (use another word if you wish) is an irritant. These boys should be pleased that they were never in one of my classes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's in my Jeans umm Genes

I come by it naturally, I suppose. I’m not talking about my small size, blond hair, the shape of my nose, or being scrawny, though I inherit those things. I’m talking about the urge to write, especially about religion. Now you may think I like religion. I don’t. At least not most of it. But I am fascinated by it, even if I look at it through a skeptical eye. Religion is the summary of man’s best hopes and his worst behavior.

So, I was talking about this urge to write thing. One of my very distant grandfathers was Ralph Cudworth. If he were still alive, he’d be approaching his four hundredth birthday. But, he’s dead so he’s not. Approaching a birth day, I mean. He’s probably approaching bone fragility. Anyway Ralphie was a noted religious writer in his day and something of a Platonist. He sought intellectual symmetry. He believed that underlying the physical universe was a universal thought pattern that should regulate our morals and behaviors.

He was one of many ancestorly writers. (Yes, I know ancestorly isn’t a word. I just made it up, okay?) All I can say about Ralphie is that I’m glad I didn’t inherit his good looks, because … dear heart … he didn’t have any.




Skipping back some we come to a man named Howard. Howard wrote very little, but what he produced is interesting. He believed in the equality of races. There is no known portrait. He was prolly homely too.

One of the old-time family genealogies connects us to Chaucer’s brother. I have no idea if this is accurate. It would be fun if so. I’ve raised my eyebrows in doubt, however.

If one forges forward in my genealogy, we meet Thomas. Thomas was an Irish Catholic turned Methodist. He mostly wrote political commentary, Civil War memories, and occasionally about religion. An article published in a Nebraska newspaper (and elsewhere I’m told.) detailed in semi-humorous ways his encounter with a tippler on an omnibus somewhere in California. Thomas and his wife and daughter tried to persuade this man that sobriety was a safer, more rewarding way of life. The persuasion fell on deaf ears. Now, I coulda told them, had I been alive then, that you can’t persuade a drunk when he’s drunk.

Now Thomas’s oldest daughter, his brother in law, and assorted members of that wider family were all writers too. One wrote novels, now all but forgotten. Two of them were educators and wrote “educational philosophy” stuff. I’ve read some of that. … Of these two one decided late in life that she wanted to be a missionary. She went back to college, graduating with a degree in theology with an emphasis on missionary work. The interesting thing is this: The experience left her disillusioned. She never entered her Church’s missionary work. She remained a believer, but she viewed religion in a more realistic way.

She was an excellent writer, but produced very little. I feel the kinship. It’s writ on every page. And I sympathize with her feeling of disillusionment. Most of us have some sort of wake-up moment in our life. I had my first in my very early teens. My mother became interested in what became her life-long religion when I was ten or so. At twelve I was reading avidly. I read everything that sect published that I could find. I read a book entitled Riches and fell in love with the book. The author found all of these prophetic foreshadowings in scriptural events. It seemed so logical. … Until I asked the question, “How does he know?” There’s a huge amount more to that story; maybe I’ll tell it sometime. While I ended with great sympathy for that religion's adherents, I never found a good answer to my question: “How does he know?”

We come to an aberrant ancestor in one of my grandfathers. He thought religion was bunk. If he wasn’t an atheist, he was as close to it as you can be and not be one. He wrote science. I noticed on one of the Internet book sites that some of his books sell for three and four hundred dollars. Silly me! I gave them all away.

One of my grandmothers considered herself illiterate. She wasn’t. She just felt that way. I think the feeling came from a disconnect between my grandfather’s friends and associates (politicians, a Nobel Prize winner, scientists) whom she entertained and her personal interests which ran to light novels, detective fiction, and art. Gram had no reason to feel as she did. In her own way she was smarter than Gramps.

My uncle writes history. Before he took up that peculiar occupation, he edited a newspaper (way back in the days of yor.) writing about pretty much anything that struck his fancy. The sad thing is, he kept none of it except one feature article he wrote in 1968. It’s really quite good.

Back to Ralphie. Reflecting on Ralphie, I’m glad that I resemble other ancestors. No offense Ralph Cudworth … but that nose ….

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stuff ...

A book I bought from an ebay seller arrived today. It’s old and it’s fragile. The title is The coming glory: a series of brief treatises on the coming and kingdom of Christ as revealed in the sure word of prophecy. I haven’t read it all yet. I’ve read very little of it because it stinks. Old books do sometimes; so this one is sitting on top of my negative ion generator undergoing “the cure.” I estimate three weeks at least. It is smelly.

I’m not certain which group this comes from. It might be Plymouth Brethren. It’s bound in blind stamped paste board, typical of cheap books from the 1840-60s. It was published in Ireland, but probably the writer was English. This is a good find.

I’m watching another book. That auction ends today. We’ve spend all our research funds (again), so I’ll pay for this out of my penny jar. True treasures!

My writing partner talked to one of the librarians at Columbia University. They have things we want to see, but they’re very hard to deal with. At the end of the conversation she gave him an email address. He wrote trying to find a way around their restrictive policies. He offered them a trade. For digitalized copies of several years of a magazine, we’ll send them digitalized periodicals they do not have. We’ll see.

I’ve been playing with my stamp collection the last week or so. Not constantly, of course, but at some point during the day I turn the pages of my Germany album and relax. I’ve added to it lately too. Two west side stamp dealers are on ebay, both nice guys who price their auctions more than reasonably. I bought several lots all at once from one of them and filled some spaces. I’m watching some lots from a dealer I don’t know. He has cheap junk lots of German stamps. The thing about his cheap junk lots is in some of them there are nice things hidden on the pages. I really want the one lot. Nothing on the page is worth a dime – except one stamp. If the previous collector properly identified this stamp, it’s one I’d never be able to afford sold by itself. … So I’m watching. …

I need coffee. Be back in a few …

Okay, I’m back. Did you miss me?

So … anyway … umm … here’s the photo of the book:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cranky old men, Religious History, A funny pervert

Well, I’ve been working on what will be chapter two all day, adding bits, fact checking and such. The amount of utter nonsense out there is startling. I’m sure you don’t want the details. At least not all of them. My writing partner is a sometimes cranky old man. Cranky old men are fun to watch. So … I’m reading through his latest edits and come to this:

It is somewhat tiring to point out the obvious errors of other writers, and we would rather have ignored them. That some take them seriously impels us to address them. A particularly egregious error concerning Storrs’ association with Walsh is found in Historical Dictionary of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Page 6.) It’s certainly not the only error found in that book, but it’s the one we’ll notice in this context. Chryssides writes: “The Advent Christian Church emerged from the Life and Advent Union created by John T. Wash and George Storrs in 1863.” This is utter nonsense and represents a level of scholarship unworthy of a publication that seeks to be taken seriously. Most Advent Christians rejected the non-resurrection of the dead doctrine. They detested it. They did not form out of the Life and Advent Union but out of John Cummings’ 1854 prediction. We do not apply the Latin rule “falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus” to many books. We do not apply it here. But there are so many errors in Chryssides work that we see consulting it as a waste of a serious researcher’s time.

Now there are two things here. Okay more than two. He’s right. Chryssides Dictionary is crappy in key ways. This is a cranky response. His Latin phrase is different than a similar one I learned, though it’s close. I looked it up, and it passes. I added a sentence to this: “We write this fully conscious that we have probably made our own set of errors; we hope they are far less obvious than those in Chryssides Dictionary.” Now, errors are inevitable. I hate them. We work hard to identify them. The trouble is, this entire field (Advent Christian, COGGC, all the small Advent and Sabatarian independents, the Bible Student Groups, JW’s and such) has never been painstakingly researched. Most of what passes for “history” among these groups is self-serving, inaccurate, silly, moronic, and well … crappy.

Some of these religions are losing relevance. They have lost their “center,” the doctrines that made them distinctive. Others are faced with modifying their views to accomdate the passage of time. However, they remain historically relevant because they account for much of what happened in American and European religious history since the 1870s. This is in itself an unexplored topic.

My pet knobby kneed Scot woke me up somewhere near 4 am. That went something like this:

“Babe! Wake up! I hear someone in the front yard.”

“Mumble, mumble.”

“Peach! There’s someone outside.”

“Huh? Mumble, mumble. Call the police.”

Long pause. … Even longer pause. “But you’re the [reserve] deputy here.”

[Raising myself onto my elbow.] “And you’re the tall, muscular Scot. … You want me to go outside nearly naked and arrest someone?”

“I thought you had your pjs on. …”

“You took them off, remember?”

He gets up and looks out the window. “Do I call the cops on a couple of dogs?”

[Insert snicker here.] “No dear, not at four am.”

[He crawls back into bed.] “Oh … you’re all nice and warm.”

“Pervert.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Really weird stuff ...

Okay ... there's prolly a reason for this, but I'm not going to go looking for it. I'm only reporting it.

On my right arm just above the inner bend was a mole. I've had it since I was a child. It was small, a bit reddish, and ... just there. So last month sometime, while I was reading, it felt itchy. I unconsiously rubbed at it and it fell off, leaving a dent in new, pinkish skin. In a day or so it was impossible to tell where it had been. Odd, huh?

Well today a small mole about the size of a pin head that had made a home on my chest just where my neck attaches fell off. Same stuff. It felt odd. I rubbed at it, and it came off in my hand. These are "what the heck" moments. I have no idea what's going on.

No rest for the weary, the wicked, or Pixie Moms.

I’m overly medicated with pain meds. A medication I take gives me deep body aches. When the pain become too much I take an over the counter pain pill and try to sleep them off. Last Saturday was an especially bad day. I had a series of seizures at work, each of them brief, but they left me exhausted and cranky. I spent most of Sunday in bed. Now you may think something like, “Well, that’s good. You probably needed the rest.” But here – with minimal exaggeration – is how it went:

I finally made it home about 7 am. The house was busy. Knobby Knees made pancakes. The kitchen was full of noisy children, some rudely trying to talk around a mouth full of pancake. I get everything from a wave to a hug so tightly given that I stagger.

“You look like dirt warmed over,” Knobby Knees says. He learned that phrase from my dad. It’s appropriate.

I help myself to some pancakes, plop two pats of soft butter on top, and pour maple syrup over the lot. “I’m sick,” I say. “I was sick most of the night.”

“You should quit that job,” husband says.

We’ve had this discussion before. “That job” provides a big chunk of our income. There is no way to quit. I don’t respond. Instead I say, “I’m going to medicate myself and go to bed.”

I don’t write much about Daughters Two and Three here. There are reasons, of course, but today I will. Daughters Two and Three are that only in age. In order of arrival they’re Dau 1 and 2. They’re four months apart. One is a birth child; the other is adopted. They don’t look at all alike. One has pale skin and light blond hair. Her photo is on this blog somewhere, though not labeled as her. The other is a Bengali, with hair so deeply red it’s black, with eyes so brown they’re almost black. They’re inseparable most days, a little independent island.

Dau Two is my self-appointed protector. Dau Three is her back up. They take the job seriously, even though it’s not necessary. So when I said I was sick, they went into their “protector” mode. This is subtle. They grow quiet. They listen attentively. They mentally check out my vitals. Sometimes they move closer.

I finish my pancakes, and wander off to the nearest bathroom. I soak out as much mental fog and pain as I can in water so hot it leaves my skin red. Dau Two knocks at the door. She turns the knob, opening the door just far enough to drop my warm, fluffy, pink jammies on the floor. “Here, Mom,” she says.

I say thanks.

I ease myself out of the tub and dry off. The pajamas feel good. I dry my hair, frowning at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. My eyes look bad. They always do after a bad episode. They make me look shell-shocked. That’s not a bad analogy. One of my doctors said there are similarities between a post-seizure period and PTSD. I believe it’s true.

Knobby Knees gives me a long, soft, snuggly hug. I lay my head on his chest. This is nice.

I find my workroom bed. I don’t want to climb the stairs. So this is my nest of choice. I peel back the covers, turn on the heating blanket, and crawl in. I have a sleep routine. Maybe you do too. I lay on my left side, my foot hooked over my lower leg. I’ll lie this way until I achieve some comfort. Then I’ll roll over to my right side, adjust my pillow, and drift off to sleep.

Moms sleep lightly. My mother claimed that habit never leaves one, even after all the children have grown and left. I can believe that. I’ve slept about an hour, I think, and I hear a soft noise. It’s human. It’s one of mine; Dau 2 is curled up in my leather chair. I stir; she looks up.

“Do you need anything, Mom?” she askes.

“Just quiet,” I say. “I’m fine. You don’t need to watch me while I sleep.”

“It’s okay,” she says. “I’ll be quiet.”

There’s no sense in shooing her off. I’d hurt her feelings. So I re-settle myself and drift into a half-sleep, a state of half dream and half reality. Sometimes in this state I see images, usually still photos, played as a slide show against my eyelids. These are realistic photos, sometimes of places I’ve seen, but more often of places I’ve never seen. They’re fuzzy around the edges as if the image came from an old, decaying negative. They are as real as a photograph image. This is not a dream, exactly. It resembles no dream state I’ve ever experienced. It’s interesting, engaging my half awake mind.

I finally drift into deep sleep. This lasts an indefinable time. I wake to Dau 3 saying, “Annie, shush.” Dau 3 has replaced Dau 2.

Annie is Dau 5. She crawls over me and wiggles into the covers.

“Be quiet yourself,” Annie says. “You’ll wake mom.”

Annie snuggles in. Dau 2 grumbles a little. But she also takes Annie’s presence as her relief. She tiptoes out of the room.

I hear Knobby Knees ask, “How’s your mother getting along?”

“Sleeping,” Dau 2 says.

“Mom,” Annie whispers.

I don’t answer. Answering is too much effort.

“MOM,” she whispers loudly.

I open an eye.

“Are you awake, Mom?”

“I am now,” I say.

“Would you like me to read to you?”

I’m conflicted. What I’d like is for some real quiet. That’s rare in our house. If one takes on the job of parent, one must resign themselves to living with and nurturing independent personalities. Independent though they may be, they are social and dependent on their parents for security and validation.

“If you want to,” I say.

Annie has discovered poetry. I have a shelf of poetry. She’s been reading it, puzzling over it, laughing at some of it or loudly proclaiming her distaste for some of it. Annie is seven, but she reads at a high school level. She has the tastes of a seven year old liberally mixed with the discrimination that some adults do not have. I have utter sympathy for this. I’ve been there, and in some respects I’ve never aged past seven, though I see the world through ancient eyes.

Annie has discovered Vachel Lindsey. I listen, relaxed against my pillow to:

“And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer
He saw his Master thro' the flag-filled air.
Christ came gently with a robe and crown
For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.
He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,
And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”

My personal opinion of Booth is quite low. But the poem is good, and I don’t need to colour Annie’s opinion with my own here. Let her read and enjoy.

Apparently Annie’s reading served as an invitation to convention in my room. Knobby Knees peeks through the door. “You’re awake,” he says. “Feeling better?”

“Yes, but still some dizzy.”

He shoves the door open, and behind him is a troop of children in the ranks. One carries a tray with mugs, another a pot of hot chocolate, and another with snacks. “We went to the Fourth Street Bakery,” he says. “Carrot cake or lady fingers?”

I prop myself up.

“Did you like my poem?” Annie asks.

“Very well done,” I say. And for no accountable reason I add:

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding – riding –
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

“What’s that!” she says.

It pleases me to see the light in her eyes. “Alfred Noyes,” I say. “Look on the second shelf.”

She is out of my bed and trotting over to the poetry bookshelf so quickly that I almost spill my drink. “I can’t find it …. Oh here it is!”

She grows quiet, turning pages.

As children finish cake or lady fingers, they dissipate. Cups and plates are gathered. Annie and her dad remain. Annie is reading aloud but softly, to herself. Knobby Knees looks at me speculatively over the top of his reading glasses. “You look much better,” he says.

From Invernes ... with cute knees

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What keeps a Pixie Butt Warm ...

This isn't me, of course, but this is what keeps my Pixie butt warm, thanks to my sister's latest 'care package.' ... Or ... I should say it's ONE of the things that keeps me warm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Because Gordon's have cute knees ...

From Harry - Fan Fic

Stalking the Wild Pixie

Wilber turned the camera on and framed the background of old growth timber. He flipped the LCD screen to face forward, pressed the record button and stepped in front of the lens.

“Episode 8, Take 1.” He paused and composed himself. “Welcome to another episode of Hunting for the Unknown; the show where we search for some of life’s little mysteries. Today we are stalking the wild pixie. Pixies and fairies are not to be confused.”

Wilber looked down at his script and started reading carefully and slowly. All that was important here was his voice. He would cutaway to photos and historical illustrations once he got back to his small basement studio. Finally he looked back up to the camera and smiled.

“I’ve been told by several viewers of my blog that pixies have been sighted in these very woods on the edge of the George Washington National Forest. Are pixies real? Let’s see what we can find.”

He shot a minute of B roll footage before packing up the equipment and moving on to the next location. He had his day planned out. Get some of his “walking and stalking” footage as he talked about the vastness of this particular forest. Catch an interview or two of the local natives. With any luck he might get one to say that the mythical creature he sought might have caused some unexplained incident. Then a bit of deliberately out of focus footage of bats flying in the twilight would complete his day’s shooting and he would head home. His little basic cable show was more for entertainment than a documentary of scientific discovery. His sponsor didn’t care if Wilber’s searches for pixies, fairies, Bigfoot, or the Goochland Devil Monkey were real of not, just as long as people watched the show and his ads.

Around noontime Wilber was getting hungry and stopped at a small store at the base of a mountain. The ancient building had a rusty tin roof and greyish wood siding. The walls were covered with metal ad placards for soft drinks, beer, and chewing tobacco. He could imagine that the signs actually helped to reinforce the structure of those old walls. One sign in the window announced that it was an official game checking station during hunting season. Another sign over the door declared that Beulah Byrum was the proprietress. Inside it was poorly lit, but warm. Three cold boxes stood on one side with drinks, dairy products and other assorted perishables. The aisles contained a variety of food staples, snacks, hunting and fishing supplies, and household items.

A simple copper bell attached to the doorframe announced his entrance. He stood for a long moment to let his eyes adjust to the dim light. His nose was assaulted by the aromas of old floor wax, kerosene, freshly ground sausage, a large cheese wheel and the grease from a small gas grill behind the counter. He heard what sounded like a bird fluttering in the darkness of the rafters, then her shuffling steps before he finally saw her. She hardly seems much taller than the counter she stood behind.

“Morning young fella. What can I do for you today?”

“Hi” he spoke tentatively as he looked past her to the sandwich board. “How about a cheeseburger and fries.”

“Sorry no fries. There’s potato chips in the rack behind you.”

She turned to her refrigerator and slapped the patty on the grill. He sat down at one of the old stools at the counter. The naugahyde covering was once red, but had been burnished to a deep mahogany by an untold number of Levi jeans and woolen trousers that had sat there before him.

The little woman looked to be as old as the mountains themselves. Wilber estimated that she might be four and a half feet tall at most. Her face was lined with age. She had to be in her nineties at least. Yet when she spoke she had a musical lilt to her voice that made her sound much younger and as she poured him a cup of coffee there was an unmistakable twinkle in her eyes.

After plating his burger she pulled her own wooden stool across the counter from him and hopped up. “So what brings you to the mountains today?” she asked.

“Hunting” he managed to get out around a large bite of the burger.

“Oh?” Her eyebrow rose at his response. “Bow season went out last week and gun season doesn’t start for two more. What are you hunting, young man?”

Wilber could see that she was taking her position as an official of the state Game and Inland Fisheries department seriously now.

“No, no, Ma’am. Nothing like that. I host a TV show on the local access channel back home and I’m looking for evidence of pixies in this forest.” You don’t know any stories about pixies do you?”

“Pixies! Lordy, Lordy. Well do tell. I guess I know just about as much as anyone in these parts about pixies. Hehe, my ma used to say I had pixie in my blood.”

“Wait a minute Ma’am…”

“Call me Miss Beulah, son.”

“Okay, Miss Beulah. Let me go out to my truck and get my camera and we’ll do an interview.”

He jumped up and was out the door before she could say another word. Hurrying back in, he quickly set up his tripod and camera, positioned a light box with a diffuser to help illuminate the dark interior, and wired the two of them with microphones.

The camera was set for an over-the-shoulder shot. He reached behind a pressed the record button.

“Take 27, Miss Beulah’s Store. Now just be natural ma’am and look at me, not the camera. Ready?” She nodded.

“Miss Beulah what can you tell me about the pixies that live in these mountains.”

“Oh no, they don’t live here. They have their home forest, but it far, far from here.”

“But you have seen pixies here?

He could swear he heard a soft giggling behind him, but he dared not turn as his head was framed up in the shot and it would be distracting to the audience.

“Oh yes they’re here. Most often in the spring and summer. They like playing in the sun. Warm weather suits them more than cold, though they don’t mine the cold as much as you and I do.”

Wilber went on. “The most famous pixies in history are from Cornwall and Devon, blue in color and rather small. I thought I got a glimpse of one with my camera this morning.”

Wilber was lying here. He knew that the image he filmed was just a blue jay he had spooked into flight, but the blurred image could be interpreted as a Cornish Blue.

“Harrumph!” was her reply and it seemed like it was echoed from behind him. He really wanted to turn around.

“Pixies aren’t blue. If you want a good description of pixies, read Nora Chesson!”

She folded her hands across knee and leaned back with her eyes closed.

Have e’er you seen the Pixies, the fold not blest or banned?
They walk upon the waters; they sail upon the land,
They make the green grass greener where’er their footsteps fall,
The wildest hind in the forest comes at their call.

“If ever there was a pixie friend, it was Nora Chesson.”

“So what do pixies look like if I may ask?”

“They look like us mostly, except for the wings. They are small. A newborn pixie is hardly bigger than a hummingbird. They only grow to be around three or four foot tall.”

“Are the males larger than the females?”

“A male pixie? Good Lord, I don’t know if there are any. I’ve never heard of one.”

“Well how do they reproduce? Who do they mate with?” Somehow he had gotten completely engrossed with her tale.

She smiled broadly at him. “They mate with humans of course.”

Again he heard that fluttering in the rafters. Dammit there was someone giggling behind him. He whirled around to see nothing but the empty store. He turned the other way and was nearly blinded by his own lighting box.

“Are you okay young man?”

“Yes, I think so.”

He turned back to her and put his stage face on again and completed the interview. She watched him with some curiosity as he repositioned the camera and lights to shoot a reverse angle of him re-asking questions and getting his own reactions to what she had previously said. Finally he packed up his gear, paid for his half-eaten lunch and left.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Wilber sat in his truck reviewing recent events and how it played into the footage he had already shot and what was left to shoot. He was on the southwestern side of the mountain where there was still plenty of usable sunlight. He rechecked his equipment, put a fresh tape in the camera, and replaced the batteries with ones he had charged on the drive up this rugged track that opened onto a small meadow and vacant cabin. He decided to keep to his original game plan and try to shoot some more questionable footage that would neither prove nor disprove his search for pixies.

As he followed a game trail along the ridgeline he couldn’t help feeling that he was being watched. The brush along the trail was heavy. When he stopped and strained his ears listening, he heard no footsteps, no breathing, nothing but the occasional chittering of a grey squirrel up in a maple tree, or birds singing in the branches.

He got more nice footage of the mountain ridges and valley and he setup a couple of shots where he put himself on camera crouching down and pointing to possible evidence of a pixie nest. When he finished that shot a falling pinecone hit him on his head. That’s not an unexpected occurrence in the woods until you look around and realize that none of the nearby trees were pines.

Wilber walked through planning his last shot that would end close to a steep cliff edge. He would hold the camera in a low angle shot as he ran down the path, pulling up short at the edge and tilting quickly down to the forest floor below where he intended to CGI in a blurry figure with wings diving into the trees. This was a tricky shot and he might have to do more than one take to get it right.

“Take 54. Ready… Action”

He started at a gentle lope along his planned route. It would look faster to the audience.

“I’ve just spotted something this way! It’s too big to be any bird found around these parts. Hang on!”

This would make a great finale to the episode. He ran on, making a quick turn exactly where he planned it. There was a sudden rush of wind overhead, but he didn’t dare look up now. He broke into the opening ready to stop and tilt the camera.

“Wait! Down there! I think I see it… What tha hell?”

It wasn’t down there. She… she was very female and quite naked, was hovering at eye level. Her wings were showing a bright red color. He tried to swing his camera over to frame her. She was so close. He fumbled to zoom out and lost his footing. Any cameraman will tell you, your first impulse is to save your camera, but at the brink of a thirty-foot drop Wilber’s impulse was to try to save himself. He grabbed for brush and grass to no avail. He fell. Hard. He screamed as his femur broke at the bottom. He grabbed his leg and saw bone sticking through his jeans. The pain was more than he could stand. He blacked out.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

His head hurt. He couldn’t see. Was he blind? No there was a moist cloth on his head covering his eyes. He moaned and started to lift it. He felt a small hand over is own.

“No, don’t move. You have a nasty bump on your head. Rest a little longer. I was able to heal your leg, but I do not have enough in me for your head.”

Huh? What? Enough what?” Wilber’s head was fuzzy and it hurt worse than he ever imagined. “Who are you? How did you find me?”

“I was here, but I have to go now. Listen to me carefully. Follow the stag. He will lead you back.” Her voice was soft and lilting. It reminded him of Miss Beulah, but sweeter and younger.

“Stag? What stag?”

He raised the cloth from his head. The light hurt his eyes. He sat up, blinked and looked around. Whoever she was, she was gone. He looked around again. There was his camera and it looked like it was intact. He sat there for a minute and then started remembering what happened. That vision at the top of the cliff, was it real? He strained to remember the details. She had long brown hair, a childlike body – at least in size. Her breasts were not childlike and the roundness of her hips suggested a full-grown woman. No clothes, she was naked. No, that wasn’t right. She was nude. She was unclothed and very comfortable in it. Her wings were reddish, which reinforced the angry expression on her face that had quickly changed to surprise as he began to fall.

The fall! He grabbed his leg. His jeans were bloody and torn where he remembered the jagged piece of bone piercing through. He felt his leg down its entire length. Where was the break? What did she say? She had healed it. How do you heal a compound fracture? He was still sitting there when he heard a snort and looked up to see a large whitetail buck pawing the ground at the edge of the clearing.

“Follow the stag,” she had said. How many impossible things are you supposed to believe each day? Well here was one more. Wilber looked around at the sun. He had maybe two hours of usable light to find his way out of these woods and back to his truck. He gingerly stood up His pack was nowhere to be found. He guessed to was somewhere near the top of the cliff, but his camera was here. He brushed it off and turned to the deer.

“Lead on MacDuff.” He followed as the buck turn back into the wood.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Wilber sat at his editing station. It had been days before he could bring himself to sit down and review his footage. He enjoyed watching Miss Beulah again and her tiny store. He was a little nervous about looking at the footage up to the point of the fall. It was a good take right up to the moment he looked up at her. The camera didn’t capture her image before tumbling down the cliff. He was surprised when he realized it was still recording at the bottom of the fall.
There he was, lying like a discarded rag doll. He watched himself sit up and grab his leg, the bone clearly seen through his jeans. He saw himself collapse again. Then there she was. She landed gently beside him. She knelt beside him and touched his head, chest and his leg. She pressed her hands on his leg and closed her eyes. She remained frozen over him for several minutes. He could see her lips move, but there was no sound to hear. At last she sat back on her legs and took a deep breath. She felt his chest again and then his head. She flew off, but came back quickly with a cloth for his head. She sat down beside him and it seems that she was singing to him softly. He was sad that there was no audio. Then the tape ran out.

This could be a big story. Here was real solid evidence that pixies were real. He didn’t know why, but he knew that he would never show this video, that he would never edit it. He would go back to the mountains in the spring. He would visit Miss Beulah again, and he hoped he would meet her again.

A Gordon for meeeeee ....



You gotta sing it Loudly!

I'm Georgie McKay of the HLI,
I'm fond o' the lassies and a drappie forbye
One day when out walking I chanced to see,
A bonnie wee lass wi' a glint in her ee'.
Says I tae the lassie will you walk for a while,
I'll buy ye a bonnet and we'll do it in style,
My kilt is McKenzie o' the HLI,
She looked at me shyly and said wi' a sigh:

A Gordon for me, a Gordon for me,
If you're no' a Gordon, you're nae use to me,
The Black Watch are braw, the Seaforths an' a',
But the cocky wee Gordon's the pride o' them a'.

I courted that lass on the banks of the Dee,
I made up my mind she was fashioned for me,
Soon I was a-thinking how nice it would be
If she would consent to get married to me.
The day we were wed, the grass was sae green,
The sun was as bright as the light in her 'een,
Now we've twa bonny lassies who sit on her knee
While she sings the song that she once sang to me:

A Gordon for me, a Gordon for me,
If you're no' a Gordon, you're nae use to me,
The Black Watch are braw, the Seaforths an' a',
But the cocky wee Gordon's the pride o' them a'.


HLI: Highland Light Infantry

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Old Books, Leather Dye, and Q-tips

In 1881 or so the English Revised Version Bible was released to anxious Bible Students. It did not suit most American readers, and an American Translation Committee produced the American Standard Version in 1901. The ERV drew considerable interest from the groups I research. One of their number, a man named Rufus Wendell, produced a diacritical edition, comparing the two with special marks. This is edition saw a single printing as the New Testament only until the last few years when it was reprinted.

While one cannot call the New Testament rare, it is scarce. In 1885, Wendell released his critical version of the entire ERV Bible. This edition verges on being rare. I have both in my reference collection. The full Bible belonged to Sarah K. Taylor. Taylor was an Advent Christian preacher but with an ordination form an Age to Come body. She died about 1920. The Bible is a bit ratty. I’ve been doing conservative repairs and a bit of leather preservation. This is time consuming work, but it’s at least stable now. The places where the leather had rubbed raw are re-dyed original color and refinished. I’ve carefully reglued a few bits. A Q-tip (cotton swab on a stick, a brand name) helps with those tasks.

I have another Rufus Wendell product too. He produced a special edition of Young’s concordance. I have his personal copy. It needs serious restoration, but I don’t have the skill to tackle it. And I don’t have the money to send it to a restoration service. So, for now, it will stay as is.

R. Wendell seems like such a discontent man. He’s long dead, of course. But he seems to have been a very troubled man, though brilliant in his own way.

I love books. I read books of all sorts. But I especially like finding things that further my research and that give me a feel for the time. I have some reprint volumes. I prefer the real thing. Given a choice between a reprint in new condition and a ratty original, I’ll go for the ratty original every time.

The problem with old books is they can stink. Old paper is subject to all sorts of ills. I keep a negative ion generator running in my library. It kills paper mold and such. If I buy something with a nasty smell, I set it right next to the NIG and let it do its magic on the book. There are several other methods too, but this one is least threatening to the books and old papers.

I have to do my own restoration and conservation work. If I had every ratty book repaired professionally, I’d be indebt for life. Most things I just leave as is. The work is beyond me, and it’s better to do nothing than risk damage to something truly rare.

The Scott, the Coffee Maker and the Pixie

It might have gone like this:

“Lass, the coffee maker is busted. We’ll be needing a new one!”

“It worked yesterday …. Show me.”

So … I make my way to the kitchen while he’s saying, “I’ll have to drink that stuff at work.”

“Stop at Starbucks,” I say.




I size up the coffee maker. The pot is in place. It IS plugged in. (You never know, right?) There is coffee in the basket. I push the button. It glows, then turns off. I lift the lid. It’s dark in there, of course. All I see are these little slots through which one pours the water. I give it a gentle shake. No slosh. Now for coffee making purposes, there should be water in the reservoir.

“Did you put water in it?” I ask sweetly.

“Didn’t you?” he asks.

I raise my eyebrows.

“I take it that’s a ‘no,’” he says.

I, dutiful wife that I am, fill the water reservoir and re-push the button. The light stays on. In a second or two the water gurgles and coffee is being made.

I don’t make fun of him. That would be unkind. Besides, he was with me when I got lost in Eugene, Oregon. Do you know how small Eugene is? Didn’t keep me form getting lost there. …

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Where oh where is Widdershins

The pixies would like to know. ...

I think ...

I accept that the music we choose reveals our moods, our feelings. I think that the music we write or like reveals how we think. Listen to these three interpretations of Spring. Tell me which is 'you.'





Follow this link for #3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U7hPHSkNJo&feature=related

And now, in living color ...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

Revenge

Some of you may not wish to read this. Fair warning.

Revenge takes many forms. Everything from a cutting remark to war find their place in the catechism of offense. Revenge might take this form.

Yellow hair, a blue windbreaker a size too big, blue jeans on her skinny legs, and an old, red three-speed bike summed her up. She was summer people, staying with her mother in one of the lake cabins. She rode down James Hill most mornings and pushed her bike back up sometime between one and two pm. It was routine.

If I didn’t see her, I was disappointed. If I saw her struggling up hill, I’d load her bike into my trunk and drive her to the cut off that took her down to the lake and the two bedroom cabin she and her mother rented for the summer. She’d smile sweetly and thank me.

I was never certain how old she was. Looking back, I can see I significantly underestimated her age. She and her mother packed after the 4th of July weekend and returned to Seattle. She said she was from Seattle. Where she was really from is uncertain.

I missed seeing her. I missed the nearly silent rides. And I wonder …

* *

I was, I suppose, thinking vague thoughts, some of them about her and neglecting my S20 forms. Bob Ratchet (Yes, that’s his real name.) stood at the counter. I heard him before I saw him. He’s asthmatic.

He leaned on the counter, trying to catch his breath; he took a puff from his inhaler. “Dead,” he said. “He’s dead.”

I looked up. There’s nothing like the phrase “he’s dead” to grab your attention. “Who’s dead?”

Bob was pale. “Guy, up Chuck Creek trail. … Old cabin. Dead.”

Chester Dunning’s name crossed my mind. Dunning ran Lake Picket Realty. Martha Dunning reported him missing after the fourth, but then she reported him missing every time he went fishing, every time he got drunk and slept it off at Molly’s house, or when ever he slammed the front door in a rage swearing he’d divorce her. We never took it seriously. He always came back – eventually.

There was no cause to ask Bob why he’d been up Chuck Creek way. Bob was a poacher. Everyone knew it. I knew it. And I didn’t need him to show me the way.

“Bob, you ain’t going to die on me, are you? Here, I’ll take you to ER. You look like death warmed over.”

“I’m fine.” He took another puff.

**

Chuck creek trail is hard to find if you don’t know where it is. It is an over grown lumber road that takes off the North side of SR 20. That’s James Hill Road until you’re in the county. You can drive right by it and not see it. Even knowing that it’s there, it’s hard to spot.

I left Bob sitting on the lobby bench.

“County One to County four …”

"County Four. Go ahead."

“Billy, I left Bob in the office. He needs a breathing treatment. Check on him please. Then find me up Chuck Creek way.”

“Copy that.”

**

I pulled off the road, and debated driving up the trail. It’s rutted, washed out in places. A four-wheel drive truck could do it. My Crown Vic might. I decided to walk.

A huge part of my job is simply observing things. I saw Bob’s tire tracks. His 1964 Ford truck had a miss-matched tire on the right rear. To the left someone had made their way into a clump of ferns. I looked. An imprint of a bike tire, the dent made where the peddle had pushed into the dark earth, a mark where the handlebars had hit and then been dragged. There was a foot print that left a clear mark: “Made in China. 4 ½.”

Maybe twenty yards up the trail I found the spot where Bob had parked. He left a clear trail up the trail edge. There was no sign of the size four and a halves. They probably weren’t relevant.

There’s an old line cabin about two miles up the trail. When I was young it was where the “bad boys” went to smoke and drink their daddy’s beer. My cousin Mary probably got pregnant there. She was and is something of a slut, at least fairly described as amoral. Times change. Today the boat houses on the south end fill the place the line cabin had in my day.

About forty feet from the cabin the road curves. You can’t see the cabin until you round that bend. Bob had stood there. I could see where he shifted to get a better view. He’d moved across the road, standing there for a good look. Then he’s sprinted up to the cabin. I saw why. There was a body on an old mattress, probably the mattress on which Mary lost her virginity.

I stepped off the trail and looked. The size 4 ½s had made their way up there. They’d stood just at the edge of the trail. The toes left a clear print. That’s a child’s size. What the hell was a child doing up there?

I kept to the trail’s side, walking on the soft pine needles and watching the ground. Insects buzzed and the corpse stink filled the air. I shoved my handkerchief to my nose.

A Honda motorbike was parked next to the cabin. I knew it well. I’d ticketed it enough times. Chester’s wife would probably sell it with considerable satisfaction. At least she wouldn’t be reporting him “missing” anymore. He was dead. She’d always know where he was now.

I keyed my shoulder mic. “You on your way, Billy? I have Chester Dunning – dead.”

“About five minutes out,” he replied. “Accident?”

“No,” I said. “Leave your car and walk up. Also, have Selma put in a call for the State Mobile Crime Lab boys.”

“Already got it,” Selma said.

**

Chester was deader than dead. Someone had shot out his right knee. I’m sure that happened first. The bloody handprint on that knee suggested as much. The left leg was next. There was a stab wound through his right hand. I knew it was a stab wound. The knife still pinned his hand to the ground. His pants were slit open. What had passed for his manhood had been transferred to his mouth. He was cut on his left shoulder. His right thumb was severed. There was more. Net result, one dead, brutalized real estate agent.

Someone did a number on him and took their time doing it. The pine needles were disturbed, but they didn’t leave much for me.

Beer bottles littered the cabin floor. An old apple crate held a collection of panties and shoes. Someone had partially dumped it, lined up a pair of high heels, and from the smear in the dust, had gathered them up with a rag or … maybe one of the pair of panties.

One of the beer bottles had dried blood on it. This wasn’t fresh. I wasn’t totally sure it was blood, but it was.

**

Billy arrived.

“Dear God,” he said.

“Don’t sick up on me,” I said. “At least throw up away from here.”

He turned his head, leaning against a tree. “I’m all right,” he said.

We walked an expanding spiral from the cabin.

About fifty yards up hill and to the West we had a clear, straight-line view of the cabin.

“Look at this,” Billy said.

I looked.

Someone had made a nest behind a deadfall. They’d shoved pine needles and dirt aside, leaving a clear area under the fallen tree. A toe had scraped down to dirt. A hair had snagged on the tree. It was blond, about five inches long.

“She shot him from here,” I said.

“We don’t know it was a she,” Billy said.

“No, we don’t,” I agreed.

**

The mobile crime lab arrived two hours later. We’re a large county with a small population. We rely on the state boys for things like this.

I left them to their business and found Chester’s wife.

“Bastard!” she said. “Dirty bastard!”

She meant him of course, not me.

“I’d like to see his office,” I said as gently as possible.

She rifled her purse and plopped a ring of keys in my hand. “Here. When do I get to bury the bastard?”

After the autopsy, I told her.

**

We found things in his office. Souvenirs mostly. And not of trips to Cancun. We found a photo album. The pictures were poor. He never was a good photographer. If you’d sat through one of his vacation slide shows, you’d know what I mean. The women – and girls – were … well they were. We still haven’t identified them all, or found them.

One of them was small, in a party dress, had blond hair. You couldn’t see her face, not clearly. I know who it is. But let’s just keep that fact between ourselves.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Nica

You know what ...? Put the names on the back of your photos ...

because a bazillion years later you leave a mystery for your family ...

Could be one of four sisters. I believe this is Luise Margarete Alexandra Victoria Agnes, but I'm not at all sure.