Leo Lionni’s Frederick

There are a few illustrated children’s books I grew up with that left a very deep mark on me. Tomi di Paola’s books, Ashanti to Zulu about the peoples of Africa, dinosaur and paleontology books, Three Trees of the Samurai, Holling C. Holling’s books, and one called Catundra about an overweight cat and how she slims down.

Leo Lionni’s story Frederick was one of these. The book is fifty years old this year, and is a wonderful story about the importance of Odds in societies. The author was Dutch, and did many children’s books, a lot of them about mice, including Frederick. I discovered it as a audio-tape and read-along book Mom and Dad got at the library. Continue reading


Friday Fiction: Of Merchant and Magic part 14

In Which Tycho Observes the Importance of Oaths Kept and Oaths Broken…

Chapter Fourteen: Donwah’s Son


Tycho found a slop bucket in one corner, but no cot or other furnishing. Time passed and he napped, prayed, and grew thirsty and hungry. His tongue felt fuzzy and dry. His stomach grumbled. The ache in his shoulder and arm made him flinch when he moved the arm too much. He could bend and move it, but extending it straight out in front of him brought tears to his eyes. How was he going to show the hides if he couldn’t reach forward?

Had the duke claimed his hides? Tycho froze, cold sweat breaking out all over, heart pounding again. Was it all a false accusation to claim his wares? The counts of Sinmartin had done that, two generations ago, falsely accusing traders of blasphemy and then claiming their goods. No. The duke did not seem like that kind of man. But looks deceived. Tycho closed his eyes, not that it made any difference in the darkness of the cell, and recounted his meeting with the duke and his sale. Nothing in the memory hinted that Duke Malnaan was that kind of man. But what if he’d been pledged to the Scavenger despite his high station of birth? Could that even happen? Why not? The gods claimed who they claimed, and Tycho had been born for Maarsdam but marked by Donwah, so who was he to say?

Tycho had no idea how much time passed before the door opened. He was light-headed with thirst and hunger when he heard footsteps, the door bar scraping, and keys. He got onto all fours, and managed to stagger to his feet, leaning on the wall for balance. He did not care to have the guards rip his shoulder out of its socket pulling him off the floor. The door opened and someone stormed in, carrying a torch. Two other soldiers followed, grabbed him, shackled his hands behind his back and half-dragged him out the door, never saying a word. They hauled Tycho back to the main room, then forced him to his knees in front of a veiled woman, Master Sabo, and a black-masked priest. Continue reading

Common Knowledge?

What is common knowledge? What touchstones, or objects, can a speaker or lyricist refer to that a large majority of her listeners will understand and possibly relate to? I am starting to wonder, because a few weeks ago the senior minister at the church where I sing picked a Charles Wesley* hymn. OK, the tune was familiar (Richmond) and the lyrics were typical late 1700s Christian terms. But the minister had to explain the meaning of “It varies with the wind” referred to the spring in a clock, and that winding the mechanism more tightly affected how fast or slowly the clock ran. The text specifically is about what we’d call a grandfather clock, because it also mentions the chain that holds the weights. I thought everyone knew how clocks worked. Oops. Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah 2017

Sundown today marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and the start of a new year. It is “the birthday of the world,” the day when all people pass before the Most High and their fate for the next year is determined. It starts a period of rejoicing and sweetness, but also of serious prayer and contemplation leading to Yom Kippur.

My all my Jewish readers have a new year a sweet as honey, and may your name be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Ice Creams!

Braums and Blue Bell introduced several new flavors this summer. Two really stood out, and are fighting for top place in my personal ice-cream ranking system. Braums Circus Animal Cookie ice cream, and Blue Bell’s Ice Cream Cone flavor. Both carry a large dose of nostalgia, and I’ve been fighting the urge to toss the meats and veggies now filling the freezer and instead cram it with as many cartons of these two flavors as I can wedge in there. Yes, they are good. Continue reading

That’s Different: Playa Edition

August was “a little damp,” in the way that Hurricane Harvey moved “a little slowly.” We got over eight inches in three weeks, the temps stayed in the 70s and 80s, and the Panhandle is still humid. Apparently this rainfall pattern agrees with the native grasses and Helianthus (aka sunflowers) because I discovered two weeks ago that there are a pot-load of native sunflowers in the section or so around the playa. And these things are thick, tens of yards thick, great sweeps of yellow and black all following the sun.

Where’s those come from?

A little thick, yes, why anything could hide…

Continue reading


That’s what happened with the largest private airlift of relief supplies to date. https://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/Operation-Airdrop-Brings-Help-From-Above-229612-1.html

People with planes saw a need. A gent with trailers sent out word. From there it grew through volunteer labor. Not unlike the Cajun Navy and similar efforts. People forgot that they are supposed to sit and wait patiently for the government to come to assist those in need, or to assist them. Oops. Continue reading