THE ORPHAN SCRIVENER -- ISSUE # EIGHTY-SEVEN -- 15 JUNE 2014

The classic song from Carousel declared June was busting out all over. With the late summer, just about everything in sight is doing some June busting -- including the mighty Maywrite communication device.

This past weekend our horse-drawn computer finally conked out, so we've spent the past week organising new equipment, kicking off the epic task with a two hour round trip to purchase not just a new machine but also a dial-up modem. We had some difficulty installing the latter by trying to follow two different sets of instructions -- the leaflet and CD-ROM in its box -- as they begged to differ here and there, a distressing situation for the resident Luddites of Casa Maywrite. We managed to install the modem at the second attempt without bringing down the internet, but had to wait a few hours to test it as, you have guessed it, the aetheric connection was out. Then yesterday the machine crashed...

To spare the sensibilities of subscribers of a nervous disposition we shall draw a veil over the entire ghastly proceedings and move hastily on to say as you see our new steam-driven computer is up and running, so management regrets subscribers will not escape receipt of this latest issue after all.


MARY'S BIT or MOVING A RUBBER TREE

Thomas Carlyle was of the opinion that every noble work is at first impossible. We would not call Orphan Scrivener noble as such but getting a computer to work is certainly a noble calling.

Unfortunately neither of us were apprenticed to a guru of that nature. Our chief tool in tinkering in this area is perseverance. Some may call it being stubborn but when the task is get the wheels moving and there is some urgency that they begin to whir round sooner rather than later, it seems best to recall Plutarch. He of course did not work on a computer but doubtless had very bad days when inspiration struck, but his kalamos snapped with no spares to be found, the ink had dried up, and there was a chronic shortage of parchment in the local area. In such circumstances we can only hope he took his own advice: many things that cannot be overcome together can be conquered when taken little by little. Or as one might paraphrase him, nibble 'em to death bit by bit. Or byte.

Not being the sort who employ what is delicately termed in the trade percussive persuasion, we have slogged through enormous numbers of screens and sub screens and the spaghetti innards of a machine that defies understanding. All we ask of it to do is to let us use the web, receive and send email, and keep our files from disappearing. We do not make videos, watch films, or create slide shows. If ever a genius invents a small machine that needs only to be plugged into the wall socket to handle just those tasks, their praises would be sung by many standing in the line to the counter.

Speaking of singing, subscribers may recall one or more of several recordings of High Hopes, which asked, among other seemingly impossible things, why an ant would think it could move a rubber tree. The ubiquitous they would doubtless declare everyone knows an ant could never accomplish such a task, any more than the song's ram could destroy a dam single-hoofed. Our struggle this past week involved a box containing what I believe is called a RAM, and I am sorry to say a damn or two were uttered, but to paraphrase Gloucester in King Lear, we are tied to our stake in having a working machine and therefore have to run the course.

We still have not quite finished racing and now it's time to return to moving that rubber tree...


NECESSARY EVIL or THE BSP TICKER

A few scratchings for this Thrown Together In Five Minutes Special Issue...

TRUNDLING THROUGH TIME or A WHALE OF A TALE

Three For A Letter featured the estate of Anatolius' eccentric uncle Zeno, who owned a number of automatons and for whom we invented a mechanical leviathan. Of course we did not tell him it was really for our own sinister purposes. An 18th April essay for the Type M For Murder blog http://typem4murder.blogspot.com/2014/04/guest-author-mary-reed.html reveals how our whale was constructed and includes a Victorian drawing of the trundler we adapted so the whale could move back and forward under its own, well, not steam exactly...

A DOUBLE INTERVIEW or TENFER AS CHOCOLATE

The Mysteristas ganged up on us on 25th April and shone bright lights in our eyes while grilling us on such topics as our idea of a perfect day, signature phrases at Casa Maywrite, and if Tenfer were chocolate what type it would be. These and other revelations may be read at http://mysteristas.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/interview-mary-reed-and-eric-mayer/

PART I or BREAD AND CHEESE AND FAIRIES, OH MY!

On May 14th Mary posted on the Ladykillers Blog concerning the connection between an old christening custom involving bread and cheese and fairies. Unlikely, you say? Well, see for yourself at http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/2014/05/cheese-and-bread-and-fairies-oh-my-by-honored-guest-author-mary-reed.html

PART II or DAMMIT, JIM, I'M A WRITER, NOT A CODER

Then on May 28th Eric offered thoughts on websites, noting ours was erected before we even had a novel to sell and is an example of ye olde tyme amateur hand-coding, a relic of how sites were done before style sheets, before frames, before today's bells and whistles... http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/2014/05/websites-insights-by-honored-guest-author-and-geeky-luddite-eric-mayer.html

ANOTHER BLOG or A SEEDY TALE

Mary will shortly be at her regular spot on Poisoned Pennings, the Poisoned Pen Press multi-author blog, and there will relate A Seedy Tale. It's not what it sounds like and will appear on 18th June at http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/category/news-and-blog/ In the meantime, subscribers can always pop over there and have a schnoot at blogs by other PPP authors if inclined, and we do hope you are.


ERIC'S BIT or TREES IN THE MIDDLE

Just after the sun dropped behind the mountain across the way, after the storms passed, a pale golden light suffused the air, turning the pink blossoms of the ornamental dogwood in the front yard a vivid rose against the dark leaves. As June progresses the blossoms will turn white, lingering into July, to be replaced by autumn with berries which are edible but mostly seeds.

I'm happy to see the dogwood blossoming again. One year it failed to display a single flower. Had I trimmed it back too far the previous year? The tree put on its most spectacular show after I'd pruned it for the first time, and even more severely. I've never figured out the blooming cycle. I've tried all degrees of pruning and even not pruning, but there seems no correlation between what I do and what the tree decides to do.

It's necessary for me to trim the tree at least occasionally because the previous residents planted it squarely in line with the front window. It would quickly obliterate our view if left untended.

Trees are always being planted in inappropriate places. The red maple smack in the middle of the postage stamp sized lawn of our house in New York probably looked cute there as a sapling, but it was already getting too big when we moved in. By now I imagine the limbs are scraping the roof while the roots strangle the storm drain. Not long ago I drove past the home where I grew up and noticed that the rhododendron which had been encroaching on my first story bedroom window during my teens had now grown far taller than the house -- as good as a tree even if it is a shrub -- hiding any sign of the now useless window.

Everyone knows that trees grow over the course of time. Maybe they just never reckon on time moving as fast as it does. That year when a sapling will be far too large for where it's been placed seems too distant to ever arrive. This year I was surprised at how the limbs of the tiny sprout beside the house which I spared from cutting not so long ago are suddenly overshadowing the roof.

But at least the dogwood is back in bloom. In a week or so the pink flowers will fade to white before vanishing for another year. Some time in the autumn I'll probably have to do more pruning but that's a long way off.


AND FINALLY

The next newsletter will be issued on August 15th. By then summer with what Robert Burns called its fervid-beaming eye will be well under way, although whether or not subscribers will beam when their eye falls on the Orphan Scrivener lurking in their in-boxes is anyone's guess.

See you then!
Mary R and Eric

who invite you to visit their home page, to be found hanging out on the virtual washing line that is the Web at http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite/ There you'll discover the usual suspects, including more personal essays, our bibliography, the Doom Cat interactive game written by Eric, and our growing libraries of links to free e-texts of classic and Golden Age mysteries, ghost stories, and tales of the supernatural. There's also the Orphan Scrivener archive, so don't say you weren't warned! Intrepid subscribers may also wish to pop over to Eric's blog at http://www.journalscape.com/ericmayer/ or visit our shadow identity M. E. Mayer's blog at http://memayer.blogspot.com/ And just for the heck of it, we'll also mention our noms des Twitter are @marymaywrite and @groggytales and our author page is at https://www.amazon.com/author/reedmayer Drop in some time!

| Home | Our Fiction | Blog | Links | News
Other Appearances | New Reviews

Copyright © 2014 Eric Mayer and Mary Reed