Salubrity

2

January 11, 2020-

There was snow on the ground, yesterday.

Now, it is only in the shadows,

with next Friday bringing a chance of more.

The air is fresh today.

Shortly,

free, fair and healthy

will be on the agenda,

as several of us consider

ways to better grow one’s own.

Soup is in the crockpot,

and will be ready

by this evening.

Yesterday evening,

two wildly divergent

forms of music

brought solace to our ears.

This evening,

we may  hear

even more sweet sounds.

There is salubrity,

in the air,

and in my heart.

The Decade’s Top Ten: Visual Media

6

December 28, 2019- 

It’s high time for me to reflect back on 2010-19, with regard to a couple of topics, today and tomorrow, at least.  In my mind, the decade is nearly over.  I know there are those who figure that this decade has another year to run-as there was no “Year Zero”, and therefore, the first decade A.D. started with Year 1.  Technically, they’re correct, but I was born in 1950, so MY decades start with numbers ending in zero.  Anyone else may figure the passage of time, as s(he) sees fit.

Anyway, let me look at my ten favourite films and television series of the past ten years.

10.  Law and Order:  SVU– The subject matter is odious and the antagonists are almost always unsympathetic, but the role played by such peace officers as bring sexual perpetrators, no matter how well-connected, to justice, is gratifying to see.  The great Mariska Hargitay’s portrayal of an all-too-human Section Leader has been quite a year-to-year evolution.

9. Game of Thrones– Also chock full of odious subject matter, and the Grand Daddy of “Medieval Life meets Modern English Profanity” (which is now found in abundance, across Netflix and Prime Video).  It is, however, a well-crafted blend of stories and romans-a-clef, unfolding over eight seasons. The series writers did seem to run out of steam and rushed things along, in the last two episodes, but all in all it was a riveting series.

8. Mr. Robot– This mix of Sci Fi and government intrigue is also riveting, over time, with a good dose of snarkiness, especially in the way it portrays “secret” government operations and corporate decision-making.

7.  The Star Wars series- The last three films mirror the first three, which were actually the middle episodes.  The main pull, for me, was seeing how age had affected the three young heroes of the original triad. They were twenty-somethings when I was in that decade of life, so their aging reflected my aging, though I remain happily earthbound.

6.  Supernatural– The original monster hunters, (the maudlin Ghostbusters                       notwithstanding),  two brothers who have one another’s backs and don’t flinch at the most hideous of demons, are among the few TV protagonists I find worthy of bing-watching.

5.  The Hunger Games series- I never tire of watching Jennifer Lawrence prevail over both obvious and slightly-concealed adversaries, and she never plays the same role in more than one film, or series. I also am a huge fan of common folk, especially young people, speaking, and bringing, truth to power.  There was enough intrigue and trickery employed by the snarky Donald Sutherland and the diabolical Julianne Moore to make Jenn and her allies keep thinking on their feet.

4.  Winter’s Bone– While I am referencing Ms. Lawrence, the role where she first got my attention was that of Ree Dolley, the unsupervised teen who  looks for answers about the disappearance of her father.  This was a dark and saddening film, but the girl who won’t give up is one character type for whom I am always cheering.

3.  Dr. Who– I admit, I am a latecomer to this series, one of television’s most enduring SciFi entries.  Nonetheless, the concept of time travel, especially for the purpose of righting wrongs, is a fascinating notion-even if, in practice, it would engender never-ending chaos.

2.  The Martian– I am a die-hard “Earthbounder”, but Matt Damon’s semi-comedic astronaut gave much food for thought, and a little for nutrition, in this exploration of the practical side of interplanetary settlement.

1.  Spotlight– It didn’t quite go far enough, in exposing the true lengths, to which powerful people go, in protecting those who abuse and intimidate children, but the Spotlight series, the result of an intense investigation by my first hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe,  opened the gates for worldwide exposure of not only Catholic priests committing sexual abuse, but of a wide variety of institutions, whose members transgressed their boundaries.  It was the father of #MeToo, in many ways. The film brought the investigation out, masterfully.

This is just my own list, and there are many other visual media that merit praise.  I am always interested in what others regard as worthy of mention.

Kaleidoscopes, Courtyards and Red Rocks

0

December 17, 2019, Jerome-

Today being a day free of commitments in the Prescott area, I took my daughter-in-law, Yunhee, on an excursion to the fascinating Red Rock area, via Jerome.  We made this little town that clings to the east face of Mingus Mountain our first and last stop of the day.  Yunhee is not put off by winding roads and steep drop-offs, so we made good time, getting to the Kaleidoscope Store, in Nelly Bly’s old office, around 10:30.  This amazing little shop is actually the largest kaleidoscope shop in the world and sports at least two dozen kinds of the visual treats.  Yunhee was shown how to take a cell phone photograph, with a kaleidoscopic image as the backdrop.  I had a kaleidoscope as a child, so I picked up a small one for myself.  Then, I got one for a friend who celebrates a birthday, this month. I can see myself making another excursion up the mountain, just to spend a morning or afternoon trying out the many other kinds of image-shifting toys.

We took a straight shot to Sedona, afterward, and I first brought her to a courtyard, with the intent of taking lunch at Momo’s Kitchen, a Korean Food Truck.  Momo’s turns out to be closed on Tuesdays, so we headed over to  the stylish and avant-garde HP Cafe, which offers exquisite, reimagined Mexican fare.  After that great lunch, I brought Yunhee to  a viewpoint, where she was able to photograph Midgeley Bridge, a breathtaking sight over Oak Creek Canyon.

Then, it was off to Tlaquepaque, a replica of the large, charming market city of the Mexican state of Jalisco.  As it was not the weekend, we nearly had the place to ourselves.  Here are several photos of Tlaquepaque’s courtyards and bric-a-brac.

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Having had  a chance to digest lunch, we went to Synergy, a small shop in West Sedona, which specializes in healthful chocolate and digestive-enzyme beverages, as well as organic chocolate treats.  We both opted for Norwegian Wood, a chocolate mocha, maca, chaga and Surthrival pine pollen libation.  One of my friends from Prescott Farmers’ Market happened to be there, as well, so we had a fine conversation about keeping our dietary focus keen, balanced and organic, to the extent possible. Yes, Pegasus greets the visitor to Synergy!

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Red Rock State Park was on the hiking agenda.  The office people seemed to know that we were there for a walk outdoors, and said “Good Afternoon”, without looking up from their desks.  So hike, we did, on a loop up to the fenced-off  House of Apache Fires, a defunct resort, and back to the Visitors’ Center.

The views of Sedona’s many sandstone spectacles were well worth the jaunt.  Besides, when is a hike ever wasted?

 

Oak Creek runs through the middle of the park.

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The red sandstone formations in the distance, are part of the Schnebly Hill formation.

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Here is a view of the House of Apache Fires.

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This sandstone giant appears to be keeping tabs on everyone.

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Here is another view of the Schnebly Formation, taken from Eagle’s Nest Overlook.

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So, that was my daughter-in-law’s introduction to the Red Rock country.  We will be sure to return there, when Aram comes back from his final active duty, in the Puget Sound area, in early January.

For now, it’s a pleasant dinner at Haunted Hamburger, on the west side of Jerome, then back over Mingus Mountain we go.

 

Diahann Carroll

2

October 6, 2019, Flagstaff-

Supremely dignified,

even in a scene of hand-to-hand combat,

she graced the small screen,

and cinema, alike.

She played out her life,

in a television program,

called, simply, “Julia”.

Her presence was magnificent,

throughout.

Diahann never took a backseat,

to anyone,

and the world is the better,

for having seen her like.

Rest in power,

dear queen.

Our House, Tonight

2

August 23, 2019-

It was Shayna’s house, tonight,

filling the air with empowerment,

and hope, for women of all ages.

Bringing the fire of the Russian steppes,

by way of Long Beach,

she made the heart of Prescott soar.

It was Dea’s house, tonight,

filling the room with dance,

and joy, to everyone who came and went.

Bringing the love of the ages,

through the grace of her aunts,

she made the spirits of

at least five Levels

of the Universe,

shine with delight.

It was my house, tonight,

sipping a cold brew coffee,

sitting  at a high-top table,

keeping a quiet place,

for one and all

to stand nearby,

to dance in bliss,

to collect thoughts,

to feel a warm safety.

The Raven was our house, tonight.

 

 

No Choo Choo In This Gig

2

June 24, 2019, Chattanooga-

I stopped here, “en route” from Crossville to Knoxville, as I have driven on through this fascinating city, several times, on the way to this or that appointment- when going from Atlanta to Nashville or Knoxville.  My idea was to visit at least one of Chattanooga’s Big Three:  Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain Summit and Rock City. Ruby Falls got the nod, as it sits off by itself, whereas the other two are  closer together.  Of course, I could have walked the steps up to the Summit, after the two hours or so spent underground, but the heat was lingering-so, another time. Ruby Falls and Rock City are equally pricey-each is $21.95 for an adult; a package runs $43.50.  There is also the “obligatory” photograph, taken before one is allowed into the cave.  In the end, one can choose to purchase the photo ($40 per person/group) or, as I did, say “No thank you”.

The cave is privately-owned, thus the entrance fee.  It is, though, well worth the time and money, to see the deepest underground waterfall in North America.  ( I think VietNam has one that is actually deepest on the planet.)  Several tour options are available- I took the Classic Waterfall Tour, with a group of about twenty people.  Down we went, 26 floors, via elevator.

Here is some of what we saw, in Leo Lambert’s boyhood playground-which he later named for his wife, Ruby, after exploring professionally with a team of spelunkers.

Leo had to crawl, for seven hours, through places like this, to reach an area where he could actually stand.

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Crystal deposits added a magical sense to his meanderings. (The blue lighting, of course, was added by the family, later.)

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It looks like this stalactite is actually holding up the cave, but it just kept on going downward, until it met the ledge.

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Here is where Mr. Lambert was first able to stand up, after seven hours of crawling.  I don’t know as my circulation would allow for that.

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Below is one of the few formations which people are allowed to touch, and even sit.

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The Leaning Tower actually does resemble the landmark in Pisa, though it’s not subject to shifting ground.

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This looks like it came out of a pasta maker.

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Imagine tobacco, drying in the sun.

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This looks like a frozen waterfall, but it’s more mineral deposit.

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The Falls!

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It was for this, that the Lamberts opened the caverns to the public, in 1929- a year when Americans needed all the comfort they could get.  So this afternoon, 24 of us stood, 1,120 feet underground, and marveled at what nature has put together.  It’s not Niagara, but it’s subterranean.

This is one place that Chattanooga Choo Choo isn’t going.  Once off the mountain, though, I took an hour to check out downtown and get some fine ramen, with bubble tea on the side.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBack up to Knoxville it was, afterwards. I had seen a news report about a gas station robbery, on the east side, a day or so ago.  I ended up at a motel just down the street from that gas station.  No worries, though-people just did their own thing and left me alone, for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Life goes on.

NEXT:  The Little Town That Almost Became Home Base

 

 

Where Rock Got Its Groove On

2

June 21, 2019, Crossville, TN-

No, this little city in east central Tennessee has its charms, but rock’s birthplace is not its claim to fame.  That, of course, is a claim to be made by Memphis.

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I visited Sun Studio, one of my “gap” goals from years past.  In the early 1950’s, one Sam Phillips, an eager young musical production visionary, began this studio, on a shoe string budget. He had an idea that Gospel, Country and Blues, when blended together, would produce an amazing new sound. Sam was all about music as a means of expressing personal emotional power and he wanted to hear some rawness in the voices of those he auditioned.

Elvis Presley, happening by from his hometown of Tupelo, MS, was NOT one of those voices, initially.  He crooned, stuck to a mellow vibe-and bored Sam Phillips to tears.  After several auditions, Elvis’ mood changed, he rocked on out with a tune and got Sam and his crew running into the sound room, to see what was happening.  The rest is musical history.  Other musical greats, among them Johnny Cash, Ike and Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Howlin’Wolf, BB King and Roy Orbison got their big breaks with Sam and Sun Studio.

Here is Elvis, visiting Sun whilst on leave from the Army, doing a set with three of his contemporaries.  This session became known as The Million Dollar Quartet.

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Below, our host, Lahna, is recounting one of many stories about Sam and his vision of musical fusion.  You can spot a photo of Sam Phillips on the lower right.

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Here are some promos for Howlin’Wolf and Ike Turner (before Tina).  Ike was the pianist on the first-ever Rock n’Roll tune:  “Rocket 88”.

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Fun fact: If Sam DIDN’T like a demo record, this is what happened to it. (See floor).

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He was all about the base.

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Marion MacInnes was Sam’s office manager, and his faithful right hand.  Is anyone familiar with the contraption on the left?

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Lahna is giving her wrap-up for the tour, in front of the sound room window.  Another fun fact:  Larry Mullen, Jr., of the band U2, donated a set of drums to Sun Studio-for display purposes.

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This was an awesome bit of musical history, made all the more enjoyable by a woman who clearly knows her rock stuff.

I took a bit of a ride eastward, well before actually leaving Memphis, and found La Ceiba, the area’s only Honduran restaurant.  Its forte seems to be seafood, yet I was in the mood for chicken.  I ordered the first item on the menu, which puzzled the hostess.  It turned out to be fairly recognizable:  Lightly battered fried chicken, apparently not the hostess’s favourite, but good-tasting, nonetheless.  I also found the chips and sauce, (not salsa), potentially addicting.  La Ceiba is well worth a try.

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A long drive around the fringe of Nashville ensued, as it was getting late and I wanted to get here to my friends’ house, before they needed to turn in.

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NEXT:  Reflections on Three Days By A Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighthouse, Shimmering In The Heat

0

June 18, 2019, Amarillo-

I made it a point to stop here today, for two reasons.  One was my old Xanga buddy, Wes, and his ties to the Amarillo that was.  The other was Lighthouse Trail, in Palo Duro State Park.  I always meet the most delightful people, through both Wes and Palo Duro.  Today was no exception.

Texas Tidbits (Wes’ old Xanga moniker) suggested a meet-up at Smokey Joe’s, which I recall as a most delightful spot.  The cutest, and toughest, little lady was our server last time.  Her co-worker, J, was our gracious and ever-attentive hostess, on this fine afternoon.  We sat around for about an hour, while I savoured a Tex-Mex burger, and solved at least some of the issues that plague mankind.

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Now, I could sit in the presence of Wes and the ladies, for hours on end, but my hiking legs would not forgive me for such self-indulgence.  So, I bid pardner adieu and set off for Palo Duro.

Upon arrival, the lovely and friendly ranger pointed out that many folks had been their before me, snapping up all the campsites. No worries here, though.  The main point of my visit was that Light House in the desert, shimmering as it was, in the heat.  I brought enough water to fuel a truckload of cattle, and set off on the six-mile round trip.

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Capitol Peak and an unnamed “human” figure loom in the near distance, before the trail to Light House Rock veers to the right.

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Other magnificent formations grace the way to Light House.

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The first close-up view of the Light House formation, came as I reached the crest of the only real ascent of the hike.

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Here they are, one at a time.

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This shows the actual distance between the two rocks.

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As the first rumblings of a storm were heard, I took this last close-up.

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Whilst I was doing this, another man was contenting himself with climbing a path to the top of the rock on the left.  He spent several minutes there, fortunately getting down, as the skies darkened and racing up the path, to avoid the rain.

As I was walking back, I met a young couple with a dog, and pointed out to them that the storm was getting much closer.  They deiced to head back and stayed with me to the parking area.  E and M are a delightful pair, reminding me of my son and daughter-in-law.  We noted the lushness of the surrounding area, as a sign of the copious rain that the Panhandle has enjoyed this Spring.

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We got back to our cars, just as the rain was intensifying.  No sooner was everyone safely inside the vehicles, than hail started falling-furiously.   Yet, once we got to the park entrance:  Voila!  The sunshine returned.  With no camping site, I drove back to Amarillo, and have a room at Camelot Inn and Suites.

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Yes, another good day was had in the desert!

NEXT:  When Armies Wear Each Other Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Base

7

June 12, 2019-

Tomorrow, I will head up for a few days in another of my heart homes – Dineh/Hopi.  Yes, there are many of those, and this Home Base is one.  The road will then curve eastward.

In the meantime, life goes on here in Prescott-with a vengeance.  Many of you may be taking journeys of your own, over the next few months, and I can say time spent in this area is well worth the drive, or flight (Ernest A. Love Regional Airport is expanding its own “wings”, with more destinations offered by its tenant carriers).  So, let me go all Chamber of Commerce on you.

I’d offer my own Home Base on Airbnb, but it’s a tiny place and the landlord would not be happy.  So, I recommend either of two hostels:  Prescott International, on McCormick Street. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g31323-d4309329-Reviews-Prescott_International_Travelers_Hostel-Prescott_Arizona.html) or House in the Pines Hostel, on Virginia Street, two blocks west of my place, actually(https://www.hiphostelaz.com/).  There are a couple of great boutique hotels:  The Grand Highland, right smack downtown, on Whiskey Row (https://www.grandhighlandhotel.com) and Hotel Vendome, one block south of downtown, on Cortez Street (https://www.vendomehotel.com/).  There are two grand hotels:  Hassayampa Inn, on the corner of Gurley and Marina, is a premier spot for jazz in the courtyard (https://www.hassayampainn.com/) and Hotel St. Michael, on the north end of Whiskey Row, at the corner of Montezuma and Gurley, is a prime meeting place for locals and visitors alike. (http://www.stmichaelhotel.com/).  The chains have fine reps here, as well:  Hampton Inn, Marriott and Spring Hill Suites are either downtown, or within a short drive.  An independent hotel, Forest Hills Suites, is near the Marriott, east of town.

Now, the entertainment part:  Nature calls, pretty loudly, here, if you’ve seen my earlier posts.  The man-made lakes- Goldwater, Lynx, Watson, Willow and Granite Basin are all great for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and picnicking.  Lynx Lake has a paddle boat concession, as well.  Each of these has good trail systems, so the hiker is bound to feel happy.  Speaking of which, mountain trails abound, at all levels of difficulty, from Peavine Trail (easy) to Granite Mountain and Mt. Union (strenuous).  In between, are Thumb Butte, Prescott’s signature landmark, west of downtown and Granite Dells, a warren of trails, north of town, and mostly on private land, but generously shared with the public.  I have enjoyed most of the trails available here, over the past eight years.

Indoors?  Lots of good stuff here, too.  We have Elks Theater, in a restored grand opera house and Prescott Center for the Arts, in a restored church.  Both are downtown.  The Courthouse Plaza has many evening concerts, during the warmer months and street festivals abound, particularly on weekends.  Yavapai College, on the east side of town, and Prescott College, slightly northwest of downtown, offer many artistic events, as well.  YC hosts Prescott Farmers Market, on Saturday mornings (7:30-12).  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, 5 miles north of downtown, has an Observatory open to the public.  Sharlot Hall Museum is a must, for anyone seeking to understand Prescott’s history.

Now for the  brew.  I don’t imbibe alcohol, but there are more places to sit and hoist a few than this post has space.  A  few, for which I can vouch:  Matt’s, The Bird Cage, Rickety Cricket and Lil’s are all on Whiskey Row.  The Raven Cafe, one of my favourite restaurants and music venues, also has a full bar.  Brewery/Restaurants also are in no short supply:  Prescott Brewing Company, Granite Mountain Brewing, Coppertop Alehouse, Barley Hound-you get the picture.  Coffee is also in plethora:  Wild Iris, Ms. Natural’s (my absolute fave restaurant, as well), The Porch, Frannie’s (also has great frozen yogurt and pastries), Cupper’s, Firehouse Coffee, McQueen/Rustic Pie (also a  food fave), Method (on the north side of town) and Third Shot (in Gateway Mall, three miles east of town) are a few who come to mind.

Prescott’s Eats?- I mentioned Ms. Natural’s (The owner and a couple of the servers are personal friends and the name says it all, with regard to the fare).  Rustic Pie, Shannon’s Gourmet Deli, Dinner Bell Cafe, El Gato Azul, Rosati’s, Two Mamas Pizzeria, Chi’s Cuisine and Bill’s Pizza are all relatively small venues, but well worth a try.  So, too, are the larger places- Murphy’s, Gurley Street Grill, The Office, Rosa’s Pizzeria, Lone Spur, Bill’s Grill, Zeke’s Eatin’ Place (in Frontier Village, east of town), Park Plaza Liquor/Deli.  Other spots abound, so have fun exploring.

Finally, a few words about the periphery.  Prescott Valley, our sister town, is worthy of a day or two of exploration all its own.  It’s a lot of strip malls to take in, but they have a warm feel about them.  Rafter Eleven is a superb place for wine, coffee and dipping oils, located a block north of Highway 69, off Glassford Hill Road.  Backburner Cafe is on the north side of town, at the corner of Robert Road and Spouse.  Further east are:  Dewey-Humboldt, with Leff-T’s Steak House and Casa Perez Family Restaurant, plus a cute “Main Street”, at Humboldt; Mayer, with Flourstone Bakery and Arcosanti, a fascinating eco-architectural establishment.  Northwards is Chino Valley, with Danny B’s Seafood Cafe and the fascinating  Garchen Buddhist Institute, about seven miles east on Perkinsville Road (The access road is narrow, windy and steep in places).  Westward lie Kirkland, with its own steakhouse, replete with sawdust on the floor and bowls of unshelled peanuts on the table and Yarnell, with some interesting antique shops, Shrine of St. Joseph and, south of town, Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, where one may hike five miles or so, to the site of the tragic 2013 fire, which claimed the lives of 19 Wildland Fire Fighters, paying respects along the way. Nichols West Restaurant, in Congress, at the base of Yarnell Hill, is a fine place to replenish oneself, after such an outing.  Finally, fifteen miles northeast, on Highway 89A, is the mountain town of Jerome, with Haunted Hamburger, Mile Hi Grill, Bobby D’s BBQ, Flatiron Coffee House, Jerome State Park and an inn that was once a brothel. The road, both east and west of town, is not for the faint of heart-yet the streets are routinely packed with visitors from Phoenix, Scottsdale and all over.  Get there early.

This is my longest post ever, I know, but Home Base is worth every word.

 

Another Distant Mirror

2

May 9, 2019-

I have spent much of the past several days, sequestered in my house, waiting for the corporate entity which employs substitute teachers in our county to finish its processing of my papers.  I am sticking close to home, mainly to stretch my dollars as, while I have a sufficient income, it will still be an involved summer and economy is critical.  The activities that occupy me are sorting out unneeded possessions, exercising, reading- and Netflix.

I have taken to a series, called “The Last Kingdom”, an historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of Alfred the Great, who began the process of unifying the regions of what is now England, in the 9th Century.  It is similar to Barbara Tuchman’s  “A Distant Mirror”, in tone and scope.  Many of the themes with which we are familiar today, occurred in both long-ago times, and most likely have appeared in every era of human endeavour.

I focus here on two recurrent themes in human history:  The tendency to gloss over a person’s achievements, whilst calling excess attention to the same person’s failures; the dichotomy in the level of treatment of women and girls, between those interested in maintaining authority and those living a simpler life, closer to the soil.

In “Kingdom”, Alfred is depicted as one more concerned with maintaining the primacy of the rich and powerful, including himself, than with dispensing true justice.  It is noted, as we know about the Dark Ages, and on into the Renaissance/Reformation, that alliances rose and fell on a whim.  It is noted that manipulative figures operated with impunity, and those who challenged them were either killed or banished-as the central character in “Kingdom”, Uhtred Ragnarsson, experiences banishment and redemption, several times.  It is shown that women had to assert themselves, fiercely, if they were to avoid battering and a life of humiliation.

Of course, as in any depiction of events not occurring in real time, there is undoubtedly a fair amount of amplification and embellishment in the series, based in turn on Bernard Cornwell’s  “Saxon Tales”.    The human struggle will long be what it has been, as man deals with the issues of justice, equity and the balance of power in society.

I have my sense as to how the series will pan out.  I also have a sense as to how the human race will continue to evolve-and the ebb/flow inserted into both processes.