High Pressure Low Pressure

You’ve been researching an area’s weather and climate too long . . . when you can reconstruct the weather systems (highs, lows, frontal passage) by reading the complaints about wind and lack there of in ranch records from the late 1800s early 1900s.

High pressure, low presure, or fixin' to blow up a storm. Photo by Michael Lapoint.

High pressure, low pressure, or fixin’ to blow up a storm. Photo by Michael Lapoint.

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Product Review: GTM 70 Shoulder Bag

I needed a purse with a surprise in it. No, not a live frog, a dedicated secondary compartment for self-defense items. To my surprise, none of the places I’d expect to find this kind of thing up here had them, and this wasn’t something I wanted to buy on-line without trying it. So I ended up in Fredericksburg window shopping, and lo and behold, they had this sort of handbag, shoulder-bag, and . . . leather “gun tacos”* with the hair still on.

I emerged with a lighter wallet and a GTM-70 “Basic hobo handbag.” I later purchased a longer strap, so I could wear it cross-body. I don’t like having a bag only over one shoulder for an extended period of time. It’s too easy for someone to snatch it. Since the straps have a steel cable running through them, having a local leather worker patch in extra length wasn’t an option. The leather is high quality, and the two main pockets have a pale, satin-like lining so it is easier to find “things that drop to the bottom of the bag.” It also has a radio-shielded pocket for your wallet or car keys. (Remember – it also blocks the signal from your key fob, so your vehicle won’t open or start until you remove your keys from the pocket, if you have a newer car.) There’s a small outside zip pocket for ID, keys, or other little items.

The bag weighs what you’d expect from a good leather and fabric bag. It doesn’t have metal feet on the bottom, alas, or it would be close to perfect. It looks somewhat dressy, so if you need it for office or church/synagogue/concert use, it would be suitable. It doesn’t have a front flap or an outside phone pocket or water-bottle pocket. The style is clean and sleek.

There are two main compartments, plus the little zip pocket. And then the other outside pocket. That is reachable by means of zippers on either end, so you can get into it either left or right handed. The heavy leather keeps the contents of the compartment from screaming “Hi! I’m a phone, wallet, and 20 Kt diamond ring!” It is designed for flatter items, but bulkier ones work as well. I carry the bag with that side against me. The bag feels more comfortable that way anyway. And I wear it cross-body, not over-the-shoulder.

I have no difficulty drawing from the external pocket. As always, discipline and practice are vital, and being aware of which way items in the external pocket are pointing. Trigger discipline is a must, but that’s also true for drawing from any holster at any time.** And if one has to in an emergency, putting a hole through the bag is not the end of the world. Despite what one individual told me, most women (or men) would much rather put a hole or holes in a handbag or satchel then be beat up or worse.

If you need a “+30 Bag of Holding” for large items, laptop, tablet computer, kid-stuff, and so on, this is not your bag. The two main compartments are not as capacious as they might be, because of the external-access pocket and its contents. If you want a good every-day handbag that happens to work to safely carry a Little Friend, this is a good choice. No, it is not cheap. But it doesn’t scream “Hi! I’m packing heat!” like a few I’ve seen.

*The zip-open, soft-sided pistol cases are commonly called “gun blankets.” Except down here, where we call them “gun tacos,” for obvious reasons. These were $60 or so, attractive hair-on leather. I’m not entirely sure why one needs a fancy gun-taco, but someone must like them. I giggled.

**In general, on-body carry is better. However, there may be times and clothing requirements that make off-body carry more practical. Choice of self-defense tool also plays a role in this decision. There is no One Right Way.

FTC Note: I purchased this for my own use and received no compensation or remuneration from the store from the manufacturer for this review.

Yes, It’s Summer.

Cicadas – check.

More people in the pool than in the entire rest of the gym – check.

Watermelons all over the place – very check.

Last weekend I went to a regional Farmers’ Market with Dorothy Grant. We went to do research on “how people move through a crowded market” and to get tomatoes. That’s it, tomatoes. Really. And maybe to check out gluten-free breads, for a mutual friend who needs that kind of information. And perhaps get some farm-raised eggs. But that’s it.

My paw to Bast, it looked as if everyone leaving the market had a watermelon! Watermelons in wagons, carried in arms, filling cloth or net shopping backs, watermelons carried on shoulders . . . Just inside the entry area, a local charity was selling slices of watermelon, and a self-taught gent demonstrated fancy food carving. Dorothy and I both dropped something into the kitty, in part because we enjoyed the man’s work so much, and in part because the group provides a needed service.

Lots of vendors had watermelons, tomatoes, beautiful bell peppers and chili peppers, squash, and so on. You know, the things that are seasonal and ready right now. All the egg vendors had sold out already. I ended up getting mesquite-smoked cashews (they are addictive!) and Dorothy and I tried two different products from a gluten-free baker and caterer. Those lasted until Tuesday, if only because we had really large breakfasts and suppers that weekend and just couldn’t find room for nibbles. You could get everything from breads to dairy to fresh produce to pottery, popcorn, and candy. Food trucks sold coffee and snow-cone-type things. People threaded their way through, smiling and being normal people on a warm summer morning.

I was mildly surprised that we didn’t get stopped for not having a watermelon as we departed. 🙂

(For my readers who are not familiar with watermelons in summer, you do a thump test. You want a nice, meaty thump. Really good, sweet watermelons are messy, so plan to cut them outdoors, or on something indoors to catch the drips. The red heart is the best part, and my great-grandmother on the paternal side used to go around the table trimming the heart out of other people’s melon servings “since she didn’t want a whole slice.” Some things were not worth arguing over. Kids and watermelon are a natural combo. Have the kids put on bathing suits, go outdoors, and enjoy the watermelon. Then hose off the kids. It’s a lot easier to keep the house clean that way, trust me. 🙂 )

A Quick Reminder about Blog Rules

It’s been a long time since I posted Do’s and Don’ts, so it seemed like a good thing to do. This is not because of any one comment or problem, but just a general update.

  1. The blog posts are moderated, especially the first time you comment. Or if you use a different e-mail. WordPress occasionally glitches and I have to release comments from people who are otherwise approved. I try to check every few hours, but if I’m on the road, it may take a while.
  2. Because there are a lot of readers from Europe and elsewhere, I ask that you don’t talk about doing unkind things to political leaders, US or otherwise.
  3. Yes, FaceBook blocks some posts. No, I don’t know why. It was blocking all posts for a while. So if you try to link a post to a FB post and you are stopped, it’s me, not you.
  4. I don’t mind typo catches and critiques. Please do check to see if someone else has flagged that first, though. I get irked when five or six people flag the same thing. It’s not you, it’s me.
  5. If you want to sell a product or service, please check with me first before you post an ad comment.
  6. If your entire comment is a long theological infomerical for your tract/book/blog, it will not pass moderation.
  7. Ditto e-currency. A thousand word comment about the benefits of, oh, DogeCoin or BitCoin belongs on your blog, not mine.
  8. Language needs to stay PG-13. I know, I sometimes break this one in the excerpts. I will try to be better about toning down the blog-version of the story.
  9. Discuss theology as much as you want; but please don’t run-down other people’s beliefs. And keep in mind, theology 1000-300 years ago could be a lot different from current churches’/synagogues’/temples’ teachings.
  10. I will track down and thump the first person to start the 9MM vs. .45 caliber argument in the comments. [See theology above.]

It is a very, very rare day that I have to edit a comment or block someone. I’ve only blocked two people, one was a serial advertiser and the other . . . Yeah. That one went/goes after me because of two other people that the individual has decided are their enemies or something.

Tuesday Tidbit: The Marriage Market?

Goodman Fuchsban is, perhaps, a touch too eager to introduce his daughter to Master Tarno.

He left his purchases at the house, checked on the boys, and returned to the market. A different wagon sat in front of the tanners hall, this one still loaded with fleece-on schaef hides. “Aye, they’re green! Thas’ why I brought ’em ‘ere.” The most irritated indeed, the farmer slapped one palm with the back of his other hand. Tarno stretched his steps, in case the journeyman responded to the insult. If he was smart, he’d ignore it and call for a master. If not, well, Tarno didn’t care to have another talk with the city watch, even as witness.

He chose a different path, skirting the opposite edge of the market, around the eastern side of the market hall where the food and spice sellers had their wares. “Nae hot-bark, Goodwife,” one of the spicer’s journeymen reported. “We’ve an order in, but naught from south of the Comb has passed north this season. Hot-bark, false-pepper, sweet-leaf,” the skinny man recited. “Master Piast hopes that a caravan from the west comes soon, with goods from the islands and spices. He’s waitin’ on two. Bridge washed out’s the word.”

“Aye, heard that mesel’,” she sighed. “Well, until Yoorst makes great haulers t’ fly or swim, there’s naught to do. Two pooz curly-leaf, then, and three of white pepper.”

The journeyman set about measuring the dried spices. Tarno continued past two more spice stalls until he reached the preserved meat sellers. He needed two silver of hard sausage, and one of smoked great hauler or schaef to keep him until he could start smoking his own meat. He preferred great hauler, but it tended to be dear this early in the season. Potted meat would also do if need be. Better still would be a goodwife to prepare the food at home and spare his silver, but no dealer sold such wares. He snorted to himself, imagining a bride market run like the beast market. Would a man market his daughters by weight, by year, or by looks? Goodwife Fuchsban stomped past, her clogs making the cobbles clatter. Tarno and several others eased clear of her path, lest they be treated to a piece of her mind. Perhaps a bride market would not be such a good thought.

Tarno waited until the hard-sausage maker finished the sale and touched palms with his customer. The wine seller departed and Tarno stepped forward to the booth. “I need two silver of hard sausage, not too high spiced.”

“Great hauler or schaef, Master Tarno?” The red-faced sausage-maker pointed up with his joggle-stick. “I have both. Great hauler’s milder, schaef’s thriftier this season. Lots of schaef on the market, but all clean, Yoorst weigh my words.”

The boys ate either, and quantity mattered. “Schaef, then. Two silver.”

“Two silver, aye.” The sausage maker reached up with the joggle pole and nudged five large, round sausages in netting, each bigger than a large man’s two fists together, down to the end of their rod, then tapped each one off the end of the rod. His assistant caught them as they dropped and set them onto the scale. Then the sausage maker set five Halfeld pound weights on the other side of the scale. “Two silver,” the maker reported. The two sides almost balanced. The sausage maker added two smoked links to the meat pan. It sank until it hung one thread-width lower than the other side.

“Fair dealin’s,” Tarno called, extending his hand.

“Fair’ dealin’s aye,” a man called from behind him, and palms touched. The assistant tied the strings together with a bit of old cordage, and Tarno slid the smaller links into one of the sausage’s nets.

“Smoked schaef’s sot so good right now for keepin’, good for fast eatin’, sir,” the smoked meat seller said, expression glum. He reminded Tarno of a sad scahef, all droopy faced and big-eyed. “Smoked great hauler I have in plenty, and it’ll keep. No more potted meat, not yet. Yoorst’s Son asked us to wait. He’s concerned ’bout a murrin rumor.” The man made the horns, warding off the ailment. Tarno copied him.

“One silver of great hauler, then, wrapped for keeping.”

“One silver, aye.”

Staples in hand, Tarno threaded his way out of the main market square. He’d just gotten clear of the outside row of stalls when he heard a commotion. He was not the only man or woman to stop and turn toward the increasingly heated voices.

” . . . Nae from me will ye have, woods-thief! I’ll no sell to a damn salter.”

“Then ye may close yer’ stand and go, in peace or nae peace!”

“Waldher strike ye and Korvaal curse ye, deprivin’ honest men of wood, tools, shelter, an’ trade wi’ yer greed.”

“Enough!” Tarno recognized the roaring voice. So did the people around him, and they scattered. No one cared to be around the market master when he used the full weight of his authority or of his iron-bound staff of office. Or both at the same time. The country man had picked the wrong place to have that fight. Tarno shifted his burden to his left hand and continued on his way.

“Master Tarno,” an unwanted voice grated. “A moment, of your courtesy.”

Tarno stopped and turned. Goodman Fuchsban marched up to him, Fuchsban’s second daughter close behind her father. Chlomila wore a pale green blouse and brown skirt, cut to emphasize her womanly gifts. They were considerable, as was her beauty. “Master Tarno, I understand that ye have set aside the bands of mourning.”

“Yes, Goodman, I have.” Tarno kept his eyes on Goodman Fuchsban.

“My daughter, Chlomila.” Fuchsban all but shoved the girl at Tarno. She fluttered at him. He ignored her. She tried again. He kept his eyes on her father.

Goodman Fuchsban scowled. “She is skilled in the womanly arts, Master Tarno, and can care for children, as well as being fair.”

“I am glad to hear that.” Tarno recited, “A good hand on the needle makes the household prosper.”

Fuchsban smiled, revealing half a dozen missing teeth. “Aye, indeed, and Chlomila will prosper your household indeed this winter and after.”

Tarno glanced at the girl’s hands. No callouses or cuts marred the soft skin. Granted, she could be one who made healing potions for the skin, but he had not heard her named as such by the healer or by the priestess of Radmaar who oversaw the herbwives and midwives.

Fuchsban continued, perhaps taking silence as an encouragement, “I dower her with a woodlot and two carved chests of tools and implements, five good buckets, and a table and three chairs.” One of Tarnow’s eyebrows rose, and the carver added in a rush, “And her bridal chest and household goods, of course.”

“Of course.” For a newly married pair, he offered a small but reasonable dower. For a widower with a household already? No, aside from the bridal chest, which all women brought. Yes, all men knew that Chlomila was the second daughter, so her portion would be in goods rather than silver. To offer only goods and a woodlot in this case? If it was the old copse on the back of Crumbled Hill, well, to call that a woodlot was to call three eggs in a nest a great-hauler team. Give it two lifetimes of a man and it would be reasonable woodlot once more. Tarno lacked that much patience.

“Master Tarno, I would be honored to meet your sons,” Chlomila smiled, a tight little smirk, her voice grating his ears.

“It would be a good match,” the wood worker pressed, leaning forward almost to touching distance. “ye salters need friends among those born to and for Korvaal.” The man’s small eyes narrowed into glittering slits. “Marriage cements friendship, aye?”

“It can, aye.” It could also kill friendships. He’d seen both. “It is also not an agreement to be rushed. Daughters are not copper fruit.”

Fuchsban scowled, his mouth drawing in as if he’d licked bitter, raw sea-salt. “Aye,” he allowed. “But friendliness may turn to anger, souring like milk left too long in summer.”

“Indeed, Goodman Fuchsban.” Tarno ignored the threat in the man’s face and voice. Chlomila’s fluttery smile wavered. Tarno inclined toward them. “If you will excuse me.” He lifted the sausages. “May Maarsdam and Korvaal prosper your trade.” He turned and strode away from the pair before they could stop him.

Instead of going straight home, Tarno stopped at Master Harbusch’s stall and purchased three pooz of leb-bread. The farmer he’d seen earlier paused in the shade not far away, untying knots from a memory string, lips moving as he recited to himself. Tarno smiled. He’d made those himself when Annaka had recited a list at him on market day. The smile faded a little. Not Chlomila unless he had no other choice or unless the gods themselves commanded it. No matter how comely and skilled she might be, the balance weighed against her family.

As Tarno passed, the farmer raised one hand. “Master Tarno?”

“Ye name me right, sir.”

The farmer nodded. “Dor Erbstman. The market master upheld judgement on the would-be thief.” He sounded torn between frustration and satisfaction. Well, he’d likely had to pay a minor blood-gift to the Scavenger as well as receive a tithe blessing from Yoorst’s priest.

“Good. No man nor woman’s patron is an excuse.”

“Aye.” The solid man seemed to gather himself. “Your pardon, Master Tarno, but do I understand right that ye seek a wife for your house?”

Biting back a groan, Tarno replied, “Yes, I am, but I am in no hurry and I have two sons.”

Goodman Erbstman turned his right hand palm up. “I seek a husband for my daughter Urla, who ye saw earlier. She has no dower save her bridal goods. Neighbor strife,” he sighed. “She is thrifty, and served as two-year share-mother for three children until Gember’s spring feast this year.”

A share-mother? Thankless work, but much needed by the sound of it. She’d cared for the children for two years without payment other than part of the other woman’s bride portion. The girl seemed to have a full helping of good sense, what little he’d seen and heard. Tarno considered for a moment or two. “Does she seek a man?”

“Aye, but with her dower locked away?” A resigned shrug.

The farmer’s honesty weighed heavily in the family’s favor, and Tarno ventured, “I’m born for Korvaal, born to Donwah.”

A woman’s voice from behind him said quietly, “I was born for Gember, born to Donwah.” Urla approached them, curtsied, and handed her father a large bundle of goods. “They had no hot-bark nor other far southern spices, sir.” She returned a small tally pouch. “Have ye told Master Tarno of Hepsha?”

Erbstman shook his head.

“My younger sister Hepsha is Yoorst’s child, sir. Kind but not clever.” The young woman raised her eyebrows as she tapped the side of her headdress with two fingers.

Slow but good natured, then. Such happened in all families, and meant nothing to him. However, their honesty spoke well, far better than Fuchsban’s forwardness. Tarno studied the young woman and Goodman Erbstman. Urla reminded him of a good chair, sturdy, comfortable, but not overly fancy. He nodded once. “I have two sons. After harvest ends, let us speak more. I will bring the boys to your farm, perhaps?” Getting them out of the walls for a while would probably do them good.

Erbstman nodded in turn. “After harvest. I farm south of the river, Three Rocks Farm. Take the trade road to the kissing trees, then turn right to the three rocks. Come if ye will, and Donwah and Scavenger prosper ye whichsoever way ye choose.”

“Yoorst and Gember be with ye on your way, thank ye.”

Tarno resumed his return to the house. No dowry . . .  Or, a dowry but entangled in a property spat, one her father did not sound hopeful to win. It would not be the first or last time property went to the temple in order to prevent bloodshed, should things be at that point. And a sister who was simple. Tarno shrugged to himself. That mattered not to him, although some families worried about such things. To marry a farm girl, though, and not a salter’s daughter or widow . . . He’d need to confirm with Tarak Schaefer that it would not cause problems. If the family farmed schaef more than grain, all should be well, but he’d best ask before doing anything more.

(C) 2021 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

On the Road

I’m on the road. Post will return tomorrow with another Tuesday Tidbit.

Update: I’m home. No major excitement. However, the new aggregate surface on the highway makes it hard to listen to heavy metal and some pipe-organ music on the stereo without cranking the volume to ear-bleed levels. The rough surface, plus tire sound, drowns out the bass. TXDoT needs to rectify this posthaste. 😉

Which Version of the Story? Fairy Tales and Folk Lore

For reasons I have no clue about, unless it was related to waking up from a dream about doing lesson plans, my mind wandered into fairy-tale heroines and tropes. Oh, or it might have been snickering with a friend about taking a currently popular (and unhealthy) romance trope/reader cookie and subverting or flat inverting it. That was popular for a while in certain circles. You may recall the “self-rescuing princesses!” claims for some books, or last year’s “inverted re-telling of The Princess Bride.” (If you missed that, no great loss, I assure you.)

A while back I posted about a different writer’s frustration with the live-action and CG movie Maleficent, and how it collided with the ideas in Sleeping Beauty. These are both Disney productions, and thus Disney’s version of the Sleeping Beauty story. Those who have read the older versions know that Disney sweetened things a great deal, although the animated movie is a great story on its own. One of the blog commenters observed that she does not like the older fairy-tales and folk-tales, because they place too much emphasis on physical beauty as the only thing of value for a woman, with everything else coming a distant second at best.

I’ve been chewing on that for a while, and I’m not really sure that holds up, when you get away from Disney versions, the sweetened and domesticated editions of stories. I grew up with Andrew Lang, the original Grimm’s stories, and some Russian and Scandinavian stories, along with Greek mythology (unexpurgated). Some are certainly about beauty alone – The Little Goose Girl comes to mind, where it is her lovely hair and her attractiveness (and the talking head of her dead horse) that proves her nobility. Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” is another one. “The Princess and the Pea,” where physical sensitivity shows noble rank. But a lot of others . . . require the heroine to do a lot of work, or to atone for mistakes, in order to win her man or win her brother’s freedom.

The German Frau Pechta stories are about young women who help others, and who have strong domestic skills. That wins them supernatural aid. So too some of the Baba Yaga stories, where the girl (with the aid of her mother’s blessing) shows respect for Baba Yaga and completes tasks in order to get the wild spirit’s assistance. “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” is another where the girl must endure hardship and show bravery in order to win back her love. “The Swan Princes” requires the princess to make shirts out of nettles* for her brothers in order to break evil magic. Some other stories, where the prince rescues the heroine, require her to trick her captors in order to stay alive or unmolested.

Those are not about beauty. Yes, they are about following social norms and being a good woman/daughter/betrothed. Yes, the girl is often described as being pretty or beautiful, just like the man is always good looking. The idea that interior goodness or wickedness is reflected in outward appearance goes back a long ways. But looks are also deceiving, as other stories show. The beautiful princess may be the evil one, or the witch-queen uses her looks to seduce the king and take over. (There’s a strong undercurrent of that in Robin McKinley’s Deerskin, a book I do NOT recommend for young readers. Stick with The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword as teen reading.)

Andrew Lang toned down some of the stories in his collection. He was a Victorian, and had Victorian sensibilities about what was appropriate for young readers. However, a lot more death, mayhem, and misery are in those stories than people assume. The heroes and heroines have to pay for bad choices, for breaking the rules. There’s a reason for the trope of the evil step-parent, of the negligent blood-parent. If you read a lot of history, then read “The Children of Lir,” you sort of nod. Second wives demanding that their son inherit rather than the son of the first wife . . . The pattern shows up over and over in history. Heck, look at polygamous societies today. Hans Christian Anderson made up his fairy tales, for the most part, but they fit his society and time. The French stories, once you take off the pretty trimmings added to please the nobility, are darn grim and close to the bone, just like French peasant life. Balkan folk-lore is full of “don’t go with strangers, avoid strangers, stick close to home and stay with the group or else.” But often the girls have to be strong, and brave, and take risks to free themselves or their family members from supernatural ills. Or at least to preserve themselves until help can come.

So yes, the “beauty is what makes you successful/happy/loved” appears in some tales, and it’s probably not the best foundation for living your life. But dig a little farther and there’s a lot of self-preserving princesses, some who rescue their lovers, some who stand up to supernatural rulers on their own, and some who provide the critical key to help the prince defeat evil. Like so much, it depends on what you read and watch, and how widely you read and watch.

And I’m going to go right on messing with the current Paranormal Romance patterns in some of my stories. Because some Golden Calves need to be BBQed.

*You treat the stems of nettles the same way you do flax – let the outer coating soften in water by rotting a little, then hackle and rett the fibers, spin them, and weave or knit the thread into cloth. It was a fiber that was available to the very poor when even gleaned wool was too scarce. Sort of like bark-fibers (bast) in Slavic countries.

Saturday Snippet: To Market

Tarno, having been paid for the season, goes to the market.

Tarno sniffed the air flowing down the long street from the market square to the salt gate.  The wind had shifted with the storm, driving away the clouds and fog. The rich, hot scent from the bakers’ ovens fought with the sourness of earth-coal from the smiths’ quarter behind Rella’s temple. The usual ordure of the beast market had departed with the storm. Rain sweetened as well as drenched, unless it was the slow, warm summer drizzle that brought miasmas out of sour soil and warned of illness among the young and weak. The usual smells would return, but today the air felt empty. Tarno shrugged.  The lead great-hauler on the wagon parked by the tanners’ gate hissed, her crest and neck feathers ruffled. Tarno edged closer to the wall of the tanners’ confraternity building and Master Keiffer’s house. Another man could test the strength of her claws and her kick, thank you!

“Rella’s torch” poured light and heat down on the street.  The warm cobbles under his boot soles made Tarno frown to himself. The boots needed repair, preferably soon. And breeches for Kyle, perhaps for Donton as well. Once Cila patched Kyle’s old breeches, Donton could wear those, if she could patch them, but Kyle would not fit into his father’s old trousers yet. Soon, probably, but not this winter. Tarno considered his needs as he approached the south end of the great market square. Take the old socks to the knitters’ stall so they could decide on credit for him, then the old-clothes stalls, and then he would visit the preserved-meat and spice merchants. He turned to the left and strode along the edge of the market, out of the flow of traffic.

Crash! Wares hit flagstones and cobbles. Tssssss! A great-hauler snapped at a wiry, oddly-clad stranger who ducked, twisted, and ran, arms full of something.

“Thief! Stop thief!” The hue and cry sounded from a dozen voices. Tarno turned and raced after the stranger. The man swore and sped his steps, running faster than the river in spring. Tarno lengthened his stride and reached for the stranger. The man ducked, dodged left and collided with the wagon at the tanners’ gate. Crunch. He staggered, dropped his burden, and collapsed. Blood on his head and on the weathered-grey wood of the wagon’s tail-board told the tale. Panting a little, Tarno stopped and waved his arms, then pointed as two market wardens raced up, boot-nails clattering on the cobbles.

“Uuuungh,” rose from the man on the ground. He wore much-patched and faded blue breeches, brown socks and patched tan shoes, and a faded red shirt. His loose, almost knee-length sleeveless jerkin of blue and brown had been pieced together from tatters of something else, or so Tarno judged. The younger of the two watchmen heaved the thief to his feet. “Claim Scavenger’s toll,” the man slurred. Blood gushed from his nose and chin. Tarno glanced down but didn’t see any teeth on the ground.

“Not here,” Tarno and the older guard said together. The guard continued, “Scavenger’s toll fails. You caught the wagon without being touched.”

“Seen and witnessed,” a man and young woman called from beside the wagon. “Me dahter and me heard ‘t hue-n-cry. Yon master didn’ touch t’ thief. He ran hisself into m’ wagon.”

Trrrwheeee the off-hind great-hauler caroled, as if in agreement. The young woman and a passing goodwife made Yoorst’s sign.

“Donwah and Scavenger witness, I did not touch him.” Tarno averred as he made Donwah’s sign.

“Good ’nuff,” The market watch dragged the flattened stranger back toward the market. One of the market-master’s apprentices had trotted up in the meanwhile. He collected the goods off the ground and hurried back to the sellers. They would inspect the goods in front of witnesses in the Market-master’s hall. If damage claims came forth, well, the motley-clad stranger would be working himself hard.

“Yon fool marked m’ wagon,” the owner grumbled. “T’ priest ‘ll best be called.”

The young woman nodded. “Aye, sir. But a blessing n’er does ill, and we owe t’ Lady of Waters for Her kindness.”

A heavy sigh. “Aye.” Tarno took in the man’s sturdy boots, heavy breeches, the wear patches on his jerkin, and the stained and battered but good felt hat. The man wore cream and nut-hull brown, home-dyed by the look. A farmer, then, likely with schaef or great-hauler flocks if had doings with the tanners. The daughter sounded sensible, and if a touch too square-jawed for beauty, carried herself well. She too wore cream and brown, sturdy and well-made.

“To ‘t temple, then, then trade,” the farmer declared. All three great-haulers dipped their heads. Tarno inclined in a slight bow to the man and betook himself back to the market square to find boy breeches and speak with a heavy-goods cobbler.

The goodwife at the knitters stall considered the socks, such as they were. “A little credit, Master Tarno, but not no more than a quarter silver, if that. The yarn’s worn uneven.”

As much as the socks had been mended and re-worked, a quarter was better than he’d hoped for. “Agreed,” he said. “I’ll be back later for finished goods, socks for two boys and myself.”

“Aye.” She extended her hand and they touched palms on the bargain.

He turned and threaded his way between buyers and wares-laden apprentices, one hand on his purse. No point in tempting one of the Scavenger-born to foolishness, not that he’d been bothered in a year and more. Thieves tended to go wary around him after he’d broken the skull of the last one to cut his purse strings. The hot sun brought the scents out of leather and other things, confusing the nose. Sour wine lees cut through the muddle, rising from a red-purple puddle off to the side of the main way, and he wrinkled his nose. An apprentice would be working right hard to make up for that.

Tarno stopped at the rag buyer’s stall beside the used clothes seller. Goodman Karl shook out the breeches and jerkin. “Aye, boys be hard on breeches,” he sighed. He held them up to the sun, dark green eyes blinking hard. “Can’t quite read a contract through them, but near.” He leaned over and marked Tarno’s name and four scores on the tally-board between his stall and Goodwife Hasla’s stall. “So much I’ll give for both pair and the jerkin. Carpenters want old leather for summat or ‘tother.”

“Agreed.” They touched palms, and Tarno went to the next stall. He stopped, peering at the fancy skirt hanging from one of the pegs. He’d never seen the like. Dark red and blue embroidery decorated the upper skirt and waist-band, but from two hand-lengths down, someone had cut the material and sewn patterns into it, leaving little holes with color around them. Fancy cream-colored thread work decorated the bottom for a hand-width.

The young farm daughter he’d seen earlier stopped as well, basket on one arm, and shook her head. “There’s more trim than skirt,” she declared.

“Aye. Came from a death sale, an’ no takers. Women here don’ wear such, not even as a festival dress with an under-skirt.” The goodwife shook her head. She wore practical, dark colors, a bit worn but clean and well-made. Her flat-edged headdress sported dark brown embroidery, and Tarno saw a pattern of sheaves.

Who had come from where to wear such a skirt? Tarno shrugged to himself.  Probably one of the merchants or confraternity members who traveled on trade. Marrying out brought fresh blood and trade opportunities, if that had been the woman’s dower. Sometimes the blood did more good than the trade, based on the stories from down south. Beast nor man prospered for long if too much stayed in the family, as they said. None of which had to do with breeches for growing boys!

The farm-daughter continued on her way, and Goodwife Hasla nodded to him. “I need breeches for boys, one so tall,” he held his hand a little above waist high, “the other so.” The hand moved to chest high. “Still growin’ the both of them, not too long-legged.”

Goodwife Hasla smiled a little and nodded to a passing journeyman with legs tall enough to rival a great-hauler. “Less than yon, then, aye.” She glanced through her stock. “Heavy fabric I’ve got, leather not so many. Tanners’ not caught up with need yet.” She laid out three pair of breeches, one pair baggy enough at the waist to fit both boys in at the same time. Tarno considered the other two pair, rubbing the material for roughness and turning them to check for wear. Some on the knees, of course, not so much on the seat as he’d feared. They’d do for Kyle, and might last to do for Donton in turn.

“Here’s two in leather, and one your size, Master Tarno.” Goodwife Hasla leaned forward and studied his lower half. “Hmm.” As he considered the leather breeches for Kyle, she flipped through her bundle. “Ah.” A second pair of men’s breeches flopped onto the counter at the front of her stall, and four shirts. “These with t’ breeches. Material’s heavier than most, and not many want light colors for boys.” She winked.

“Aye that. White and boys makes as much sense as makin’ pan salt in th’ rain.” Neither one lasted long! The pale tan shirts would work for both boys. He’d not planned on those, but better now when he could find them than not find when he needed them. Oh, it had been easier when Annaka could just trim or patch to fit. Truly, he needed to find a wife. “So, how much of my year’s wages are ye wantin?” He winked back.

She leaned away, as if offended. “Now, good master, I don’t want all yer wages, just half.” She pulled a tally board out and made marks for the cloth breeches, the leather, and the shirts. “Less the credit with m’ man,” she erased four of the marks. “Three-quarter silver.”

“Three-quarter! Now, Goodwife, I’m not against a fair trade, but three-quarters for used? Nah, one third silver.” He folded his arms and waited.

“One-third? I’m old, not foolish, Master Tarno. Yer not buyin’ shoddy, not from me. You want one-third for this,” she waved a knob-jointed hand over the clothes, “go talk to my goodman. Two-third silver or no.”

After another round, they settled on half a silver and a pooz-weight. Tarno handed her coin and bits of broken silver ring. She weighed them. “Fair dealin’,” she called to all passers-by.

“Heard and witnesses,” one of the assistant market masters said, nodding to them as he passed. Goodwife Hasla bundled the clothes and tied them with a bit of old net-string.

Tarno accepted them. “Maarsdam smile on you.”

“Donwah bless.”

Tarno considered matters. Walking through the market with the bundle might tempt someone. He turned and strode down the row, between the fabric-goods sellers and the dealers in wool, thread, and sewing and spinning things. People filled the rows, haggling, measuring out goods, and exchanging news. Who hadn’t heard the Master Richten, the market master, say that if he could collect a booth-fee for news and gossip, the city would have enough money to bridge the river, expand the walls, and build a roof over the salt works? Tarno half listened as he walked. Nothing caught his ear, at least not yet. Weather talk, crop talk, gossip, the usual things. A few people declared “Fair dealing,” and touched palms over their agreements.

(C) 2021 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

Cat Post

Because I haven’t done my part to keep teh Intertubez full of cats.

The shift supervisor in the live-plant department at Wildseed Farm, Fredericksburg, TX.

I think my neck would break if I tried sleeping like that. I know my hamstrings would go on strike!
Same cat, different metering.

Aliens. Natural skincare. Ooooooohhh kay. Also Fredericksburg, TX.

Climate Change, Government Policy, or a Bad Combination of Weather and Topography?

Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands suffered very bad floods last week due to a series of intense storms that dumped a lot of water in a small area. The region had been damp to begin with, so the water-logged soils couldn’t hold any more. Two dams broke, a third overflowed but did not fail, and people died. Homes collapsed, roads and railroads disappeared into twisted masses of paving and tracks. Now people are trying to asses the damage and find the missing. It’s a horrible situation for the people of the Eifel region, Cologne, and areas downstream. The people flooded in North America can sympathize. Lots of water, very fast, on ground that can’t absorb more water . . . Flash flooding follows. It’s terrible for the people and animals caught in the water and mud.

The German and EU governments, and others, are blaming climate change for the intense storms that led to the flooding and deaths. If only we used non-CO2 producing sources of energy, this would never have happened, say the politicians and activists. Except . . .

The article is “Don’t blame climate change for Germany’s Flooding.”

I remember driving along the Rhine in 2012 and being flabbergasted by the height of the river. High rainfall had filled it to brim full. The Rhone and other tributaries also ran high. In 2002, the Elbe River in eastern Germany and the Czech Republic flooded, inundating Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, and other cities. In 1965, Hamburg went under water, and it still does. The parking garage near the maritime museum in the old part of the city has big signs on the doors saying not to open them if the water is X deep. The ground floors of buildings in that area are semi-sacrificial. In that case, it was a North Sea storm that backed water up the river and into the city. You know, like the horrible floods that killed tens of thousands of people at a go in the 1300s, 1500s, and 1700s, and probably earlier? Back before the internal combustion engine, during the Little Ice Age and before? Those floods. Inland also flooded as well in the past.


The above link goes to a paper looking at floods on the Lech and Isar Rivers, tributaries of the Danube that flow through Augsburg and Munich respectively. Floods happen. Lots of floods. When conditions are right, the rivers rise. Between 1300-1900, each river flooded over 85 times. The high waters ranged from “it flooded, that’s what it does” to huge inundations that wiped out large swaths of crop land and homes. (The part you want starts on page 790, or page 8 of the PDF).

Jo Nova has a post as well, about flood histories in the lower Rhineland, and elsewhere in the German-speaking world. https://joannenova.com.au/2021/07/a-world-protected-by-windmills-in-1717-christmas-floods-in-germany-killed-14000/

If you dig carefully enough, there are reports of floods during the warm period of the High Middle Ages (800s-1200s), and probably archaeological evidence of flooding during the Roman Warm Period. My point being that “rivers flood. That’s what they do,” as a farmer in Flat State observed as we discussed the local stream’s recent overflow. This does not make it any easier on people who find themselves caught in the waters. A poor lady on the news last night said that the municipality sent out a flood warning on Facebook™, but if people had no computers or were not on FB at the time, they didn’t know about the waters about to engulf the village. The national government did what it could, but local authorities dropped the ball. Or power had already gone out, and that wiped out cell service and other things. That’s not climate change, that’s a failure to have back-up plans.

It’s terrible that people were hurt or killed, and that more people lost homes, businesses, crops, and animals. Floods leave stinky, filth-ridden, disease-promoting muck and mire behind. The sun emerges, the mud steams, and miasmas fill the air as people start cleaning up. As has always happened since humans moved into floodplains and coastal plains.

If I could get a point across to politicians and activists around the world, it would be this: don’t blame anthropogenic climate change. Blame physics, hydrology, and gravity. Read about the Little Ice Age and the Great Drownings of the North Sea. Read Dagomar DeGroot’s Frigid Golden Age about the Dutch and the Little Ice Age. Solar panels and wind turbines can’t stop flooding, or intense storms. Coal and natural-gas powered generators don’t cause storms, neither do internal combustion engines.

Weather happens, no matter how badly people wish it didn’t. Pester your local politicians about bad land-use policies, donate to your local volunteer fire-and-rescue, and to groups that help with clean-up and rebuilding. Think about what you can do to help mitigate runoff and reduce hardscapes that contribute to urban flash-flooding. Those are things that can affect flood damage and loss of life. Sometimes. And sometimes, hell and high-water come together because of forces far beyond human control.