• Tag Archives Travel
  • A Houseless Life

    72  bar rises 29.73  0mph WNW dew-point 62    Summer, pleasant

    Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    “It is not how old you are, but how you are old.” – Jules Renard

    Elizabeth Odegard has West Nile virus.  She’s lethargic, stays in bed.  Not much to do, but support your body and wait it out.  Mark thinks she may have gotten it in Thailand when they stayed on a houseboat.  Mark has the most unusual current lifestyle among the Woollies.  He and Elizabeth, then real estate agents, sold his house in Marine of St. Croix, pooled their retirement funds and began living a houseless life.

    He often refers to himself as homeless, but what he actually is houseless.   His home is the Twin Cities and he’s rooted here.  He and Elizabeth went to Hawai’i three years ago and got the Cambridge certification in teaching English as a second language.  With that credential and a cash flow generated from investments (managed by Scott Simpson) they have moved from spot to spot:  Buenos Aires, Peru, Shanghai, Bangkok sprinkled with returns home.  Here they housesit for folks they know.

    They leave for France later on this summer, where they will spend time with Mark’s brother and his family before heading off Morocco or Turkey or Chile.  Sometimes they work, sometimes one does and the other doesn’t.  It’s been all ESL.  Mark worked on a healthy sexuality exhibit in Thailand, for example.  They ponder a commitment in Japan, where the English language jobs require a year contract.  Most of their stints have been four months or less.

    We talk about travel often at the Woollies.  We are a well-traveled group.  Paul and Sarah made a round the world trip early in their marriage.  Paul jets off to Africa, Syria and Cuba now and then.  Frank is in Ireland right now for the eight or ninth time.  Bill spent over a year in Japan building a nuclear power plant.  Tom travels the US every week.  Charlie Haislet and Barbara cruise in Europe, go to Africa now and again.  Stefan has been many places.

    Last night Stefan talked about a childhood trip to Egypt.  “It made me want to be an architect.  Karnak.  With those great pillars shaved back and sloping upward.  And the details on the gate.”

    We are atypical as a group in so many ways:  level of education, diversity of employment, life paths dominated by values, intimacy among men that has lasted over two decades.  Our level of income is high.  We lead lives of privilege in the most powerful country the world has ever seen.

  • Home

    63  bar rises 29.95  0mph NNE  dew-point 54  Summer, night and cool

                               Waning Gibbous Flower Moon

    Back home.  The corn is past knee high; the garlic has finished its growth; the tomato plants that began from heritage seeds have fruit; the beans have begun to bush out and the onions have sky rocketed.  A wonderful pastel copper/brown bearded iris has bloomed and the Siberian iris have thrown up dark blue flags all over the garden.  There is, of course, the occasional weed, but that’s Monday’s task.  Perhaps Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s, too.

    Driving as I did, a bit over 3,000 miles, movement dominates.  Even in Montgomery I drove to Maxwell four times, an equal number of times out for meals.  In the car.  Out of the car.  Stop for gas.  Now the movement slows down.  A walk in the garden.  Up and down stairs.  To the refrigerator. 

    Here Kate welcomes me.  At the various motels slightly aware receptionists said how can i help you.  Here I get a hug, a meal, a smile.  An “I missed you.”  “Me, too.”  The dogs jump up and down, lean against my leg.  This is a place I know and where I am known.     

  • Swollen Muddy And Fast

    90  Sunny, hazy   Airquality alert in Nashville.  Suggested:  Limit trips.

    The deep south is close.  Tennessee was one of the upper slave holding states at the beginning of the civil war and did not secede with the lower south states of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and tomorrow’s destination, Alabama.  

    Murfeesboro, Tennessee has the Stones River Civil War Battlefield. 

    Today’s journey was and is hot.  As the road pushed further into southern Illinois, there were signs for college majors in coal mining.  Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University was in the vicinity.  These are also unglaciated limestone hills sitting atop layers of plant life from the Carboniferous, now black and concentrated into veins of coal.  Heat and coal and the underground, the cthonic realms go together.

    The Ohio river, the mighty Ohio, flexed its muscles today, swollen muddy and fast.  It was over its banks and looked like it would get higher.  This is a big river and where it feeds into the Mississippi multiplies the river we call the Father of Waters. 

    Kentucky, which never seceded and therefore allowed Union access to the south side of the Ohio, continues, in the main, the rolling limestone hills in southern Illinois.  

    Paducah, home of the National Quilter’s Museum and the only place in the US creating nuclear fuel for electricity generation from out of date Russian weapons (literally swords into plowshare), is not far from the bridge over the Ohio.

    At Russert’s, a woman named Keeum (Kim) took mah ordah.  Cahtfeesh.  She was real nice.  She gave me a to go order of iced tea.  Good food.  Boy, the folks must like it down here, it’s roly polyville.

    Nashville had a freeway down, but there was a quick way around the bottle neck and I found it.  Cities do not draw me in as they once did.  I find myself more interested in the quiet, secluded setting and Murfeesboro, though a city, does not intrude too much out here near the Stones River Battlefield.  I’ll go there in the morning, then scoot on down to Prattville and the Plantation Bed and Breakfast.

    I finished a 24 lecture course on the American Revolution in the 11 plus hours I drove yesterday.  A nice setup for the 48 lecture course I began today on the Civil War.  Fits right in with the trip.

  • Visitations

                                 65  bar rises 29.73  2mph WSW dew-point 49  Beltane, sunny

                                                           Waxing Gibbous Flower Moon

    The places I have visited stay with me, sometimes like ghosts, haunting my dreams and intruding on waking life.  Angkor.   Singapore.  Bangkok.  Ephesus.  Delphi.  Santorini.  Rome.  Pompeii.  Venice.  Florence.  Crete.  Delos.  Istanbul.  Bogota.  Cartagena.  Mexico City.  Merida.  Oaxaca. Vienna.  Salzburg.  Paris.  London.  Hawarden.  Anglesey.  Conwy.  Edinburgh.  Bath.  Cities and towns, states and countrysides in the US and Canada too many to name.

    Angkor drapes vines over me, inserts vast tree roots into my memories while the howler monkeys and the cicada scream.  It’s hot and it doesn’t let up, just gets hotter, too hot in the midday.  The stone rises and rises, carved by artists capable of rendering the delicate and ephemeral in stone.  The astronomical, astrological, theological pandemonium of it all causes reverberations deep in my soul, beyond my Self and down into my links with the collective unconscious.  I was there when the stone masons cut the block, shaped Vishnu turning the great turtle in the sea of milk.  My hand carved the apsara and fitted stones into the great western gate of Angkor Wat.

    Delphi sends music to me, pan-pipes and Apollo’s lute.  The cedar scented sacred way winds it way up the side of Mt. Parnassus past the Athenian treasury, up to the Temple of Apollo where the Delphic Oracle met questioners and answered their questions with questions deep in its subterranean precincts.  Here, too, is the omphalos stone, the center of the world.  The Castalian spring.  All round Mt. Parnassus are echoes of divinity, cries from the Pythian Games, honoring Apollo’s defeat of the cthonic serpent Python, still resound throughout the rocky hills.  The Delphi Oracle still speaks today and she says, “Beware, Stranger, of forgetting your past for in it lie secrets to your future.  Without your past you will wander the earth always an infant in your understanding.”

    Merida and the Casa del Balam, house of the jaguar, bring heat, heat so intense that as the afternoon rains came there was no relief, only a suffocating rise in humidity.  To escape the locals do much of their business in pre-dawn and dawn hours, sitting together in the main park around the confidenitales, small curved benches made so dating couples could sit beside each other, yet not touch.  Here Mayan women sell blood oranges in front of the Cathedral, their roots at Chichen Itza and Tikal, not Jerusalem or Rome. 

    Hawarden resonates with my genetic past.  On the trains in North Wales most of the people looked like they could be my cousin short, thin, dark eyes and hair.  The town with its residential library (where I stayed) and its brick and stone streets and buildings had Victorian written in its architecture, public and private.  It also had a bookish quality, an Oxford don would not have felt out of place.  The church graveyard, just behind St. Deniol’s Library, had slate markers covered with moss and huge trees hanging heavy bows over the graves.  Behind it the stone building of St. Deniol’s parish church sat calm and iconic.

    There are others, many others, but these places live within me, never absent.  They are the great gift of travel and one I cherish.

  • The Wild Man

    71  bar steady  29.66  1pmh ENE dew-point 49  Beltane, sunny and warm

                     First Quarter of the Flower Moon

    We have had only 3 days above 80 this year.  The weather stays cool, which is fine, but the plants don’t like it.  They grow slowly.

    Tonight is the Wild Man meeting of the Woolly Mammoths at Charlie Haislet’s pent-house condo overlooking downtown Minneapolis.  Not exactly the abode of a wild man.  Still, most of us would have trouble with it, too.  

    This week feels compressed since I leave on Saturday for Maxwell AFB and Gettysburg.  It means I’m on the kind of work attitude I get into before a trip.  This time it will last a week.

    Thankfully this time I head out on Hwy 94 not 35.  I will skirt Chicago by heading down the middle of Illinois, then on south, into the heat.  I can only hope that the hot weather will subside, at least a bit, before I get into Tennessee.

  • Their Lawlessness Got out of Hand

    57  bar steep fall 29.94  7mph  ENE dew-point 52  Beltane, cloudy and cool

                           Last Quarter of the Hare Moon

    Can this possibly mean what it says?  “While cities are hot spots for global warming, study finds people in them emit fewer gases.”  Washington Post, 5/29/2008   In this same vein I watched part of a National Geographic Program on an outlaw biker gang, the Mongols.  The narrator made this surprising statement, “Their lawlessness got out of hand.”  Hmmm.

    When I travel by car, I spend more time picking reading material, movies and audiobooks than I do clothing.  This will not surprise some of you who know my fashion sense, late sixties college student unregenerate, yet it always surprises me. 

    Each trip has a theme.  Don’t know when that started, but it helps me make decisions on the road and to deepen the experience.  This trip to Denver, in addition to the obvious theme of tribal initiation (the bris), nature writing and trees will occupy my time.  Not hard to figure out where this came from.

    My first nights stay is at the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, Nebraska.  I’m taking along a book I bought awhile back called Arboretum America.  It tells the story of trees in the history of the US.  Also a book of nature writing.

  • Air Conditioning

    33 bar steep fall 29.69  7 mph NE dewpoint 32  Spring

                    Waxing Crescent Moon of Growing

    Just got a call from the Sierra Club inviting me to my own party.  I said, “OK.”

    The rain turned to part snow around 4:50PM and looks like it’s mostly snow now.  As soon as the temps drop, it will transition to full snow and if it comes up this rate, it will accumulate.

    Checked out airfare to Dallas/Ft. Worth in July.  Only for family would I go to Dallas/Ft. Worth and only for a family reunion would I go in July.  Once, long ago, I took the train from Indiana to Ft. Worth where my Dad’s brother, Charles, lived.  On the way I got molested while taking pictures with my Brownie camera, but I said, “Don’t do that.” to the guy who put his hand between my legs and he went away.  It was not a big deal then or now.

    I hit Ft. Worth just as the temperature racked up 107.  I didn’t know the temperatures in the world really got that hot.  I knew it theoretically, but empirically?  No way.   This would have 1956/7 and I’d only experienced air conditioning on rare occasions.  I remember repeating after I got back:  I went from an air-conditioned train, to an air-conditioned car, to an air-conditioned house.  This was remarkable.

    What the temps will be like this time I have no idea, but air-conditioning has gone from a comment-worthy rarity to a personal necessity.  I have no doubt we’ll be well cooled. 

    That weather seems a long way from the winds today, which hit 34 at 2:10pm, and the driving snow that builds up on our lawn as I write this.

  • Cheesy Sci-Fi Movies

    21  bar steady  1mph W dewpoint 15   Spring (yeah, right!)

                  Full Moon of Winds

    Spent this afternoon and evening watching NCAA basketball and movies.  Watched a medium bad Sci-Fi movie about a blackhole created in a lab in St. Louis.  It’s bad in part because of the acting.  Cheesy sci-fi movies only seem to have enough budget for one take.  It’s also bad because I read the hard sci-fi book from which the concept came and this movie bore no relationship to the very good book at all.  Which is a shame since that book had real science behind it and would have made a good movie.  This one had a beast that came out of the black hole and ate energy.  Hmmm.  So much wrong with that premise, you’d think I’d stop watching, but, no.  I have a low threshold for quality when I want entertainment.

    Been kicking around the idea, for a few years, of writing some original theology/atheology, a ge-ology, or something.  The woman who complimented my learning this morning, Lois Hamilton, got me thinking about all this again.  I’ve spent since 1965 getting seriously educated.  In a lot of fields.  I’ve had interesting real world experience in politics, the church, development and working with developmentally delayed adults.  I’ve traveled some, read a lot and learned a good deal about gardening and art.  Maybe I don’t need to anything, but I feel like a bad steward of the work I’ve done and the knowledge I’ve gained if I can’t set it down in some form for others.

    Not sure what I want to do, or if I want/need to do anything.  Just pondering, for now.

  • The Days Look Potent

    26  bar rises 29.93  5mph  NNW windchill23

           Waning Crescent of the Snow Moon

    The angle of the sun has changed; the days look potent, ready to burst open and let plant life smash through winter.  Even the snow today has a futile, last gasp appearance.  It is not the snow fury of midwinter when the drifts pile up and driving snow blinds motorists, making the home a cozy refuge.  Yes, temperatures will plunge the next couple of days, but we know this is just the Hawthorne Giant reluctant to let go his grip on the land.  The Oak King has already seized the season, opening the eyelid of nature wider and wider until one day soon the snow will melt and the ground begin to thaw.  Then, all hail breaks loose.

    This drama, the back and forth of seasonal change, is not felt in the tropics.  I remember the struggle my brother Mark had explaining snow to his classes of Thai students learning English.  How to grasp cold and frozen water falling from the sky when all you know is wet seasons and dry?  As a child of this land between the Rockies and the Appalachians, the vast Midwest, and as an adopted son of the northern reaches of it, the seasons long ago seeped into my bones.  The sun’s countenance changes and I know it; I know it in the animal part of my brain that tells me when it’s time to migrate toward the growing season or to put up stores for a coming winter.  The subtle variations between late season snow and the early spitting of snows in November have deep meaning for me.  We are, all of us, practitioners of meteoromancy, attempting to tell our futures through cloud cover, length of day and temperature.

    I would have it no other way.  Visiting the tropics is  wonderful, a chance to see another life way, another adaptation to the planet’s many faces, but to live there, to wipe out lifelong learning about spring and its puddles or summer and its heat, does not appeal to me.  This has been and will be my home.  As I said the other day, I am kama’aina of the heartland, a child of the Upper Midwest on the North American continent and this is where I belong.

  • Back on Central Standard Time

    23  bar falls 29.90 2mph  NNE windchill21

         Last Quarter of the Snow Moon

    Gonna get the weather changed back to Andover tomorrow.  Still a little fuzzy.  I stayed up all day to reset my biological clock and it feels like its worked.   I’ll be ready for bed around my usual time.

    This was 6:30PM on Hawai’ian Standard Time.  Time to hunt for dinner and begin to wind down from a day of hiking or visiting gardens or beach combing.  It’s always strange, at least to me, that when we return from a place like Hawai’i that it continues, in the same rhythms, after we leave. 

    Most of the year I don’t hold the distinct memories of two places in my mind as I do right after I return from vacation, but for now and the next few weeks Hawai’i will be as clear as if it were a short drive away.  This is partly a function of jet travel.  We walk down a jet way on Kauai, wander around a few mostly similar airports, walk down a couple more jetways, then we’re home again.  No landscape passes by as we travel.  There are only vague indications of cultural change.  OK, the banks of slot machines in the Las Vegas airport were not subtle, but you know what I mean.  No changes in cuisine, no different towns, license plates, grocery stores, just the world air travel culture and its modest inflections as we pass from one gate to another.

    Getting to bed time here on good ol’ CST.