Friday, July 31, 2020

Unclear Family

This is chapter 32 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Wednesday Evening, July 29th, Seattle

“You’ll never guess who I talked with at Pike Place today,” Jo said to Mary as they cleared up the remains of the dinner.

“Erm… ” stammered Mary, “You’re right. Things are so crazy these days that I wouldn’t be surprised if old Beelzebub himself came waltzing up. I give up.”

“No, it wasn’t the president… It was Marcel DuPage!”

“I take it that this meeting wasn’t your idea.”

“No, I was just having a latte outside of Ghost Alley when he came over and started to chat me up.”

“I hope you were careful,” said Mary, “He’s quite the charmer. Did he start talking about Emily?”

“Emily, yes, he did bring her up,” said Jo, “He recognized me, I had my mask down in order to drink my latte, and was trying to get information about her.”

“What did you tell him?”

“He showed me those pictures, of you and Sean with her, and I told him that was before I really got to know you and Sean, which is true. I didn’t encourage him to talk about Emily. After this went on awhile I got the sense that he was just a lonely old man who wouldn’t let go of his dream.”

“Emily told me that the night they spent together was pretty intense, she evidently knew some powerful love magic,“ Mary said, as she wiped her hands, “He didn’t try to hit on you, did he?”

“Nah, he is still hung up on Emily. When I suggested that he and Barbara Merrit were wasting their time he got rather huffy and stormed off.”

At that moment Sean and Mareka came back into the kitchen.

“What about Emily?” said Mareka.

Jo shot a glance at Mary.

“We’ve told Mareka about Emily’s time with us, Jo,” said Mary, “Mareka, we were talking about the time we went dancing with Emily and she met a man and they were friends for a little while. Emily left us a short time after that. There have been pictures of that night on the internet. The man Emily met talked to Jo yesterday; he still wants to find Emily.”

“But that’s impossible, right?” said Mareka, “You said that Emily left again and joined the spirit world.”

“Yes, all this happened before you were born. It is part of the family secret, like those things we were talking about in the hot tub,” Mary paused. “If we told the true story, no sane person would believe it. The problem is that there are a lot of crazy people out there, people who would believe anything. We don’t want to encourage them. They could become dangerous.”

“Uh, OK, I think I understand,” said Mareka, “Who is this guy?”

“His name is Marcel DuPage, he is something of an odd duck. He wears fancy clothes that are kind of old-fashioned, like the ones we saw in those black and white movies that we watched during the lock down,” said Jo, “He’s probably harmless by himself, but he is working with a woman—a reporter—who has been writing untrue things about your parents and me.”

“I wish I could talk to Emily,” said Mareka, “I don’t know that much about her.”

They all stood in silence for a minute. Finally, Sean spoke up:

“I’ve gotten an offer from my agent for another book on Emily’s unpublished work,” said Sean, “Perhaps you can help us sort through them, Mareka. Looking at them might make things clearer for you. Some of them are drawings from the time she lived in New York City, you'll be able to see what she saw when see was living there. Some are what she called her ‘spirit paintings’. Those can be scary, but I think Emily will be able to ‘speak’ to you through them.”

“I think I’d like that,” said Mareka, “When?”

“I’ll set up some big tables in the garage tomorrow. I’ll make them from the crates the canvases were shipped in. There are a lot of them.”

“Oh, child, what are we going to do with you?” sighed Mary, “You’re growing up so fast.”

Thursday Morning, July 30, Seattle

“Marchal here.”

Special agent Robert Marchal FBI Agent was on the phone with his counterpart in Phoenix.

“Hi Bob, Ed Ganley here,” he began, “Just calling with a follow up on the Stevenson case.”

“Thanks for keeping me in the loop, Ed.”

“Well, don’t thank me yet, ” said Ganley, “I just got a visit from Homeland Security.”

“I think I know where this is going,” said Marchal, “They took all the evidence and files and put a gag order on it, right?”


“I’m not going to ask you to tell me anything more, due to the gag order. No use in hanging on the line if the Russians are involved.”


Marchal hung up as well. Although he couldn’t discuss the witch riot or Stevenson’s murder, he could do some ‘fishing’ in the ‘Russian waters’ in Seattle.

Next chapter: Khorosho Horror Show

By Professor Batty

Monday, July 27, 2020

God in The Garden

Colorado Springs, Colorado, October, 2013.

An unscheduled afternoon of free time in Colorado Springs had opened for me.

Not quite enough time for a long expedition into the country side, I opted for the short jaunt to Garden of the Gods, a dramatic geological formation on the edge of town. Formed by one of the uplifting events in the history of the Rocky mountains, this unique park is a odd mix of wildness and extensive curation. The rocks have long been an attraction for climbing enthusiasts; many of the largest faces are riddled with holes form where anchors had been placed.  The footpaths have been paved with neat concrete sidewalks.

There was a group of climbers there that day, one guide and several neophytes, probably college freshmen from nearby Colorado College. A couple of them were about three-quarters of the way up a smaller spire—struggling—but receiving encouragement from the guide below. The others were waiting their turn, standing or sitting in small groups of two or three around the base of the free-standing rock. The tableaux appeared as if it from a slow motion film.

The sound of a sharp ‘snap!’ shattered the static scene.

“Augh!” “Look out!” “Heads up!” and a sickening thud were heard simultaneously.

One of the climbers had dislodged a small boulder from the rock face and it obeyed gravity’s law, plummeting to the ground below, narrowly missing two coeds who learned more about rock climbing in that instant that they had previously known in their combined lifetimes.

“Oh god!” one of them exclaimed.

God was merciful that day.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Ghost Alley

This is chapter 31 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Wednesday Afternoon, July 29th, 2020, Seattle

“Excuse me, aren’t you Jo Sanford?”

Jo was seated at an outside table sipping a latte in front of Ghost Alley Espresso. She had just been approached by a curious-looking man wearing a flamboyant suit with a spotted bow-tie and sporting a pink beret. His lack of a mask made her uneasy. Jo had not been mask-less in public since the witch riot (when hers had been torn off by a protestor) and pictures of her with Sean had been posted on-line by Barbra Merrit, in an attempt to create interest in her book. Jo immediately knew that this was a kook who had seen her in the pictures.

“Excuse me, sir, masks on!”

"Of course! How thoughtless of me.”

After they had both masked up Jo answered.

“That’s better. Now, What is it that I can do for you?”

“I am Marcel DuPage, forgive me again for interrupting your coffee, but would you be so kind as to answer a couple of questions?”

Jo thought for a moment. The man was charming and the name rang a bell, so she decided that it might be better to speak with him directly.

“I am she. This must have something to do with me and Sean, I presume?”

“Indirectly, yes. But I am more interested in a woman that Sean and his wife escorted to a dance at my ballroom eight years ago.”

Jo knew who the man was now. She had seen the pictures of Sean, Mary and Emily entering the dance, and had wondered about the images herself. Marcel DuPage been interviewed on some of the reports she had read.

“Oh, yes, I remember seeing those pictures on-line. Pretty funny stuff, I liked the one with Sean and Mary and Mother Theresa.”

“Those were photo-shopped,” Marcel sniffed, taking out his iPad, “Here are the originals. Do you recognize this woman?”

“I hate to disappoint you, Mr. DuPage,” said Jo as she glanced at the device. The images on it were dated, with a time-code, and most had been enhanced. While the woman pictured resembled some of the pictures of Emily that Jo had seen, they were not conclusive. “To be perfectly honest, at the time these were taken I wasn’t in contact with Sean and Mary. I was living in a shelter and working as a barista. I had met them earlier, but I didn’t really get to know them until later, Mary and I had gotten to know each other better then.”

“Oh, that is disappointing.” said the man, “You wouldn’t have any idea who the woman in the pictures is?”

“Mary did mention that her step-mother had been to visit, but that was before I was on the scene. Could it have been her?” Jo knew that wasn’t the truth, of course, but she began to think that Marcel might have some secrets of his own, secrets that she could relay to Sean and Mary. “Tell me, Marcel, is it alright if I call you Marcel? What is your interest in all this? Do you really think that Sean and Mary are part of a conspiracy and have killed various people?

”No, no, no,” said Marcel, “And yes, please do call me Marcel. For me it is an affair of the heart.”

Marcel removed his glasses and wiped his eyes.

“Tell me, Ms Sanford, have you ever experienced a love so pure and intense that nothing else mattered?”

“No.” Jo said. That was not a lie.

“Well this is what I experienced with the woman in the photos, the woman who called herself Carol. Forgive me for being frank, but we had such a night of bliss, utterly surrendering to the great mystery.” He dabbed at his eyes again, “I’m starting to babble like an old fool, I’m sorry.”

Jo was taken aback at his display of emotion. She could feel his sadness, but had little empathy for his infatuation.

“Listen to me, Marcel. This quest of yours is futile. You are in love with a ghost. Give it up, make peace with yourself, find someone else, a real person, someone who you can share your love with.”

“You are right of course, but that doesn’t help when I wake in the middle of the night and sense her body next to mine, smell the perfume of her skin, and hear her voice crying out in ecstasy.”

“I understand,” said Jo, “But please, Marcel, understand this: Sean and Mary are two fine people, the finest I have ever known. They are doing the best they can in trying to bring up a daughter in a world filled with uncertainty and hate. What you are doing, what you and Barbara Merrit are doing by fueling these ridiculous theories, is harmful. It hurts innocent people and, if you continue down this path, it will end up destroying you both.”

Marcel DuPage’s face switched from sad to angry in an instant. He got up and walked briskly away. Jo removed her mask and resumed sipping her latte.

Mareka and her parents had just arrived home after their stay in the Cascades. Mareka ran straight out to the backyard while Mary picked up the mail on the counter that had come while they were gone. There was a note on the top of the pile:

Hi guys!
I went downtown—I just had to get out!
Be back by 5 with supper.
Everything was OK here, no riots this time!
CU soon, Jo.

Sean fired up his laptop and opened his email. Besides the usual dross there was a message from his literary agent, Jessica Eldridge, the woman who had brokered his books of Emily’s art:

Sean, just a heads up from me. There has been a writer from The New Yorker magazine who has been pestering me about an interview with you and Mary and the legacy of your grandmother’s art. She’s a first rate reporter.I know you two have been under scrutiny from the tabloids lately but you can’t buy this kind of publicity. Maybe this would be a chance to get your side of the story out? Let me know.
~ Jessie

“What do you think of this?” said Sean to Mary, “Are we ever going to get off this merry-go-round?”

“Mm… I don’t know,” said Mary, shuffling through the mail,  “Hey, check this out… ”

Mary handed Sean a brochure for an ‘Virtual International Wellness Event’. It was in with a letter requesting Mary to consider being a presenter.

“Oh dear… ” said Sean, “Never rains, but pours… ”

They were interrupted by Jo who had just waltzed into the kitchen with several bags of take-out food.

“Indian tonight!”

Next Chapter: Unclear Family

By Professor Batty

Monday, July 20, 2020

Prom Nights

The largest dance venue in The Twin Cities was the Prom Ballroom in Saint Paul.

The Prom Ballroom was a landmark in St. Paul Minnesota for almost 50 years. It was where the BIG BANDS used to play; Ellington, Basie, Dorsey, and all the rest. In the fifties Buddy Holly and other rockers brought a younger crowd that filled its vast floor. In its later years, the bands got smaller but louder, although the occasional “ghost” big band would still come around. When the group* I was working with got a chance to play there it was for private Christmas parties and the crowd was mostly in their late teens and early twenties. We were pumping out R&B and Soul, not Jazz and Swing.

But those old ghosts still haunted the room, however, and we could sense them and rose to the occasion. By the time we hit our peak the crowd was simpatico and the band was on fire.  Love and Happiness stopped the show, with people stomping their feet and refusing to stop cheering and applauding. It was arguably the high point of my career. Later gigs I did at The Prom were OK, but difficult. There is some primitive aspect to the experience of a big dance floor full of writhing, ecstatic people, all of them deeply immersed in the music; abandoning their masks and poses and coming together to a  climax, then hovering in the afterglow and, finally, escaping into the night to attend private parties for two.

The Prom had been built in the late 1930s and was a landmark until its destruction in 1987. Its rated capacity was 6000 but by the late 1970s it was out of fashion and the acts who performed there would seldom draw more than a tenth of that. The arched ceiling made for uninterrupted sight-lines and a big dance floor but had lousy acoustics. The last gig I did there was for a cable-tv video shoot, the act was a smallish big band. They were competent, but had been thrown together with gigging musicians and there were no real “ringers” to steal the show. The building was torn down a few weeks later after this “last dance” and now only memories and a few photographs exist of its past glories:

Except in the fading memories of past revelers, the Prom is gone. But, with the Covid restrictions will there still be dances in ballrooms with live music being played? Can these moments of collective passion and release still exist? This is a primal ritual and is not to be denied.

A partial list of acts that performed there:

Count Basie/ Cab Calloway/ Artie Shaw/ Jimmy Dorsey
Frank Sinatra/ Glenn Miller/ Spike Jones/ Les Elgart
Duke Ellington/ Ray Anthony/ Guy Lombardo/ Harry James
Sammy Kaye/ Stan Kenton/ Gene Krupa/ Les Brown
Rosemary Clooney/ Woody Herman/ Neal Hefti/ Buddy Rich
Bill Haley/ Webb Pierce/ Mickey and Sylvia/ Maynard Ferguson
The Diamonds/ Eddy Cochran/ Gene Vincent/ The Crickets
Buddy Holly/ Ritchie Valens/ Big Bopper/ Dion/ Gary US Bonds
Bobby Darin/ Everly Brothers/ Link Wray/ Jan and Dean
Wanda Jackson/ Johnny Cash/ Jimmy Dean/ The Four Seasons
Bobby Vinton/ Gene Pitney/ Joey Dee/ The Trashmen/ Chubby Checker
Lou Christie/ Dick and DeeDee/ The Beachboys/ Lonnie Mack
The Kingsmen/ Roger Miller/ Del Shannon/ Chad and Jeremy
The Hollies/ The Ventures/ Bobby Goldsboro/ Sir Douglas Quintet
Jules Herman/ The Turtles/ Tommy James/ The Byrds

The acts I worked with:

Don Cavitt/ Rio Nido/ The Bees Knees/ The Explodo Boys*

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Hot Tub Time Machine

This is chapter 30 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Sunday Evening, July 26th, 2020, Glacier, Washington

“How are your legs?” Sean asked of Mareka, “The hot tub will fell good.”

The cottage they had rented came with an elaborate hot tub. Mary had turned the temperature down a bit before they went on their hike; she thought that it was really too hot for a child—or for her for that matter.

“They feel funny,” said Mareka, “Kind of rubbery.”

They each showered and then got into the tub.

“Ooh,” said Mary, “Just right. What do you two think?”

“Mama bear temperature,” said Sean, “But nice.”

“It feels good,” said Mareka, “Just right.”

After a few minutes of silence, Mareka spoke up:

“Are we in trouble?”

“What do you mean?” asked Sean.

“I mean with the internet and that riot and stuff,” said Mareka, “Something is going on, isn’t it?”

“We’re back in the news again,” said Sean, “But we haven’t done anything wrong. It is all about things that happened to me and Mary, and Jo, before you were born. Things that some bad people did.”

“Tell me about it. I want to know,” said the child.

Mary looked at her daughter carefully. “It’s a long story,” Mary said, “And you’re a part of it too.”

“Tell me.”

Mary looked at Sean. “What do you think?” she said, “This might be a good time to recount our family history.”

“How deep do you want to go?” said Sean.

“Tell me about the magic and the powers,” said Mareka, “All of this has to do with the magic, doesn’t it?”

“This is what I know about my family,” began Sean,  “About my mother’s side. Going back to my grandmother Emily and to her great-grandmother, Rosalina.  Rosa was the first in the family that we know about who had ‘powers’. She was born in Europe, in Bohemia, in an area which is now called the Czech Republic. We don’t know a lot about her background beyond that. We do know that that area has a history of witchcraft."

“So Rosa had powers too?” asked Mareka.

“It would seem so,” said Sean, “Although we don’t know exactly what she had. Your great-aunt Tina said that the family lore said Rosa was put into an insane asylum, a home for mentally ill people.”

“And what happened to her children?”

“She had a daughter, Sarah. Sarah immigrated to the United States 1880, she evidently didn’t have any powers, but she did give birth to Emily, the artist.”

“And she did have powers?” said Mareka.

“Oh yes. She had many powers,” said Mary, “She is why all of these things are happening.”

“How can that be?” said Mareka, “Didn’t she die before you and Sean were even born?”

“She disappeared, after my Marilyn, my mother, was born in 1945,” said Sean, “This is the mysterious part. This is a family secret. THE family secret. You understand what that means?”

“Is that like not telling any one about my powers?”

“Exactly so,” said Mary, “And you are the central part of that secret.”

“How can that be? I’m only seven-and-a-half.”

Sean and Mary looked at each other. Sean nodded to Mary and she began to tell the story:

“Emily Carroll did not die in 1945. She left this world in 2012, two months before you were born. She had been held captive for over fifty years; she put herself under a spell to protect her body from the ravages of time. Her spirit mind existed in another realm, another dimension, sort of like when you were in the rock. The only way to break the spell was to be awoken with a kiss by someone who also had powers. That someone was me and I started to get my powers when I was pregnant with you. I began to be visited by Emily’s spirit mind; she told me where her body was being held, and what to do to break the spell. Sean and I managed to find her, my kiss broke the spell, and her spirit mind was reunited with her body. We came back to Seattle. She taught me many things. I learned that the powers skip generations. Sean’s mother didn’t have them and Sean, being a man, had them in him but could not use them. I got the key to the powers when I became pregnant with you. You triggered my response. That is how you are the center of this secret.”

“Oh,” Mareka paused, “So if you have powers, and it skips generations, why do I have powers?”

“It is because my great grand-father had powers,” said Mary, “My adoption papers say his name was John De Conqueroo. That is an old African name for a mythical wizard and is also the name of a plant root used in spells. It shows that he was well versed in magic. So you have magic on both sides. Emily knew John when she lived in New York City in the 1930s and received quite a few of her spells from him.”

“So what will I do with my powers, when I grown up?”

“You will do the best you can to renounce evil,”  said Mary, “The app that Hilmar and I created with Emily’s spells help people deal with the problems in their lives. Sean’s promotion of Emily’s art has brought joy to many. You will find your place and your magic will be far greater than anything the world has seen before. You were born under signs of great power: earthquakes, volcanoes, a supernova.”

“But why are there people attacking us?”

“There were a group of bad men who fell under an evil influence. They were the ones who imprisoned Emily’s body. They are gone now but their associates still live—working in the shadows, profiting off human misery, this is why things are so bad in the world now. There is a need to change the human condition. That change will come, and magic is a part of the change. People must change if civilization is to survive. It may not, but if it doesn’t there will still be the people, and most of the people are good.”

“Wow. I’m just a kid.”

“Of course you are, ” said Mary, “But don’t worry about it. You can’t change everything, and you can’t change anything overnight. But you will prevail.”

“Who else knows this?”

“Emily did, of course, Jo knows some of it, my Aunt Tina knew most of it, as does Edwin,” said Sean, “You know how Edwin likes you, and you like him?”

“Yes, he’s the best.”

“He sees Emily in you, Kiddo,” said Sean,  “And the part of you that is Emily sees her old friend Edwin.”

“Love will prevail,” said Mary, “And now its time to get out of here. I’m cooked.”

Next Chapter: Ghost Alley

By Professor Batty

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Wright Touch

My summer woodworking project has been completed, a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired knockoff of his Taliesin 2 floor lamp:

It was made in mahogany and poplar, with diffusers of Baltic birch.  It emits a pleasant glow from its ten 3.5 watt led bulbs, roughly equivalent to about 300 total watts of the old-fashioned tungsten lamps. I put a dimmer in it as well, just the thing for those “romantic” evenings with the lights turned low.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Fall River Summer

A welcome break from self-imposed quarantine. The Weaver and I (carefully) headed north to an Air B&B that we had booked pre-covid-19:

Being in the middle of a poplar forest with a geologically interesting river down the hill, we saw no one, we heard only animal sounds, whispering leaves and the babbling of flowing water:

On the way back we did stop in Grand Marais for coffee. The Weaver went for a stroll and I stopped in and had a chat with long-time FITK commenter Jono:

His “Stonehenge” was constructed of the same rock that I saw lining the Fall River.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Mountain’s High

This is chapter 29 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Sunday Morning, July 26, 2020, Glacier, Washington

“Com’on slow-poke,” said Mary to her daughter Mareka, “We don’t want to get stuck on the mountain after dark.”

Sean and Mary were in their van, waiting for the girl to get in so they could get on their way. They were going to be driving to the trailhead of the Heliotrope Ridge Trail, then take a two-hour climb up to an alpine meadow overlooking the Coleman Glacier.

“Just a minute,” said Mareka, “I’ve got to get my hat.”

Once the ‘slow poke’ was safely in the van, the family took off up Mount Baker Highway.

“What did you see on your walk yesterday?” asked Mary.

“Trees,” said Mareka, “Lots and lots of trees. Big trees.”

“It smells so go here,” said Sean, “It would be a nice place to live, for a while, anyway.”

“Did you see anybody on your walk?” asked Mary.

“No, but I did see a dog. I said ‘hi’ but he didn’t say anything, he just looked at me. I stayed away from it—social distancing—I didn’t have a mask, even if it was a dog.”

“What kind of dog was it?” said Mary.

“It was sort of big, and gray, with pointy ears.”

“Pointy ears that stood up?” said Sean, Mareka nodded, “ I think you might have seen a coyote. It was smart to keep your distance.”

“They’re wired differently than dogs,” said Mary, “When we get back tonight we can see if I can remember my Coyote call.”

“Can you talk to coyotes?” said Mareka.

“I can try, but they don’t always listen.” Mary wondered if it would a good time to tell Mareka about her experiences with coyotes. “That is true with people, too.”

They were quiet for a while as Sean drove the twisting road, snaking its way along Falls Creek. Mareka broke the silence:

“Pops, when will Covid be over?”

“We don’t know,” said Sean, “It’s one of those things. There have been epidemics in the past, some of them were worse. A virus is a funny thing. Not really a bug, it just happens. There are a lot of things that happen in this world that we can’t explain. Like your portals.”

“But you can be careful, about the viruses… ” said Mary, “… and your powers. Just another thing you have to deal with. Other people have bigger problems. You are doing O.K., every day is something new.”

“Climbing a mountain, that’s something new,” said Mareka.

“Yes, we won’t go all the way to the top, you need special gear and training for that,” said Sean, “We’ll probably see some people on the trail who are heading for the top. They’ll have heavy boots, and big packs. It’s snowy and cold on the top. We’ll go up as far the meadow by the glacier. It will be nice there. We’ll still have to be aware of distancing on the trail today, it can get crowded,” said Sean, “So bring your mask, just in case.”

Sunday Morning, July 26, 2020, Seattle

Jo had just finished checking the internet for new activity concerning the photos and conspiracy theories that centered around Mary, Sean and herself. She was streaming KEXP in the background; the morning DJ was spinning some classic R&B.

It seemed that the peak of interest in her and Sean had been reached a few days ago but had since dwindled dramatically, a development which was fine by her. It was also a relief to know that there wouldn’t be any more disparaging ‘sermons’ coming from Reverend Stevenson. According to official sources his death was apparently natural, but Sean had told her about his suspicions that it may have been the work of Russian agents.

“According to the internet I’m supposed to be a flaming Jezebel but, in reality, I’m living the life of a cloistered nun!” she thought.

With Sean, Mary and Mareka out of town Jo was, on the upside, grateful for the chance to really unwind: she was still in her bathrobe, barefoot, and was enjoying a bowl of Cocoa-Puffs (a bad habit she never could give up.) Her evening plans were set: Jo had discovered a cache of DVDs which had been left in her place back when the previous owner had rented it out as an Air B&B. There were a lot of Criterion sets; French, Italian and Scandinavian titles seemed to predominate.  There was plenty of freezer food (another bad habit) and several bottles of wine to go with it. On the downside, However, she had no one to share it with.  Jo had a thought of going out; those options were limited as well. Masks in public kind of put a damper her on flirting techniques. She had, in the past, frequented the U-district bars where there were always cute (and grateful) fraternity guys that she could ‘dally’ with. They were young, vigorous and grateful, but best part was that they never called her the next day. Now, most of the frat members at U-dub had tested positive for Covid-19, and Jo herself was nominally in the middle of a two-week isolation after having been in her mother’s house the previous weekend.

The DJ's on the KEXP stream interrupted her reverie:
“How’s your Sunday morning going? Here’s a track that is a little out of the norm for this show, a real oldie, but I think it speaks to a lot of us in this frustrating time. Here’s Dick and DeeDee coming at ya… ”

The mountain's high
And the valley's so deep
Can't get across
To the other side…

Don't you give up, baby
Don't you cry
Don't you give up ’til
I reach the other side…

Jo cried.

Sunday Afternoon, July 26, 2020, Heliotrope Ridge Trail, Washington

“Are we there yet?”

“Just a little further, babe… ”

Mareka was finally tiring on the trek up to Heliotrope Ridge. Her initial enthusiasm had worn off about an hour ago.

Sean began to sign a song to Mareka, a song his mother would sing to him when he was a child and was sad:

The mountain's high
And the valley's so deep
Can't get across
To the other side…

Don't you give up, baby
Don't you cry
Don't you give up ’til
I reach the other side…

Mary, who had been hiking ahead, turned back and said, ”We made it!”

Climbing to the top of the ridge, Mareka looked down where could see a river of ice with a meadow of flowers next to it. The icy and fearsome summit of Mount Baker loomed above her.

“Oh, oh, oh… ”  she said.

Next Chapter: Hot Tub Time Machine

By Professor Batty

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Skater Dater Revisited

What a difference a year makes.

This time last summer, I was whooping it up with a crowd of sweaty skateboarders:

With the Covid-19 restrictions apparently heading for a re-tightening, this kind of gregarious behavior won’t be seen for a while:

Nary a mask in sight, with no distancing whatsoever:

The joie de vivre obtained from such a simple pleasure is sorely missed in its absence:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, July 06, 2020

Wanda’s Dream

Wanda Gág, Charcoal Drawing, December 1921 Broom magazine.

A recent link to FITK in The Daily Koz brought a flurry of attention to this site and a Wanda Gág post. Never one to shy away from publicity, I was pleased to see that many of those who came stayed and engaged in further explorations. Far from just being a writer/illustrator of books for children, Wanda was a complicated individual who had definite leftist political leanings as well as bringing a unique psycho-sexual component to her fine art.

Both of these aspects are shown in the above illustration she made for the avant-garde magazine Broom.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, July 03, 2020

Mountain Greenery

This is Chapter 28 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Saturday Morning, July 25, 2020, I-5, near Burlington, Washington

“This was a good idea, to get out of town for a while,” said Mary, “Where is this place that you rented?”

“It’s in a small ‘town’ named Glacier,” said Sean, “If you can call it a town—it’s really just a collection of small houses clustered around a bend in the Mount Baker Highway.”

“We’re staying on a glacier?” said Mareka, “Won’t that be cold?”

“The glacier is up on Mount Baker. We can hike up to it tomorrow, if you want,” said Sean, “It will take a couple of hours though. Did you bring your hiking boots?”

“I’ve got ’em… ” said Mareka, “… and my hat.”

“We should have everything we need,” said Mary, “And once we’re there, we won’t have the one thing we don’t need: the internet.”

In the past few days Mary, Sean, and Jo had been trending on sketchy internet sites because of Barbara Merrit’s insinuations about a series of deaths connected to the threesome, even going back as far as the ‘Billygate’ affair nine years previous. Merrit had also published photos of Sean and Jo together, as well as Sean and Mary with a ‘mystery woman’ who just happened to look a lot like Sean’s grandmother Emily. Those pictures became an internet meme, the images were manipulated to include Amelia Earhart, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Jeffrey Epstein and even Ghislaine Maxwell. They turned Merrit’s ‘revelations’ into a sophomoric joke. Sean and Mary’s lawyers had received numerous requests for comments or interviews, but Mary had instructed them to denounce them all as being absurd even though, in the case of the images of Emily, some of them were true. The images from the ‘witch riot’ had developed a following as well when some of the participants had also been seen at the CHAZ/CHOP occupation in June. After the fiasco and the repercussions of CHAZ, the police had little time to spend investigating the relatively minor “incident” in front of Sean and Mary’s apartment building and they considered it, for all practical purposes, closed.

Saturday Morning, July 25, 2020, Seattle

In the guesthouse, Jo was following the flurry of media activity that featured her. She was more concerned with the fact that John Stroud, her abusive ex, was now a wanted fugitive and probably desperate. If he found out that Jo was in Seattle he might try to contact her and, knowing him, try to take advantage of her somehow.

And she was lonely.

FBI Agent Marchal was looking over the report from the Arizona State Crime Lab. He had been in contact with them and, acting on Sean’s urging, had the thoroughly examine the car that Andrew Stevenson had died in. There had been a device installed in the ventilation system, cleverly rigged to open a canister similar to the one that was found on the body of the intruder that Jo Sanford had killed. That intruder, who had never been identified, was suspected of being a Russian operative from the clothing he wore.

“So there is a Russian connection,” Marchal said to himself, “Now the question is why?” The Arizona report gave a hint. It had subpoenaed the financial records of the “church” and had found that along with the small donations Stevenson had received, that recently there were many large amounts from known Russian front groups. That explained where Stevenson got the money for the car, but left open the question of why did they kill him after giving him the money? One additional fact stood out. The car was leased from a dealer was also suspected of doing business with Russian money launderers, and the dealer had already been in contact with the police, to make sure he’d get the car back as soon as possible, so as to dispose of the evidence. Stevenson’s autopsy gave the cause of death as “cardiac arrest”, the same verdict as Sally O’Donnell’s. Whatever the poison was in those canisters, it was deadly and, after a short time, vanished without trace.

Saturday Afternoon, July 25, 2020, Glacier, Washington

Arriving at the cabin, Sean and Mareka began to unload the van. Mareka took her backpack into the faux-alpine cottage and went right back out and began to explore the yard. Although the town was fairly-well developed, the existing pines behind the lots had been left in place so there was a palpable sense of being “in the woods”, with a “real” forest not far behind.

“Don’t run off, now,” said Mary, “There are more and bigger wild animals around here than at home.”

“We’ll see if we can find some of them tomorrow,” said Sean, “And watch out for portals, too, Kiddo.”

“O.K. Pops!” said Mareka, “I won’t go far… ”

Next Chapter: The Mountain’s High

By Professor Batty

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Weather Report

Lately I’ve been starting my day with David Lynch’s L.A. weather report.

Laconic, repetitive, but oddly satisfying, David is a real straight-shooter, a performer without guile. From time to time he also features various short films (including Rabbits, the most existential sit-com ever) and sometimes gives the viewer a peek at his current art projects. Every day, around 7-8 a.m., Pacific time:

If all that information wasn’t enough for you, here is an essential DIY project that David dreamt up:

I think I have the materials I need in the garage for making one of these.

By Professor Batty

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