Saturday, May 12, 2007


During the past week, when we were away, I didn't follow news stories as avidly as usual. On several occasions I was reminded by well-meaning Americans that Queen Elizabeth II was visiting the USA. I am no fan of the royal family though, so those kind reminders fell upon stony ground.

In the absence of world news then, some thoughts on our trip. No astrology this time, except to say that in "Aquarius Papers", astrologer Robert Wilkinson's site, I found a list of zodiac signs for the founding of each North American state (Sun, Moon and ruler of Sun).
We drove through:

Oklahoma - Sun Scorpio, Moon Aries, Mars in Aquarius
Missouri - Sun Leo, Moon Capricorn, Sun in Leo
Illinois - Sun Sagittarius, Moon Aquarius, Jupiter in Capricorn
Indiana - Sun Sagittarius, Moon Virgo, Jupiter in Gemini
Ohio - Sun in Pisces, Moon Gemini, Jupiter in Libra
Kentucky - Sun in Gemini, Moon in Libra, Mercury in Taurus

I'm not at all sure about states having "signs", I believe astrology works in flesh and blood, not in concrete and clay - but what do I know !? Oklahoma's Moon matches my own and the ruler of its Sun is in my own Sun sign. My natal Mars is in Oklahoma's Sun sign too! Perhaps Okie-land and I have more in common than I'd realised!

My husband's younger son was our guide and entertaining companion during a long weekend in Columbus, Ohio. He has lived in the city for many years and loves it. He describes Columbus as "a small town boy's big city, with enough culture to satisfy, and enough traffic to challenge but not quite enough to kill".

We visited several sections of the city, each with its own distinctive style: German Village, which originated with the establishment of a German brewery. A Victorian quarter with architecture very reminiscent of many northern English cities. Downtown with its skyscrapers, and some outlying shopping malls filled with what HWK jnr. describes as "retail gluttony".

An unexpected pleasure for me was exploring The Thurber House in Columbus - boyhood home of one of my (already blogged) heroes, James Thurber. My fingers could not stop from caressing his old typewriter keys, in spite of the warning "Do Not Touch".

An opportunity to hear some live jazz in a surprising venue pleased both HWK snr. and jnr. A Methodist church advertised 'Jazz Vespers'on Sunday, featuring the Mark Flugge Quartet. It turned out that the quartert includes saxophonist and music professor Dr. Michael Cox who was a college friend of HWK jnr. It seemed strange for such a non-religious trio as we three to attend church, but as my husband remarked " If church was always like this, I might reconsider". We had surmised that the quartet might play jazzy versions of sacred music - we were wrong. We were treated to "A Tribute to Stan Getz", with "Night and Day", "Girl from Ipanema", "Desafinado" and other favourites, easily appreciated by a jazz dummy like me. The Pastor thoughtfully combined the music with readings from Psalm 150:
"Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute......".
We didn't quite get to the tambourine and dancing though!

One enormous difference between Columbus and our home area in Oklahoma was the food. We had several wonderful meals in Columbus. Oklahoma has culinary graffiti, Ohio has culinary masterpieces, even in modest and unpretentious cafes!

On Monday the drive home began, via a different route in an effort to avoid the storms and floods reported to be affecting parts of mid-America. I was able to add yet another to my list of "have-seen" states. Kentucky - a very green, beautiful and peaceful state, not unlike Ireland I guess. We stopped for a snack at an Irish restaurant and bar in a tiny township called La Grange. The food was absolutely delicious! I'd have loved to sample every item on the menu!

A little further down the road, near Kentucky's border with Missouri at Wickliffe, we found an archeological site and exhibit in an area where the Moundbuilders - Mississippians - had lived over a thousand years ago.

What happened to the Mound Builders of Wickliffe? For centuries, the Native Americans built and maintained elaborate sacred earthen mounds in western Kentucky near the place where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet. Mound Builders lived across much of North America, but were concentrated in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. Everywhere they settled, they built earthen plateaus.But suddenly, in the 1300s, the Mound Builders who lived in what is now Wickliffe, the county seat of Ballard County, just vanished.

The Moundbuilders' constructions, as described in the exhibit, seemed to me to be like a much more primitive verson of the Mayans' pyramids. Perhaps the two peoples were related aeons ago. The Mississippians are certainly the ancestors of almost all Native American tribes.

On reaching the north-eastern edge of Oklahoma on Thursday we decided to stay, rather than drive on for several more hours, to reach the south-west of the state. Overnighting in Bartlesville, threw up another surprise. The only skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is situated there. Bartlesville is a medium sized town, "built on oil". Frank Lloyd Wright, renowned American architect and designer was commissioned by a company who manufactured oil pipelines in the 1950s to design and build "The Price Tower", it was later taken over by Phillips - another oil giant. There's an opulent mansion owned by the Phillips family in town, but we hadn't enough time to explore further.

We ran into just one storm in Oklahoma, in the middle of nowhere. All we could do was stop on the roadside and hope that a tornado didn't appear and force us out of the car to lie down down in a muddy ditch! But the storm passed uneventfully, and it was "Home again, home again, jiggety jig!" But not before slipping into another dimension here:
Ceres was closer than I'd realised!

Finishing on a starry note - a copy of a James Thurber drawing which appeared on a wall in the office area of the Thurber House. The original large pencil drawing, somewhat tattered, is framed and hangs in an upstairs room, its title is "STARS"
(Photographs by HeWhoKnows snr. -they may enlarge if clicked upon)

No comments: