A Polish Seaman Who Wrote for the Ages

At a time of uncertainty, what’s to read? There’s the consolation of religion, the Bible. Any number of thinkers have their proposals. And then, quite apart, is Joseph Conrad, the Polish-born English writer whose many novels and stories deal with uncertainty, a fact of life that is always with us he seems to say, a perpetual challenge to which we must somehow rise.

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Saving the Pelican Cafe

“Mom and pop perfection”… “Old Florida ambiance”… “a little piece of paradise.”  The Floridians assembled at the commissioners meeting in the coastal town of Stuart couldn’t be clearer. The Pelican Cafe is dear to them and must continue into the indefinite future, a treasure of the sunshine state that is hard to find elsewhere amid the speedy, haphazard development of a region that offers a respite from northern chill even if punctuated by the occasional hurricane. Continue reading “Saving the Pelican Cafe”

Cleopatra: Supreme Seductress and Creator of an Empire

Cleopatra is almost as well known today as she was when alive in the 50’s BC – the glamorous subject of prose and poetry, drama and film. A goddess of love, we are told, who seduced two of the Roman greats – Julius Caesar and Mark Antony – overlooking perhaps her profound influence on them and the politics of the time and to come. Continue reading “Cleopatra: Supreme Seductress and Creator of an Empire”

The Beaver Rage

Fashions change, thanks goodness. In 18th century London, no self-respecting gentleman would have been without his beaver hat, a much admired fur that also went into various articles of clothing and blankets. Given the profits involved, many adventurous Englishmen headed for the American West in search of this valuable prey, at the same time contributing to and sometimes leading the continental expansion. Continue reading “The Beaver Rage”

A Face of 3,000 Years Ago

In the late 1850’s in southern Mexico, a farmer was clearing his land when he hit an unexpected rock. What’s that doing there? He dug further – more rock – until he exposed a six-foot-tall stone sculpture of a head with an imperial, haughty expression as if rebuking this invasion of his hidden domain. Continue reading “A Face of 3,000 Years Ago”