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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swiss Mailing

I subscribe to a magazine called Cumbria which is about the Lake District in England, or, as it is sometimes called, Lakeland. The magazine is small in format, but beautifully produced, on slick paper with many lovely photographs. It is published in Yorkshire, along with a sister publication called The Dales. It is sent in a protective plastic sleeve, so it always arrives in good condition. The surprising thing about all this is that is mailed from Switzerland. I’ve been puzzled by this since I would think that anything mailed from anywhere in Great Britain or Europe would pay the same rate of postage. The only thing I can think of is that, for whatever reason, it is cheaper to mail the overseas subscriptions to Switzerland in bulk to have them remailed individually. Anyone know if I’m corrrect?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Legionary by Philip Matyszak. London, Thames & Hudson, 2009.
For the last ten or more years I have had an interest in ancient Rome. I think it started with the mystery novels of Steven Saylor. If you like historical fiction, and particularly, historical mysteries, I recommend these highly. I also am interested in Roman Britain, where, in days past, we visited quite a few sites from the time when Britain was part of the Roman Empire. I was intrigued when I found this book. It purports to be “The Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual.” Having read many novels with the ever-present legions somewhat in the background, I found this book to be very interesting.

The book is exactly what it says it is. I was told how to join, the training, discipline and ranks, the equipment, where I was likely to be sent, who the enemy is. I learned what life was like in camp, what it like when on campaign, even how to storm a city. I learned the style of battle, the use of auxiliaries (who do the early fighting) and when the legions come in, how the cavalry are used. I was even told what retirement was like, in case I had lived out my twenty-five year enlistment. Nicely illustrated with statues and bas reliefs, and drawings, especially useful for the equipment and the formations for battle. There were also colored photos of modern day reenactors in full uniform displaying their weapons. The use of shields was especially impressive. Scattered throughout were quotations from various sources of the time, Caesar, of course, Ovid, Tacitus, Strabo and others. And occasionally a quote is given at the top of the page in Latin and translated, for those of us who have forgotten anything but ‘parva puella’ from our Latin in high school, at the bottom of the page. I enjoyed this book very much. It goes on the shelf with my small collection of Roman Britain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Last Sunday was another big day at the race track. It was the running of the two biggest races of the year, the Distaff for fillies and mares for $100,000 and the Longacres Mile for the boys for $300,000. Naturally this day draws the biggest crowd of the year, so the food lines are long, the betting windows lines are long and just generally there are too darn many people. Still, we wouldn't miss it. Lots of pomp and circumstances. No, neither of horses were on the card, but our trainer had several horses in. Sorry to say they didn't do very well. But generally we had a good time, didn't lose much money (I was down $3.50 at the end of the day), and we had a nice dinner at Applebee's on the way home. I should mention that I picked the winner in the Mile, Assessment, a horse that had the outside post. No horse had won the Mile since 1935 from the #12 post. And he beat a couple of big horses that had shipped in from California. Good for a Washington-bred.

The catalog for the Yearling Sales came in the mail today. No, I don't intend to do any bidding, but it's fun to watch others spend their money. There is at least one yearling in the sale that is owned by the partnership that we belong to. We'll see what she brings. Enuff. I'll try to talk about something other than horses next time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yikes! I didn't realize that it had been so long. I'm going to give it another try. I think I was in one of those moods where I thought that I didn't have anything to say worth reading. And I read other blogs with beautiful photography and ask why anyone would read something as plain as mine.

It has been a busy summer for this old guy. In April we bought shares in another race horse, a 3-year-old filly named Spring Run. She came up from Golden Gate and has raced seven times at Emerald Downs. Last Friday we saw he win her first race. She's a beautiful horse and likes to run out front but then she fades in the stretch. Two races back the jockey was instructed to hold her back. She broke well and none of the other horses would go with her. Consequently she found herself out front once again, then faded. The same jockey rode her last Friday with instructions to hold her back by 8-10 lengths. He practically strangled her coming out of the gate and was still strangling her when they rounded the first turn and started down the back stretch. Still the best he could do was keep her third or fourth. Finally at the 3/8ths pole he let up on her. At the quarter pole she took the lead and flew down the home stretch, winning by 1-1/2 lengths. The owners, about a dozen of us, were truly excited. First time to the winner's circle, photos with the jockey and horse. Much celebration.

That's enought to ease back into this blog. I wish I felt more comfortable just writing about the everyday happenings. Jason Beem, the track announcer at Portland Meadows, writes a very down-home blog entitled Life On the Roof. I'll try to be more like him.