Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amidst the trees

I've been hanging out in parks at lunch the last few weeks, lolling about, feet in the grass, nose in a book, or a German magazine. It's a short reprieve from the daily grind of patient care, which is generally satisfying, though occasionally muscle-tightening.
Life really is a walk in the park. A park with trees, where you can't really see what's coming, good or bad. This much I know. About the time I start to think that it's stable and perhaps predictable, the path changes again, or disappears. It's really the best analogy. I could say that it bothers me, but it doesn't. I rather like the unknown, the excitement of discovery, and opening and closing doors.
This afternoon Amber and I are going swimming (she's a former swimmer), and the weather, grey and raining, definitely not a walk in the park, but it's a swim in the pool. We were going to get wet anyway. I could complain or just do it. Same as life.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Thought

"This is how the entire course of a life can be changed- by doing nothing."
- Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thinking about going blue, aqua blue!

With color swap and color accent functions, anything is possible! :)
Loving the the camera...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Czech Monastery

After the great canoe adventure, I meandered home along small Czech roads, the two hour drive expanded to six. I didn't mind. I was seeing things.

One stop was this Czech church and monastery which was being restored. From the road, I'd been attracted by the crumbling siding.

A cafe in Plzen where I stopped on the way home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Evening one week later- finally caught up on my sleep

The army party service (not their real name) came into 700 Pink (the musician) tickets, two available per ID card holder. So four of us (Amber, her husband and a friend of mine) piled into the car and drove into Nuremberg for a night of happy fun.

The way in was a bit slow, as we got caught up in a massive traffic jam for at least an hour on the autobahn before being shuffled into the parking lot, which was in the center of a field where Hitler had rallied a youth Nazi group. Amber pointed out the spot from which he’d spoken. I imagined him standing there. There’s no escaping history here.

The concert started with a large crane holding a box with four attached balloons, which was held up over the crowd. A big bang, and Pink emerged and dropped to the earth like a slutty angel.

Wild costumes, smoke machines, great back-up, and deep, strong voices filled the night air. Truly pure entertainment. I loved it. But I was thinking about the environmental effects of concerts, whether they were justified to continue, and the value of this sort of entertainment. (I was the kid who pondered fires during basketball championship games, after all.) I decided we need to enjoy life, and concerts are communal gatherings, shared happiness, and a good thing.

So I drank my beer and swayed along, delighting in the confirmation that I still love going out, and appear to have no set endpoint on how late I can stay. (I keep worrying that I’m going to wake up one day all stodgy and dull. What a relief that I am not.)

It was an excellent concert- a night of laughter and no worries. Except the part at the end where she fell off stage and couldn’t sing her last song. But that’s life. Even rock stars fall down. The whole thing, very rejuvenating.

Amber and her husband, Patrick, good Montana folks.

She's at the bottom. I was a little slow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Czech it out! Canoes and downpours.

I should've worn my t-shirt with the same name. I think it would've been a hit.
Last Friday after work, I drove to Amberg and caught the train to Czech. Only a little ways down the track, the train broke down. (Heat exertion.) But it was long enough that I missed all the connections to the little town of Sušice, Tschechien (Czech Republic auf Deutsch), where I was supposed to  meet my friend Ivana for the weekend. So after four hours of travel, I was back home again.  Depressed.
After a peptalk with my mom, I decided I'd go by car in the morning instead.
It stormed all night. Lightning and thunder. Banging the windows. I was glad not to be in the tent.
The next morning, grey skies loomed and more streaks of lightning. I wondered about canoeing on the river in those conditions.
But it magically cleared up when I arrived, and we all hopped in the canoes (sort of half canoe, half kayak) and paddled downriver for about 20km, stopping a few times along the way for a beer and some lunch. In total, about fifteen of us were on the trip. We landed in the town of Horažďovice, where we caught the train back to camp. The downpour had returned and though we'd stayed dry mostly on the river, we were all soaked by the time we boarded the train. But it was a warm rain, and I never mind those.
After so many hours of paddling, I was sleepy. But we all sat around and played a crazy kids card game (in Czech) and chatted until about 11pm, at which point I crashed in the tent. It was still downpouring, and our tents were about 10 feet from the river.
Ivana was worried. She was watching the water.
I was my former self, the one who does not care if there is a fire or a tornado or impending flood, she is more concerned about sleeping. Sleeping like the dead all night long.
At 2AM, Ivana and another friend decided the water was too dangerous. It had risen about 8-10 feet and was about 1 foot from the top of the bank. We all picked up our tents and moved to higher ground. In total, about 20 tents were moved (not everyone was in our group).
The following day, we'd planned to hike up a big hill for views of the surrounding area, but it was still raining with clouds hanging low. Instead, we dispersed our separate ways.
I lollygagged home, through small towns and past churches in the countryside, arriving back about 6:00PM. Tired but happy.
It was interesting to hang out with all Czech people. I felt bad that I didn't know any of their language. But then I don't really mind if I don't know what's going on. It's a little bit like being a social isolate... but it's peaceful also. Most all of them spoke some English and several were very good. Strangely also, it was a group of professionals mostly, lawyers, a doctor, an engineer, a pharmacist, and then a few others. I learned a lot about their backgrounds, and a little about their lives. I was impressed by the way they all took care of each other- and they way they acted-  more collaborative and responsible, and less competitive. More humble. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how it seemed, and it was nice. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Growing up

"Ancient peoples invented rites of passage in part to break the spell of childhood and move the initiate from the mother's lap to the lap of the world. To this day, a person must dismantle the spell of childhood or fail to find a place in life." --Michael Meade

Questioning life

In the film, “Downfall,” at the end when all was lost for the Nazis, one mother kills all of her children with medication, because she felt that living in a world without Nazi Socialism was not worth living. Minutes later, her husband shot her and then himself.

I came across a quote while reading, how Virginia Woolf asked in her book, “A Room of One’s Own,” why do people bother with love and having children when they know in the end, we all will die? It’s all for nothing.

I keep wondering about that this week. Of course, it could be extrapolated to all of life. Why do we bother with anything at all, least of all love and children? Why are we playing this game of life? Why not just ball up and die and then it’s done?

But I can’t ascribe to that. It’s hard to know why or what we’re doing here. It’s not like I haven’t been wondering this for years along with many others. I think a person has to think about these things, or you’re going to be just slipping along , day by day, until you slide into your grave. It could just be one monotonous life. Or it could be something else.

Giving and receiving and loving and living. Believing in something, whatever it is, is probably necessary.

Monday, July 12, 2010

“Have fun, success or even pleasure with your order.”

It’s what came up when I selected “Translate Message.”

I intend to do all three.

I received my new camera. Finally. After a swirling round about way of sending payment. Nothing it seems lately is smooth on the first try. However, I think this was worth the wait. I’m not unhappy, as I mostly thrive on delayed gratification. I don’t think there’s an actual endpoint of “how long to wait” before getting what I want. It could be years or days, more is generally better. What does this mean? I do not know.

But I do have a camera now, to replace the one that the Barcelona thieves ran off with. And it’s delightful.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hot toes

Sitting on my back porch with coffee and fizzy water, surrounded by books and papers and thoughts. Birds chirping. Old Crow Medicine Show drifting through the patio door. Perfectly laid back strumming for this Saturday morning.


Life’s a mish mash right now of feelings. I think something’s on the horizon, but I can’t see it yet. Perhaps it’s just the breathlessness of life. Of not knowing, and getting to discover each day as it comes. Instability is excitement. Happiness. It truly is life.

Pages flapping, trees fluttering. My toes warm as the morning sun shifts to afternoon.

It feels like summer. And I am lucky.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Friendship

"Friendships worthy of the name are different. Their rhythm lies not in what they bring to us, but rather in what we immerse ourselves in. To be a friend is to step into the stream of another's life. It is, while not neglecting my own life, to take pleasure in another's pleasure, and to share their pain as partly my own. The borders of my life, while not entirely erased, become less clear than they might be. Rather than the rhythm of pleasure followed by emptiness, or that of investment and then profit, friendships follow a rhythm that is at once subtler and more persistent. This rhythm is subtler because it often (although not always) lacks the mark of a consumed pleasure or a successful investment. But even so, it remains there, part of the ground of our lives that lies both within us and without."  --Todd May
Exerpted from NY Times article:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Plovdiv, Bulgaria (Пловдив)

There's actually just piles of Roman ruins sitting around the town, in a garden, downtown... This was next to the highway or at least a major road.
In a gallery here. I like the pencil lines on this one. It's from 1915.

The most beautiful guitar music-- he was picking-- like a Spanish guitar, and it wafted through the cobbled street as I wandered along.

Half dead, half alive. Still beautiful.

I guess a church. I didn't go in. I like the painting on the building.

A couple on the ground.

They've rebuilt this arch a zillion times, I read in my guidebook.

This church had dragons painted on the wall.

Used to seat 6,000, now I think it's about 3,000. Still amazing. And what a view!

I was a little sad to go back to Germany after my wayfaring in Bulgaria. The quiet, unassuming country of Bulgaria. There's something about Eastern Europe that feels like peacefulness to me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sofia a.k.a. София

I learned to recognise Sofia written in Cryllic letters, which originated HERE not in Russia, or elsewhere. My weekend in Bulgaria: wandered through the streets, and public transit, with a little help from the locals. All around, a delightful, kind and peaceful country.

Simple clean room with balcony. Perfect for me.

The TRAVEL BULL. Get goin' now, or he'll charge you!

That man just looks like he stumbling. Hope he has coffee not you know what.

Inside the Market Hall. I thought it was the synagogue. What a pleasant surprise. So I had an espresso.

I'll be darned, if it's not the actual synagogue, right out the window. And somehow I walked right past it.

From another angle.

The mineral baths. But they're not open. Never mind, still nice. I don't really like the public baths anyway.

More cute foreigners under the trees on benches.

A church.

Cold yogurt soup with strands of cucumber floating in it. Divine on a hot day.

The outside of my apt building. Looks a little sketch. A lot of the buildings do.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Great people watching. Wonderful people.
(For fun: one of the pics has something naughty hiding in it. Can you find it?)

This little boy was sweeping and singing. I wanted a picture of him doing it-it was so cute, but he wanted to come talk to me-- would not stop smiling.