Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tabitha Darkblood ... New start

            “Okay,” he said. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Attack!”

            It began innocently enough – well, as innocently as these things ever do – with a visit to Edward Teller’s School for Advanced Swordsmanship. Teller was gold medal winner twice over, once for fencing and once for saber fighting. Gold medals aren’t worth much if they don’t lead to fame and fortune. His didn’t. So he opened a school and eked out a living teaching wanabe Olympians.
            Well ... so he did better than mere eking. Well enough to hire two other teachers.
            But Tabitha and Charlotte came for Mr. Teller’s lessons not lessons from second raters. And so it was. ...

            “I don’t teach children,” Teller said. It was a firmly stated ‘no.’
            “She’s had lessons,” Charlotte said. “She just needs a brush up. Some practice.”
            Tabitha sat erect, quiet, her hands holding an plain wooden box. She said nothing.
            Teller had a finely developed sense of money. Charlotte hadn’t said so, but he thought ‘grandmother.’ Grandmother had a ruby and diamond tennis bracelet that probably cost more than he made in five years. Tabitha’s clothes were plain but obviously expensive.
            “Come, girl,” he said.
            They followed him down the hall, turned to the left and found themselves in the practice hall.
            “Pick one,” Teller said. He motioned toward a rack of swords and sabers.
            Tabitha went from sword to sword, touching one, then another.
            “Pick one, girl,” he repeated.

            “My name is Tabitha Darkblood,” she said. “And I have my own.”
            She opened the box and paused to look. The sword nestled within deserved a look. Its blade was polished, flawless and mirror-like. But black. Black as night.  The hilt was  black leather wrapped with spiraling silver wire.
            When she lifted it from its case, the sword sang as swords do.


Saturday, July 22, 2017


So ... we made our way through darkened streets, past our favorite all night dinner place without stopping [Damn it], then down a river road to 'the gate.' At the gate we entered our code [there's a scanner for a prox card, but guess who forgot to bring it.] The gate retracted, and goat boy drove his spiffy, newly-washed truck through, stopping just beyond to wait for the gate to cycle closed.

The river is seldom glassy smooth, but it has its moments. This morning it reflects the moon perfectly. We drive on. Gravel crunches under our tires. We cross a short narrow bridge. And we arrive. Goat boy opens our pasture gate. It locks with a chain and an Abloy lock.

I make breakfast. Oatmeal with an obscene amount of butter and maple. We eat it outside. This is our 'hot' time of year but at five a.m. it's on the cool side. There is coffee. I like coffee. I toe my shoes off, wiggling my feet. There is a contented sigh or two.

The birds wake. We hear their tweets and chirps. They come in waves: The sparrows first, then the killdear with their quick movements, quail dart through the shrubs and ferns, a seagull lands at my feet. I hate them; they're parasitical. I shoo it off. We are blessed with a flock of goldfinch. Lovely birds. And then they've all scattered, looking for food and sex elsewhere.

Another cup of coffee and an earnest conversation about daughter two's boyfriend and we're ready to work. Goat boy grabs some tools from his truck and, with the determination of an old soldier, marches out to the irrigation pump. I open the barn to quiet. Most of the goats are asleep. A few are not and they greet me with assorted baaaahs. My oldest female is awake. She follows me everywhere; loves a nice rub and pat.

Those awake wander out of the barn. The kids slowly wake, and a few of them mob me. I give them pats. One tries to climb into my lap. I pick her up and carry her for a while. I open a new bag of sweet corn feed. Make sure there's water in the tank. The sun is up, turning the river to a ribbon of silver and gold.

Goat boy yells something that sounded suspiciously like DAMN! He packs up his tools and trudges back to me. He's scraped his knuckles. I examine his hand, wash it with disinfectant soap. I talk sweet comfort, and then ask him why he didn't wear gloves. "Forgot them," he says.

The kids are running in mad circles as is there wont. We sip more coffee. Goat boy points to the gate pole. A huge blue heron is perched on top. I'm thinking thoughts not at all related to gorgeous birds. Goat boy is immersed in the wonders of nature.

Goat Boy Immersed in the Wonders of Nature

Don't get me wrong. I love creation with all its wonders. It's just that I'm more interested in Goat Boy at that very moment. He's part of nature too. I take the most direct path. Direct is usually good.

This Pixies Direct Path

A satisfying choice.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Guest post

Guest post by Megan is below. Blogger is being stupid. And I can't seem to fix it. The post should have appeared in this space ....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Further Adventures of O. Reader


            A recent “day out” we’ve had here is to visit the St Fagans Folk Museum. (Official title - St Fagans National Museum of History). Stretching over two large sites on the outskirts of Cardiff it has restored buildings and artefacts from all over Wales. Some date back to the 12th century, and some like a post war prefab to as recent as the late 1940s. Rare breeds of sheep and cattle munch away in the fields, and there are numerous workshops demonstrating skills from a bygone era. Saddlery, clog making, hide tanning, that sort of thing. There used to be a pottery - my daughter made a pot here many years ago - but since the Welsh government made entry free of charge, the demographic of the visitors precluded most from wishing to shell out 40 GBP for a pot.
            We have been here many times over the decades. For a number of years an open air theater was held here, and we saw versions of Shakespeare and Goldsmith and Gilbert and Sullivan and others, often with a crowd of friends. It nearly always rained on these occasions, which is what you sort of expect from open air theater and particularly open air theater in Wales. But a massive rebuilding program of the original entrance and linked museum meant the event had to move into Cardiff, so we hadn’t been to St Fagans for a while.
            Apart from a reconstruction of a 2000 year old iron age roundhouse (fire in the middle but no chimney or even hole in the roof to let out the smoke), nearly everything else is original. It has all been taken apart from somewhere in Wales, the stones and bits and pieces carefully numbered, and then loving recreated. Farm houses, churches, corn mills (that’s wheat in Wales not maize as in the US), pig-sties, tanneries, shops, Workmen’s Halls, you name it - if it existed in Wales, they have it here. Each building has its own curator, who will speak Welsh if you wish. That was part of Mrs O’s interest this time.
     We mixed it with several school parties of earnest eight year olds clutching clipboards and pens, heretically jabbering away in English, while their harassed teachers bawled them out in Welsh. We couldn’t get into the village school because the kids were being given a lesson as it would have been 120 years ago, back in the days when speaking Welsh in class would get you punished.
            There were two places of worship - a church that has bits dating back to probably the 12th century, with what can only be described as comic strips all over the walls. The original Catholic congregation was illiterate and the wall art was used as a teaching aid. However, to quote D. H. Lawrence - “to the Puritan all things are impure” - so when the Puritans came along in Britain they immediately covered the walls with whitewash. Only when the old building was taken down for removal and reconstruction at St Fagans, did the original pictures come to light again after hundreds of years, and it has been restored to its pre-Reformation splendor.
            The other place of worship was a very spartan Unitarian chapel, and Wales had a tradition of non-conformity which allowed the Unitarians to flourish for many years.
            Coming into more recent times there was an example of the very large provision store that each village and town in the Welsh valleys used to have. This one was called Gwalia Stores, which was a very common name. I only recently discovered that Gwalia is an archaic name for Wales, not the name of a Mr Fred Gwalia who ran the place. It is disconcerting when you see historical items that you clearly remember! I worked part-time in an old fashioned grocers shop in London in the 1960s. Like the store at St Fagans nothing was pre-packed, but ladled out of jars and tubs and pots and not a glimpse of “health and safety” in sight. I remember in London how my love life was seriously blighted by my having to skin the cheeses each week. They were like huge cartwheels and weighed a ton. Peeling off the muslin skin in one piece was an art that should probably still be on my resume, but I remember all too well how the smell just lingered and lingered.
            And then there was the rebuilt Workman’s Hall. These were a staple of valleys life, with the library and cinema and classrooms, and free newspapers on stands. When I first came to Wales most still existed, and I soon learned that by waiting a week for the movie to shift from the main picture house in town to the workman’s hall two miles up the mountain, I could see all the movies I wanted for a fraction of the price.
            And something I always enjoy visiting are the Rhydycar cottages. This is a row of six iron worker’s cottages from around 1800 that were taken down and rebuilt - and each one takes you several decades forward in time, starting around 1800 and ending up in the 1980s when they were abandoned. Each is furnished as it would have been at the time, and the gardens and outbuildings likewise. You can trace when the family Bible disappeared, and also when toilet facilities moved from a hole in the ground at the bottom of the garden to pipe work indoors.
            There are other folk museums in Britain of course. Another one is at Blists Hill near Ironbridge Gorge in the Midlands, where the staff dress up in period costume and you buy plastic money and then spend it on candles and beer and the like. Much closer to home there is a Manor House (where the last owner was a patient of mine) where they talk to you in 17th century English (and Welsh) and dress the part. They don’t do that at St Fagans, but the staffing would probably make that impractical.
            Nearly everywhere we go we seem to meet people we know. That is probably a sign both of having been around for a long time in one area, and also wearing various hats that bring us into contact with different groups of people. This time we were haled outside the Gwalia stores by M. Thirty years or more ago M was a miner who lost his job when the whole industry collapsed after the miner’s strike. His father was yet another patient of mine. M went to one of Mrs O’s Spanish classes. He did well, very well, and got a qualification. An aptitude for learning that came to the surface counted in his favor when he applied to join the Welsh police force. After thirty years here was M again. He had recently retired after a good career with the police, but had needed to learn some Welsh for the job along the way. Now he was enjoying himself as a part-time guide at St Fagans. He tempted Mrs O with the prospect of applying for the same. But the part-timers mainly work weekends when the crowds come, which doesn’t fit our existing schedule. But I think she is tempted. The thought of practicing ones Welsh, while getting paid for it, does have a certain tempting ring about it.
            So it’s “Mae hynny'n ddigon am nawr.” 
            In my case that sort of means, “Thank goodness for Google Translate!”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Democrat Party Today

They must be prosecuted and the Democrat Party must be banned. Democrats today: