Dusk

Dusk brings quiet. The noise of work slows, even the birds seem to shelter in place. We are still sheltering in place. One early evening, after about a month of sheltering, I heard what appeared to be a coyote. It seemed very close, close enough to upset my dog, so he barked. I’ve heard them before in the neighborhood, so it’s not unusual, but this was close. Then dusk took over and it was quiet.

The next day, about the same time, a few minutes after sunset, I heard the same clear call, two or three times, then it was quiet again. The following day it was the repeated. Now I had figured that a local dog had learned the howl, that’s why it was so close, and now a few other dogs were answering the call. My dog just barked.

This has been going on for about a month, same time, same duration. There have been times when I thought maybe it’s not a dog, or a coyote. It was too plaintiff, there was a subtle ache to the timbre.

This evening we took a short walk through the neighborhood at dusk. The dog needed his walk, we had gotten about two blocks from home when I heard the first howl, I had learned the voice, I recognized the pitch and volume. It came from the house directly across the street from where I was standing. It came from the back porch that I could see. It came from the man standing on the porch, the local neighbor.

His howl was promptly answered by yet another neighbor three or four houses down, and yet another neighbor two or three streets away. For two or three minutes I was surrounded by howls from every corner of the compass, and then dusk took over and it was quiet again. My wife howled softly.

The shelter in place does keep you safe, but it also brings stress.

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Fulk, King in Jerusalem

He was my 24th great grandfather, also known as Fulk the Younger. He was the Count of Anjou (as Fulk V) from 1109 to 1129 and the King of Jerusalem from 1131 to his death. During his reign, the Kingdom of Jerusalem reached its largest territorial extent.

Yes, my great grandfather was a Crusader, not only the but so were more than two dozen great grandfathers as far as I can tell. At this point I think it is important to rank a little bit. It certainly not politically correct to support Crusaders. Not only were they vicious killers, but they went to a country to murder the inhabitants and set up their own kingdoms. And they didn’t really discriminate, if you didn’t speak French, German, English, Italian, Spanish you were potentially slaughtered. Thousands of Greeks, Jews and native born Christians were victims. This is not in all cases, but it happened. I recall reading about the fall of Jerusalem, where the Crusaders killed so many that the blood ran in the streets and collected in the lower parts of the city, where it was up to the horses knees.

Yes, I’m glad this was in the past.

So the rule for critical thinking is not to judge historical individuals out of their own times. That’s pretty hard unless you make the effort to study the times.

In Christian history there was a period of “going on a pilgrimage”. We have that in English literature with Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. And even bigger pilgrimage was going on the Camino de Santiago, the road to Saint James Cathedral in Compostela. This makes for some interesting reading. There is even a current movie about a father undertaking this journey. It may have started earlier but written records began appearing around 1000. Traveling to visit the grave of Saint James was an act of piety.

It didn’t take long that hundreds of pilgrim were heading to the Holy Alan day. There had been dozens of monks that had made the trip, but now there were crowds going. It didn’t take long before the local authorities began to abuse these wayfarers.

The first crusades were from 1096-1099, the first was often called the People’s Crusade. Led by a French priest called Peter the Hermit, it was mostly comprised of the poor or Europe. With few actual soldiers they passed through Germany, committed many massacres, largely anti-Jewish, and when the Emperor at Constantinople got rid of them they were set upon by the Seljuk Turks and they were massacred, all 60,000, miles before they got to the Holy Land.

The Princes Crusade was the second part of the first crusade. It was better led by five bales leaders of Europe, Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse; the Italo-Normans Bohemond of Taranto and his nephew Tancred; the brothers Godfrey of Bouillon and Baldwin who led forces from Lotharingia and Germany.

The total amount of people attacking was well over 100,000. By chance the main Seljuk army was busy somewhere else, so they were successful and set up at least four principalities, the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli

The intention was to rule the Holy Land and provide protection to pilgrims.

According to Wikipedia…”The causes of the First Crusade are widely debated among historians. While the relative weight or importance of the various factors may be the subject of ongoing disputes, it is clear that the First Crusade came about from a combination of factors earlier in the 11th century in both Europe and the Near East. In Western Europe, Jerusalem was increasingly seen as worthy of penitential pilgrimages. The Seljuk hold on Jerusalem was weak, and the group lost the city to the Fatimids, and returning pilgrims, such as the Great German Pilgrimage of 1064–1065, reported difficulties and the oppression of Christians. The Byzantine need for military support coincided with an increase in the willingness of the western European warrior class to accept papal military command. Western Christians wanted a more effective church and demonstrated an increased piety. From 1000 there was an increasing number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land using safer routes through Hungary. The knighthood and aristocracy developed new devotional and penitential practises that created a fertile ground for crusading recruitment.

The motivation of the Crusaders is unknown. There may have been a spiritual dimension seeking absolution through warfare. At one time historian Georges Duby‘s theory that crusades offered economic and social opportunity for younger, aristoctaic landless sons was popular amongst historians but this was challenged because it does not account for the wider kinship groups in Germany and Southern France. Gesta Francorum talks about the opportunity for plunder and “great booty”. Adventure was another explanation including the enjoyment of warfare. As was the fact that many crusaders had no choice as they obliged to follow their feudal lords.”

There are many scholars that have quietly written about the positive aspects of the Crusades, but I’ll leave that to your own research. Back to my 24th great grandfather.

Fulk was born at Angers, between 1089 and 1092, the son of Count Fulk IV of Anjou and Bertrade de Montfort. I have already written about how Bertrade deserted Fulk in 1092 for Philip I, who she bigamously.

He became count of Anjou upon his father’s death in 1109. In the next year, he married Ermengarde of Maine, cementing Angevin control over the County of Maine. We don’t know if he got a divorce from Bertrade.

Fulk went on crusade in 1119 or 1120, and became attached to the Knights Templar (Orderic Vitalis). He returned, late in 1121, after which he began to subsidize the Templars, maintaining two knights in the Holy Land for a year. Much later, Henry arranged for his daughter Matilda to marry Fulk’s son Geoffrey of Anjou, which she did in 1127 or 1128.

Baldwin II had no male heirs but had already designated his daughter Melisende to succeed him. Baldwin II wanted to safeguard his daughter’s inheritance by marrying her to a powerful lord. Fulk was a wealthy crusader and experienced military commander, and a widower. His experience in the field would prove invaluable in a frontier state always in the grip of war.

However, Fulk held out for better terms than mere consort of the Queen; he wanted to be king alongside Melisende. Baldwin II, reflecting on Fulk’s fortune and military exploits, acquiesced. Fulk abdicated his county seat of Anjou to his son Geoffrey and left for Jerusalem, where he married Melisende on 2 June 1129. Later Baldwin II bolstered Melisende’s position in the kingdom by making her sole guardian of her son by Fulk, Baldwin III, born in 1130.

Fulk and Melisende became joint rulers of Jerusalem in 1131 with Baldwin II’s death. From the start Fulk assumed sole control of the government, excluding Melisende altogether. He favored fellow countrymen from Anjou to the native nobility. The other crusader states to the north feared that Fulk would attempt to impose the suzerainty of Jerusalem over them, as Baldwin II had done; but as Fulk was far less powerful than his deceased father-in-law, the northern states rejected his authority. Melisende’s sister Alice of Antioch, exiled from the Principality by Baldwin II, took control of Antioch once more after the death of her father. She allied with Pons of Tripoli and Joscelin II of Edessa to prevent Fulk from marching north in 1132; Fulk and Pons fought a brief battle before peace was made and Alice was exiled again.

In Jerusalem as well, Fulk was resented by the second generation of Jerusalem Christians who had grown up there since the First Crusade. These “natives” focused on Melisende’s cousin, the popular Hugh II of Le Puiset, count of Jaffa, who was devotedly loyal to the Queen. Fulk saw Hugh as a rival, and it did not help matters when Hugh’s own stepson accused him of disloyalty. In 1134, in order to expose Hugh, Fulk accused him of infidelity with Melisende. Hugh rebelled in protest. Hugh secured himself to Jaffa, and allied himself with the Muslims of Ascalon. He was able to defeat the army set against him by Fulk, but this situation could not hold. The Patriarch interceded in the conflict, perhaps at the behest of Melisende. Fulk agreed to peace and Hugh was exiled from the kingdom for three years, a lenient sentence.

However, an assassination attempt was made against Hugh. Fulk, or his supporters, were commonly believed responsible, though direct proof never surfaced. The scandal was all that was needed for the queen’s party to take over the government in what amounted to a palace coup. Author and historian Bernard Hamilton wrote that Fulk’s supporters “went in terror of their lives” in the palace. Contemporary author and historian William of Tyre wrote of Fulk “he never attempted to take the initiative, even in trivial matters, without (Melisende’s) consent”. The result was that Melisende held direct and unquestioned control over the government from 1136 onwards. Sometime before 1136 Fulk reconciled with his wife, and a second son, Amalric was born.

Securing the borders

Jerusalem’s northern border was of great concern. Fulk had been appointed regent of the Principality of Antioch by Baldwin II. As regent he had Raymond of Poitou marry the infant Constance of Antioch, daughter of Bohemund II and Alice of Antioch, and niece to Melisende. However, the greatest concern during Fulk’s reign was the rise of Atabeg Zengi of Mosul.

In 1137 Fulk was defeated in battle near Baarin but allied with Mu’in ad-Din Unur, the vizier of Damascus. Damascus was also threatened by Zengi. Fulk captured the fort of Banias, to the north of Lake Tiberias and thus secured the northern frontier.

Fulk also strengthened the kingdom’s southern border. His butler Paganus built the fortress of Kerak to the east of the Dead Sea, and to help give the kingdom access to the Red Sea, Fulk had Blanchegarde, Ibelin, and other forts built in the south-west to overpower the Egyptian fortress at Ascalon. This city was a base from which the Egyptian Fatimids launched frequent raids on the Kingdom of Jerusalem and Fulk sought to neutralise this threat.

In 1137 and 1142, Byzantine emperor John II Comnenus arrived in Syria attempting to impose Byzantine control over the crusader states. John’s intention of making a pilgrimage, accompanied by his impressive army, to Jerusalem alarmed Fulk, who wrote to John pointing out that his kingdom was poor and could not support the passage of a large army. This lukewarm response dissuaded John from carrying through his intention, and he postponed his pilgrimage. John died before he could make good his proposed journey to Jerusalem.

Death

In 1143, while the king and queen were in Acre, Fulk was killed in a hunting accident.[3] His horse stumbled, fell, and Fulk’s skull was crushed by the saddle, “and his brains gushed forth from both ears and nostrils”, as William of Tyre describes. He was carried back to Acre, where he lay unconscious for three days before he died. He was buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Though their marriage started in conflict, Melisende mourned for him privately as well as publicly. Fulk was survived by his son Geoffrey of Anjou by his first wife, and Baldwin III and Amalric I by Melisende.

Legacy

According to William, Fulk was “a ruddy man, like David… faithful and gentle, affable and kind… an experienced warrior full of patience and wisdom in military affairs.” His chief fault was an inability to remember names and faces.

William of Tyre described Fulk as a capable soldier and able politician, but observed that Fulk did not adequately attend to the defense of the crusader states to the north. Ibn al-Qalanisi (who calls him al-Kund Anjur, an Arabic rendering of “Count of Anjou”) says that “he was not sound in his judgment nor was he successful in his administration.” The Zengids continued their march on the crusader states, culminating in the fall of the County of Edessa in 1144, which led to the Second Crusade (see Siege of Edessa).

Family

In 1110, Fulk married Ermengarde of Maine (died 1126), the daughter of Elias I of Maine. Their four children were:

Geoffrey V of Anjou (1113–1151), father of Henry II of England.

Sibylla of Anjou (1112–1165, Bethlehem), married in 1123 William Clito (div. 1124), married in 1134 Thierry, Count of Flanders.

Matilda of Anjou (1106–1154, Fontevrault), married William Adelin; after his death in the White Ship disaster of 1120, she became a nun and later Abbess of Fontevrault.

Elias II of Maine (died 1151)

His second wife was Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem

Baldwin III of Jerusalem

Amalric I of Jerusalem

It’s possible that this is Bertrade before she left him.
Yes, he was a Plantagenet, with future English kings in the making.
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Bertrade de Montfort

She was my 25th great grandmother, and a very interesting lady. First, she must have been extremely beautiful, and secondly she didn’t seem to mind being a bigamist. She was born in 1070, and lived to 14 February 1117.

She was the daughter of Simon I de Montfort and Agnes of Evreux. Her brother was Amaury de Montfort.

The chronicler John of Marmoutier would recount:

‘The lecherous Fulk then fell passionately in love with the sister of Amaury de Montfort, whom no good man ever praised save for her beauty.”

Bertrade and Fulk were married, and they became the parents of a son, Fulk, who became King in Jerusalem.

However, in 1092 Bertrade left her husband to go live with King Philip I of France. Philip married her on 15 May 1092, despite the fact that they both had spouses that were living. He was so enamoured of Bertrade that he refused to leave her even when threatened with excommunication. Pope Urban II did excommunicate him in 1095, and Philip was prevented from taking part in the First Crusade.

According to Orderic Vitalis, Bertrade was anxious that one of her sons succeed Philip, and sent a letter to King Henry I of England asking him to arrest her stepson Louis. Orderic also claims she sought to kill Louis, first through the arts of sorcery and then by poison. Whatever the truth of these allegations, Louis succeeded Philip regardless.. William of Malmesbury says:

“Bertrade, still young and beautiful, took the veil at Fontevraud Abbey, always charming to men, pleasing to God, and like an angel.” Philip died 29 July 1108. She lived on until 1117.

Her son from her first marriage, Fulk V of Anjou, later became King of Jerusalem iure uxoris. The dynasties founded by Fulk’s sons ruled for centuries, one of them in England (Plantagenet), the other in Jerusalem.

Children

With Fulk IV, Count of Anjou:

Fulk of Jerusalem, Count of Anjou and King of Jerusalem (1089/92–1143)[2]

With Philip I of France:

Philip of France, Count of Mantes (living in 1123)[3]

Fleury of France, Seigneur of Nangis (living in 1118)[4]

Cecile of France (died 1145), married (1) Tancred, Prince of Galilee;[5] married (2) Pons of Tripoli[

Bertrade with Philip
Perhaps after Philip died and she went to a nunnery.
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So, I’m learning a lot…

Who knew that heraldry is a thing. I mean, as a graphic designer I was certainly aware of the concept, but I treated it more like a primitive logo. Not so… it has rules, and structure, and meanings… very complicated.

Another thing I learned is the reality of tribes. In Scotland you can still speak of clans, but I don’t think modern Germany or France has a clue about tribal structure. Apparently it was almost as important as the Native Americans, if you came from the Crow nation you knew you were a Crow. People in Europe today don’t know if they are Goths, Ostrogoths, Rus, Vandals, Gepids, Visagothic, Alamanni, Heruli, Jutes, Fresii, Burgundians, Churusci, Cimbri, Suebi, Geats, Marcomanni, Salians, or the Ubii. This is just a small sampling of the tribal names that I’ve run across in reading Roman history. Google appears to have well over 100 distinct tribal names, and generally where and when they lived. I’m pretty sure they are all gone now, although a few live on in relation to the land. There are still Swabians because the countryside is Swabia, like there are Lombards because they lived in Lombardy. In fact, in other languages they do not use the word “German”, but use “Alamanni”, or a variation. I think I insulted a friend because I suggested Charlemagne wasn’t French, he was a Frank. French didn’t exist for quite a while.

So now I know that fifteen straight great grandparents were kings/queens or warlords of the Alamanni. And 22 straight great grandparents were leaders of the Herulii. I don’t think that much DNA information has survived all this time, but it means a little more to me when I read about them as historical characters. I’m partly Alamanni, but not Marcomanni. I’m partly Herulii, but not Burgundian. At least so far as I know.

Like I said, I’m learning a lot.

Rus
Wessex
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Royal Crests

These are the crests of the lines that I have recently discovered in the genealogy of my father, and my mother. It turns out there is an entire field of study in the creation and meaning of crests. I have some reading to do.

Ha! And the first thing I learned is that crests is mostly wrong. Better to say Coat of Arms, although that’s not completely right because it really refers to an actual coat with the devices. Oh well…Coat of Arms is pretty good.

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Theodoric the Great

This is a story about my 44th great grandfather. I suppose I can call him “granpoppa”. But it’s not necessarily going to be a good story. Sometimes people live in times that are “significant”, sometimes we are not just along for the ride, but we are active players in the unfolding of history.

Unfortunately, history has gotten a bad reputation. It’s all about dates and places, it’s impossible to know them all, and history keeps happening, so it just get worse. Often people will say they can only remember two dates from history. One is 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded England, and the other is the Fall of the Roman Empire in 465.

This is a story about the fall of the Roman Empire, and it is about the dates and places, but mostly it’s about people. Technically it’s about my “granpoppa”, and the people that he knew.

The big picture of the time was that this was coming near the end of a thousand year cycle of political, social, and artistic development. I don’t think that anyone knew it was coming to an end, but then we never do. The Roman Empire was enormous, it stretched from England to Egypt, from Spain through Turkey, it would be tough to manage even with today’s modern technology. The development of Roman roads was a huge step forward, but you could only travel by foot or horseback. In fact, the government had attempted to split the government into two centers, Rome and Constantinople.

Rome was the Western Empire, and it had the Vatican and the history of the Empire. Constantinople was a newer city, founded by a very forward thinking Emperor Constantine. It sat on the crossroads between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea for shipping traffic, and also between the land bridge of Europe and Asia. On paper it would seem that having two Emperors would split up the load, and provide continuity from end to end in the Empire.

The problem is always about people, their experience, and their egos. The two emperors did not always bring the same qualities to the job. The western empire had stopped providing the basic Roman soldier that was culturally linked to the Empire. They had filled the first line soldiers, and most of the leaders, with German mercenaries. It was a bad decision to trust the safety of the Empire to people that were hired hands.

So, where does my 44th great grandfather come in? Theodoric was the son of a barbarian leader. His father was influential, so much so that the Eastern Roman emperor had demanded that his son become a hostage in the city of Constantinople. Theodoric was almost a Hollywood “Star Wars” kind of epic character. Theodoric came to a very cultured city at eight years old. He was given the best care, and was taught to read and write, and exposed to history and culture.

Was he a German barbarian, or was he a citizen of the empire? Or was he given the tools to take down an empire?

It all came to a head when the western empire had a very weak and inexperienced leader. The German mercenary leader Odovacar easily dethroned the sixteen-year-old emperor Romulus Augustalus, because he could. Odovacar walked into the city unopposed. However, even if he called himself a “king”, Odovacar was always under the rule of the Eastern emperor.

This did not impress the the Emperor Zeno, he was always trying to play the German barbarians one against the other. When Theodoric went back to his home, he rose to the leadership of the Visagothic tribes. Not only that, he began to blend in the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, and other groups like the Gepids. Emperor Zeno looked for someone to bring Odovacar under control. He went so far as to order Theodoric to attack Odovacar.

At first Theodoric was defeated by Odovacar in 490, but later that year the tables were turned and Odovacar was soundly beaten. Both sides kept their armies in the field for several years. Finally, in early 493, Theodoric took the strong city of Ravenna, a place that Odovacar often went after he lost a battle. On March 15, 493, a banquet was organised in order to celebrate a treaty that would end the conflict. At this feast, Theodoric, after making a toast, killed Odoacer. The Ides of March occurs again in Roman history.

In the end, Theodoric solved his political problems with the diplomacy of a sword blow. Emperor Zeno was at first thrilled, then he realized that Theodoric was ten times the threat to the Eastern Empire.

Theodoric drew his sword and struck him on the collarbone. Along with Odoacer, Theodoric had the betrayed king’s most loyal followers and slaughtered them as well, an event which left him as the master of Italy.

Theodoric was driven to find land for his people. The Huns had pressed on them from the East, and the Western empire did not want to have barbarians living in the empire, they could fight for them, but they didn’t want to live with them.

There are some interesting ideas of why Rome fell. 1. Lead Poisoning, 2. Decline of Civic Virtue and Adoption of Christianity, 3. Military, Political and Economic Decline, and 4. Disease. That’s a lot to digest and think about.

I think Rome fell because people made decisions, sometimes good, sometimes not. My 44th great grandfather Theodoric was there at the center of it.

Theodoric the Great
Theodoric’s tomb in Ravenna, Italy
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Charlemagne

He has been known as Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, since the Norman invasion of 1066. Before that he was called Charles I, even though his grandfather was also a Charles. The leaders of the Franks were not so quick about declaring themselves kings. The previous Frankish dynasty were the Merovingian Kings, better known at the time as the “Do Nothing” kings. Perhaps the title of king had lost its luster. Charlemagne is also my 40th great grandfather.

Charlemagne’s grandfather was known as “Charles the Hammer”, it almost sounds like a pro-wrestler’s name. He was a very successful warrior. The ruling title was actually called “the Mayor of the Palace” the king might live in it, but Charles the Hammer ruled as mayor. For some reason the Carolingian dynasty also liked the family name of Pepin. Charlemagne’s father, son and uncle had that name. Maybe it sounds better in French.

So far, all of my royal ancestors have been connected through my mother’s Norwegian roots. But today I made a breakthrough, after years of collecting data on poor German farmers, and perhaps better off city burghers, I found a marriage to a minor count. A minor count can lead to a Duke, and generations of counts and dukes. I haven’t found any German kings or princes yet, but I’m sure they are there.

One of the counts had marriage connections to the Franks and suddenly I was related to Charles the Hammer, Pepin, and Charlemagne. I love the sudden explosion of data. I’ve taken it back even further than the Franks. I’ve found a direct connection to a Roman Senator of Gaul, around 300 AD. That’s 150 years before Rome fell.

So why was Charlemagne so great? Well, the first rule is that the victors get to write the history. They call Charlemagne the father of Europe. The shape of the countries in Europe has been based on the provinces of his empire. But he was also a great reformer. He actually passed laws on education and literacy, he provided guidelines on how to run a business and keep standardized records, he promoted the use of lowercase letters, he ruled for almost 50 years and he was not a “do nothing” king.

It would be somewhat of an error to think of him as French, he was Frankish, and that tribe had come from western Germany, and pushed the native Celts further west. And the Celts had pushed the Bronze Age Picts in the same manner. When the Romans came over the Alps and up from the coast, they ruled for over 600 years, creating a blended population. But the Romans rarely crossed the Danube, on the other side was barbaric Germans, dense forest, and death to their Legions. Charlemagne crossed the Danube easily and united much of even Eastern Europe.

It’s no wonder that the Pope crowned him the first Holy Roman Emperor in over 300 years. Charlemagne didn’t know it, but the Pope even expected him to rule over Constantinople. He didn’t go there.

We don’t know where he was born, but we know he died in Aachen and was placed in his tomb in Aachen Cathedral. Apparently he was entombed sitting on a throne for the first 200 years. Then they opened the tomb and laid him flat. Years later they put him in an elaborate casket where he remains. At one point they took measurements. He was between 6 foot and 6 foot 5. Above the 99 percentile of the time.

My 40th great grandfather died on Jan. 28, 814. I really do think he was great.

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Magnus Barefoot Olafsson

Magnus was the son of Olaf, and the grandson of Harald Hardrada. Harald was the famous Warrior King who fought in Italy, Sicily, Syria, Constantinople, Crimea, and Kiev. Then he went back to Norway to fight and become king. Later, he dies while trying to become king of England. His son Olaf was sixteen when his father died in 1066. When Olaf became king of Norway he was soon called Olaf the Peaceful because he mostly focused on making improvement in the country, instead of conquests.

Well, Magnus did not take after his father, Magnus most definitely took after his grandfather and was known as a military leader bent on increasing the kingdom of Norway. He was my 23rd great grandfather.

Magnus recognized his greatest strength was based upon his navy and the very seaworthy longships. While he did fuss with Sweden about some border areas, he mostly renegotiated treaties with Sweden, Denmark and Norman England. What he felt strongly about were the islands in the Irish Sea. He established a base on the Isle of Mann and set forth bringing Irish and Scottish islands into the Norwegian kingdom. There were even peace treaties that agreed that the islands were his.

One story was that a very nice chunk of land was connected to the main body by an isthmus, so technically it wasn’t an island and Magnus could not claim it. Magnus went there, sat at the helm of his boat and had his men tow him across the isthmus to the water on the other side. Technically he had “sailed” around the “island”, so he claimed it. No one argued.

Magnus could have been known as the Warrior, or as the Conqueror, but instead he was known as the Barefoot. This was a slight mistranslation, he may have been barefoot some of the time, but he was always “bare legged”. It seems that when he left Norway he was very impressed with the clothing styles of Scotland and Ireland, and took up the wearing of “kilts”.

While campaigning in Ireland, Magnus led a small party that was foraging for food for the trip back to Norway (stealing from farmers), when he was ambushed by a band of Ulaid (Ulster men). He died in the battle in 1103.

Magnus Barefoot, a stylish kilt wearing Viking, was my 23rd great grandfather.

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Blog Cruising

I was spending a little time blog cruising today, farming snippets of thought here and there. I must apologize in advance because I don’t really read for content, and certainly not carefully. When I’m “farming” I’m looking for ideas that unlock some sort of thought process. The trouble is that the idea ferments for a time, then explodes like active yeast hours later. I can’t even give credit for the fruit that I picked, because I only remember the idea, not the blog page.

So if you wrote about, “we are not in the same boat, but we maybe we are in the same storm.” , thank you for that.

I know about boats, I’ve been around them most of my life. At one point I owned four of them at once, a dinghy, a Cal20 sailboat, a Yankee30 sailboat, and a 1948 Ed Monk 41 foot power cruiser. It was nearly a navy.

We have a habit of using commonly understood objects in our analogies, and in most cases that is understandable, until it gets tiresome. “We are all in the same boat”, is meant that we are altogether, going in the same direction, and on an equal footing. Apparently no one has ever heard of “the Raft of the Medusa”, or seen the movie “Lifeboat”. The passengers are on the same vessel, but their futures are different, and their experiences can be remarkably different, like eating or being eaten.

In the past, when I have heard the phrase “We are all in the same boat”, I most always think, (but rarely say), “but your end of the boat is sinking!”

This COVID business has generated a lot of the same boat comments. Yet, some people will end up with a very nice tan as they sun themselves on the fly-bridge, while others will have ulcers on their feet as they stand in the bilge, manning the pump.

I’ve been entertained by musicians playing from their homes, bringing their music to us from their mansions. I don’t begrudge them for their wealth, “Hey, good on you!”, but don’t try to convince me that we are all in the same boat.

Some folks don’t even have boats, they are making do with floaters, and life -preservers. I’m aware that I do not have a yacht with a crew, but I’m not in a dinghy either. I’d like to think I’m in the equivalent of my long gone 30 ft Yankee sailboat. Big enough to take on the storm, small enough that I’m know ever square inch in case something goes wrong.

I know about boats, I just don’t know that much about storms.

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More Hollywood Art

Veronica Lake
Vivian Leigh
Maude Adams
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Golden Shovel

Softly we sing, We
Voice the innermost thoughts that Are
Hidden behind the furniture of our mental rooms, As
Guests relax on the sofas, Blind
To the melody that clings in the air like Vines

The world is madly Spinning
Forces are pulling Ourselves
Moving from one orbit, going Around
Yet another shiny thing, And

Not satisfied here, we spin Around
And search for other bright Objects
That attract the eyes And
The egos with Thoughts

Greedy and self-serving Not
Because we intend so, Truly
We are thoughtless in Our
Action, it’s just the nature that we Own.

(with sincere thanks to Lucy)

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Family Legends

www.youtube.com/watch

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Life, Death, and Cats

www.youtube.com/watch

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10 White Witch Stories

My brother is older and has some first hand knowledge of the White Witch. Often, a group of his friends would be driving around, usually “dragging the main”. For a diversion they would drive out to Wildcat Canyon and park in the mansion’s driveway backwards in order to leave quickly. Then they would wait until a light would come on, or movement in the window, and they would take off with the girls screaming. A version of ring the doorbell and run.

One time they brought a “newbie”, a big football type guy, no girls. The “witch” flung the front door open, and stood there silhouetted in the doorlight. He screamed and fell on the floor of the car. They drove off quickly. That was a real event. The other White Witch stories may have some fiction about them, some appear to be adapted from other disconnected stories.

1. She approached parked cars with couples that were making out, then scratched the window with her nails.

2. People were parked and making out when they heard a dripping sound. Then there was blood on the windshield.

3. She was seen walking on the road by her house, then she disappeared.

4. One of the patients at her sanitarium escaped, and she knocked on cars to find him.

5. She is seen walking around in the park at night.

6. She used a shotgun loaded with rock salt to shoot at teenaged trespassers.

7. Scathing music was played for the patients in the sanitarium, it can still be heard late at night, coming from no known source.

8. A young man could not start his car after making out with his girlfriend. He left her in the locked car while he walked to the front of the park to use the pay phone. When he returned he found his girlfriend dead, scared to death by the White Witch. Now the girlfriend’s ghost haunts the park looking for the boyfriend that left her.

9. She has long, wild, white hair and is in a long black dress. She has long, wild, white hair and is sometimes dressed in a wedding gown.

10. One of the White Witch’s patients in the sanitarium had a hook instead of a right hand. The patient had a history of violence. While parked and making out, a couple hears on the radio that the police are looking for someone who had escaped from the sanitarium. The couple heard light scratching on the car. They knew that the White Witch liked to scratch on the cars that were parked. The young man quickly backed out and sped out of the park. He took his girlfriend home, got out of the car to go to the passenger’s side to open the door for his girlfriend. There, hanging on the door handle was a bloody hook, ripped from someone’s arm.

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The White Witch

If you grew up in the late 1950s, early 1960s you heard the stories of the White Witch of Wildcat Canyon. She lived in a haunted mansion behind Alvarado Park in Richmond, CA. There was a “speculation” highway built with the idea to develop the land during Richmond’s growth after WWII.

The driving teenagers of the area called it the Deadend Highway, there were very few roads or driveways that connected. One of the driveways was to the Tewksbury Mansion. The mansion was originally built by Richmond pioneer Dr. Jacob M. Tewksbury for his daughter, Eugenia, and her second husband William Mintzer, early President of Bank of America in Point Richmond.

In 1914 it was purchased by Dr. Hendrik Belgum, a native of Norway who had lived in Wisconsin. Dr. Belgum turned the two story mansion into a small private sanitarium, called the Grande Vista Sanitarium. It was popular with the wealthy in Piedmont and Berkeley. It was off the beaten path but still accessible for visiting families.

By the 1940s it seemed that Dr. Belgum was distancing himself from regular outside contact. He preferred the company of the few patients that he had, along with his two spinster sisters that also lived at the Sanitarium, Inga Belgum and Ida Ruth Belgum. Dr Belgum died fighting a fire that was threatening the house in 1948. Inga died in 1951.

The house passed to Dr. Belgum’s brother Bernard Belgum, who lived in Richmond near San Pablo Ave. In 1959 another sister, Christine Herman, was widowed, and moved in with Bernard from Wisconsin. Bernard tried to keep running the Sanitarium for a few years but he didn’t have a medical degree and there were fewer patients. Only Ida Ruth lived on in the mansion to help maintain the property.

Bernard died in 1963,leaving everything to Christine and Ida. Ida Ruth was a noted local artist, and led a solitary life. She died in 1964. The mansion was empty. Christine died in 1971 and during the estate sale it was discovered that the abandoned property had been vandalized and eventually burnt to the ground. The property eventually passed to the East Bay Regional Parks.

My guess is that the White Witch of Wildcat Canyon was not a witch at all, but instead, she was the last care giver of the Grande Vista Sanitarium, the artist Ida Ruth Belgum.

The Grande Vista Sanitarium

Not the White Witch. This is Kristi Belgum, Ida Belgium’s mother.

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Great Grandparents

This is my attempt to justify the hours of research into genealogy. I have been on an interesting path, at first I was just collecting names, dates, and places. I would quickly gather then move on for more. It was a little bit like “notches on a gun”, or maybe less dramatically, “nice pieces of Depression Glass”. I had wished that there was more, but the data didn’t provide stories. They were for the most part farmers. Kind of ordinary farmers.

Then I underwent a change. Using the data, I tried to piece together the reason for moving. Using historical events to explain why the dramatic shift. I found that a lot of moves came right after a significant death in the family, most times it was children. Sometimes it was the death of an older family member that had been cared for. Without being able to find diaries or letters, I can’t prove the reasons, but there had to be reasons.

Sometimes I found newspaper articles or obituaries that gave more clues. Collecting data morphed into collecting stories, or conditional stories. I found a distant cousin in Germany that told me the story of over 100 families that wanted to migrate to the USA in order to avoid the constant threat of war. They were right on the French/German border. The Siegfried Line ran right through their village. They had to apply to the emperor for permission. Apparently they had heard about the Hessians going to Pennsylvania.

The emperor said no, but he promised some wonderful newly opened land on the other side of the country, on the border with Poland. It was free, newly drained swampland, lots of water, they spoke German, and he said he would not draft their sons for war. The 100+ families packed up and founded the city of Gros Fahlenwerder, Kreis Soldin, Newmark. Still barely in Prussia. This was around 1800. Apparently the Mayor’s house had a name carved into the lintel, “Diestler”.

Part barn, part house, part official residence.

Well, this was very interesting stuff, and I thank Manfred for his hard work, travel to Poland to dig out the information. Oh yeah, they left one border on one side of the country to go to another border with the same problems. During WWII the place was overrun, many were killed, the rest were driven out. The entire county was given to Poland after the war. Fortunately for my family, they saw the writing on the wall, and had made plans to individually go to the US about 100 years earlier.

Like I said, there are reasons for things, some can be found out by other data, some by reason, and some by a good hunch.

Well, I was pretty happy with my research. I had small, very small, victories, the further back in time, the less data is found. Unless of course you get lucky and have someone famous pop up. No such luck, just farmers, no horse thieves, no bank robbers, no movie stars. And gosh, the holy grail would be to tap into some royalty.

The big reason this would be cool is because so many people have worked to tighten the accuracy of the data. They spend years of the hobby in finding the missing lineage. In the US we have the Daughters of the American Revolution, in Europe there are hundreds of official, and thousands of unofficial data compilers. And it is mostly on the Internet.

Well, I had a bunch of Norwegian farmers on my mother’s side, and German farmers on my fathers side. No gold mine of data to be found.

I was plugging away, going back to the 1600 and 1500s where the data tapers to zero. To add to mix I was using Google to search a few names in addition to the usual family history sites. Then I found a “countess”. A young woman that had married a well-to-do farmer. Bringing her lineage in exchange for a nice house. Suddenly I had a royal connection! I began to search the other families around the same time, and found two or three other connections to the same royal line. It appears times were tough even for blue bloods.

In short order I was connected to most of the royal houses in Northern Europe, particularly of the Scandinavian countries. Royals marry other royals, so the line goes on. There was almost to much data, so I found that I was focusing on direct lineage. Grandparents! I was looking for direct ancestors, not removed cousins or uncles. How many grandparents could I find? On one royal line I went back to 60th great grandparents. Not all were kings and queens. Sometimes the house fell on hard times, wars, revolutions… But the data was there, and some interesting stories to be documented.

I am borrowing heavily from Wikipedia because is it so easy. My hope is to get an interesting list of characters, then find out more from additional sources. So this part of my blog is dedicated to great grandparents..

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Sailing Life

Winslow inspired

I spoken of my love of sailing. So many analogies to real life. The great one is relating the tongue (or thoughts) to the tiller/rudder. A very small shift can end up putting you miles off course. There is a need to be constantly adjusting, constantly attending to course direction, based upon the compass, the tide, the wave action, the wind, and most importantly local knowledge. And then then are times when you have to tack.

Tacking is very dangerous, you release the sheets for the jib, the sail goes limp, you throw the tiller in the opposite direction, and the point of the bow crosses the wind. You lose almost complete control. The main boom swings over to the other side, it is first limp with no power, you adjust. The sheets are wound on the winches, and the jib slowly filled with the wind. You crank and crank, then fine adjust.

After you tighten the sheets, trim the main, then off you go, still heading in the same general direction, but the need to change will come again. The wind is howling and the spray flows over the boat with each wave. To get to your destination you will adjust, and readjust, and you will tack and tack again. So it is with life.

I think many people get tired with the process. Sometimes changing the destination is simpler than the process that is necessary to get there. The curious part is that you get to a place that you didn’t want, nor was it a place you were meant to go.

Sailors learn to master the wind, tack into it, change direction multiple times but always with the destination as the goal. And there is a goal, to get to a point where the wind is behind you, no more beating into the wind. You are wing-and-wing, full extended sails, surfing on the crest of waves, and the ocean is silent.

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Perspective

I love the double and triple meaning of words. “It all depends upon your perspective.” What does that mean? Converging railroad tracks in the distance? Or, what you see depends upon where you stand. Generally, I know this to be true, there is a far better chance of understanding if you can actually see the problem.

So, having a place to stand, allows you to see. Changing perspective allows you to see more of a thing. I remember one of the things that stuck with me after reading Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” was the concept of a Fair Witness. Someone who was trained to tell the absolute truth. Ask them what color a house was, and they would reply, “the color I see reflected on this side is off-white!”. It could have been painted blue on the back side. A change of perspective would have allowed that to be seen.

Often we extend our “sight” to our “thought”. Our vision of history is not only from our personal experience, but also from what we have read and heard. When we throw in a well produced film or video, it is almost as if we have seen it personally. That can be a slippery slope.

Gathering a balanced perspective in history can be difficult when the victors are the only voices. Emphasizing the other side without facts also creates a dilemma. I try as hard as I can, but I can’t read what is not written. And I suppose I can’t fully trust what is written without knowing the specific perspective.

I’m writing this now after I’ve just listened to “Murder Most afoul” by Bob Dylan. It was written and recorded almost a decade ago, but Dylan just recently released it. It’s a rather long ballad about John Kennedy’s assassination. It brought me back. While I wasn’t an adult, it probably was my first “adult-like” thought. I had a first hand experience. I followed the news, I watched the press conferences, I saw Ruby shoot Oswald in the parking garage. It was multiple murders most foul.

From my perspective things might have actually started to spin out of control from that point. A few flashes of brilliance, but mostly darker going forward. RFK, MLK, Vietnam, Chicago, Kent State, Nixon, Agnew, on and on…

It’s a personal perspective that hasn’t changed much from what I’ve seen and read since. I hope I live long enough to see a paradigm shift, where things are building, more then they are falling apart.

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The Great Kosher Chicken Prank

There was a time when we would seek out kosher chicken from the butcher, not Safeway. There was probably not much difference in the quality of the meat, the Safeway chicken had the label kosher so my guess is that it’s death was humane. But the butcher variety came with all the extras necessary for the various side products needing “”schmaltz”, the secret ingredient of Jewish health food. The various sweet meats, the scrawny neck bones, and the slightly scary chicken feet. Everything tucked away in the carcass of the bird. Like a surprise box.

Well, it was this surprise that caused my wife to flee the kitchen, leaving the bird unattended in the sink. I was told to deal with it. When I arrived the chicken lay there with one scrawny foot peaking out, as if the chicken was giving birth to an alien. It was a terrifying sight!

I removed both feet, neck and innards, then had an interesting thought. I was busy at the sink, running water, and the two kids were right in the next room watching television. Sherry was still hiding from the chicken feet somewhere.

I’m not saying I ran this next few minutes through a proper “parenting filter”, but I went ahead with the plan anyway. I ran the hot water until there was plenty of steam wafting about. Then I grabbed the chicken feet, one in each hand, and pulled my shirt cuffs down to cover my fists. Then I screamed that the water was too hot. “Jeowww!, I’ve burned my hands. Help me! Help me!” Both kids came running into the kitchen just in time for me to turn around, silhouetted by billowing clouds of steam, reaching out with my hideous claws.

The looks on their faces told me of future years of intense therapy. Widening eyes, screams of fear and empathy, and a sudden awareness of “what was I thinking?”

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Common Sense

I don’t usually repost, but this was just too snarky to pass up. British sarcasm!

An Obituary printed in the London* *Times…..Absolutely Dead Brilliant!!*

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: 

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain; 

– Why the early bird gets the worm; 

– Life isn’t always fair; 

– And maybe it was my fault. 

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. 

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. 

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. 

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. 

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. 

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. 

Common Sense was preceded in death,

-by his parents, Truth and Trust,

-by his wife, Discretion,

-by his daughter, Responsibility,

-and by his son, Reason. 

He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers; 

– I Know My Rights 

– I Want It Now 

– Someone Else Is To Blame ,I’m always right,

everybody is wrong —

– I’m A Victim

– Pay me for Doing Nothing 

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. 

If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

————-

“Common Sennse is so uncommon”

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Futures

Been thinking about freedom. It’s a complex issue, always a two-sided coin. You can’t discuss freedom without having constraint. If there is no constraint, then… you just are.

In the same way, a lifetime of constraint doesn’t mean much, until you experience a minute of freedom.

(Do you have to experience freedom, even briefly, or can you simply dream of freedom?)

We are said to be a free society, but that’s not entirely true. We have tons of constraints, we have fixed and formal laws, we have customs and standards. And as we move forward to the future we seem to tighten the grip even more.

In 2010 I can remember being late for an airplane flight. I barely parked the car, I glanced at the monitor for the gate without breaking my stride. It was almost like the OJ commercial, hurdling seating, racing for the boarding area. I made it just as the door was closing.

A year later that all changed, it’s been nearly a decade later and TSA hasn’t gone away. I’m trying to think of the day that someone will say that we don’t need this anymore. I dunno, I think TSA is here to stay, the world has changed.

Today it was announced that more people have died from the virus than people in 9/11. I think the world has changed again. And to a certain extent, freedom is the victim. I’m not sure what constraints will be made, but they will be made, and it will be a long long time before anyone thinks they are not necessary.

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Best Read Ever!

I’ve said this before, it’s great! Written by a UCB history professor and it mostly takes place locally.
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Great Grandparents

I am surviving. I come from a long list of survivors. Oh, they eventually died, but before they did, they passed on their DNA. I am so amazed that if just one of my thousands of grandparents had died as a child, then I wouldn’t be here. So here is my official thank you to those long dead, but not forgotten.

John Frederick Diestler (1833-1894, my first Great Grandfather. I still haven’t officially linked you to rest of the Gros Fahlenwerder clan, but I’m thankful that you left the Old World and started something new and brave.

Kari Haldorsdtr Brathole (1870-1949), my great grandmother who came from Norway. Your husband disappeared in the wilds of Canada, yet you persevered. You died the year I was born but my mother told me lots about you.

Johann Wilhelm Diestler (1750-1815), my 3rd great grandfather. You wanted to come to America, you we’re tired of the wars in Europe. Instead you listened to King Frederick when he offered free land in the Neumark of Brandenburg. Your left with more than a hundred “colonists” from the Pfalz area of the Danube. It was new fertile land and the king promised not to draft your sons.

Per Ingebriktson Engjaland (1695-1766), my 5th great grandfather. I know next to nothing about you except the area where you lived. Vossestrand is beautiful now, and it must have been then.

Johann Georg Diestler (1707-1789), my 5th great grandfather. Thank you for being the first to move to the Pfalz area. I wish I could find your father and others, you are the earliest with the Diestler surname.

Anna Torgilsdotter (1535-1610), my 10th great grandmother. Thank you for leaving the hint that you were connected to royalty. The real benefit is that it gives me a tremendous database of great grandparents. On my father’s side it pretty much ends at the 5th and 6th generation individuals.

Sigurd Erlingssen, the Pretender Ribbung (1203-1226), my 23rd great grandfather. You died a young man, but not before you had a child, and tried to be King. That’s why you are called Sigurd the Pretender.

Magnus V, King of Norway Erlingson (1156-1184), my 25th great grandfather. Thank you for being the first king of the family. But we’re you a good king? I have to read more about you.

Eric, the Good, King of Denmark Estridsen, (1056-1103), my 27th great grandfather. Thank you for being “good”, I’ll have to read more about you as well.

Harald “Blue Tooth”, king of Denmark Gormsson, (986), my 29th great grandfather. I know it might be sad that most people only know you by the logo of your two runic initials, and the communications technology invented by Hedy Lamar. But it’s better than the nickname based upon a dead tooth.

Harald III, Hardrada Sigurdsson, king of Norway, (1015-1066), my 30th great grandfather. I can’t believe I’m related to my most favorite Middle Ages character. Conan the Barbarian was based upon you! You fought and won all over Europe. I’ve read so many stories about your life. Too bad that you took an arrow in your throat at Stamford Bridge, York.

Harold Godwinsson, king of England, another one of my 30th great grandfathers. Thank you for not dying in the battle with my other great grandfather. Too bad that you died nineteen days later, with an arrow in the eye. William the Bastard attacked just about at the right time, just after most of your best men were killed fighting Harald Hardrada. Oh yeah, I guess he gets to be called William the Conqueror now.

Alfred the Great, king of The Anglo-Saxons, (849-899), my 32 great grandfather. Thanks for being great in a Dark Age.

Rurik, Founder of the Rus Dynasty, (830-879), my 35th great grandfather. Thank you for being the leader of a dynasty that created the country of Russia. Okay, you might be mythical but that’s all right.

Aun Jorundsson, King of Uppsala Sweden, (400s), my 48th great grandfather. Thank you for being so mythical that you might be a character in the Beowulf Saga.

Odin of Asgard, (timeless), my 55th great grandfather. Thank you for all the myths, nice to know I’m also related to Thor and Loki.

It’s been a busy week doing the research, plugging in the data. 13,500+ people, very few of them noteworthy. Just great grandparents staying alive long enough to have children. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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The Virus

So, let’s check the boxes. I am old, not terribly old, but old enough not to be confused with young or even middle-aged. I have diabetes. I’ve recently had a heart attack, and heart disease is another box that’s ticked. I had prostate cancer. My breathing has been an issue.

Hmm, I’m a prime candidate for the Great Cleansing. Well, I’m not surprised. It’s not hard to read the writing on the wall, particularly when it is in ten foot letters, and repeated so often. My time on this earth is ending. So now what?

Well, there is still stuff to learn and think about. All this time cooped up has given me more energy to research ancestors. The honey-pot of genealogists is finding a connection to royalty. Not because it’s so cool (it’s cool!), but because so many really good researchers have spent years doing the lineage research.

I’ve often thought, if I could only connect to a minor duke or count, then I could go back hundreds of years. All this time, no luck. I’ve barely found anyone famous or infamous. One murderer, and two victims of murder. That’s about it.

Then I saw one mention of someone stating a link to the Norwegian royal family. Yep, it was a solid piece. I checked it several ways. I had to take it back to 1300s but then I found Magnus V, King of Norway. Kings marry royalty, so it didn’t take long to find kings of Sweden, Denmark, Finland and even Kiev. Tons of them, over and over. Almost an issue of in-breeding.

In a couple of hours I added about 600 royal individuals. Haha, I even found a dozen kings that were mythical, characters from Beowulf!

On my fathers side I still can’t find for certain my great grandfather’s father.

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Tax Season & One Things

My lovely wife did me the favor of collecting the yearly documents necessary to present to our tax person. Our new tax person, because our old tax person retired after thirty years. This has been a troubling time. For years our old tax person knew that the season was ending because I would show up at the last minute with a pile of unorganized documents. It would be only me because Sherry had done her part by finding most of the documents. It was my part to sit in the office and be embarrassed.

Now I have to train an entirely new person. This does not bode well.

The good news is that Sherry found something interesting in her search. Looking for taxes she found a collection of notecards. Back when I was mid heart surgery everyone thought that it would be nice to write down the “one thing” that I might have taught them. Or maybe two things.

This was just in case that I would not be coming home. Apparently I read them in the hospital, and enjoyed them very much. Also apparently they could have read me the phone book, and I would have enjoyed that as well. Hospital medication is amazing. I have no memory of that time or the things that were read to me.

So Sherry presents this little gift from my family, and I like it so much that I’m concerned that it might get lost in the future, so why not freeze the moment in time and make it a blog post…

John’s One Things from Heart Summer
One thing I’ve learned from my dad is Navajo bread is a family tradition, but now I have to learn how to make it. -Amy

One thing I love about Papa is his incredible gift of story telling- Laura

One thing I’ve learned is that a good, caring, wise and honest man can be a lifeline and father to the fatherless- that’s you!- Sherry

One thing I learned is to be careful around Jack Tone Road- Jenna

One thing Poppa taught me was about (the guy outside) John Muir. And he has swords, and watches.- Isaiah

One thing Papa taught me is that you should never be afraid to follow God’s direction. – Stu

One thing I’ve learned from dad is to always be creative when cooking meals. – Amy

One thing I love about Papa is his deep love and care for his family. – Jenna

One thing I learned is to remember. Remember your past, remember who you are as a person, as a community, as a people. Remember God’s good works in your life.- Jenna

One thing I learned was to treasure the written word. It is a balm, a friend, an outlet. Journal everyday, and change your life. I love reading your writing, and I love that you taught us to write.- Jenna

One thing I learned from Dad was you learn more from your failures than success.- Amy

One thing Dad taught me was that we have special powers to see through people (walls). – Amy

One thing I learned from Papa is how to always look at all sides of a situation.- Laura

One thing I learned from Dad was how to line up facial features when drawing the human face.- Amy

One thing I learned is to be a person of integrity. Let yes be yes and no be no. Be honest. Thank you for always being honest and open with me and everyone. Thank you for sharing who you ar and letting me be who I am.- Jenna

One thing I learned from you is that a huge heart coupled with humility = a person of integrity.- Nikki

One thing my Dad taught me is that Nikki+Wine= No Good. And Dad will always be there to keep me safe.- Nikki

One thing I’ve learned is the nobility of the centurion.- Sherry

One thing I’ve learned to appreciate the generations who came before us and to honor their legacy.- Sherry

One thing I’ve learned is how to put together a beautiful and meaningful blog.- Sherry

One thing I’ve learned from Papa is that history, literature, and art are incredibly important. -Laura

One thing Papa taught me is that you can never have too many knives, especially if you are going to the happiest place on earth.- Stu

One thing I love about you is that after 6+ years, you are still telling me interesting stories.- Travis

One thing I learned from you is to always pay attention to rooftops. Remember to look up was very handy in Italy.- Travis

One thing I admire about you is your artistic eye & ear, you have excellent taste in music & your talent for creative expression is inspiring.- Zach

One thing I’ve learned from you is to think deeply about faith & to not just take someone else’s word about God and his Word.- Zach

I like playing with Papa’s watch.- Abby

One thing I’ll never forget about you is how you worshipped & prayed at Promise Keepers ‘96. Love you Poppa.- Zach

Four things, that I appreciate is that you, Dad, is that you are loyal, brave, creative, and compassionate.- Nikki

Good grief! I will try for the rest of my life to live up to what I have told each of you. Well, most of them anyway. Forget some of them, I was wrong, you pick and choose.

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Lyrics Shaping a Decade

I am of an age where my memory has been somewhat selective. I have professed to my children that the music from the Sixties was far better than any decade since. I had forgotten that the 60’s had its share of “bubble gum” music. The Bikini song, Alley Oop, Monster Mash, Mr. Custer.

True there were a few interesting years from 1964 to 1969, but that was only half of the decade. And frankly, the decade ended badly.

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

by Brian Hyland (1960)

She was afraid to come out of the locker

She was as nervous as she could be

She was afraid to come out of the locker

She was afraid that somebody would see

Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore!

It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini

That she wore for the first time today.

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini

So in the locker she wanted to stay.

Two, three, four, stick around we’ll tell you more!

She was afraid to come out in the open

And so a blanket around her she wore.

She was afraid to come out in the open.

And so she sat bundled up on the shore.

Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore!

It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.

That she wore for the first time today.

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.

So in the blanket she wanted to stay.

Two, three, four, stick around we’ll tell you more!

Now she is afraid to come out of the water.

And I wonder what she’s gonna do.

‘Cause she’s afraid to come out of the water.

And now the poor little girl’s turning blue.

Two, three, four, tell the people what she wore!

It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.

That she wore for the first time today.

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini.

So in the water she wanted to stay.

From the locker to the blanket,

From the blanket to the shore,

From the shore to the water

Guess there isn’t any more.

  • Georgia On My Mind by Hoagy Carmichaeperformed by Ray Charles (1960)
  • Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles (1961)
  • Lily of the West, Traditional, performed by Joan Baez, (1961)
  • Johnny Angel, by Shelley Fabares (1962)
  • Duke of Earl, by Gene Chandler (1962)
  • Puff the Magic Dragon, lyrics by Lenny Lipton, performed by Peter, Paul and Mary (1963)
  • There but for Fortune, by Phil Ochs, version by Joan Baez (1963)
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand, by The Beatles (1964)
  • I Get Around, by The Beach Boys (1964)
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones (1965)
  • Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire (1965)
  • For What It’s Worth, by Steve Sills, performed by Buffalo Springfield (1966)
  • California Dreamin’ by The Mama’s and The Papa’s (1966)
  • Outside a Small Circle of Friends, Phil Ochs, (1967)
  • White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane, (1967)
  • Hey Jude, by The Beatles, (1968)
  • Mrs. Robinson, by Simon and Garfunkel, (1968)
  • Sugar, Sugar, by The Archies (1969)

Build Me Up Buttercup, by The Foundations (1969)

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby

Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?

And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby

When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still

I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’

You know that I have from the start

So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

“I’ll be over at ten, ” you told me time and again

But you’re late, I wait around and then (bah dah dah)

I went to the door, I can’t take any more

It’s not you, you let me down again

baby, baby, try to find

(Hey, hey, hey) a little time and I’ll make you mine

(Hey, hey, hey) I’ll be home

I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you

Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby

Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?

And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby

When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still

I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’

You know that I have from the start

So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

You were my toy but I could be the boy you adore

If you’d just let me know (bah dah dah)

Although you’re untrue, I’m attracted to you all the more

Why do I need you so?

baby, baby, try to find

(Hey, hey, hey) a little time and I’ll make you mine

(Hey, hey, hey) I’ll be home

I’ll be beside the phone waiting for you

Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh ooh

Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby

Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?

And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby

When you say you will (say you will) but I love you still

I need you (I need you) more than anyone, darlin’

You know that I have from the start

So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart

I, I, I need you more than anyone, baby

You know that I have from the start

So build me up (build me up) buttercup

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Tangential Knowledge

What is it when we are not looking for something, and then we find it? It’s hard to be thoughtless in the literal sense, which is somehow different than the emotional uncaring sense. The pure thoughtless is almost like the zen state of quieting the mind. I’ve been there several times, but never by choice.

And I’m not sure that thinking has ceased completely, because my body still takes directions. I get up out of the chair, and I take a few hesitant steps. Invariably I head into the kitchen, I’m aware of this because I return to the thinking state soon after I am staring into the refrigerator, wondering why I am staring into the refrigerator?

Facebook movie clips are similar. Often I’m scrolling through the clips looking for something. I’m not aware of what I’m looking for, but I continue to scroll. I have a vague awareness that, at times, Facebook presents videos that are targeted to me individually. For some reason an algorithm led Facebook to present Chinese sniper movies, fighting the Japanese during WWII. I stopped to watch a few, and that led to more Chinese sniper movies. I stopped watching them.

Then the algorithm changed and suddenly there were dozens of talk shows clips. Viewing any of them brought even more. It was a little like the land of the Lotus Flower eaters. An unending stream of whatever knowledge I was seeking. Except I didn’t know what I was looking for. I was just looking unthoughtfully.

Another set of clips started to flow. Clips from the BBC, talk shows, game shows, blogs from British bloggers. I stopped at a few. Even more showed up. And then I saw something that generated a thought. Very similar to waking up in front of the open refrigerator.

It was a clip interviewing Stephen Fry. He was relating that in school he wasn’t particularly good at anything, not science, not math, not sports. What he loved was reading mythology. To him it was like videos games, or Marvel comics. The characters he read about seemed heroic and thoughtful. They tried to explain and give reasons for things that were all around him.

One in particular he remembered. Hercules was a hero, legends galore. He was a Demi-god, fathered by Zeus. Well, it seems that his Greek name was Heracules, in part because Zeus wanted to appease his wife Hera. Hera wanted nothing to do with the child of Zeus and some human woman.

In an attempt to create a bond with the baby Heracules, the god Mercury (directed by Zeus) picked up the baby and placed it on Hera’s nursing breast while she slept. After a time, Heracules’ strong suckling woke the sleeping Hera. In a rage, she leapt from the bed, spraying a circle of breast milk in the air all around her.

Milk in Greek is gala, breast milk circle is galaxias kyklos. The Romans called it via lactate. We call it The Milky Way.

Tangential knowledge.

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Some of our Students

Some of our students just returned from a week at our nation’s capitol. Can you imagined what they must have learned? What a perfect opportunity to witness history, to actually see the government in action, to hear live presentations from current leaders in their professions. It was quite the field trip! And so much more.

Many departments have been able to send groups of students to Europe in study aboard situations, to enable students to experience the world. As academic leaders we have recognized that it is good to have a range from local field trips to statewide conferences. It is good because the students are changed for the good.

How much better is it when our students are also challenged for their abilities? Only a few departments know how this feels. Certainly in sports, speech, music, in fact any department that spends the time to find organizations where their students can be showcased. Of course there are issues. What if we lose? How will our students feel? How will I feel if my teaching seems less than it should? Most of us don’t try to compete. Even when there are organizations where our students can be showcased.

This week I am hoping that there will be returning teams from some district in the Midwest, where they got several Honorables and maybe a fourth place in the nation. The team will be welcomed with a lunch at the district office and will be honored by everyone at their college because the team is owned by the administration and the staff. They were their students. It was their community. They put their training and expertise on the line, and risked their competence. And they won and carried away the prize.

In ancient Rome, a victory in some distant part of the empire would receive a Triumph, a celebratory parade in Rome. Thousands would fill the streets to give honor, and partly to own the victory for themselves.

This week Contra Costa College came back with two National Pacemaker Awards from the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) it is the largest and oldest national membership organization for college student media in the United States. It awards the newspaper, magazine, and online National Pacemaker Awards, which are considered the highest honors a student publication can receive.

It is an amazing story that continues a long line of successful stories. The college has won many Pacemakers over the years. Perhaps because of this, the college has often ignored the accomplishment. Maybe it was thought that it was a conference of a couple of dozen friends who come together for a good time and give “attaboys”? Do the research. This is a big deal. The college has never won two Pacemakers in the same year. Will that make a difference? I think not.

The college, various departments, certainly the district, and even some faculty have distanced themselves. They don’t see it as “our’ journalism department. They don’t even see it as our students. What does that mean to the community?

Is it possible that we are committing far more energy to our plan to educate for greatness, instead of recognizing the greatness that is current? Our college has never received the respect an honor that it deserves. Our students are remarkable!

It occurred to me that perhaps some at the college, and certainly some at the district are reluctant to give honor to the journalists at the college because of some article that was published. I have only this to say, if reporters found an error, then the first thing you do is to be proud that they have been taught to do the research, and have the courage to report the truth.

Or more simply, if you don’t want to look like an idiot in print, don’t do idiotic things.

I am so honored to be even remotely connected to The Advocate. You deserve a triumphal arch erected in the Quad.

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Hollywood

I have recently been intrigued by the classic black and white headshots of the 1940s. I’m not familiar with any names of the photographers, but I am admiring their work. Wikipedia sometimes gets the actual names of the actors wrong, and sometimes I am unfamiliar enough to not notice.

In order to learn a bit more about color, I have taken on a study to colorized a few of the classic photos. It’s been very instructive, and I’ve created a new drop menu on the menu called Hollywood Art for the finished projects. I’ve changed backgrounds on some, redrawn the eyes and mouths on others, and experimented with color shading on all. Generally each photo goes through a process of blending about ten different layers, merged finally into one.

Here are a few samples…

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Now?

I once saw a man with a tattoo of a watch on his wrist. Periodically it had the correct time, at least twice a day. The theoretical concept is that if he had more tattoos, it will increase the ratio of accuracy. If his arm was long enough, and he knew where to look, his tattoo watch would be perfect, with no moving parts or power.

That is the basic problem with time, our attempts to measure something that is in the fourth dimension with third dimension technology sucks.

I’ve been pondering the concept of “now”. I can see that it is coming, and I can see that it passed, but I just can’t freeze the moment in between. “Now” is elusive. There is supposedly the “Clock of the Long Now”. Actually, it exists, and there is a museum. It is also called the 10,000 Year Clock. Look it up on Google. There is one being built on a mountain in Nevada, powered by the difference in temperature from the top of the mountain, to the bottom of the mountain.

Stewart Brand, of the Whole Earth Catalog fame, is on the Board of Directors of the Long Now Foundation, so is the musician Brian Eno. There is also a cafe/museum/interesting place called The Interval in San Francisco. I haven’t been, but it is a place where one can discuss “deep time” issues.

I think redefining “Now” into the “Long Now” does not help my concern. But maybe a trip to the city with coffee and a bagel will change my mind.

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My friend Bob

I am inspired by his work

www.youtube.com/watch

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Recent Work

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What do I make?

Well, in simplistic terms, I make art. It is art because I say so, not because I have mastered any particular media. It is art because I have recognized that in the making, that the image has crossed the threshold into art. For me!

There are literally hundreds of mediums to explore in order to make art. From the basic rudiments of “found art” to the complicated layers of screen printing. I have sampled a few in my time and “mastered” very few. I’m pretty good at sketching, not bad at sculpture. Color portraits are the worst. Watercolor is monstrous. I’m terrified of oil painting and paralyzed at acrylics. None of this stops me from attempts. But, oh, the hideous makings.

So where am I comfortable? I like working from photographs, I like the filters that some programs use. I’m never satisfied with just the filters so I use layering techniques to combine other filters, or layers of hand drawn detail. I don’t have a requirement of some percentage of hand-drawn for the art to qualify as art. I’m more interested in the final image. I see no distinction between 100 percent hand drawn and 100 percent filter. If someone else does, it doesn’t change the way I see the image. as far as media goes, I guess you could say that I fell in love with digital in 1985.

When I was teaching art appreciation, I sometimes showed students the work of modern artists, painting modern art. Many did not appreciate the abstract quality. When I then showed work from the same artists that painted more realistic images, then they showed interest. Because the painter choose to paint in the abstract, then it was more valid. I understood this, but it does not mean that it is a test for art. Prior skill is not necessarily a stepping stone.

Often the lack of traditional art ability was the excuse for the individual to not think of themselves as artists. We have lost too many artists because of this false belief. This is similar to not call yourself a photographer because you don’t know how to use a camera. The photography is in the vision! The camera comes later.

Finding the right medium is sometimes a lifelong process. It might make sense to stay with a comfortable medium and developed finer skills. It also might make sense to step into a noncomfort zone to explore a new medium. For years I have told my photography students that every good photo that they admire was likely taken by an uncomfortable photographer. I can’t prove that, but I believe it to be true.

When I analyze my own artists path, I realize that I have always seen things in three dimensions. I think that is why sculpture has been attractive. But I also see the depth of landscapes, the layers of distance, so even portraits are dimensional. The attraction of digital is undo, and the speed of variations. I have enjoyed making tribute drawings, redrawing or using filters. I have sometimes “channeled” the artist, and learned new things by the image I was making. I’m not done with my versions.

My best advice is to follow DuChamp. “Artists make art”.

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When is it Sin? When is it Evil?

A good friend posted an article by Dennis Praeger and suggested that I read it. I’m good with that. I have several of his books and I have enjoyed his writing. No red flags there… Well, maybe one.

Praeger has many books, a radio show, and he has many speaking engagements per year. He also has Praeger University.

I dunno, I see a small red flag waving when you found a university, then name it after yourself. I mean there are billions of choices, some horrible, some might even be brilliant. Settling on your own last name seems iffy. Maybe he named it after his parents?

Still, we all make choices and some may be mistakes.

In the article Praeger makes the statement that most of us haven’t come across a major mathematical formula. Good intentions minus Wisdom equals Evil.

Interesting formula, but one that I find too simplistic, therefore, it slightly misses the mark. I find that the threshold for evil is quite a bit higher.

His formula works very well for a mistake, or an error of thinking, but to classify that as evil seems harsh. I agree it can be the first steps on the road to evil, but there is still time to change direction.

I am not saying that every mistake leads to a correction. I’ve known plenty of people that have made a mistake, recognize it, and continue to make it, everyday for years. It still doesn’t make it evil.

I’m about to make some of you reading this uncomfortable. The basic definition of sin is “missing the mark”, comparable to an arrow not hitting the bullseye. It has taken another meaning in religious circles and I find that unfortunate.

We should have a word that describes our failures. A word that is stronger than mistake/error but not so strong as damnation.

I’m thinking that the original definition of sin fits the mark, perhaps that is why it is so unpopular.

Is sin evil? Possibly, evil is certainly sin, but I don’t think they are interchangeable.

Sin is an action that causes the spirit to be grieved. Sometimes we plow ahead thinking that it will somehow be resolved. Mostly it isn’t. When we analyze it enough to recognize that the action benefits you to the detriment of others, that’s when it crosses over to evil. I suppose there are small evils and larger evils.

Praeger contends that embracing communism was evil. I certainly believe it was a mistake, and I also believe that most leadership began to embrace it for their own power, and justified horrible decisions with the idea of the greater good. That tiptoes into evil. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Thank you Lord Acton. (Most folks ignore the “tends to”.)

But it would be a moral mistake to classify millions of people who once believed in communism as evildoers.

When we sin we have the option of redemption. Some of us do that faster than others. The same can be said of true evildoers but the conviction is far more difficult. It is not only a knowledge issue, it is often a deeper rooted thinking issue. It can truly be described as a personality shift. Evil is pernicious. Sin is unfortunate but we can make a change.

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Francis Bacon

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More Encouragement Thoughts

Encouragement can be found in a vast mountain lake. A reservoir filled to the brim, more encouragement than you can receive in several lifetimes. And yet it is untapped for most of us, for most of our lives.

It is the stored encouragement. The “frozen in time “ encouragement that can be found in books, in song, and sometimes even in physical places. It is encouragement that is freely accessed, and yet we don’t feel like it. It is encouragement that is available 24/7, yet we ignore it. It is encouragement that is honest and true, like scripture. Yet we turn a blind eye. Why is that?

I believe the most powerful, and enduring encouragement, comes from these static sources of encouragement. Yet we focus on the words and actions of people, as if this is the encouragement that is more important. I think that we have conflated the issue.

People, and sometimes the world, have way too much influence on our access to static encouragement. “I feel discouraged.” “Why don’t you read the Bible?”, “I don’t feel like it.” “Why?”, “Because Bill and I had an argument.”

The discouragement we sometimes get from people act as a gate, blocking us from accessing tremendous amounts of encouragement. The sad thing is that the gate is a very small item that can be opened quite easily. Sometimes it is not people that stops us, sometimes it is the world, and your reaction to the world. Your car won’t start, you can’t find your glasses, or your wallet. For some reason every traffic light is twice as long as normal, and you have hit every one. You have switched lanes five times to the slowest lane on the freeway. Sometimes the world gives discouragement. The solution in this is that you can realize that you have a choice in how you see the world.

There are some thing’s that are not a choice. Gravity brings you to the earth, fire is hot and burns, skunk spray stinks. apart from these things, and a few others, everything else is subjective. The more that you can see this, the less the world can discourage you. People, however, are a different matter.

Again, people can discourage you primarily by disallowing your access to powerful static encouragement. A curse is bad, but when a curse disables you from seeking powerful encouragement, then it’s more than twice as bad.

So, it’s possible to be less affected by the discouragement from people, but that often comes at a cost that disconnects you from society. “I will ignore you, and choose not to hear your words!”. I don’t think this is the solution. My suggestion is to change the ratio of discouragement and encouragement.

Discouraging comments from people are mostly a learned pattern. There are mean spirited people out in the world, but more often there are unthinking people that are neutral to the issue, or they are unthinking in regards to discouragement. If individuals actively choose encouragement then it begins to cascade, and others become more encouraging.

Encouragement is reflective, it is viral. Intentional encouragement from a person validates the individual’s choice to access static encouragement. More encouragement creates more encouragement. The ratio changes and the world is better for it. Understanding the real source of lasting encouragement keeps people from relying totally on the words and actions from people. Remove, or take charge of the gates, and let the encouragement flow.

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DuChamp

I have lost count of what I have done and how many.

Apparently my storage system is a little wacky, because I remember working on the image, and then I can’t find it. Later, it pops up like an Easter Egg.

There are worse things…

Marcel Duchamp has been on my mind. I haven’t tried a tribute work, he is too complicated. I haven’t done Dali either. Well, I tried Dali, but it never worked out. I actually had to tear it up. It offended me.

Back to Duchamp… art historians give him the title “the one who freed Art”. And they also believe “the Fountain” is the most important art work in art history.

DuChamp promoted “the Found Art Movement”. He would find an object then declare it “Art”, and it would be in his next show. It could be a stool with a bicycle tire, it could be some sandwiched items between glass.

Lest you believe that he was pulling your leg, he would often write a fifty page monograph describing the inner workings of the piece.

DuChamp was the real deal.

Art is made by artists, not defined by critics or salon/gallery owners. Not even by the public.

The art may not be liked, they may call it unworthy. But they cannot say it is not art, once made by the artist.

There is a freedom there. Art is not defined by an official medium. There was once a standard that art had to be archival. It may be a policy for some museums, but it is not a definition of art.

Things like, what is truth? What is beauty? What is art?

We should have certain knowledge about these things. Usually in our desire to “know”, we are wrong. At the very least we can work on defining our own views.

I have been going through a change lately. I no longer create art. I make art!

It seems like silly difference in words, but I’m very serious.

Everything in the universe was created at one instance. Since that time (time was also created) nothing has been destroyed. Everything has simply changed.

I have taken created things and made new things, which last for a time. I create nothing, but I am a prolific maker.

What about ideas? Nope, everything is built up. I put things together.

Of course the problem is that this is a personal perspective. I’m not saying that this is true for anyone else. It is simply what I believe for me.

There is way too much responsibility in being a creator. Too many liabilities.

Plus there is the ego thing. Putting a few things together is way more humbling.

And what about the days, hours, months that you are not creating? Much easier to take a break from putting things together. You are just resting.

Yep, I make art, and I make it art.

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Various New & Revisted

I can’t leave it alone. Gotta try reworking. And I’m really only using two different brush styles.

Okay, the last one is my grandson’s.

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One More Egon and a Klee

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Egon Studies

I wanted to revisit Egon with my Apple Pencil.

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