Saturday, October 31, 2009


"Casting a Spell: a clay effigy is offered at the altar by the High Priest during a Wicca healing ceremony."


"A white witch demonstrates the security and spiritual ease to be found inside the protective confines of the pentagram."

"The postulant, bound with cords, stands outside the magic circle."

uh oh
"The High Priestess and the High Priest combine their powers to breathe life into a witch effigy which he is holding."

"A High Priestess points her dagger skywards to enlist the aid of the spirit forces."

anton levey
"Anton LeVay, High Priest of the Church of Satan in San Francisco, expound his doctrine - a mixture of black magic and self-indulgence - to a young hopeful (below); in the picture above he leads a ceremony with members of the cult."

In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd post some photos from an old book on witchcraft I found. The book is entitled Witchcraft and it's written by Eric Marble. It's published by Octopus books.

More photos on our Flickr page.

Electric Wizard - Funeralopolis

Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Back Porch Boys" of Stuart: Florida

For Dale

I live without cash - and I manage just fine.

I live without cash - and I manage just fine.

Mark Boyle lives off the grid. Here's a very interesting article about him over at the Guardian's Green Living Blog. Erin V. posted this to Facebook. Cool find.

The Comings' Cottages - Michigan 1911

michigan cabins, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.

michigan cabins reverse

The text on the right hand side reads: The Comings' Cottages. Little Manistee River, Michigan.

The reverse side reads:
"Oberlin Ohio, July 26, 1911.

My Dear Gladys:
Received your card today have been up in Mich. for a while with Father and Mother C. at their cottage - had a good time fishing, caught a lot of trout. Like (? unreadable - any ideas?) up their (sic) the folks go every summer - I think I will too after this. They are still up there. We are all well glad to hear from you - write again soon. B.L.C."

Little Manistee River is a still a hot spot for fishing. Check it out here.

The letter is addressed to: Miss Gladys Chamberlain, 309-4 Ave - West (?), Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

I found some interesting information about Miss Chamberlain here in the History of Audubon County, Iowa. She was a school teacher and a member of Brayton Lodge No. 567, Daughters of Rebekah. She held the title of Grand Noble. The DOH are a woman's auxiliary of the Odd Fellows. I can't prove beyond a doubt that this is the same Miss Chamberlain, but the years line up correctly.

One more note about people I find and profile from postcards: If you're a family member of the person profiled, or someone mentioned on the postcard, please write me an e-mail and I would love to send you the card. I am so fascinated with how these things circulate (I found this in a box at a swap meet in Tucson, AZ) and I love collecting them, but I have no problem parting with my postcards if it means restoring a bit of history to a family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Objectsphere...(Backpacking Edition)

We all rely on various things to facilitate the things we do and to improve the quality of our lives. I read an article once that referred to the realm of things as the "objectsphere." I thought it might be fun if I shared some the stuff I own and opened up my objectsphere. This is the Backpacking Edition.

1. MSR Pocket Rocket Backpacking Stove

I love this little stove. It doesn't boil water as fast as a Jetboil and you need to shield it from high winds, but at only 3 ounces (before fuel), you can't beat it. It heats up real fast when there's little or no wind. I know some people swear by alcohol stoves, and I appreciate their D.I.Y. ethic, but this stove is just about as light as an alcohol stove and more convenient.

2. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest - Not a fancy piece of equipment, but perfect for desert hiking. It's lightweight and easy to carry. It beats inflatable pads because it can't be punctured. I've seen my friends sleep on the hard, cold ground because an agave or prickly pear popped their pad. I've had my RidgeRest full of spines and needles and all I had to do was pull them out with my Leatherman pliers and go to sleep.

#3 - Mary Jane's Farm - Lentils, Rice and Indian Spice - O.K., so maybe you could argue that food isn't exactly the same thing as an "object," but we don't really want to go there, do we? MJF makes the best commercially available vegan backpacking food. Period. Beats Backpacker's Pantry (which is still alright) by a mile. The Kettle Chili is awesome, but the Lentils, Rice and Indian Spice is my favorite.

#4 - Leki Makalu Ultralight Trekking Poles - I was a unbeliever in the necessity of trekking poles for a long time. They kind of look silly. But then we learned that you can borrow a pair from Summit Hut and try them out free! Letting folks borrow a pair is a fantastic idea to sell these poles. They save your knees and hips and keep you upright. They are great for moving spiny acacia branches out of the way and knocking cholla pears off the trail, too.

If you aren't familiar with the teddy bear cholla a.k.a. jumping cholla, count yourself lucky. They're the nastiest cactus around and they drop baseball size balls of spikes all around them. They hurt like crazy (or so I've been told; I've avoided a run in) and they're really hard to get off. If you kick them, they don't go anywhere - they just get stuck in your boot.

#5 - Ratty old, nasty, Abercrombie Corduroys - I've had these pants for years and they've seen a lot. From the asbestos filled basements of abandoned mental hospitals to the top of Humphrey's Peak, if these pants could talk...they'd probably ask me to stop wearing them to so many hazardous places. They'd probably appreciate it if I donated them to Goodwill. That's not going to happen so long as they have only small holes and working buttons.

Most of the other backpacking gear I own is either flawed or in need of an upgrade. My Northface Tadpole tent is ripped and could be lighter. My Katadyn pump could be smaller and lighter. I have two packs - a Gregory and an Osprey. The Gregory is comfortable but could be bigger; the Osprey is a good size and weight, but could use more shoulder padding. I have a lot of modest, adequate gear. Someday I'll upgrade everything.

How about your stuff?

, originally uploaded by moominsean.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mourning Ring

I found this mourning ring on the Erie Basin antiques site. Of course, I found Erie Basin by linking through a great picture of a dog on Old Chum. Check out the Erie Basin Antiques Tumblr too.

Here's the details -

1780 Georgian Sepia Mourning Ring


18K/22K Gold, Enamel, Crystal, Ivory, Sepia Ink, and Hair




US Size 7 (can't be sized)


Very Good. Wear to enamel.


A gorgeous Georgian-era mourning ring. The miniature features a sepia painting of an urn on ivory, surrounded by weeping willows made from tiny pieces of hair. This type of mourning jewelry was popular in the late 18th century, but is extremely rare to find in good condition. The setting is in higher karat gold than is typical. The enamel work reads "J.S. Cowen, O.B. 10, Fe, 1780, AE 65" meaning that the ring commemorated the death of J.S. Cowen, who died on February 10th, 1780 at age 65.



Of course, I would totally buy this is I had a spare thousand bucks lying around. I've always been fascinated by hair jewelry and mourning artifacts made of hair. This, of course, represents both interests.

Tumacacori National Monument

From the reverse of the postcard:

"Diorama of Mass in Tumacacori. Exhibit in the museum showing the Mission Church as it might have appeared in the 1820's."

From the NPS website: "The name "Tumacácori" may have been derived from two O’odham words, chu-uma and kakul, having reference to a flat, rocky place. Father Kino established it as a mission in January 1691, one day before Guevavi, making it the oldest mission site in Arizona."

The mission church as it stands today wasn't finished until the 1820's. Father Kino was responsible for establishing twenty-four missions and visitas in the southwest.

Tumacacori is a beautiful, peaceful place. On the day we visited we only saw two or three other people. If you go, be sure to say hello to the resident cat who we refer to as "Tumacakitty." Here are some of our photos from that visit.


Tumacakitty Napping

More photos on our Flickr page.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Grand Canyon, 1870's

Grand Canon of the Colorado River, mouth of Kanab Wash, looking east.. Bell, William -- Photographer. 1871-1873

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oak Creek

oak creek, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.
From the reverse of the postcard:
"FAMOUS OAK CREEK CANYON SWITCHBACK ROAD - this picture shows only the 21/2 mile portion of U.S. Hwy. 89 Alternate halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona in which the most precipitous and spectacular climb takes place. In this short distance our snake-like winding road drops 1,000 feet from the viewpoint at the head of Oak Creek Canyon to the bridge over the Pump House Wash almost directly below!"

Erin and I took some photographs over Oak Creek awhile back and this one was featured in the Sierra Club's Daily Ray of Hope. The Daily Ray of Hope is a simple e-mail newsletter that the Sierra Club sends out every weekday with a photograph and an inspirational quote. You can submit your pictures to be featured in the DRH on their Flickr group page. They've chosen our photos a couple times now and other subscribers always send you nice e-mails. It's a feel-good sort of thing.

Here's a few more of our Oak Creek shots:

Oak Creek View 1


Oak Creek Overlook 3

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hand-Colored Cactus Postcards

Desert Prickly Pear, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.

rainbow cactus in bloom

The third section of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men" reads:

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Later, he goes on to replace the mulberry bush from the children's nursery rhyme with a prickly pear:

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Well, Mr. Eliot obviously had the wrong idea about the desert. We desert dwellers know that, though it may be arid, the "cactus land" is by no means a "dead land."

I might also add that I feel just find going "'round the prickly pear." They grow beautiful flowers and produce delicious fruit, often called cactus figs. You can also eat the the leaf pads. They're called nopales and they taste kind of like mild asparagus. They taste great grilled with some salsa. If you're backpacking in the desert, cactus fruit, and particularly the ubiquitous nopales, can round out your meal and you don't have to carry them. They're around all year, too!

The first postcard shows a prickly pear. The reverse reads "A Desert Bouquet (Prickly Pear Cactus). It notes that it is hand-colored and sold in El Paso. The front notes that it is from 1925. The second post card is a rainbow cactus. We have one of these in our yard and it's very pretty. The reverse reads: "Rainbow Cactus in Bloom Roosevelt Arizona." This one was sold in Roosevelt, AZ. The Albertype Co. in Brooklyn, New York published both postcards.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Empire Ranch

Empire Ranch Holga, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.

Empire Ranch windmill

Empire Ranch

Gas Pump Holga


Empire Ranch is a site run by the Burea of Land Management and part of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in southern Arizona. The Empire Ranch Foundation, a non-profit organization, maintains the historical site. The E.R.F. provides a wonderful history of the ranch here.

Las Cienegas is a really beautiful place and not far from Tucson. Though not quite the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management (which is part of the Department of the Interior) maintains some terrific natural and historic site throughout the country. These sites are often free and attract few visitors. We've found several really great places through the BLM website; Las Cienegas is our favorite so far.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Superstition Mountains

The Superstition Mountain range is primarily part of Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix, AZ. The northernmost section makes up Lost Dutchman State Park.

Weaver's Needle at Sunrise

Weaver's Needle is a volcanic plug. A volcanic plug is a volcanic landform created when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. Formations like Weaver's Needle occur when the outer layers of rock erode at a different rate than the magma column in the vent, leaving the magma column exposed.

Weaver's Needle

Weaver's Needle from the Black Mesa Trail.

Jacob's Crosscut

From Jacob's Crosscut Trail, Lost Dutchman State Park. The entire park is a sea of flowers.

Water's Path

Siphon Draw is a scramble/hike up onto Flatiron Mountain to some amazing views of Phoenix.

Check out more of my photographs of the Superstitions here on our Flickr page.

Read about the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The View From Soldier's Trail

Soldier's Trail runs from the Catalina Highway to the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreational Area.

The recreational area is located on the former site of a prison camp that housed the builders of the Catalina Highway in the 1940's. Gordon Hirabayashi, an inmate there in 1942, was a Japanese-American who protested Japanese internment during World War II.

Jean Ritchie - Shady Grove

Jean Ritchie on Rainbow Quest with Pete Seeger

Sunday, October 18, 2009

From the Archives: October 2006, 2007

Vintage New Hampshire Postcards

NH fall foliage, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.
Reverse Side Description: "Fall foliage along U.S. Route 3 in Franconia Notch, White Mountains, N.H."

The photograph was taken by Dick Smith and published by Bromley & Company Inc, Boston.

NH attractions

Reverse Side Description: "Franconia Notch, White Mountains, N.H.
Old Man of the Moutains at northern end of Notch. The face which measures 48' from forehead to chin is 1200' above Profile Lake, and 3200' above sea level.
The Flume Gorge has sheer perpendicular walls rising 50 to 75 feet in height and is 400 feet long.
New Hampshire Aerial Tramway on Cannon Mountain, summit 4200 feet."

Unfortunately, The Old Man of the Mountain collapsed on May 3, 2003.

Find the Owl

The one cent postage indicates this postcard as the oldest of the three. It depicts Brook Hill, N.H. and challenges you to "Find the Owl." 'Though I certainly know what owls look like and even profess a particularly keen eye for noticing them, I can't seem to find the owl here. I think perhaps it's vaguely visible in the red trees on the right. If you notice it, please let me know!

The Avett Brothers' "The Second Gleam" is only $0.99 on Amazon Today

If your a fan of The Avett Brothers and you don't yet have their second acoustic album "The Second Gleam," then now's the time to get it. It's only $0.99 on Amazon today.

It's a pretty good album; certainly worth more than a dollar.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

LL Bean Signature Line

(Image is from The GQ Eye)

For those of you who know me well, you know that I wear lots of black t-shirts with images of ships, weapons, and, of course, owls. If you know me really well, then you know that those shirts, as well as much of my wardrobe, come from the Portland, Maine line Rogues Gallery. About a month or so ago I read on PTLDME that Rogues Gallery creator/designer Alex Carlton would be designing a new line for LL Bean called LL Bean Signature. Some pictures of the line are up at PTLDME, Secret Forts, and The GQ Eye. I think it looks like J. Crew meets Rogues Gallery. I apologize to anyone who may be more fashion forward and resent the J. Crew comparison, but, for me, that means I think it looks awesome. Check it out.


First off, I would just like to point out that this looks like a picture of Ernest Hemingway and our cat, Razzle. Here's Razzle:

This seems to be Ernest Hemingway week. I taught "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in my ENG 242 course. A Continuous Lean has an awesome photo layout of Hemingway up and there are several great pictures of him on The Impossible Cool.Well, now he's on Making Owls Cool, too.

When I'm teaching, it's hard to send me off on tangents, but talking about Hemingway will do it. I mostly just tell Hemingway stories, such as the time he punched out Wallace Stevens or how he used his own fishing boat to patrol for submarines off the coasts of Cuba. There are some things I didn't share with my students. I didn't show them my Hemingway themed tattoo. It's the cover of the first edition of The Sun Also Rises. I also didn't tell them about my Hemingway drinking game. It's a very involved and informative drinking game. It's not a game that gets you wasted, but rather a sort of mixological means of invoking Hemingway; it's a seance that uses spirits instead of invoking them. And it's really simple:

1. Read Hemingway's books.
2. Drink what the characters drink.

That's it. For instance, if you're reading The Sun Also Rises, you're drinking Pernot. If your reading A Farewell to Arms, you're drinking grappa. Get the idea? Don't drink too much or you'll stop fully appreciating the stories. Have fun.