Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High Adventure by Guma

I don't know who this artist really is. There is a Brazilian artist with no talent who uses the same name. Obviously not the person who painted these pictures.

O. Reader on the Musical Life

             Roberto asked me to explain how my country, music, tradition and religion have influenced me.
             Those are big questions. To coin a phrase from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy - the answer is 42.
            My religion must have influenced me considerably since I’ve worked full-time for a certain group since 1961 in a bewildering variety of roles. In Rachael’s eyes that must make me VERY OLD. (In a “this is your life” convention interview I once cracked the joke that I started when I was three... Well, at least the audience laughed). And as well as “old” you could probably add “odd” since few who work full-time like this also raise a family, buy a home, run a business (with special dispensation) and do all the “normal” stuff. Many do it for a bit when they’re young and have fewer responsibilities, but then other things in life take over. I managed to balance the lot successfully, with only one mantra - if my choices made sacrifices necessary (as obviously they did at times) then if anyone went without, I did, not the family. So I look back and am pleased with the choices I made and how things worked out. And the family are pleased.
            But I can only speak for myself. One thing I learned as life trundled on is that we all have free will and I must respect the views of others. When younger, with the impertinence and impatience of youth, I maybe didn’t achieve that too well. But I learned that while I’ve a right to argue my point of view, so do they. I must be a good listener. Sadly some people don’t think things through and run away from discussion or debate, but again, I have to respect that’s their right. When writing about views that I disagree with, I still like to get the input on the other side and have often run the text past them before publishing. And when correspondents come back and say I have been “fair” then for me that becomes an important complement. But it is a balancing act, and depending on the context of the discussion, I still won’t water down beliefs that I hold dear.
             As to music? We have very eclectic tastes here. I grew up with classical music, and went through rock and roll and blues and skiffle and folk. (I may do a rambling post on the British phenomena of skiffle at some time. All those earnest young men playing three chords and trying none too successfully to whine a Leadbelly song while growing out a most unsuccessful straggling beard. The Beatnik movement sort of followed in Britain, where you didn’t even need the guitar and the dodgy singing voice... But I digress, that is maybe for another time...).
            I probably play folk music more than any other, but in my younger days concentrated on American folk rather than home-grown British. If nothing else, America has such a mixed culture in its vastness and mass immigration, there was so much variety there. However, in more recent times, I have come to appreciate the home grown variety more. But there are some songs that bring me - the original hardened cynic - to tears. There are some songs I learned to sing and then found - fortunately just in time - that I just couldn’t sing them in public. A grown man - a sort of elderly grown man - bursting into tears is a sure way to kill a folk club sing-around stone dead. Believe me - I’ve seen it happen. But so far, not to me. Not yet.
            Of course a lot of folk songs are very political. The greatest of over-simplification is that country music veers towards the right, and folk music towards the left - even when they sing the same songs. American Tom Lehrer parodied it rather well I seem to remember. But I don’t do politics so don’t have to agree with the sentiments on any side. However, I can still appreciate a neat lyric that expresses a point of view. And in folk music lyrics touch on things you just wouldn’t find in other styles of music.
            How has my country influenced me? - that’s British of course, but almost adopted Welsh now. Well, as noted above I don’t do politics, but Britain has an interesting history. As the empire shrank and disappeared, the country was forced to become multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-language - far more than my parents and grandparents generations could ever imagine. It may create problems in some areas, particularly in some parts of some cities where religion divides, but the general mix when compared with the country and the London of my youth is something I enjoy. I love having friends of many nationalities; most of whom were born here and in many cases had parents who were born here. A bit like America really if you go back far enough. And my own experiences abroad have convinced me that the British National Health Service, for all its faults and abuses of the system, is something to really be thankful for.
            And the influence of tradition? I love the British tradition for old-fashioned detective fiction. Even with characters of cardboard I love solving puzzles, but many modern authors have lifted the form into something more. I love humor in literature - and the same goes for movies. I love the British capacity for parody and self deprecation. This is not just a reaction to an empire going down the tubes, it goes back to Trollope and Austen and Dickens and the satire of Swift before. But modern British humor doesn’t always translate well. At least, mine doesn’t. So I’ve found...  But hey ho - “C’est la Vie.” Or words to that effect...
            And just to see if Rachael has read any of this with our slightly different linguistic traditions - LONG LIVE THE PASSIVE VOICE.  I’ll end on that. It’s what we call here - living dangerously...

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Nap, or God Invented Naps and Sunggles

Story challenged. No prize other than the satisfaction of writing. Tell me this story!

Friday, June 09, 2017

O. Reader on People Watching and Politics

Occasional on the British election

            As those who actually know me will attest, I don’t do politics. I remain “neutral” for specific conscientious reasons. BUT - I do enjoy watching human nature. It appears to me that in British politics (and no doubt many other places) vast numbers of people make choices on the physical appearance or characteristics of the politician. That may be very unfair, but tough - that’s the way it is. And political parties choose their leaders, not because they are seen as the overwhelming favourite, but because either no-one else wanted the job, or it was part of some hasty plot to keep somebody else out.
            When Margaret Thatcher ruled with an iron handbag, the leader of the opposition for a while was Neil Kinnock. There was one election where, according to the pundits he should have won. But Kinnock was Welsh - VERY Welsh - and though it is rather gentle and understated, there is still a residue of English snobbery about being VERY Welsh. Even more to the point he had the misfortune to fall over on a beach during a photo shoot. The camera shutters gleefully went click, click, click. That fixed him.
            A later Labour leader (I’ll spell it the UK way this time) Ed Milliband probably lost as badly as he did because he reminded people of Wallace (from the cartoon series Wallace and Gromit) and that was a cartoonist’s dream. He also had an unfortunate experience with a bacon sandwich in a photo-shoot. Add to that an election gimmick of a huge monolith with carved promises like the Ten Commandments - billed by the press as the Ed-Stone and mercilessly lampooned - and he was done for.
            The current Labour leader Jeremy Corbin didn’t want to be leader at all - his forte was very much on the back benches - but he was chosen by default. (Very much like John Major replaced Margaret Thatcher for the Conservatives to keep her rival Michael Hessletine - nicknamed Tarzan - out.) No-body thought Corbin had a hope of doing as well as he did in the present election, and now they have got him they will have trouble replacing him if he doesn’t want to go.
            And the issues? Brexit? There was an own goal if ever there was one. The Conservative’s David Cameron had a referendum to keep his party “happy” after they scraped through an election - although at least not having to rely on a coalition as before - confident he would win. And of course the people CHOSE. The Welsh chose to leave Europe - but that was overwhelming a desire to get at Cameron and his party. The vast sums of money thrown at Wales by Europe as a poor country is unlikely to be repeated by a government in London. By the time realization dawns there will of course be someone else on the horizon to blame.
            So though I don’t do politics, I do enjoy watching the TV on election night. All the weaving and diving and spinning disasters into sort of successes. The famous who lose their seats. The steely eyed politicians who have miscalculated and as was once memorably said about Judy Garland, “seized defeat from the jaws of victory...”
            It annoys my family no end. So I’ll retreat back into my genuine neutrality and see what the papers say. Especially the cartoonists.

Politics is full of surprises:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Harry being Gramps

Warning! Child Spoiling Grandpa

My grandchildren, Maggie and Corbin spent the night a few days ago.  It's hard to believe they are turning 6 at the end of this month. They are twins and they were born early, which is not uncommon. They spent their first month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital. They grew fast and by their first birthday they were on track for normal growth based on pediatric norms.

In the first 18 months everything seemed normal. They crawled, learned to walk, and climb into/onto things where they could get into trouble. But my wife started noticing things. With 34 years of teaching children with special needs, she began noticing differences in Corbin. Where he had started using words, he stopped. He was more disconnected to his surroundings, focusing on one thing that would hold his attention. We suspected he was having hearing problems, but that was eventually ruled out. Trains fascinated him. Thomas the Tank Engine being his favorite, and he loved playing with our iPads.

Finally Jayne convinced our daughter to have him tested. He is autistic. The school district that they live in has lots of educational programs so at age 3 Corbin started his school career. Both children are in kindergarten programs this year, but alas, in different schools. Both schools are within a mile of their home, but it means twice as many meetings with teachers and field trips.

Maggie is so smart. She probably will be in the gifted program next year. Besides playing with dolls she loves LEGOs. I encourage her to build her own designs and not just build from plans. I want her to develop spatial reasoning. Boys have long excelled there, but there is no reason girls can't excel in it as well. I challenge her with math and science thru LEGOs.

Maggie plays well alone, but she prefers to be with others (and the center of attention). She is very social. We take her and her brother to our local Kid’s Museum every week. It is filled with play activities sponsored by local businesses. There is a malt shop where children can dress up and play waitress or waiter and serve you plastic food, a theatre with lots of costumes, auto repair shop, ambulance, grocery store, not to mentions slides, climbing toys, and arts area, and so much more. Anyhow Maggie searches out groups of children to play with and has a great time until we tell her it is time to go.

Corbin has a great kindergarten teacher this year. He’s non-verbal, but we are making progress. He is beginning to use words although sometimes it is hard to understand what his words are. Most reading programs used in schools now are on computers or tablets, which Corbin loves. The trouble is he wants to do his own thing on them. His teacher dug into her bag of tricks and is using a reading program that was popular 20 years ago where the child matches word with objects/colors on cards. He is making progress.

There is no doubt to me that he is just as smart as any child his age. He loves books and he likes you to read to him. He pays attention and turns the pages when you finish the text on it. He even fusses at me when I start to adlib a story. The boy is smart. That is evidenced by all the ways he knows how to get into trouble. He is a born Houdini. There is a reason that there is a deadbolt and chain on the doors. He can’t reach the chain… yet. He loves the water. The Kid’s Museum has a splash zone he loves to play in. Recently he discovered the water fountain feature of our home refrigerator. He doesn’t use a cup. He just stands there and giggles and the puddle spreads across the floor.

So as you can guess, since my retirement Corbin and Maggie have become a big part of my life. I really can’t imagine a better way to spend my time.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Comments problems

The problem some encountered with leaving comments seems to have been fixed.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Songs were Extremely Rude. It was all so Very British

by O. Reader

Buxton part 2
            The reason we came to Buxton was a folk festival, but unlike the usual events held in fields with muddy campsites and suspect “rest rooms” and the like, this was held in a couple of theaters, with a huge “beer tent” erected between them.
            It obviously had a different “feel” to the usual, least of all was the actual comfort enjoyed by ourselves - and we have got to an age where comfort sort of rates high on the totem pole.
            I missed the stalls selling organic food and hippy beads, and offering tantric osteopathic experiences. I missed the sing-arounds, where people with voices like bathwater escaping could still make their mark. And I missed the open mikes where young hopefuls could have their 15 minutes of infamy and the club tents. Paul Simon appeared at the club tent at one of the first Cambridge Folk Festivals, and look where he went from there.
            So it was probably more a series of official concerts in halls including the beautifully decorated Buxton Opera House, which dates from the Victorian era, where we had previously been for several years’ worth of Gilbert and Sullivan festivals in the past.
            But it was a bit incongruous with the music and the audience. You looked around you in the circle balcony. Loads of grey rinsed perms and bald heads could be seen jigging about in unison, forming a sort of Mexican wave along the rows. You half expected some octogenarian to throw himself into a spot of crowd surfing, being propelled over the heads of the audience before disappearing over the side of the balcony to land with a thud in the stalls below.
            But it WAS nice to have reserved seats. Incongruous, but nice. And it really was nice to sleep in a bed rather than in a sleeping bag on the floor of a tent.  
            There were two extra events that we will remember. On the Sunday morning they organized a walk. About 200 turned up. It was billed as a gentle stroll, but this was organized by fanatics who walk ten miles and then do a gig. We climbed UP (and I mean UP) to a folly called Solomon’s Temple, and there a choir who had walked with us with banners sang some political songs that were also extremely rude. It was all so very British.
            Mrs O declined to go on the walk, but I went with daughter and son-in-law.
            Then straight after, ones aching bones were abused still further by a Ceilidh. This is a sort of country dance, barn dance - dunno what you would call it in the States. It featured a band and a “caller” who gave you directions. Country dancing - a blast from the past - involves mass groups of people swinging around and stepping on toes, and forever changing partners, sort of getting their hands on all manner of different people - probably the main reason for it as a social activity in the pre-movie-radio-TV-internet age. They attempted what they called the largest example of a dance called “strip the willow” which involves large numbers swinging around in unison - a bit like an old Shaker meeting gone wrong. And did this go wrong! Large numbers of people on collision course in hysterics. That it happened in the “beer tent” where dozens of different ales were available for consumption probably had nothing to do with it. Yeah. Sure.      As for the music? Some was good, some very good, some I could happily never hear again. I did note with sudden perception that many younger performers don’t know what to do with their hands. I find this a problem with public speaking, but having something in your hand helps. For singers it can be a mike or a guitar, even if you don’t actually play the latter. Without it, you get some who jig around with stiff arms like a demented glove puppet - or you have John Jones of the Oyster Band with arm and hand movements so choreographed you would think he was giving you a master class in deaf-signing while he sang.
            The headliner was a group called The Levellers, which may mean nothing outside the UK, and even then outside a specific niche in the UK. But in the 1990s they had the biggest selling album of the decade in Britain. Yet it never made the charts, but 16 year anti-social left-wing-leaning teenagers loved it, and it steadily sold and sold. They were very professional, very funny, very political but full of the self deprecation that characterizes many Brits, which other nations sometimes find hard to understand. They brought the house down. Forget the reference to crowd surfing above, by the end of their set all those in the stalls were standing and dancing, and many in the circle where we were. I mean, they interrupted our view of the stage! Attempts to stem the tide were futile. And this was “The Opera House.” Nice one.
            So it’s goodbye to Buxton and home to responsibility and seriousness and all that sort of stuff. Ho hum.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


            Almost no-one who reads this blog cares much about our history books, maybe two or three do. But it’s my blog and if I want to agonize over our current work, I will. So Thupp!
            First, my computer killed – sent off into the realm of lost electrons – a major portion of work. I got a few lines back. And I’ve started over. This isn’t as bad as it seems. The new version is better and less cluttered. But the work is slower going. That’s mostly because I’ve changed order and emphasis. I’m unhappy at the pace. But I have to work around being so sick I can’t stand myself.
            I think the private history blog is a failure. We invited people we thought would comment. What we ended up with is the same set of intellectual parasites and a few committed commenters. Probably I expect too much from blog readers.
            I watched my youngest daughter’s dance group rehearse. Two of them have real talent. One of them is umm flexible. I mean really flexible. I suppose I used to be too, though at nearly forty, I no longer am. The dance troupe’s choreographer tends to make the dances more erotic than is appropriate for young teens, but that’s not uncommon.
            My pet Scotsman is working on the irrigation system. It’s fairly old, so sprinkler heads need replacing. We usually wait until one fails totally. Replacing them all would have cost bunches. When he’s done today, all of them will have been replaced within the last three years.

            My oldest sister sends us a care package every so often: Candy, cookies, sometimes clothes, especially pajamas I like. Her latest came today. That’s always fun. Kat claimed open-the-package rights.

            I got rid of our old coffee maker [Proctor-Silex] because the pot dribbles, and I’m tired of wiping coffee spills off the counter. The new one is Black and Decker, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

            I’ve been up for hours. A serious nap is in order.

            The school district superintendent called with a job offer. I declined. I’m not well enough to return to work, and ... they employee idiots with whom I do not wish to work.

            Oh ... and this morning when I drove out to feed the goats I decided to walk along the river bank. Understand, there is a high chain link fence between our pasture and the high water mark. The navigable river act gives public access to the bank. So I’m on the other side of the fence walking, looking at the gravel and rocks. I usually find something interesting. Today I found a Native American stone fish weight, a modern dime, an agate, and a tangle of fishing line with lure and weights. I also slipped off a rock and soaked myself up to my knees. The water is still very cold. It stays icy well into summer. So, I scramble out of the water, slip again and end up soaked head to toe.
            Fortunately, we have an old washer and dryer out there. I plunked my soaked clothes in the washer, showered up in the little stone house, sipped hot coffee and watched the barges pass.   

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bruxton by O. Reader

Bruxton, about 1890


            I like the little town of Buxton. It was a Spa Town that gained huge popularity in the Georgian era, home to the gentry who wanted to take the waters. As fashions historically changed it went down the drain as it were, before coming back up as a tourist area for walkers and climbers in the Peak District.
            We came here for several years running for the Gilbert and Sullivan festivals. My grandfather used to put on these Victorian operettas at the Bradford Alhambra Theatre. It was how he and my grandmother met. So there was a family tradition for this, coupled with a natural liking for British satire and silliness. But then the organizers fell out with the local council over money and took the whole festival further north to Harrowgate.  Harrowgate is a nice town, but even further away from where we live. And looking after an elderly mother meant we couldn’t get away as before.
            But after a gap we have come back here for a folk festival. Actually, a sort of geriatric type of folk festival. The artistes are nearly all drawing their pension, and as for the audience - well, I feel positively young in comparison. So mud and paint and tents and chemical toilets have somehow lost their appeal, and the music is in a proper theater, with actual reserved seats, and a sedate beer tent next door, and nice self-catering apartments - yes, that’s where we are at.
            Buxton has a very fine second-hand bookshop, which is a bit of dying breed in the UK at the moment. Scrivners has five floors, numerous poky little rooms, winding staircases, and is probably a health and safety death trap. I spent a very happy time there this morning, although I didn’t buy anything. I have reached the point where I am selling more than buying, and have very specific lists of what I want. There were several things I would have bought in times past, covering film history, music history, theology, but now so much information is on the internet. It’s a strange rite of passage, going into a bookshop and coming out with nothing.
The same was true of the charity shops. For a quite well-heeled place - ritzy hotels and the main supermarket being Waitrose (probably only Brits would understand the connotation) there were a surprisingly large number of charity shops. It did mean that they contained some good gear rather than junk that a shop should pay YOU to take away. But even here, we didn’t get anything. Books? The same problem as for Scrivners. DVDs? We have so many that there was nothing worth having. Talking books? A few, but we had them all. Clothes? Well, I don’t do clothes. Well, I mean, I do do clothes, but begrudge replacing them. And Mrs O didn’t find anything either.
            What is most memorable are the conversations in the shops. You don’t normally go into a second-hand bookshop to hear a lady inquire whether they have any books written by Jane Eyre..? And the personal problems involving relationships and gynaecology that were being handled full blast in a North Country accent in several charity shops was most entertaining. Now I can do a passable North Country accent - it’s that distant Bradford connection - but I can’t do it here, and anyway, this blog is supposed to be PG. All I can say is women over a certain age in Buxton seem to have loud voices, few inhibitions, and unfortunate personal problems.
            So we’ve wandered around the park, had photos taken on the bandstand, wined and dined and nodded off in the chair, and now this evening there is the music.
            Yes, I remember, that’s what we came here for. Wasn’t it?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'd disattisfied with this and not sure why

Section Six

            The only seat left was next to a little girl. She was blond with eyes so darkly blue he thought they were black. A second look changed his opinion. They were definitely blue.
            “Whatcha reading?” he asked.
            She displayed the title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
            “I read that when I was about your age,” he said. “Any good?”
            “You mean, do I like it? Yes ... But fairies aren’t like this.” She nodded to the open book.        
            “What are fairies like, then?”
            “Nasty,” she said. She cut off the conversation by slipping off her chair and approaching the receptionist.
            He didn’t hear her question, but the receptionist’s answer was clear enough. “About ten more minutes,” she said. The girl nodded and resumed her seat.
            He fished in his inside suit pocket for the memo. “Robert,” it read, “You are tentatively assigned to Section Six, an inter-agency project. Details will be provided when you interview. Final approval is dependent on the interview and training. Best of luck.”

            “Are you here for the interviews?” He laughed at this. It was meant as a joke.”
            “I’m waiting for Mr. Scott.” she said. Her answer ignored humor. It was a statement of fact that did not answer his question. It was a conversation killer.   
            She wiggled in her seat. He was an elementary teacher for eight years before being recruited. He knew that wiggle. A bathroom was in order.
            “What’s your name?” He tried again.
            “Tabitha Darkblood,” she answered.
            “I’m Robert.”
            “Excuse me,” she said.

            She pointed to the restroom door. “I’ll tell him,” the receptionist said.

            Robert noticed things without being obvious. It was a gift, honed by training. Counting the little girl, there were eight people seated in the reception area. One wore a lieutenant commander’s uniform. He was navy. One wore a police uniform, but not from D.C. Robert was uncertain from where. The rest wore suits of varied quality, one of which cost as much as he made in a week. The rest were off the rack. Shoes were shined.

            He closed his eyes, not exactly dozing, but listening to the eternal buzz. A door opened. He listened.
            “Gentlemen,” a voice said. “If you would come this way ...”

Chapter two
            Robert found a seat in the second row. The room resembled a cheaply furnished junior college classroom. Two seats to each narrow table. A white board at the front. A desk. Counters and cabinets against the back wall. Two empty bookshelves.
            “This isn’t Men in Black, is it?” one of them quipped.
            “No, sorry, it isn’t. I’m Brian Scott, section coordinator. Your supervisors have selected you as best for our needs.”
            “So we’re the best of the best?” It was the same clown.
            “No,” Scott said. “Typically, those sent to us are losers. People that don’t fit – that think and behave in ways that mark them as underperformers. You’ve expressed politically or socially incorrect views. You believe improbable conspiracy theories. You don’t tie your shoes. You don’t wear socks.”
            Two of them looked at their feet. One grinned slightly.
            “Can you tell us what Section Six is – does?” This came from the policeman.
            “Briefly ... Section Six is an inter-governmental and inter-agency response team. We respond to unusual situations ...”
            Tabitha interrupted this by swinging the door open and climbing up on a chair, then onto the desk.
            “Glad you could join us,” Mr. Scott said.
            She nodded. “Potty,” she said.
            “So I understand. I was just explaining our mission.” She nodded again, and he continued. “Sometimes we investigate events of national or international importance, though the usual agencies are normally used for that. ... But there are times when, when things happen ... there are events that seem out of the ordinary. Those are our field.”
            Robert scratched his head, rubbed his nose. “This is an x-files kind of operation?”
            “I suppose there’s a vague comparison,” Scott said. “We don’t chase down aliens. But we do pursue the unusual.”
            “Such as ...?” This from the policeman.
            Scott thumbed papers on a clipboard. “Officer Patterson ...?”
            Patterson answered with a nod and a, “yes, that’s right.”
            “On the night of July third last, you responded to a disturbance at an abandoned warehouse on Wellhead Loop. You found a dead cat, a dead transient, and a limping dog. Describe the transient, please.”
            “He was dead; what else is there to say?”
            “Your report says he was ‘chewed.’”
            Patterson nodded.
            “It also says that the bite marks weren’t from the dog.”
            “As my captain pointedly said, I’m no expert.”
            “Tell us what else you saw ...”
            “It’s in my report.”
            “Yes, it is. And this is the kind of thing we investigate.”

            A few seconds of silence followed. The man in the expensive suit shifted in his chair. “My name is Davis. I’m an intelligence analyst. ... I saw a dragon once. It was a mistake to tell anyone that.”
            “I can imagine,” one of them said.

            “There are things out there,” Scott said, his words on the edge of the inaudible. “Things in which it is uncomfortable to believe. ... Let me ask you this ... Do you believe in fairies?”
            Snickers traveled the room. “My gramma did,” one of them said.
            “But do you?”
            A pause, and then, “Yes ... I saw one once.”
            Heads shook, a titter came from someone in the back row.

            “Gentlemen,” Scott said, “let me introduce you to Tabitha Darkblood. You probably noticed her in the lobby.”
            Robert nodded, grinned.          
            “Tabitha is here to illustrate my point. She will also further your training. Not everyone will succeed. Those who do not meet her standard will return to their previous duties without prejudice. ... If you would, Miss Darkblood. ...
            Tabitha stood on the desk, taking a slow turn as if modeling a dress. She favored pink. Her short skirt was pink, her knee socks a darker pink. Her blouse had two slits in the back. She wore black Mary Janes. Her hair was cut long, to the shoulder blades. She smiled. Her eyes reflected the ceiling light.
            And then her wings blossomed.

            “Nice trick,” the back row man said.

Thinking about the pet dragon ...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just because I like it

Life with the Dragon: Pixie Family Album part 2

"I wouldn't worry about the dragon. It's the Pixie that's the problem."

"Yes, Dear, he's the one."

Perils of Dragon Parenthood: "Yes, Kat, it's a very pretty dress, but it's way too short for school, and it's not raining."

Life with the dragon: A Pixie Family Album

In no particular order, these 'family photos' illustrate my life with my pet, shape-shifting dragon.

First Date: A contented dragon

Newly Married: Lots of Snuggles

You really need to stop getting spit in my ear!

Sure. Fly off to work and leave me to make the bed ...

Melting her Dad's Heart

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Random Thoughts, Or Pixies, Religion, Sex and Dragons

            Be prepared. This is another rambling post with almost no meaningful content.

            I lost significant work even though it was backed up. Both files went “poof.” My task, should I care to accept it, is to recreate it all today. But ... I’m writing this instead.
            Three of my daughters, the three oldest, are committed to a socially conservative, authoritarian religion. I don’t object. They’re mature enough to make that decision. Last night was their only Holy Day. They celebrate communion annually, arguably Jesus’ intent. I often attend that meeting. I write about this group. So I have some interest in their meetings, even though I write about their fairly distant past.
            The speaker’s name was Oscar. I know him from some years ago. He’s one of the few university educated among their pastors. He is not a fluent speaker, but he’s a personable one. Their public prayers are ritualized. Jesus prayed to his ‘father.’ They pray to their “dear heavenly Father, Jehovah God.” I think they believe that many words, flowery words, make their prayer more acceptable. Oscar prayed last. It was the highpoint of the evening. It’s not that he isn’t afflicted by the same stilted vocabulary, but his prayer was heartfelt, personal. It was something to which every Christian, no matter how they differ in doctrine, could say Amen.
            One of their pastors never fails to be offensive. We had a brief conversation, and I fended off his personal questions. He believes he should control all others. He’s an organization man in the guise of a pastor. That’s not uncommon among this group. Their opinions matter more than scripture.

            Goat Boy [AKA my husband] is working from home for the next few days with his phone turned off. Apparently there’s a significant contract available. He’s working on the bid. I’ll distract him only a little. He’s more than just Goat Boy. He’s also, when the mood strikes, a shape-shifting Dragon.
            I’ve told the girls to leave him alone while he’s working. (Two of them are home with some virus.) If there’s any distracting to do, I’ll do it, thanks.

 Distracting the Dragon

            If it doesn’t rain, our shoot it up group will meet and distance shoot. I’ll bring my 45-70 Highwall this time.

            I found some worked agate this morning. It was poking out of the pasture. These are roughly worked arrowheads, never finished things. They show up in pockets. Whoever worked them set them aside for later. They’re really lovely. I have an iron kettle full of similar. I’ll add these to the pot. Not long after we bought the land we found a lovely spear. The University of Idaho came out and worked the summer in out pasture. It was exciting.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Just Because I like It

Evil Washing Machines, Peeves, Writing History

            I’m in the process of closing down our history blog. The prime reason is abusive comments from a few readers, but there are other reasons as well. I won’t go into those. They’re secondary. Well, maybe I will discuss that later. We’ll see.
            The old washing machine goes bye-bye on Tuesday. [That’s tomorrow.] The new one is supposed to arrive same day. We had to remove a door to get the old one out. I did that all by myself with the help of my trusty screw driver and little hammer. I’ll probably need help putting the door back. 

            I’ve been peevish for days. I don’t like it when people present alternatives to my decisions. They’re mine to make. People who do that usually start by saying something such as, “Well, it is your choice, but ...” Rarely, someone who does that has a good idea. Usually, they just wish I was more like them. I’m happy being me, bad decisions and all.
            I’m tired of political moronism, political opinions based on feelings instead of thought. You can think differently than I do. But if your ‘feelings’ about right and wrong are based on the idiotic idea of equivalence, then I won’t like you much. I’m tired of self-entitled authority figures. LEO’s should not break the law to enforce it. Pastors are not God’s gift to mankind. Educators should educate, not put their personal opinions in place of parental judgment. Not every personal preference someone might have is an automatic right. I may want to throttle your sister, but it’s not my right to do so, no matter how good it might make me feel.
            Calling me names because of political difference will displease me. I probably won’t forgive you in the absence of an abject apology. The same is true if you call my friends names or insult them.
            My peeves are accentuated by my declining health. I can’t stay warm, even with the heating blanket turned up as high as it will go.

Other things:

            Since her stroke, my aunt blurts out what ever comes to mind. Sometimes what she says hurts others’ feelings. No-one seems to have a remedy except understanding and tolerance.
            Our research frustrates me. We’re writing two chapters that should be straightforward narrative. Some of the original source material leaves me with questions that we will probably not address. One reoccurring question is, “How can otherwise rational people believe this stuff?” The answer is multifaceted, sometimes nonexistent.
            I have an increasing dislike for several of the main characters. It won’t keep me from writing accurate history, and I hope my distaste does not show.  That’s not accurate. I don’t care if my personal distaste shows, as long as we write accurate narrative. I mean that I don’t want to be accused of unfairness.
            I have a mixture of suspicion and repulsion. One of these guys was an obvious fornicator. We have not reached the point of absolute proof, so we won’t say P* was a child-abusing creep. Of the three or four most prominent in this history, none of them was rational when it came to self. They all believed they were God’s special messenger, the bearer of advanced spiritual light. This derives from Christian Mysticism. We have to identify that as an antecedent belief system. We haven’t decided if we do that in this volume or in the next.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Madness of Pixes Part 178

We can title this post “The Mad Plan.”

            Those who read this blog regularly know I collect stamps, write history and herd children. Oh and raise goats, French Alpines to be exact. And if you don’t regularly read my blog, you now know ...

Goat Girl in her Element

            I don’t have a huge amount of money to spend on stamps, but patience sometimes brings stellar stuff my way. I have a generalist collection in the old Scott brown International Albums [1849-1940] and individual country collections for Austria, Germany and France. My Austria collection brought me a gold medal at an APS exhibit. But I’ve concentrated on my Germany collection for several years. I’m proud of it.
            We’re always in need of money to pay research expenses. Original research is often an expensive proposition. For example, we traced an 1881 booklet to a university in Georgia. A photocopy cost me over fifty dollars. It was an obscene fee. But they own the only known copy, and it’s key to part of the story we tell.
            We raise money through yard sales; we use royalty money from the sale of our already published books. We receive an occasional small donation. But we’re always in need for money.

Killing two birds with one stone ...

            So ... I’m off on ebay, ignoring the racket my girls are making, and LO! I find a lot of stamps on album pages. They’re German stamps. I have all of these but two. Some stamp dealers do not describe large lots. They post pictures and leave everything up to you. I always look closely, sometimes copying the dealer’s pictures into my photo editor for a better look. This lot had been bid up to ten dollars. I usually spend that or less.
           Most of it is common, things I have; some are ‘second choice’ stamps. But, there are three, maybe four [Bad photo], that are very expensive. Two of them I do not have. The key stamp is a Bavaria ‘Reich’ overprint in type II. So I bid. In the hours before the auction ends a minor bidding war starts. It ends with me winning. Total cost with postage is forty US dollars. I cringe, but I know very well that I can break this lot down into individual lots and probably [very probably] raise two hundred dollars. It’s worth the work. I end up with two pricey stamps I’d probably never own otherwise. [Scott Cat. about $500.00] And I replenish our research fund.
            Some pages I can sell as is. Some stamps will need a gentle soak to remove soil and old stamp hinges. But, dear heart, our research account is at less than ten dollars and I need to buy stuff. So that’s my mad plan.

 The 4 Mark stamp is Type II. I don't have this one in type II, or didn't. Now it's mine.

Other insanity.

            Probably no-one who reads this blog is really interested in my re-do the house project. I have boxes and baskets of things piled up near the foot of the south stairs, all of which need to be sorted. That’s this week’s project. Much of this is yard sale or Goodwill Store bound. A long-time friend has fallen into need. I’ve sorted out sheets and pillows for her. I gave her our extra vacuum. [Pet man bought me a new one.] The pillows are new, not used. I bought them hoping they’d give me some support post surgery. They’re nice and fluffy but they hurt my neck. So I have four pillows to give her if she wants that many.

            A good pillow is a life essential.