Under Pummerin’s Tower

I have heard Pummerin three times, once at midnight on Christmas Eve, and twice on Corpus Christi. The first time, I was well away from Stephansdom, St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna. The second time I stood, then walked, directly below the north tower, where Pummerin and the other bells hang.

Most church bells today are rung from beside, and are no longer free-swinging. This is in part because people no longer care to hear very loud bells every hour, and more often during church services or on feast days. It is also because of the structural stress on old buildings. Pummerin still swings freely, and it is loud, especially when you are right below its tower.

The south, Gothic tower after a storm. Author Photo.

Continue reading

Advertisements

You Don’t Need the Whole Tree…

Medieval Europeans would have been flabbergasted by modern forestry practices. We cut down the entire tree, every time. People in the ancient world, Late Antiquity/ Dark Ages, and on until the early 1900s (in some places) tended to cut down whole trees on far fewer occasions. Instead they coppiced the trees, trimming the trunk down and letting it regrow. Or they pollarded, cutting off branches on a regular basis but not touching the lower trunk. They also took entire trees, but not as often as we do today.

A pollarded tree in southwest Poland.  Author photo.

Continue reading

Friday Fiction Fragment: The Cold Sea

Another excerpt from a Familiars story in progress. When we last left Heike and Walburga (an albino wallaby), they were settling into a cottage near Husum, Germany, and considering what might have called them that far north. The maps and the Lammkontor Restaurant are not fiction.

Heike returned from Husum with cheese, sausage, smoked pike-perch, more bread, and an inadvertent ear-full of gossip. She tucked the cheese and fish into the refrigerator, considered the various jars of vegetables in the small pantry, and decided on the carrot salad and celery salad. The fish smelled rich and in need of a tart balance.

Chore tended to, Heike checked on her Familiar. Walburga remained fast asleep, so the mage picked up her knitting bag and sat on the small bench outside the front door. The thick overhang of the thatch roof would keep away any afternoon sprinkles of rain. Heike considered the location and gossip, and decided to work on the back of a waistcoat. Knitted waistcoats seemed to be fashionable again. She selected a ball of medium-weight dark blue yarn, and one of cream for the stripes. Materials arranged to her satisfaction, Heike tapped her needles twice right over left, then once left over right, and began feeding the yarn through the needles. Continue reading

Book Review: PawPaw Hunting

Moore, Andrew. Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Lost Fruit. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017) Kindle Edition.

“Pickin’ up pawpaws/ put ’em in the basket…” That was about all I knew of pawpaws, a children’s song, other than the fact that they are a fruit and are not papaya. Andrew Moore’s entertaining book is an extended meditation and study on pawpaws, a tropical fruit that grows as far north as Ontario, Canada, a native fruit that people never heard of, and an object of mild obsession for people in the Midwest and Upper South. Continue reading

Watching the Monkey Dance

“The monkey dance” is Rory Miller’s term for the steps young men (and some women) go through leading up to a fight. Think bar fight, or two guys in high school being egged on by others. There’s a pattern of action-reaction that can lead to a serious fight if those involved, or their associates, don’t back down or defuse things. It is about dominance and rank in the social group.

I got to watch the end-result of that very early one weekend morning in Krakow, Poland. As in, five forty-five AM early. Or late, depending on when the bars closed. Continue reading

Shikhari 5 Alpha-Reader Call

Howdy! I need a few good readers to look over Shikhari Five (still working on a title) and flag problem spots, typoos, and Misspellings of Unusual Size.

For those wondering, yes, there will be one more Shikhari book. Two major plot threads couldn’t get resolved in this volume, not without turning it into a GRRM-worthy tome.

If you are interested in helping, please ping me at my e-mail address (available on the About page)

Thanks!

Managing vs. Leading

Having been sandbagged by weather in the past, Clan Red approaches long-distance air travel in stages. In this case, we flew to Dallas the night before the international flight, then spent the night at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, before flying out the next day. This time we stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which happens to be in the international terminal used by Lufthansa. It is quiet, comfortable, and we don’t have to worry about lugging the luggage father than needed.

I got to watch a leader at work. It was impressive.

Continue reading