Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some things Don't Change

I swooned over the Everly Brothers.  I can hear them in my thoughts and memories of school and girl and boy friends.  Recently I saw a video of their 1983 reunion concert in Albert Hall.  Here is my gift to you today.  Let your memories roll.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Beginning of Decline

That is one of the uses of the word "autumn".  It has begun here in south Puget Sound.  Wet and wind prevail.  Spiders spin their webs.  Yesterday a farmer out the road plowed his corn field to make room for pumpkin patch parking.  My friend who works in a lighting store says light bulb sales pick up as the soggy sky darkens.  Our fall is cozy inside a well insulated house near a well stocked grocery store.  I think of the beginning of decline of sun, warmth and harvest in a world lit only by fire. The winter solstice will mark the next beginning - a return of hope for another year.  The people of prehistory worshiped the force that drove the seasons through their cycle.  Understandably.  Their monuments astound to this day.  We just worry that the power might go out in the next big storm.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


We saw a magic show last evening.  Perhaps better said - we saw a magician perform.  This is an ancient art.  In the millenia before the current era the magician oversaw blessing, exorcism, cleansing, purification and forecast.  Magic entailed ritual which wrapped the viewer in awe and belief.  Magic was not different from what we call religion - a relation between priest and supplicant mediated by a catechism  The magi were special, chosen at birth, born in strange circumstance.  They were astrologers - hence the magi who saw the great star of Bethlehem and divined supernatural meaning. Throughout the ages, the magician transcended the known world and offered glimpses beyond to mere mortals.  Only with the luxury and leisure of the industrial revolution has the magicians morphed into pure entertainer.  The puffs of black smoke and sleights of hand are all just tricks put on to amuse.  We watch, we gasp and laugh.  We clap and beg for more.   The long cord that is pulled through a knot into two separate cords is really an illusion.  The rabbit was in the hat all along.   Or, not.  Go to a magic show soon.   See for yourself.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tired of Sound Bites and Talking Points?

I am.  I listen to the interviews on television.  Regardless of what is asked, the answers are well prepared.  The interviewee has come equipped with short statements that present the topic as he wishes it to be seen.  The interview is devoid of persuasion, analysis,or true debate.  There is no discussion.  Just exchange of rehearsed lines.  I recently read about a new exhibit at Harvard University Medical School's Countway Library of Medicine, Battle-Scarred: Caring for the Sick and Wounded of the Civil War.  The exhibit opened last December.  Drew Faust, Lincoln professor of history and president of Harvard spoke on "Civil War and the End of Life".  Her presentation was recorded.  It is thought provoking.  Get your coffee and a comfortable chair. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gone Fishing

Back mid September.  We will be in Southeast Alaska.  Setting shrimp and crab pots.  Fishing for salmon.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dead in Culloden's Field

This is a line from the Skye Boat Song.  My mother sang this song to me when I was very young.  Sang in her gentle soprano voice, as a lullaby.  The song can be sung in 3/4 time, a waltzing journey into sleep.  Recently I have learned more.  In 1746 young Charles Edward Stuart, heir to the Scottish throne, came ashore at the head of Moray Firth.  The great heights of the Highlands rose before him. He could hear the sea birds calling, the waves lapping..  He was embarked on war with England, set on gaining her crown to unite the two countries under Stuart, Catholic rule.  He had put out a call to the Highland clans to muster on Culloden Moor and stop the Crown forces who marched north for the battle.  First a faint sound, then the full reedy drone of bagpipes, and then the clansmen in small bands moved on the horizon, cresting the hills and turning down to meet the young prince at the sea.  Imagine it.  The soft light of fog.  The heather.  The sea stretching behind him.  Close your eyes and hear it.

Romance and patriotism were no match for the well trained Red Coats.  In 46 minutes it was over.  Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped over land, and then by boat to the Isle of Skye and was later exiled by the prevailing English monarch.  The sweet song my mother sang was about this disastrous encounter.  Here are the words:

Speed Bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar, 
Thunderclouds rend the air.
Baffled our foes, stand by the shore,
Follow they do not dare.

Though the wave leap, soft shall ye sleep
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Many's the lad fought on that day,
Well the Claymore could wield.
When the night came, silently lay
Dead in Culloden's field.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men.
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.
Odd lullaby for a baby.  Sing along: