Akhenaten and "Lincoln's Dream"

I love it when I find different references to historical stuff in non-historical texts. It's fun to discover something and then do the research to see if it's true. Connie Willis is one of my favorite science fiction writers and I found this passage in a book titled "Lincoln's Dreams."

I have studied early Egyptian history and have a vague memory of studying Akhenaten. He is a very interesting leader because of his wife Nefertiti and his son Tutankhamun (King Tut in current lore.) He is the first Egyptian monotheist pharaoh and his apostasy from the 'true' Gods caused his future successors to try and erase him and his new religion from history. These successors were unsuccessful in erasing Akhenaten from all monuments and written documents and so we know his name and some of his reign today. Another thing we know is that his statues show a man with a very different physique than those who came before and after him. His face is depicted as long and thin; a body with larger breasts, thick thighs and a sagging stomach. While some egyptologists believe that these are stylized depictions, others believe that these depicted physical characteristics are a true representation... that the pharaoh did look this way... that he may have clear physical traits of illness.

What the illness might have been has been guessed at over the centuries. There is no illness that has been able to be definitively proven, but the diseases that are currently in the running are Marfan's syndrome, Homocystinuria, and Familial Temporal Epilepsy. One thing that potential removes Marfan's syndrome from the running is that a DNA test was performed on the mummy of Tutankhamun and was found to be negative. As Akhenaten's son, King Tut should have shown some markers of the disorder if it was available. However, Marfan's has not been fully ruled out for Akhenaten... it has simply been ruled out for Tutankhamun.

This was a fun exercise today. There appears to be no Egyptian authorities that suspect Akhenaten had acromegaly as Connie Willis suggests. From what is known at this point, there is no hard evidence for anything including even the possibility of illness. But this was a fun exercise all the same. I look forward to finding more references in other books. These flights of fancy distract me from difficulties in my own life and give me interesting things to roll around in my brain. Tomorrow will bring new things to think about. But for today, my mind is on Egypt and its rich and glorious past.


Surgery Update 2

Things are going great! Here is a picture of my foot when they took off the cast.

Here it is now...

So things are doing well. I'm really grateful. :)


Basic Structures of the Eye

Here is a set of notes I took about the basic structure of the eye. Enjoy! (The image is a focused shot of my right eye.

Visual process/ basic optical system - When a person looks at an object, the light rays that will reflect off the object enter the eye through the front and into the back of the eye. During the process, the light rays are bent and produce an upside-down image onto the retina. This image is then turned into electric impulses that travel to the brain where the image is translated and the object is then able to be perceived as upright. Light enters the globe through the cornea to the lens which also helps to bend the light and the light then travels through the vitreous to the retina where the information is changed into the electrical impulses and sent to the brain by the optic nerve.

Globe- the structures and membranes that together comprise the solid round shaped eyeball.

Cornea- the outermost front part of the globe. It is a thin, tough, crystal clear membrane that is sometimes called the window of the eye. It is transparent due to a lack of blood vessels which distinguishes it from other tissues as the cornea receives its nourishment from the tear film that covers its surface and a specialized fluid that flows beneath it. It provides 2/3 of the total refractive power of the eye and is the chief refracting tissue. There are five layers to the cornea body

-------- Corneal epithelium - first line of defense against injury and infection.
-------- Bowman's membrane - this membrane serves as the anchor to the epithelium layer.
-------- Corneal stroma - the main body of the cornea and contributes rigidity to the cornea. 90% of corneal thickness
-------- Descemet's membrane - provide some rigidity to the corneal body; a thin layer of collagen and elastic fibers
-------- Corneal endothelium - has cells that service pumps to maintain a proper fluid balance in the cornea and also help provide nutrients to the whole. It is a layer of delicate cells that cannot regenerate.

Sclera - the white tissue surrounding the cornea which is a strong fibrous outer layer that helps protect the intraocular parts and structures. So the white of the eye is actually bulbar conjunctiva which is translucent over the tissue of the sclera. Covers over 80% of the eyeball including whole of the rear.

Limbus - the juncture between the sclera and the cornea. The bulbar conjunctiva terminates here.

Anterior chamber - the area between the cornea and the iris. It is a small compartment filled with a fluid called aqueous humor that helps nourish the cornea. It is deepest at the center.

Iris - this structure is a colored diaphragm of tissue that is stretched across the back of the anterior chamber. In essence, creating the chamber between itself in the cornea. Using both a dilator muscle and a sphincter muscle, the iris can make the hole in the center pupil larger or smaller to control the amount of light that can be captured by the inside of the eye. It controls the pupil by involuntary reflex.

7. Pupil - this is not an actual structure; simply a name for the absence of structure or the hole in the center of the iris. The iris controls the size of the pupil and aqueous humor flows through it into the anterior chamber. It appears black because there is no light in the back of the eye to shine through to the front.


Simon Schama - A History of Britain: "Dynasty"

These notes are from the third episode from the series by Simon Schama titled "A History of Britain." Moving on from the Iron Ages to the Battle of Hastings

England 1154 nearly a century after the Battle of Hastings the country has been torn apart by a savage civil war. William the Conqueror was long dead. For 30 years his grandchildren have been locked in a life-or-death struggle for the crown of England. The realm was in ruins. And then there appeared a young king brave and charismatic who stopped the anarchy. His name was Henry and he would become the greatest of all our medieval kings. He should be as well known to us as Henry the 8th or Elizabeth the 1st, but if he is remembered at all today it is as the king who ordered the murder in the cathedral or as the father of the much more famous and impossibly bad King John and the impossibly glamorous Richard the Lionhearted.

Henry II has no great monument to his reign. No horse backed statue of him stands outside Westminster yet he made an indelible mark on our country. The father of the common law; The godfather of the English state. But Henry was cursed and brought down by the church, his children, and most of all by his queen- the older, beautiful, and all powerful Eleanor of Aquitaine.

They ran Britain with a furious energy that entranced or appalled their subjects.and like many family firms they had the capacity for both creation and destruction. What their intelligence built their passions destroyed.

At the height of their power they were the masters of everything that counted in Christendom. Thier England was the linchpin of an Empire that stretched from the Scottish borders to the Pyrenees and much bigger than France itself. Not since the Romans and never again has England been quite so European. The dentist he had its roots in the civil war that was being fought between two cousins Stephen of Blois and Matilda the grandchildren of William the Conqueror. It was Stephen who seized the crown but that wasn't the end of it.

In 1128 Matilda married Geoffrey of Anjou also known as Plantagenet. His family emblem was three lions. Along with his money, power, and territory he also gave Matilda a son -Henry.

This was the age of chivalry when the myth of Arthur and Camelot was at its most popular. It was at this point that Henry was groomed by his parents to take England away from Stephen... To be a new King Arthur... His Guinevere - Eleanor of Aquitaine.

In 1153 Henry Plantagenet crossed the channel. His father Geoffrey had already taken Normandy from Steven so now it was up to Henry to take England. A deal was struck that Stephen would be allowed to die on his throne but Henry would be his heir. Within a year Stephen was dead and Henry and Eleanor were crowned king and queen of England.

Henry spoke virtually no English at all. What he would have grasped though if only for his coronation oath was that Kings of England we're supposed to be both judge and warlord. In fact the coronation oath preserved intact from Edward the Confessor was increasingly being held up as some sort of ideal. Monarch pretty much spelled out the job description of the king of England. One: was protect the church. Two: preserve intact the lands of your ancestors. Three: do justice. four: most sweeping of all suppress evil laws and customs.

It was vow number one though- the protection of the church- which quite unpredictably would cause Henry II the greatest grief. It was to provoke a kind of spiritual civil war. And it's was every bit as unsettling as the feudal civil war and which in its most dreadful hour would end with bloodshed in the cathedral.

Thomas Becket- the first commoner of any kind to make a mark on British history. Became archbishop of Canterbury.

Monarchs had long taken it for granted that they were directly anointed by God (and were) safely above the church. But the popes of this period begged to differ. Kings they said reported to popes and not the other way around. This wasn't just an academic quibble. This was a fight to the death.

There were two flashpoints. The first was whether lawbreaking clergymen could be judged in the king's courts like everyone else. The second was whether bishops had the power to excommunicate royal officials. By making Thomas Becket the archbishop of Canterbury, Henry believed he could depend on someone who would share his view of the subordinate relationship state of church to state. The king was in for a shock.

It all came to a head early in 1164 when Henry summoned a special counsel of the princes of the church and the most important nobles of the realm. There he demanded that they ascent unconditionally to "the customs of the realm." In the end Becket advocated for refusing Henry's demands and ordered his bishops to do the same. This is a position he never budged on.

In October 1164 Becket was brought to trial by Henry II for improper use of funds. The trial broke up with Becket storming out. Convicted on the charges, Becket fled with a small group of followers.

It took two painful years of back and forth diplomacy and increasingly impatient signals from the pope to arrange even talks about talks. After a series of abortive reconciliations in 1170 it looked like peace might finally break out. Henry and Thomas met and spoke for hours. Henry agreed to restore Thomas to his position of authority and to treat Becket's enemies as his own. Henry then told all that he was reconciled with Becket.

Soon disagreements between both men were renewed and Beckett's inability to let bygones be bygones created a deep wedge between himself in the king. Around 6 December 1st 1170, Becket excommunicated many bishops who had stayed loyal to Henry. Henry had a complete meltdown. After all, Becket was a traitor and what happens to traitors...? So be it.

December 29th 1170 around three pm. Four knights arrived at Becket's place of residence and after an ugly conversation Becket left. The knights caught up with him in the chapel and murdered him. "Let's be off," he said. "This fellow won't be getting up again."

The actual murderers got off very lightly. Hiding out in Yorkshire, excommunicated, told to go off on crusade. But the real judgement Henry reserved for himself and the verdict was guilty as charged. In 1174, Henry made a pilgrimage to Canterbury where Becket's blood was said to work miracles. Over the last miles Henry walked barefoot in a hair shirt as Becket had done four years earlier. At the tomb he confessed his sins and was whipped by the monks. However tough his punishment though the blood would never wash away. Henry the hero of the common law would always be remembered as the biggest of England's crowned criminals - the murderer in a cathedral.

Henry would rule for another 20 years. Long enough to see his embryonic legal system grow into a thriving network of courts. Up and down the land these new courts were to settle not just the usual disputes of blood and mayhem, but all matter of painful rows over inheritances, estates, and properties. How ironic then that the only family that would not accept the king's justice was his own. Because if there was one person that was likely to finger the king- not as judge but as transgressor- it was his wife.

Betrayed and alienated by Henry, Eleanor turn her formidable energy and intellect to the business of getting her justice through her children. She was now determined to do everything she could to convince them that their father was robbing them of their rightful power and dignity. Her four sons rose to the bait.

Young Henry rebelled but ended up dying of dysentery. Geoffrey also rebelled but was trampled by a horse. Richard the Lionheart and the youngest son John were left.

It was on Richard that Eleanor pinned her hopes. She was even prepared to encourage an alliance between Richard and her husband's bitterest enemy- the king of France. In 1189 Richard declared war on his father. Henry face defeat as his barons defected to Richard. He had no choice but to negotiate with Richard which humbled him before his own son. He died two days later... some suggest of a broken heart.

It appeared that few people mourned Henry II. Most had already defected to his son Richard who had already won the public-relations battle. He was already the superstar of the dynasty. To prove it- to show that the old regime had passed and a new glamour had arrived- Richard gave a show-stopping coronation.

A fear of a sinister Jewish plot which triggered a general massacre begin the first Holocaust or pogrom of the Jews. Richard did make strong efforts to forbid these massacres, but he was not around to enforce it. He vanished to the Holy Land to do God's work.

In 1192, when news arrived of Richard's capture on his way back from the crusade, Prince John quickly declared his brother dead and himself king. Eleanor struggled with grief and her inability to deal with the treacheries of her children.

Richard was later ransomed but it left the country bankrupt. On his way home Richard was shot by an arrow and the wound became gangrenous and 10 days later he had died.

Assuming disloyalty he ended up guaranteeing it.

Magna Carta. Even if the Magna Carta is filled with the moans and the bellyaching of the barons that bellyaching turned out to have profound consequences for the future of England.

A generation before the barons couldn't have cared less about the rights of men held in prison for unstated causes. That was what happened to commoners. But under John bad things had happened to them; land stolen, widows hounded, heirs made disappear...

So if it isn't exactly the birth certificate of democracy it is the death certificate of despotism. It spells out for the first time the fundamental principles that the law is not simply the will or the whim of the king. The law is an independent power onto itself. The king could be brought to book for violating it

John died on campaign and John's nine year old son was named Henry III.

pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_the_Conqueror, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_II_of_England, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Crusade


Salem and His Wonky Eye

Today was a little bit of a different day. Lately I spend most of my days resting to make sure that my foot and ankle are healing well from the surgery. I have an appointment to get my cast off in 2 weeks and I'm hopeful it will be healed up enough that I can do that and won't need to get another cast put on. So I spend my days resting and doing miscellaneous things that I can do while sitting with my foot up.

Today I realized fairly quickly that one of my cats was having a problem with his eye. Salem has chronic respiratory disease and so it is very easy for him to catch different infections due to it. I was able to make an emergency appointment with one of my local vets and get him in and he currently has drops to help his eyes feel better. If his eye doesn't feel better by Thursday, then I will have to take him back in.

The major problem today was getting him into the vet. I'm not allowed to put any weight on my foot and so finding a way to get to the shed to get the cat crate, then getting it back to the house and getting the cat into it, and then getting the box with Salem in it to the car was going to be a nearly impossible task. I did manage to get the case out of the shed and into the house while using my crutches. However, getting Salem into the box and to the car required full weight on my foot. The wonderful staff at the veterinary clinic took care of carrying him from the car and throughout the clinic as needed and then got him back to the car. Then I had to put the weight on my foot to get him back into the house.

I'm pretty sure I did not re-injure it and it doesn't feel nearly as bad as I thought it would. So yay for that! Salem looks like he's doing a little better and I'm glad I took him because he clearly needed it. However I thought it prudent to spend the rest of the day on my back with my foot up and I have done that. I'll make sure I baby the ankle more tomorrow to make sure that I take good care of it. I'm glad that it was healed up enough that I didn't hurt myself doing what needed to be done today. I'm hopeful that this will not have to happen again. I was able to make arrangements with a friend to help me on Thursday if he has to go back in to get a different antibiotic. Otherwise both of us are resting this evening and looking forward to tomorrow.


Simon Schama - A History of Britain: "Conquest"

These notes are from the second episode from the series by Simon Schama titled "A History of Britain." Moving on from the Iron Ages to the Battle of Hastings...

It was the hand of God that decided the outcome of battles... the fate of nations... and life or death of Kings... everyone knew that.

But there are times and places that history - British history - comes at you with a rush... violent, decisive, bloody... a shot load of trouble... knocking you down, wiping out everything that gives you your bearings in the world - law,custom, loyalty, and language... this is one of those places.

The battlefield of Hastings. The site of a national trauma. Here one kind of England was annihilated and another kind of England was settled in its place. 1066

But the everyday can rub shoulders with the truly catastrophic. You lived in England but it was no longer your country.

Alfred's grandson was named Edward and became known as Edward the Confessor. He had to govern a country he knew very little about as he had grown up in exile across the English channel in a very different world in Normandy. (France) 36 years old when crowned on Easter day 1043.

1027 William the Bastard otherwise known as William the Conqueror was born.

Edward named William the bastard as his heir to keep England away from his enemies the Godwin's. The Godwins promoted Harold Godwinson instead. The relationship between Harold and William the Conqueror was complicated and when the throne became available the relationship broke creating violence and war.

The war between the Godwin brothers eventually brought Harold Godwinson down and brought an ending to Anglo-Saxon England with the rise of William the Conqueror from Normandy.

On January 6th 1066 Westminster saw the funeral of one king in the morning and the coronation of another in the afternoon. Edward the Confessor has died and Harold Godwinson seized the throne. William was incensed.

By August 10th William had his army in place along the Normandy Coast. Two great fighting forces bent on each other's annihilation face each other across a little strip of water to determine the destiny of England. There they sat... William waiting for a southernly wind that never came and Harold waiting for William who never came. On September 8th Harold de-mobilized his army and sent his soldiers home.

Harold Godwinson struggled with treachery from his brother Tostig who had an ally in Harald Hardrada of Norway. Battle ensued between the opposing groups on the river Derwent/ Stamford Bridge. One of the bloodiest battles in English history. With Harold Godwinson success came the death of Tostig and Harald Hardrada.

But he had no time to grieve or exalt over the death of Tostig. For after the battle of Stamford bridge, the Norman fleet at last felt the wind change direction. With it came William the Conqueror and his army.

Imagine yourself then on the morning of Saturday the 14th of October 1066. You're a Saxon warrior and you've survived Stamford bridge. You know your position here couldn't be better. You stand on the brow of the hill and look down hundreds of yards away at the opposition. All you had to do was defend the Normans breaking through to the London road. They have the horses. Then they have to ride them uphill. You look along the hillside and you see a densely-packed crowd of Englishmen ready for battle. Down at the foot of the hill you can hear the whinnying of Norman horses and what sounds like the chanting of psalms.

Battle took at least 6 hours to decide. The Bayeux tapestry is shockingly explicit in exposing the extent of the carnage and mutilation. but it was the English army that was slowly, very slowly ground down. Harold Godwinson was dead and the battle soon ended.

What we do know is it half the nobility of England perished on the battlefield.

William had sworn that should God give him the victory he would build a great abby of thanksgiving at the exact spot where Harold had planted his flag. And here it is... a statement if ever there was one of pious jubilation.

William continued battle throughout England until all its major cities fell. William was crowned at Westminster on Christmas Day 1066. But the events was more like a shambles than a triumph. At the shout of acclamation, the Norman soldiers stationed outside thought a riot had started to which their response was to burn down every house in sight. As fighting broke out, many of those inside the abbey smelling smoke rushed outside... and the ceremony was completed in a half empty interior with William for the first time in his life seen to be shaking like a leaf.

His conquest turned the country around. Its focus away from Scandinavia and towards continental Europe. Northern England did not want to assimilate and Williams response was to stage a campaign of oppression towards the north that was not only punitive but an exercise in mass murder. Thousands upon thousands of men and boys gruesomely murdered -their bodies left to rot and fester in the highways. Every town and village burned without pity, fields and livestock destroyed so completely that any survivors we're doomed to die in a great famine. Fast on the heels of famine came plague.

Ordericus Vitalis the monk. Belonged to the conquering class and came over to England with William the Conqueror. He began to pen his account of the conquest and he never minces his words about what he thought of as a colonization. His account conveys the traumatic magnitude of what happened in England in the years following 1066. Pre-conquest England was an old country as Ordericus describes it. Afterwards it was a completely new one.

There was another telling difference between the old and the new rulers of England. Anglo-Saxons didn't use surnames. They were the Cedric or Edgar of somewhere. The Normans incorporated places into their own names as an act of possession. In fact, preserving their estate intact is what the Norman nobility was all about. It was they who introduced the practice of passing on whole estates intact to one heir; to the oldest son.

William the Conqueror was the first database king. His immediate need was to raise a tax, but the compilation of the Domesday book was more than just a glorified audit. It was a complete infantry of everything in the kingdom; shire by shire, pig by pig, who owned what before the coming of the Normans and who owned what now, how much it had been worth then and how much now... when he was given the Domesday book it was like he had been given the keys of the kingdom again. That he had conquered England again. Because it's information was more pregnable than any castle. That its decisions were final as the last judgment.

Two ceremonies took place on Lammas day 1087 at old Sarum. First every noble in England gathered here to take an oath of loyalty to the king. But then came the handing over of the book The ultimate weapon to keep them in line. Now nobody could hold back anything and it was this book- the Domesday book -that made the gathering at old Sarum unique in the history of feudal monarchy in Europe. For the book ultimately was England.

At the very end, Ordericus Vitalis puts into William's mouth an extraordinary deathbed confession so utterly out of character that it seems on the face of it completely incredible. But whether William actually spoke those words or not, they clearly reflected what some- perhaps many people- felt about William the Conqueror. That when all the battles were won, that all the weapons had been laid down... he was what he had always been- a brutal adventurer. The conquest of England was not a righteous crusade but just a grand throw of history's dice.

“I have persecuted the natives of England beyond all reason. Whether gentle or simple I have cruelly oppressed them; many I unjustly disinherited; innumerable multitudes perished through me by famine or the sword……I fell on the English of the northern shires like a ravening lion. I commanded their houses and corn, with all their implements and chattels, to be burnt without distinction, and great herds of cattle and beasts of burden to be butchered whenever they are found. In this way I took revenge on multitudes of both sexes by subjecting them to the calamity of a cruel famine, and so became a barbarous murderer of many thousands, both young and old, of that fine race of people. Having gained the throne of that kingdom by so many crimes I dare not leave it to anyone but God….."

pictures from: mine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hastings, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book



I can't believe it's been a year-and-a-half since I picked up Remus from the vet's office. The cat now known as Remus was a stray that had been hit by a car in Surry and brought to the local vet. He was in really big trouble and is lucky to be alive. Most cats who are hit by a car do not live to tell the tale. He is especially lucky that somebody noticed and stopped as the car that hit him did not. It was the car behind the car who hit him who stopped to help him. Instead of letting him go to the shelter to attempt to recover and be adopted he came to my house.

He has grown and healed over the last year or so. He is relatively healthy and happy now and gets along with all the other cats in the household. He likes to rest and play with a cat laser and loves catnip as well. He has problems with weight now as his metabolism isn't great from the accident. But he loves to snuggle and he stays very close to me when he can. I am also thankful for the few people who donated money to help with his vet bills when he was originally in need. Between a Good Samaritan fund and those donations from a Go Fund Me post I paid very little of his vet bills during this time. Those costs included his neuter and vaccinations and a tail amputation.

I am a lucky woman to have him in my life and I am grateful that I took the opportunity to say yes and bring him home.


Happy Easter

Today is a most unusual Easter for me. Usually I'm extremely thankful to have Easter as a day off of work. Usually it is a day to rest after I've worked so hard for weeks and weeks and weeks. Today I start Easter fairly well rested because I've been able to rest since my surgery and I haven't worked for days on end. I haven't taught CPR and I haven't gone to the pharmacy. I've just rested. My body feels it and I feel rested even though I'm not sleeping well. In fact, I'm looking forward to a day with family because I feel rested enough to enjoy it and enjoy their company. I have so much to be grateful for today. I'm grateful for my Savior and his sacrifices on my behalf. I'm grateful for my family and friends and their sacrifices for me too.I am grateful for so many blessings many of which I either do not remember or do not acknowledge. There is so much to be grateful for on this day. Happy Easter to all and may all have a beautiful day no matter what you're celebrating today.


Surgery Update

Yesterday was a pretty big day for me. It was two weeks after surgery and I got to go in and get the splint off and see what was going on underneath it and get a cast. I've never had a cast before so I was quite surprised by how many different colors they had - even camouflage and a pastel mix -and I finally settled on a light blue in the hopes that it would be a little bit flattering. My toes look like they're peeking out of a beautifully color-coordinated bed... Which certainly doesn't happen in my real bed ever. 😃

The incision and suture marks look surprisingly clean and everything appears to be healing pretty well. I was able to get the sutures out and they think I might even get my cast off a little early which I'm excited about. Here are the images of the incision below.

I still have plenty of time to rest and I spent most of the rest of yesterday just listening to 90s music. Matchbox Twenty and Barenaked Ladies help keep me sort of calm and sitting when I want to move around and be twitchy. In fact, I'm pretty much doing a 90's marathon and reading today. I will confess I'm getting a little tired of being on the couch all the time and I'm looking forward to being able to be a little bit more active-it's even harder with the ADHD that makes we want to be everywhere and use the time much more productively. I think the cats are looking forward to me being a little bit more active as well. Even they are getting bored with me just hanging out.so the four-week countdown begins and hopefully I won't have to have it responded again. Let's see how things go.


Simon Schama - A History of Britain: "Beginnings"

A friend of mine gave me this amazing DVD series on the History of Britain. As I have spent the time perusing it, I took notes for future reference. Most of these notes are in the voice of the narrator and, while in order, only provide a brief summary of the episode and not a full transcription. I am really enjoying this series and intend to do a summary of every episode... although that may take me a few months. Here are my notes for the first episode titled "Beginnings."

From its earliest days Britain was an object of desire.

By 1000 BC things were changing fast. All over the British landscape a protracted struggle for good land was taking place. Forests were cleared so that iron age Britain was not, as was once romantically imagined, an unbroken forest kingdom stretching from Cornwall to Inverness. It was rather a patchwork of open fields dotted here and there with woodland copses giving cover for game -especially wild pigs.

And with tribal manufacturers came trade. The warriors, druid priests, and artists of iron age Britain shipped their wares all over Europe trading with the expanding Roman Empire. In return, with no homegrown grapes or olives, Mediterranean wine and oil arrived in large earthenware jars. So iron age Britain was definitely not the back of beyond. Its tribes may have all led lives separated by custom and language and they may have not had any great capital city, but taken together they added up to something in the world.

And so, in the written annuals of Western history, the islands now had not only a name-Britannia- but a date of 55 BC when Julius Caesar launched his galleys across the channel.

The person we usually think of who embodied British national resistance to Rome- Queen Bouducca of the East Anglian tribe of Iceni- actually came from a family of happy even eager collaborators. It only took a policy of incredible stupidity, arrogance, and brutality on the part of the local Roman governor to turn her from a warm supporter of Rome into its most dangerous enemy.... Her great insurrection ended in a gory, chaotic slaughter.

Hadrian's wall

A world of garrisons and barracks had now become a society in its own right. From the middle of the second century it makes sense to talk about a Romano-British culture. Not just as a colonial veneer imposed on a resentful natives but as a genuine fusion.

And, when in the year of 410 Alaric The Goth sacked Rome and the last two legions parted to prop up the tottering empire, that chill developed into an acute anxiety attack. This is one of the genuinely fateful moments in British history.

Eventually though the Roman adaptations became ever more makeshift; the fabric of Roman life increasingly threadbare until it did indeed fall apart altogether. The island was now divided into 3 utterly different realms. The remains of Britannia hung on in the west. North of the abandoned walls and ports the Scottish tribes for the most part remained pagan, and England, the land of the Anglo-Saxon and Judes, was planted in the east all the way from Kent to the kingdom of Bernicia.

The history of the conversions between the 6th and the 8th centuries is another of those crucial turning points in the history of the British Isles. While the legions had long gone, the shadow of Rome fell once again on these islands. This time though it was an invasion of the soul and the warriors were carrying Christian gospels rather than swords.

We have to remember that the most famous of the early missionaries to Ireland -Saint Patrick- was in fact a Romano-British aristocrat. (The patrician as he called himself) So there was nothing remotely Irish about the teenager who was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Irish raiders sometime in the early 5th century. It was only after he escaped (probably to Brittany) and ordained... then visited by prophetic dreams that he returned to Ireland... this time the messenger of God's gospel.

Bede was not just the founding father of English history; arguably he was also the first consummate storyteller of all of English literature. He was not exactly well-traveled- he spent his entire life here in Jarrow. It was his masterful grip on narrative that made Bede not just an authentic historian but also a brilliant propagandist for the early church.

The Viking raids that they knew could strike hard and fierce at any moment. In addition to land the Vikings were keen on one other kind of merchandise - people whom they sold as slaves. On the positive side there is one thing that the Vikings managed to do however inadvertently. They created England. By smashing the power of most of the Saxon's kingdoms, the Vikings accomplished what left to themselves the warring tribes could never have managed - some semblance of alliance against a common foe.

Through Alfred the Great, England got something that it hadn't had since the legions departed; an authentic vision of a realm governed by law and education. A realm which understood it's past and its special destiny as the Western bastion of a Christian Roman world. By the spring of 878 Alfred had managed to piece together an improvised alliance of resistance. During Alfred's lifetime the idea of a United English kingdom had become conceivable and even desirable.

Alfred's grandson would be crowned the first king of England in Bath.

pictures from: mine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boudica, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patric, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Great


Shark Diversity and Order

Sharks come in many sizes and shapes and have a great deal of diversity in the over 500 plus species of living animals. Currently, science divide sharks into 9 specific orders; there are actually 13, but four orders of sharks are entirely extinct. And all sharks -big and small- fit into these categories.

1. Carcharhiniformes, otherwise known as the ground sharks or whaler sharks, include some of the most well known sharks. There are over 270 species making this order the largest of all shark orders. It includes the tiger shark, hammerhead sharks, hound shark, cat shark, shy eye shark, all of the reef sharks, and the bull shark. Some traits that differentiates these sharks from others is their lack of an inner eyelid and enlongated snouts. They average eighteen inches to twenty feet in length.

2. The order Echinorhiniforme contained only two sharks; The prickly shark and the bramble shark. These sharks are named due to the thorn like denticles covering their skin and are slow swimming sharks that dwell in the bottoms of their chosen environments

3. Lamniformes, otherwise known as the mackerel sharks, include the most famous shark- the great white. There are 15 species in this order which also includes the megamouth shark, mako shark, thresher shark, goblin shark, porbeagle shark, sand tiger shark, and basking shark. They have large jaws and give birth to live offspring. Sometimes their offspring will eat their siblings in the womb before birth. They range from 3 to 32 feet in length

4. The order Hexanchiformes, otherwise known as the six gill or cow sharks, contains only seven species and are the rarest and most primitive of all living sharks. Their defining characteristics include six or seven gill slits (all other sharks have five gill slits) and they have only one dorsal fin. This order contains the frilled shark, the cow shark, and the broadnose seven gill. They prefer cold, deep water.

5. Heterodontiforme is the name of the order that contains the bullhead sharks or horned sharks. This order only contains nine species which include the horn shark, Port Jackson shark, and the Zebra Bullhead shark. Its defining characteristic is a big head with large brows. They live off of crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins.

6. Squatiniformes, otherwise known as the angel sharks, are sharks that have bodies that are flattened like ray's / skates and live on the bottom of the sea and sandy places where they can easily hide. They average 4 to 6 feet in length from nose to tail end. This order includes the clouded angelfish and sand devil.

7. Orectolobiformes, also known as the carpet sharks or the wobbegongs, are defined by the ornate skin patterns that look like fancy carpets, nasel barbels as well as having a mouth in front of their eyes. Comprised of 39 species, this is the most diverse order of sharks and they come in all shapes and sizes. They range from 12" to 46 feet in length and include the nurse sharks, wobbegong, bamboo sharks, zebra shark, and the whale shark- the largest fish in the world.

8. Squaliformes, also known as the dogfish sharks,has about 126 different species and includes the world's smallest shark: the dwarf lattern shark. Species include the gulper sharks, lattern sharks, dogfish sharks, cookie-cutter shark, and the Greenland shark.

9. Order Pristiophoriformes contains the saw sharks or carpenter sharks. It's members have long, flat, toothy saw-like snouts. They average out at 5 feet long and are bottom dwellers. Their food supply varies between small fish, squid, and Crustaceans. They also give birth to live young. Members of this order include the common sawshark, Queenland sawshark, and knifetooth sawshark.

pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bramble_shark, https://oceana.org/marine-life/sharks-rays/shortfin-mako-shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horn_shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelshark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_shark, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawshark


The Day After Surgery

I've been laying in bed resting all day. The surgery on my ankle went pretty well and now I just have to rest and try to keep as pain free as possible. I have lots of company from the cats and my ex and Bug have been taking really good care of me. They've made me wonderful meals and they have cleaned the house.they have also done the things they've needed to do was just giving me the time to rest and just enjoy their company. I'm grateful for how well everything is going and I'm even grateful for the pain I feel now because I know that it will lessen. Hopefully this surgery will stabilize things up enough that I'll feel even less pain than I did before the surgery. That's the plan anyway.

So for the next two weeks I need to rest up in my splint and then I'll get to go for a recheck and we'll see what's going on then. I'm looking forward to it.


Mormonism Tucked in Fiction

I'm currently wending my way through the novels of Reginald Hill with Andrew Danziel, Peter pascoe and Ellie Soper Pascoe. I love reading the adventures of the 'Fat Man' and the family of Pascoes that he interacts with. While reading through the series I noticed that he commented on Mormon culture a few times. I thought the quotes were interesting and they caused me to pause in reading. My relationship with Mormonism is complicated, but it is a part of me that I own and follow. So I am always surprised to 'meet' it in un-religious and popular texts. Here are my favorite quotes from his novels.

It was like the pope admitting some uncertainty about the position of the Mormons- Reginald Hill (Ruling Passion)

They also might have been gang leaders, astronauts, presidential aides or Mormon PR men, but they were unmistakably American. - Reginald Hill (April Shroud)

Here is one from another author I enjoy- Martha Grimes

Alert, Bass sat up. “Conditions?” Good Lord, conditions as in the inheritance is null and void if you divorce Helen, or become a Mormon, or sell this cottage, or refuse to keep Bolly on as a house boy? The list could go on and on.”- (The Way of All Fish)

NOw that I have completed the works of these authors (for the third or forth time) I am moving on to the non fiction works of Elaine Pagels. Her religious books are great and I'm ready to read some more serious stuff. I always turn to non- fiction in the spring as my thoughts move to more contemplation and my body yearns for warmth and time outside. The time change is this Sunday and the solstice happens soon after that on the 20th... so spring is coming at last. I can't wait!


Gratitude - 2/3/19

I'm currently fighting a cold. It has left the fever behind but the mucus has settled into my chest. My body feels heavy and achy but not as weak as I would have thought it would be. So I don't like being sick, but I feel like I will recover quicker than normal... which is good as I am working six days this week.

1. I am thankful for fruit. I'm on a slightly restrictive diet and being able to eat fruit feels like I am being spoiled with dessert. So I am grateful for my dessert of peaches today. It was wonderful.

2. So thankful that the weather has warmed up a trifle. Going outside at thirty degrees feels much better than three degrees. I spent a little bit of time outside today because it was warmer and I am glad to have enjoyed a little bit of sun.

3. I am grateful for books to lose myself in when I am sick and need to rest.

4. I am super grateful for on-line church. I love listening to testimonies and the experiences of other people. Even when I don't understand or can't comprehend their experience I feel so edified listening to others and being able to share my own thoughts. I really appreciate inclusive areas when all can feel like they belong. Just feeling grateful for my Sabbath today.

5. I am grateful for Bug. I am blessed to have such an amazing son! He is going through another growth spurt again so I am watching him shoot up even taller and wondering when it will end. He is going to be a very tall man. I loved reading books with him today and enjoying videos too. It was a nice day.

6. It was wonderful for have such a nice lazy day. I really needed one.


Gratitude - 1/30/19

I've got a lot going on right now and my head is overfull. So I've been counting my blessings today.

1. I am grateful that I live in America. I am not happy about what is going on with our government and the serious cultural systemic problems, but I am relatively safe. I don't live in a country where I can easily be put into labor camps or hurt in other torturous ways - like North Korea or China. For that I am grateful.

2. I am grateful for amazing co-workers. I am grateful for my amazing job. I need more hours and I am going to have to figure that out but I have no complaints about the work environment and the fine people I work with. That makes me pretty content.

3. I have an amazing friend. My best friend is so supportive and cares so much that I want to try harder to be well in my life and to do better. Everyone needs that kind of friend in their life.

4. My ex and my son are pretty amazing. I am grateful for supporting family.

5. I am grateful for warm clothes and warmth in my home, It is really cold out there right now and I am able to be warm and out of it. Not everyone has that luxury.

6. I am grateful that I have my furry companions who take such good care of my mental health. I have no idea what I would be like without them.

7. While my ankle hurts, it is holding itself together. I can't complain about that.

What are you grateful for?


Snow Day

It's been a nice quiet day watching the snow and sleet come down. It's still beautiful outside... although I suspect I feel that way because I haven't been out in any of it. I've just watched from my windows. I've got to enjoy some sewing, some self care and lots of cat fun. Listening to purring cats makes the day wonderful. Lots to feel grateful for today. I hope all of my friends are warm and snug and cared for. Love to all.