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Archive Lair 2009: The Wheels of Fate Are Still Turning, But We're Paying More Attention To 'Em

ARCHIVE UPDATE (FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2010): Welcome to Archive Lair 2009, LairCronies, here on Valentine's Weekend, Black History Month, and Vancouver Winter Olympics Fortnight! As with all Previous Archive Lairs, we're putting the posts from January-June 2009 in here at Long Last; posts from July-December 2009 go in Archive Lair 2; and something-or-other will stay in Archive Lair 1 for now. And, of course, there is the Sitemap to be Updated. Sic Semper Cyberpolis...

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Liam Mac Fhlannchadha, Trúbadór Thiobraid Árainn (1935-2009)

Liam Clancy, Troubadour of Tipperary (1935-2009)

SPECIAL REPORT (FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2009): LairCronies all, there is so Much to say about Liam since he crossed over to the next reality a week Ago today; but I've been Able to get few words out. I knew he had had pulmonary fibrosis for some time (figures both he and his brother Bobby would be Felled by a disease that robbed them of their beautiful singing voices before killing them Outright); but I didn't know how Advanced the condition was. Seems it was worse than he let on to us at his message board. He hadn't posted there since late August or early September; but we figured he was Busy overseeing the publicity for his new biographical documentary, The Yellow Bittern: the Life and Times of Liam Clancy, which was officially Released on his and my Shared birthday, September 2 of this fall.

Last Friday, it was already a bit of a blow, sitting in the Blarney Stone pub in downtown Seattle, seeing the news on CNN of the conclusion of Amanda Knox's bizarre trial in Perugia, Italy. It was Later, here at Starbucks in Belltown, that I jumped over to Liam's message board, to see if there were any new posts, especially to see if Liam himself was back posting. There were two whole new pages of posts. Titles of posts said things like SAD NEWS. END OF AN ERA. FAREWELL LIAM. RIP LIAM CLANCY, TROUBADOUR. I gave a loud gasp, and began reading the posts, all of them, one by one, before adding one of my own: A PIECE OF MY CHILDHOOD. Liam had died in a hospital in Cork called Bon Secours around noon their time, surrounded by his wife and two daughters. He had probably been there for a couple of weeks Prior to then. Maybe that's why he hadn't posted in so Long.

You can see that I've included a photo of Liam and Tommy Makem from circa 1978 or '79, around the time their third duo album, Two for the Early Dew, was Released. This is how they looked when I first saw them in person, and how I most closely remember them. This was when they were touring the world with a two- or three-piece backup ensemble, variously including Archie Fisher, Artie McGlynn, Allan Barty, Nollaig Casey and a few others. I wanted so badly to join their backup group that I had memorized most of their repertoire, including guitar and fiddle parts, by the time I was 16 or so. I started playing Along with the records on fiddle and nylon-string guitar when I was 13 or 14, and kept it up through college. I wanted to know Liam and Tommy better, to befriend them, to hang out with them and correspond with them regularly when I wasn't playing with them. But how would I accomplish this? It was like driving along a mountain road, then looking across a deep gulch to the road on the Opposite side, and realizing that you're going in the wrong direction; and there's not an exit or turnoff to be Found in your road for miles--and you can't exactly drive your car down the gulch, across the creek, and up the other side and over the guard rails, now, can you? That's precisely how I felt in being constantly Separated from my dreams and aspirations, never mind fearing that all my relatives would laugh and sneer at me if they knew about them. Thus I was constantly Steered in the Wrong direction from where I wanted to be, from what I wanted to do, and with whom I wanted to do this. Perhaps, moreover, I simply couldn't believe in these dreams strongly Enough, because I felt pretty much Powerless to accomplish them. Even during the times I met Tommy and Liam after shows and during intermissions, I lacked the courage to put these desires into words. Now, of course, a lot of people would probably tell me, with a Dismissive shrug, "Well, no use in talking about these dreams now; those guys are all dead!"

Still, I felt a strong connection, a deep spiritual connection with them all from the time I first began listening to them in grade school; and this is something that cannot be Taken from me. This connection has survived even the physical deaths of all of the Original group. When I would see them perform live, I would feel this connection the Strongest; but it has always been there, surfacing even just Now, watching a rough video of Liam's last performance in Cork earlier this year. This bond has always reminded me that there is a reason to be Alive, and still a way to find joy in living, even when some Merciless, Callous fates or angels or Jealous higher powers kill off all your heroes and role models, steal your most Precious dreams, and mock you for having loved and bonded with Fellow artists. There is no destroying the deep, Expansive love we would send up to Liam when we watched him up on stage, from which spot he would, almost visibly, radiate this Joyous energy back to all of us, through songs and poems and theatrical recitations and simple, positive presence, strong Enough to revive and fill your heart and soul to the point where you would be able to share the same energy with everyone around you for days Afterward. I've never had the same soul-renewing experience with organized religion, in any denomination. Because of this, we clustered onto Liam's message board and sent him Unconditional love and support when he went through low times himself, at the passing of his brothers and sisters, and those of Tommy and Mary Makem and other Close friends (one of his last posts to the message board was a eulogy of sorts for his old friend, Frank McCourt). He credited our support and well-wishing with helping to bolster his health and spirits this spring after his somewhat Ill-Fated farewell concerts in Dublin.

Liam, you are in a different plane of Reality now, whether it is Astral, or some other form of being. You have not died; you simply had to let go of your body because it could no Longer contain your spirit. I still love you deeply, and still want to share music and conversation with you, whether in a meditative state, journeying, or however. You are still among us, in some dimension, singing your head off among your relatives and friends, and your ancestral bards and poets. I want to join you in a session in an Astral pub, or festival, or however they share music in the next reality. Send our "tsunami love" to them all, until I discover how to play an astral fiddle...

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Stuff We Have to Catch Up On, Vol. 511-A...

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2009: Good evening, LairCronies! The wheel has turned Around to a new Celtic New Year; and we had quite a time Yesterday, celebrating Samhain in a traditional, respectful fashion, which of course includes Plenty of wild parties, parades, costumes, and more than the Usual madness and mayhem of a weekend in downtown Seattle! As a result, I've been quite Sleepy all day today, though I managed to rouse myself long enough to get Going on the Annual leaf-collection for the leaf-chain decor in my apartment.

Actually, I might need to come Up with Alternative decorations for the apartment this fall; my leaf-collecting time has been rather precipitously Curtailed. My Mom in Tennessee took a fall at home a week Ago Tuesday, and broke her left collarbone--Holy clavicles, Batman!--and is still in the hospital, doing physical therapy, though she was moved to a different room Yesterday, since she doesn't need quite as much assistance as previously. Even so, I have been Recruited to help with her recuperation; so I will be back in Crossville, TN during November 16-27. I won't ask her to pay me; I just need my airfare Covered, plus food and somewhere to sleep (and, of course, playtime with the goofy cats!).

In any case, by the time I get back, I will likely have to substitute such things as sage bundles, bags of lavender, and tricolored cords on my door and Elsewhere in place of the Usual autumn leaves. I've hardly had opportunity to collect leaves thus Far this month, as the weather has been almost uniformly Yucky. But never fear, there will be decorations of some sort here and there.

I've also got new digital art pieces in the works, at least one of which has been recently Uploaded to my Cafepress image collection! I also need to find time to print out newly-Processed work to hang up at Art/Not Terminal and any other venues I can slink into.
[TO BE CONTINUED...]

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Get Yer Death Panels Here! and Other Updates

FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 2009: An old pal of mine recently posed the question of where one could purchase one of those "Death Panels" that everyone's talking about these days. Apparently Sarah Palin has one in her living room, or something. Okay, "death paneling" was the term my acquaintance used. His exact words: "I've googled & sought & looked for this 'death paneling' that's all the rage and the best I can do is Chinese drywall or Capuchin catacombs." I put in a comment Suggesting that one could perhaps order the stuff from Hot Topic.

Actually, "death panels" are something that Palin and friends want us to believe the government will set up if President Obama manages to pass a health care reform package this year. "They'll pull the plug on Grandma!" some are saying, sincerely believing there will be a government commission deciding when an elderly person's healthcare will be cut off, should a single-payer system somehow be Developed in this country. In fact, we've had private-sector "death panels" for years generations Now, indirectly Responsible for "pulling the plug" and causing the deaths of Untold numbers of Hapless patients clinging to health coverage that was Ripped out from under them--seniors, young children, cancer patients and people with disabilities. They're called for-profit insurance companies. Yep, you heard us Right. And guess what? They also function as a "single-payer" system for their premium-paying members.

When you join up with them, after all, your premiums don't just go toward your own healthcare expenses--they get Pooled into--that's right--a single fund, which functions to cover the costs of Approved claims. That's one reason premiums are so often Raised for all members when a large number of claims are Approved and Processed within a short span of time. Pity that many of these folks who scream bloody murder about not wanting to support other people's healthcare with their tax dollars haven't figured this out Yet: their health insurance company is essentially a "single-payer" system for a Private club of sorts. They already ARE supporting other people's healthcare with their premium payments; and the other members are contributing toward their own claims. And yet, when I suggest to a number of people I know that doctors should charge on a sliding scale, or perhaps charge a flat fee per visit like they've been doing in Ireland (or, if I mention the Drastic need for healthcare for Uninsured and Unemployed people), the First thing out of their mouths in reply is, "Yes, but who's going to pay for that?" This, sadly, says quite a lot about our sense of community (even in supposedly "Liberal" Seattle); and begs the question of who is going to pay for the consequences of leaving millions of Uninsured people in poverty, ill-health and despair. Their lives and health are of no Less value than those of Bill Freaking Gates; or, for that matter, of Sarah "Death Panel" Palin.

Okay, moving Along...on a Happier note, we're Delighted to report that Irish folksinger Liam Clancy is Home from the hospital, has responded Well to treatment (and his own Fierce determination to regain control of his health!), and has been feeling much Better of late. He may even be following up on Numerous people's suggestions that he make a spoken-word album focussing on Irish poetry! Stay tuned for more on Liam, and keep sending him positive energy and messages to his Message Board (see link Above). He loves hearing from well-wishers.

Seattle Hempfest is coming up this weekend; and we always attend at least one day of this happy, Crazy event each year. Hopefully the weather will hold for most of the weekend, without getting too incredibly hot (we were out walking around Alki Beach a couple days Ago, and got Pelted with Heavy rain on the way home on the bus). The medical marijuana issue has become rather Personal for us, as my Dad back in Tennessee (RIP) would have been an Excellent candidate for the stuff, if there had been a snowball's chance in hell of getting medical marijuana in the state of Tennessee. Rural east Tennessee is Crawling with Isolated meth labs, ironically Enough. Medical marijuana? Not so Much.

On a somewhat less-Happy note, we at the Lair send our Sincere sympathies to the family and friends of folk musician Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger's half-brother, and a Formidable musician and folklorist in his own right. No living in relatives' shadows for that guy, a Founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, and a player of more than half-a-dozen instruments. He passed on in Virginia from multiple myeloma on August 7, at the age of nearly-76. May he travel on in peace, joy and freedom!

Finally, after a long delay, I got out a few nights Ago to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the film of that novel that got everyone so Hot and Bothered (mostly about my still-Favorite character, Severus Snape) a few years Back. The film is very well-Done and Enjoyable, and comes highly Recommended by all of us witches and wizards at the Lair. I plan to see it Again soon. We do have comments to make Thereon, of course; but that will have to wait for another installment. Coffeehouse is closing for the evening pretty Soon, y'see...

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Newscap No. 237,441, for Your Lurking Pleasure...

MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009: So, LairCronies, what's been happening Lately since we last updated the Home Lair? We've just Now archived my Dad's tribute article; it's now Available to read at Archive Lair 1. This year's Northwest Folklife Festival has been Here and Gone; I was busking there three days out of four; on the third day, Sunday, I took the day Off from busking and snapped a bunch of digital photos Instead. I'll see what I can do about uploading them.

UPDATE (SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2009): OOPS! As usual, it's taken me Awhile to get Around to this newscap. So, what is the Lair up to at the moment; and what Else is there to report?

Did I miss anything? Well...the new Harry Potter film is coming out July 15. I've got jury duty Starting the same day (ugh!). I'm working off-and-on on a new video slide show--this one of the Ceide Fields site in County Mayo--with onsite audio of the guide's lecture Recorded during my visit. And my Mom will be in town during the first half of July, to attend another Local music camp. We'll be visiting with her during July 12-14; we'll see if we can come up with anything fun for us two to do...

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Paul Thomas Olsen (1936-2009): They've Got A New Scientist in the Next Dimension

SPECIAL REPORT (SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009): Hi, LairCronies! I just got Back from Crossville, Tennessee this past Thursday, after joining family and friends in giving my Dad a Rousing sendoff to the Next plane of reality. He shucked off his Ailing body sometime on the evening of Sunday, March 1, after living with slow-growing liver cancer for over 5 1/2 years. I was happy for him, actually, upon hearing the news from my brother in Texas. We all miss his physical presence; but I know perfectly Well that he doesn't miss being chronically Ill and Constrained in his ability to interact with the rest of the world. My brother dreamed not long Ago that he went to visit Dad at his new digs in the next plane; and the latter apparently is quite Delighted at being well Again, and made a point of showing off his new computer, among Other things. So, in addition to his Stated plan to go mackerel fishing with his ancestors, my Dad is also hobnobbing at scientific conferences with the likes of Einstein, Feynmann, and his old friend and supervisor, Raymond Driscoll. Not to mention playing with his Favorite cats, more than Likely.

My Dad actually surprised a lot of people by surviving much longer than Expected. At the time of his diagnosis in mid-2003, he said, three different doctors told him they didn't expect him to live past the end of 2004. Hence, he beat the survival odds by Several years; and was, in fact, in pretty Decent shape until he began losing weight rather rapidly late in 2007. In any case, I always made a point of relating to him as a living person, not a dying person (even when he was clearly dying, in the last couple of months); and he seemed to respond to this pretty well. I also decided a long time Ago that as long as he was still Breathing, he was going to get presents on Appropriate occasions, including the Valentine card I sent him at the nursing facility last month.

When I arrived at my folks' home in Crossville on Thursday, March 9, I was surprised to find that my Mom was handling the situation a lot Better than I'd expected. She's actually had a Great support system with friends, neighbors, fellow musicians and church members in Crossville and Fairfield Glade. Loads of people had been Around to visit, bring flowers and food, and generally be Supportive. These even included the Terrific caregivers at my Dad's nursing facility in Monterey, a very nice place with an aviary in the social hall (my Mom wants her dulcimer group to give concerts there in the not-too-Distant future); their chaplain even attended our memorial service on March 15. Of course, my Mom also has the two Goofy cats to keep an eye on (they're strictly Indoor cats, and they behave like a pair of Unruly three-year-olds much of the time); and she's probably gotten over 100 sympathy cards from all over the country, and several other countries Besides (she was still getting an average of five or six of them in the mail every day by the time I returned to Seattle).

A couple of my Dad's old colleagues from NIST in Gaithersburg, MD, and even one of my Mom's college roommates, flew in for the memorial service, joining nearly 100 other folks at Christ Lutheran Church in the Glade. I really dislike memorial services, Dreary occasions that they tend to be; but the mood was Lightened quite a bit at this one by a wee typo in the bulletin, in which a prayer for my Dad included a blessing for "our brother Bob" (his name is Tom!), which people were chuckling over before the service even began. Spellcheck doesn't catch name errors, after all. Oh well--we figured my Dad would get a good laugh over that (for all I know, he somehow engineered it). The whole thing actually went quite nicely, despite the selection of weepy Scandinavian hymns, and the Repeated references to "the Church Militant" and "the Church Triumphant" (does anyone use those terms Anymore? The only other person I've heard use them was Sinéad O'Connor, in an interview years Ago where she was explaining why she disliked institutional Catholicism). I also got a bit of a surprise at the end, when my Mom, brother and I were ushered outside the sanctuary in the middle of the last hymn in order to greet all the others (I thought we didn't leave till the hymn was Over). But getting to meet all these folks personally was more Enjoyable than the service itself, even though I had to ask the names of many of them.

There was a sort of wake/reception at the clubhouse in my folks' new neighborhood Afterwards, which was also well-Attended. The food was Catered by a company Headed by a chef who, it turned out, once worked as the lead chef on Air Force One for two different administrations. So, of course, the food was very good. My Mom also recruited me to play Irish tunes on the guitar off and on during this little party, as she went visiting folks from one table to the next; and my brother talked airplanes with my folks' old neighbors, the Schroeders. I played mostly instrumental tunes, as I was getting over a cold at the time, and my throat was a bit Congested. As I promised my Mom, I refrained from singing "Isn't It Grand, Boys" and "Finnegan's Wake", even though the party was Supposed to have an Irish/St. Patrick's Day theme; and how can you pull that off without playing Clancy Brothers standards? My folks' old friends from Maryland, the Williamses, accompanied us back to the house Later for a bit of tea and some of the reception food that we garnered as the party was winding Down. Needless to say, we didn't need much dinner that night.

I've been Curious lately as to what the environment is like in my Dad's new reality. His transition over to that side kind of makes the "Other Side", and the journey there, seem Closer and more Intimate than Before. I ask myself what the next plane looks like, whether the folks there have any control over their environment; what they do as far as Normal activities; and what, if anything, they can do over there that we can't do here, and vice-versa. Perhaps as a result of this curiosity, I've had some very Dramatic dreams Lately, many of which involve flying at very high speeds through indoor locations that look like libraries. While I was still at my Mom's house, I made a checklist to try to help her make sense of all the estate-Related stuff she needed to take care of; and I also took a number of digital photos inside the house, wondering if my Dad's energy might show up in orb or ecto-form (I even talked to him mentally, as I've done Often since he passed on, explaining that he might well transmit his energy onto film or audio files, if he'd like to try it. I don't know if he had any prior knowledge of EVP or ghost photography). I got a few interesting specimens, in fact, which I may post Later, once I've uploaded and studied them on my hard drive. I didn't get to try EVP recording, though, as my digital audio recorder's batteries were dead. Oh well...anyway, now my Dad's kicked his body to the curb, and no doubt feels way Better without it. His cremated remains are in a nice little wooden box in its own little cabinet near the living room fireplace for the time Being. They may taken up to Maine for scattering or burial one of these days. In any case, we should recall that people do not cease to exist when they let go of their bodies (friends and relatives of Natasha Richardson and Jade Goody, take note!); and my Dad Tom is still a member of our team, with or without a physical form. Ar dheis Dé a anam! Together Across the World!!

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23-Squidoo: Because We Can Always Use More Social Networking...

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2009: I've just started writing Squidoo Lenses for the LairShops, folks! This is yet Another thing for us to get Hooked on Online, I guess. I'd been hearing and reading a lot of references to Squidoo from various blogs and emails Relating to e-commerce, essentially recommending this as a Social Networking resource.

So, I've got my Squidoo Profile up now, along with four lenses so far, one for Each of our Cafepress Basic LairShops. This, in addition to our new Cafepress LairShop blog! Lenses are also a chance for me to offer an assortment of propaganda knowledge, experience and information-Based resources on Various topics, not necessarily Related to the LairShops. I still have to work on all that, once I have the time. There are loads of topics on which no one has Yet created any lenses (according to the search results I've gotten); so there are plenty of Potential niches Yet to invade. Trouble is, I'm not Sure how I feel about the prospect of being called a "Giant Squid" at some point in the future (LOL)...

Anyway, do pay a visit to the lenses at your Earliest convenience, and perhaps jump on over to one of the LairShops while you're at it...

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Back to Tennessee, A Bit Early...

SPECIAL REPORT (SATURDAY, JANUARY 24, 2009): Good evening, LairLurkers; just a Quick report to inform you that my brother and I are making a Special trip out to Tennessee to visit my Dad (hopefully) before he crosses Over to the Realm of the Ancestors--which he hopes will include an Extended stint of mackerel fishing with his late father and grandfather. I told my folks, just before returning to Seattle after the New Year, that I'd come Back again Soon if they wanted me to, and if I could obtain the airfare; but I didn't think I'd be heading back there quite this Soon. It's just that my Dad (also Known as the Artist Behind All Bunnyz, All the Time), who's been living with slow-growing liver cancer for about 5 1/2 years (possibly Closer to six years) has been hospitalized with quite Severe pain episodes that can't really be Managed from home Anymore; he'll be Moved shortly to a Local nursing facility; and ammonium-like chemicals Escaping into his bloodstream are starting to affect his brain, and bringing on dementia-like symptoms. Hence, my Mom says she'd like us to call on him a few times while he can still recognize people. Ick. What a way to go.

So, I've got my e-ticket (thanks to my brother) for a trip this coming Monday (Jan. 26) that I don't really want to make, but said I would; and, despite Daily distance-Reiki sessions, my Dad is preparing to break Loose from his physical form and rush over to Norway to join some of his relatives on a mackerel-fishing craft. When I was doing Reiki sessions on him in person, I definitely sensed that he was Keen on shucking off his body pretty Soon, but he was also kind of Conflicted about leaving my Mom to deal with things by herself. Part of me doesn't want him to leave (it IS quite a shock to the system, and leaves you feeling kind of Unmoored and Uprooted; the presence of one's older relatives, after all, has a kind of Grounding effect that is rather Shocking to lose); and another part of me is Happy for him, because his body is in a really Sucky condition at this stage, and simply can't sustain life any Longer. Cancer is a real bitch, to be Sure; but it's not an Unnatural thing at all. We all have Abnormal cells developing via genetic mutation in our bodies all the time. All of us. Yeah, seriously! It's a perfectly Natural drawback to having constantly-dividing, recombinant DNA in every cell of our bodies. Mutation, like shit, happens; and it's all completely Natural. Trouble is, sometimes our immune system gets a bit Overworked and Stressed Out, and can't quite handle all the Malignant cellular mutations that pop Up.

As for Death itself, there are any number of people who sincerely believe that physical death is Unnatural; that nothing died on Earth until Adam and Eve sampled the Wrong species of produce. Personally, I don't believe this, and never have. Even a Cursory look at the geologic and fossil records will clearly tell you that creatures have been dying on this planet as Long as creatures have been living; and I have Yet to see a shred of evidence that remotely suggests Otherwise. This religious belief that some subscribe to indicates a view of nature as something Static, Completed, Perfected and Unchanging at one point in time; in this view, change, new development, and degeneration are somehow Wrong and Unnatural, even Associated with human moral failings. In fact, Nature has never, according to all evidence we now have, existed in any such Static, Unchanging state; constant change and dynamism is the Natural state of this planet, not stasis. Generation, degeneration, birth, growth, death, decay and regeneration are all eminently Natural, and Independent of any human religious consciousness. Our spiritual energy, however, doesn't die when we bust Loose from Ailing physical bodies; that's when we travel On to the Next plane of reality, whatever that looks like. Eleven or so years Ago, I discovered that I am naturally Clairsentient (i.e. I can feel spirit energy); hence, I no longer believe in an existence after physical death--I KNOW for a fact that it's out there.

Anyway, even though sending a close relative or friend Off to the Next reality is a bit of a shock to the system, it doesn't have to be a Negative experience. Hence, when it comes my turn to make this journey, I want something Resembling an Irish wake, NOT a funeral or memorial service in some Doom-n-Gloomy venue, with organ dirges Playing in the background. Memorial services are such Dreary affairs; I want a Ripping good party, with plenty of traditional Irish music, a worldbeat playlist, lots of food and drink, and funny videos and such. And please, don't anyone wear black--unless it's your Usual gothic, glam-punk, or Renaissance getup...

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Well, It's News Recap Time Again...

THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2009: Happy New '09 from Seattle and Belltown Starbucks, LairCronies, where we are now, steadfastly typing as our feet are beginning to freeze! That is to say, we're not typing with our feet; but perhaps we should be, Given what the temperatures this time of year do to one's feet, in the absence of thick wool socks. We just got back from a fairly Quiet Christmas in Tennessee, where my dad is still Struggling against cancer (with a little help from my Reiki treatments); my mom is breaking in a new fiddle; and their two Goofy cats are collecting a Massive stash of catnip mice and milk carton rings.

At any rate, we'd just like to pop in and mention a few items that we're working on at Present:

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Return to Home Lair.

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