Friday, October 31, 2014

The Last Day of Summer

No serial fiction today, I’ve been on the road. Instead, I’ll post some images from my latest mini-vacation. The Weaver and I had been in Milwaukee (business for her, fun for me), and on our way back we stopped in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Sunday night found us in the charming small town, albeit with a somewhat ominous visitor center:



Monday morning was all sunshine with temperatures in the 70s. Our B&B was this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house from the early 50s:



We stopped for coffee at a little chocolate shop/bistro on Main Street where my old blog-pal Shoshanah was waiting:

Image: The Weaver

She gave us a tour of the town and then brought us out to her country estate. Even the sheep seemed happy to see us:



And the day was glorious, I think the temp hit 75°; the world became an Andrew Wyeth painting come to life:



Thanks again Shoshanah! I hope you can make it to Flippist World Headquarters someday. I can’t guarantee such beautiful weather, however…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween - IV



Another drink?

No problem!

Not when there's a designated driver on my shoulder…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween - III



As inhibitions recede things begin to spiral out of control…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween - II



Robin sings, Batty cringes…





Captain America and the Hipster Zombie sing da blooze…


Images: Kenny Mauricio

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween - I



Your worst nightmare…



Whistling an eerie tune…

All week long FITK will be featuring disturbing images from the professor's past Halloweens.

Enjoy!

The serial fiction novel The Matriarchy will return Friday.


By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cheer

The stage is set:



The Queen's arrival is nigh:




Our moment to shine:




Ta-da!





Minneapolis, 1977

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, October 20, 2014

Royalty

Lonely is the wearer of the crown:




Her anxiety grows while her subjects await her arrival:




Finally, the moment of glory:




But it is the Princesses who really have the most fun:





Minneapolis, 1977

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Die Wunderkammer

   Die Wunderkammer is the German expression for "The Chamber of Wonders"—a cabinet of curiosity. Yesterday the Minneapolis College of Art and Design opened their own version in an occasionally unsettling mélange of paintings, sculpture, photography, fossils, human teeth, animal bones and other oddities.

   Artist Denise Rouleau basks in the attention:



   Conversations animated; observations intense:



   With an occasional flash of style:



   And what memento mori exhibit in Minnesota would be complete without a contribution from its own mistress of the macabre - Caitlin Karolczak:



Exhibited artists include:

Amber White
Aaron Culey
Brooklynd Turner
Caitlin Karolczak
Denise Rouleau
Erin Elizabeth Hunter
Joan Bemel Iron Moccasin
Kathryn Warren
Kelsey Zigmund
Mark D. Roberts
Michael Thomsen
Paula Barkmeier
Richard Johannisson
Sara Suppan
Shanice Jackson-Ellison
Sonja Olson
Tyler Peck
Vivian Charlesworth

The work will be on display from October 17-29

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, October 17, 2014

The Key



   “I’ll see if Tina has something we can use to clean this place up,” Sean said, turning to leave.

   Mary stifled a sneeze and looked at what had once been Emily’s studio. “Very humble, just the minimum needed to create art,” thought Mary. She closed her eyes and instantly  a vision of Emily working filled her field of view. Emily working on a painting, with her baby cooing alongside her in a bassinet.  The sensation gradually grew more intense; it seemed to Mary that she was seeing the room through Emily’s eyes—as if she was inhabited by Emily’s thoughts. When Mary opened her eyes the vision faded, as well as the eerie feeling of possession.

   “A half dozen old towels and a pail of warm, soapy water,” said Sean, walking back into the studio, “Where do we start?”

   “I’ll take the commode,” said Mary, not mentioning her vision, “why don’t you do the trunk?”

   “If there was anything of value, Tina wanted us to bring it down for the auction.”

   “Certainly. That wheel might be a little awkward to handle, but otherwise, there isn't anything in here that looks to be very heavy.”

   Mary began to clear a layer of dust from the commode.

   “This is a nice piece: walnut, brass pulls, marble top. Has some paint on it, but it should clean right up. The drawers are locked. Sean, would you be a dear and go down and see if Tina has any old barrel keys?”

   “Barrel keys?”

   “A key that looks like the barrel of a pistol—hollow, with a tab on the end. It would be pointless to force these drawers open and ruin the finish. Is the trunk locked?”

   “No. It’s hasp is gone. I’ll go see what Tina has in the way of keys. Be right back.”

   Mary found herself alone again and, in a way, she was glad that Sean had left. She closed her eyes in an effort to reconnect with the spirit of Emily but saw nothing. Mary then directed her attention to the trunk. After wiping it off, it was nondescript except for a couple of old shipping labels. Although she was tempted to open it, Mary decided against it, thinking that Sean should be there as well. Leaning against the wall behind the trunk was what appeared to be an old style wagon wheel. It was about five feet high, with a wooden band for the rim. As she began to clean it, she realized that it wasn’t a wagon wheel at all. Its construction suggested that it had been a clothes-drying rack. Supporting that notion were pieces of what appeared to a stand on the floor beneath it.  The rim was decorated with chipped, yellowed decals of flowers.

   Sean returned with a ring of old keys.

   “Tina told me that Uncle Henry never threw anything away. She found these keys in a drawer in the garage. She told me that he used to buy a lot of stuff from old estate sales. One of these might fit, or maybe none will.” Sean said.

   “My mother had an old dresser with locks like these. She always kept one drawer locked. I was fascinated by it and by the fact that she wanted to keep some things secret from me. Once I tried to pick it with a bent paper clip but I couldn’t manage to do it,” Mary said, “Let's see what we can do with a proper key.”

   “Nancy Drew,” Sean said, laughing at the sight of Mary fiddling with the keys.

   Mary returned Sean’s laughter as she began trying keys in the top drawer.  “Today’s episode is ‘The Mystery in the Old Attic… ’  Here… I think this is the one… it fits but the lock is pretty tight…. it won’t open… the bolt is frozen."

   “Try it in another lock,” said Sean.

   Mary tested the two lower drawer locks and the result was the same. When she tried it in the nightstand’s door lock, however, it opened easily. Inside were several glass bottles and tins with paper labels: turpentine, thinner, acetone, and containers of various artist’s materials. The bottles’ corks had disintegrated with age and were empty.

   “No treasure yet,” Sean said, as he picked a small oil can out from inside the nightstand, “This oil might do the trick on those drawer locks.”

   He squirted oil into the top drawer’s lock then Mary worked it with the key. This time, the bolt did move and they were able to open the drawer. Inside the drawer were miscellaneous drawing tools as well as several pencil sketches. They depicted various scenes and had been overdrawn in ink. Sean began leafing through the pile but stopped when he came upon a rendering of the entrance to the Ice Cave.

   “One of Emily’s power spots?” said Sean.

   “There are markings on the back of some of these,” Mary said as she looked at the pile of overturned drawings, “Hold them up to the light.”

   Sean went through the pile again, holding each drawing so that it was illuminated from behind. Most had markings on the back which aligned with some feature on the front.

   “Look, there are those rocks in the pasture again.” Mary said, “And the mark on the back of the drawing is right behind the spot where I saw her standing.  Emily did leave clues! First the code book, now this. There must be some underlying logic to this.”

   “It’ll be tough to match up the other drawings with the area, a lot has changed around here in seventy years,” said Sean as he went through the pictures again. He pulled out another drawing from the stack and looked at it closely: “This one, I know where this is. It’s under the bridge that goes over the creek,” He held it up to the light. The drawing showed the bridge and the creek clearly with the mark on the back centered on one of the limestone footing blocks, “This one we can find, it’s just down the road a bit. It might be a key.”

   “Let's see what’s in the other drawers,” said Mary.

   The second drawer contained several trays of oil paints in tubes and a couple of well-used palettes. A variety of brushes were neatly wrapped in a leather sheath.

   “Tools of the trade,” said Sean, “Those paints look as if they had been expensive. Are there any collectors of vintage pigments?”

   “There are collectors for almost anything. Those labels are all in French, certainly prewar, I imagine that they would fetch some serious money in the right auction. I know a dealer in Seattle who would be most interested in these,” Mary said.

   The bottom drawer held a paint-spattered drop cloth covering a pile of old newspapers.

   “No treasure here,” said Sean as he emptied it, “We should box up these paints and put the drawings in a portfolio. The rest we can toss—those newspapers are mostly want-ads. This is a nice commode, even if it’s not in the ‘Seattle Moderne’ style. If you don’t want it we’ll put it in with the rest of the stuff for the auction. I’ll go get some boxes.”




Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dramatic Reykjavík

Those of you interested in exploring Icelandic culture may find that a visit to one or both of the two major theater companies in Reykjavík to be most rewarding. They aren't usually listed in most tourist guides for a couple of reasons:  they are not active in the high tourist season and the plays are all in Icelandic. If you do happen find yourself in town between September and May you would be wise to check them out:

Þjóðleikhúsið, Reykjavík

Þjóðleikhúsið, the National Theater, is located in an intimidating structure on Hverfisgata, with a smaller "box" theater situated on the street behind it—Lindargata. Þjóðleikhúsið produces a mixture of plays every season, including serious drama by foreign playwrights, modern Icelandic drama, several productions for children, and  contemporary Icelandic comedy. These are world-class productions with fantastic sets and brilliant direction. They feature many of the fine actors you've probably already seen in Icelandic films. The smaller Kassinn (box) venue features intimate productions and are usually somewhat "edgier". Baltasar Kormákur's 2006 production of Peer Gynt was the most intense theater experience I've ever had. The main stage offers a little more traditional fare (but only a little), Hallgrímur Helgason's Þetta er allt að koma in 2004 was a wild ride through Icelandic consciousness.


Borgarleikhúsið

Borgarleikhúsið is the City Theater. Located on the south end of Kringland, it usually runs a little lighter in tone, with an emphasis on musicals and family fare (Mary Poppins, for example). The smaller theater offers current playwrights; on a recent visit I saw John Logan's Red (Rautt), a Tony-award winning play about the artist Mark Rothko. The theater complex is newer than the Þjóðleikhúsið and contains a vast lobby (for both venues) well worth a visit on its own.

Don't let the language barrier prevent you from attending one of these plays. You might want to avoid overly "talky" dramas, but I've found that the expressive acting in most plays usually makes up for my lack of literary comprehension. A play you are familiar with, for example Shakespeare's Macbeth, would lose little in translation. The tickets are reasonable (4400 kronur, about $35 or £24) and while it is possible to order on line, it requires some help from Google translate. You might want to visit the box office a couple of days in advance for the performances often sell out. If you are by yourself, or can't convince your traveling partner to come along, you'll have a better chance of scoring a single ticket to a popular show.  Part of any theater experience is people watching during the intermission and the Icelanders do enjoy dressing up for the occasion so dress up yourself—and you'll become part of that show! The matinees are somewhat less formal.

A big part of Iceland's appeal for me is its spoken language.  Attending a play there is an opportunity to hear it at a very high level.  This form of Icelandic culture, when distilled into a dramatic context, creates memories which you'll never forget.

Note:  a slightly different form of this post was originally written for the I'd Rather Be in Iceland Blog.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, October 13, 2014

Auður Update



   It's October, that time of year when the professor's thoughts turn to Iceland. As any regular reader of FITK knows, some of the the prime inspirations for this blog were Iceland and my all time favorite Icelandic blogger Auður Ösp Olafsdóttir. I consider her I Heart Reykjavík website the finest Icelandic travel site anywhere. She has managed to create and maintain an informative and entertaining site while still retaining a personal touch. Her humorous "Learn Icelandic" podcasts allow the listener to get a sense of her low key yet engaging personality.

   Recently she has become the focus of international attention, with mentions in the Sunday travel section of The New York Times and this segment from the website Daily Travel Podcast.

   Speaking as one who is usually allergic to podcasts, I found this one to to be well worth thirty minutes of my time—especially around the 19 minute mark when Auður opens up about her personal history leading up to her starting I Heart Reykjavík.

UPDATE: Another interview, this time with the Travel Mammal


By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, October 10, 2014

Emily's Return



   Mary sat down and began to look at the book which Tina had given her. It was small, a grimy leather-bound ledger wrapped in a crumbling cover. Its pages, although yellowed, were still crisp and covered with vaguely mid-eastern characters: Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician, augmented with a few diagrams. Mary first thought was that it might be a hoax, or perhaps a spoof of some actual document from antiquity, but as she examined it further, patterns began to emerge.

   “There’s something here, I need to scan these pages and run them through an analysis,” Mary said, “Some kind of punctuation is happening, there are characters are in two forms—upper and lower case.”

   “I wouldn’t know where to begin,” said Sean, “And if we did find out what the characters meant, what language would it be written in?”

   “I have a feeling that the content is in English—if it was Emily who wrote it. A key would help, but I think any reasonably sophisticated frequency analysis should be able to crack it. My system in Seattle could do it. I’ll use my phone to capture each page and then send them via my laptop to my server,” said Mary, as she took out her phone. “You must be tired of hearing me say it—I’m hungry again.”

   “I’ll make us some lunch. Is tomato soup and grilled cheese OK?” asked Tina.

   “That sounds wonderful,” said Sean, “I’ll give you a hand.”

   “Yummy. I’m going to look at this some more,” said Mary, “I'll be there by the time lunch is ready, thanks.”

   In the kitchen, Tina and Sean began to make lunch. As he opened the soup cans, Sean looked at Tina and said: “This is just like when I was little, isn’t it, Tina?”

   “The bread is better… ” Tina paused as she buttered, “… and the cheese. No more Wonderbread and Velveeta. The tomato soup hasn’t changed, though, but I usually add some basil,” Tina put the sandwiches on the griddle. “Sean, do you think Mary is up to this? She seems to be aware of what she’s doing, but I’d feel terrible if anything bad happened to her.”

   “I don’t know if she is. She’s still the same person I’ve always known. She has never lacked nerve,” said Sean, “But I understand what it is that you’re saying. When I saw her in the Ice Cave today… I mean, she was actually glowing, with arcs of light around her fingertips. She was in a trance for several minutes but when she came back she wasn’t fazed a bit. Most people would have had a nervous breakdown if that had happened to them,” Sean said,  “From what I know of her past, all of her life has been a struggle against people who have told her ‘you shouldn’t’, ‘you can’t’, ‘it isn’t allowed’. And yet, in the end, she’s always gotten her way. This thing, whatever it is that she’s up against, it’s the kind of challenge she’s always looking for.”

   “How about you, Sean? Was it a struggle to be able to love her?”

   “I thought about it. For a while, when I was with Molly,  I told myself that I shouldn’t allow myself to be interested in Mary, that it was wrong, that she was beyond me. Maybe she is. But once Molly left I couldn’t pass up the chance. And now, here we are… And here she is.”

   “Should I set the table?” Mary said as she walked into the kitchen.

   “Of course, dear,” said Tina, “The soup bowls are there—in the bottom cupboard.”

   As they ate, Mary seemed preoccupied. Tina spoke: “It might be time to have a look at Emily’s studio,” she said, “You’ll have to figure out how to open the door. The lock is broken, you might have to break it to get in.”

   “When’s the last time anyone was in it?” asked Sean.

   “1946,” said Tina, “When Emily left.”

   “No one’s been in it for nearly 70 years?” asked Mary, “Really?”

   “Well, it’s not much more than a storeroom in part of the attic; there is no heat and just a single window for light. After she went back to New York, Henry latched the shutters from the outside so the window wouldn’t get broken.  He would have never dreamt of disturbing her things; he was always hoping that she would come back some day.”

   “Now I am really intrigued,” said Sean, “This is most extraordinary. Are you sure Emily won’t mind?”

   “I don’t really know. But it has to be done at some time, or else it will just be smashed when the house is torn down,” said Tina, between taking bites of her sandwich, “There are tools in the garage.”

                    ———————————————————

   Roger Ramsen was in agony. His indigestion, which had been flaring up, had taken a turn into nausea. Suddenly,  pains shot down his left arm. He pressed the page button on his desk phone.

   “What is it?” answered Sally O’Donnell, who had been reading beside the pool.

   “Sally… my heart, heart attack…” croaked Roger.

   “Oh shit. Hang up the phone and I’ll call the paramedics,” shouted Sally.

   When the line cleared, Sally called 911 and reported the situation. She then went to unlock the front door and used the remote to open the front gate for the ambulance. By the time she got to Ramsen’s office he was lying on the floor, deathly pale.

   “They’re on the way, what can I do for you?” Sally said, leaning down to the stricken man.

   Roger Ramsen could only gurgle in reply.

                      ———————————————————

   The door to Emily’s old studio was secured with an old-fashioned keyhole-style lock.  When Sean tried to turn the handle it was obvious that the mechanism had broken and was completely jammed, even though the deadbolt wasn’t latched.

   “I’d hate to bust up a nice antique door, any suggestions?” said Sean.

   “Let me look at that,” Mary said. She knelt down and aimed her flashlight into the keyhole. She saw that a piece of the mechanism had fallen down inside the lock. She grabbed a small screwdriver and began to fish around in the opening.

   “I think if I can get this piece out of the way… ” she said, “… just a little bit more… ”

   A sharp click came from the lock and the door squeaked as it opened a crack, then stopped.

   “The hinges are rusted, put a shoulder on it, Sean.”

   As Sean pressed, a grating sound was followed by an eerie metallic squeal as the door slowly opened. The room was dark. The shutters passed slivers of light into the room, giving the scene a theatrical quality. Sean made his way to the window and found it loose in its frame. When he lifted the lower half it was obvious that the sash cord had broken.

   “Is there something we can use to hold this window up?” he asked Mary.

   “Use this hammer,” Mary replied, handing him the tool.

   “Still have that screwdriver? I think I can use it to lift the latch on the shutter.”

   When Sean tried to force open the shutters they broke from their hinges and crashed to the ground.

   “Are you kids all right up there?” shouted Tina, from the stairwell.

   “It's OK Tina, just a little snag with the shutters,” Mary replied.

   The room was now bathed in light. The thick layer of dust covered everything in the room. There was an easel, an old trunk, a nightstand, and, somewhat incongruously, a large wheel with spokes.

   “Where do we begin?” said Sean, as he wiped his hands on his pants.

   “We’ll need some wet towels to deal with this dust. I’m feeling a sneeze attack coming on.”

   A cold gust of wind came through the open window.








 Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Hippies in the Heartland Redux

It's been a long time since I posted any hippie pictures; here are some from the Iola, Wisconsin, “People's Fair” Music Festival, June 1970:



With all of its heavy canvas tents it was akin to a Boy Scout Jamboree, albeit one with drug dealers and hard-core bikers:



Fortunately, the weather was fine and many of the crowd simply crashed on the ground:



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, October 06, 2014

The Houses Across the Street


North Fifth Street, Minneapolis

While digging through the archives I came across this shot of a vintage '48 Chrysler. It was parked in front of the first place I lived when I moved out from home in 1971. The car, which was somewhat unusual to see on the street at the time, wasn't in the best of shape but the thing in the picture which really caught my eye was the house across the street, directly behind the car. I hadn't thought about it in years. We were renting a very small two bedroom house in what was zoned as a 'mixed-use' area, about a mile Northwest of the warehouse district of Minneapolis. There were several small businesses as well as a smattering of houses and apartments, vestiges of what was once a vibrant neighborhood. This portion of the city had been ignored by planners; it was assumed it would be taken by the Interstate 94 expansion and would have cost the city much more to condemn the houses (and did, very expensively, 20 years later) than to let them remain, still paying taxes.

We were young, thrilled to be on our own, but very nervous at living in such a marginal part of town. The house across the street was a duplex, with a middle-aged black couple living on top and three Mormon missionaries below. The missionaries never bothered us, I don't think they cared for my appearance (Charles Manson look-alike) and we never bothered them. The couple upstairs were quiet, except for Saturday nights when they would hold good-natured card parties. We didn't have a lot in common with them, either, I think the whole neighborhood (with one exception) operated with a live and let live philosophy.

The one exception, who lived down the block, thought that brandishing a BB gun shaped like an M-16 would intimidate his neighbors who were warming their car in the dead of winter. The police were called and when they told the miscreant to drop the gun he leveled it at them.

We heard the shots and, later on, saw the gurney. That house was torn down quickly thereafter, they didn't fool around with 'troubled' properties then. The house across the street was taken about year later, this time for the expansion of a business. I stayed put, got a different partner (a new 'we' as it were) and then, over the years, some of our friends actually moved in, the freeway was built behind us, and as our little neighborhood became cut off from the rest of the city it turned into an "artists' colony" of sorts.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, October 03, 2014

Photograph



   “That’s her, that’s Emily, about the time she painted that picture of the pasture.”

   Tina placed the loose photograph on top of the album from where it had fallen.

   “She would have been thirteen, maybe fourteen. She always dressed nicely, too nicely for some folk around here, but she really changed when she went to New York City. Whenever she came home from New York she always had very nice clothes—in the latest fashions. Folk said that men gave her clothes for ‘favors.’ I don’t need to tell you what they meant. She never denied it. She wouldn’t talk about it. That was why she never stayed here long; she didn’t like anyone telling her what she should or shouldn’t be doing. That and the money. Whatever it was she did out east, it made money. She was good about sending some home every month. It saved the farm and made things a little easier for us as well.”

   “Did you miss her when she was gone?” said Sean.

   “Oh I suppose so, but I never really knew her as my mother. A little girl knows what she knows, and doesn’t think much about what she doesn’t.  When Emily did come back it was akin to a visit from an eccentric aunt. Now… well, I think she’s still here with me, somehow. Mary, you’ve seen her for yourself. I may be an old fool, but I do talk to her sometimes and she answers me—not in so many words—but in feelings. That’s why I’ve had such strong feeling for you, Mary.  When Emily allowed you to see her, it was her way of telling me that you were the one.”

   “We stopped at the Ice Cave on our way back… ” said Mary, “… and I certainly felt something there.”

   “The Ice Cave? Sean why, of all places, did you bring her there?” Tina said, looking concerned. “That’s a dangerous place. What happened?”

   “I can’t say it in words, but there was a great influx of energy, of information. I’m still processing it. It didn’t feel other-worldly, it felt as if came from the rocks and the air, it seemed to be like a lattice of… ” Mary paused, “… of what the stuff of reality is made of.”

   “She was actually glowing,” said Sean.

   “Oh dear,” said Tina, “This is going so fast.”

   “Have you had episodes like this?” asked Mary.

   “Emily tried to show me how to ‘bring one on’, as she called it. It was after she had come back in ’46, to give birth to Sean’s mother. I was sixteen. I had had some ‘stirrings’ but it was not to be, not in my case. Emily talked to me about so many strange things, things I couldn’t grasp,  most of which I still don’t understand. She told me that we were part of a special lineage—The Matriarchy—a line which had come down through her mother, and her mother’s mother before her, going as far back as the beginning of humanity, Emily told me, even before we were human. ‘Female first, then woman!’ That was exactly what she said. ‘It’s in us, it’s in all women, the only difference between them and us is that we have become aware of it.’”

   “What about me,” said Sean, “I don’t have it?”

   “Emily talked about that as well. She said that the awareness of The Matriarchy needs a spark from a man who has the trait. It is hidden in men, for the most part, they are only the carriers.”

   “Huh,” Mary thought about what Tina had said, “That would explain why my episodes started after I became pregnant.”

   “It’s the spirit growing within you that triggers it. Emily had heard about it from her grandmother, and started to experience it for herself when she was pregnant with me,” Tina continued,  “She told me that she wanted to experience it fully, that there were others like her in New York who could help her.”

   “What happened to her grandmother?” asked Sean.

   “She ended up in an insane asylum,” said Tina, “Emily's mother told her that her grandmother was only a little odd when she went in. They quickly turned her into a basket case. She never got out.”

   “That’s something to look forward to,” said Mary, “What else did Emily say about this ‘awareness’ that she received?”

   “She said it gave her the power to see inside another person’s being, ‘It takes off the mask’ that’s what she said. There were other things as well. She said she could tell when harm was directed her way, that she could see into the hearts of people at a distance. She said she it could help her find places of power, places she could use to grow and recharge her power.”

   “The Ice Cave?” said Sean.

   “That was one of the places.”

   A lengthy silence ensued. Finally, Mary spoke: “You asked if I was good at codes. You have something of hers that she wrote? A journal?”

   “There were books.” Tina rummaged through the drawer that held the photo album. She brought out a small, leather-bound notebook. “This is the only one I still have. She took the others with her when she went back to New York. I’ve examined it many times, but it’s written in some kind of cipher. I was wondering if you could take a look at it, Mary.”

   “I’d love to have a go—if I may.”

   “It’s a family heirloom, and now you’re family,” Tina said, handing the book to Mary, “Speaking of which, how did the wedding license application go?”

   “We’re all set for Thursday morning.  We’ll have our prenup agreements tomorrow.”

   “Do you have a ring?” asked Tina.

   “Hm, I hadn’t thought about that,” said Sean.

   “I hadn’t either," said Mary, “It would be nice.”

   Tina went back into her drawer and retrieved a small box covered in faded purple velvet.

   “Here. It was my great-grandmother’s.”

   Mary opened the box and her jaw dropped. It was a ring holding a large emerald, in an antique platinum mount. The gem was surrounded by diamonds.

   “In ancient myth, a green emerald represents Venus, the goddess of love. It symbolizes eternal love, faithfulness, and wisdom,” said Tina, “Here’s wishing the both of you all of those things."

   “I don’t know what to say,” Mary said, dabbing her eyes.

   “Don’t say anything, dear,” Tina said, softly, “Just feel the love.”





Fiction

By Professor Batty




Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Farewell, O Humble Stroud!



   This student-grade piano, a Stroud (by Aeolian) has left Flippist World Headquarters to take up a new residence in a musical rehearsal space. It was time for it to go. This, our biggest and heaviest piece of furniture (the elephant in the room) had outlived its usefulness and had become merely a huge dust-collector. It had been somewhat underused for its last 40 years. It was the Weaver's childhood piano. She and all her sisters had played it. Obviously it has a lot of family history. But children do grow up, ours never expressed much interest and, after a while, the Weaver stopped playing altogether. It was still in good shape: It had been overhauled at least once in its 100 year life span and I'd kept it in reasonable tune at concert pitch.

    Piano movers came in last Saturday with a dolly and straps and it was gone in three minutes flat. A sure sign of out-of-balance Feng Shui was that when we re-arranged the furniture in the room it had been in we didn't add a thing yet it still seemed full!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0