Saturday, August 31, 2013


Click to Mix and Solve

From Harry ...

I love my wife, but oh you kid. This is Maggie at my son's wedding. My apologies to Annie, Kat, Liz, Isabella, and Arpita, but my Maggie is the prettiest pixie in the world!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Treasure hunting ...

The scene: In the park. Daughters 2, 3, 5 and me, eating a McDonald’s breakfast. We’re sitting at a table watching the hikers, bikers, skaters, power walkers, dog walkers, and strollers. Annie’s eyes track a stout person. She whispers to Isabella: 

Annie: [Amazement] Izzie, he’s really big.

Isabella: [After a pause to look and with quirky smile on face] Yes, he’s very large. … But that he is a she.

Elizabeth: [Looks up from her pancakes. Nodds.] Yah, that’s a woman.

Annie: [Eyes wide. Mouth open in “O” of further Amazement. Whispers] I didn’t know they made boobies that big!

Me: Annie, that’s probably why she’s here walking. She’s probably trying to get control of her weight.

Annie: [Nods. Contemplates life] Where will the fat go when she loses it?


So … I’m taking a break from contemplating the Prophetic Conference of 1878. I’m tired of thinking about it. I don’t’ want to think about it at all. I want to tell you about my treasure hunting adventure.

Shirley, my junk store buddy, came down to bring a box of papers my Writing Partner wanted me to read. It’s a small box, and I only looked askance at it two or three times. (I haven’t read any of it yet.) We drove down to one of the Starbucks and sipped coffee while she updated me on family gossip. We ate a goodie. She had a blueberry scone. I had the lemon cake. Then our car miraculously – as if it knew what we intended all along – pulled into a thrift store parking lot.

I haven’t found much lately. Since they raised the price of books, I don’t by as many as I once did. But I look. Sometimes I find something worth while. This time I found some to buy. I bought an Ann McCaffrey book. I have most of her books, but I didn’t have this one. It’s just a good reading copy, but I bought it. I found one of the Invisible Detective series, a young adult series. Kat’s reading it.

As summer’s end nears, the last of the yard sales left-overs show up. And there was a huge estate sale that I missed. I think some of what we saw came from there. I found a Spode bowl. It’s gorgeous. I paid a dollar for it. They sell for about fifty dollars. I found an English stoneware bowl. This is from about 1900. Usually when you see these they’re cracked and crazed. This one is perfect. It looks new, or nearly new. That was a dollar. It’s not worth what the Spode is, but it’s very pretty.

I bought two other blue transfer ware bowls. They aren’t “special,” just pretty. They’re unmarked, but they look like Bohemian or German export dishes. That’s my best, semi-educated guess.

And … I found a gorgeous hand-blown Cranberry Glass cruet. It still has its stopper and the stopper isn’t chipped. It has no flaws at all. It needed a good bath. It must have sat in a kitchen cupboard for ages accumulating cooking grease. So that was fun.

I also solved the shoes for girls problem, at least partially. One of the upscale stores donates new things every few months. I found new shoes (pretty too) for Annie and Kat and Liz. And I found some nice black leather shoes for me. (Mine usually come from the children’s section. (2 ½ isn’t exactly an adult size, you know.)


I’ve been turning pages in my stamp albums and going through an accumulation of old stamps. I’ve been working on my Germany albums for some time. So I’ve checked for varieties and odds and ends. This has been worth while. I’ve made several new pages. The album is an older Scott’s specialty album (there are actually four albums in the set.) I found a small group on ebay; they now have a page of their own.

Inflation era stamps (early 1920s) are increasingly in demand. This is a complex collecting area, and collectors usually want stamps that have been authenticated as to date of use. I don’t care much. I know enough to spot the real deal when I see it. So I bought a small group off ebay. I was the only bidder. Here they are:


The Michelle catalogue lists this set (all varieties and shades are here) at 202.60 Euros. I paid nine dollars and postage. I’m very pleased.

And how was your day?

I see Annie's face in theirs ...


Standing in the window. Scotland or England - About 1902 I think.

The BOY and his wagon ....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Skinny Dipping and Painted Nails

My computer seems to have a virus, though my anti-virus can’t find it. I ran the most in-depth scan I could and turned up two bugs. They were auto-deleted. I ran the malware scan. It returned no negative results. But my computer says it can’t find and run the windows removal tool and system restore won’t work.

As I type this, I’m running a scan in safe mode. That takes forever, but sometimes it turns up hidden bad boys lurking in obscure files. Let’s hope this cures the problem. Last time this happened I was on The Dawn web site, a news service in Pakistan. My anti-virus went nuts, but it didn’t catch everything and it took a week for me to find and cure the problem. Argh!

I don’t know where I picked up the current problem, or even if there really is a problem beyond my computer acting like a spoiled, rebellious child. Computers do that, you know.

I managed to get a copy of an open letter written in 1912 by C. T. Russell. He addressed it “To Bible Students of all Denominations, and all lovers of Truth and Righteousness.” It was meant to refute a controversialist booklet. I don’t think it did a very effective job of it. I would have focused on other aspects of the booklet. But then I wasn’t there in 1912. The problem is that this copy is very hard to read. It’s usable, but not fit for a second generation copy. All I get is a gray blur. Maybe someone out there has a nice clean copy?

We plan on chronicling clergy opposition to the Millennial Dawn movement. (In book three of this series, that is.) No one’s done this in any sort of detail and there is lots to say about it. Some of it is funny. Some of it is devious, vindictive, underhanded, and some of the opposers were “dirty lying bastards.” Ultimately, this led to a conspiracy to imprison the principals within the Watch Tower and anyone else they could no matter how insignificant they were.

There is a clergy-attitude that puzzles me. It’s alive and well. You can see it on TV every day. At its worst it’s a devious, hurtful expression of self-entitlement and place. On one of the controversialist web pages someone described it as being “self anointed and self appointed.” It’s hard to disagree with that. (Yes, I see there are exceptions. Don’t email me and splutter all over my computer screen.)

I also found a digital copy of Letters to Elder Russell. This was written by a Spiritualist. It’s a fascinating read. If you’re familiar with Hislop’s Two Babylons, you’ll recognize the shot-gun approach to history. Vaguely similar events must be related. If you jam them all together, you have “the truth” of history. Fun read though.

When I was in my teens I read all of Frazier’s Golden Bough. He, though with better result than Hislop, followed the same approach. He may not have proved his point, but he accumulated a delicious mix of detail.  

Annie, Kat and Liz tagged along early this morning as I fed the goats and did other chores. It was already in the mid-eighties (Fahrenheit). It’s been a very warm three days. It was supposed to storm last night, but all the clouds and rain were to our south. After chores the girls went wading. I found Liz sitting on a rock, dangling her feet in the stream. She looked down at the pile of clothes next to her, smiled, and said: “I kept mine on.”

Annie and Kat were in the pool with water up to their necks. Naked as the day I birthed them. At least it’s a private spot. ….

Probably one of these days a large crayfish will bite their butts and cure them of skinny-dipping.

I cleaned myself up and went back to bed. I’m tired. All the time. Also, I now use a cane. It’s not that I’m lame. My medication leaves me unstable on my feet. So a cane keeps me from falling on my face. My doctor says to give it another two months. If I’m still in misery from the pills, we’ll try something else.

I got a call from a local private school offering me a position. I told them thanks but no. I have no desire to work for a religious school. Besides it would mean a cut in pay. We have a hard enough time as it is. But, it’s nice to know that they wanted me anyway.

The safe-mode scan is still running. … This thing takes forever. It uncovered a program I deleted but that didn’t go away, just went into hiding. I’m deleting it for good now. I doubt it is the source of the virus. But you never know. It’s a derivative of the old Emerald program, and that was loaded with bad news stuff.

I’m also running CCleaner. Sometimes that catches things an anti-virus misses.

Back. Miss me? Didn’t know I was gone, did you? In the time I was gone: I painted Annie and Kat’s finger and toe nails. (Annie chose pink; Kat chose a dark maroon.) I made coffee. And I loaded the dishwasher. The scan is still running. CCleaner is still removing the last bits of that program I mentioned above.

Now that I’ve written that paragraph, I’m moving on to other things. … I’ll return in a while, but since you’re reading this, you won’t notice that I’m gone.

Back … I feel Internet deprived. To run the scans I’m running, the Internet has to be disabled. However, I’m not snail mail deprived. There were lots of pleasant surprises in my mail box this afternoon. My sister sent me a letter from Zwolle, which, given that she plastered the envelope with stamps from the Netherlands, must be in … well … the Netherlands. She mostly did this instead of emailing me because she knows I like stamps.

One of my cousins sent photos of their beach vacation. I’m jealous. Nice pictures though.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Random Children, Wild Edits and Contemplating Stuff

I’m feeling marginally better, though I’m still struggling with my new medication. It has unpleasant side-effects. It makes me sleepy. It has done nasty things other wise too. Okay, so a lot of my readers are guys. Close your eyes for the rest of this paragraph. … Remember when you were pregnant (assuming you were and aren’t a guy reading this even after my warning) and your hormones went flooie, and you got pimples in odd places (like on your butt and stuff)? This medication is like that. My doctor says that should go away. I think he’s makin’ that up. … The new normal is butt pimples. [Insert mild swear word here.]

Okay, you guys can open your eyes now.

I fell – again. I had one brief but very intense seizure and dropped my favorite coffee cup onto a pink, satin glass bowl. Broke it to bits. It “bounced” into a amethyst vase, breaking that into little fragments. (That one mattered) And I cut my foot when I fell because I rammed it into a table leg. Life is so much fun, sometimes. Sometimes not.
I reread our chapter one last night. It’s been proof read dozens of times. OR’s done it. My writing partner’s done it. I’ve done it.  My oldest daughter’s done it. I found … are you ready to gasp!? … Twenty-five owies last night. Most are punctuation issues. One spelling issue. Two “this needs to be re-written because it makes no sense” issues.

I’ve written a tiny bit today. Mostly I’m “thinkin’.” When I’m in the thinkin’ mode I clean things. Today it’s dusting books and a general put-it-away, rearrange it mode.

I also washed bedding, sipped coffee and looked off into space, considered buying new shoes for daughter two, and decided we’re having macaroni salad and baked potato with fixin’s to suit one’s own taste. I go to work early today. That’s not a bad thing because I’ll get off about one am instead  of when the sun peeks over the horizon.

New stamp! I got some new stamps, not just stamp. Cheap and fun. Okay so nerds collect stamps. I do too. I deny being a “nerd.” I’m more of an irritating short person than a nerd. Here are the stamps:

Wurttemburg - 1906

Booklet pane - Germany - 1920

I have all my start of school stuff done except for a syllabus for one class. I’ll finish that on Monday. Open house is coming up. We meet and greet all the parents, grandparents and anyone else that wants to come. We feed them coffee and donuts and (I think this year) veggies and dip. This is usually fun. I get to see students I had in previous years. I get lots of hugs from my students and from some of the mom’s who think I’m a stellar teacher. Little do they know I’m a confused, forgetful, person who has to carry her memory on her iPad or she’d forget where she was. Did I mention that life sux sometimes?

Annie is reading Tom Sawyer. Kat is reading Hunger Games – again. I’m trying to read someone’s new book. I’m not likin’ it much. But I’ll slog through it and find something positive to say. I want Anthony’s next book. … Hurry up Anthony! And don’t forget you promised a blog post when it’s released. …

Daughter 2 has discovered opera. … My children do such interesting – often unexpected things. Dau 1 is taking banking and finance classes, paid for by her employer. Dau 3 is off to a little town in Eastern Washington for the last week before her classes start. She’s staying with a cousin. They raise horses. She likes horses. I think I included them all. I may have missed one. There are SO many of them. …

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Boat Graveyard - Staten Island - as it is now.

I stole this photo from someone else's blog ...
hope they don't mind too much.

Monday, August 12, 2013

From O. Reader

Here we go again

I have a horrible feeling that I promised someone I wouldn’t write about going to the International Gilbert and Sullivan festival ever again. Not after doing so last year. But when you get to my age, three things start to happen. First your memory starts to go... And the other two I can’t remember...

I am sure that if this gets posted and read by anyone who knows me, someone will unkindly remind me of my promise – if indeed I made it – and, who knows, it may have been made somewhere else entirely.

So, anyway, here we are again at Buxton in the British Peak District. Actually for the last time, as the festival moves further north next year after a mighty spat with the local council over money. We have crammed in the usual half a dozen shows, a lecture here and there, tramped around a stately home here and there, behaved like real ancient tourists, and my feet hurt.

Since this is an American blog, I must stress that the best show we saw actually has an American connotation - Pirates of Penzance – of which we saw two disparate versions. The American connection goes back to Gilbert and Sullivan feeling really aggrieved at American theater companies ripping off their work and – as they saw it – mauling it considerably. What probably rankled more was the loss of royalties. To protect their new baby, Pirates of Penzance, from copyright pirates, the two men travelled to America for a premiere in New York. On arrival, Sullivan found to his horror he’d left half the music behind and had a frantic flap working from memory to reconstruct it. It was finished with only a couple of days to spare. Then the American musicians decided that this wasn’t ‘operetta’ but ‘opera’ and refused to play without more money. Sullivan was all set to fulfil a threat to accompany the American premiere on piano with a friend on harmonium, but the musicians finally caved in at the eleventh hour. (Insert Ethel Merman belting out "There’s no business like show business...")

Pirates is Mrs O’s favorite piece – and this was probably the best performance we have ever seen. Even the duller songs, like the Major’s "Sighing of the Breeze" in Act 2, were enlivened by the accompanying action. Major Stanley’s daughters – apart from Mabel - all wore spectacles. There was a nice bit of business when one lost hers, and kept on wandering off stage blind as a bat and having to be rescued. Long before I was born, my grandmother sang the part of Ruth at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. She was of an age and shape to play all the middle aged women’s parts that Gilbert wrote so cruelly.

The second version was put on in the youth festival, which we sampled for the first time last year. In the youth festival everyone is under 18 – in some cases a lot under 18, and that is including the orchestra. One conductor looked about 12. A professional theater director worked with the youngsters for a week beforehand. Then another professional director from London gave a critique. One of the nicest comments was: "I hope when you go back home you will all find you’ve failed your A level (University entry) exams. That way you will be forced to seek a career in the theatre."

It was good to see the youngsters perform so well again. We used to notice at these events that the audience was generally of "a certain age" – silver in the stubble as the folk song goes – and that meant the whole thing was in danger of dying out. But now there is quite a lot of youth – competing, performing and watching.

With a nod to Mrs O’s past, we went to a lecture on the Spanish Zarzuelas. These were operettas contemporary with G and S – initially from Madrid, but then spreading out over Spain and the Spanish speaking world in the nineteenth century. The form still survives; whereas in Britain, operettas turned into musical comedies and then just musicals. The main difference between the Spanish and English oeuvre, is that Zarzuelas are full of jolly music and silly dances, and G and S are full of jolly music and silly words. I am more a fan of silly words myself.

The last time we were in Spain we stocked up on Zarzuela DVDs, which have sat on a shelf unwatched ever since. But each time we come to Buxton, we buy the performances we have just seen (unless they are dreadful) and have watched them.

Perhaps the only slightly dud note at these festivals is the next step up from the youth productions, namely the university productions. Nearly a dozen universities were in competition, and these performances have a habit of ‘updating’ the material. Now I don’t have an intrinsic problem with new settings or costumes – it’s like seeing Shakespeare set in different eras, but changing BOTH the music and the lyrics seem a step too far. Also, some of the university companies appear to have a bad case of arrested development, as if they have only just discovered SEX. Wow - you know – aren’t we clever, aren’t we daring – as if no-body on earth before them had thought of it. And they sometimes turn classic 19th century pieces into something resembling a juvenile school play put on with a snigger when the teachers weren’t looking. They misjudge their core audience at their peril. This year wasn’t quite so bad, but - harrumph - last year there was ONE performance...

(Break for steam to come out of top of an Occasional head. But you have to remember that I am now well and truly a GOP. That’s Grumpy Old Person to you!)

In the words of the Mikado, I’m sure there must be a way to let the punishment fit the crime.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dirty Minded Wench

Honest, I’m not a particularly dirty minded wench. Prolly average. Anyway, I walked outside the employee entrance at sun rise this morning. I often do that, just to watch the sun turn the clouds pink. It’s a gorgeous, quiet time of day, and one of my favorite ways to relax is to watch the day born anew.

So … when you were a child, did you ever find things in the shapes clouds assume? I did. We had this whole lookit thing going in our group. Houses, birds, horses that spanned the sky, airplanes – if we could imagine it, we saw it in the face of the clouds.

So, you got that right? I’m watching the clouds darken into rich shades of pink, and thinkin’ “God knows how to paint colors.” Then … I notice two clouds. This is a jaw dropping moment, causing me to wonder how I would interpret Rorschach cards. Two clouds, connected in a very … umm graphic … way are unmistakably human-shaped and having sex. I’m feelin’ really dirty minded and fascinated at the same time.

So, I’m starin’ at this cloud formation, wondering if I should seek counseling when the morning desk clerk shows up. She says “hi,” and then follows my gaze. Her mouth drops open too. She looks at me with wide eyed amazement. I say, “So … you see what I do?

“Oh my God,” she says. “I do.”

“Well, we now know where clouds come from,” I whisper.

She nodds. “This undoes everything I learned in environmental science,” she whispers back.
Virginal Clouds - Pink Variety

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Don't lick that. It's contaminated

I’m working on the last chapter of volume one (release early to mid next year) by not working on it at all. Does that seem strange to you? Thinking is writing too. There’s lots to think about in this chapter, things my WP didn’t consider and that weren’t his focus when he wrote the base document. We’re doing new research into areas that weren’t important back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I’m delving into the prophetic conference of 1878, and my research is giving me a new perspective. So, instead of writing it up, I’m ‘thinkin’ bout it’ while I make corrections to already finished chapters.

I’m also reading fringe things. I read Selby Foote’s Civil War. It’s a multi-volume work. I only read the first two. Mr. Foote added a short paragraph and a footnote. I read a biography of Thomas Nast, the German-born, American cartoonist and satirist. While I found things useful for something else I’m working on, I did not find what I wanted. Tonight should be pretty dead at work. Tuesdays usually are. I’ll take another marginally connected book for the quiet, early morning hours. After I do all the financials, I’ll read it. If I find something, I’ll be surprised. But I never know until I look.

I found for almost no money a bound volume of magazines from 1802. My goal is to acquire all issues from 1802 to 1822. So far I have three years. This was a British Literalist periodical. A separate edition was published in Boston on an article for article basis. Most booksellers ask the moon for these, simply because they’re old. But occasionally some will come on the market for little money. People like G. S. Faber and J. A. Brown wrote for this magazine.

One of the story elements in volume 2 is the struggle for a name and the resistance to any name on the part of believers. I did not know there was an article on that subject in this magazine, but there is. We’ll use it in the last chapter of volume 2.

I can see that the third book will be harder to research and more complex than we expected.

My mom’s sister is coming today, sometime this evening. My kitchen is a mess. I should be cleaning it. I’m typing this instead. I re-arranged the front room-parlor thingie, putting some of my "pretty stuff" away and putting out other stuff. Among the other things is a translucent, white-glass vase with hand-painted flowers. I’m not an expert, but I think this is Russian and probably from the late 1700 to early 1800 period. It was an estate find. I paid a dollar and a half. When I get really ambitious, I’ll have someone look at it. We have a local expert person guy who charges a nominal amount. I may have him look at it.

Knobby Knees came home early, grumbling about not being able "to work in that mad house." He’s upstairs in his work room pounding on his computer keyboard. I like it when he works from home.

Taming a Wild Scotsman requires chains and wips, lots of beer and red meat, a huge amount of sex and years of patient work.

I found a photo in some of gramma’s things. It’s a group of old women who all look mostly alike. I have no clue who these people are. Maybe I’ll post it on the blog sometime. A distant relative pried a family estate from the Check Republic. The communists took it way back when. He sent me some photos of the restoration work he’s had done. Very nice.

I need a castle, I think. I don’t understand why I don’t have one. I feel so deprived. I also want a big cannon to shoot. Just for the noise. I’m fairly certain I’d not point it at the neighbors.

A distant cousin who lives in France heard I like old family papers and photos. She is sending me an album. Lots of mystery photos in it, she says. But some are identified.

I’m so swamped for time right now (start of school, five daughters, my pet Scotsman, lesson plans, finishing a book, etc.) that I look with disfavor on further demands. Unless it’s for a nuzzle from my Knobby Kneed Scot … those are nice. I like nuzzles. Or playing with my daughters. Other than that, I need some breathing space for a month or two.

I got caught in the middle of a huge debate on sexual ethics between on of my former students and my youngest sister. I mostly just listened. Ultra conservative religions make rules based on personal opinion. Ultra liberals believe anything is okay as long "as you aren’t hurting anyone." I don’t agree with either position. There are behaviors people shrug off as un-hurtful that are both dangerous and degrading. There may be no law against them, but they are stupid acts. There are acts banned by some religions more on the basis of Roman morals than on anything in the Bible. (They don’t even realize that their attitudes come from pagan Rome.) That’s silly too. It’s every bit as bad as accepting dangerous, icky behavior as acceptable. Okay … so the pixie just ranted. Live with it.

I’ve been playing popit on It’s addictive. It’s also a time waster.

I found a booklet I need. It’s fifteen dollars. I simply can’t spend the money now. Sigh. It’s a small biography of one of Mr. Russell’s early pastors. I really do want this.

So, how was your day?

About 1920, Maybe in Austria

Mystery Photos - No names for these


Monday, August 05, 2013

Sing it! No. 2

Kissy, Licky, Sticky Stuff

Bad bad bad bad bad and stuff 

You may have noticed that I’ve only posted photos. I haven’t written a good blog post in a while. The last few weeks haven’t been the best for me. A series of semi-connected events left me unhappy.

I had four dramatic seizures at work. Fortunately, I was in my office rather than in a public space. I got myself home, and took two days off. My doctor squeezed me in. He upped one med and started me on another. These medications are harsh. They leave me lethargic, but they work. An unhappy side effect of one of them is dry skin. I feel as if I’m being bit by bugs. What’s really happening is that my skin develops microscopic cracks. So I have to lather myself up with a medicated cream.

That’s probably the one nice thing about this. Knobby Knees discovered (as if he didn’t already know) that it’s fun to undress me, get me on the bed and rub me all over. So he’s the official medicated cream spreader. He starts with my toes, works his way up my legs, switches to my neck and works down and kinda finishes off in the middle. Always an interesting experience in a kissy, licky, huggie, pokie sorta way.

Kissy-Licky in the Snow.

So I’ve been going back and forth to the doctor and to a medical lab for weekly blood levels. Today is the first day that I feel half-way normal. Or as normal as I ever am. 

Along the way, I ended up in the emergency room one night. That resulted in an appointment with Same Day Surgery over an unexpected, unrelated issue. After the surgery came a week and a half of pain and grumpiness. So with all the pills going down my gullet, I felt like a walking pharmacy. I took two days off and worked through the misery otherwise.

My children hover. I finally shooed them off to a cousins to ride horses and such, giving me some quit time to sleep. Some days I’ve slept ten hours or so. I seem to be back into my regular sleep cycle.

So, all of this has made life interesting. But … there’s more. I’m merrily driving down the interstate when my car decides to pour out smoke from under the hood. I pull over, open the hood and look. Not that I know what I’m looking for, but I look. The smoke seems to be coming from the belt. I call Knobby Knees. He calls a tow truck. This is at 4:30 am. The tow truck hauls my car and me to our house. The air conditioner clutch went out, breaking into bits. It ruined another pulley thingie at the same time. Swell, huh?

Annie sticks to me like glue. She likes to read, and she reads to me even when I’m sound asleep. It’s sweet. She’s been turning pages in my stamp albums, looking intently at each page through my magnifying glass. I gave her my old childhood album and a box of stamps, showing her how to mount them on the page. I don’t know if this will last, but she’s been busy with it some most days. That’s how I got started.

My writing partner had an adventure in a dentist’s office and is minus two teeth. So he’s been on the miserable side too. And that’s the story. Pathetic, huh?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Pixies Dancing

The Pixie in this Picture is Far Right

From one Pixie to Another

From Victoria Louisa Gabriella Henrette Rachael Michelle Elizabeth to Viktoria Luise Adelheid Mathilde Charlotte whom my mother loved with all her heart.

God Invented Music