Artist in Residence 33: Use for marriage, then recycle…

I wrote this up on Medium  recently and I am asking you to forgive me for replaying it here – I’m in a silent moment right now, when words need to be coaxed and bullied to come, so I am offering you something already shaped into a form that is transmissible…


All the little girls in the world are supposed to dream of this. The dream that is encapsulated in the image — the fairy tale dress, the beautiful (and probably virgin) bride, the powerful princely groom… the full happily ever after, in other words. The happy ending. This was where all our childhood fairy tales ended, with the prince and the princess stepping up to be married. Happily Ever After, The End.

What followed that big white extravaganza, the flower strewn aisles, the wedding guests in hats — even, if we took it just a little further, what followed the party that came afterwards, the emotive father-daughter dances, the feasts, the cake, the champagne…?

Why is nobody owning up to looking forward to the MARRIAGE, not the wedding? Continue reading


Consideration of Works Past: Star Bridge

(Picture from here.)

I’ve been looking for this novel for a bit now. Of course, it would have been helpful to know the title or authors. I had vague recollections of the plot and characters: ancient Chinese man, extraterrestrial parrot, faster than light tube system. For some reason, this wasn’t sufficient. I kept getting hits on India’s Classical Logic System, core standard testing, and early flying machines. All of which were cool but not relevant.

I did find the title, finally—and I cannot say for certain which of the innumerable searches I tried actually yielded results. It is a Google mystery.

But I did find it: Star Bridge, Jack Williamson and James E. Gunn, 1955.

Since I’m going to talk about it in some detail, if you don’t want spoilers, stop here. I recommend it for re-reading though it does have its era’s flaws. Continue reading


Old Food

Going to talk about old things, like myself.


Last week I baked cookies. I’m pretty good at cookies and scones, and can scramble a mean egg, and I have cooked in my varied past. However, I am lucky enough to be married to a cook, and one whose skills far exceed mine.

It all started with a bag of granola. When I first bought it I thought I liked it, but after a while I realized it was just too damn sweet. Thus the half-used bag languished in the refrigerator for several weeks until El Jefe de Cociná reminded me of its eternal presence. Therefore my mind instantly leapt to cookies.


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The Rambling Writer’s Italy, part 19: Cinque Terre’s Sentiero Azzurro to Vernazza

Your retro Virtual Italy Vacation continues our hike along the cliffside “Blue Path” to Vernazza, site of disastrous 2011 mudslides.

NOTE: Since European travel is still a no-go with the pandemic continuing, I’m continuing my blog series offering a virtual vacation and time-travel to my first big trip with Thor in 2008. Italy! After starting with highlight photos posted here on Saturday, Jan. 30, I’ll now resume every week (after the blogging detour in real time to Hawaii). Join us in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Milan. Buon viaggio!

Last week Thor and I had reached one of the clifftops along the winding cliffside trail, where we could look down at our destination — the fishing village of Vernazza. Continue reading


New Worlds: Apprentice, Journeyman, Master

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Much of our education nowadays is explicitly about “book learning”: the intellectual labor of learning history and literature, of mastering mathematics and science, of practicing how to solve problems and write persuasive essays.

But there are many jobs people do which aren’t really about deploying words or memorizing facts. They’re hands-on tasks, whether the heavy work of manual labor or the more delicate arts of the craftsman. And while you can learn some useful things about that from books or lectures, in the end, the real learning comes through doing. This is why, for many people in the past (and still some today, like electricians), the educational path takes the form, not of school, but of apprenticeship.

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The Butler Did It

Okay, so what did the butler do?

Perhaps a better question might be, what didn’t the butler do?

In a 19th century household, the butler was often the chief of staff. In extremely grand and important families, especially where several houses were owned, there might be a house steward or comptroller whose job it was to supervise all household staff including hiring and firing and take care of all household accounting. But in an average wealthy or upper middle class household, the chief servant was probably the butler. Continue reading



piles of booksMy daughter, Kristine, reads constantly. The day I originally wrote this little essay, she was, in fact, sitting in the living room reading Lord of the Rings with a stack of history books and Jane Austen-related material next to her chair. She got her exercise by walking to the library and lugging home books. This makes her My Hero.

On one of her library safaris, she introduced me to another writer who has also become My Hero. She did it by bringing home from the library a book about a very particular publishing phenomenon—series children’s books. There were a number of writers who gave their talents to this effort, but the paragon that stood out in my reading of the book was Mildred A. Wirt, the original Carolyn Keene. (The title, for anyone who’s interested is Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak.) Continue reading


BVC Eats: Fruit Biscuits

All creativity addresses a problem. This recipe was created to answer the question, What can be done with all this fruit? Summer and early autumn is a tidal wave of glorious fruit in my area. Strawberries run from April to September, cherries from May until October, raspberries apparently continuously, like running water. There’s enough luscious fruit to fill a river.

An allied difficulty is eating for heath. One should eat more fruit, but not piled on top of ice cream, too often. If the portion could be controlled, if the caloric count wasn’t excessive, this would all be good.

So! I have created something to address these issues. Allow me to introduce the fruit biscuit. This is simply a baking powder biscuit with a thick layer of fruit baked onto the top, a trick achieved by baking it upside down and then flipping it. The recipe calls for exactly one pint of fresh fruit, which can be anything. This picture is apricot, with almonds, but below is blackberries, and the fresh fruit at the top of this post is huckleberries. All fruit is grist for this mill. Si far I have experimented with apricots with almonds and cardamom, blackberries with walnuts, huckleberries with walnuts, sour cherries with almonds and a dash of almond extract, and yellow plums with walnuts and rosemary. The possibilities are endless.

You will need a large-muffin baking pan, the kind with a 3.5 or 4 inch diameter cup. I also deployed my silicon muffin liners, so there’s no difficulty popping them out.

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