Saturday, April 29, 2017

Soaked



            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



Buxton

            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.