Frank Denton - The Rogue Raven

Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Beauty for Ashes

I've been away but I didn't realize that it had been so long. Busy, Busy, Busy. So I thought I had better check in. Just finished a book by Win Blevins. The title is Beauty for Ashes (Forge, 2004). It's the continuing story of Sam Morgan, the young fellow who left the east to go to beaver country as a fur trapper. The first book was So Wild a Dream. In this novel Sam continues to grow, falls in love with a young Crow maiden, survives his first buffalo hunt, being captured by the Sioux and escaping naked (shades of Hugh Glass), comes back to the Crow people naked, without clothes, weapons, beaver traps, going to his first rendezvous, breaks his first horse, and comes through it all.

A few writers have written successful novels and series of several books about the beaver trade and the mountain man period of U.S. history. Win Blevins is among them. Others are Terry C. Johnston, Richard S. Wheeler and William Johnstone. Give any one of them a try if you like that sort of story. Or maybe you'd like to try something completely different from anything you've read. Here's a good place to start.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Reno: A Funny Thing Happened on the Drive Home

The drive home from Reno was eventful. The weather was much nicer than it had been on the way down. We enjoyed the beautiful views of Mt. Lassen and Mount Shasta. We decided to stay inMedford, Oregon for the night. In the morning the car would not start. We thought back to our last two days. The car could have quit while we were in midst of nowhere on the wildlife refuge. Or in the vastly unpopulated stretch between Susanville, CA and Shasta City. I doubt seriously that either place would have cell phone towers.

The GMC dealer was right across the street from the motel. We called a tow truck and had the car towed around the block. While we were talking to the service people and the car salesman, we were shown a ‘04 Chevrolet Impala. Long story short we drove home with a new car. Very nice, rides like a dream.

I mentioned the weather. Clear and sunny. It gave a fabulous views of the mountains. Mt. Rose in Nevada, Mt. Lassen and Mount Shasta in California. On to Oregon where we could see Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood. On into Washington where we could see Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens (she of the recent rumblings) and finally what we think is the queen of them all, Mt. Rainier. All in their glorious beauty. The drive might be said to be worth it just for the sight of all these mountains.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reno Day 3

Sunday afternoon we drove about 80 miles east of Reno-Sparks, out beyond Fallon to the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge. As we had read in an outdoor newspaper that there had been a bird festival the weekend before, we were relatively sure that we would see a goodly number of birds. The day was pretty hot, nearing 90 degrees. The refuge is flat terrain, with shallow ponds, a couple of lakes, and many parcels that are dry. So there is habitat for different kinds of birds. The first birds that we saw were foraging in a field, great egrets, snowy egrets and white-faced ibis. We spent nearly five hours driving down different roads. All told we saw 30 species. Most unusual were American avocets and stilts, neither species that we see in Washington. Near five in the afternoon we came upon another small lake that had white pelicans, Forester’s terns and Caspian terns. During the day we did not see one other car on the refuge until we were leaving.

On the way home we stopped at John Ascuega’s Nugget to have our final dinner in the Oyster Bar. I chose bouillabaisse, which I found to be full of seafood but a little bland in taste. I much prefer the lazy man’s cioppino, which has all the clams, crab and mussels already shelled, thus the appellation ‘lazy man’s.’ A nice ending for our stay in Reno.

You have probably surmised that Anna and I are not big gamblers. Our hotel gave us ten dollars a day on a guest card. I put that $20 in a slot and took out $30. That and a few dollars worth of Keno was the extent of my gambling. But we manage to have a very good time every time we visit the "Biggest Little City in the World."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Reno Day 2

The next day of our Reno vacation was the running of the Preakness, the second race in the Triple Crown. So we stuck around our hotel room, watching pre-race commentary and several races on ESPN, then switched over to ABC to watch the Preakness. Anna couldn’t stand it and finally left to go downstairs to the Sports Book and lay some real money on five horses to win. I love to watch the thoroughbreds run but I’m not keen on throwing money away on them. I should have more confidence in my picks. I’ve been following Afleet Alex and should have bet on him. But I didn’t. He was coming on strong when Scrappy T bore out under left hand whipping by his jockey, went to his knees, recovered quite miraculously and came on to win going away. It’s a race that racing fans will remember for a long time. Next up is the last race in the Triple Crown, the Belmont on June 11.I’m going to have to tape that one as we’ll be away.

After the race was over, we got a bite to eat, then headed out of Reno for Nixon, a little town near Pyramid Lake. Our destination was the Veteran’s Day Powwow on the Northern Paiute Indian Reservation. We arrived about halfway through the dinner break. People were eating, picnicking, eating fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Nope, I never did see the baloney sandwich on white bread which Indians often bring to powwows We found seats in the medium sized gym and waited for Grand Entry. Here in the northwest Anna and I are known by a lot of people at the powwows we attend. It’s a little strange to attend powwows where you are not known. You feel like people are looking at you and saying, "Who the heck are these people?" But we talked with a woman elder while waiting for Grand Entry, had a younger woman become quite friendly when she dropped her child’s blanket and didn’t know it and Anna retrieved it for her. Another elder passing by said to me, "You know you can use that cane for a drumstick." I grinned and said, "I often do." So we felt comfortable enough.

There were twelve drums, which wasn’t bad for a fairly isolated powwow. The host drum was Wolf Springs from Kaibab, Utah. It was a very solid drum with very good singers. The Honor Drum was Red Hoop. None of the drums were ones we had ever heard sing before. Grand Entry started and I counted 95 dancers in regalia. Compare this with 250 dancers and around 20 drums at the big powwows in the northwest. So it was a powwow the locals could be proud of. There were dancers from the Southern Paiute tribe around Walker Lake and quite a few from Utah. We were able to dance several intertribal dances with them. Around 11 we decided we had better return to Reno. It was about a 40 mile drive. Several people nodded to us as we left. I don’t know whether they were being nice to strangers, because they had seen us dance or just honoring us as elders. At any rate, it was good powwow. So much for the second day of our Reno vacation.