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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

WC 113022 Morning Rituals

 

Today's challenge is what are my morning rituals?

The beauty of being semi-retired is that I don't have to wake up to a clock and rush to be at work on a certain time.

I drive to my friend's office on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I live by the high school where I taught for ten years and if I want to get down the street in front of the school, I have to leave at 7:00am or 7:45 to avoid the school rush. If I had trouble sleeping and was up during the night, I might sleep to 8 and leave then. I spend from three to four hours in the office researching, writing, editing and sometimes looking for a topic to write on.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, if my wife doesn't have something planned for us, I go to the gym at 9, work out for an hour alternating between using an arm machine, treadmill and sit down elliptical, thirty minutes each, or swim in the pool, walking the length for 800 meters. Then I drive across the street and write in the library. It has a nice room with five tables with electrical plug-ins for my laptop and where I do most of my editing. 

Now for my rituals after I wake up and before I leave.

When I get up there's my medical routine. Take one pill, check my blood sugar, take shower (every other day), get dressed, put in hearing aids, put on glasses, check to see if Fitbit is charged, check my sleeping score. After thirty minutes take rest of pills, drink some water, eat breakfast.

Breakfast depends on my blood sugar, if it's low I can indulge in a green Chile cheese bagel and cream cheese. If its high I drink a glucose shake. If normal I have scrambled eggs, bacon, and regardless of my blood sugar I choose between twelve different types of tea for my only flavored beverage for the day, no sugar or sweetener. Water from then on. 

Go on with the rest of my day.

All of this is subject to change on my or wife's whim.

Sundays are for church, having a nice dinner at a number of favorite eating places, and watching the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

A Prayer For My Mountain

 

The mountain on the cover is an extinct volcano in west central New Mexico. In the 1960's and 70's tons of uranium was mined from here. It sits between the Navaho (Dine) reservation and the Laguna and Acoma Pueblos.

Men from the reservation and pueblos took jobs mining the yellow ore and within ten years were dying of various cancers. The mines shut down as demand for uranium declined, but the damage to the mountain and lives of all those who live around it never went away. 

By 2010 the mine owners wanted to restart mining operations. This short story is about the fight to stop reopening the mines.


Hank Bruce is a good friend. I've reviewed a number of his books and have enjoyed all he's written. This one touched my soul.

I spent the summer of 1973 working with FBC Grants which is a town at the foot of Mount Taylor on I-40 between Albuquerque and Gallup. The little town was booming. Trailers and RV's were parked everywhere, it was estimated that in ten years it would become as big as Albuquerque.

In that next ten years the town went bust and many who I met and worshiped with were dead, all dying of cancer. In the houses that the company built for the workers and their families they used uranium dust in the concrete of the floors.

I learned that from this book.

The prayer in the title is about a man who is diagnosed with cancer at the VA Hospital in Albuquerque. He returns to his home in Laguna Pueblo to live out his last few months. A medicine man gives him a prayer staff tells him he has to go to the sacred mountain, a different name in their language, and ask forgiveness for the damage he caused.

An Anglo family moves into an abandoned schoolhouse between Laguna and Grants, the husband suffered a heart attack and they lost everything. He, wife and young children must rebuild their lives. 

A medicine woman comes and welcomes them, she takes the husband around their property and teaches him how to pick seeds out of the pinecones what we call Pinon Nuts. She explains to the wife the different plants, if they are edible, medicinal qualities.

A family living not far from them also comes to welcome and share food from their garden. They have children the same age who become friends.

The medicine woman tells them that they are needed to save the mountain, as only they can convince the government to stop reopening the mines.

The man dying from cancer, the Hispanic family and the Anglo family then go up onto the mountain where they visit the scars left behind and pray for the mountain.

It ends with the speech Hank's wife, Tomi Jill Folk, gave in Congress in 2012 where she pleaded for the government to declare Mount Taylor a sacred mountain and stop all mining operations. Congress passed the bill.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

WC Favorite Media Platform

 


This week is favorite social media platform and why.


There are two that I use. Blogger and Facebook.

I like blogger best; it is not as restricted as fb. On blogger I have friends like on Wednesday Challenge, and Top Ten Tuesday where we can converse on comments. We can post multiple pictures, tell stories, gripe, share good times and bad times. We can uplift each other in a relaxed atmosphere.

I have good friends like Yogi, Lydia, Audrey, and Berthold that are good for stimulating reads and conversation. I've read many a good book recommended by the challenges and friends. I get to share reviews of the books I've read and talk about my struggles while writing the story I'm on at the time. 

Facebook is limited, but not too restrictive yet, it's getting harder to keep up with the changes and a number of my friends keep getting sent to the doghouse for silly reasons. I haven't yet, but one friend shared a post and got clipped. I've had some shared posts removed and I couldn't even remember what it was.

It also has annoying ads. Take a look at one and a thousand just like it sprouts in seconds.  Groups are nice though, Writers2writers has a group, and we keep up with each other. My college and high school let me keep up with old friends too. My 50 HS reunion was much better as we were all able to communicate through them.

I've never done Twitter, or any of the others. My son wishes his daughter wasn't using one as its costing him a fortune in cosmetics.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

The Jewish Revolt Against Rome

 James Mace is the best writer of fictionalized history I've read. He has a broad palate of history and I've enjoyed many of them. The Three books I'm reviewing are of concern to me as they overlap with my writings.

These books are about the Jewish Revolt in AD 67. There are no fictionalized characters, every person in the story was actually there and mentioned in the books written at the time. The historian Josephus is prominent in the story as well as the accounts he wrote.

Book one starts with the procurator of Judea, Gessius Florus trying to stir up a rebellion so he can plunder the area. He succeeds, but after the revolt starts and he doesn't have the manpower to stop it, he flees back to Italy and leaves Rome to clean up his mess.

The governor of Judea then takes a single legion to Jerusalem, and nearly takes it, but he doesn't know how close they've come to undermining a wall and he leaves only to be ambushed in a mountain valley back to Caesaria. No matter how good the legion and its ability to fight, an incompetent commander could get them killed.

Reviewer's note here: Wikipedia doesn't mention this first attempt to put down the rebellion or the defeat of the 12th legion and losing their Eagle. My copy of Josephus is a condensed version and left this out as well. Mace used the complete version.

I wish I'd read these books while I was writing my books in this time period. 

A lone cohort was tasked with defending the closest port to Jerusalem, Ptolemais, 600 men with about 400 auxiliary cavalry is not much compared to the thousands of an army sent out from Jerusalem to capture the town and turn to piracy to hamper Rome's retribution.

This is James Mace at his best, describing both sides and their plans for the battle and then recounting how it unfolds.

After the Jewish army is not only defeated but routed when they outnumbered the Romans by 10 to 1. Explains how Rome's legion with its discipline and armor and a competent leader could conquer everything within its reach.



While waiting for Nero's response and his reluctance to give Vespasian command of suppressing this revolt, the various radical groups are explained. The Temple headed by the high priest, John of Giscala, a bandit that's raising an army in Galilee. Simon Giora, another bandit raising an army around Jerusalem and Eleazar of the Sicarii, (dagger men).

The high priest is willing to negotiate with Rome, knowing that Rome would destroy the country and enslave the population. He's murdered as a traitor.

The high priest's son takes over and Jerusalem is divided between four factions each trying to kill each other.

In short, the Jews are more willing to kill and fight each other than they are Rome. A dominant theme through all three books.

When Vespasian builds up his forces, he then invades Galilee. The siege of Jotapata is only a foretaste of what taking Jerusalem would be like. It took 47 days and many of his men's lives to take the town. They even used boiling oil, something that meant the invading army would spare no one inside as revenge. Vespasian does something very unexpected, he spares the life of Youseph ben Matthias, the leader of Jotapata that would normally be crucified. Youseph is Latinized to Josephus. He becomes the historian. In Judea he is the great traitor, as he gives the Romans valuable intel on what's happening in Jerusalem and the rest of Judea.

The rest of the Galilee is taken and winter ends the campaigning season.

Word comes that Nero is dead.



The telling of the siege of Jotapata is gruesome enough, but nothing prepares the reader for the horrors of what happens in Jerusalem. Not about what the Romans did to those inside the walls of the city, but what the warring factions within the city did to each other.

Before the Romans resumed the war, two factions fought over the storage facilities of grain. Enough grain to feed a city of over half a million people for two or three years. Eleazar, the head of the Temple faction burns the whole granary to keep John of Giscala from controlling it.

John of Giscala then has Eleazar, murdered in front of the throngs offering sacrifice.

 It goes downhill from there.

Meanwhile Vespasian supports Galba as emperor who replaced Otho, who forced Nero to commit suicide, Vitellius then defeats and kills Galba, and Vespasian decides to march on Rome and become emperor. It's called the year of four emperors.

Vespasian's son Titus is given command of the forces tasked with taking Jerusalem.

Intrigue in Jerusalem, intrigue in Rome and confusion in the legions, as Titus is only 24 and has gone from being in command of a single legion to over 150,000 men.

The siege of Jerusalem is a worse horror story than anything Hollywood puts out around Halloween.

It's estimated that Jerusalem had from half a million or more residing in it. When the city was taken Rome enslaved 97,000. Only the wealthy survived just to become slaves. The rest died mostly from starvation, disease or were murdered for treason and dropped into a valley outside the walls to feed carrion. Battle hardened soldiers lost their lunch when the valley of rotting corpses was discovered. Reading this, pictures of liberated concentration camps after WWII came to mind.

Titus is awarded a triumph; his cousin mops up the Sciarii at Masada. The bandits at Masada are celebrated today for their defiance of committing suicide after the Romans breached the wall. They existed by robbing and killing the villages around them for food.

 Titus is granted a triumph, as he brings back the largest treasure trove up to that time in Rome's history, all taken from the Temple. Some of this is pictured on the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome.

The Flavians beome masters of Rome.

My review is a summation of what happens, but these books go into great detail and are written by a true master of storytelling.

Just adding this, Mace has a great book on the Battle of Waterloo.




 



   

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Erene With Wolf Medicine

I've known Irene for over ten years. She wrote the textbooks for college Chicana studies and taught sociology for many years.
When we met at Southwest Writers and Writers2writers she was working on a series of books about her aunt and the life she led. Next, she wrote a book about the 7 women whose bodies were found on the West Mesa of Albuquerque. 
Before Covid W2W met at a local library, and we shared what we were working on. Erene, was in the beginning stages. It's her life story. Erene with an accent on the last e, is her name in Spanish.
Sadly, Covid ended our attempt at a writer's group. She posted on fb that her story is published. I didn't hesitate to order a copy on Amazon and read it.
She starts by saying that a wolf howled at the time she was born. Her family were subsistence farmers and ranchers in Northern w Mexico during the 1940's and 50's. Her Grandfather was from Taos Pueblo and in the Native American belief the wolf became her spirit animal. All through the book she relates to how she thinks and behaves the way a wolf pup behaves. 
This was not an easy story to tell on her part as she opens up old wounds in her life. She can have you laughing out loud on one page and crying on the next.
It's not an easy book to read as much of her life was a constant struggle from poverty, family pressure to conform to their culture, the demands of the Catholic Church, her fight to excel in learning, marriage, motherhood, divorce and earning her doctorate to becoming a university professor.
The one passage that best defines Irene, is where she's at a civil right rally for Chicano rights and she was told that she could not fight for women's rights until Chicano rights were recognized. When she got up to speak, she informed the audience that she was both and would fight for both.  Her lone wolf emerged triumphant that day.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

WC Sci-fi/fantasy world you'd like to visit

 

Hmmmm, what world would I like to visit? 


1. The Hobbit, I'd love to visit the Shire, and Rivendell. The rest of Middle Earth you can keep.






2. Dragon Riders of Pern, tame dragons and fire lizards.







3. Tony Roberts': Kastania Chronicles. One hell of an interesting empire, ruled by a very lusty Imperial family. Don't mess with a Bragalese Witch.




4. H. Beam Piper's The Fuzzie Papers. A wonderful world with a different sapient race.






5. J. A. Sutherland's  Into the Dark series. Traveling through space in sailing ships while navigating dark matter.






6. I'd be remiss if I left Star Trek, off the list 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

WC Have you had a real-life encounter with a ghost?

 

Today's challenge is: Have you had a real-life experience with a ghost?

The answer is no. I have been in some really spooky situations and places, but no ghost.

My wife told me that in the night she saw her father looking down on us, then we got a call that he died around that time.




Hank Bruce, a member of Writers2writers, and his wife Tomi Jill Folk (editor) have a new book out that I had the honor of being a beta reader. Tomi recounted that while visiting this archaeological site of a former pueblo, that while walking up to it from the road there is a small pool of water, and whenever they visit this place at the water, she can hear women and children splashing and playing there.


Dr. Irene Blea, also a member of Writers2writers, had finally published her autobiography. Before Covid when W2W was meeting we read and commented on each other's work, this was what she was working on. It's not available yet as e-book. She grew up in the 1940's and 50's on a subsistence farm/ranch in northern New Mexico in an extended family speaking Spanish and some Tiwa (Taos Pueblo). She mentions that at night the children would hear spirits and they never saw them because they hid under their blankets. 


In my book Vander's Magic Carpet, Eugene Vander's has just finished his invention of flying plates that can levitate any object, like a car and make it fly. He goes to the graves of his wife and daughter. They appear and he takes them on a magic carpet ride. That's as close as I've come to writing a ghost story or encountering a ghost.


Human Sacrifices has the protagonist seeing a demon chewing on gang bangers in a park. The demon she names Mal haunters her for part of the book, but I make it plain that she was suffering from Post-Traumatic Trauma Stress, and hallucinating from lack of sleep.