Saturday, August 27, 2016

In Which I Perform Another Unique Ceremony

St. Mary's, Cusop, Herefordhire (Cewydd Sant) on the Welsh Border. Surrounded by Yews.
My daughter did well keeping my lilacs alive while we were gone for the hot month of July. And our yard has nearly recovered from my one-year-old grandson turning off the automatic sprinklers.

I was out today shoring up a few of the lilacs that needed a watering base around them. Miss Canada, thriving so well this Spring, is not situated well to pick up the watering. And the new Firmaments and Pres. Poincaré planted in early summer could use the help.

After I was done, I thought about the yew needles from the Holy Yew at Cusop that I had finally found in my trip memorabilia. So I carefully got a few out and put one or two needles into the ground at the base of each lilac bush. In years to come as I sit under my lilacs, a small piece of the sacred yew will have become part of those plants.

The oak leaf is from another sacred site.
A Celtic Church and well in Cornwall.
It can't hurt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Atypical Election

To my Republican and other Anti-Obama friends:

I have heard your dire predictions that President Obama would destroy the world or at least the United States. Yet here we are nearly eight years in and it hasn't happened. I heard the same thing from many of you about President Bill Clinton. And it didn't happen. And now we hear it from you about Hillary. I don't think it's going to happen with her either.

Now, Hillary Clinton would not be my first choice for President. But she is the best option we have at the present. I know Gary Johnson, I've met him and once had a conversation with him over dinner. He's an OK guy, but I wouldn't want him for President. I'm not real excited about his history of drug use and the really nice family he had that he seems not to have any more. Jill Stein seems to be even more freaky.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Little Pin Badge Vanity

Pierced to the heart with desire for something tangible to remember our latest trip to Britain, I started collecting pin badges. I'm a little late to the game as one of my Welsh Professors has a whole room dedicated to collectible pins. He even has "his guy in Shanghai" who can produce custom pins in bulk. Pin collecting is also big at Disneyland (my Disney collection is very meager). And it was a big thing around here back in '02 for the SLC Winter Olympics (and I even have one of those!).

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Preserve the Public Lands!

My hat is off to Field & Stream web edition, and hopefully, the print edition as well for the excellent article on the latest movement to turn over America's public lands to the states and eventually private interests.

Ken Ivory and the Malheur occupiers get special mention as part of the problem, not the solutions. And there's this great quote from the late Western Historian (and Utahn), Bernard DeVoto, who also got it:
“the ultimate objective is to liquidate all public ownership of grazing and forest land in the United States…the plan is to get rid of public lands altogether, turning them over to the states, which can be coerced as the federal government cannot be, and eventually into private ownership.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

If They Shot Everybody for Violating E-Mail Protocols . . . .

Whether government or corporate workplace, if you are honest enough to admit it, yeah, everybody violates email rules and policies.

not Tim Curry
not a Congressman from Utah

A certain Congressman from Utah who bears a striking resemblance to the actor, Tim Curry, has obtrained the FBI files determined to further investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email abuses while at the State Department. Never mind that past, Republican Secretaries of State have also used private email accounts. And never mind that pretty much everyone fails to follow "best practices" in email protocols.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Trump and Cats: Caption Contest

This is too good to pass up. (h/t to HJ) I posted this on Facebook and immediately had a wonderful caption. I will cut and paste that here and then add one of my own. And I invite one and all to enter the contest by posting a comment below. Or, if you post on my FB page, I'll cut and paste it in here. (prize, if any, yet to be determined*).

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Report: Border Country, by Raymond Williams

Williams has appeared in the blog before (here and here) which is one reason why I picked up this book in Cardiff. And I'm pleased to find that it's still in print and even available in the US at Amazon Prime.

Telling you it is about a University professor who returns home after his father has a heart attack as we flash back to his growing-up years does not do it justice. The book is a deep psychological and social analysis of relationships in a family and the extended family of a small, Welsh village near the border with England and the edge of the modern world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hillary Turned me into a Newt!

I got better.

It's that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail that pops into my head every time I hear the crowds at the Republican Convention and Trump rallies shout, "Lock her up! Lock her up!" The main reason being that she deleted some thousands of emails (we got better). At least she hasn't really turned anyone into a newt.

Oh, yeah, she's a sleazy politician - pretty much like most of them. But does she deserve to burn at the stake? or even be thrown in jail? I think not. She's been investigated over and over again and while they consistently find that she is a politician and  woman politician at that, they haven't found sufficient evidence to prosecute her for any crime. Many of the people investigating haven't exactly been her friends either unless you believe she is some kind of magical person who can control the minds and wills of the entire federal government, legal community, and Republican special prosecutors, I guess, by some form of witchcraft. She looks like a politician. Well, we did put on the fake nose and dressed her up that way.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I Raised My Ebenezer

The Rock of God's Help. A Stone of Remembrance. Rock of Ages. A Monument of Things Past and Before Us. It's not a big rock. But it's what I had and I could move it myself.

And I had a little ceremony that I made up on the spot.

First, I had to roll the rock from the backyard to the front. It wasn't that hard. Megalithic men, and maybe women, possibly my ancestors, moved much larger stones in some means of community enterprise (or abject slavery).

Then, I began the ceremony. I rubbed the bottom that was to go in the ground with a piece of slag iron from Wales. The blister on my thumb indicates that some of my DNA may have gone into this without any need for ceremonial blood-letting.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The American Dream Is Alive and Well . . . in Wales

First of all, our President, Barack Obama, appears to be widely respected even in the conservative rural areas of the Principality of Wales. I heard not a negative word and some praise for him. It usually came in contrast to the absolute incredulity that the U.S. is actually considering Trump as a presidential candidate. I heard no good words about him. It was generally neutral to positive in a practical sense on Hillary with a few jokes at her husband's expense.

Our innkeeper on the Wye River said that he has yet to meet an American who supports Trump - or will admit it. Maybe that's just the nature of American travelers. I admit that I had a Hillary button/badge on my day pack. But the issue did seem to keep coming up as the British still seem fascinated by us Americans of the U.S. variety in particular.

The clincher was a personal experience with an Enterprise Rent-a-Car employee.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ebbw Vale: Not Knowing Enough Beforehand

But still ending up in the right place. Maybe it's the deep mysteries of jumbled memory. And it could be the Spirit guiding through my confused ignorance.

There is never enough time. On the last day of opportunity in Wales, I wanted to visit Gwent Archives. I had already been through the indices online and I didn't think they had the documents that I would have liked to review. So, like the boy searching for the lost quarter under the street lamp because the light was better, I looked at some things in close proximity hoping they might give some hint I could follow. It still may be there in the notes I collected from handling original 1840s Vestry Minutes from the adjacent parish, but it may take a concerted effort with my cousin collaborators to sort anything out.

They were most friendly at the Archives. The friendliest yet. But then I was deep up in the industrial valleys of South Wales. The roads aren't too bad either, mostly modern winding around, over, and above most of the industrial tracks and villages of workers' houses tightly squeezed along the valleys, row upon row. The coal mines and iron foundries are gone. Some replaced by other industry. Some just incongruously flat land lying empty in the narrow valleys of mountains.

The guy who checked me in was a real Welsh kidder. Asking if I had a county readers card, I showed him the one I had obtained at the University Archives in Bangor. I'm pretty sure that it's good for all archives under the National Library of Wales, but he said, "Oh, we're not all as fancy as that!" So I signed some day authorization as I gave a general background of what I knew about my ancestors and the sources I've checked. "So, you've done your homework, you have." In response to newspaper accounts about arrests for "drunk and disorderly" he said, "So, you think they were Welshmen, do ya. Sure they weren't the Irish?" I said I was sure pointing out my surname again. He also asked if I was, "from Canada or America?" I didn't correct any geographical certainties thinking Canadians probably appreciate the distinction these days.

The Archives were in a Victorian building of some official stately nature. It is currently County offices but I need to check to see if its origins are offices of the Steel Works. There is a very modern building attached holding the actual archived documents. And there is a beautifully new educational center of a community college nature on the slopes of the mountain behind.

Gwent County Offices and Archives, Ebbw Vale
Modern Archive Storage