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Posts Tagged ‘Saxons’

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

On Friday we left for Mendocino and the celebration of my sister Maryann and George’s 40th wedding anniversary. Despite my illness, the drive from Sacramento to Mendocino was pleasant enough. It was made more tolerable by listening to an audio disk of a book. A book that I had read before and perhaps have even written about here.

It was the first novel in the Arthurian Trilogy by Bernard Cornwall called, The Winter King. Listening to the narrator drone on helped the time pass rapidly. The trilogy is set in the latter part of the Fifth Century about 80 years or so after the Romans had departed Britain and the indigenous inhabitants had begun their devolution into rural barbarism. During this time, raiders from the area around Denmark eyeing the land now made empty by the Roman retreat arrived and settled in the East. They were, at the time of the novel’s setting, driving the Britons before them off the fertile lands and into the mountains. History records a British warlord named Artur active then. Also, there is evidence of a series of battles at about this time between the Saxon invaders and the British won by the Britons that halted the Saxon advance for about 40 years — a fairly long time by the standards of history. The author places the medieval legends back at this time but provides the shining heroic characters with a more gritty and less exalted story than the Medieval bards did.

Anyway, we arrived in Fort Bragg in good order checked into a motel, settled the dog comfortably and left for the Anniversary dinner.

The dinner was held at the Noyo Harbor Inn an attractive fairly newly remodeled hotel overlooking Noyo Harbor.

In addition to members of the family friends of Maryann and George from the East Coast were there also.

Fred and Ellen

F

George and Mary made speeches about the happiness of their marriage and George gave Mary a ruby ring to celebrate their 40th Anniversary.

The following day Naida, I and Boo-Boo went for a walk along the beach and the bluffs.

We then set off to Mary and George’s home for a Barbecue. When we arrived, I was amazed at the additions to their house that had been completed since the last time we were there. They had constructed an all-new patio and garden enclosure at the front of the house. It seemed to bring the house into the garden or the garden into the house I could not tell which.

The Barbecue featured meat and a lovely salmon prepared by Quinn, Katie’s intended.

Several of our friends from Mendocino joined us — Nancy and Duncan, Ester and her husband and a few others who despite the relatively few times were have visited each other, I feel have become as close friends as I have ever enjoyed. There was even a hedgehog who joined us that night. I never really met him in person (in hedgehog?) before.


The next day we returned to The Enchanted Forest. I decided to try driving down Highway 101 and up 80 since on paper it is the quickest drive. Alas, as I feared, the traffic, especially as we approached Petaluma was horrendous.

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

Monday was my birthday. My daughter sent me three interesting books. Hayden surprised me with a nice gift. Many friends sent me their best wishes through email and social media. Even my grandson Aaron texted me. Naida took me out for one of my favorite things, a root beer float. We went to Mel’s. They even put a candle on it.

Happy Birthday Pookie

Some additional notable events that occurred on my birthday, October 15, during the 16th and 17th Centuries:

1552 Khanate of Kazan is conquered by troops of Ivan Grozny.
1581 Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet “Ballet Comique de la Reine” is staged in Paris
1582 Many Catholic countries switch to the Gregorian calendar, skip 10 days
1598 Spanish general strategist Bernardino de Mendoza occupies fort Rhine
1641 Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve claims Montreal
1654 Prince Willem III appointed viceroy of Overijssel
1655 Jews of Lublin are massacred
1660 Asser Levy granted butcher’s license (kosher meat) in New Amsterdam
1674 Torsåker witch trials begin, largest witch trials in Sweden, 71 beheaded and burned

All and all, except for Asser’s butcher’s license, those were not very good or notable days.

Note also, on the day I was born in 1939:

1939 LaGuardia Airport opened in NYC
1939 Yeshiva of Mir closed after 124 years

So on my next birthday raise a glass to LaGuardia (The mayor and the airport) and shed a tear for the Yeshiva of Mir.

For those of you over 70 and well into the great decline, you probably already experience this. Even as my body weakens, the voice in my head that talks to me all the time seem always to be as young as it was when I was a teenager. Oh, a bit more cynical perhaps, but every bit as vigorous as ever when I feel I have done something that rises to the level of the barely adequate, letting me know how foolish I really am. One would think that at this age that voice would give up and feebly warble, “I no longer give a damn. Do what you want. Who cares?”

The remainder of the week drifted off to same old, same old. Sitting at home playing with the computer, watching old movies on TCM (not much to write about there) and reading the novels Jessica sent me (One was by JK Rowling using her nom de plume, Robert Galbraith. It was a mystery and quite good). I also went to a few pre-op examinations. And, of course, attended to the needs of Hayden and The Scooter Gang.

Speaking of H, he recently acquired a new mountain bicycle to replace his other mountain bike that he said was inadequate. (He was insistent that I understood that the old bike was an “off-road bike” and not a “mountain bike” — Whatever.) It was quite something — complex hydraulics on the seat and well as the front and back wheels. He recently joined the school mountain bike team along with several other Scooter Gang members.

Hayden and His Mountain  Bike

On Tuesday, I had a stress test in preparation for my operation. A stress test for those who have never had one is where you fast for a day and dive to the lab where they the load you full of radioactive substances, lie you on a cot under great machines that make odd humming and clicking noises and then tell you to relax for the next hour or so. I was stressed out.

And so the week played itself out. Finally, after many phone calls, I managed to arrange an appointment with my surgeons. The growth in my neck seems larger and more uncomfortable. The Scooter Gang has begun to evidence teenage bravado and male aggressiveness. So it goes. Most days I sit in the studio with the Mac on my lap watching Naida tap away on her computer editing her memoirs.

The weekend also passed by quietly. On Sunday N decided to bake a pumpkin pie the way the Native Americans taught the illegal immigrants coming ashore a Plymouth or Jamestown — baking the pie in the pumpkin.

It did not turn out that well because, while emptying the pumpkin of its seeds, we inadvertently punctured a hole in the bottom and much of the custard filling drained through during the baking. It tasted pretty good nevertheless. I wonder if the colonists faced that problem.

On Tuesday, I meet with the surgeons.

Have fun. Be cool. Keep warm. Stay hot.

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British Warriors

I have just finished reading the last novel in Bernard Cornwall’s trilogy about King Arthur. Previously, I read the first nine novels of his series set in the time of King Alfred of England and his immediate descendants. While both series can be classed as historical novels, they each concern the life of a made up hero who has an out of proportion impact on the affairs of the kings and times they tell about.

We know that at the end of the Fifth and the beginning or the Sixth Centuries a warlord with the name of Arthur lived. We also know that during that time the Saxon invasion of England was temporarily halted and about a generation of relative peace followed. All the rest is legend and surmise.
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Arthur

Britain had a population of about 4 million throughout the Roman ascendancy. It collapsed to about 2 million within a few decades following the Roman legions departure. Many people left Britain along with the military. Some were Roman elite who returned with the armies to the remnant of the empire. Many others, the Celtic aristocracy primarily, emigrated to Brittany and Galicia in Spain. Most of the others died of disease, hunger and slaughter as civic order collapsed.

The Saxon migrations into the rapidly depopulating England, during the two hundred or so years it lasted, totaled only about 30 to 50 thousand people. The warbands on both sides rarely were larger than 100 or so armed men, not much bigger than a modern biker gang. They terrorized the small hamlets (about 50 families each) that made up most of the villages in the depopulated country. They killed the men raped the women and stole whatever goods the people may have had, until they realized that they could increase their profits by offering the villagers, for a price, protection from other biker gangs and, more likely, protection from themselves. With the extra money, they paid those who were better at playing the harp than fighting to make up songs about how great they were.
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British habitations following departure of Romans
Into this chaos rode Arthur and his 20 or so henchmen riding large war horses (Dark Ages Harleys?) and engaged the Saxon gangs in a series of lightning raids into their turf. The horses were probably descendants of the mounts of the Samaritan cataphracts (Heavily armed mounted troops from Samaria) that the Romans imported to Britain to pacify the country.
I find it interesting that following the conquest of Britain by the Romans, they brought in an alien ruling elite and superior social organization but left the indigenous population subservient but intact. Relative peace and prosperity reigned over the island for four hundred years. Following the departure of the Romans, the native Britons fought amongst themselves until the Saxons arrived with their war of extinction. About 100 years following the peace Arthur secured after his victory at Mount Badon, the Saxons succeeded in driving the Britons into the mountains of Cornwall and Wales. Then, for about two hundred years, the Saxons fought amongst themselves until they also were faced with a war of extinction from Danish invaders. Alfred halted the invasion and his decedents pushed them back until about 100 years later the Normans conquered them all, Saxons, Danes and ultimately Britons, bringing in a ruling class that provided superior social organization and relative peace for the subservient indigenous population for the next 400 years or so — by then almost everyone thought they were English.

Anyway, all the novels were good old swords and a little sorcery along with a lot of grunting and killing in battles and more killing and raping after the battles ended and a lot of drinking of mead and ale and more killing and raping and a lot of oaths pledged and broken and Kings and Queens and starving and diseased peasants and so on.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

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