How It Turned Out

Madhouse Manor

Some of y’all may recall the post From My Mail a while back, requesting votes to get a grant from State Farm for Camp Mariposa in Nashua, NH.

Camp Mariposa is a mentoring and addiction prevention program for youth (ages 9-12) who are impacted by the substance abuse of a family member.

Well, today’s news is that Camp Mariposa is indeed one of the recipients of a grant.  So, to those who voted, thanks.  Good job.

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Over at his site, Jim Macdonald is having fun with words:

Madhouse Manor

Dotard -- Don QuixoteThe news lately is full of the word “dotard,” and all of the news sources feel compelled to add a definition.   As if everyone didn’t already know what dotard meant.  In the small fishing village whence I come, “Dotard” is constantly on every man’s lips.

Seriously, I’ve known it since I was eight or ten, on first looking into Chapman’s Homer The Lord of the Rings.  Who can ever forget the scene where Saurman says to Theoden, “Dotard!  What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs?”

You have to admire the wizard’s command of invective.  (I also admire his use of the word ‘but,” but that’s for another post.)

Still, Saruman should have been a bit more careful with what  he withdrew from his word-hoard since “dotard” shares with “wizard” the…

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A Brief Note on Current Events

In a sane and rational world, it shouldn’t be necessary to state for the record that I thoroughly disapprove of alt-right supporters neo-Nazis white-supremacists dirtbag racist whackaloons holding torchlit rallies, chanting racist slogans, beating up counterprotesters, and ramming cars into crowds of people with murderous intent.

It would be the sort of thing that any person of normal intelligence and good will should be presumed to be against until proven otherwise.

But that’s not the world we live in, so . . . let it be known that I thoroughly disapprove of all of the above things.

Summer’s Lease Isn’t Up Yet

Any day now, though, the maple tree by the foot of our driveway will show its first patch of color.  August up here is almost as much the start of autumn as it is the last of summer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I lived for long enough in Texas, where July and August are fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk months; and I spent three and a half years in the literal tropics when my husband/co-author was in the Navy and stationed in Panamá, where you got a choice between hot and rainy and hot and not-rainy (but still humid), six months on and six months off; and believe me, seasons are good, and New England seasons suit me fine.

(Granted, January and February are a frozen hell, but my theory is that no matter how much you like the climate where you are, there are going to be a couple of months out of the year when you pay for it.)

My favorite seasons, which also happen to be the best ones for writing in as far as I’m concerned†, are spring and fall, both of which proceed up here in a leisurely fashion, with subtle gradations along the way.  Fall, for example, goes through early fall and first frost to peak color to waiting for the snow-that-sticks, and runs roughly from mid-August to late November.

Meanwhile, it’s summer, and any day now I expect that the local gardeners will be palming off their excess zucchini (there appears to be no middle ground between no zucchini and too much zucchini) on anyone who will take it, and I will be making lots of zucchini bread.


Obligatory writing reference!

Erase Una Vez en el Oeste

Madhouse Manor

Today is the anniversary of a couple of iconic events from the Wild West:  One of the first, if not the first, actual middle-of-the-street quick-draw gunfighter duels,  and the first train robbery by the Younger-James gang (not the first train robbery of the Old West, though — the Reno brothers beat Cole and Frank to the draw, as it were).

The duel was between Wild Bill Hickok and Davis Tutt on 21 July 1865 in Springfield, Missouri.   The quarrel between the men was over (possibly) unpaid gambling debts and (perhaps) over the affections of one or more young ladies.   The most proximate cause, however, seems to have been Tutt parading around town wearing Wild Bill’s gold watch (which Tutt had either stolen, or was holding as collateral for one of the aforesaid gambling debts).

They really did square off in the middle of the street, and at a range of…

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The Magic Contest

Reblogged from Jim Macdonald’s blog:

Madhouse Manor

The results of the first annual Granite State Magicians’ New England Magic Contest, held last Sunday in Peabody, MA:

  • In first place, Jude Giordano of Agawam, MA.
  • In second place, Tristan James of Kingston, RI
  • In third place, Brad Beady of Hartford, CT.

Congratulations to all our contestants!

No one died, no one stabbed themselves in the hand, and no one is in jail. Therefore, success!

In Other News:

A couple of photos of handsome young me busking at Farmers’ Markets:

My schedule

  • Saturday: Lancaster, NH.  9:00 am – 12:00 noon
  • Sunday: Littleton, NH. 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday: Berlin, NH. 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
  • Thursday: Gorham, NH. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Friday: North Stratford, NH. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Illusionist Jim Macdonald busking at the Lancaster Farmers' Market. At the Lancaster Farmers’ Market

Photo from the North Woods Weekly

Jim Macdonald, Illusionist, busking at the Littleton, NH, Farmers' Market At the Littleton NH Farmers’ Market

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Vermont RenFaire

Reblogged from Jim Macdonald’s blog.

Madhouse Manor

So … I spent the weekend doing magic at the Vermont RenFaire in Stowe.

I had a good time, despite rain, sun, wind, and … rain.  I met some wonderful people, some great performers, and had some good munchies.

I’m definitely planning to find out if the Vermont Steampunk Expo needs a magician.

For me, the absolute high point was meeting a young man named Ben who had recently (recently, as of June 2nd of this year) created a tea company.  Not just any tea, pHtea, iced tea in a variety of flavors that is pH balanced between 7.35 and 7.45 to match the pH of a human body so it doesn’t knock your acid/base balance out of whack.  It’s sweetened with Vermont honey (rather than refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup), and is totally great.  Ben was pouring samples for everyone who walked by, and everyone was…

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Magic Contest

Madhouse Manor

Magic Contest

Granite State Magicians is hosting a New England Magic Contest!

Nefarious deeds at a magic show The Conjuror by Bosch.

The date/time/place: Sunday the 16th of July from 1:00-4:00 pm at Diamond’s Magic, 515 Lowell St, Peabody, MA 01960.

Categories of magic are: Parlor/Platform, Close-up, and Mentalism & Mystery Performing.


  • 1st prize; $200 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.
  • 2nd prize; $100 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.
  • 3rd prize; $50 gift certificate to Diamond’s Magic.

Contest is limited to ten magicians. Contestants must live in, go to school in, or be a member of a magic group located in, one of the six New England states. Acts are limited to ten minutes.

Contest entry fee is $10. To enter, or for more information, write to: Kathy Caulfield <>, Treasurer, Granite State Magicians, 126 Perham Corner Road, Lyndeborough, NH 03082.

The judges:

Sandy Rhoades has been doing magic since he was 13 and he’s…

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More Sound Advice From a Bygone Day

Way back in 1890, the Scottish poet, novelist, and literary critic Andrew Lang (best known in later years for his fairy-tale collections) gave a lecture at the South Kensington Museum, in aid of the College for Working Men and Women.  The title of the lecture was “How to Fail in Literature”, and it purported to be advice for those members of the audience who desired to fail at becoming successful writers.

It was, in fact, an extended list of things not to do for any audience members who desired to succeed at the same endeavor, and its advice and observations still hold true today.

For example:

Advice on how to secure the reverse of success should not be given to young authors alone.  Their kinsfolk and friends, also, can do much for their aid.  A lady who feels a taste for writing is very seldom allowed to have a quiet room, a quiet study.  If she retreats to her chill and fireless bed chamber, even there she may be chevied by her brothers, sisters, and mother.  It is noticed that cousins, and aunts, especially aunts, are of high service in this regard.  They never give an intelligent woman an hour to herself.

“Is Miss Mary in?”

“Yes, ma’am, but she is very busy.”

“Oh, she won’t mind me, I don’t mean to stay long.”

Then in rushes the aunt.

“Over your books again: my dear!  You really should not overwork yourself.  Writing something”; here the aunt clutches the manuscript, and looks at it vaguely.

“Well, I dare say it’s very clever, but I don’t care for this kind of thing myself.  Where’s your mother?  Is Jane better?  Now, do tell me, do you get much for writing all that?  Do you send it to the printers, or where?  How interesting, and that reminds me, you that are a novelist, have you heard how shamefully Miss Baxter was treated by Captain Smith?  No, well you might make something out of it.”

Here follows the anecdote, at prodigious length, and perfectly incoherent.

“Now, write that, and I shall always say I was partly the author.  You really should give me a commission, you know.  Well, good bye, tell your mother I called.  Why, there she is, I declare.  Oh, Susan, just come and hear the delightful plot for a novel that I have been giving Mary.”

And then there is this advice, on publishers’ contracts:


Here is “another way,” as the cookery books have it.  In your gratitude to your first publisher, covenant with him to let him have all the cheap editions of all your novels for the next five years, at his own terms.  If, in spite of the advice I have given you, you somehow manage to succeed, to become wildly popular, you will still have reserved to yourself, by this ingenious clause, a chance of ineffable pecuniary failure.  A plan generally approved of is to sell your entire copyright in your book for a very small sum.  You want the ready money, and perhaps you are not very hopeful.  But, when your book is in all men’s hands, when you are daily reviled by the small fry of paragraphers, when the publisher is clearing a thousand a year by it, while you only got a hundred down, then you will thank me, and will acknowledge that, in spite of apparent success, you are a failure after all.

Ouch.  I tell you, and I tell you true, that bit of advice remains as sound and necessary today as it was in 1890.  (Just about every writer has at least one bad contract in their publishing history, and the reason is usually, as Lang said, “You want the ready money.”)

There’s a lot more where that came from, and it’s available for free on Project Gutenberg.  (Amazon will also sell you a copy, if you prefer – but Andrew Lang has been dead for over a century, so it’s not like he needs the royalties.)