Feast of the Annunciation

Last Monday, March 25, was the Feast of the Annunciation for Roman Catholics and Episcopalians. It marks the day when, according to Christian tradition, the angel Gabriel approached a young woman named Mary with an invitation. “Hail, most highly favored one” the angel said, and explained that the Lord had chosen her to bear His son.

The topic is very, very popular in religious art. Continue reading



I just finished the edits on Miners and Empire. Fair warning, it still has a different feel than the other books in the series.

I will try to get the cover done early this week, so maybe I can format it for release by this coming weekend. Since I’m covering for Miss Verbum most of this week, it may be later.

Turn the Dark Back On!

There’s a subset of women’s history/environmental history that holds that electric light was not entirely a good thing for women. With brighter, steadier light, dirt could be seen more easily. Thus cleaning became more intense and time-consuming. This in turn led to further devaluing of women’s labor and deprived women of the free time they’d previously had.

I’ll wait for those familiar with pre-vacuume-cleaner house-keeping to finish laughing and catch their breaths.

And then the kitchen light died. Continue reading

Cowboy Poetry

It’s something that’s been around probably as long as people have been riding horses and chasing (or dodging) domesticated cattle. But it wasn’t discovered until about thirty years ago, maybe twenty five. For a while cowboy poetry was trendy on the coasts, but it seems to have returned to where it started. Which is fine. It’s not really written for people outside the farming and ranching world, although if we on the outside like it, that’s great.

Cowboy poetry is poetry by and about cowboys. It can be free verse, but more often is rhymed and strongly metrical. However, some of the most famous contemporary cowboy poets, like the late Buck Ramsay, wrote loosely and strikingly well. His “As I Rode Out of a Morning,” and “Cowboy Christmas Waltz” bring me to tears. Part of it is because cowboy poetry found me (and vice versa) at a time when I really needed it. Part is because he was just so good at evoking place and time. He’s not the only one, not by a long-shot. Continue reading

Environment or Army Corps of Engineers: The Floods of 2019

As usual, people are not waiting for the disaster to finish happening before blaming someone for it. In this case, it is the h-ll and high water swamping the Missouri River watershed. Some have pointed at anthropogenic climate change and are saying that humanity (OK, the free market system and fossil fuels) are to blame. Others suggest that the Army Corps of Engineers is at fault.

I don’t believe the climate change argument, at least the human-caused aspect, because if you look at the terrible floods of the 1920s on the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds, we were still in the tail end of the effects of the Little Ice Age in terms of temperatures and precipitation patterns. Continue reading

How Do You Define a “Western”

I was at a “pops” concert this past weekend that was all music about the American West, either tone poems, cowboy poetry set to music, or themes from TV and films. Which was a wonderful break from everything else going on in my world, and got me thinking about what exactly is a western?

This ties in a little with the fuss about a new slogan for the University of Wyoming, and the university deciding to stand their ground and not bow to political correctness. There’s a stereotype of a “western,” that seems to include 1. only Anglo-Saxons, 2. horses, 3. cattle and cowboys, 4. women are saints or sinners (the harlot with a heart of gold…), 5. abuse of non-White people, 6. Indians shown as Red Savages and 7. farmers are the victims (if there are any farmers around). So Zorro, the Cisco Kid, and a lot of other movies and TV shows are not Westerns. Continue reading

Estimating and Applied Math

Peter Grant had a piece about the frustrations of people who depend on computers and can’t (or won’t or don’t have time) to double-check what went into the computer and the numbers that come out. When DadRed was tutoring in the public schools, he encountered an absolute absence of the ability to estimate and round.

Now, I am not exactly innumerate, but close. Doing math in my head hurts. I do it, and do it often, but it is not easy and requires complete concentration. When that’s not possible – say, when I’m in the grocery store – I estimate. Continue reading