Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Miller Pioneer Church

Well... it looks like Picasa is confused about which server to talk to.  In the meanwhile, here's some photos of the Miller Church.  I'm unsure of the precise relationship, but my Uncle Lionel was related to Richard Miller (who played a part in the Battle of Abiqua).

Yes.  It's propped up with rocks.  Aunt Margot told me that the door on the right was a later edition; at some point in the late 1800's, the style for coffins changed and they became too wide to fit through the original door.

This photo (and the following) were taken about seven years ago at a baptism held in the church.  (Let's see... that would be my first cousin twice removed...)

My Aunt Margot's family spend a lot of time maintaining the graves and the church.

I am unsure what the iconography of these stones are.  To me, it looks like a heavenly hand is shaking hands with an earthly hand and I wonder why the legend doesn't say "Until We Meet Again" instead of "Farewell." 

I like the dove on this marker.

I didn't get a photo of it, but my Uncle Lionel's grave marker is in the fir trees in the distance.

 Another hand, this time pointing Heavenward. 

I think this is supposed to be a weeping willow; I'm not sure if that's for remembrance or for sorrow.

Getting meta here:  the grave of Mr. Graves.

... and a cemetery wouldn't be complete without things that go bump in the night.

Aunt Margot and the Miller Church

I was going to post some pictures, but Picasa is giving me a 503 error when I try.  So no pictures this time.

This weekend we celebrated my Dad's birthday.  He's almost eighty.

We were trying to decide what to get him when Mark had a great idea; we could arrange to have his sister, my Aunt Margot visit him.  So we did.

While I was driving Aunt Margot back from the celebrations, we stopped off at the Miller Church in Silverton. The church is from 1882, and is a simple rectangular "burring church."  What I'd forgotten was that the building sits on piers of field rocks; you can easily look underneath it.  I'd also mis-remembered stain glass windows in the church; in reality the windows are plain.

We checked the interior, which was very plain.  The simple pews rose up on the sloped floor.  Someone had left a door open last fall, and a few leaves lay between the pews and the altar.  Aunt Margot did some quick little tasks and then we continued along our way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hutton and Archaeoastronomy

I was reading more of Ronald Hutton's "Pagan Britain" Wednesday night.  The only difficulty with reading it just before I go to bed is that I sometimes get too tired to follow the review of the archaeological literature.

I'd just gotten to the point where Hutton is talking about "The Strange History of British Archaeoastronomy" and was laughing a little bit about some of the more woo-woo examples when Mark wanted to know why Hutton was dishing people like Robin Heath on one hand, and then pleading ignorance of astronomy and engineering (and thus being able to contribute to the scholarly debate about Archaeoastronomy) on the other.

"He seems to dish people a lot," Mark said.  "All it does is elevate the arguments of folks like Heath"

"Well, he's not exactly dishing Heath," I said.  "He's, um, ... well..." -- and this was were I wished I was a little more awake-- "...he's um, pointing out that some folks outside of archaeology's methodology are making archaeological claims.  I'm not sure if he's cherry-picking for silly examples the same way Philip Davis did in 'Goddess Unmasked.'"  

Apparently, to cross-reference "Pagan Britain," I need to read Heath's "Sun, Moon and Stonehenge."  And probably re-read "Stonehenge Decoded."  After re-reading the section on British Archaeoastronomy, the discipline started with Sir Norman Lockyer's circa 1900 studies, where-in he claimed Phoenicians brought sun worship and accompanying megalithic structures to Britain (and now I have to re-read Hutton's "Blood and Mistletoe").  Unfortunately, (according to Hutton) there's no evidence for Phoenicians coming to Britain, and Lockyer got some key dates of things (like the construction of Stonehenge) wrong.  Carbon-dating threw a wrench into the theories.

Fast forward to Gerald Hawkins' "Stonehenge Decoded," (which I own) and Alexander Thom's work, which introduced the "megalithic yard."  Suddenly all sorts of religious structures are being theorized based on the alignment of various rocks, which would be like assuming my family has festivals on the Equinoxes because our current house happens to be aligned on an east-west alignment.  (Well, I've got the robes and stuff, but Mark doesn't, and getting up before dawn is hard and...)  The other difficulty is that the stellar alignments are more probable than clock-work, and there's always the question of, is such-and-such structure finished or abandoned?

Heath is an engineer and a college instructor--at least according to Hutton; Wikipedia lists him as an astrologer.  I own a small book by Heath:  "Sun, Moon & Earth" which I purchased at the Glastonbury Tor Chalice Well Gift-shop.  Other than a woo-woo tone, a fixation on mathematical coincidences, and an interest in Thom's megalithic yard, "Sun, Moon & Earth" is a fairly straightforward introduction to the apparent astronomical motions of the sun and moon.  With suggestive drawings using the golden ratio or phi.  OK, and a fairly anti-intellectual introduction.

It's the main reason I own what I call "Portable Stonehenge," because in it, Heath shows a picture of how you can take 56 holes in a circle and use it to track eclipses of the sun and moon.  Which I do.  Now I'm going to have to go back and see if the 56 Aubrey holes at Stonehenge were used this way, or simply suggested by Hawkins in "Stonehenge Decoded."

Hutton singles out Heath as an example of someone with mystical, counter-culture "archaeological" theories created by out-dated or misinterpreted readings of the archaeological record and promoted outside the academic review process.  I think there is some expert-dishing-of-non-experts going on, but it's fair to say that Mark's perception that Hutton's books are full of dishing is skewed by how much I laugh and laugh when Hutton uncovers what I call "The Gourd and The Shoe Moments" in Neo-Pagan history.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Circles of Interwoven Stars

Here's a Blender rendering I did a while back.  I keep coming across it, and yesterday I found a physical photograph of it which I put on my office door at work.

I hadn't realized it at the time, but it is the same geometry as the zellij tiles I've studied more recently.  I like the patterns that have regular five-pointed stars in them.  These are difficult to have come out right, because 72 degrees really only works well with other pentagon-based shapes, and then the golden mean rears its ugly head and everything starts to look like Penrose Tiles.

Which isn't a bad thing, actually...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Actually Using My Office

I've finally cleared out enough old papers and boxes and organized my manuscripts (mostly) to the point that my little closet is now a workable office.  I think the only thing to do is get a brighter light, as it feels like 40 watts is not quite enough.

OK.  And it's a little claustrophobic if I close the doors.  Closing the door helps mute the rest of the family, but it's a little like what I remember being in a dormitory was like.  I think I'll have to write a story about anchoresses.   

The desk is something like 27 inches by 34 inches... and the spin I'm putting on that is that it will force me to work on only one thing at a time.   I've got various reference materials, like Fowlers and the "Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" (pictured above my head), on the shelf.  I also have some reference sheets taped to the wall so I don't have to go to the internet to see what the rotation period of Vesta is or when the Upper Cambrian period was.  

I also have a picture of Mark on my desk, and I've put up little pieces of art between the notes.

The goal for the next few months is to go through the backlog of drafts and tweak the stories to a marketable point and then get them out.  Most of my more recent manuscripts (and their critiques) now live in a rolling hanging file, and a box, and a bunch of in/out boxes.  

I actually have a lateral file, with manuscripts filed in it--but it's buried under garage detritus and so it's difficult to get to.  And that's where some the older versions of things need to go.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dream: Divination with Bottle-Caps

Lots of visiting people in my dreams last night.

At one point, a young woman and her girl friend asked me to do a tarot reading for her.  They she may have asked for another kind of reading.  We were outside my old landladies' house on Adams street, on the front yard and sidewalk.  In any case, I had a handful of bottle-caps, which I dropped onto the ground.  Some of the bottle-caps went under a bench.  The majority of them made a kind of arc which looked like someone's head and flowing hair.  A well placed bottle-cap looked like an eye, with the gaze going back; it was her, and she was looking behind her at a few random bottle-caps that had rolled under the bench.  "Oh," I said, "that's you, and you've overheard something, or you're trying to learn something indirectly.  It'd be better to follow-up directly instead of trying to guess."

Now I will have to contact the young woman, who I know in real life, and see what coincidences there are.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First Impressions on "Pagan Britain"

I got Ronald Hutton's "Pagan Britain" in the mail yesterday.  I've only just started reading it, but so far it looks like it's going to follow more in the tracks of his earlier "The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles" than in is in his later work, "The Triumph of the Moon."  The general gist of his earlier book is, "We can only say with certainty, 'ancient folks buried people such-and-such a way' or 'ancient folks built these structures.'  Any supposition about religious beliefs is open to wide interpretation; so you can suppose that the Ancient British worshiped a particular way, but don't get upset at the weirdo down the street who has a different idea of how the Ancient British worshiped."

My favorite part of "The Triumph of the Moon" was learning the history of the chant, "Eko Eko Azarak."  It was one of many "Follow the shoe! No! Follow the gourd!" moments.

Right now he's talking about Goats Hole and the Red Lady, which is interesting... and I think the main point of the first chapter is that modern Western Europeans probably think differently (in other words, probably in a more binary fashion) than Paleolithic humans about "art" and about how to classify animals, people, and gender.

I'm hoping that he'll get to some of the interpretations of Abbe Breuil's illustration of The 'Sorcerer' of Trois Freres.

Monday, January 13, 2014

West Point Photos

 Over the Winter Break we went to West Point.  It was sort of like Hogwarts--especially the facade of the dorms--only martial.  I'd always thought of West Point as a kind of elite boot camp, but it's also a four-year college.
 I liked the statuary, artifacts and the architecture, at least on the things from the century starting 1770.
 OK, I liked some of the newer objects as well, but I wish that modern design wasn't so stark.
This was a monument to a Frenchman who helped out the colonial army.
 There were captured ordinances in the park.  This cannon was from a British ship.  This is the fuse, I think.  I took this shot because it shows the cannon's history and character in an artistic way.
A mortar.  West Point sits on a river; it's one of the few places where the Hudson River can be forded, and both sides have slopes instead of cliffs.  West Point had long views of the river in both directions, with cannons securing the strategic point.
 Even the place where you rope the cannon down has heraldic dolphins (or sea serpents) leaping out.

 Nike stands atop the Stations of the Civil War.
I liked the spheres around this monument.  Each sphere listed the dead at a key battle in the Civil War.

The lists of the fallen were delimited with down-turned torches.
Nike looks across the West Point field.  On the other side is General MacArthur.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ocean Wave Dream

Whew, a storm blew in this morning.  I always expect the neighbor's house and the hill to protect us from storms blowing in from the west, but the really big ones with lots of rain always rattle the bedroom windows.  I was expecting things to be blown around when I went into our backyard, but the wind sounded worse than it was.  We need the rain, and I wish I didn't feel the change so strongly in my hands and feet.  In the course of the morning we've had direct sunshine, a rainbow, and more rain.

Crazy out of control car dream this morning.  I was driving a small jeep with Mark and T.E and somehow I was driving off the road (oh, the joy of the failing to control the car dreams) between houses and then somehow managed to drive into someone's house (the car turned into a plastic kids car and through the magic of dream-logic, with simultaneously fit in the car and in the house's entry hall).

There was some more that I've forgotten, but we ended up on a train or bus.  Sitting across from us was a guardian swordswoman in a 18890 man's suit (dark Dorthy Hamill hair bob) and a young (blonde?) girl with Tarot cards.  The swordswoman carried a two-handed broadsword.  The girl offered to read the Tarot cards for the swordswoman, who firmly declined, saying that the present was a gift and that trying to poke holes through the present to peer into the future was to deny the gift.  (Man, I must have been channeling Mark...)

But the best part was when the train--which turned into a bus--carried us to the ocean.  I was wrapped in my fish quilt (my sister made it), which was larger in the dream.  I went out onto a platform that ran along the side and front of the bus-train.  

The bus drove through some sort of camping ground, and then onto a short flat beach.  There was a row of VW bus/vans parked along the dunes.  The dream threatened to turn into a Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movie...  But the bus went to the ocean, and a wave came to meet the bus.  I was wrapped in the quilt, which trailed behind me out of the vehicle and a little over the front edge.  When the ocean wave touched my quilt, the blues and greens in both merged together and it was like I was wrapped in a warm ocean.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dream: Batman and Umbrellas

The dream this morning was that I was Batman.  Sort of.  My enemy was a giant tap-dancing villian who would stomp on people during his dance.  My strategy was to clean the floor with a slippery cleaner and make Dancing Man trip and hit his head.  This didn't go over as well as I planned, and I ended up running away from a mad dancing giant.

At some point I remembered, "Hey, I'm Batman; I can just use my batter-rang with a line and tie him up."  I never got a chance to do this, as the Dancing Man transmogrified into a small boy and hid in a secret passage behind a refrigerator.

There was a shift, and I was zooming around a large campus-like area underneath a giant, black, double-handled umbrella.  The umbrella caught winds, and by leaning left or right, I could steer it through the air (sort of like when I used to parachute--only by hanging onto the double-handles of the umbrella).  K.B. was there, dressed up in a slanting black half-veil, pill-box hat/stewardess barrette, and a dark formal dress, and I circled around her.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

First Week of the Year

Gah.  What a busy week.  The students came back, my family came back, and suddenly I've got much less free time to do stuff.  I probably had an anxiety dream about it last night.

Typically, I was in a car that had sluggish breaks and steering.  I was coming down a hill and tried to break to avoid bumping into the fender of a car in front of me. The breaks sort of worked, but I still tapped the car in front of me.  Then the car started sliding backward.  Up the hill.  I tried to turn the wheel, but the car kept sliding backwards up the hill... To where a train truck waited.  It had a big radioactive material symbol painted on its side.

On the plus side, my office is now looking like an office and much much less like a junk closet.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

More Papercraft: Wagnerian Tiara

Somehow, I forgot the Wagnerian Tiaras I made in the list of 2013 Papercraft.

I suppose that I shouldn't call the "Wagnarian."  I first saw something like this in 1983, worn by Hecate in a performance of MacBeth.   I always wanted one since.

 In June, I took the tiaras to a local MakerSpace gathering and my friends Mark and Jenn modeled them.

Friday, January 03, 2014

MET Friends: The Cow

One of my "Old Friends" at the MET is The Cow.   OK, it's actually a "Kneeling Bull Holding a Spouted Vessel."   I almost always walk by to see it when I visit.

It's probably a sistrum, or ritual rattle -- but no one knows for sure.  I like how it holds its pail in its hooves.

I pretty much love everything about The Cow.  I like the arms, the horns and also like the pattern on its clothing.

The Cow has a secret smile, too.

It is easy for me to imagine a row of similar animal figures lining a narrow rectangular pool with the water flowing from the spouts of their vessels.