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Sunday, September 3, 2000

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Chekov and down the Rillito

I woke up early, for a Sunday, and before seven I was riding my bike along the Rillito. It was chilly. There were already quite a few people out and loving the weather. I stopped at the stonehenge to eat my breakfast and watched the window as it moved across the floor. A family came by with two child tandems hooked to the adult bikes. They were so cute, just pedaling away like crazy, convinced that they were really making the bike go so fast.

Everything was green and crisp and the sky was clear blue without a cloud to be seen. It was so nice to feel the cool air as I rode along. Everyone was smiling as they walked or rode along and quite a few 'good mornings' were exchanged. It seemed like half the walkers had their dogs with them also. There seem to be more skaters and not just kids either.

I put in nine miles on the river path and could feel the effort after not riding so far for a while. After another three miles to and from a store that is the only place close with the cat litter I like, I was glad to get home and could already feel the heat starting. I can feel a little tightness in my muscles tonight but it feels good to do a long ride again.

In the afternoon I went to see "The Good Doctor" by Neil Simon. Simon adapted several of Anton Chekhov's short stories with the narrations and introductions done by Chekhov himself. It was put on by the Arizona Repertory Theatre which is the professional theatre training company of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona. They always put on an interesting selection of plays and the students, overall, do a good job.

I enjoyed "The Good Doctor" very much. The students did a very good job of looking old and acting old and the humor was well done. The stage was very nicely done with the sets for the different sketches already in place and fitting in very good. Chekhov was a very good observer of the humor and sadness of humanity.

It was hot when I got out, 99 degrees, and I wished I had brought my bike since I had to wait 40 minutes for the bus. While waiting I finished "Coal Bones" by Karen Rose Cercone. This book is set in the coal fields on Pennsylvania in 1905. I found the story and history very engrossing as police Detective Milo Kachigan (the only honest cop) tries to solve murder and blackmail with the help of his girlfriend, Helen Sorby, a socialist journalist. Cercone does a good job of letting us see the complicated greed, fear and courage shown by the mine owners, the various law enforcement agencies, including Pinkerton and private coal company goons, and the miners as union organizing and strikes swept the area.

It showed that people are complicated and both sides had good and bad, though I found the strikers more sympathetic. I can't really justify any reason for torturing and killing people who are just trying to earn enough to feed their families. There were always more miners because they so desperately needed jobs which does not justify the actions of the mine owners. Never does. This is the third of the series so I plan to find the first two. This is an era that is rarely written about and even more rarely from the common people's point of view.

There seem to be more historical books, or at least more mysteries, written from the perspective of the lower classes instead of from the upper classes. They still tend to have as the main characters people from the middle class but show more sympathy toward the working classes who basically made possible the lavish styles of the rich by brutal working conditions and hard social expectations.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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