New Bed

The entire day today has been spent getting and constructing Aidan’s new bed. Mrs H had been wanting to get him one with the bed on the top bunk and a sofa and desk underneath. The going price is about £800, which is just a little out of our budget range.

That’s why eBay is such a great thing. We got one several years old, but in perfect condition, for 10% of the cost of a new one. We did have to hire a moving van to get it up here, but that’s why grandfathers are such a good thing.

Before we even drove down to pick it up in just outside Grampy’s town, the children were buzzing with excitement. Once we got it home it was impossible keeping them out of the room while we put it together. As soon as it was finished they were all over it. They wouldn’t even eat their dinner because it was too exciting. It wasn’t even ordinary dinner – they abandoned pizza and garlic bread and pop.

If you thought there was any chance the Abby wouldn’t be staying in Aidan’s room, you’d be wrong. Even if we tried to make her stay in her bed, she would stay up as long as it took to successful sneak in there, impervious to hell, high water, and any sort of punishment. There are some battles not worth fighting.

We freecycled Aidan’s old bed and it has ended up with the same family who took Bubby off of our hands.  We got a thorough report on how she is doing. She is much happier than she was having to stay in the hutch. She has the run of a small fully enclosed garden.

Historical History

As we left the local library and museum today, we stopped at the new Oxfam bookshop. Until recently, Oxfam had a few used books for sale in their main shop. The selected is now expanded, but still quite limited.

Nonetheless, I have a hard time passing up a used bookstore, especially if I haven’t visited it before. I saw several things that interested me. One I couldn’t pass up. For £3.99 I picked up a copy of The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. It is 632 pages, in almost perfect condition and was published in 1885. It’s not a reprint. It came off the press when William Gladstone was Prime Minister and Queen Victoria still had 16 years left on the throne.

I don’t know when I shall read it cover-to-cover, but it is nonetheless a jewel on the bookshelf and no doubt a useful Church history resource.

Family History

It’s not the summer holidays yet, but Mrs H got a hold of information about all the things in the local area to do with kids for free. Today is archaeology day at the museum.

The kids got to dig through a sandbox looking for artefacts. They found bones and pottery shards and even a Roman coin. Abby then smoothed all the sand level and even, which had less to do with archaeology and more with the tidying up gene she didn’t inherent from me.

After the dig, we all made Roman wax tablets using Roman handwriting. They didn’t have wax, so we used plasticine instead.

Aidan wrote his name:

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I wrote in Latin. Can you read it?

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There were displays there about archaeological sites around the Shire. I noticed that they didn’t have anything up about the Rotherwas Ribbon. I suppose it’s best not to let the kids know about that. Don’t want to get their hopes up that they will ever see it, of course.

Likewise, I suppose they wouldn’t understand a display that said, “Here’s the dig at a site that was around 2,000 years before the Romans. Now, here’s what it will look like when it is covered over by a road.”

Uncomfortable Home Truths

I know I made some members of my extended family unhappy when I unearthed the truth that my great-great-grandfather had not been shot off his horse while fording the Caney Fork River carrying a bag of gold. In fact, despite the fact that this family legend is completely preposterous, some still cling to it and don’t want to here anything I have to say on the matter.

How much worse it must be for Katrin Himmler, whose great-uncle Heinrich was the head of the Nazi SS and engineered the Holocaust, but whose grandfather and other great-uncle had always disclaimed any allegiance to the Reich or participation in its evil. When she did a little family research she found out the truth. The Sunday Times has a piece on her today, in preparation for her book being available in the UK next week.

Summer Saturday

It was starting to look a lot like there would be no summer in Britain this year. The last time I was out on a bright and sunny Saturday, I was watching parachutists jump onto the fields outside Sainte-Mère-Église at the beginning of June.

I enjoy going to the city centre on sunny summer Saturdays. We used to always eat sandwiches out in front of Marks and Spencer until Subway arrived and then that became a tradition for awhile. Today we ate at Subway again.

In WH Smith I found the sequel to the book I’m reading. I almost bought it since I haven’t been able to find it at Tesco, but I decided to look on Amazon. I can get the hardcover for £5.15 (including postage) or the paperback for £5.14. That’s nearly £2 cheaper than in the store and I don’t have to go back into town to get it.

After we got back from visiting friends in a nearby village, and the kids had their dinner, bath, and were off to bed, I sat outside in the waning sunlight to read more of my book. I looked up from time to time to see over the river to the cathedral, where the scaffolding has finally been removed. The newly cleaned spires on the four corners of the tower glowed in the evening light. Groups of teenagers sat on the playing fields and a dad was kicking the ball around with a couple of boys who would be too old for that sort of thing too soon.

There are worse places in the world.

I tried not to look at the chain linked fencing that cuts across the ancient meadow, blocking off a large portion occupied on the weekdays by workmen as they prepare to destroy the beauty with unnecessary flood defences. But Asda gave them money build concrete walls and huge earthen mounds to push the water downstream into the houses that have never flooded before and that’s what they are going to do. This is probably the last summer I’ll have the view that came with my mortgage.

Summer or not, being Britain after sunset, the chill in the air got me before the light faded. I found my bookmark and put Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862 on hold. Now that I’ve made a cheesecake (from a box, of course) and I’m waiting for that to set, I’ll get back to the story.

I’ll pick up from the line: “I’ll stay sober, sir, I promise,” for he had a whore to bury and general to see.

One day I’ll write stuff like that.

More Monkey Sex

I mentioned a few days ago that I hadn’t actually seen the Sea-Monkeys® engaged in reproductive behaviour. Things have changed.

They are going at it night and day. It’s almost embarrassing looking into the tank. I was thinking that the monkeys had grown phenomenally over just a couple of days. In fact, I was looking two monkeys.

I’m still not convinced that these are lasting family relationships as advertised:

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Sea-Monkey® Update

They are no longer nearly microscopic. The Artemia nyos in the little tank on the kitchen windowsill can be seen from across the room. Some of them may be as long as the nail on my little finger. They are hard to measure accurately, as they aren’t particularly keen to tread water.

The monkeys are no doubt thriving due the care and attention of Mrs H. She has supplied prescribed amounts of Mating Power, Growth Food, and Plasma III.

I have stopped to watch them for long enough to see if they engage in any sort of social or family activities.  I still haven’t seen any baseball games or picnics. The Mating Powder and the emergence of significant numbers of additional tiny monkeys would seem to indicate that the primary social and/or family activity is monkey sex, though I can’t claim to have actually observed this myself.  Admittedly it isn’t something I’ve been trying to observe, so perhaps it is happening right in front of me and I am unaware. But then there are long period of time when the room is dark and no one is watching.

Bush, Britain, and Values Clarification

I was at a social event recently and everything was going along swimmingly until someone said to me, “Do you like George Bush?” I realised at the time this was meant to be phrased, “Of course you don’t like George Bush, do you?” Nonetheless, I said, “Yes, I suppose so.”

If there is anything that a random gathering of British people do not want to hear, it is that someone might, in some way, or for any reason, support Bush. The only other whole sentence I managed to utter was, “Just like any other President, his administration has policies with which I agree and those with which I disagree.” Otherwise, any time I started to get more than one word out, I was shouted down.

When someone said, “What about the war in Iraq?” I said, “What about it?” When they said, “Where were the weapons of mass destruction?” I didn’t get a chance to say, “I suppose they all got used up on the Iranians and Kurds.” After all, there was no question that Saddam had used them in the past. Not that I care about WMD or their role in the overthrown of Saddam’s regime.

After all, if after the swift war victory, all sides had said, “Thank you very much. We’ll set up a civilised government from here,” it would have been hailed a success and no one would have cared whether or not there were WMD. It would have been like war is supposed to be – superior armies fly over and subdue the enemy with precision bombing, then armies walk in. If there are any casualties, they do not happen to us.

It’s not that I would have been any less attacked or ostracised for supporting Bush. He is a Republican and talks openly about God. He isn’t slick as Clinton, nor does he share the same personal values. Brits still presume to know better about the American presidency than Americans.

When it come to American presidential politics, the only thing I pay attention to less than Brits is opinion polls and their approval ratings. After all, whether it’s a 88% approval or 28% approval or 7% disapproval or 66% disapproval, it’s still the same president. It’s the people who are changeable.

Throughout four or eight years, the course of human events brings what it may. Some things are handled better than others. Throughout it all, an administration represents certain values and principles. In this sense, perhaps Brits have a better vantage point. The repugnance with which they treat Bush has little to do with day-to-day policy decisions. Britain also represents certain values and principles which have little in common with Bush or most people in the red states that elected him.

If in terms of values I have to choose between Bush and Britain, I have to go with Bush every time.

Leaving a Mark on Society

If you spank your child hard enough to leave a mark in this country, you can go to prison for five years. That’s the way the law was left in 2004 after an attempt to ban all chastisement whatsoever. But they’re back. The Government has announced a full review of the law.

There will be a public consultation period. It will include polling to assess whether attitudes to smacking – and the limits of state intervention in parenting – have changed in recent years.

A number of well-meaning completely misguided children’s charities favour a complete ban. Colette Marshall, the UK director of Save the Children, said: “Children are vulnerable and are currently treated unequally.”

The key piece of information Ms. Marshall is missing is that children are treated unequally because they are, in fact, unequal. Ms. Marshall is missing the very same information as a number of students I teach. I am sometimes told, “You can’t speak to me like that!” or “If you can this, so can I!” I frequently have to explain that I am an adult and they are a child; that I am a teacher and they are a pupil; that I’m in charge and they are not. This seems to come as a complete surprise to some. They seem incredulous that different rules apply to me than to them.

It is this idiocy – complete barmy lunacy in the face of empirical evidence – on the part of the left that has led to the smacking ban in schools and motivates the same move to ban it in the home. We might as well remove the age limits to buying alcohol and tobacco, for driving, and for voting as well. In fact, we probably put society in less danger by doing this than by furthering the smacking ban.

Devolving Sea-Monkeys®

I looked at the ant farm on the window sill above the sink in kitchen and the blue goo had turned a bit yellow. The top of the goo looked a bit moldy. There was a distinct lack of Proverbs 30:25 activity.

The ants have died. Apparently this is old news. Mrs H said it happened ages ago.

But now we have Sea-Monkeys®. Again, that they have hatched is apparently old news, even though I only found out about it last night. I’m not sure why I’m not being apprised of all the life and death happening around our house.

Sea-Monkeys® are evidence against the theory of evolution. When I was young, Sea-Monkeys® could do amazing things. They went on picnics and played baseball games, had loving family relationship and I don’t remember what all else. They may still be called “The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys®“, but current owners no longer make such claims.

Sea-Monkeys® now just swim about. I’ve seen for myself. Of course they are really, really small so I had to look with a magnifying glass, but as best I can tell, there were no recreational activities going on, unless you consider swimming a recreational activity.

The developers used to also claim that Sea-Monkeys® were not shrimp, but apparently they have devolved. They are now merely a species of brine shrimp.

I will keep an eye on them and let you know if they start doing any amazing things.

The Living and the Dead

While researching my book last night, I was going through biographical information on soldiers who served with Terry’s Texas Rangers (the 8th Texas Cavalry) during the Recent Unpleasantness. I was looking at information about some of my relatives who served in the same Company E as some of the men (including the Lieutenant) killed at Sinking Cane.

I didn’t find anything new until I switched over to a rather famous uncle who served in another company rising from 2nd Sergeant to Captain in less than a year (he later given a battlefield promotion to Major for gallantry after being severely wounded). There was a link noting that he was the first cousin of some soldiers I’d never heard of. This meant there was a pretty good chance they were related to me as well. They served in Company E. Thus I found more family members to integrate into my story.

With their entries in the website was a link to a family researcher. It was someone with whom I was already acquainted because they go to a church where I used to be the worship leader. Turns out, entirely unbeknowst to either of us, this acquaintance is also a cousin.

That’s one of the things I love about this research – you just never know what you are going to discover. Everywhere I look I seem to turn up relatives, living or dead.

Sinking Cane

Last Sunday a contingent from the Sons of Confederate Veterans were at the Conley Cemetery in an area once known as Sinking Cane in Overton County, Tennessee. They conducted a memorial service for the six Southern soldiers who were massacre at the nearby farmhouse on 12 March 1864. It’s not the first time they’ve done this and hopefully won’t be the last.

Checking through my archives, it appears that in my changes of hosting location I don’t have the story of the massacre on this blog anywhere. Many readers may recall it. The farmhouse was owned by my great-great-great-great-aunt. She was also wounded in the shoulder when the Yankees killed the soldiers in cold blood.

A seventh young soldier was in the farmhouse – my first cousin four times removed. As the 200 troopers of the 5th Tennessee Cavalry (USA) surrounded the house, John Holford Officer was hidden in the loft upstairs by Uncle Abe, one of the family’s slaves. John and Abe were friends to the end of their days – well, to end of John’s days, as Abe outlived him by ten years. Abe gave an account of the events to the Tennessee Historical Commission in 1922.

Five of the six slain men were a part of the 8th Texas Cavalry, popularly known as Terry’s Texas Rangers. (They were not in any way related to the famous law enforcement body, but when there was confusion about this once they’d travelled outside the Lone Star State, they didn’t do anything to disabuse it.)

Of those five, two were in Company C, one from Company D, and two from Company E. The two from Company E served with cousins on my mother’s side from Gonzales County.

I spend a lot of time researching this, because I am eventually going to tell the story of all of this in historical fiction.

Big Boring

I just sort of watched a Friday night version of the current edition of Big Brother. It was on while I was surfing around on the net. This has to be the worst season yet.

They started with all women except for one man. They threw somebody out for using the “N” word, though it never aired. Instead of evicting anyone tonight, they introduced to two men into the house. Yawn…

Mrs H didn’t even bother to watch at all, as she was watching another telly programme she missed on her laptop. She didn’t miss anything.

Out for a Drive and Dinner

Another day of blogging missed, but I left school yesterday just after the final bell and we headed for Cheddar to spend one more evening with Mrs H’s in-laws before they flew back to the States. We went out to a pub for dinner and I won’t say what I had to eat, lest I scandalise any of the faithful as I completely forgot about the Apostles’ Fast.

The pub advertises two-for-one dinners. Most places this means a limited lunchtime  menu of microwave meals. At the Stag and Hounds in Churchill, Somerset it applies to the full menu, including the specials. It is little wonder that when we arrived, most of the tables had already been reserved. We got the only unreserved table that seated more than four. The food was good. The only problem was asking three different Russian waitresses for salad dressing, of which there was only one variety, but it was good.

With a two-hour drive down and a similar time in returning, it made for a long evening. The traffic was lighter getting back, but it still took about the same amount of time, because Mrs H missed a motorway junction resulting in an entirely different way home from Bristol. I contributed to the situation by reading funny exam answers as I was marking papers in the car. I had imbibed a pint of cider, thus discharging me of driving duties, but making it easier to understand some of passes for exam answers.

I marked until it go too dark and then dozed off, but I was still too tired to bother with anything but bed when we got in.

Devolution Redefined

In my Year 10 exam, one of the optional questions (which I took from a previous GCSE exam paper) was “‘Christian teachings about family life are not relevant in the 21st century.’ Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view.”

As I was marking papers I came across one of the most unique answers from someone in one of my top sets. Exactly as it is written:

I do think that Christian teachings about family life are not relevant in the 21st century because people have moved on from doing what people think is right . More and more people are getting into the situation for them to have to abort their babies and more children are forming their own opinions quicker.

Christians whole believe system is based upon God, but now in the 21st century we have theories that we were made from matter and anti-matter and there are theories and evidence that we developed and evolutionerised from apes and monkeys, not from Adam and Eve.

In school, teachers are now teaching us these theories and are showing evidence of fossils, and so the opposition is overwhelming for Christians to teach at this stage in time.

I have to say that I have never before seen the argument that Christian teaching about family life – that husbands and wives should love and respect each other, that children should honour and obey parents, that older family members should be cared for – is irrelevant because of the fossil record and theories about it which suggest that we were “evolutionerised.”

Apart from the bit about being made from matter and anti-matter, I have to say I found this to be a very perceptive answer. When people reject the Creator God and believe they are indistinct from, and merely exist on a continuum with, animals, they have no reason to love and respect. In fact, they end up treating their own worse than many animals would treat theirs.

She is also right that even though I’ve never felt overwhelmed, many students have been brainwashed with the idea that science has somehow disproved the existence of God. I see this on a daily basis. When I attempt to discuss it with the rationally in terms of evidence and argument, they don’t want to know. All they do is shout louder that the world was created by science. (Yes, I know that is nonsensical, even for someone who believes in atheistic evolution, but it is actually what they say.) The few who don’t say this, still operate off the plane of reality by saying that science has explained everything.

Sadly the truth was given many, many years ago: “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”

I’m Back

I am sorry, Gentle Reader, if I left you in a lurch, wondering where I might have been these past few days. I awoke this morning 4:45 BST+1 in Isigny-sur-Mer, Calvados, Basse Normandie and over 600 miles and 15 hours later arrived back in the Shire. I drove all but the last sixty miles and the 30 miles of sea between Dunkerque and Dover.

Last Saturday we hired a seven-seater and picked up my parents, who were already in the UK. We had reserved a five-seater that can be turned into a cramped seven-seater (a Vauxhall Zafira), but when we got to the car hire place they had upgraded us to a comfy true seven (a Chrysler Voyager). We spent the night near the Channel coast and took the ferry on Sunday morning.

We wanted to take my parents (and especially my dad) to see the D-Day sights in Normandy. We had seen them last summer and since then had planned to go back with my parents. We went to the same campground where we stayed for a fortnight last summer. Last year we had originally intended to stay for one night and just never left. It must be the best campground in Europe. It was good last year, before the owner made significant upgrades (like adding a covering and heating to the swimming pool)  over the winter.  He plans even more improvement for next year.

If you are going to France on holiday, you must go to Isigny and stay at Camping Le Fanal – whether as a tent camper (as we were last year) or in one of the chalets or mobile homes. It is family oriented, friendly, and extremely clean. I know this sounds like an advertisement, but we absolutely love it. There is so much of Europe to see, but we just would just hate to miss Normandy.

The owner remembered us from last year. We had booked accommodation that he thought was too small for all of us, and it was a very light week (our half-term was the week after a French holiday week and just before the northern Europeans start coming in), so he upgraded it.

The week before half-term was filled with beautiful weather.  Last week was a bit more turbulent. We had lots of rain. It would rain as we were driving to a place we wanted to see. As soon as we would get there, the rain would stop. As soon as we got back in the car, it would start again.

The only time it didn’t was when we travelled to Saint-Malo so I my father could preach there one night. It rained while we were trying to get our bags into the hotel. After that, any time we were out of the hotel, it was dry. When we left Saint-Malo it rained until we got to Dol, where I wanted to see the cathedral dedicated to our father among the Welsh saints, Samson, who was ordained to the episcopate by St Dyfrig. It stopped while I got out, then started again when I got in the car. It rained all the way to Mont Saint-Michel, then stopped the whole time we were there. As soon as we started to get in the car – you guessed it – it started tipping down.

If I don’t stop now this will turn into a disjointed, but complete, travelogue of how I spent my spring vacation.  As it is, I’ll re-visit a few experiences over the next few days. For now I should get to sleep.

Rather Ordinary Miracle

Last night we went down to Grampy’s because his bitch was whelping. We had been planning for the kids to see the miracle of birth.

Trying to lay the intellectual framework, several days ago Mummy had explained to Abby and Aidan that Lucy had puppies in her belly and that they would be coming out through a special opening. This was necessary, because the kids know they were cut out of Mummy. Abby want to know how they got into her belly. Mrs H skirted that one, I believe.

Mrs H was expecting all sorts of uncomfortable questions to accompany the birth. When we got to Grampy’s house, Lucy had already had four pups. She’s a lurcher, so there were plenty more to come. This happened at teatime, so while I was gone to the chip shop, Lucy had two more. No one asked any questions and for Aidan this was only a distraction from CBeebies (the BBC channel for pre-school and early primary kids). So much for the miracle of life.

When the next was born, Abby got down by Grampy to help it out (Grampy did the actual helping), but Aidan couldn’t even be bothered to leave the telly. We had to come home shortly after that, but no one had any questions in the car, or since as far as I know.

Reality Check

As is the custom with most bedtime prayers, after the fixed bit, the kids as God to bless various grandparents, uncles, cousins, and pets. Tonight Abby included Spiderman and the Green Goblin. I told her we really shouldn’t pray for them because they aren’t real.

With that sound of disappointment that drops by about a fifth at the end (or sounds like a race car passing), she said,  “Oooooooooh.”  She perked back up and said, “They’re only real on the telly.”

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Three years ago today I was in an operating theatre when I discovered that the second boy we were pretty sure we were having was in fact a girl.

May God grant his handmaiden Abigail many years!

Singing, Sermons, and Saints

We had liturgy this morning. It was the bi-monthly visit from the priest (and a number of parishioners) from the Greek church in the adjoining shire.

Our family was a bit late, because Aidan had a mid-morning swimming lesson that had already be paid for before we remember that it was the appointed day for the service. I missed the chance to read the Epistle. We got there about just before the Great Entrance.

We had quite a crowd by our standards. Twenty-five that can definitely remember, fit into a very tiny space. We were packed in like sardines in the little oratory chapel kindly loaned to us by the local Catholic abbey.

Unprompted Abigail sang “Christ is Risen from the Dead” all the way from the house to the abbey. Non-stop. Over and over. Christ is risen from the dead / trampling down death by death / and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. We sing it three times before our meals and in place of “Oh Heavenly King” at bedtime prayers from Easter to Pentecost, so she hears it a lot. She sings it around the house all the time. When we sang it at the end of the Liturgy, she was disappointed that we only did it once. She tried to start singing it again until she noticed that no one else had joined in.

I just wish she had been a little more settled during the sermon as Fr Stephen spoke about “trampling down death by death” so I could have paid attention to the whole thing. He made an excellent observation about Christ as the new Adam, explaining that when Mary Magdalene saw Him immediately after the Resurrection she correctly identified Him as the gardener.

After the service I was also commissioned to assist in coming up with the name of our new community that is emerging. I have made a good case for the most important saint in the history of the Shire, St Dyfrig. As one of the founders of Christianity in the area and as a teacher and father to 2,000 missionaries sent to evangelise that part of this island that would eventually be called Wales, I am confident in his desire to intercede on our behalf. We’ll see how it all works out.

As this group will be affiliated with the Archdiocese of Thyateira, it is apparently customary to also attach a Greek patron. I’m not familiar with a lot of Greek saints, but I’m happy enough if one wants to tag along. We can use all the help we can get.

Three Become Two

I was saddened to learn of the death of pioneering astronaut Wally Schirra on Thursday. The fifth American in space and the third in orbit, he was the only man to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

He was also a friend of my late Uncle Larry. I think they met at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. Wally went to NASA and Larry went to the 7th Fleet.

When Wally splashed down he was picked up by the USS Kersarge. I looked up information about the cruises of the Kearsarge and it appears that Uncle Larry was on it at the time. Uncle Larry was also on the Kearsarge when it picked up Gordon Cooper in October 1963, but he was lost at sea in August when his plane went down.

There are now only two Mercury astronauts still alive, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. It just brings home how historic the early space programs are now.

Wally’s fame insures that his memory will be eternal. May he rest in peace.

Writer’s Block

I hate missing a day of blogging.

Last night was Year 9 parents night, so I worked a 11-hour day. When Mrs H picked me up, she informed me that we wouldn’t be having dinner for a while. I was finally able to cook the chicken and rice it was after 9:00.  Understandably, not long after eating, I fell asleep in the chair.  I didn’t wake up for six hours.

This weekend may be a long one, thanks to the Bank Holiday, but it may not lend itself the extensive writing I would prefer. There are still some outstanding Year 7 reports, Year 11 courseworks to mark, and liturgy tomorrow.

There’s always something to do.

Wedded Bliss

My usual flurry of Saturday posting was not possible yesterday, as we were doing a wedding all day.

My H’s best friend from her school days tied the knot sometime between 12:30 and 1. The service itself, as is true of most weddings I’ve attending, was a reasonably perfunctory affair.  Then there were photos done in the church yard. I’d never seen this before, but it seems common over here.

We went from the church to the reception at a golf course. There was a sit down meal at 3:00. People then just sat around drinking all afternoon. There was a huge bouncy castle with a boucy slide and a mechanical bull for the amusement of various ages.  You would have thought the former would have entertained the children and the latter the adolescents and young adults, but you would have thought wrong. There were very big people bouncing down the slide and both tiny tots and old men riding the bull. A drunk Welshman on a bull can be quite a sight. Mrs H even had a go and she was completely sober.

Not long after the disco started, they provided a buffet. The big hit with the buffet was the chocolate fountain. Having had one of these at Papa’s party in Texas, the kids knew exactly what to do. Aidan was covered in chocolate. I’m glad his suit was much cheaper than Abby’s dress, because it is not the same colour it was 24 hours ago.

After the buffet, the groom’s brothers set off fireworks. I can’t imagine how much they spent on them, because it was like Bonfire Night. There was added excitement due to the fact that the pyrotechnicians were bladdered and there was no sign of health and safety.  The whole thing could have gone up at once. At one point they got up on a hill on the golf course and lauched the rockets horizontally at low altitude. It was a bit like an artillery bombardment.

The disco in the evening went on until 1:00 am. Abigail was quite fleet of foot on the dance floor, spinning around in her dress. (As expensive as it was, I’m glad she got some mileage out of it.) Mrs H went the distance, though I took Abby home at about 11:00.

Creatures Great and Small

We are only four episodes into the new series of Doctor Who and I can already anticipate the new toys that will shortly become available to Aidan.

So far we have rhinocerous bipeds called Judoon, the android Slabs, Carrionites, Cat People, Pig Men, and a Dalek-Human hybrid. I predict a new alien invasion will join the various creatures that descend from Aidan’s room and take over the floor, couch, and tables downstairs.

I have to wonder how the Doctor decides to wander off to various times and places and yet nearly every single time stumbles into world-threatening situations, only to save civilisation as we (or occasionally as the inhabitants of some other world) know it. The chance of this happening over and over and over again must be astronomical.

The place of Doctor Who in the world of science fiction is secure. With the third episode of this series, the franchise has, with a total of 727,  exceeded the number of episodes in the various incarnations of Star Trek.

Six Weird Things

I’ve been tagged by Huw. Here are six wierd things about me. I’m sure there are plenty of comtemporary ones, but most of these are historical:

1. If possible will I only drink hot drinks out souvenir mugs. We have two kinds of plain mugs in our house. When making tea for others, I will only use the white ones for tea and the yellow ones for coffee.

2. I went to a college that pre-dated Christ College and Patrick Henry College by a number of years. During my junior and senior years, I lived in a two-bedroom house that at one point housed eight adults and a pre-schooler in the middle of a 500-acre farm. It was so rigorous that I found graduate and post-graduate education remarkably easy. This suited the fact that I am quite lazy.

3. Before I went to college, I was planning to not go to college at all and be a missionary, following the advice of Keith Green.

4. Almost the entire time I was a Republican County Chairman, I lived (actually, though unofficially) outside that county. My living situation changed about a month after I was elected. I was still the most active GOP chairman the county had seen for a number of years.

5. The first time I visited a Christian Coffeehouse in Indianapolis, someone on staff someone came over and started intensely quizzing me about my theology. I found out later it was because I sat where someone recruiting for a cult had been the night before. Within a few months I was the emcee – one of most fun things I ever did on a regular basis.

6. I was thrown out of the restaurant on my very first date. My date was self-conscious about her size and wouldn’t have anything to eat. The owner wasn’t happy that we were taking up table space just drinking Cokes. Within a matter of months I led the successful campaign to prevent them from extending their alcohol license to 2:00 am. Maybe they should have just let me keep that table.

Tagging: Michael the meme-aholic, Elizabeth, Grumpy Teacher, GCW, the Brit and/or the Grit, Philippa, and Margi.

Stuck in the Middle With You

After reading articles on the breakup of Prince William and Kate Middleton, I was invited by the Daily Telegraph to take a quiz determining to which class of society I belong.

As it turns out I am on the upper reaches of the middle class score.

You, too, can take the quiz, but I warn you that unless you was domiciled in this country, many of the questions may not make sense.

Voices from the Past

I mentioned last week that I had found a box of old cassette tapes while I was in Texas. After I made the discovery of the recording of my band, I decided to dig around in there some more. I made several other finds.

This is a very large box. There are lots of tapes in it and they were completely unorganised. (Now that I’ve been through them they are in greater disarray than before.) Digging through it I found a copy of To The Bride made for me year ago by my friend Larry, so I don’t have to buy it from Barry McGuire for $30.00. I own the vinyl, so I’m legally entitled to have a cassette copy – it just happens to be from someone else’s LPs. I found a another concert tape of mine – this one from the pre-band pre-electric days of 1985 at an Austin coffeehouse.

The most significant find had nothing to do with music. It only caught my eye because even though it had no case and no label, it had “David’s” penciled on one corner of the tape. The handwriting, as it turns out, belonged to my Uncle Dwight of blessed memory.

In February of 1948, my Uncle Dwight and Aunt Kay were moving from Chicago to Houston. Dwight had been a partner in a recording business in the Windy City and was going to set up his own studio. He was carrying a reel-to-reel recorder with him. He stopped off in Bartlesville, Oklahoma to visit family. During that visit he interviewed my father, two of my aunts (including my Aunt Norma, who thought she might marry John Dale Sanders), two of my cousins, my grandmother, my great-aunt, and my great-grandmother.

A day or so later my aunt and uncle were in Denison, Texas, where my grandfather was working. Well, at least he was based there at the time. He worked as a brakeman on the railroad. He was quite verbose and I now know more about the railroads in the 1940s than ever thought I would.

Of all these people, only my father and one of the cousins are still alive. My grandfather died the year before I was born. My great-grandmother died when I was an infant. My grandmother died when I was one. And I have a copy of that tape.

Even though I made a backup to leave in Texas, I carried that tape on my person all the way back home. I didn’t send it through any x-ray machine or put it in my checked baggage with the other tapes. I can sing my songs again (once I remember them) and I could even pay Barry McGuire if I had to, but I can’t get any more recordings of my ancestors.

Back Home Again

We’re back home again after visiting the grandparents in Texas.

We’re a bit sad to be back. It’s not just because the rest of the Easter holiday will have to be spent lesson planning and otherwise getting ready for the final term of the year. Of course the biggest regret is that we can’t spend more time with my parents. The kids are at an age where they can actually appreciate the time.

We’re also sad because we have left the land where petrol is a mere $2.59 a gallon. There is no more cornucopia that is a 24-hour Wal-Mart superstore. My 48-ounce jar of Jif extra crunchy put my bag over the weight limit so it had to be left behind. No more Mexican food made by real Mexicans or seafood native to the Gulf of Mexico.

The only major complaint is that we could have almost bought a car for the cost of a week’s rental plus the insurance.

I got to see other family and some friends, both at my father’s 75th birthday party and in a few visits round about. I even ended up playing some music, though I hadn’t played in public for over seven years and hardly even touched a guitar in that time. Maybe I’ll have to start playing again.

Three-Quarters of a Century

Today is my father’s 75th birthday.

May God grant him many years!

Border Patrol

Living in South Texas, my mother is concerned about issues of border security. As she noted this morning,

 “We’ve got more illegal aliens inside the United States than outside of it.”