Friday, February 28, 2014

A post wherein a pixie finds treasure ....

So my writing partner and wife drove down. He had an appointment at the largish medical center. Aunt Shirley and I went Shoppin’!

I found a small egg shell white pitcher marked “W. Germany.” It’s lovely. And 99 cents wasn’t too much. I also found some imported greenware. This stuff was made in the 1940 and 1950s. It was very inexpensive. The piece I found is marked with a Chinese character. I have no further information, but it’s pretty. Another 99 cents.

Then there were the books. Maybe I’ve mentioned that I like books? I found these: 

J. E. Cambliss: The Life and Labors of David Livingstone, 1876. A ratty first edition. The covers are loose; the corners are worn to the boards; the map is torn. But I’m happy to have it. This copy belonged to E. A. Sherman, founder of the Sherman Marine Circulating Library in Alaska. It is signed by him. Not bad for two dollars.

A. P Herbert: The Water Gipsies, First Grosset, 1930. Not special, just fun.

Isak Dinesen: Seven Gothic Tales, 1934. Unread; flawless dust jacket. Nice. 

Last of all and most significant:

C. T. Russell: L’Aurore du Millenium, Volume I. Le Plan des Ages, Lausanne, Imprimerie Fritz Ruedi, Maupas, 1904 printing. I only know of one earlier edition in French. Very nice. Very for sale.

This is in Block Letter format; Lamp on Book; silvered titles. Only copy I can find is priced at over six hundred dollars. Make me an offer. …

So I had fun. B and wife returned home. I’m supposed to be sleeping, but I’m not. I hurt. I’m woozie, but I had fun. Hope you had a nice day too.

A pixie and her books ...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My pet Scot can make me curle my toes ...

Just an observation on life ...


Some people can't draw goats, but I like this one anyway,
I see a bit of myself in this one. Comfortable with my goat, reading in the hot sun.

I think I'm related to the Gruff brothers some way. Might be inlaws or cousins. I call on them when I meet trolls.

Dinner out.

While we're doing streams and such ...

Sha'el's forest today ....

From Harry

The Missing Pixie – Part 2

(or the extremes I go to to write a story)

So… to recap the story up to this point. Our protagonist, Wilber, has received a call from Miss Beulah. She needs his help searching for Katra‘lea, a pixie who had saved his life months before. He is currently driving up into the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains to Miss Beulah’s store to begin the search.

This past Sunday morning I had the opportunity to research the locale of my story. My son came downstairs and said, "Hey, Dad. You wanna go camping up on Ramsey’s Draft with me today?"

I looked over at my wife who was giving me that "Are-you-crazy-you’re-65-overweight-and-out-of-shape" look.

I ignored her and said, "Sure, why not?"

Within an hour I had thrown together my emergency carry bag of gear and added a good field knife, extra socks, my evening and next morning’s medications, and an extra layer of clothes. Harry Lee had his backpack and added an extra cook pot, along with a hammock and sleeping gear for me.

My wife fixated on us taking extra bottles of water even though we already had 3 liters between us and my son assured her that the water of the creek was clear and pure.

We were on the road before noon and stopped in the city of Staunton to buy some food and grabbed lunch before turning on US Route 250 west.

Ramsey’s Draft (another word for creek) is a beautiful mountain stream that flows into the Calf Pasture River and eventually into the James River. Recent snow and rain meant it was both icy cold and fast moving. Later in the year trout will be plentiful as will the fishermen trying to catch them, but right now the fry in the stream are only a couple of inches long.

My son chose a campsite within a couple dozen yards from the parking lot. Before setting up camp he and I took a short hike upstream. We didn’t go far, maybe a half-mile at most and he allowed me to rest several times. He had promised his mother her would not kill me with undo exercise. It was tricky at times for this old man with two bad knees. I got him to make me a walking stick to help me balance over the rough, rocky terrain, not to mention soft muddy parts of the trail.

The campsite had a well-prepared fire circle made of native stone. Harry Lee started collecting branches and brush and I began breaking up sticks for kindling. I tried using my bush crafting skills to build and light the fire using a fire rod and knife to make sparks. I didn’t have much success and Harry Lee used an inexpensive butane lighter to get it going. We cooked beans and rice (me) and shells and cheese (my son) for supper, eating fairly early while we still had light.

Although the sun had dropped down over the nearest ridge, the sky was still bright. The air, which had been in the upper 40s (Fahrenheit, about 7-8 C), was quickly dropping closer to freezing. We got our sleeping arrangements made. My son rigged a hammock for me. He was going to sleep by the fire. By 7 o’clock we were ready for bed. I was toasty warm in the hammock with a sleeping bag over me as a blanket. Harry Lee was using a ground tarp, a blanket and a bivy bag that was advertised to reflect 90% of your body heat back to you. He found that he was still cold every time the fire died down. After about an hour he slung another hammock for himself and went to sleep.

I have sleep apnea, which doesn’t stop me from sleeping, but makes a sound sleep difficult. I’ve never fallen asleep easily. I tossed down an ounce of rum and hoped for the best. The hammock was a new experience too. It was comfortable up to a point. The point being that I sleep best on my side and it was impossible to turn on my side. I stared at the stars for a while. Orion, the hunter was prominent in the evening sky. I covered my head with the sleeping bag to keep warm. When I looked out again there were clouds moving in from the West.

Around 10 PM I stuck my head out of the covers once more and felt something falling on my face. Shining a flashlight in the air I discovered that I had begun to snow. I called out to my son, who by now was snoring. I couldn’t wake him. Twenty minutes later I heard him moving around and called out again. Now the snow was beginning to mix with rain. After a quick discussion we decided to pack it up and head home. We collected our gear and stuffed it in the back of the car. Harry Lee and I poured water on the coals of the fire and stirred it dead before leaving. We stopped in Staunton for coffee and breakfast around midnight and then hit the interstate. Two hours later we were home and warm in our own beds. Our adventure was over, but I am looking forward to our next trip, maybe when it is warmer.

Note: If you want to see YouTube video I made using my cell phone, the link is


I'm on a new medication now, and I feel better than I have in months. That may not be saying much, but any improvement is welcome. Strange how what I thought was misery months ago is now welcome relief.

The downside is that it does bad things to my umm digestive tract. Fortunately, there's a bathroom near my workroom-library space. That's supposed to go away after a day or so. I hope so. [The 'tummy trouble,' not the bathroom.]

I've lost a little weight again, peeving my doctor. It means that I drink lots of milkshakes and such until I gain five pounds. ("You don't have any weight to lose," doctor said.) Oh ... and apple fritters. I like them, Knobby Knees bought a sack full and plopped them on my desk. I'm suffering from fritter overload at the moment. I'm saying this lightly, but in fact I don't feel like eating at all. I'd rather not eat.

I spent a lot of time, several hours, turning pages in my "sources" binders looking for points we omitted that we may wish to include in volume one. I haven't found much. So far, all I've found is a place where we need to add a sentence or footnote for clarity. We quote one of the major characters self-description of a fall on a slippery, iron sidewalk door. He connected the fall to Scripture. We failed to explain that this fell into the pattern of American Calvinist thought. Scholars call this the Type-Antitype approach. Some of my readers know in a limited fashion what that is. Puritans and Calvinistic Separatists took that concept beyond the covers of the Bible, and saw Bible verses as finding fulfilment in daily life.

The Bible's concept of type and antitype, as used by Paul, is that Old Testament scripture sometimes foreshadowed later events. Paul used this process to suggest that Sarah and Hagar represented two covenants. The anonymous writer of Hebrews (Some think that's Paul.) uses the type-antitype method of exegesis to state that the Law of Moses forshadowed the Christian polity and the method of salvation.

American Calvnists went beyond that.Deborah Madsen tags this as "spiritual interrogation of events." [See her American Exceptionalism.] She quotes the well known passage from Governor Winthrop's Journal:

"At Watertown there was (in the view of divers witnesses), a great combat between a mouse and a snake; and, after a long fight, the mouse prevailed and killed the snake. The pastor of Boston, Mr. Wilson, a very sincere, holy man, hearing of it, gave this interpretation: That the snake was the devil; the mouse was a poor contemptible people, which God had brought hither, which should overcome Satan here, and disposes him of his kingdom. Upon the same occasion, he told the governor, that, before he was resolved to come to this country, he dreamed he was here, and that he saw a church arise out of the earth, which grew up and became a marvelous goodly church."

Russell's interpretation of dreams and daily events in the light of scripture comes from this herritage.

We should have included that point. We will in some fashion.

I have a huge pile of dishes to rinse and stuff in the dishwasher. Dau. 2 was supposed to do that this morning, but she overslept and didn't. I'll tackle that in a moment. I'm not able to work on editorial fixes this morning. I have a huge pile of school related "things" to attack first. I may post more later.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Did you notice what I wrote about Mr. Colorado Springs?

He's back, trying to make a point but failing:

He runs this blog:

He purports to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses. He was once a blog editor on our public history blog, but he resigned in a fit of temper. He abuses copyright law. A vist to his blog will show  you material copyrighted by others that he uses without permission. Notable is the illustration of N. H. Barbour stolen from someone he considers to be an apostate. The illustration was made for a book. So this man feels entitled to the work of others.

He returns to this blog on a regular basis even though he was asked not to. So, tell me: What kind of man has his religion produced? Some of you who read this blog share that religion. Do you see him as representing you? Really?

I see him as representing you. He says he's one of you. I belive him. I've met his kind among you before. His behavior is not a surprise. It's typical. Oh, there are exceptions among you. I know there are. My writing partner is an example of a truly good man of your faith. I can think of others. But this troll represents you. He is your religion, what it produces. ....

I should add that he visits web pages his church would counsel him for if they knew. So we can add hypocrite to his many accomplishments. I wonder what his elders would say if they knew fully what he does. Maybe I should find out. ... Corey, nothing is hidden on the internet. I know what websites you visit;  I know your full name; I know your profession; I have your photo; I know details of your military service, education, your address and phone number. I know what congregations you may associate with; I have their address and phone numbers. It's time you stop harassing me and stay off my blog and our history blog.

I know you tired to log into the private blog. I have details you probably do not know exist on the internet. Be a nice boy and stay away ... forever.

Germanic Ancestry in the United States

Pink Sleeping Bags and the Death of Personal Responsibility.

I don’t feel well and may not get much serious writing done today. I have another doctor’s appointment for tomorrow. Knobby Knees is taking a half-day from work to go with me.

I’m getting lots of blog hits on older posts. There is no identifiable trend, and visitors don’t stay long or comment often. I like blog comments. But I guess I’m just too boring.

While I’m waiting on an email from my writing partner, there isn’t much for me to do but read through our manuscript again. We keep making changes, most of them small edits for clarity. Though small, I think they’ve really improved our book.

My scold produced a few emails. If you have to ask if I meant you, I probably didn’t. I believe those for whom my scold was meant will know without doubt that I meant them. Mr. Colorado-man read it and then came back three times. There is nothing worse than an old man who thinks he’s entitled simply because he’s male. Setting up a block on my blog is more work than it’s worth.

He is what he is. [Insert denigrating word or phrase here.] I didn’t expect that he was honorable enough to stop visiting my blog. He has no honor, only pride.

Annie was up when I got home at 1:45. I found her sitting in the kitchen eating a scoup of green ice cream. We have a “no sweets after eight pm” rule, but a mild scold was followed by me joining her in a small bowl of the green stuff.

Oh … and her reasoning was … well, but it’s a new day so the rule expired at midnight. … Didn’t it?

Just this one time.

My baby half sister called me at seven am. It went a bit like this:


“Sisi, dat you?”

“Yes, dear. It’s way early.”

“Momma’s sleepin’ …”

“So you called me?”

“Yes ….”

“I was sleeping too.”


“Was there something you wanted?”

“I want to make a tent in your house with Liz and Annie.”

“You mean you want to spend the night?”

“Ummm humm”

“When your mother wakes up, tell her I said it’s okay with me if it’s okay with her.”

[loud, excited scream. Followed by a new voice on the phone.]


“Hi. … “

“Rachael? Did she wake you? I’m so sorry.”


So I explained what baby sister wanted. She’ll show up about 2 pm with her pink bunny sleeping bag, pillow and ratty doll. We’ll have her until tomorrow just before I go off to teach my classes. She makes me laugh and she reminds me of me. Except where I have dark blue eyes and blond hair, she has very black hair and deep brown eyes she got from her mother. But the approach to life is the same, and, despite her darker complexion, we look much alike in the face. Buddies for life …

I’ve listened to the same piece of music about five times this morning, trying to figure out why it appeals to me. It’s a mystery. I just like it.

Last week my “women of mystery” conversationalists group (I posted about them before, and we have no name for our group) met at the larger of the Starbucks for coffee and gossip. We discussed in general terms (Federal and state law prevents me from being specific) childhood sexuality. This topic has been on my mind for at least a month. The immediate cause is an eleven year old girl, one of my students. I’ve passed on my concerns to her counselor.

She isn’t sexually active as far as I know. I hope she isn’t. But she has seductive mannerisms. This can be totally innocent, but it can also be a sign of something darker. Other teachers are aware of it. So, without explaining the details to my group, we’ve discussed the issues in general terms. A few of them (the usual suspects) volunteered personal experiences. Some were disturbing. One of them admitted to taking fifty dollars from a friend’s brother to perform a sex act. She was about twelve. As I understood the story, he was in his early twenties.

I couldn’t tell if it was a life-issue for her or not. She told the story so matter-of-factly (note the hyphens) that I couldn’t tell, and I didn’t want to end the conversational flow. I’m still churning this over in my mind.

I find the issue confusing. We’re given minimal training and told to rely on the counselors. It is a relief to pass this concern off to others. Once upon a time, I attended a seminar on this issue for continuing education credit. It was entirely unhelpful.

My impression – as a lay person – is that almost everything written about this issue is broken, full of myth and unfounded opinion.

I’m not particularly a political person. I don’t volunteer for political campaigns, nor do I support any particular party. My best political statement was made when I was a child. My father, a Republican, invited the then governor of our state to dinner. He was a Democrat. I managed to throw up all over him. … I was kinda an equal opportunity barfer at that age.

I fear, however, that the country I love is dying, murdered by people who do not love her liberties, her obligations, or the sense of personal responsibility upon which she was founded. I fear that liberty and individual responsibility have gone missing. America was at its best when it was antagonistic to all things European. America has always had its Anglophiles and Francophiles. After the great German immigration of the 1840-1910 period there were many German-American clubs, some of which helped German speakers adopt their new country and some frankly seditious. (It’s not popular politics to point this out today.)

Most immigrants adopted the concepts of personal responsibility and freedom that Americans claim to cherish. This is no longer true. It’s no longer true because across the political spectrum politicians cater to a desire for dependence fostered by some immigrant communities. They want their votes.

This conflict is not new. In the early 19th Century American nativist movements sprang up, rejecting Catholic immigrants as harmful to America. Though they went to extremes, there was fact behind their concerns. Most 19th Century popes were antagonistic and wanted the United States to resemble the benighted Papal States. The religion I research said much about Catholic conspiracies against American liberty. Today some writers see that as extreme and improbable. I would suggest that they drag out the microfilm roles of any of the Catholic Tablet papers from the period and just read them.

Nativism rejected immigration and sought to curb it. Probably in the background of most American families is an immigration story that connects to this history. Despite this minority Nativist force, most immigrant populations became American in spirit. The Civil War saw a strong contingent of Irish, German, and Central European soldiers, often volunteers, sometimes under an ethnic banner. [You may want to research the Irish brigades.]

During World War I people with German last names were persecuted, lost their jobs, beaten. This was not universal, but significant. At the same time, a significant number of American soldiers were people of German or Austrian descent. By this era Germans were becoming the second largest ethnic group in the United States. They are now the majority in this country and dominate the more conservative states.

This rambling history has a point. The current crop of immigrants hate this country. They seek its benefits without assuming its responsibilities. They’re catered to, pampered, accommodated in ways that our ancestors of only 100 years ago would have found repugnant. The current crop of politicians make the Tamany machine look benign.

My country is dying. The contrary forces we defeated in the past have won. The religion I research suggests that God will destroy human governments, replacing them with the rule of his Son. It will take something very like that to make things right. Men have no interest in rightness.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Lesson

A post wherein I death curse your Gold Fish and abuse your self esteem

It is easy to carp from the sidelines. It’s much harder to write a well-researched book. If you don’t like what we write, write your own book. At this point, I hope you don’t buy our book. (You know who you are.) Do your own research. (I’m resisting the urge to swear at you.) Reach your own conclusions.

You’re a parasite, feeding off the work of others. We aren’t writing to please you. You are free to dislike our work. But you’re not free to pout, hand wring, moan or throw temper tantrums – at least not in ways that come to me. I’m not responsible for your lack of intellectual capacity, your doubts, worries or desires.

And while I’m scolding people, let me return to Mr. Colorado Springs. I asked you nicely to stay off our blogs. I especially don’t want you on this one. I don’t write for you. I don’t like you. You’re a self-entitled, vain, spoiled man. Remove the Facebook link to this blog. Take the links to this blog, our history blog and our biography of Nelson Barbour off your web pages and pretend you don’t know I exist. I do not want you here. Go away.

You and others like you have contributed to my dim view of your church authorities. Every time you visit this blog you add to my vision of you and those like you as self-entitled, self-appointed, abusive males.

Also … I observe that age does not bring maturity. One of my blog readers sometimes comments on the difference between American and British humor. And there are differences. But what one of you brings to this blog isn’t humor; it is abuse. You need to reach maturity sometime before you die of old age.

If you behave as does a spoiled child, you have no place here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Flicker

I’m unhappy with my boss. I’ve been there before. He’s an archetypical jerk who must flex his muscles and squirt hormones to feel manly. I’ll have to find a new job eventually. I haven’t found anything that interests me. But I’m looking. … The last few weeks have been intolerable.

I’m thinking of restarting our book store, at least on line. Knobby Knees is pessimistic about that. I am looking for any way out of my “second job” that pays nearly as well. When our old bookstore was thriving, it brought in nearly as much money. But restarting it would be daunting.

If my boss backs off his insanity, I’ll be less stressed.

After my last class, I’ll resume ‘editing’ the last chapter. I think I’m going to re-write the entire last section. It seems confusing to me, and I’ll try to simplify it without loosing importing detail. I am going to omit bits of research concerning a Rev. Rice. He’s a ‘dork,’ less important to this story than others have presumed. So, while he’ll show up again on volume 2, his presence in this chapter will diminish.

One of my sisters came by early this morning (early for me, not her). She is an evangelist of sorts. My house is a convenient potty stop for her and her friends. None of them had eaten breakfast. I scrambled a huge pile of eggs and zapped the last of my bacon and fed them all. There were only four of them. …

We had a short discussion about irrational belief. That would describe the belief system of most people. I’m not sure religion is at all rational, though it is a life essential. People who reject religion, the irreligious, atheists and similar people, substitute other things for it and remain as religious as they may have been previously.

Someone sent me a link to one of the controversialist sites. There is little of interest there from a historian’s perspective, unless one were to write more recent history than we do. I found some things interesting. One person posted about how brutal God is. I’ve thought about his post for two days. The real issue seems to be his fear of divine retribution for past behavior. If he can believe the Old Testament God is unreal, unworthy of worship, he can escape his fear. I’d suggest he behave in a more honorable way. Stop molesting your neighbors’ goats and such.

Roberto asked for an update on last night’s dinner. They made beef noodles. That’s elbow shaped noodles with ground beef and sauce. It was good. Kat made brownies. They were a bit over done, but still good. At least they were all eaten.

After dinner, every one scattered. Some went off to finish homework. Annie is deep into two novels. So she sat in my big chair with both books beside her and read until bed time. Knobby Knees and I played rummy for a while, discussing the situation I mentioned above. I went to bed early, but had one of those body temperature crashes that come from my broken brain. Even the heating blanket didn’t help, so I took a very hot bath. My temperature finally swung back to what’s more or less normal for me.

I don’t have the money to return to university, but I’ve developed an interest in Medieval History. I’ll read independently. I would like credit for it. But I don’t see where the money would come from. I’m interested in alternative approaches to Christianity. There were many in the Middle Ages, most of them described by their enemies.

Be back in a few ….

So … we’ll call this the drama of the bug. I’m typing away, and my right eye goes wonky. Thinking I just might be going blind, I find the bathroom and look in the mirror. I don’t see anything odd, but my eye is flickering. I wipe at it. The flickering stops for a second. I check my glasses. They’re a bit dirty, but there’s noting to account for the flicker which is now more dramatic than ever. I pinch my fingers at the blob of flicker and find I’m holding a bit of hair – with a nearly microscopic, wheat colored bug attached to the end. The bug is causing the flicker. Bug is flushed. My eyesight is back. Such Drama!

It Wasn't the Glasses!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Treasure Hunting and Dinner

Well … I’m reading through the last chapter for the bazillionth time, and I’m not at all happy with the last three pages. Think is … I don’t know why I don’t like them. I’ll play with my stamps for a while and “non think” about it for a while. That often helps.

There’s a fair infestation in a vacant lot on the south side. I’ll have to clear it out tonight. They’ve taken up residence in a half-ruined, abandoned building. I’ve already sharpened my sword. I may need back up this time. We’ll see.

I went “treasure hunting” for the first time in a few weeks. (I haven’t felt like it until this week.) I came away with a few books:

J. M. Barry: Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul.  

K. L. Fogg: Serpent Tide. [This juvenile fiction. Annie’s reading it. No opinion yet.] 

G Mattingly: Catherine of Aragon. [Excellent once you get past the florid and rather prolix first chapter.] 

I. Asimov: Nemesis. [One of a small number of his books I haven’t read. Happy to have found it.] 

Louis Tracy [E. J. Colde]: Captain of the Kansas. Published in 1906. High adventure and romance. Unconsciously funny, very racist. For all the racist remarks about low status Hispanic and “untamed” natives, a fun read. 

A. LaPlante: Turn of Mind, signed first edtion. 

Two of the Spiderwick books. I keep these in my classroom. Young readers like these.


… Since I made the above list, I’ve ironed a bunch of shirts. Folded two loads of laundry. Dumped unfolded clothes on appropriate beds for the owners to fold. … I’ve identified and found a home for a small pile of stamps. Most will go into the “let’s sell these box.” Some went into my album. I still haven’t “fixed” the last few pages of chapter what ever it is.

I’ll resume reading and “fixing” in about an hour. … After my “editor’s” headache goes away.

Oh, the Winter Recital was last night. The thumpy-clumpy dance I mentioned in an earlier post went really well. No more recitals until spring.

Okay, I’m going to be “AFK” for a few while I tackle the pile of papers on my Victorian table.

It’s now four pm and I’m giving  up on edits for the day and thinkin’ about dinner. I don’t feel like cooking. Daughters one and two said they’d fix dinner. How nice.
Cooking by the Committee of Young Women

Monday, February 17, 2014

Old men are so silly ...

This from OReader:

A Study in Etymology

Welsh is an interesting language, and the origin of words always fascinates me.

Take the name Elvet. Sounds like a little elf – but actually the word seems to come from Elfed – the Welsh for autumn; a season of mellow fruits, mystic spells, and rheumatism.

There are quite a few people named Elvet or Elfed around here in Wales. And no – coming from the wrong side of the Bristol Channel, I am not one of them.

But – here is a brief tale about one certain Elvet from the past. The family came from the West of Wales, where the Preseli Mountains are to be found (sometimes spelled Prescelly). The area provided the famous blue stones that are now at Stonehenge. And to pronounce that last name effectively you really do have to mimic the character “Nigel Tufnel” from the film, “This is Spinal Tap.”

When surnames were invented for the Welsh, there were generally three ways they went. One was to turn a Christian name into a surname – so Richard became Richards; son of Richard, ap Richard, became Prichard; John became Jones; Robert became Roberts, and so on – very much as happened with many Jewish surnames.

The second way, as in English, was to tack on the person’s occupation. You get this in English with Smith, Spencer (a butler), Shepherd and so forth.  Wales has its fair share of these, but I can’t spell them.

And then there is the place the family came from. If you knew my real name you would realise there is a place in the north of England named after me...  

And so it was – hastily getting back to the story – with our friend Elvet. The family name continued for generations, but ultimately when surnames were attached they focussed on the Preseli Mountains.

So lo and behold the Preseli family came into being, and like many of their countrymen decided to try for their fortune in the new land of America. There they had a new son, christened with the patronym of generations. As he grew, the young Welsh bard sang the songs of the land of his fathers, but adapted for an increasing changing world.

His songs caught on in the recording business, and soon the young man’s name was in lights. Or rather, almost his name, because since the first sign writer employed was illiterate (that being a basic requirement for his craft), he made a couple of spelling errors.

And Elvet Preselli became... well, you can guess.

Yeah – you ‘aint nothing but a Welsh Rarebit....

Of course, there is the faint possibility that none of the above is true.

However, there IS a village in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, actually called St Elvis.

I get the last word ...

Harry is my friend. If you upset Harry, you upset me. Cruelty in the guise of humor is still cruelty. Don’t peeve a pixie. ….

Thursday, February 13, 2014


I fired up my rotting computer to make changes to chapter eight. Right? So I had my coffee at the ready, my marked up manuscript beside me and … I discovered that I’d already made all the corrections. I have only the slightest memory of having done so. Pathetic, huh?


Anyway … I resumed making changes from page 34. It took me an hour of checking to figure out that I’d gotten that far.

I hate it when I lose bits of memory.

Last night I had a brief but sharp conversation with a small group I’d met on the internet. These are uncivilized people who presume I’m obligated to like them. I’m not obligated to like anyone. I have “rules” of association. You cross the line with me, and I’ll cross you off my list of acceptable associates. On the Internet that means I mute you, your sister and your goldfish.

Which reminds me … Colorado guy, you’re back on my blogs. Go away! Stay away. Don’t buy our book when it comes out, and remove the links to our history blog. Don’t email me. … And have a nice day.

I have a raging ear ache today. I’m grumpy too.

My WP and I talked for an hour this morning. We’re debating what to include in the last section of chapter eight. He’s distracted because Aunt S. needs eye surgery and they don’t have the money to cover what insurance does not. We may sell an important book, the first edition of something called Day Dawn. Few copies were printed. Fewer still exist today. I’m sad to sell it, but Aunt S.’s eyesight is worth more than a book. I’d like to get $4500.00 for it. We also have some original booklets by G. Storrs. We may sell those too. We’re still discussing this …

We’ll have to decide what we’re doing soon. Aunt S. needs the surgery now. I’m too tired and sick to drive up there. I think one of my cousins is going to be there. Someone needs to be.

This is very depressing.

At least our snow is gone. This depresses my children who like snow. It doesn’t depress me one bit. Besides … I pretty much lost the snowball fight.
Snow and cold are not high on my list of fun things.

Snow Pixie

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Near Freshwater East, Wales

Right on the coast. Photos from Google maps. What are these?


A ten year old girl gave me this letter today. She asked me not to open it until after class. She has some learning issues, but has made stellar progress this past year. I’ve retained her spelling. Here is what she wrote to me: 

Dear Teacher 

Thank you for being my wrighting teacher, I used to have a todely diforent one and her name is Candy. But so far you’re the best of all of them. It feels like I can achev my dreem in life. With you its more easy to under sand how to be a great writer like I want to be. 

Your student

[her name here]

This made me choke up. When I get notes such as this one, or just a simple hug, I feel as if I’ve earned my pay. Life is bright for at least a few moments. This note makes me especially happy. This child has gone from almost illegible, disjointed writing to this quality. You may frown at the misspellings, but I’m pleased. You have no idea how much progress this note reflects.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I've removed the last post.

I apologize for unintended offense. I refer everyone to Fowler on hyphens for a resolution of grammar questions concerning that small bit of punctuation. And I admit that if Fowler is followed, one of the old men who reads this blog is more correct that the other old man who reads this blog. And I admit that "modern usage" is not always correct usage.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A little like gingerbread

            Well, it’s still cold and the heavens dumped some snow on us. My toes are now frozen. I don’t like frozen toes.

            So … some bit in the past I noted that I was out of ink. I bought new ink. I have an old Photosmart that has served me well, but when I loaded the ink it refused to recognize it. I could print a test page, but it wouldn’t connect to any document. Then the perverse thing said I was out of magenta too. I bought magenta ink. It still said the ink was empty. What to do?!

            I followed instructions I found online. No result. Because my printer now hates me! Finally I deleted all printers and reinstalled. Now I’m happy and my printer is happy,  but I’m out of paper! Bad Pixie! Bader printer!

            I put a partial want list on our public history blog. I don’t expect to see any of it. We will, of course, go with what documentation we can find. There is no alternative. It’s always frustrating, but what can one do?


            Did I ever mention that my goat-boy is a good kisser? Probably did at some point.


            I’ll have a fair amount of quiet time at work today. I’m taking the manuscript for the last chapter with me. If I do have time, I’ll attack it with a mean pen, editing out nonsense.


            Okay … so back to Knobby Knees, the expert kisser. He keeps me entertained. He has a very fine sense of humor. I’ve seen him turn it into a knife edge when dealing with his former boss. I’m so glad he doesn’t work for those people anymore. His current boss and the boss’s wife are gems. … I’m wandering off the topic, aren’t I? Anyway, I’m his entertainment too. I haven’t worked nights all week long. So I get home at a decent hour and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Last night I was home by six-thirty, started dinner, and, leaving daughter 1 to finish it, I soaked in the tub for fifteen minutes or so.

            The aforementioned Goat Boy was late. It was board meeting day, so he didn’t get home until about nine. He ate his warmed up pork chops and baked potato. As he’s cutting off a bit of pork, he says, “Tell me a story.” Just like a kid.

            Well, this isn’t unusual in this house. Various children and KK call on me for stories all the time. I’m free entertainment. Moves are expensive. TV is boring. I tell stories. Before long I had a full audience. While Goat Boy usually just listens and nods, my girls interrupt and ask questions or make suggestions. Sometimes they go off on wild, improbable tangents. I just let them. Then I say something like, “Well, what really happened was …” and take the story back.

            Yesterday’s story was about the Untamed Scotsman, (“That’s dad, isn’t it?”) the dragon, and the lost goose. (“Annie’s the goose!” “I am NOT.”) So that was a fun hour or so.

            My sister called way early this morning. She’s not good at remembering the time differential between here and Brussels. She’s sending a “care package.” She does that every so often. She wouldn’t say what’s in it this time. Last time it was another pair of jammies for me and chocolate for everyone. And some really spicy cookie. I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of the cookie. They’re good though. They taste a little like ginger bread.

One of my friends ...

One of my friends writes Young Adult fiction. She sent me a rough of chapter one of her newest project. I nagged her into letting me post the opening paragraphs. Tell us what you think.

I hated it. I hated everyone. Mom died sometime near mid-night on the last day of the year. The man she was with (there were many men that year) tried to outrun a coal train to the crossing. Bits of their car were spread down a quarter mile of track. …

            It took the police hours to figure out who they were.


            That Mom wasn’t home when I awoke wasn’t a novel experience. She pretty much ignored me lately. So I wasn’t worried. I was disgusted.

            I shook out the contents of an instant oatmeal packet, decided that one wasn’t enough and emptied a second. I stirred in some water and zapped it in the microwave. The doorbell rang as I was reaching for the butter. (Real butter. I hate margarine.)

            I pulled my fleecy robe tight and stomped to the door. It was time to give Mom a piece of daughterly advice. It wasn’t Mom. It was a female officer and a social worker.

            I didn’t hear anything after the officer said, “Your mother died.” I didn’t cry. I just shut down.

            “… do you have anyone to go to?” the social worker was saying. “Any relatives?”


            That drew me out of what ever dark place I was in. I nodded. She waited for words.


            “My grandparents,” I said.

            “Would you like me to call them?” she asked. Her hand was on my shoulder. She meant it as comfort. I resented it.

            “No, I’ll do it.”

            I fished in my robe pocket. My cell phone was there. I’m never away from my cell phone. I entered Gramma’s number. She answered. I couldn’t speak. The tears came. Loud. Bawling.

            “Amy?” Gramma said. “Amy is that you?”


            The social worker – her name was Philipa – took the phone from my hand. She told my grandmother who she was. She told her my mom was dead. I could hear Gramma’s “Oh my dear Lord.” A moment of silence followed. “Can I talk to Amy?” she said.

Fingall's Cave II

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Snuggles and Such

            I have a new appointment for Monday. I am feeling some better, and it seems silly to go when I’m feeling better …. But I’m being nagged to death by my family. So I’ll go … probably.

            We’re still pushing to get volume 1 ready for the press. It’s up to my WP but I think we’re going to have three formats: ebook, trade paper, and hardback (case wrapped). The hardback will be too expensive for words. But someone may want to buy it in that format.

            I noticed on the history blog that Roberto found an error of fact. I think he’s right. However, there are two people with similar names. I’ll check later to see which we meant ….

            Every alarm on our pasture, barn, pump house, and the old stone house went off last night about one a.m. Apparently it was the extreme cold because nothing seemed disturbed.

            I’m really pleased with my classes this semester. The problem child I mentioned earlier is behaving now. Mommy contact worked. I also moved him to right next to me. I may be short and scrawny, but I know how to keep my students in line. Damn it!

            I have engaged parents too. That’s always a plus. I encourage parent presence in my classes. Parents should know what their children are learning, and they should be comfortable with the class environment. They’re the first and best teachers we have. Before I see their children, they’ve taught them how to talk, walk, potty trained them, given them basic social skills. These are all the really hard things a child learns. What professional teachers do is secondary to parent education. Some teachers forget this. More the shame on them.

            I want my new writers to see the world through eyes wide open. I ask them what they see when they enter our building. You would be surprised how few of them can give any sort of detail, though they enter the same doors every day.

One of those reading through volume 1 “one last time” wants me to correct the grammar found in quotations. Most I do is to put [sic] in the quotation. If you change it, it’s no longer a quotation. OR keeps finding things the rest of us missed. This is good. OR doesn’t like my partner’s hyphens. My WP writes as if it were 1955 when hyphenated prefixes were standard in American English. I let him write what he writes mostly. It’s not incorrect. It’s old fashioned. But he let me remove them all today.

            We’re within six pages of finishing the last chapter. Stellar! I’m printing out what we have today. I need to brutally edit it. It’s the most complex chapter in this book. It considers differences between major players. These are doctrinal difference, which means we have to give some detail. A later writer can ignore the detail, but we can’t. It’s too important to the story. Once the issues are explained and recorded, someone else can avoid repeating it.

            Knobby Knees came home early today. He forgot his lunch. I made him hot soup to go with it. I always enjoy our conversations, not to say snuggles. He was a bit late to work, but no-one will care. It’s brutally cold out. As I type this it’s 2 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about -17 C for the Fahrenheit challenged.

What the Pixie is listening to as she "edits".

Monday, February 03, 2014

I'm not ...

I'm not keeping my appointment today because I'm too sick to go ... does that make sense to you?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Little Exposure

            I go in for tests on Monday. They may keep me for a while. Did I ever mention that I hate hospitals? If I haven’t, consider it an oversight on my part. I detest them. If they admit me, I’ll have Annie leave a message here.
Hospitals - The idea is depressing. ...

            I’ve changed my work schedule for most of next week to minimal hours during week days. This will accommodate any further tests, and it will be easier to find a replacement if they admit me.

            When I was feeding the goats, I noticed a bottle top sticking out of the dirt. We often find pioneer era relics hidden in our pasture. I carefully dug around it, and it was whole. It’s a three-piece mold bottle with a hand applied top. That probably means nothing to you. Let me explain. Bottles of that type were made between about 1840 and 1880. This one is very nice, not acid etched by the soil. It’s a deep green color. I’ve washed it. It sets on one of my book shelves.

            I bought a young male goat. He’s just over a year old. He thinks I’m his mommy or something. He follows me everywhere and crazy dances when he sees me. It’s funny.

            I’m stressing over one of my youngest students. I can see a conference with the principal in his immediate future. This is never fun. It involves me in a parent’s hurt feelings. Of course, if they set ethical standards for their children before they came here, I’d have fewer student-related problems, wouldn’t I?

           We’ve finished edits up to the last chapter. I tried to print it out, but I am out of ink. Alas. I’ll buy some this weekend. I see mistakes better when they’re on paper than when viewed on a computer screen. But I’m confined to the monitor until I can buy a new ink thingie.

            The last read through was worth while. I think the changes have made our book much better. I think it’s clearer too. I worry that some of our readers will not have the background needed for parts of it. We mention in passing the Alabama Affair, the financial crisis between 1869 and 1900, and similar things. We do that with minimal explanation. Readers from outside the United States may find the references puzzling. But there is always Google. Non academic American readers will have little exposure to these things too. But we can’t explain every event we reference. Though some of our readers will want to deny it, we are responsible for our selves. Look it up, Buster!

            Speaking of “exposure,” when we publish this we will need a certain amount of it. I hope our blog readers will pass the word around, posting good comments on the blogs and web sites they visit. The decision to write book three in this series will depend on how well the new book sells.

A Little Exposure will Help

            My artist friend person came by this morning. I fed her coffee and pancakes. (It was breakfast time.) I don’t have permission to post her art work. (You can find some on deviant art.) Besides this is a PG blog and not all of her pictures are PG. Most of them are not. But they are good. Lately some of the women she draws seem sad. I asked her about that, but she claims they aren’t sad. …

            Annie and Kat are practicing for their winter recital. They will dance as a pair. I made them stop practicing upstairs because it shakes the whole house. Thump, ThUMP, THUMP! They practice in the basement now.

Thumpy Dancing