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1,000 years ago, all was not well in Denmark, Norway and England…


 PREVIEW!  PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL, coming May 26th! http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/people-of-the-songtrail-kathleen-oneal-gear/1120327521?ean=9780765337252

     Father’s voice is urgent.  “And the succession, my lord?  Who rules now?”

     “Harald succeeded him, but the Danish fleet proclaimed his older half brother, Cnut, king.  In the confusion, Aethelred the Unready marched back from his exile in Normandy and drove Cnut out of England.  Aethelred rules England now and Harald is the Danish king, though Cnut asked Harald to share the kingship with him.”

     “Will he?”

     The man laughs bitterly.  “No.  But, trust me, Cnut will be king soon anyway.  Harald cannot stand against him.”

     Father glances at me, and a chill climbs my spine.

     My younger brother, Thord, leans sideways to whisper, “Why did Father look at you?”

     “I don’t know.”  But a black bubble is swelling in my chest.  When it bursts…

     “Cnuts army is mending ships.  He’s marshaling his forces to return to reconquer England.”

     Mother turns her back to us, and I watch her long red curls blow across her shoulders in the cool breeze.  She’s whispering to Father, but his tight eyes have fixed upon me and Thord.  

      “And what of our charge, sir?”

     The ealdorman pulls a jangling bag from his belt and hands it to Father.  “Personally, I think it’s a cruel myth, but if not, the girl may be useful to keep her mother in line.”

     The girl….



Those of you who’ve read our short story, THE DEAD MAN’S DOLL, have already met Thyra’s mother.  Do you really think anyone can keep her “in line”?

Culture…how we create “us” and “them.”

Food Garden of EdenThis is a fascinating article from the perspective of anthropology.  Culture is created through a process of separating “us” from “them.”  And food is certainly one of the ways we do that.  For example, if you are member of a religious culture that does not drink alcohol, the group ethic says, “We don’t pollute our bodies with alcohol.  They do.  Therefore, they are polluted.”  Dietary rules are often used as ways of identifying “us” and reinforcing group solidarity.  And we’re not saying this is bad.  Group solidarity is what culture is all about.  Every group has to define who “we” are, and social rules are largely how we do it.  

Just as a personal example, we say, “Bison is a pure clean meat.  We eat bison.  We don’t eat unclean animals,” and by that we mean animals filled with growth hormones and antibiotics.  Now, of course, we do eat unclean animals all the time when we’re away from home.  Nonetheless, the group ethic that identifies our group–the group we think we belong to–has dietary rules.  They’re just not hard and fast rules, as is generally the case with a religion-based diet.  But in a way, aren’t we ascribing a “religious” value to our diet?  Ah, there’s a hint in there somewhere that growth hormones and antibiotics in food are “evil” and “impure” and, well…maybe even “ungodly.”   THAT is what Alan Levinowitz is talking about in this article.  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/05/the-puritanical-approach-to-food/392030/

Does your diet have “religious” values? 

Tambora eruption 200 years ago in Indonesia affected the world.

The climate change caused by the Tambora eruption 200 years ago had effects that we still experience today.  Ever read the novel Frankenstein?  Mary Shelley was watching the world die around her when she wrote that classic book.  It all started on April 10, 1815 when a volcano in Indonesia, called Tambora, erupted and spewed 36 cubic miles of ash and rock into the air.  The debris blocked sunlight for two years.  Called the “year without summer,” it snowed in June in New England in 1816.  The cold summer caused worldwide crop failures, followed by global famines.  The death toll from Tambora would eventually rise to more 100,000 lives.

Tambora eruption 200 years ago caldera


Did Viking explorers drop the Norse coin found in Maine? http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/controversial-origins-maine-penny-norse-coin-america-020241

Viking Maine-PennyThis is another one of those fascinating archaeological mysteries.  This Norse penny dates to the reign of King Olaf III, between AD 1065-1080.  But it was found in an Native American archaeological site, the Goddard site in Maine, that dates to between AD 1180-1235.  How did the Norse penny get there?  Ah…that’s a good question!

Goodreads Giveaway of PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL

Hi Everyone,

Just a reminder that there’s only ONE more day to register for a chance to win a hardback copy of PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL.  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/127899-people-of-the-songtrail-a-novel-of-north-america-s-forgotten-past

Good luck!

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