Monday, May 4, 2020

May the Forth Be with You!

After a restless night dreaming that I had gone to Europe including a free trip to Paris on a train with no seat, only a place to lie on a flat-bed car watching coracles on the river, I struggled to consciousness only to find that pestilence still ravages the land, a pest still resides in the White House, and perhaps impervious to pesticide, a killer wasp is murdering our honey bees!

While still avoiding the new clichés of the date, these photos of the Firth of Forth from last Summer seem to cheer me a little:

Lower Largo, Fife, Scotland looking to the West up the Firth of Forth

Boats beached at Lower Largo

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Archaeology and Me, Part 2


918 A.D.
Her wærð Ecgbriht abbud unscyldig ofslegen foran to middan sumera on .xvi. Kalendas Iulii, þy ilcan dæge wæs Sancte Ciricius tid þæs þroweres, mid his geferum, þæs ymb .iii. niht sende Æþelflæd fyrde on Wealas abræc Brecenanmere þær genam þæs cinges wif feower ðritiga sume.

In modern English:
Here before midsummer, on 16 June, Abbot Ecgberht, guiltless, was killed with his companions. The same day it was the festival of St Ciricus the martyr. And three days later, Aethelflaed [Lady of Mercia, daughter of Alfred the Great] sent an army into Wales and broke down Brecon Mere, and took the wife of the king as one of thirty four [captives]. (from Swanton via Lane & Redknap).

This time we can be thankful that the victors wrote the history because this entry in the the Mercian version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (B) records the destruction of a royal residence that appears to have been confirmed by recent archaeological investigation. The thing is, some of my DNA was very possibly, maybe likely involved, if not at least present at least in some of the eyes looking over the nearby hills to the smoke from the burning.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Poetry by Henry Vaughan (1653)


Therefore to weep because thy course is run,
Or droop like flow'rs, which lately lost the sun,I cannot yield, since Faith will not permitA tenure got by conquest to the pit.For the great Victor fought for us, and HeCounts ev'ry dust that is laid up of thee.Besides, Death now grows decrepit, and hathSpent the most part both of its time and wrath.That thick, black night, which mankind fear'd, is tornBy troops of stars, and the bright day's forlorn.The next glad news—most glad unto the just!—Will be the trumpet's summons from the dust.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Archaeology and Me

The images of body casts from Pompeii haunted me in grade school. I didn't help that we were in the shadow of sleeping Mount Rainier. It hasn't blown for a few hundred years, but St. Helens did.

Everything Egypt fascinated me and a few of us in about third grade had our own "Egypt Game" that we were going to be archaeologists. Not sure how I even came up with the word that I still have to spell check. Tutankhamun fascinated me and I saw his golden face in 1978.

Seventh Grade Science did me in when I met my first archaeologist, Dr. James Daugherty of Washington State University. We were on a Scout 50-miler hike on the Olympic Coast, Washington. We provided some service hours repairing and mucking out the settling ponds from the hydro-pressure water used in the excavation of a Makah Longhouse at Cape Alava that had been anaerobically preserved in a mudslide for almost 300 years. When pushed forward by my Dad to talk with Dr. Daugherty because I was interested in being an archaeologist, my 13-year-old little mind balked at his advice to study Science.

"Study Science, young man!"

Saturday, March 28, 2020

My hero, Michelle Obama

The personal connections hit me deeply:
"I had failed.
I had never in my life failed a test. . . . But I'd blown it with the bar. I was ashamed, sure that I'd let down every person who'd ever taught, encouraged, or employed me."
Like Michelle, I failed my first bar exam. It wasn't because we weren't smart or didn't study hard. It just happens to a lot of people when the two-day test is extremely tricky to keep the passage rates low. It was only 58% on my first try of the Maryland bar exam and only 56% six months later when I did pass. Michelle passed the Illinois exam on her second try too.

The second one also hit me joyfully:
He worked late at night in a small room we'd converted to a study at the rear of our apartment--a crowded, book-strewn bunker I referred to lovingly as the Hole. I'd sometimes go in, stepping over his piles of paper to sit on the ottoman in front of his chair while he worked, trying to lasso him with a joke and a smile, to tease him back from whatever far-off fields he'd been galloping through. He was good-humored about my intrusions, but only if I didn't stay to long.
Barack, I've come to understand, is the sort of person who needs a hole, a closed off little warren where he can read and write undisturbed. It's like a hatch that opens directly into the spacious skies of his brain. . . ."
Socially-distancing in my "hole," I finally go around to reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Mission Update, uh, Rewind

No one ever really wanted to watch my mission slides with me. Now that I have that slide scanner, I thought I'd try it on the blog.

We'll start with the inspirational:


In my current mission, I am documenting the early missionaries in Wales who were trying to get converts for the New Zion in America. My mission in Brazil 1976-78 was to bring Zion to the People of Brazil. The Temple under construction in São Paulo was the culmination of that. It would bring sacred ordinances to seal up individuals, families, and peoples together in preparation to live with God. They gave us a tour of the nearly completed Temple on our way out of Brazil. Note the guide wires to the steeple. Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.

My mission started a little slowly. We were held up for a time, a long time, in the Language Training Center (LTM) in Provo waiting for visas (later, the Missionary Training Center or MTC). We had to find creative ways to keep studying.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Mission Update - Baptists at the Roundabout

Non-conformist Chapel in Aberaman, Wales briefly used by the LDS Church in 1851.

Last week, I arrived. They gave me administrator access to our Early Missionaries Database and I flew my wings.

Well, there's one more missionary added. So don't get too excited.

It is a challenge keeping up with the Joneses. I mean, sorting out all the Joneses which is the most common surname in Wales if don't you know already. It also helps explain why David Bevan Jones (1807-1863) preferred to use his bardic name - the Welsh version of a nom de plume - of Dewi Elfed. I knew his story and wondered why he was missing from our database and didn't seem to show up on any Church record in Utah.