Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, April 5, 2021


 Openers:  The King of Elves had lost his crown.  It was a very old and beautiful one, which had been in the royal family for thousands of years.  Also, without having his crown on his head, the king would not be able to  make laws, or eat his breakfast, or see ambassadors, or die, or give judgments at the Royal Elvish Games.

So everyone in the elves' village was in a terrible state of worry and confusion, dashing hither and thither, moving furniture, pulling down curtains, digging, and pushing one another out of the way,

The elves' village is in the china-cupboard, behind the soup bowls and the sugar basin and the bread-and-butter plates.  Of course THEY -- the people who live in the house -- can't see it:  in fact, the village is not visible at all by daylight.  But in the dark it glows, and that is when the elves go about their business.

-- Joan Aiken, The Kitchen Warriors (1983)

A charming little fantasy -- the type that Joan Aiken wrote so well -- about the magic that is hiding in our kitchens:  elves, Fendire (the Infra-red dragon who lurks behind the gas burners), the nixies (five sisters who live in the sink), the Vacuum witch (who may or may not be a vacuum hose and who lives in the Utility Desert), the Garden Elves (who do not actually live in the kitchen, as you might have guessed), Urd (the old Norn in the cupboard; her sister Verd live with the Garden Elves), the ghost deer, the trolls (mean critter who eventually get caught in a lettuce dryer), the kelpies (who live at the bottom of the dishwasher, and it's just as well they stay there), Garm (the sleepy dog), and Mistigris (the cat who lives under the kitchen table).

And, of course, there is the hero, Prince Coriander, who goes on many quests and experiences many adventures and who ends up in love with the cold-blooded nixie Waterslenda.  Can a warm-blooded elf and a cold-blooded nixie ever have a chance at love?

Joan Aiken (1924-2004) was a member of a literary family.  Her father was Conrad Aiken, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet; her mother later married the English writer Martin Armstrong; her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge, was a noted writer of historical and romantic suspense novels; her brother John was also a short story writer and novelist.  Joan Aiken's range was far more extensive than the rest of her family.  She wrote children's stories, fairy tales, poem, plays, mysteries, fantasy, young adult books, and romance novels.  Her children's stories about Arabel and Mortimer and about the Armitage family are wickedly sly and funny.  All of her juvenile fantasy collections (there are at least forty of them) are highly recommended; her short stories range the gamut from the chilling to the whimsical.  Perhaps her most famous sequence are the alternate world novel in her Wolves series about Dido Twite and Is, which take us to an England and a world exists where the Stuarts never lost the crown.  Her suspense and mystery novels include the Edgar-winning Night Fall.  Among her many romance novels are six that take up characters from Jane Austen's novels.

Aiken was made an OBE in 1999.  No  matter what the genre or its age level, a book by Joan Aiken is a treat.


  • Richard Laymon, The Lake.  Horror novel.  "Leigh is a beautiful girl, eighteen years old, headstrong and rebellious.  All she wants from her summer by the lake is a chance to relax and have fun.  And that handsome boy she just met certainly looks like fun.  But her summer fling will lead to terror.  That night in the old abandoned house will haunt her nightmares for the rest f her life.  Eighteen years later, Leigh's daughter, Deana, doesn't know much about what happened to he mother all those years ago, and she doesn't particularly care.  She too is looking for fun.  What she finds instead is a shadowy figure out for blood -- and his own twisted kind of fun.  Killing Deana's boyfriend is just the beginning.  Before he's done, both  mother and daughter will be plunged into a whirlpool of fear and madness, from which death is the only escape."  Laymon was a master of this stuff.
  • Weston Ochse, Blood Ocean.  Horror novel.  "Kavika Kamalani is a Pali boy. a post=plague heir to and ancient Hawai'ian warrior tradition that believes in overcoming death by embracing one's fear and living large.  His life on the Nomi No Toshi, the floating city, is turned upside down when one of his friends dies, harvested for his blood, and he sets out to find the killer.  Kidnapped himself and subjected to a terrifying transformation, Kavika must embrace the ultimate fear -- death itself -- if he, his loved ones, and the Pali boys themselves are to survive."  Weston Oches won a Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods.  He is the author of 25 novels, several collections, and seven single book novellas, as well as comic book and media tie-in writing,
  • J. Michael Reaves, Darkworld Detective.  Fantasy collection of four linked stories.  "Kamus of Kadizar knows it's never easy to make a living as a private eye.  On Ja-Lur, the Darkworld where science and sorcery struggle for supremacy, it can be pure hell.  With the blood of both Earth and Darkworld flowing in his veins.  Kamus survives by his command of magical lore, deductive skill, and lethal powers with a sword.  Now for the first time in eons, Ja-Lur's two moons eclipse the sun.  Shadownight is falling and anything can happen.  Friends turn to foes in the blink of an eye and ancient buried forces swiftly rise.  Even the powers of the mighty Darklord wane and Kamus becomes a pawn in an awesome battle for power."  Reaves first published as J. Michael Reaves and alter a Michael Reeves.  He has written a number of Star Wars tie-ins, the Interworld trilogy, and many standalone fantasy and science fiction novels.  From 1977 to 2003 he wrote scripts for a number of animated television series and was the head writer for such programs as Gargoyles, Batman:  The Animated Series, and Spider-Man Unlimited.  Reaves also wrote a number of scripts for popular live action series, as well as for three films.  A victim of Parkinson's Disease, Reaves was forced to curtail his writing in 2015.
  • Justin Richards, Doctor Who:  Jak and the Wormhole.  This is a strange little hardcover book of just 34 pages and measuring about three inches by five inches, from BBC Children's Books.  First off, the book does not mention The Doctor.  Jak may be a secondary character who appeared sometime over the program's long run, but I doubt it.  Jak goes off to sell the family cow and comes across a dying man who gives him a bag of money and a golden egg-shaped thing, telling Jak he must destroy the egg-y thing.  Turns out the egg is indestructible so Jak just buries the egg.  The next morning there's a wormhole there.  Jak enters and comes across a destroyed world, some mean aliens, and a princess.  He rescues the princess and they stop the mean aliens from making Earth next on their To Be Destroyed list.  Ho hum.

Computer Woes:   I'm still have problems with my recalcitrant computer.  It just doesn't like me.  However my daughter came over one day last week and removed a lot of nasty stuff from the files.  Now instead of automatically rebooting a dozen times a day, it's doing it just once or twice -- a marked improvement.  Since Kitty just had $4000 worth of dental work (and I'm looking forward to megabucks of the same for myself), I'll continue to hobble along  with this computer for the foreseeable future.

Fully Compliant:  We had out second shots of the Covid vaccine on Saturday with no ill effects.  (The first shots gave each of us sore arms for a day or two.)  After two weeks we'll be able to go out more -- still fully masked and socially distant (we're not dummies} -- as we slowly get back to as close as normal as we can.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but some politicians and some reckless people are still moving that tunnel farther and farther out.  **sigh**

Gaetzgate:  The congressional representative from our district (I cannot in good faith say my representative in Congress) is in a bit of a pickle with allegations that he had sex with a seventeen-year-old girl in violation of federal law, frequently paid for prostitutes, and routinely used drugs.  Matt Gaetz was never known for his intelligence, but really?  First, understand that these charges have not been proven and that he denies them completely.  Second, understand that I don't believe a thing Gaetz says.  Third, there has to be a causal link between arrogance and stupidity.  He vows not to resign his post (as his communications director recently did), but suddenly there are rumors that he may be going to Newsmax as a far-right commentator after his term ends.  And if Gaaetz decides to run for another term, he will easily win here.  He may not be liked by most of the country and by many in D.C., but he in Trump Country he is extremely popular.

Leigh Lundin at filled us in on the background yesterday.  Take a look:

Mary Had a Little Lamb:  It was served with mint jelly.  No.  Nor really.  But there was a Mary who had a little lamb.

Her name was Mary Sawyer of Boston and in 1817, when she was just eleven, her lamb did follow her to school one day.  An incident that has gone down in history thanks to a certain children's poem.  The poem was first published in a children's magazine in 1830.  Authorship of the poem is uncertain.  A woman named Sarah Josepha Hale signed a copy of it in 1823, but little Mary (now not as little and now known as Sarah Tyler) stated that the poem was written by John Roulstone years earlier.  It is now believed that the first three verses were written by Roulstone and the final verse by Sarah Hale.

Some thirty years after the lamb had followed her to school, Mary took a pair of socks that had been made from the lamb's wool and unraveled it.  The pieces were then sold for a die apiece to raise money for a church in Boston.

Florida Man:  It's hard to top Matt Gaetz this week, but we'll give it a try.
  • Florida Lad Graham Clark was found guilty of hacking Twitter last July and was sentenced to three years in prison and three years probation.  Just 17 when he committed the crime, Clark was 18 when he was sentenced last week.  He had managed to steal well over $100,000 in bitcoin and also released hacked information about the bitcoin accounts of several famous people, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Elon Musk.
  • Florida Man Kolby Parker, 30. of DeLand, was arrested for the murder of his grandfather.  The two allegedly got into an argument while they were smoking marijuana.  While being questioned Parker pulled out two severed ears from his pocket and, yes, they were his grandfather's.  Parker then allegedly jumped across the table and tried to get a tasr and a gun from one of the police officers.  Three deputies were kicked, punched, and head butted during the brief melee.  Surprisingly Parker is being held without bond.
  • Florida Man Jeremie Saintvil of Del Rey Beach has been arrested for attempting to swindle $1.5 million in Covid relief funds by stealing the identities of nine elderly men and filing false loan applications at eight different banks for companies that do not exist.  
  • Florida Man Hugo Topete Alcatraz, 40, is looking too spiffy after resisting arrest for peeping into a woman's window in Fort Myers.  Photo at the link (and that's not a turban he's wearing):
  • Florida Man "Babycakes" (real name Irving Edward Howard, 71, of Fort Myers) was arrested last month for sitting naked on a chair outside an apartment complex.  He was charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior toward a child sixteen and under, one count of indecent exposure, and one count of disorderly intoxication.  
  • The latest winner of a Darwin Award is an unnamed man in his 20s who decided to go BASE jumping from the 14th floor of the Sunrise Beach Resort in Panama City.  His parachute failed to open.
  • South Florida Man and elementary school teacher Xavier Donte Alexander, 28, has been charged with soliciting sex with a 2-year-old online and of traveling to meet a minor for sex.  Alexander is a fourth grade teacher and has advertised baby sitting services.  Ew.

Good News:
  • Affordable housing landlord starts eviction fund and raises $9 million to keep 3000 families in their homes
  • 5700-year-old "chewing gum" reveals important genetic details of a young Danish woman
  • Blindness cured in patient with rare genetic disorder
  • Phew!  Earth is safe from asteroid collision for the next hundred years, according to NASA scientists
  • High schooler invents color changing sutures to detect infection
  • Stray dog kept sneaking into dollar store for a stuffed unicorn; now he and his favorite toy have a forever home
  • He won $145,000 on Wheel of Fortune and is giving it all to charity

Today's Poem:
Put Something In

Draw a crazy picture.
Write a nutty poem.
Sing  mumble-gumble song.
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor.
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

-- Shel Silverstein


  1. I love Joan Aiken's work, too. I'll have to read one of her books for the future FFB. And DARKWORLD DETECTIVE sounds like my kind of book! I'll have to track down a copy. Sorry to hear about your computer woes!