Communion Of Dreams

It’s getting better all the time.*

Just a quick follow-up to my post about the incunable legal text.

After spending most of last week cleaning up the edges of the sheets, I’ve been working on re-joining the folios. The trick with this is to make sure all the pages wind up being the same size when they’re folded and ready to be sewn — because I don’t want to trim the text block to get a clean fore-edge.

The solution is to make up a simple jig on my workbench:


Lines drawn on the benchtop, some bookboard mounted to the edge. This will help me keep everything the right size and aligned correctly.

Down the center is some Reemay polyester fabric, which will not adhere to the Kozo repair strips.

The book originally had sections of four folios (folded sheets) per section. I can tell this because of the printing conventions of the time, which had a small counter at the bottom of each page indicating where it went in the book. Very handy. For my work, I only need to rejoin the innermost pair of sheets from each section — then the other sheets will be attached to that new center folio. This will keep everything positioned correctly, and make for a strong sewing structure.

Here’s a pic showing the positioning of a pair of sheets:

Notice the gap in the center.

Notice the gap in the center.

And here’s one with a shot of the Kozo repair strip applied. It’s a heavyweight Kozo (Japanese ‘mulberry’ paper), with a strong wheatpaste applied. Makes a great repair, but is completely reversible with a little water if anyone needs to re-do my repairs later. See:


The next step is to iron the strip down with a small tacking iron on moderate heat. This is done with another layer of Reemay between the iron and the Kozo. This gives a clean, flat edge to mount the other sheets.

Which will be my next step.

Jim Downey

*Of course.

With a Little Help from My Friends*



What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.

You’d certainly be entitled to do so, though my wife assures me that my singing isn’t nearly as bad as I usually make it out to be.

The truth is, singing is something I have always wanted to avoid, because it generally implies a public performance aspect. And, frankly, I find that frightening enough that I usually try and limit it to things I feel more confident about.


Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

This is key: pleasing an audience.

That doesn’t mean always giving them what they want. Rather, I think, it means satisfying them that you have given them fair value. For their time. Perhaps for their money.

Long ago I learned that no matter what, you can never please everyone. But if you set your goal that you give them fair value — an honest effort, based in real training and preparation, generally people will be satisfied. I *haven’t* spent time learning to sing, or play an instrument, so I don’t offer those things to an audience with any expectation that they will pay any attention to me. I *have* spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into trying to learn to write, so I am comfortable in offering my words in a public transaction of fair value.


Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.

We’re in the closing hours of the Kickstarter for St. Cybi’s Well. It’ll end tomorrow evening.

And I don’t know whether it will achieve the funding goal. Right now, it doesn’t look promising.

But that doesn’t mean it would be a failure. Hardly. For each and every person who has stepped forward and made a pledge to back the Kickstarter, that is an affirmation that my efforts at writing have been judged successful. That means more to me than I can ever convey.

Thank you.

Jim Downey

*Yes, The Beatles. Though Joe Cocker also did a great cover of it. And thanks to my friend ML who suggested this song a couple days ago in a comment. And remember, tomorrow Communion of Dreams will be free for download all day – spread the word.

Fab Four.*

Just four fabulous days left until the end of the Kickstarter.


Yeah, I love this time of year. I like the somewhat cool weather, the changing of the leaves, everything.

And while there’s a considerable ways to go before the Kickstarter is successful, it has been an educational and enlightening experience. As I have tried to convey to those who so far have backed the Kickstarter, I appreciate their vote of confidence, tangibly conveyed by their pledges. The amounts pledged mean much less to me than the fact that they have taken the time and energy to do so.

Join them if you can.

Jim Downey

*Oh, yeah, these guys. Specifically, this.

When I’m Fifty-Four.*

My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.

“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”


* * * * * * * *

As part of putting together the Kickstarter project for St. Cybi’s Well, I need to explain *why* I want people to hand over their hard-earned money. I mean, I don’t need to buy materials or hire someone to do research for me. I don’t need operating capital for renting a studio, there’s no up-front printing costs to speak of. Why not just write St. Cybi’s Well on my own time, at my own pace, the way I wrote Communion of Dreams and co-authored Her Final Year?

Writing such an explanation — writing anything, really — is the perfect way for me to clarify my thoughts, to push past vague thinking and distill my understanding. You’ll see the finished product in a few days, but this passage from a blog post a month ago is a pretty good insight:

I recently turned 54. And I have accomplished a number of things of which I am justly proud. I have friends and family I love. I have a wonderful wife. I have written books and articles which have brought joy, knowledge, and solace to others. I have helped to preserve history in the form of books & documents. I have created art, sold art, made my little corner of the world a slightly better place. I’ve even helped expand the pool of ballistics knowledge a bit. Frankly, I’ve lived longer and accomplished more than I ever really expected to.

But I have more yet to do. Time to get on with it.


* * * * * * *

My wife answered the phone. I could tell just from her facial expression that it was bad news.

“Oh, no!” she said. “What happened?”

She listened for a moment, then got up to go into her office. I heard her talking some more. When she came back I looked at her quizzically.

“Tanna had some kind of accident. John was calling to see if I had any ’emergency contact’ info from the Directory he could pass along to the hospital.”

A couple years ago, my wife and I put together this Directory for our neighborhood association. We’d included this option for people to list if they wanted. Tanna was one of our nearby neighbors, a nice semi-retired woman who we see almost daily on our walks.

I looked at her. “Anything?”

“Yeah, I told him what we had.”

“So, what happened?”

“She evidently had a stroke while out walking her dog. Just collapsed. John and a couple of other neighbors saw her go down, went to check on her, called an ambulance.”


“Yeah.” My wife looked at me. “She’s only a couple years older than you are.”


Jim Downey

*Yes, of course.


Zombie particles, bad animation, and a free book.

Confused about what the announcement of the “Higgs Boson” means? Did the Wikipedia article about the theoretical properties of the Higgs make your eyes glaze over? Then, my friend, you should check out this explanation using Zombie particles: Closing in on the God(damn it, Jim! I’m a physicist, not a priest!) particle

(Seriously, it’s a good explanation for the non-sciency folks.)

OK, now, here’s a little reminder of something:

Yup, it’s my birthday. And that means it is time for you to get a gift. A wonderful gift. A momentous gift. The gift of a much larger universe than you ever thought possible. In other words, it is time for you to go download the Kindle edition of my novel, Communion of Dreams. For free. Yup. Absolutely free. You don’t even need a Kindle to enjoy it, because there is a free Kindle emulator/app for just about every computer/tablet/mobile device out there.

Oh, and if you want to give me a little something in return? Just tell others to download the book. Seriously, that helps a huge amount. It gives me a better ranking. Builds mass and momentum. Gathers Zombie particles to me, as it were. And we all know how popular Zombies are, right?


Jim Downey