Thursday, July 31, 2014

French Soldiers - World War I

Girls with Twirls, Women with Umbrellas, France about 1895

Tinkering with the Text

            An online version of Insight on the Scriptures, a Bible encyclopedia, was recently revised to reflect the publisher’s new understanding of some verses in Matthew. The new version differs radically from the old. Someone on a controversialist site compared this to the news revisions featured in the novel 1984. While I disagree with the current and former “understandings” presented in this article, comparing this to 1984 is out of order. Books are revised all the time, especially encyclopedias.

            The revision as found on the publisher’s web site says:

Jesus trained the apostles for the role they would have after Pentecost 33 C.E. as a channel in dispensing spiritual food. They were later joined by other elders to serve as a governing body in order to settle issues and to direct the preaching and teaching of the Kingdom good news. (Ac 2:42; 8:14; 15:1, 2, 6-29; 22:17-19) After the death of the apostles, a great apostasy set in. But in the time of the end—in keeping with the pattern he set in the first century of feeding many through the hands of a few—Jesus selected a small group of spirit-anointed men to serve as “the faithful and discreet slave,” to prepare and dispense spiritual food during his presence.

The original version says:

The apostle Peter shows that such stewardship of the divine truths was actually committed to all the 'chosen ones', all the spirit-anointed ones, of the Christian congregation. (1 Pe 1:1, 2; 4:10,11) Thus the entire anointed Christian congregation was to serve in a united stewardship, dispensing such truths.

The changes are considerable, but the issue here isn’t that content was revised. That’s what encyclopedias do. It’s that the article is not marked as a revision. If you publish an encyclopedia online, shouldn’t you note when an article is revised?

One last comment: The title is ungrammatical. One can look upon something but insight is into something.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dangerous Deeds

Pixie with Knife

Pixie Plotting

Dragon Teasing

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nature Spirits, Bad Attitudes, and a Cranky Pixie

            No one comments on this blog, but, long-suffering pixie that I am, I continue to write for it.

            I see that someone who read Separate Identity was especially impressed with our biography of Storrs. I know it’s brag, but I think ours is the best out there. Apparently the person who quoted from our book does too. It’s nice to be appreciated.

            Roberto, let me know your status. Are you really okay? I’m sorry about your accident, and I hope you’re well.


            I’m going to terrorize another room. In my house that is. I’m still nesting, even though I’m not at all pregnant. I have a huge pile of things to donate to the thrift store. I’m going to get it all out of the house this afternoon. I’m not checking the girls’ closets. Those are their responsibility.

The south bathroom is next. I found a shower rod exactly like what was original to the house. It’s grungy. When I walk away from my computer, I’ll sit on the patio with chrome polish and make it pretty. K. Knees will install it when he returns home.

I looked at bathroom cabinets, but I haven’t found one that I like or that fits the space. I’ll keep looking. Most of the houses on our street were all built in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Returning this house to a modern version of 1940 has been difficult. I found one of the original kitchen cabinets used in most of these houses. It needs refinishing. I’m using it as-is in the laundry room. But I have plans for it.

I can’t find the small ceramic tiles, usually pastel colored, that were used in the 1940s and 50s. I want them for a utility room and the laundry room. I can be patient with this. There are many other issues to address. The wrought iron railings need paint for one thing. That’s messy but not a hard job.


We’re at the “okay we have tones of things to read” stage with two chapters. I’m reading Respectable Folly by Clarke Garrett. I’ll read this book twice, parts of it more than twice. None of the history Garrett narrates is directly relevant to our book, but his approach is – and indirectly some history is.

No one really cares. I don’t know why we continue to write this stuff. But we do. For now.

I feel so disliked. If you don’t like what I post here, don’t come here. Lurking on this blog (I have a whole list of lurkers, some of whom aggressively dislike me.) is not welcome. You may have noticed that “Crompton’s” posts are gone. He won’t be back. There is no reason for further visits from him, his friend in Seattle or any of those associated with them.

You may pick your own friends. I would never try to choose your friends. But I have the same right. If you are friendly to someone whose goal in life is to kill my husband, rape and murder my children and then me, I will not keep you as a friend, and the decision is final.


I’ve been discussing Nature Spirits with some in my coffee group. [We need an name. Dangerous Virgins! Mothers of Destiny! Erratic Females! Needs more thought, obviously.] So Nature Sprits and Elementals fill fantasy fiction. They’re also an element in some fringe new-age religion. They are a hold-over from pre-Christian folk belief. Perhaps they’re demoted local gods turned into fairies or water spirits or tree spirits.

Our last discussion centered on the question: “Would God use nature spirits?” It was a lively session. More so since not everyone in our group believes in a god, and two aren’t Christian in belief or heritage.

The Bible’s version of nature spirits is vastly different from folk-belief. Elementals (always an ill-defined term.) are immortal. In the Bible spirits used to control nature are created, mortal. And they’re usually a symbolic force. In the Revelation it is angels who hold back the winds of destruction. However literal that may be, in context it is a symbolism. The book says so. The Angel who brought death to 185,000 Assyrians fills the roll folk-belief gives to some types of nature spirit.

One type of nature spirit mentioned in the Bible haunts deserted places. It is mischievous, apparently malevolent. I think the ‘shaggy ones’ deserve more research than I’ve given them. One Bible translation calls them “goat-shaped demons.” This does not seem a good translation, but I don’t have anything better to suggest.

Probably I’ve insulted all angels by comparing them to the nature spirit mythology. This really isn’t a comparison. It’s a contrast.

One of our coffee group turns to fairies and such when she writes. But her paranormal creatures make me uncomfortable. Some things are dangerous. Some places are dangerous. She goes where I will not. Do I sound superstitious?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Treasure, puzzled readers, and children

            I went treasure hunting, and found stuff. Good stuff. I’m always amazed that people pay significant money for a book and leave it unread. But that they do means they books come to me in like-new condition and for significantly less.

            I bought three history books:

            Goodwin’s Lord’s of the Horizons

            Errington’s A History of Macedonia

            Chronicles of the Crusades, a translation of Joinville and Vllehardon’s narratives.

            New they would have cost me about eighty dollars. In new condition in the thrift store they cost $4.50.

            I also found one of Rick Riordan’s young adult fantasy books. I’ll take that one to school with me start of next term.


            I found a really nice silver plate serving set. We don’t entertain as much as my mother used to, but we do on occasion. I also found an electro-plate basket. This is English from the 1880s by the marks. It shows some wear in the bowl, but is otherwise very presentable.  Oh, and a small pottery bowl by one of the California potters. It’s only marked U.S.A., so I’ll have to research this one. I like small bits of pottery.


            I’ve debated explaining The Video. I’ve decided you can all stew over it. It’s up to about 90 views. Not all of them Harry’s, I’m sure.  I’m mildly sorry if you’re shocked, but I did warn you. As for the thought behind it, it is simple, and I think obvious.

            One of my older friends has mild dementia. She does puzzling things. She has trouble discarding things to her husband’s distress. I’ve been trying to help. But she resists making a decision on things. I found maybe 50 purses. We coaxed her into deciding on which to keep. A bunch of them went away – except when I checked on her this morning, I found all of them stuffed in a storage closet. She’d moved them from one place to another. I ignored it for now. With her. I sent a text message to her husband.

            I miss Ton’s daily – sometimes several times a day – emails. I miss him.


            Liz and Isabella start their senior year at the end of August. I feel old. Isabella wants a career involving children. She’s very good with them. It’s a good choice. But she’s not more specific. Liz says she wants to be a teacher. This is new. And somewhat surprising. I hope they choose one of the local universities. I’m not ready for them to move away. Kat joined a choir sponsored by the library. They’re surprisingly good.


            I’ve started collecting Central Powers soldier’s mail from World War I. I intend to use this material in my history class next term.

I thought my post on ...

I thought my post on irrational belief deserved more than one comment.

Stupid Repairmen! Pole Dancing. O. R's RandR and health

From Harry

Well, how do I start? The AC guy came back today. Not the AC guy who came the past 3 or 4 times. By our count this is the tenth visit since May. This was a new AC guy. My wife had to give him the most recent history of the other guy’s visits.

Wife: “He replaced the fan motor last time, but it was drawing too many amps, so he said he would have to order another one.”

AC Guy: “He didn’t put that in the work order. We haven’t ordered a new motor. Let me check this one.”

He turns on the unit. He and my wife watch as the motor starts producing smoke.

AC Guy: “Hmm, that’s not good. I’d recommend that you not run the unit until we fix it.”

Exasperated Wife: “You think!”

AC Guy: “I need to talk to my boss about this. His wife is having a baby today, so he’s kind of busy. We’ll schedule another call soon.”


I am still trying to decide how to respond to Rachael’s little anime video. On one hand it is a poorly created animation using computer generated avatars. On the other hand the main character is, shall we say, pole dancing on a very short pole. I know Rachael is not a prude, but sometimes I don’t have a clue into her thought processes. Let me just move on to another topics. My mind is still blown.


OC mentioned in his last posted comment that it looked like we were starting a new thread about the medicinal effects of Rock-n-Roll. Here is probably the earliest example from the immortal Chuck Berry in his 1956 hit Roll Over Beethoven.

I got the rockin' pneumonia,
I need a shot of rhythm and blues
I think I'm rollin' arthritis
sittin' down by the rhythm review
Roll Over Beethoven rockin' in two by two

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pixie Attitude

Dancing, Cute Shoes, Toes.
Keeps a Scotsman Happy

Never Peeve a Pixie.

Toe Wiggling Does Funny Things to Knobby Knees

Irrational thought and naughty blog readers

Well … I didn’t get any comments on my naughty dancing video, but there were about sixty views. At least one of you ignored my warning.


On to other things …

The nature of belief eludes me. While I focus on religious belief, I puzzle over the nature of belief in general.

Belief differs from learning, especially if learning implies rote, reason and fact. Charts, repetitious study of dogma (often divorced from fact, reason or question), restatement of dogma, defective reason, including pseudo syllogisms, sometimes characterize belief.

Both belief and learning imply confidence in their foundations, but the foundations of belief are often flawed. We seldom seek the rational, logical or reasoned. We seek the comfortable. Freud’s wish-fulfillment theory probably fits belief systems better than dreams.  

I’m not pleased by theories of knowledge. One that piques my interest is found in Genesis. The book of Genesis postulates full, complete knowledge belongs to God. This is similar to Plato’s ideal, perfect expression. (N. F. Carter suggests that Plato was familiar with Hebrew thought.) God teaches his children. If he made humans with rational potential, it was not fully developed at creation. Eve was deceived.

The Genesis writers leave us with the problem of why people believe what they do. They do not tell us why Eve preferred to believe the serpent. The serpent’s claims are irrational. Eve believed them. Why? This question makes me feel inadequate. I can say with those more brilliant than I that humans believe what they want to believe, but I still don’t know why.

New Testament knowledge theory is an extension of that found in Genesis. Genesis presents God as a parental instructor. His voice walked the garden daily. They heard it, conversed with it, and were familiar with it. In the New Testament, knowledge from God is a gift to which few are privy. He gives it to his children. Some endlessly pursue learning but reach false conclusions. This is so even within the church. The implication is that not all who meet in Christ’s name are God’s children.

“Knowing,” the intimate discourse with God that brings with it identity as God’s own, is Apostolic doctrine, but as a general theory of belief it holds true. It is better than most. Jesus’ words were obscure to some. His disciples sought clarification. The rest did not. Those who were outside refused to be challenged by contrary belief. (“This speech is shocking.”) The foundation of correct knowledge is reason and logic. (“Proved logically that he was the Christ.”) Knowledge and belief must have a solid foundation or they fail. (“Hay, stubble.”) Those who believe irrationally do so because it rewards them. (“ears tickled”) Useful belief is based on reliable evidence and derived form accurately appraised observation and solidly grounded teachers. (“From what persons you learned.”)

Much of this – all of it, really – satisfies me. But it still leaves me with the question, Why do people believe what they do?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Harry and the AC man

The Air conditioning repairman, henceforth to be known as the ‘guy’ came back today with a new fan motor to replace our old motor that first was spinning backwards and then, when that was corrected, stopped spinning at all. It seems that it was, in the guy’s technical terms, pulling too many amps (amperes of electricity) and overheating.
He came out today with the new motor. He installed it, turned it on, and turned it off. He adjusted the belt tension, turned it on and off again. He repeated the process several times.
Finally I heard him put the access panel back on and gather up his tools. It is a good thing that there is a polar air mass that has descended from Canada over our region. If not, we would be experiencing 100+ degree (Fahrenheit) days like our dear Pixie in the Northwest has had this past week or so. The guy was puzzled. The new motor was drawing too many amps as well. It was wired correctly. The correct voltage was going to the motor. He was stumped.
So here I am again, still without central air conditioning. The guy is ordering another new motor and may bring his boss back with him next time.

How a Pixie Seduces her Pet Scotsman

A frankly pornographic dance video. Don't watch it. Fair Warning.

I wrote this huge, long post about Knobby Knees and myself. It got really personal, and I deleted it all except for this video. Make of it what you will. I advise against watching it. It will make most of you uncomfortable.

Hamburg - 1905

S. M. S. Hamburg - Commissioned March 1904

Pixie Child by ElenaDudina

Found on Deviant Art

Friday, July 18, 2014

I can't think of a snappy title so this is ...

From O. Reader


When quite seriously unwell recently, courtesy of the blue tail fly or something similar, I spent several days lying in bed feeling rather sorry for myself, with my thoughts a mass of disjointed projects – like some weird document I wanted to put in order, but couldn’t find the beginning or the ending to do so.

My daughter in a phone conversation with Mrs O, before dropping everything to come and assist with my care, asked if I was watching rock and roll films yet? That apparently was viewed as the litmus test of impending recovery.

And it was true. As I came back to life I didn’t feel like work. I didn’t feel like reading anything or writing anything. But all of a sudden, I wanted to watch...rock and roll films.

I have a very large collection of these, starting with films from the early 50s up to generally the 70s, with a few "old singers benefit night" revivals since then. My collection includes all the exploitation films knocked out in a couple of days to capitalise on new fads. One of the first was of course Rock Around the Clock – a quickie designed to get teenage bums on seats, or rather jumping about while ripping up seats, featuring the questionable charms of Bill Haley and his Comets. Haley was an unlikely star, middle aged and pudgy, complete with kiss-curl (He means spit curl. Forgive him. He doesn’t speak American. - Pixie) and denture, thrust into the limelight when the film Blackboard Jungle suddenly became a hit, and his Rock Around the Clock was on the soundtrack. (It was initially promoted as a novelty foxtrot). Haley was soon blown out of the water by Elvis and the like.

There were scores of these pictures, and when "the twist" came in, and "beach parties" came in, the whole cycle (including the same threadbare plots) started all over again.

Then there are the TV performances that have survived in shows and compilations. Some are just lip-synching to the recordings; others feature live performances that worried the parents of Middle America – and ultimately the whole world. Their fears and the market’s reaction to them can be summed up by the brilliant introduction to the film Let the Good Times Roll. This was based on a rock revival show from the 1970s.

After the opening credits we have some scratchy black and white film. A middle aged DJ smashes records – "rock and roll has got to go." An American evangelist with wild eyes and improbable hair starts getting worked up into a lather. He "understands" – he knows how it feels – he knows what it does to you – he knows the evil it does to you – it’’s the beat – that’s what teenagers say, the beat, the beat, the beat... Then suddenly – WHAM, BAM – we are in huge widescreen in full color – Chuck Berry at his leering best – Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll.... Yeah. No contest.

Anyhow, as I recovered, my first foray into rehabilitation was to watch a compilation of two programs from British TV from the 60s – featuring Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard.

Vincent was always associated with motor bikes. He had a smashed up leg and a leg brace from a motor bike accident when in the merchant navy, and impresario Jack Good dressed him all in black leather. It may seem tame now, but in those pre-heavy metal days, it was iconic.

A motorcycle gang roar through the streets of London – the UK’s version of Marlon Brando’s The Wild Bunch. Eventually they motor through large doors into a TV studio where they come to a halt – and Vincent, complete in black leathers, launches into Be Bop a Lula. In retrospect, there are several better performances preserved of Vincent performing this number – he was a little the worse for drink on this occasion – but he still managed to smash the stand microphone into the ground during the song, as we had come to love and expect.

Mr and Mrs O Rockin' and Rollin'
Back in the day ... mind you.

One of my proud accomplishments as a teenager was doing a Vincent impersonation. Years after Vincent’s early but not unexpected demise, I was sent with another young gentleman, who we will call P, to work for a charity in a city with a large and very respectable group of people.

They organised a party – but not a party as you might know it. It was a very staid affair – perhaps a gentle game of Bible charades was the daring highlight of the evening with a little light music thrown in. And then we came in – P started pounding the piano – I gazed into the middle distance with one leg straight behind the other and a broom handle doubling as stand mike and straight into "Weeeeeeelll" For the 99.9% of the world who haven’t a clue what I’m on about check out Vincent on

Even if I say so myself (because no-one else is going to say it now) it was still rather a good impersonation. Jaws dropped. Of course, the teenagers loved it. We were human! We were also mad – but hey, what did that matter?

Of course, I grew up. Vincent got forgotten. Hopefully, my impersonation of Vincent got forgotten. And at least in those far off days there wasn’t something like YouTube to come back and bite you when you were old and grey and respectable.

So that was Vincent on my DVD.

He was followed by Little Richard. Flamboyant, Outrageous – every so often giving up the Devil’s music to sing Gospel. I have never ventured inside a Pentecostal church, but he gave one the impression of what might happen in a rising collective experience. And Little Richard was fun. His performance – backed by a group called Sounds Incorporated – holds up very well today.

I saw Richard in person on his very first tour of Britain. They had booked him with Sam Cooke, but had no idea what he was going to do. Would he sing gospel and lose them all their money? Fortunately for rock and roll, he suddenly reverted and rolled back the years.

I wrote it all up on this blog a couple of years ago in a scholarly post called AH WOP BOP A LOO BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!

I remember Richard throwing a shoe into the audience – causing scuffles for this sacred relic. Then another shoe. Then a jacket. It looked like the shirt would be next. How far would this maniac go? Then suddenly, while jumping up and down on top of the piano (as you do) he collapsed in a heap. The musicians whimpered to a halt. The compere ran on – "is there a doctor in the house?" Then from flat on his back – Gonna Tell Aunt Mary ‘Bout Uncle John – up and away into Long Tall Sally.

His TV performance was of that – er – standard.

And then the third was the really bad boy of rock. Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis came from a poor family in Louisiana. He had been sent to train as a minister (TV evangelist Jerry Swaggart is a cousin) but was quickly expelled from the college for playing "the Devil’s music." Apart from the lyrics, outsiders would find it hard to tell the difference sometimes.

I remember a documentary on the history of popular music. Lee was interviewed in some honky-tonk dive. He was rambling, likely drunk, as he outlined all his troubles in life, all his ups and downs and car crash relationships. "But" he ended on a maudlin note, "Jerry Lee just keeps on rocking..." Then he paused – squinted into the camera – "you’re not still filming this are you..?" Cut.

Lee’s first visit to Britain in 1958 was brief. He got deported when it turned out that his new bride was only 13. She was also his third bride. He was still only 22. A further complication was that a divorce from bride number 2 hadn’t actually been finalised when he tied the knot with Myra.

By the 60s attitudes had changed. And Myra – they were still together at this point – had grown to a more acceptable age. Lewis made several tours that lasted the distance and this memorable TV show on my DVD came from one of those. As with Richard, the audience was filled with minor celebrities. It is fun to spot them now, including the much reviled Jimmy Savile. (I once ran past Savile at a charity marathon, but that is another story). Dancing by this time had morphed into a kind of abandoned thrashing, and if people saw themselves on the TV monitor they would up the odds and do an impersonation of someone having an epileptic fit.

Lee pounded the piano – whisking his right hand back and forth without missing a beat around the stand mike. He grabbed the stand mike and stood on the piano – his slicked down hair refused to stay in place and got wilder and wilder, as did Lewis’ performance. Whole Lotta Shaking Going On? Lewis gave a text book illustration of what he meant. Great Spherical Objects of Fire? Yup - Lewis delivered.

The only unusual note that I picked up on this time was that the piano was surrounded by boys. Not girls – boys. Boys with long sweaty hair. Boys reaching out. Boys who wanted to touch and stroke their icon. Lewis looked slightly disconcerted – this did not appear to be his scene.

Do you know – just watching Vincent, Richard and Lewis for an hour – I felt such a whole lot better. I think all doctors should prescribe it.

Yeah. Rock on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I’m sweat soaked from the heat. I usually don’t tan much, but I have one on now. However, the yard is looking good. It’s too hot to work long periods outside; I do this in spurts. I’m back inside, sucking on a peppermint candy and sipping hot black coffee. Try it; you’ll like it.
Cooling Down With Hot Coffee

O.G.  (not to be confused with our own O.R.), one of the friends of our research, ran into a persistently moronic troll on one of the controversial sites. (I’ve been there. Usually it’s populated by the terminally stupid. So this is no surprise.) The ‘troll’ raised some issues about a Pittsburgh cemetery. I wrote to Michael. Michael is an archivist who’s been helpful in the past. He located the original organizational papers. They’re not expensive, but we’re counting pennies right now. I’ll send for them soon.

There are only four pages in the document, but, in his usual semi-cryptic way, Michael says that I “will find the document valuable.”

People like Michael are special. They make my work easier. Their desire to help leads us to places we would not find on our own.

Coffee as an Aid to Thought

Harry and I talked about wild things and wild places yesterday. I like to listen to the world as it is in the very early morning. I like the sounds the river makes. I like the early morning bird calls. I like the pre-dawn, nearly secret sounds the deer make, or the distant braying of a farm-yard hound. The wind blows urgent opera. The gentle breeze hums a morning welcome. God smiles at the earth through pink clouds.

I don’t like snakes.

I don’t like spiders, though I find them interesting.

I found a box of arrowheads I picked up along the Columbia River. I thought I’d lost it, but it was misplaced, not lost. I’ll use them in my early grades US history class.

KK set up the camp tent in the back yard. Annie and Kat have had friends over to sleep in it. Way too hot as far as I’m concerned.

We’re still struggling with the last chapter. We’re writing it out of order, so it will change no matter what we do now. But it is by far the most difficult to write and research. We need a nearly finished version to move this project forward in other areas. So, though we know this is very rough, it is a necessary task.

I tried to put together a meet for coffee group for this afternoon, but no one can come today. I’m mildly depressed. I like my coffee group discussions, even the edgy ones.
The Coffee Group
I can'tfind a way to add the most interesting coffee photo, because it is so complex that I can't censor it in any meaningful way. Think of it as coffee and cream come to life. Just look at what Anthony is missing by camping out on Facebook instead of visiting my blog.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stratigic Fanning - Harry's AC Woes

The AC Man Calls Twice… er Thrice… Oh, For God’s Sake!

By Harry

We had a delightfully warm, but comfortable spring this year. Some springs have been very hot in recent years, while others have been extremely wet. This was one of those perfect springs that we all think we remember from our youth. We enjoyed opening our newly replaced windows to cool breezes during the day. As I drove to our county refuse facility with a load of trash bags in my pickup truck, I could drive down the road with the windows down and inhale the soft fragrance of honeysuckle growing along my route.

But by the end of May we had a hot streak of days. We closed the windows and turned on the AC (air conditioner for our European friends). Something was wrong. The air barely came out of the vents and was not very cold.

My wife calls the home warranty company. They sent a AC guy out in a couple of days. The AC guy checked the coolant and added a couple of pounds of the expensive gas. He took my check (or cheque for occasional readers) and left.

"Hmm… It’s still not working." We call the AC guy back. He says the coils are frozen. Turn off the system, but leave the fan running and he would come back in 24 hours.

A different AC guy comes the next time. He says that he thinks there is a leak and tells us to schedule an appointment to search for the leak. He leaves without doing anything really. It’s a good thing we don’t have to pay for each visit. The warranty is good in that respect.

The first AC guy comes back the next time. We could be on a first name basis now if I had bothered to learn his name. He spends quite a deal of time examining the system this time and announces that there is a broken valve on the unit outside the house. That has caused a blockage in the coolant line, which is causing the unit to freeze up. Of course he doesn’t have the part in his truck. He’ll have to order the part and schedule yet another visit.

By this time May is a memory and June is coming to an end. Three window units strategically placed in the dining room and two bedrooms keep the house tolerable, but July is approaching. We describe midsummer in Central Virginia with the 3 H’s -- Hazy, Hot, and Humid.

The AC guy comes back with the new part last week. It’s a hot day after the Fourth of July holiday and he is using a torch to remove the solder and replace the valve. It’s hot work and he complains about burning himself. He recharges the system with coolant, starts it up and leaves.

The trouble is that it doesn’t do any good. We still don’t have cool air. We request yet another service call. He comes back two days later. AC guy is puzzled. The cooling coils are still trying to freeze up, but why? He examines the ductwork for blockages. He checks the fan assembly.

"Hmm… your fan motor is spinning backwards." He explains that it is a reversible motor and sometimes they reverse themselves. Reviewing all I know about physics and the laws of electricity, I can’t imagine how that can happen unless some idiot mechanic on a previous visit crossed some wires, but I hold my tongue. AC guy calls the shop and talks to another AC guy. He switches the wires and "All blessings be to the Lord" cold air begins flowing from our poor tortured air conditioner once again.

We all cheer. The AC guy, who now can find our house as well as he can find his own, is happy. The system is working so well that I spend the next two days adjusting the thermostat upward so the house won’t be too cold.

So here we were on Sunday. My wife, my son, and I are in the den watching Germany and Argentina battling it out in the World Cup Final. It’s a heated match. Argentina’s offense is sluggish. Germany’s offense can’t penetrate the Argentine defense.

"Hmm… does it feel warm down here to you?" I go upstairs, thinking that I might have to bump the thermostat down a degree or two.

"Gott im Himmel!" It’s broke again!


Hiding in the Bushes. An Edwardian Era Post Card

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Garden Pests, Plotting and writing stuff

I’m frittering away my day off by working in the yard in short spurts. (It’s obscenely hot today.) When I overheat, I sit at my desk and ponder the world, or I work on the family room. I’m nesting without being pregnant. Imagine! It’s much less terrorized than it was. I’ll take some boxes of junk to the thrift store later today.  
Plotting in the Garden!

I have three baskets of clothes and that I pulled out of the closet. They need a good sorting, but pinning the owners (assorted young women) down to the task is difficult.

I changed out a picture. I may replace another with two smaller lithographs. But I haven’t made up my mind. The television is going out today. It’s older and no one watches it. So away it goes. Yesterday, I took all the board games the girls have outgrown down to the thrift store. I almost have the closet back in usable condition.

I’ve used a rustic cupboard that I salvaged from an old building for a bookcase. I’m a bit tired of it, and it is now out of place. I could refinish it and put a new door handle on it. Or I may just replace it with a better book case. 

The south stairs go up from this room. I’d like to replace the handrail. The one there was installed in the 1970s. In older photographs I see that the original was curved oak. I’d like to find something similar, but I don’t know where to look. I’ll keep my eye out for one.

 I’m working on what will be the last chapter of Separate Identity. Progress is slow, but the research is interesting. One disturbing thing was finding an article written in 1999. Oh … the article isn’t disturbing. It’s about 40 percent good, 20 percent indifferent and the rest just wrong. It’s not outstandingly bad or bad in any unexpected way. But parts of it read so much like what we’ve written that did I not know we wrote before seeing this, I’d wonder if we copied from it. I’ll edit away the overt resemblance.  

I’ve never had anything quite like this happen before. The closest I’ve come to it was when writing Pixie Warrior. I used dragon’s milk as a healing agent. It seemed like a good idea. After PW was published I ran across another book entitled … you guessed it … Dragon’s Milk. I may self-publish PW now that it’s out of print.

How to Remove Garden Pests

After I finish my part of this chapter, I’ll return to a nearly completed one and add bits we’ve found since. That chapter makes me happy. We did good work. It will need edits and re-writes, of course. But the contents are good. The research is good.

I’m missing everyone. One of my readers is sickish. The rest, except for a couple that feed me comments in person and not on the blog, are quiet.



Feeding Chickens - About 1900

New Hampshire - About 1893

Monday, July 07, 2014

Harry's Pixie Experience

Independence Day, the Fourth of July, America’s birthday. It is one of my favorite days of the year. This year was a new experience for Jayne and I. We spent the Fourth together without our kids for the first time in so long, I can’t remember.

We packed a couple of camp chairs in the car and got down to the park early enough that we able to park less than a kilometer away from the event. Richmond’s Dogwood Dell is an open-air amphitheater. It is a great venue for Independence Day. We found space to setup our chairs near the top of the dell. From there we had a good view of the stage as well as the sky for the fireworks.

It was perfect. The sun was hot when we first got there, but there was a wonderful breeze. As the sun set at the beginning of the concert it was so comfortable. There was good music, good food, and I was looking forward to the fireworks. But before all that I saw what made the night perfect. There in front of the stage was a pixie, a tiny little pixie. She was dancing to the music, wearing a pretty blue dress. Pixies are such elusive creatures. I asked my wife if she saw her too. My wife smiled and said she did. I took a photo. After watching her dance and giggle and laugh down there in the bowl of the amphitheater, the fireworks were almost anticlimactic.

Fornication, Fraud, and Mr. Jones

            So … with this morning’s mail I received a pile of legal papers from 1889-1890. Most of them are irrelevant. They’re notices of filings and legal advertisements. If you’ve read through things like this, you know what I mean. But there are a few interesting details.

            We have a bit of painful testimony from W. H. Conley who wished he wasn’t involved in the case. He continued business relations with a Mr. Jones long after their bonds of common faith dissolved. When I can decipher all of his testimony (the original and the copy made from it are very poor), I’ll probably post it on our history blog.

            The court record proves some things we only suspected. Most are mere details, though we shall use them. They tell us about his house, who his business partners were and whom he knew in Pittsburgh. We learn when Carrie Jones met Albert, who married them, and something about their social status in 1878, the year they were married. For a brief period Jones was prominent socially and politically in New York City. We see from Conley’s deposition that his social peers didn’t like him.

            Because this issue was settled in front of a court commissioner and Albert failed to show, there is no transcript. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Trip

The Potty Ladder

This comes from the Life with Kids blog. Probably it doesn't much interest those who read this blog, but it does me. I wish they made this when my girls were little. What a good idea!