Wandering Around Ein Feste Burg

One of the places we used as a “home base” this past June was Bad Pyrmont. It is a town with fascinating geology, in the Weser River Valley, tucked away in some hills. It has limestone around it, and a great deal of natural faulting, probably related to the Rhine Graben, or rift-valley, not too far away. Because of the faulting, there are a number of mineral springs that bubble up, and some sinkholes of interest, and a CO2 cave where people used to go and “dry bathe” in CO2 up to their chins. In 1556-1562, it became a princely seat, and a Baroque hunting lodge was added in 1706, and then a spa developed. Goethe and a few other minor German cultural figures spent time there, as did Peter the Great of Russia, and today it is a very nice, quiet, city with good historical guides, lovely parks, and several spa hotels. And a water-castle. Continue reading


Sudden Attack of the Cutes

Once a month Athena T Cat  goes to the cat wash. DadRed has mild dander allergies, and having her scrubbed and de-dandered helps keep things from getting out of hand. It also thins out her two coats of hair, reducing hairballs (as does daily brushing). Athena has strong, loud, opinions about being transported to the cat wash. Loud, vociferous, constant opinions, including words I can’t use on this blog. I have no idea where she learned them from, either. I certainly don’t use that kind of language around the cat. Continue reading

Book Review: Rimworld – Into the Green

Curtis, J. L. Rimworld: Into the Green Print edition

Humans merrily expanded out from Earth, and collided with the Dragons, or Dragoons, and war erupted. A stalemate of sorts has been reached, with the emphasis on “of sorts.” Because the Dragoons and their human slaves, the Traders, won’t stop their attempts to expand and conquer. And humans won’t stop exploring and spreading out among the stars. Into those steps, or rather falls, Lt. Ethan Fargo. And the Dragoons (and a few loose bureaucrats) are in for a surprise. Continue reading

Show Museum or Teaching Museum?

You probably can tell without my saying much that I am a sucker for museums. Art museum, science museum, history museum, folk-life museum, botanical garden, I’ll probably at least poke my head in to see if it looks promising. I’ve been very, very fortunate to be able to visit, and re-visit, many of the great art and history museums north of the Alps, like the Kunsthistorischesmuseum [Art History Museum] in Vienna three times, the Gamäldegalarie [painting gallery] in Berlin twice, and a few others, like the Louvre (twice over two days. Don’t bother with the southern art section, IMHO). Continue reading

Alma’s Peach Fruit Soup

Fruit soup is a summer staple at RedQuarters, when there is sufficient good fruit. This recipe started as a Scandinavian blueberry soup and got changed, as tends to happen. After the Year Without Peaches, peach became a regular flavor of choice. You can also use blueberries*, or strawberries. I’d go easy on the spices for strawberry.

2 lb ripe peaches (4-7, depending on size)

whole milk OR half-and-half OR non-dairy creamer

cinnamon and/or cloves and/or ginger and/or other sweet spices

sugar or other sweetener (if needed)

What kind of peaches? Whatever is available, although I wouldn’t use very expensive super-sweet fruit or the pit-less kind. This time I used the less expensive of the available varieties, since they felt ripe and looked good. Continue reading

Does History Move Upward?

The history of writing history, or “historiography,” includes a phase that is sometimes called the Whig School of history. Historians in the late 1700s and increasingly in the 1800s assumed that things were getting better, and had been improving since the Renaissance. If you were to draw their view of humanity as a line, it started on a high note with Creation, dropped into a hole after the fruit incident, climbed some, dipped with the Flood, crept up again to Greece and Rome, dipped after AD 475 “when the barbarians kicked in Rome’s door” as one of my mentors likes to say, then inched up again. The line begins to shoot near vertically after 1815 or so. Humanity was moving upwards and on wards and things could only get better. Of course, like most things in academia, counterarguments arose, mostly from the Marxist side of the aisle once there were enough Marxist historians to become well known. Continue reading

July ’17 State of the Author

Warm. It’s July in Texas.

August 5 and 6 I will be at AmaCon, the pop-culture Con in Amarillo that is sponsored by the Amarillo Public Library. I will be with Peter Grant, Dorothy Grant, J. L. Curtis, and the Lawdog. I will have books available for purchase and to sign, or you can BYO. (Carpathian Campaign and Alexander, Soldier’s Son. Ivan’s paw-tograph is available for the Alexi book).

Shikhari, the first book in that series, will be out in September. It is suitable for younger readers, say 13 and up, but I’m not marketing it as YA. Continue reading

Where’s That in the Bible?

One of the fascinating little churches I poked my nose into on this past trip was St. Thomas in Tribsee. Although it is now Protestant (Lutheran), like every other church in the region, it began as Catholic and during the Reformation, the parishioners saved some of the artwork, including a fascinating altarpiece. The church was affiliated with a Cistercian Monastery. It was Cistercians who first moved into the area and developed farming and livestock-raising. You are in the swampy part of Germany, and the Cistercians looked for empty wilderness to move into. They found lots of it up in this area, between Hamburg and Rostock.

Focus on the central panels.


Continue reading