Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ Day started from two threads. One was a woman in the upper South who worried about the living conditions of women in Appalachia, and about maternal and infant mortality before and after the Civil War. The other was a poet who urged mothers’ to work together to oppose war and work toward peace.

Anna Jarvis was the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, who had worked to improve the lives of women in Appalachia, and had formed assistance groups during the Civil War. Julie Ward Howe wrote poems and tried to organize a women’s peace movement centered on mothers. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor all mothers, and to encourage more recognition of the contributions of women to everyday life. Julie Ward Howe had started a local Mothers’ Day, but it had not caught on well. Anna Jarvis pushed harder, and the idea spread. Eventually Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May would be a day to honor mothers. The cards, flowers, gifts, and other things came later.

Not every country honors Mothers’ Day on the same day as the US. I know that about 13 years ago, several countries postponed Mothers’ Day when it would have coincided with the Western celebration of Pentecost. There was much (quiet) grumbling from the choir and assistant minister when the church where I sang at the time opted to postpone Pentecost instead. We wore red vestments anyway, and glared at the top of our lungs, so to speak. Anyway.

For Catholics, May is a month to give special consideration to the Virgin Mary, so it is especially fitting to honor all mothers then. Since roughly 1990, the day has expanded to include step-mothers, adoptive mothers, “mother-figures in our lives,” and pretty much all care givers. Even so, there are people who snarl about “well, some mothers are abusive and honoring mothers will offend/ distress someone.”

Since, thus far, without mothers, there would be no one around to grumble or to celebrate, I tend to fall down on the side of honoring mothers.

We’ve come a rather long way from the days of hoping to mobilize mothers in order to prevent war. I suspect Anna Jarvis would not be pleased with the commercialization of what was supposed to be semi-religious and quiet. But that applies to most holidays.


Christmas Rose Part Three

A busy day at work and after.

Once Martha retired for the night, Jude banked the fire in the woodstove, then went out into the darkness. “Nothing moves yet,” Shoim informed him from his new perch. Jude had added perches to both ends of the shed, painted to blend in with the older wood and metal. Now the harrier had a sheltered place to loiter or overnight closer to his mage, and vice versa.

“For which I give thanks,” Jude replied in his own tongue. He looked up. Thin clouds muted all but the brightest of stars, and Venus. Mars glowered down from beside the Bull’s eye, two red points behind the veil. His people did not look to the stars for omens, but still . . . “I’ve been studying how to work magic around Elementals, should the need arise.”

“Good.” The nearly invisible harrier rustled. His black and dark brown feathers and black-gold eyes blended into the night. “I wonder if it is related to what Veronica mentioned, the boys who tried to observe the coven’s last practice session.”

Hmmm. I’d not thought of that. He went to the gate and shifted to seeing magic, just watching and feeling the flows of power that coursed through the night. Closer to town, he sensed the coven weaving their solstice spells. He did not pry. He turned his attention to the magic closer at hand. Land power had slowed with the cold and longer nights, but shadow power more than filled the void. He pulled a little magic from night itself and played with a ball of shadow, bouncing it in his crippled hand. “I hope you are wrong and fear you might be right.” He allowed himself a sigh. “At least abyssal summonings are usually predictable and easy to find, most of the time.”

The harsh sound of Shoim’s chuckle floated from the south end of the shed. “Indeed. May any problems be weak and easy to deal with.”

“From your beak to the Great God’s ear,” Jude replied. “I’m a little surprised that the coven didn’t want us to attend tonight’s working.” The coven leader, Veronica, had expressed concern that his presence as a shadow worker might interfere with their power gathering and balancing.

Shoim sniffed. “Lucy objected, but Veronica and Hans overrode her concerns. I wonder if the coven will be looking for a new buffer soon, or if Lucy will find a different coven?”

Jude sent the puff of magic in his hand to his Familiar, then stretched. We should be Hunting this night. But I sense nothing new. “We need to look into the rotten place in the far north. Not tonight.”

“No, because if you think we are strong enough to take that on this close to the turning of the year, you are as stupid as a—” The choice and most unflattering terms that followed sent Jude’s eyebrows rising to his hairline.

“I hope you did not learn those from Rodney.” Master Lestrang’s Familiar had the foulest mouth Jude had heard in many years.

“Of course not. From Tay.” Shoim stuck his beak into the air. “He got two of them from the Dark One, after the Dark One opened that last property tax assessment.”

Which explained a great deal. The guardian was not supposed to be a corrupting influence, but in Master Saldovado’s case, well, leopards did not change their spots so easily. And tax officers had invited invective since . . . The time of Noah’s flood, most likely. Explaining his tardiness if he were not at work by five the next morning would be far more difficult. “Defender be with you on your Hunt.”

“Lady bless.” Shoim shifted a little on his perch, then dozed off.


Ten o’clock came and passed before Jude found a free moment to add Martha O’Neil’s order to the list at the bakery. The week before Christmas threatened to overwhelm the bakery, as usual. Jude made pie and bar crusts, restocked the shelves and display cases in front of the store, helped unload the trucks as best he could, and pulled hot baking sheets from the ovens, then reloaded the ovens. “Carefully timed chaos” Mr. Scharbauer, the master baker and store owner, had called it. Jude slid warm bread loaves into bags, then moved them clear of the counter top so Clare could slide a baking sheet of barely-cool mincemeat hand-pies onto the space.

“Thanks,” she gasped. She stopped for a moment to catch her breath. “I don’t think it was this wild last year!”

“It wasn’t.” Jerry, one of the graduated journeymen, had come back to help with the rush. He shook his head and began easing the hand-pies off the tray. “Mrs. S. says that there are twice as many pie orders this year.”

Jude nodded and started folding boxes for the order of hand pies. “I know I’ve made more crusts. Mincemeat is very popular this year.” So was apple.

Mina appeared in the workroom door. “We’re almost out of bread.” Jude stopped folding and moved the loaves to the cart. He pushed the cart to Mina. She grabbed it. “Thanks!” Cart and coworker hurried out of sight.

By two o’clock, when Mr. Scharbauer paid him for the day’s work, Jude needed real food and time to breathe without the heavy dust-mask. “Thank you. I need you Thursday, but not until noon. Then the usual time on Wednesday and Friday.” As the broad-shouldered, middle-aged baker handed Jude a very heavy looking bag of overdone and broken things, he said, “I think there’s more rush because of being closed on Saturday.”

“That makes sense, sir. I’ll take Aunt Martha’s order home on Friday.”

“I’ll plan on that. Thank you.” Mr. Scharbauer returned to the fray.

Jude changed out of his denim overcoat and heavy dust mask, then departed. What is in here? He stopped beside a dumpster in the alley and peeked into the white paper sack. “Lady bless,” he whispered. There were at least three sausage kolaches, and not overdone ones, either. He glanced left and right, then pulled one from the sack and bit into the bun. He tasted meat as well as bread. Ah, these are the ones with the failed casing. The sausage had spread into the dough. It tasted wonderful, but the customers preferred intact sausages.

Jude slipped the bag into his leather rucksack and eased out of the alley. Since court was in session, the Courthouse Café was staying open all afternoon. He nodded and got a late dinner, then went to St. Boniface Catholic Church. Fr. Antonio would start hearing confessions at three-thirty, with mass at six, then the Christmas concert rehearsal at seven-thirty. On the way, Jude fished his phone out of the bottom of the rucksack and checked on Martha.

“I’m fine. One coughing spell, and don’t you tell anyone who looks like a doctor.” The heat in her voice could have baked every pie he’d made that morning. “The nurse keeps calling and I’m about to tell her to go jump in the river.”

Jude smiled a little, then said, “Your orders are on the list, ma’am.”

“Good. At least one thing went right today.”

Shoim waited at St. Boniface, atop one of the handicapped-parking signs. “Took you long enough,” the melanistic northern harrier grumbled.

“Would you like to visit the bakery and see why I was delayed?” Jude slid the rucksack off one shoulder and retrieved the left falconer’s gauntlet from the bag.

The hawk blinked a few times. “No. I don’t want to be baked into a pie.”

“Well,” a voice from behind Jude said, “you are a black bird.” Jude let Shoim climb onto his wrist before turning to face Father Antonio Manfredi. The broad-shouldered priest smiled a little. “And the bakery seemed a little hectic last week. I suspect it is even busier now.”

“Yes, Father. They will close on Friday afternoon, and there are more out of town orders.” Jude smiled, mindful of his teeth.

The priest made a thoughtful sound, then continued into the church. Jude went into the office first, to leave his tithe before going down to the chapel. Laurence Kupfer, Miss O’Raurk, and two other parishioners already waited. Jude genuflected before sitting well away from the door of the confessional. He rested his arm on the back of the pew, easing Shoim’s weight. “I am glad that you are not larger.” Or a carrion eater.

“I am perfectly sized for my duties,” Shoim stated. “And perfect for blending in at night, and for Hunting abyssal creatures and constructs.”

And not cursed with false modesty. In theory, humble and self-effacing Familiars existed. The small sample Jude had met in person did not fit that description.

That evening, following mass, the choir met. Lucy Hoffman, Kyle Traeger, and a dozen others milled around the impromptu rehearsal room. Fr. Antonio had “found” a small electric piano and tucked it into a corner of a large, unused storage room. Jude got his music from the row of black folders and hummed to himself. Shoim perched on the back of a chair. He’d joined in once. Fr. Antonio had stopped rehearsal, borrowed one of Jude’s gauntlets, and he and Shoim had stepped into the hall for a minute or two. Whatever had been said, Shoim behaved after that, more or less.

“Do any Familiars actually sing?” Kyle asked as they got into position.

Jude tried to recall. “I think one? Yes, one in Riverton, or so I’m told. I don’t know about others.” The topic had come up after a lesson, when Rodney and Shoim decided to try “Don’t Fear the Reaper” as a duet. Alas, noise-blocking spells don’t work on Familiars!

Fr. Antonio played a chord on the little piano. Conversation turned into singing. After the warm-up, the priest smiled. “Concert order for tomorrow. ‘Veni Emmanuel,’ then ‘Angel Carol, Es ist ein Rose, In Dulce Jubilo, Riu Riu Chiu, O Holy Night and no, sopranos, we are not adding the optional descant.” Everyone smiled as the ladies nodded with enthusiasm. “Then ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Reindeer Rag,” he sighed and shook his head a little, “and finally ‘Behold a Star’. No matter what Mrs. O’Raurk says, we are not doing The Twelfth Night carol.”

“We’re still in Advent, no matter what the DJs think,” one of the altos muttered darkly. Jude nodded, even though he didn’t listen to the radio. He’d heard grumbles.

“Exactly. So.” Fr. Antonio leaned over and played a note. Jude listened and locked the tone into his ear. “Remember, this is chant. It has no tempo, but you still need to watch me, please.” He glanced at the music on his stand, then looked up again and gestured. The basses and baritones began the ancient plea for the coming of a savior. The women came in on the second verse, “Veni veni O Oriens.”

There would be two solos as well, but they only rehearsed the choral pieces. After just over an hour, Fr. Antonio dismissed them. “Please be at the Verein building as close to six-thirty tomorrow as you can. There will be some snacks in case you don’t get time to eat between work and warm up.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “And no flashing Christmas light necklaces or sweaters, please?”

Two of the tenors studied the ceiling and the alto beside Lucy pretended to be disappointed. Jude rolled his eyes. And to think he’d assumed the “singing” Christmas kittens sweater had reached the nadir of taste!

Fr. Antonio caught him and Shoim as the others departed. “Do you have a moment?”

“Yes, Father.” Jude finished putting the folders in a travel box, then waited.

“I’ll be blunt. I don’t like the rumor I’m hearing about some teenagers trying to work grey magic.” Fr. Antonio folded his arms. “Laurence Kupfer said that he thought someone tried to watch the coven’s working, but couldn’t see clearly through the layers of shields.”

Only being in the church kept Jude from saying what he wanted to. “Father, that matches what I’ve heard. And an Elemental asked Shoim and me to cleanse a bit of state hunting land, if something happened there. The earth Elementals are usually quiet this time of year.”

“Hmm.” The priest narrowed his eyes and glanced to the side. “Good to know. I’m used to warmer climates, or much colder.” He met Jude’s eyes again, then Shoim’s. “Call me if you need more than magical cleansing. There are times when even strong healing shadow magic is not sufficient.”

“Yes, sir. We’ll do that,” Shoim said.

The priest relaxed and started to turn toward the door. “Oh, you might be interested to know that Julian Wegner has been asking about spiritual instruction.” He raised one thick grey eyebrow.

“Thanks be to God,” Jude whispered. “That— Thank you for telling us. We’d been worried.” He closed his eyes. Thank you, Great God, Lady of Night, thank You.

Shoim nodded so fast his beak blurred. “Please may he continue on this path.”

“Amen. Now go, so I can lock up and see if Bishop Carmichael is speaking to anyone yet. He’s rather distressed that Notre Dame will not be in any bowl games.” Mischief sparkled for a moment.

And Army is. Master Lestrang had been gloating that both of “his teams” would be advancing. “Yes, Father.” Jude departed. He made sure that the door had locked behind him.

 A few flakes of snow trickled down from the low clouds, a token reminder of the time of year. The forecast called for no more than an inch or two, meaning he’d arise to find a foot of fluff covering the world, probably. “Was there ever a time when weather forecasters were usually correct?”

Shoim shifted a little on his right hand. “Tay says they were, back before the mess with the serpent in the garden. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.” Before Jude finished boggling, Shoim added, “Don’t believe Tay. He also swears he was at a Rolling Stones concert and nowhere near the garden when everything happened.”

Don’t believe that Tay is that old, or don’t believe that Tay had nothing to do with Adam’s fall? He spend the rest of the walk back to Martha’s farm sorting out Shoim’s meaning. “Were it Rodney, I’d assume he had been involved in some way,” he said at last.

“Ummm. I plead the fifth amendment.” They’d reached the gate. Jude lowered the shields, and cast a little bit of shadow on the south-facing perch. Shoim launched, then landed as Jude opened the gate and entered the farmyard. “The Lady be with you.”

“Defender guide your Hunt.”  

(C) 2022 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

A Great Miracle Happened There

Hanukkah starts at sundown. May no one leave their gelt too close to the heater*, may the latkes not scorch, and may HaShem bless you with light and joy in this dark season of the year.

[Click the image for source.]

*That’s when I discovered just how much of a mess gold-wrapped chocolate makes when it melts down the windowsill onto the radiator.

In the Air or In the Water?

We’ve been having a lot of fast, intense weather changes here at RedQuarters. Nothing as exciting as Buffalo “See You After the June Thaw” New York, but going from the 70s to the 20s to the 50s to the 20s F for high temperatures. Combine this with the start of the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Finals-Christmas rush, and sanity seems to be a passing mood, not a permanent status.

We got some snow on Monday, just enough that everyone blinked and said, “Oh, that’s snow,” and went on with life. On Friday, we had cold and grey skies, and everyone went bonkers. Well, not everyone, just 90% of the people on the road. Or so it seemed. Perhaps it was the reopening of a large swath of a major through-street. Perhaps it was the “Friday before Thanksgiving.” Perhaps it was “pretend we’re all cats with the zoomies.” Whatever it was, the morning commute turned from “intermittently not dull” to “a touch interesting.” And that was nothing compared with the folks who came to work half an hour or so later. Apparently, in that thirty minute interval, there were wrecks, fire truck call-outs (activating stop-lights that normally don’t come into use), people changing lanes for no apparent reason and without bothering to tell anyone, people in the left turn lane turning right (!), and other moments of vehicular excitement.

By the time I left work, it was “I’m going to drive too fast, or too slow, for no apparent reason, or do both at random moments because feel like it.” Then a young person in a yellow sports car with target fixation tried to remove my bumper as I attempted to exit the coffee drive-through.

Athena T. Cat kept talking at everyone, then ignoring me, then tracking me down when I needed to work, then ignoring me when I had a free moment. Cats.

Oh, and I got to see something new at the gym. You now apparently do a big lift, push your hoodie hood back, get off the bench, change weights, return to the bench and carefully arrange the hoodie hood just so, then do another lift. The edge of the hood must be three inches back from the top of your forehead, no more or less. Or so it seemed. I must have missed the memo, because I don’t own a hoodie. Nor do I quite understand wearing a long-sleeve hooded sweatshirt with the hood up in a warm gym while doing intense exercise. But I tend to collapse when I overheat, so I try to avoid wearing warm clothes indoors when I’m going to lift and/or do cardio.

Since I drink the water and wasn’t inspired to act crazy, I guess it was in the air.

Release Dates, Author Updates, and An Apology

First, the apology: I said I’d have the next Familiars two-book set available in print this fall. I put it off and put it off, and I apologize. I will try to do better after the new year. I need to go through and fix errors and typos, then send the files off to my cover and formatting person.

If all goes well, I will release the next Familiar Generations book around December 15th. The title is The Hunter in Shadows.

I finished the rough draft of “Lord Adrescu’s Sword” and will release it in late January – early February.

I hope to have some light fairy-tale fantasy stories done by late February, and then the short stories and novella (perhaps) for the next Familiar Generations book. After that it will be the Scottish-inspired novel, Familiar Generations, and perhaps the nomads vs. city-dwellers novel. “Blue Roses” will probably release as a stand alone short story, since it’s not really light and fluffy.

I will be away from the internet next week, so there will be fewer posts, and I might close the comments, just so that people don’t get held in moderation for a long period of time.

Columbus, Thanksgiving, and the Mess that is History

So, today is Columbus Day in the US, or was until last year, when Pres. Biden declared it also (or instead) Indigenous Americans Day. To in addition to Native American and Pacific Islander heritage month, apparently. In Canada, it is Thanksgiving, because they want to travel and celebrate harvest while the weather is still fall, instead of “Only one meter of snow to move before we can clear the ice and start the game!” season. OK, not all of Canada is as cold as the stereotype, but October is still generally nicer weather than late November.

Columbus Day used to be a day to celebrate the courage of the men who explored the world in the 1400s-1500s, telling other people what they found and literally putting the Western Hemisphere on the map. It is also a day for people of Italian ancestry to point to all the Italians who explored for other governments and say, “We did that!” Yes, the Vikings got to the Americas first, and the Basques, and possibly a few other individuals and small groups, but those people either kept things hush-hush to protect really good fishing, or their records were buried in archives for so long that no one remembered them, and then didn’t believe them. I don’t remember Columbus and the others being venerated as being saints and paragons of great behavior, but more for their courage and dogged determination.

Now Columbus is supposed to have been an evil exploiter (and con man) who encouraged the genocide of Native Americans. When I had a student tell me this, I was a bit startled and asked where that information came from. Howard Zinn, as it turns out, who copied a Dutch writer who cut and pasted bits of several of Columbus’ letters and journal entries in order to make the writer’s point about how horrible Europeans were compared to the Noble Savages or the New World.

I’m not sure how much of Columbus’ sales pitch was fake, and how much was his not knowing what he didn’t know, and how much was rabid optimism that distances on the ocean were shorter than they appeared. He did find something, even if it wasn’t what he and Queen Isabella wanted. He discovered the Americas in the sense that he published information and told other people what he found, unlike the Basque fishermen. People saw and read his report, unlike the Viking sagas about Vineland.

Columbus was not a saint. He had lousy personnel management skills, based on what happened around him. He probably should not have left his men alone unsupervised in the islands, but . . . 20/20 hindsight, and let’s face it, the Spanish had just finished the Reconquista. They’d been primed for 700 or so years to assume the worst about “the other side,” and the Carrib Indians were not exactly pure sweetness and delight. When the surrounding peoples beg the Spanish to protect them, sort of like with Cortez and the Aztecs, you get the feeling that the accusations of cannibalism and other things had some truth to them. The Spanish, English, French and others were not nice. Good, sometimes, but not nice. Neither were some of the locals they met.

I like my history “warts and all.” No saints, no “the good guys were practically perfect in every way!” versions of the Noble Savage or Noble Non-European. Or Noble Non-male, or whatever the author is hawking. I want complicated people with the stories told as honestly as we can based on the data we have at the moment. We learn more, or old illusions get overturned by new evidence from new-to-us sources. I don’t like some of the updated stuff as much as I liked the older version, but if the data support a change, and the data are good, well, then I grit my teeth and adjust.

Let’s give Columbus his due. He was a brilliant sailor, a decent human by the standards of his culture, and showed what might be possible. He wasn’t a saint. Nor was he Earl of Hell incarnate. Native Americans were not all pacifists who lived in harmony with Nature until Europeans arrived to toss the serpent into Eden. Vikings were raiders and warriors and slave traders as well as explorers and farmers and literate. Let us give thanks for complex people, and for the world they made.

And keep your stick on the ice! 😉

Apple-Crisp Days

No, not for baking, although right now I’d really like a plop of apple-crisp with vanilla ice cream, or apple pie with vanilla ice cream. No, I’m thinking about the sort of day that starts chilly, turns crisp, and is full of smiles, laughter, kids doing kid stuff, and signs of the turning season. It might not be perfect, but it’s worth savoring.

Most days, I still can’t go out for a walk unless it is early morning, because the sun is still too intense, and the weather too warm. However, more and more strong cool fronts are coming through, dropping temperatures and warning that winter will ease in (or roar in) sooner than we’d like to think. The berries on the hawthorn are half-turned, green shifting to blazing orange. The leaves are also starting to shift color, soon to be crimson. The sweet gum trees are also turning, brown crisping the edges of the large green leaves. Acorns have begun to drop, to the delight of doves and other birds that wait until a car rolls over them, then feast at ease.

Soon, fireplace smoke will start to replace the perfume of smoking meat in the evenings, although not entirely. When the weather permits, grills and smokers remain in service all year around out here. Piñon firewood and other specialty woods are starting to pile up here and there with prices posted by the bundle, half-cord, and cord.

The Mississippi kites have gone south. Autumn is here.

“We do not Fight for Honor, or for Riches . . .”

“Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit.”

That rough area at the foot of the steep slope is what remains of the swamp (moss) where the Bruce caught the English in 1314.

In 1320, during the long war between the Scots and the English, a group of nobles loyal to King Robert the Bruce sent a petition to the Pope, explaining what they had done and why. Edward I and Edward II had claimed the throne of Scotland through a complicated series of claims that ended (in the case of Edward I Longshanks) with “Because I’m bigger and meaner and my army is here, that’s why.” The Scots disagreed, or some Scots disagreed. And so, after much fighting, as things were winding down, the lords sent a declaration to the Pope.

It included the famous lines:

From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.

Note, that they warn that if Robert the Bruce or his successors don’t stick with independence from England, the lords will oust even him and find a king who will. It’s not exactly freedom in the later Bill of Rights sense, but the passion is there, and the Scots put their lives and fortunes where their mouths were.

Robert the Bruce, Stirling Castle, 0630 hours.

I had not heard of the Declaration of Arbroath until I heard John Rhys-Davies declaim it in a “history and Lord of the Rings” program, when he narrated a description of the Battle of Sterling Bridge.

Look down the rows of trees, and you can see Stirling Castle. It controlled the last crossing point on the Forth, and the Teith flows nearby as well. The area between was a swamp with a few crossings, including an old Roman Road. “The Brooch that hold Scotland Together, Stirling was called.

If you listen carefully to history, it can echo. And so:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

We, and all those who are American in spirit if not nationality, “hold these truths to be self evident: that all Men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

1320 – 1776. And don’t forget 1215, when English lords cornered John at Runnymede and forced him to acknowledge limits to royal power: all free-born Englishmen had certain legal rights (and lords had more, but it was a starting point.) The 1689 the English Bill of Rights built on that start with updates and expansions (for certain Protestants, but it was another step forward).

Happy New Year

So, is it 2022, or 2020 Two: The Return of the Sequel?

I have no idea, and I’m not placing any bets. I do know that people will grouse about bills, taxes, and “kids these days.” Someone will be wrong on the internet. People will fall in love, fall out of love, and grumble about politics, or the weather, or crops, or coworkers.

Otherwise I don’t dare make a prediction.

I know what I will try to do: lose weight, improve my shoulder press, write and publish, get things graded on time, grumble less (especially toward the end of the semester when everyone else is grumbling), and have a better attitude about things. These are all activities and attitudes that I have at least a minimal amount of control over. I will try to continue stocking up on certain things. I will try to read more.

These are not resolutions, however. Life happens, fairly frequently. History and current events have provided more than enough examples of that, thank you.