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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Broken Token by Rich Nickson

I quite often read mysteries with foreign settings because I have not been to these countries and I can learn a bit about them. Some examples: John Burdett - Thailand, Colin Cotterill - Laos, James Church - North Korea, Donna Leon - Italy. English mysteries I sometimes read because I’ve been to the places where the novel is set. I recently discovered Elly Griffith whose mysteries are set in Norfolk. Sometimes I read for the historical background, such as Bernard Knight’s ‘Crowner John’ novels set in 14th C. Exeter.

I’ve just finished The Broken Token by Rich Nickson. Nickson has written two novels set in Leeds, England in 1730. Leeds was then much smaller than it is today. Central Leeds now has a population of almost half a million people and Greater Leeds nearly a million. A far cry from 1730. Richard Nottingham is Constable of Leeds. Someone is committing murders in pairs, man and woman, or more correctly, man and prostitute. What begins as two murders soon becomes six. The woman in the first murders was once a servant girl in the Constable’s house. The new mayor is threatening Nottingham with firing if he does not get results soon. The constabulary force is small; Nottingham has an assistant, John Sedgwick, and no more than six officers. They are also expected to catch a cunning cutpurse.

Nickson writes well of the town with its wealthy cloth merchants, its tavern keepers, its poor people and its many prostitutes. Nottingham is having trouble with a younger daughter and Sedgwick with his wife, who ultimately leaves for another man, taking his three-year-old son. In the end Nottingham finds some unlikely assistance in catching the murderer. His childhood had been spent as an urchin on the street and what he learns about his own heritage is revealing. The Broken Token is an interesting beginning to a series which I hope will be a long one. Chris Nickson was born in Leeds but has spent part of his life in Seattle.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Janus Stone

A touch of food poisoning for the last three days. I won’t give you the awful details. It gave me a chance to sit in my recliner all day and alternate sleeping and reading. The book was a recent discovery of a writer I did not know, Elly Griffiths. She writes a series of mysteries set in Norfolk in England. This is an area of broads (rivers) and coast and saltmarsh on the east coast. It was an area that we visited on one of our many trips to England. I was happy to find a mystery set there. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist sometime called in by the police to help in investigations. DCI Harry Nelson is the policeman in this case, The Janus Stone. There is a dig near her home which is being supervised by a colleague from Sussex University. But the crime involves a child’s body being found under a doorway in a building which is being remodeled into condos in Norwich. Turns out to be a five-year-old girl. At one time the place was an orphanage and a girl did disappear, along with her older brother, during that time. Was this the missing girl? Or is the skeleton much older, Roman or even Iron Age? There are several suspects; the dig’s supervisor, the priest who ran the orphanage, some one in the developer’s family. And among several interesting turns, Ruth Galloway finds herself pregnant, a single university professor, overweight and nearing forty. Altogether a pretty good mystery, interesting characters, and to me at least, a setting with which I was fairly familiar, Norwich, the Norfolk broads and the coast.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Aching Back and a Good Book

Oh, my aching back. We got a cord of wood yesterday morning. There is no way that I can put it all in the woodshed in one day. About five wheelbarrow loads is enough for one day. It will probably take all week to get the job finished. But for now I can take my shoes off and put my feet up. I’m reading Connie Willis’ Blackout and enjoying very much. The trials and tribulations of historians who have time traveled back to the time of World War II, have various jobs as covers, and find themselves trapped in situations that were not supposed to happen. A shop girl during the Blitz, a caretaker of displaced children who have come to the country, a supposed American reporter who was supposed to be in Dover during the withdrawal at Dunkirk but finds himself in Dunkirk itself and a young officer in the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), transporting wounded soldiers to various hospitals. Things are not going as quite expected for any of the characters. A fascinating, well-written book.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, etc.

Just a short note on Christmas day to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hannukuh or just general good wishes. I hope your holiday was as nice as ours. I'm off to our cabin for several days of general laziness and overeating with so old cohorts of mine. Will return of New Years Eve. So I will wish you the best of New Years now. I promise this blog will be written more often this coming year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Little Success

I haven't talked about our race horses of late. Actually I haven't talked about anything of late. One of my New Year's resolutions will certainly to to do better with this blog. Who knows? I might even garner a few readers if I wrote more often.

But this is about Seven Demons, our two-year-old colt. We've had a piece of him since before he was born, as we bought shares in Go Girl Gone before she was bred. We had to wait for two years until he came of racing age. He ran during the summer at Emerald Down in Auburn, WA. He didn't win but consistently came in second or third. After a short layoff he was shipped to Portland Meadows in Portland, OR. He didn't do very well there until last week. All of sudden he woke up and waltzed away with a win by ten lengths. We think he has grown and learned and maybe he's on the winning path. We're looking forward to seeing whether he can carry this winning attitude into this next summer at Emerald.

He's one of only two who are racing at present. Appealing Resume is running at Golden Gate in CA. Bella Cavalla has been bred to Grindstone, A Kentucky Derby and we expect a foal in the spring. Holy Mama has retired with an ankle injury and will be bred in the spring.

We're holding our breath that Boogie to Seattle will be sent to Kentucky to be bred to Big Brown, another Derby winner. Though we probably send her back to Kentucky for the Keeneland sales as a mare in foal. We think she will bring good money. Wish us luck.


A Little

A Little

Friday, October 07, 2011

Gone Away! Gone Away!

That's what the Master of Hounds says about the hounds when they are sent after the fox. And that's what I say, now that the first eye surgery is over. Our usual fall trip is somewhat shortened by the pre-op appointment for the second eye surgery. We have to be back by the 25th. I suspect that we will get to Yellowstone and perhaps see a bit more of Wyoming. I'm not very faithful to this blog but I actually may find some time to write something along the way. Don't whistle while you wait. I'm grateful for the few faithful. And I will return, I promise.

Eye Surgery

I had cataract surgery on my right eye a week ago today. I had to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. so we were up at 4:30. Or as my friend who had a career in the artillery says, 0 dark 30. After we checked in, we waited for a call to the preparation room. Over the next hour I met many people who were somehow involved in my operation. They were something like a United Nations. There was a nurse from somewhere in Eastern Europe, a nurse from Kenya (she had a wonderful lilting speech and reminded me, a couple of Japanese (one a doctor new to the hospital who asked me if she could observe) and several Caucasians. All were cheerful and gracious. At that time of the morning? I applaud them.

One of the things I was surprised about was the number of people involved. There was the first woman nurse who took my blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and pulse. And covered me with a warm blanket. Next was a male nurse who went over my meds and asked about my heart attack in ‘93. We had a nice chat. He lives in Austin, TX and works on 13 week contracts. He’s been asked to stay until January. He’s married so I don’t know how that works as his wife is a teacher. But I can see why they’d like to keep him. Next was the anesthesiologist with a few simple questions, then two nurses, then a nurse anesthetist and finally the doctor. And after the operation two people in the recovery room. That’s a lot of people for what seems like a simple operation.

Shortly they wheeled me off to the operating room. There was some general conversation while the sleepy time medicine worked it way through my system, then one by one the team introduced themselves and spoke certain information, obviously being picked up by a mike and recorded. The doctor repositioned my head to his satisfaction and the operation began, removing the lens from my right eye and replacing it with a new lens. Apparently it went well, the doctor was pleased and said that I was an excellent patient. Soon they were rolling me into a recovery room, where I was fed. Bagels and cream cheese and apple juice never tasted so good. Soon Anna was called and told to get this bum out of here.

The eye was irritated and I had to cope with that for a couple of days. I played pirate for a day, then went in to have the patch removed and the doctor looked at his handiwork. I’ve been assured by many people that I’ll be very pleased with the results. No more will I have to read the newspaper with a magnifying glass. What a relief that will be.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Sad Tale with a Charitable Ending

A month ago a little girl died in a terrible automobile accident. One always is sorry for a death in one so young. Rachel Beckwith had only recently turned nine. She was bright, vivacious and above all, caring. As she came close to her birthday she told her parents that she didn’t need any presents. She wanted to raise $300 for a charity called charity:water. It provides clean water to African villages that have no water or no clean water. Her mother put the request on a webpage that she created. To the time of her death there had been $200 donated. Her death in the accident was reported on local news. It was a couple of days later that they reported on her request for donation to the safe water charity. Money began to pour in and to date over a miilion dollars has been raised. The death of this little girl and her birthday request has obviously touched the hearts of people all over the U.S. If you’ve got a spare dollar or two you might consider sending it along in this thoughtful little girl’s memory.