Tuesday, December 30, 2014

So ...

            It’s after eleven o’clock, and I’m still up. Sad, huh? I believed I was on the mend some but managed to get sick in bed. I’m washing all the bedding. The sheets and a blanked are left. Another blanked is in the wash and a quilt is in the drier. All is not lost. At least my tummy feels better. … That’s a good thing.

            Knobby Knees thought I had the flu. What I have is a very potent medication to which my stomach sometimes objects.

            While the washer does its job, I’ve been busy writing. I’ve learned that I really don’t know how to spell effeminate. But, hopefully, I have now learned how.

A Pixie in Her Natural Environment.
[Note the Coffee, the Writing Tools, and the Books. Not seen in this image are the flirting toes.]

            Knobby Knees (aka my pet Scot) took pity on me today. My library spills over into the family room. There are seven bookcases in there, two of which were really ratty and too small. He disappeared off to town late this afternoon, returning with two new put-them-together bookcases. One is assembled and in place. The other will go up tomorrow.

            Back who knows when my grandfather painted over an ash wood beam. It’s as original in my work room. But it’s a nasty white painted over thing in the family room. Stripping and varnishing it is a daunting job that we’ve never wanted to tackle. KK says he can have it faced with nice, varnished wood. As I type this, that corner of the room is a disaster. Books are piled haphazardly; an old chest sits there, waiting to be returned to its proper place. A television destined for recycle is there. I may take a before and after photo. We’ll see. It’s a mess, but it should be back in order by the weekend.

            The shelves will still be less than what I would like. But we can’t afford custom-made bookcases. They will do.

            The story I’m writing has changed dramatically from its oral version. When I tell a story, my family interrupts to ask for detail or to make suggestions. Putting it on paper is a different matter. I’ve started it earlier in Tabatha’s life, added details and characters. I won’t post much of it. This is the ‘second version,’ the ‘naughty version’ that I whisper to my pet when we’re in bed or alone. Parts aren’t suitable for this blog.


But there is this:


            The Fens were not densely populated, but we had marriages on a regular basis, and those attached to father’s house were obligated to seek his permission. Some few sought the blessing, usually families that kept the old ways and worshiped in the groves with the wild women. To them father was rightful king, even after three hundred years of occupation.

            “Here,” Aunty said, “take the platter and serve our guests.” She loaded it onto my arms.

            “It’s too heavy,” I complained.

            She took it back with a frown and complaint. “You’re a slight thing; I despair of you ever growing to a proper size.” She reduced the load of honey cakes by nearly half and shooed me out the door. “Remember you’re his daughter,” she yelled after me.

            She meant my father’s daughter, of course.

            Few had arrived, but the hour was early in the predawn. An ox drawn wagon painted garish red and blue identified the family here for blessing. I served them first. The mother smiled at me. “I’m Isobel verch Roi,” she said.

            Her name was a combination of the old style and of the New Nobility’s speech. Isobel, daughter of the king. Certainly not the king who sat in the palace. “This is my mate, David.” David was interesting. He had the firm muscles of a Fenland’s farmer, but he also had the muscles one would associate with a Knight at his peak. Such a puzzle. “And these are our sons Rafe and Brand-Connor.” Two boys. Fourteen and twelve by my best judgment. The younger, named for heroes of old, was frank-faced and ruddy. The older was tall, thin, and though strong enough in build seem dainty, effeminate. A three-year-old girl sat on her lap, a thumb in her mouth and sleep in her eyes. “This is Hawice, our youngest,” she said.

            The girl who leaned into her mother’s side looked up wide-eyed. Before her mother could introduce her to me, she said, “You’re Tabatha the Chosen!” That was debatable. Old Aunt though I was. My mother agreed. I was uncertain. And I was embarrassed at the name and what it implied. [omitted sentence] “You herd the sacred goats,” she said.


            Now, back to laundry. I may get to bed sometime before tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like it.

Balance and Patience

Hot Chocolate, Sleep, Child-Brides of the Medieval Era

            I’m swamped, working on three writing projects at once, each as important as the other. I’m dithering over which to work on first. My solution is to write this instead.

            So … I slept away a major portion of yesterday. I feel better as a result. So that’s good. But it was an otherwise wasted Monday. Mostly. I still treasure hunt among my own stamps (I have boxes of things I’ve accumulated since I was a child) for rarer varieties. I’ve found a few. I bought an auction lot of junk stamps too. That’s too harsh a descriptor. The lot was less expensive inflation era stamps. I was the only bidder. When one bids on messy lots, pages from an old but cheap album, the expectation is that the stamps are mounted haphazardly and that unless the seller verifies a watermark, it’s not the expensive stamp but the cheap one just misplaced on the page. But this lot was so inexpensive that I took the chance.

            The stamp in question was one of the German government official use stamps. There are two varieties that look identical, the difference being that one is watermarked with a “lozenge” pattern and the other with a network pattern. The difference in catalogue value is hundreds of dollars. I have the cheap specimen. So … here on the page was a stamp filling the scarcer stamp’s spot and another filling the cheapie spot. Knowing they were probably the same inexpensive stamp, I bid anyway. (Someone said, Hope springs eternal. I suppose it does.)

            The lot (about 40 stamps total) came yesterday. Some of them are useful as minor varieties or because they have interesting cancellations. But you know the one I checked first was the stamp in question. And yes! Finally! After years of “I want this” longing, I have one. It’s nice too. Some catalogues list it at three hundred dollars. It’s practical retail value is maybe eighty dollars, especially in the current market. But I now have one! Yipee! So I uttered a little ‘woop,’ loud enough to make my pet Scotsman turn his head and smile. Then I went back to bed without even a thought of a snuggle. (I think he was disappointed. But I was sick.)
A little yipee!

            I’ve been researching medieval – late middle ages mostly – family life. In some areas, England for example, marriageable age started at nine. Earlier in life marriages happened. It wasn’t that uncommon for a seven year old girl to be married off. A legal test of marriage at that age consisted of displays of mutual affection – huggles, snuggles, endearments. Today we’d see this as child abuse. And we are often uncomfortable with childhood sexual behavior. Then, both might well have been dead by thirty, so life was contracted. Life events often happened earlier.

            I know a fair amount about my family’s past. Books have been written about bits of it. You might study about some of my ancestors (near and distant) in history class. There are several examples of early-in-life marriage. One young lady was married at twelve (she may in fact have been eleven.) and outlived two husbands much older than she. She had lots of babies, but is supposed to have retained her beauty into later life. Another was married by royal decree at age eight to a boy who was then twelve. While in some of these situations the marriage was not ‘consummated’ until puberty, the boy bedded her right away. Puberty came to her at eleven. She had her first child just past her twelfth birthday. Burke’s abeyant peerage suggests that she birthed at least sixteen children, about half of whom lived to adulthood. What interests me is that she plainly loved her husband. Historical incidents show this to be so. I’m not sure I would have grown up loving a man who had intercourse with me when I was eight. But today is so divorced in thought and deed from a thousand years ago, that it is impossible to say.

            I met Knobby Knees when I was twelve and he was seventeen. I’m certain that if it weren’t for parental supervision and his good sense, I’d have open to any suggestion that he cared to make. So I have some sympathy for our distant ancestors who found themselves married at a young age.

Child Brides were not Uncommon in the Medieval Era

            There is a point to this. The semester that starts in what? Two weeks, or so, I think … will open with a consideration of family life in the late colonial era. Children in America and Brittan were still being married off as young as seven. We’ll discuss that, and other issues connected to family life. And for another project I’m trying to imagine what life would be like for a child bride in the medieval period.

            Later today I’ll return to the rebellious Mr. Jones. My writing partner and I differ on the amount of later in life detail to include. He wants me to re-verify the photo I found is the right Delmont Jones. I’ll do that in a day or so. Now I must merge what we’ve written into one document, return it to him and wait for his comments and fixes.

            Knobby Knees is off today. Now that I feel better, he’s very distracting. I’m posting this, making hot chocolate for two and snuggling! Writing can wait. …

Saturday, December 27, 2014

From Harry

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Because Harry Begged

Probably all you're going to get, because I'm writing up the version I tell knobby knees, but here are the opening paragraphs:

            I’ve told my story dozens of times – hundreds probably. And I never know exactly where to start it. I suppose it really starts with Old Aunt’s pig, but every story has its antecedents. So my story might easily start with my father. Or with my brother’s exile. Or mother’s death in child birth.

            We were old nobility. If the Eastern Isles had been defeated, my father would have been King of the Southern Lands and my mother Queen of the Northlands. But they weren’t defeated. (I was born on the three hundredth anniversary of our loss.) The Old Nobility submitted, compromised or died. My father’s ancestors submitted but refused to compromise. And my father was of the same mind and more blunt than he should have been. Lands and titles were taken from us, and he was made Barron of the Fenlands, a land of swamps and bogs and island farms, poor and pitiful and joined by causeways.

We were unwelcome at court. None of the Old Nobility favored us overtly; to do so was dangerous. So we lived an isolated life among peasants, an occasional outlaw, a herd of goats, Old Aunt’s piglets, and a troop of Wild Women, priestesses from the old temples who still practiced their religion in secret. We were relegated to a decayed manor house. Built of yellow stone, it lacked a roof to the second floor. The windows were unglazed, the fireplaces decayed and stopped up with bird’s nests.

Lord Brashford, a favorite at court, sent retainers to make our house habitable. (His mother was my father’s cousin.) Still, he did it on the quiet. I was five then. Fascinated by bustle of reconstruction, I was constantly in the way. Those Lord Barshford sent were of the old race. They paid us deference we seldom saw, even from the pesant farmers who were tied to our lands and to us. But they were soon gone, and we were alone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Treasure in a box

So ... in 1902 Germany issued a new set of Germania stamps. The basic issue is fairly cheap. There are some varieties that are not. One is listed in the Scott Catalogue as 96b or in the Michel Catalogue as 72II. It's a color variety and lists for about a thousand dollars. On the stamp auction sites "ask" is usually between five and seven hundred dollars.

While watermarking a packet of unidentified Germania issues I bought earlier this year to get something else, I found one! My goodness! (not that I have much of that, even if I try.) A 'gray blue' specimen plain as day. It's now in my album! I probably paid two cents for this stamp. How very nice.

An example of the 20pf Gray-Blue of 1902.
I couldn't get a clear photo of mine.

The Snuggle Cure

            Snuggles are good, especially so when I am unwell. I like snuggles. My girls have their own snuggle methods suited to their personalities. My oldest tends to limit herself to a brief but intense hug. When she was new to our family (She’s one of our adopted children.) she was a lap-sitter and an arm clutcher, but now that’s she’s grown, her huggie-snuggle style has changed. Kat is rough. Her snuggles are intense, involving a tight hug and a half sit. Her legs may go over mine. The tighter the squeeze and the more prolonged it is, the more satisfied she seems. Annie is my gentle child. Her snuggles tend to involve sharing a chair, sitting as close as she can, and unlike the others, she fills the time with chatter. Her conversation is part of her snuggle. I love her chatter.

            Not that I didn’t already really, really like our snuggles, but Knobby Knees, my pet Scotsman, snuggles best, especially now that I have trouble maintaining body temperature. He is a delicious snuggler. We have a complex of snuggles that may include lap sitting, caressing, to spooning. My preference is to be in the spoon. The most intimate snuggle is a face to face, go-to-sleep huggle He’s good at that. It’s comforting and warming.
Indulgent Dad: Knobby Knees as My Pet Dragon

            I think I’m going to put one of my oral stories on paper. I don’t intend to submit it anywhere or share it here. It’s for my own enjoyment. I may have lulu print a single copy just for me. That is if I like the finished product.

            I’m still struggling with Mr. Jones. My writing partner sent me some material today. It’s good, I think, and presents part of the story with clarity I did not achieve. This evening I’ll past it into our working document. There is a huge amount of material that takes Mr. Jones’ life to its finish in the 1930s. We’ll abbreviate most of that. It’s interesting, but only marginally relevant to the story.

            I think I’m growing a goat tail.

            I had a long conversation with someone I don’t like. (Not liking someone doesn’t mean I won’t talk to them.) He’s very interested in mythology, but most of what he thinks he knows is wrong. He has comprehension problems, and he’s mentally ill. He’s something like a vulgar, ugly spider. Distasteful but interesting. His view of life is coloured by his (mis)understanding of mythology.

            Not that you want to know, but I’ve missed four periods. I always panic when that happens. I’m not pregnant though. My periods have been irregular since Annie was born. Lately, their irregularity has increased. Next doctor visit, I’ll bring it up. I’m 37 and may be in peri-menopause. Medications can cause that too. But I’ll ask about it. In the mean time I pee on the stick, just to be certain. No little blue lines yet.

            My baby half-sister is staying with us until next weekend. She reminds me of Annie, except where Annie is fair and blond, she has her mother’s darker skin. The personalities are similar. Annie, Liz and my sister and I went shopping yesterday. I spent more money than I should, but we came away with nice shoes for the girls. (Do you have any idea how much shoes for five cost?) And I bought matching pink outfits with sweaters for Annie and baby half. Mostly because they begged and the outfits were sixty percent off.

Sister Exploring the Back Yard.

            I was worn out by the time we got home, but I had yesterday off and today too.

            I completed a set of rare-ish stamps for almost no money. These are Official Stamps (for government use) from Germany. They catalogue in the hundreds of dollars each in used condition. But most American collectors don’t care. A mint stamp of the same issue is very cheap. European collectors want them, but economic bad times mean that few expensive stamps sell for anything near catalogue value. So this is a good time to finish my set. Pictured below is one of them. This is the twenty-billion mark stamp for the high inflation period. It is listed at $250.00. I paid less than ten dollars for it. It was the last one I needed to complete a used set. I’m very pleased.


            I spend more time than I should imagining my current oral story. I think it’s one of the best I’ve told my family. Our heroine is pregnant. She’s off in a tiny village where she’s vanquished an evil baron and his men, taken young fraternal twins into her care, found a mysterious child in a temple turned church, sent back to the Southern Kingdom priests sent by a power-hungry archbishop, and befriended a Black Goat. There are several paths forward. I expect I’ll have to choose one today, because with the night off, they’ll expect the story from me. I enjoy telling my family stories. It’s fun, and best fun when they say, “Mom! What happened then!?”

Monday, December 22, 2014

From O. Reader

Some readers of this blog also read Rachael’s serious blog on Watch Tower History. A character named Albert Royal Delmont Jones has been featured there quite a bit recently, in material written by Rachael and a correspondent who calls himself Jerome. What follows is an imagined summary of ARDJ’s life, with a lot of supposition filling in the gaps.


So here I am in this ward. It is the smell more than anything. Stale cabbage, and bad drains. They say we are fortunate to be here – looked after free of charge. Everything is comparative I suppose.

It is the noise – some of these people aren’t right. How did I get here? It could all have been so different.

It started so well. I came from a good family, we owned land, we were respectable. I worked in stores, and handled the money. I was really good with money. I mean – OK – life got expensive and I started to cut corners, but until then, it worked a dream.  And I was attractive to women. You wouldn’t know it looking at me now, but oh yes, they used to go weak at the knees.

First there was Carrie. Quiet, domesticated. But boring though, so boring. We had those children. What were their names? I wonder where they are now?

And that Charles Russell. We started a magazine to tell the world about the coming end of problems. Oh what it was to have faith. But that’s all gone now. I was an editor. I founded my own magazine. It was a good magazine – but when I tried to be a bit more realistic, then some of those people turned against me. We did some good works though. We raised money for good causes. Some of it may have got lost along the way – I can’t remember now – but we meant well. I think.

I’d dropped the Jones by now – a common name, people much preferred the Delmont – in fact, several of my ex-partners even kept it.

And then there was Isabel. The papers called her a “raving beauty”. Hmm. All I can remember today is the “raving.” But we had some fun. Did we have some fun. The parties, the good times – but then the creditors caught up with me. But she was young, she had ambitions. And I started to find her tiring, very tiring. I bet her second husband found her tiring too. Over the years I’ve see her in the newspapers – no, perhaps I was well rid of her.

And then there was Bambina. What a name. What a woman. We had several good scams going. But then somehow she scammed me. I must have been losing my touch. I see she turned up at the Arbuckle trials – accused of bigamy. Did we ever get that divorce? I can’t remember. But Bambie – yes, memories of Bambie – I am sure she bounced back. Bambie always did.

And then Margaret. Well, that was a mistake. We lived with her parents. I told them a tale. They believed it. But it was domesticity again. And it was boring, so boring. And all these younger women I took up with – they all made demands. I got to the point where all I wanted to do was sleep.  It might have been the diabetes. So I did the decent thing – I really did. Faking my death like that, those clothes left on the beach – it meant she could pass herself off as a widow and claim the insurance. Yes, that was a good move. I wonder what happened to her? And her parents? What were their names?

So then it was try and try again. But now I seemed to have lost the touch. The Midas touch. Huh – the Delmont touch. But there was always going to be something else – somewhere over the rainbow. Do you know something? – that would make a good title for a song. If I wasn’t feeling so ill, I could even try and write something like that. It might make another fortune.

If I still had faith and still believed in heaven – but not hell (that’s one thing Charles Russell helped me with) – maybe I would be a bit worried now. But – I don’t know what I believe. All those people, I wonder what happened to them. Do they ever wonder what happened to me?  I’m glad they don’t know. But I’m tired. Maybe there is such a thing as reincarnation, and I can try and do better next time. But do better? What’s that? Be more boring? Make more money and this time keep it? I don’t know. I just feel tired, so tired.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Pakistanis are the enemy of Civilization - no matter where they live

From the Toronto Sun, September 8, 2014

There are 1.5 million street kids in Pakistan -- an estimated 90% of them have been sexually abused at some point in their lives.

Rape in Pakistan is so common, it’s barely taboo. Last week the Daily Mail interviewed a bus driver from Peshawar who says, after his shift is over, he likes to go into the slums and rape street kids. Sometimes he pays them a dollar. But often he doesn’t – he just joins in a big gang rape.

"Once, there was a boy on the bus and everyone had sex with him," he told the Daily Mail. "I did it too but what else could I do? They invited me. And he was that kind of boy anyway." He says he’s raped 12 different children.

This wasn’t a solitary rapist, hiding in the shadows, afraid of being seen or being caught. This was men joining together, unworried about social norms, unworried about someone stopping them.

A poll of 1,800 Pakistani men found that a third don’t think raping street kids is a crime – and they don’t even think it’s a bad thing to do.

And then there’s so-called honour killings – where families kill their own daughters for social improprieties, real or perceived.

Every year close to 1,000 Pakistani girls are murdered by their own fathers, brothers or even mothers, for "moral indiscretions" ranging from going out on a date to dressing in western clothing to marrying the wrong man.

What a horrific duality -- a country that has normalized the rape of children, but would rather murder its own daughters than have embarrassing gossip about them.

No wonder so many Pakistanis are happy to emigrate. Put aside the ongoing terrorist civil war, put aside official discrimination against minority religions, such as Christianity or even other Muslim denominations like the Ahmadiyyas -- Pakistan drives out its best, those who want a better life, a life of freedom and peace and safety.Canada is the [UN]lucky recipient of many such immigrants. The Sun’s columnist Tarek Fatah is a perfect example of that – someone so Canadian he probably has maple syrup in his veins. But not all Pakistani immigrants prefer our liberal values to those of the Peshawar bus driver.

Aqsa Parvez was a young woman who was murdered by her father and her brother for the honour crime of dressing and acting like a Canadian teenager. They imported the worst of Pakistan to Mississauga.

Rotherham, UK, has received another import: mass rape gangs. Between 1997 and 2013, that city of just 250,000 had 1,400 girls – as young as 11 – systematically "groomed," raped and prostituted by Pakistani gangs. Fourteen-hundred out of a city of 250,000. The girls were white Christians; in the eyes of the Pakistani Muslim gangs, they were sub-human, like Pakistan’s own street orphans.

Rotherham police knew all about it. But they were paralyzed with fear – fear of being called racist if they dared to act. They found the mass rape of a generation of the city’s girls less intolerable than the risk of being called politically incorrect or "Islamophobic."

Back to Canada. Pakistan is the fourth largest source of immigrants to our country – nearly 100,000 in the past decade. Most of them are wonderful, peaceful Canadians, like Tarek. [Wanna bet?] But how many are like the Peshawar bus driver, or the Rotherham rape gangs, or Muhammad Parvez?

Pakistan, like some [ALL] other Muslim countries, has a rape problem. Perhaps before opening up the floodgates, we might want to do something as simple as asking a prospective immigrant for their views on women, rape and honour.

Why Muslims will Never be Civilized and Why Pakistan is the enemy of Civilization

The family of two Pakistani Christian teenagers, who were gang-raped at gunpoint in the Punjab Province by four Muslim men, is saying that they are being threatened by influential people in their village and warned not to press charges against the attackers.

The father of the two victims, Ilyas Masih, told police that his daughters, 16-year-old Sehrish and 14-year-old Farzana, went outside of their house in the village of Jaranwala during the middle of the night on Dec. 3 to go to the bathroom, since there are no bathrooms inside the house. But when the girls went outside, they did not return. The family began to frantically worry and filed a missing person's complaint with the local police, in which a search was launched to find them.

The two teens were found the next afternoon laying unconscious along the side of the road several miles away from their home village. The girls were taken to a hospital and later told police that a well-known local landlord and three other men had taken them at gunpoint, took them away and raped them.

In their statement to the police the girls alleged that a local landlord Muhammad Shabaz and his three accomplices abducted them at gunpoint and took them to a deserted place where they 'gang-raped us,'" a local police official told PTI.

A local pastor named Razaq, who was told of the details incident by the two girls and has tried to organize legal representation for the poor family, told GlobalNewsCentre.com that the men threatened to shoot the girls if they did not go with them. Razaq added that once they got to the deserted location, the men ripped the girls clothes off and gang-raped them "many times."

According to a report by Release International, an advocacy group speaking out for persecuted Christians, the family claims to have been threatened against pressing charges. Additionally, the family also claims that the local police have "obstructed attempts to gather medical evidence."

Partners with Release International have vowed to provide the girls with the medical and legal assistance they need. Razaq explained that Shahbaz and his three accomplices were all Muslim and had previously been accused of rape by another Christian family in the village. Razaq added that the other Christian family compromised on a settlement after being pressured by influential people in the village to drop the lawsuit. Razaq fears that Masih and his daughters will continue to face the same pressure to settle out of court.

The police official said that Shahbaz has already been arrested, as the police found him when they were searching the known hideouts of the other three men involved in the incident.

The two girls have been so traumatized by the incident, that they are afraid to leave the house to use the restroom, and instead are using buckets inside of their house. According to GlobalNewsCentre.com, The Pakistan Legal Evangelical Association Development is collecting donations so that they can install a bathroom inside of the girls' home.

The Release International report also indicates that many of its partners have reported a "sharp rise" in the number of Christian girls being attacked in Pakistan.

Release International cited another incident in the Punjab Province that occurred in late November where a 14-year-old Christian was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry her captor. Local Christians and Muslims are involved in negotiations to have the girl returned to her family, but, so far to no avail.

Also in Novembe Shoebat.com reported on a 16-year-old Christian girl who was tied and raped by six Muslim men, who owned the brick kiln where she is enslaved as a bonded laborer. In August, Fides reported on a 12-year-old Christian girl who was kidnapped by two Muslim men and three Muslim women and was later raped inside of a closed school by the men.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

From Harry

You are always showing us pictures and videos of your home state of Washington. It is beautiful and I still want to visit one day to experience the mighty Columbia and mountains like Rainer and St. Helens.

I want you to see the beauty of my home, Virginia. This video popped up on my Facebook page and I think it is pretty good, although it features the Hampton Rhodes area more than the north, center or western parts of the Old Dominion.

If you stop the video at 1:01 with the view of Richmond, and look at the top left-hand corner of the frame at the horizon, you can imagine that you can see my house beyond the western part of the city. It’s the one with a new roof we put on last year. Hugs, Harry

Sunday, December 14, 2014

From Harry!

Q: Why do mermaids wear seashells?
A: Because B-shells are too small, and D-shells are too big.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Moaning, Groaning, and a Pregnant Pixie

            I’ve spent endless hours in doctor’s offices lately. I think most doctors are witch doctors in disguise. They stick you in an MRI machine, and it looks all scientific. But it’s little more than shaking a rattle and tossing finger bones to read the signs.

            My relief is sipping hot coffee, nibbling lemon cake with lemon-vanilla frosting, and venting to my pet Scotsman or my coffee group or both. Knobby Knees is less intimidated by my coffee mob. He holds his own fairly well now. Considering the diverse and forward character of most of my regular mob of coffee drinkers, this is a huge male accomplishment.

            Things one learns while visiting doctors and their minions aren’t always pleasant. But I won’t discuss that today, except that I learned that losing a pound or six will make my doctor lecture me for thirty minutes without a breath. (I may have exaggerated.)

            I worked reduced hours on my “other job” this week to accommodate the doctors’ appointments. Did I mention that I don’t like doctors much? Oh, yes, I see I did.

            My writing partner got a nice bit of fan mail from someone who bought out book. He has a very large archive of relevant historical material and shared some of it with us. It’s always nice to get fan mail. I wish our books were selling faster than they are. People buy them in spurts. I do not have a feel for the way they’re selling. But they do sell. If people would leave reviews I’d be happier. You can leave a review of Separate Identity on google books. (books.google.com) But no one has. There are only two reviews on Amazon, both really nice, but still, there are only the two.

            One nice thing was finding out that we’ve gone from the bottom of the heap on one bookseller site (something like near a million down on their best seller list) to about sixty thousand. That leaves us way down in the pile, but what a jump! I’d like to see us in the top 100. Won’t happen, I suppose. But I’d still like it. On Amazon, where we have many competing books, we’re way down. But most of our books are sold by other sites. Almost none are sold through Amazon, which is not bad because Amazon take more than their fair share of the money. We had several issues with Amazon too. It takes forever to get them to fix anything.

            I’m chronically unhappy with the documentation we have. But things are improving some. I found a few newspaper articles, and I’m on the trail of some original documents.

            I sleep more than usual. And I have some trouble breathing. And I’m cold. I bought a heater for the downstairs bedroom. KK and I have moved into that room. It’s smaller than our bedroom, but I can’t climb stairs without difficulty. I’m dizzy. And I’ve taken some bad tumbles down the stairs. It doesn’t make sense to heat the entire house to eighty degrees (F), so I just heat my workroom. It keeps me comfortable. When I teach I wear a warm sweater. It helps some.

            We’re selling more of our research collection. Both my writing partner and I have medical bills that need attention. Aunt S. still owes about a thousand dollars on her hospital stay when she had her stroke. Insurance paid almost forty-thousand dollars; the rest is up to Uncle B to pay. So we’re selling six bound volumes of a magazine from the 1830s. They contain letters from Henry Grew. While we had planned on eventually writing a biography of Grew and his associates, it is now obvious that we never will. So we can sell these. We’re in negotiations for a private sale.

            I bought a really cheap stamp from Wurttemberg. (under a dollar) It made me totally happy. I’ve looked for it for ages. No one had it. A stamp dealer in Germany who knew I wanted it sold it to me. I enjoy a completed album page. Now I’ve filled another.

            One of my sisters is pregnant. This will be her second child. So, while it makes no sense for me to think about having another, I’ll get to play with her baby. It’s very clearly a girl. I’ve already been buying baby clothes. I suppose that’s silly. But I like being an aunty nearly as much as I like being a mommy.



Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Wonderland Trail

Permit to camp is required. The hike takes six to ten days, depending on the hiker's fitness. God made this land. And once upon a time a pixie and her pet Scotsman made a baby pixie on this hike and named her Elizabeth. The mountain you see is 14,408 feet.

Friday, December 05, 2014

From O. Reader

The Mousetrap

It is in the record books as the longest running play in theatre history – currently notching up its 63rd year in London.

I first saw it in the early 60s with my grandmother.

Then, when first married to Mrs O, we used to have cheap holidays in London at my mother’s home – and saw it together then.

Wind the clock forward to this, a special anniversary year – someone kindly gives us a present for our anniversary, which translated in theater tickets for a matinee performance by a touring company in South Wales.

In London I imagine the main audience is made up of foreign tourists scratching their heads and wondering why on earth this is such a phenomenon for the British?

In the South Wales theater matinee performance, it was “grey power” time. Well, blue rinse and bald head time. Since I currently sport neither I was in the minority. I actually felt quite young just looking around. It was very gratifying because I am now of an age where you remember being told to respect your elders, but find it increasingly difficult to find any!

But what can one say of this old creaking vehicle after more than 62 years?

Well, there is humor – there is suspense – and there is a lot of sheer ham – but as expected, the cast brought off very well... Almost at the start of the play a radio announces that the murderer they are looking for was seen wearing a dark overcoat, a light scarf and a dark felt hat... As it does so, a main character tidying up picks her husband’s clothes absent-mindedly off a chair – a dark overcoat, light scarf and dark felt hat...

It got the desired laugh, and things kept up well thereafter.

As always with touring productions, there was a generally unknown cast. The only name I knew was a radio actress, and she was here as an understudy. But their CVs showed various fringe theater efforts, small parts in TV programs, and in one case the proud boast of being the back end of a pantomime cow in a famous TV commercial.

And as always with touring productions, apart from the occasional thespian in the last throes of their “career” it was nearly all fresh faced youngsters not long out of drama school. Young people playing middle-aged or elderly people, even with the ministrations of stage make-up, never does work properly for me. Even in films it rarely works.  I can see me now watching the boy wonder Orson Welles in Citizen Kane playing the old Charles Foster Kane - he still looks like he’s got a face full of latex. Which he has.

The Mousetrap started life as a 30 minute radio play by Agatha Christie, who later expanded it for the stage. When I first discovered detective fiction, Agatha Christie was heralded as “The Queen of Crime.”  Later in life, I lived near her for a while.  Even later again I worked out that I had actually called at her home in Wallingford as part of my then activities. However, I never met her in person.

Even as a teenager and a pre-teen, I had an obsessive nature. So I remember clearly how I made a list of every book Agatha had written up until then, and ticked them off as I read them. There I was, sitting in the school corridor, lounging on the school playing fields – bedlam all around me, and me just reading, reading, reading. I remember how I ticked off number 36 and something snapped. I almost screamed out loud. I had gone down with a bad case of Agatha Christie overload.

I never touched another one until about two years ago, when in desperation late one night suffering from insomnia I found a free one online to put on my eReader as chewing gum for the eyes. I discovered I was now partially cured of the aversion.

Personally I prefer the stories as radio plays, and Mrs O has all the TV series on DVD video. Still, it was nostalgic to visit the theatre.

What was amusing was the collection of people around us – after the first half with its two acts, they all had theories as to who dunnit. It must have been a really well-kept secret for 62 years. Because what was particularly amusing is that they were ALL WRONG. Mrs O had forgotten who the murderer was. I hadn’t, but this WAS the THIRD time for me.

And I remember at the very end at the curtain call, what they did at every performance – a bit like Hitchcock did in the first showings of Psycho – a pact with the audience, don’t tell anyone the secret.

So – under pain of being struck down with an awful curse, the audience must not disclose WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. Well, I think that after 62 years the time has come to break the spell and use a venerable pixie blog to do it. Some readers may even have seen the play themselves – somewhere. So dear reader, either look away now or be prepared to learn that the killer really was.......



Monday, December 01, 2014

I even managed to impress myself: 4:01

Click to Mix and Solve

I'm tired of ...

I'm tired of dealing with really stupid people. My first post on the history blog has become a target of trolls. I removed it today. It wasn't essential to the blog; it was wrong in a minor detail. The visits and misuse will stop ... because it is gone for good.

People are increasingly hard to like.

The Pet

            So … I’m not writing much today. Well, not anything historical. I have pages of things to write for next semester’s classes. I started early this morning, and, unless I’ve forgotten something, I am done.

            My desk is now unusable, and I’ll spend the rest of the day putting my work room back into some sort of order. I want new curtains for my work room. It has two small and one large window. My desk sits in front of the large window. The smaller windows are over bookshelves.

            The curtains are striped, shades of green. Though they match the house’s historical period, they are ugly. I’m tired of looking at them. I may replace them with white blinds and lace sheers. I haven’t made up my mind yet. Window blinds of the style found in 1940 are very expensive. I may compromise and buy modern, narrower blinds.

            I asked for volunteers to run down some divorce papers from 1903, but no one came forward. I’ll start on that next week. So many essential things seem to be lost. I can’t find any issue of a paper called The Last Trump and all the key issues of Zion’s Day Star seem not to exist. There must be one copy out there somewhere. One of our history blog readers asked about them on a controversialist’s website but without result.

            Other than a brief biography in volume 1, we haven’t written much about an Arthur Adams. A. D. Jones was a thief and a pervert. But he is interesting. Adams makes my skin crawl. I read his 1882 book. We will quote from it, I think. But … well … ever pick up a book and feel as if you want to wipe your hands clean after? That’s how I feel toward his 1882 book. Jones, for all his colorful behavior, represents a very ordinary wickedness. Adams touched Satan’s face. But, despite my personal feelings, we’ll just tell the story as it happened. I don’t have to like the people we write about, just tell the documented truth about them.

            I wrote a short story called Too Soon Goodb’ye once upon a time. It was published in Mebra Disjecta, a now defunct web magazine and republished on this blog. There is more reality in it than fiction.

            I’m experiencing the same stressed and melancholy mood that I portray in the story. My complex of seizures produces odd effects. I sometimes ‘hear’ my own name. That’s characteristic of one type of seizure. When I was a child and going to religious meetings with my mother, one of the Elders suggested I was demonized. That upset my mother who though a Bible believer was very practical. It offended me. It made me cry.

           I see things. I know they’re not real, and this too is common symptom of this complex of seizures. I’m not going mad, my brain is misfiring.

            There are issues that my doctors explain with guesses. I’m not going to describe them; I can’t do them justice with words. But they are frightening. I don’t like the experience.

            Life is grim sometimes. I can see that I’m on my way back to doctors. (Did I mention that I don’t LIKE doctors.) I can feel myself shutting down.

One of my favorite imaginative artists