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Dr. Terrell Neuage

Interested in what comes next and not what was. Sole survivor from another place at another time with different outlooks on ‘the way it is' as I am mashing it together as a movie for my next lifetime to view this one so I can do it differently - hopefully on another planet or at least in another realm.
Dr. Terrell Neuage has written 116 posts for I said WHAT?????

Two ponts and a castle

30 January Monday DAY 66 of trip

Previous to this trip videos: Riding on Rienk’s boat through the canals of Utrecht https://youtu.be/Per0jb8JszU Sep 17, 2012 / ‘Hup Holland Hup’, Narda and friend at the Dalian International School singing the song supporting the Dutch soccer team – https://youtu.be/9rrMeajC6v0 a classic not to be missed / another old Utrecht one – a minute and a half – https://youtu.be/7sGJR_jNymg that we uploaded Aug 28, 2009. We have done heaps over the years and maybe will post those later.

Netherlands > Belgium > Germany Road-trip

Video @ https://youtu.be/6AdcUP7g054

We left straight after breakfast on Monday morning to have a little foray into another country; a road trip. So ‘first thing’ was around 11am, not bad. We set the GPS to ‘no freeways’ and drove through many lovely towns and villages; almost all had a central very old church, and some surrounding cobbled stoned; old towns. We crossed rivers twice by ferry; quite a surprise. The ferries are ‘ponts’ in Dutch, in case you were wondering. The ‘castle’ loomed and surprised us completely. We’d actually become quite lost amongst the market gardens, with lit up glass houses, fascinating; no idea what was being grown, perhaps flowers, and then there it was! So we accidently found the best preserved castle in the Netherlands, built in the 1300s and restored recently. Just beautiful.

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland)

Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/

The castle was originally built in 1350 by Dirk van Herlaer along the river Maas. 
Ammersoyen was a unique castle as it was built using a fixed plan, 
which was unlike other castles built during this era. 
The design included four wings that were constructed around a center court. 
Each corner had its own heavy tower for extra protection. 
The castle included a gatehouse and was originally surrounded by a moat. 
At the time, it was one of the finest defensive structures in the country.

In 1386, the castle was lost to Duke of Gelderland who gave the castle 
to his illegitimate son. 
He then sold the castle in 1424 to Johan van Broekhugen, Lord of Waarenburg. 
For the next four hundred years, the castle only exchanged hands through inheritance.

 After a couple of hours, we re-joined the freeway and sped along to Maastricht. Terrell had booked an amazing hotel, which was a country estate, Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt; think “to the Manor Born” for the low season price of around 60 Eu. Really beautiful grounds and buildings. We also had a great meal at an Italian place (Il Bacaro, http://www.ilbacaro.nl/) in the city square, with some amazing old churches for a backdrop. We parked the car in the carpark underneath the plaza; all very easy. Maastricht is a beautiful city, a little different from the northern Dutch cities, perhaps more French influence here.


Getting off motorways is the way to see a country. I grew up alongside route nine in Clifton Park, New York. Throughout my youth it was a two-lane highway then it expanded to the four land road it is now. In New York, US 9 extends 324.72 miles (522.59 km) from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to the Canada border.

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

route nine going through Clifton Park, New York

The reason I am rabbiting on here about Route Nine is that when we do not want to drive on the freeway/motorway/turnpike/thruway/interstate/autobahn we say we will go on route nine; wherever in the world we are. Narda lived along Route Nine with me for a couple of years before we moved to Round Lake, New York then to Brooklyn then to Jersey City then to Australia and on the road again; always looking for Route Nine to get where we are going.

We found our Route Nine in the Netherlands though we do hope on the motorway lately as we have extensively explored the towns around us; mainly by bikes. See our previous blog with the clips of towns we love in the Utrecht area.

We had not booked a place to stay for the night as we wanted to figure it out along the way based on where we were when it was time to find a place to stay which in our world is early afternoon or about three to four-hour drive. As Narda mentioned above we stayed at Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt (http://www.vaeshartelt.nl/en/) in Maastricht. And yes, I do show this place in two different videos but who is counting?

31 January Tuesday DAY 67 of trip

The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt), then returned to the city centre, and explored more of the lovely narrow streets and buildings. Found the worlds most amazing book store; amazing because of it’s location in an old, stately church with wonderful arches in the ceiling.

Selexyz Dominican Church in Maastricht is a real cool place – now a bookstore but dating back to the 13th century, the structure was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794 and the group was forced out of the country. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen

The Basilica of Saint Servatius is the place to be seen at. The oldest of the old shit to see in Maastrict. Their website starts with the bells playing, well worth the visit (to the website) http://www.sintservaas.nl/ or for our two or three English readers…  http://www.sintservaas.nl/english/index.html we tried to capture the bells but instead had too many others sounds, like me complaining of the cold.

Terrell also got some more bits and pieces for his camera and I bought him a Maastricht mug for the good memories. Then we had coffee, which was served with little glasses of Baileys or Kalua, topped with whipped cream; pretty cool.

Maastricht

Maastricht

The rest of the day was frustrating as we tried to follow two GPS’s with opposing views, out of a city under renovation. We did quite a few hours of circling Maatricht before we finally sat down in a nice hotel for soup, to calm us down at Hotel In Den Hoof http://www.indenhoof.nl/.  The server there was very helpful and told us the insiders path out of town. “Just follow the letter “L” on signs, and it will take you to the road that leads to Liege.” Who knew? Good grief! Anyway it was not over. We drove for some more hours into Belgium, with a reasonably price hotel earmarked for the night. Just before Spa. Well, the two GPS’s did their thing again and got us amazingly lost…in tandem. So it took longer than we thought, but now we are happily there, in a modest, comfortable room at LE MIDI Hôtel, 4800 VERVIERS Belgium, nice and warm, and ready for dinner.

We both slept, uninterrupted, for 10 hours!

Maatricht video at 

1 February Wednesday DAY 68 of trip

Narda spoke with Mäu 8 am we decided to go to Hamburg 8.30.

Now there’s a rapid change of plans. We checked driving time, and distances and decided to do it. It took us 6 hours, and apart from getting freaked out by the fast German drivers, it was pleasant and uneventful. Easy coffee and pee stops on the highways (you pay 70 cents to pee!).


We prebooked (expedia) the Hamburg
Centrum Hotel Commerz am Bhf Hamburg Altona for 50 Euro. http://www.hotel-commerz-hamburg.de/  This turned out to be 3 minutes from Mäu’s place, a bit of luck. They provided some urban style (time garage down in a basement) for 10 extra Euros, which was a pretty good package as Hamburg can be expensive. Mäu came to meet us and we had some snacks at her place, met her Johann her 10 year old, recorded his drumming; pretty great for a kid his age, and had dinner with Mäu at ‘lorient’ restaurant a Lebanese food place  http://www.restaurant-lorient.de.

We are living in our bubble – we drive in our bubble – our bubble rolls along the highway close to the posted limit of 130 kilometres per hour (130kph= 80.77825mph) but we were often in the slow lane with the trucks. Germans have little sense of speed limits. I would see them at a distance in my rear-view mirror then there they go just their tail lights barely visible from being so far so fast away. From distant tail lights to head lights in seconds. Narda’s relative said he likes to see what his BMW will do and 190 is a good speed (190kph= 118.0605mph). Of course my question to him was ‘why not go past 200?’

I like the hotel in Altona we stayed at. The breakfast room reminded me of Faulty Towers as did the hotel but no one acted like that it was just one could imagine it being the same. The inn keepers were a couple who kept a good establishment moving forward. Breakfast was five euros which was cheaper than the 15 each we paid at the Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt or nine euros we paid the previous night at LE MIDI Hôtel, back in Verviers Belgium and it was the same European continental style spread; cheese, cold meats, yogurt, granola, coffee, and etc..

2 February Thursday DAY 69 of trip


Mäu came over to the hotel the next morning for breakfast. Actually a nice brekkie, lots of continental style choices, good breads, and ham and cheese and other spreads, yogurt, coffee, juices. It was lovely to spend time with her again, and despite not having seen one another for many years, we lapsed easily into our old long standing friendship; no awkwardness at all. This is such a great thing to have in one’s life.

Hamburg is one of my favourite cities. New Orleans, New York City, Hamburg – especially the Altona section. Nice walking distance to the river. We took the ferry to the new Elbphilharmonie centre – the new landmark for Hamburg. https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/

The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.

Our video from 2009 of Hamburg, especially the Elbe River, Hamburg is at https://youtu.be/AZyKsEbatXI

hamburg

We left Hamburg and stayed overnight in Oldenburg, Germany – Panorama Apartment Cloppenburger Str. 282, 26133 for 60 euros. We found it through Booking.com as we drove through Oldenburg. All the hotels were more than $100 which is not much but when travelling for four months we try to save when we can. 60 euros is about $$66 US which is cheap for this part of the world. Not sure why it was so cheap as it was a two bedroom apartment with bunk beds in one room, a kitchen, master bed, large TV with some English channels, furnished kitchen and an Aldi supermarket across the street. We found the owners working on a storefront in the front of the building and as there was little understanding of English and Narda’s few German words got us a receipt and keys. They didn’t even ask our name or for id. Maybe in the future they will have this place up and running and charge more but it was a good stop.

3 February Friday DAY 70 of trip

Left Paramount Apartments nine am –Netherlands (A293 from Alexanderstraße > Take A28, A31 and A37 to Rondweg/N382 in Dalen, Nederland. Exit from N34 > A28

Lunch at Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden see their menu at http://m.deganzenhoedster.nl/en well worth it and a unique place at that.

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden

Home at five pm watched three episodes Blacklist

Our video of our trip to Germany is at  https://youtu.be/QGdCKxunhyE  

Our next blog will be our final couple of weeks in the Netherlands and we will end this blog with a wonderful afternoon with four amazing violinist, Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl) Sunday afternoon. ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/

https://youtu.be/JqsQVrOhFYY is our video of this event

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Returning Home

Finally settled into our European Holiday or for Narda returning home

See part one toward the end of our last blog @ https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/

22 January Sunday DAY 58 of trip

I was thinking most of 2016 that we would be in Holland for a month. However, the reality is five-weeks. Six-weeks in the States, Six here, and four in Southeast Asia. I think what I am concluding from what is going on in the States these past months is that most folks are concerned about fact-checking. It is all the rage and so it should be. We say that politicians are liars with almost everything they say. Alternative narratives are either accepted or lambasted. The narrative of life on earth is filled with alternative narratives, some seen as allegories some seen as stories for children some seen as creative twists of truth; religious stories, myths, fairy tales, what we tell our parents, children, partners  – ‘changing water to wine’, ‘I was doing homework at Johnnies house all last night’, ‘feeding five-thousand mates with a couple of fish’, ‘Santa coming down the chimney’, ‘gingerbread houses’, Cinderella, ‘a million and a half people at an inauguration’, not to mention all the Greek, Roman, Aboriginal, etc. stories. We were at the Women’s March in Amsterdam yesterday, previous blog; http://goo.gl/WQPBuE so there may be a lingering trace of an outside thought about fact-checking.

Nevertheless, here we are, a new blog. When we started this trip, and from ones we have done over the past 15 years, see http://neuage.us/BLOGS/index.html for a selection of our past one-hundred+, each one was per day. Now we are putting together groups of days. The last one covered ten-days. Bottom line is that this current blog is a blank slate.

What is exciting about today, Sunday, is that we have a whole month here, another thirty-days.

The first time in my life in Utrecht was in 2005. Narda’s first time was the day she was born, which of course, was not very long ago.

Saturday, June 18, 2005 Utrecht - The luxury of holiday. I got up at 10 AM and the 
others soon followed. A day without plans is so different. After the past six-months 
of getting up every day at six AM for work and of stressing because of all the work 
on our house it is good to have few concerns other than where should we bike ride 
Today? The only thing I ‘need’ to do today is find a charger for our video camera.
I found an adapter yesterday so I could plug the one we had in but as soon as I 
plugged it in (US 120 voltage into European 240 voltage) smoke came out and the 
thing became fried. We are driving to Belgium tomorrow for a few days and at this 
point I think we are just pointing the car we are borrowing in that direction and as 
long as we do not end up in the English Channel 
we should be fine.

As synchronicity would have it, not only where we in Utrecht a year later but we went to see the same people as we saw today (22nd January, 2017) as we did on Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – see http://neuage.org/trip06/June19.htm to read about our bike riding adventures eleven years earlier.

We drove into Utrecht as we have not sorted out our bikes yet. The ones left for us are not the right size; the man’s bike is way too large for me, and the woman’s bike is too small for Narda.

We visited Narda’s Uncles Pete and Rinke and cousin Hans. Pete, at age 90, has recently had his second knee reconstruction. A good indication of what health insurance is capable of when it is set out for the people. Rinke in his mid-80s is doing well. We used to ride around on his boat through the canals in past trips but this is our first winter visit and the boat is not an ice-breaker so no cruising this time. And Hans, in our age bracket, well Narda’s, I am in a bracket of my own; my sister has banned me from saying I am old so I fit somewhere between Narda and Rinke, interacts with us on Facebook so we are always a bit up-to-date with one another. We will explore more of Utrecht with him this time as he is retired now, the same as us.

Narda had a cold for four weeks in DC and now I have that cold. I managed to be up until one in the morning trying to breathe but we are troopers and colds will not thwart our explorations.

23 January Monday DAY 59 of trip

Narda rang Rinke this morning and asked if we could borrow a bike. In the past, we have often borrowed bikes from him and several times we have stayed with him. Rinke helped us get it into our rather small car so we could enjoy a month yet to go.

We spent a few hours riding around our local hood and in downtown Woerden. See https://youtu.be/TjTXv_y7zU0 = skating on thin ice in Woerden.

Woerden

Woerden

24 January Tuesday DAY 60 of trip

Left this morning on our bikes, the weather was very foggy; you couldn’t see too far.

Harmelen, Netherlands

Harmelen, Netherlands

Our plan was to visit Tom and Ineke in Harmelen, and cycle there. The GPS said 17 minutes, we took an hour. A nice effort. Had a coffee and a chat, told them about my bike which was a bit small for me. They promptly offered me Ineke’s bike which she never uses anymore. Of course I accepted their offer with glee. So now I am all set, bike wise!! After our visit we explored Harmelen, a lovely little town, never than some of the others, but certainly very liveable.

A part of the Rhine goes through Harmelen, news to us. We stopped at the local grocery store and bought some assorted goodies for lunch, cheese, a bread roll, yogurt drink, and assorted veggies for his vegetarian-lowcarb lordship!!

We a pleasant picnic table, covered in bright green moss and had a lovely picnic. It was freezing and rained a little, but we are not people to be deterred by something so insignificant as rain. The food made up for it! Got home at 4, saw lots of school kids cycling home on our way back…dangerous drivers, but so are most of the Dutch.

Harmelen picnic

Harmelen picnic

We left the bike Narda was riding and went off with Tom’s bike. It continues to fascinate me the biking in the Netherlands. Being a rather flat place it helps. There are roads just for bikes, even with lanes, traffic lights, and often there is also a walking path. Travel is unique here; train track, walking path, bicycle path, road of cars, canal with boats (not so much in winter) all side-by-side, going forward.

Still freezing we sought refuge at the only place we could find that did coffee, de kloosterhoeve, and to prove it is a real place here is their website, http://www.kloosterhoeve.nl the coffee was strong and it was good, we thawed out and headed down the road.

Narda needed some adjustments and the first bike shop we came to gladly got her into a royal position of comfort, free of charge.

25 January Wednesday DAY 61 of trip

We planned to bike to Monfoort, a mere twenty minutes away per our Google Maps. Forty-five minutes later we had gotten to the small village of Linschoten. By now we were cold, I was in pain (agony) with extremely cold toes. I thought I had frost bite (OK it was one degree above freezing, but my toes registered -20 both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade). We went into the first restaurant we found, Café Van Eijk, http://www.cafevaneijk.nl/ which if you read Dutch there are probably some good deals. I had mustard soup which was so yummy that I looked up a recipe for it while eating. We asked the waitress if theirs was the same recipe as we found online which had leeks as a base but she said they did not use leeks so now I need to find a Dutch mustard soup recipe without leeks that is as good. Narda had some meat thingy but admitted mine was better.

We read on some sign that the Linschoten church was burnt by residents of Woerden in the 1500s. There were a lot of people cooked at the stake, mainly women that didn’t fit into the Christian ethos of what a woman should be like. Listen to our Linschoten video clip where Narda tells us about the good citizens of Woerden; which by the way is where we are living for five weeks, and their incursions into Linschoten just a fifteen-minute bike ride away, or an hour’s when slow like us.

In the evening we continued to watch our Netflix series, ‘The Blacklist’. We have now seen episodes in Adelaide, Hawaii, DC and now here. Even though it unrealistic, though in the ‘alternative’ world of facts we now live in, who knows? We like it, even more so now after living in DC for the past six-weeks. The thing is mostly filmed, or supposed to be, in DC.

Linschoten

Linschoten

Linschoten video https://youtu.be/5iJE6ErACAo

26 January Thursday DAY 62 of trip

Up at 6:30 this morning. Narda stayed in bed until 10 with the cold I had, now gone (back) to her. I worked on Photoshop and writing projects for a few hours.

Spent our first day home since arriving eight days ago, not that I am counting. A down-day that we used to incorporate with our travels so we could gather our beans to go off exploring the next day but since here, and even more since we have had bikes we have been gone all day, each day.

We baked today. Always a good thing to do when traveling with a fussy-boots (oops that would be me). Narda made her wonderful low-carb bread and I made my low-carb cookies. Our food budget is doing well in Holland with the prices here much lower than Australia and overall lower than the States. In the States we made a budget of $350 a week for food which included a couple of times a week at a restaurant but here we have been closer to the $200 mark which is great and will pay for six-nights in hotels we did in the States that we had not budgeted for. I suppose this is part of being retired, having a budget, enough to go again and again without having to go back to work.

Another great thing about being here is how close everywhere is. I just looked up Paris. It is five-hours away. “Hey Narda I want to go to Paris for a couple of days”. Hamburg where Narda’s friend lives is five-hours away. I think we will go there sometime soon. Wow! In Australia it is like ten-hours to go to Melbourne from Adelaide. In the States we went to lots of places, thanks Chris for your car.

27 January Friday DAY 63 of trip

Went to lunch with Els. Els invited us to have coffee at her place and then go to lunch in a little French restaurant in Vianen. Which we did. She lives just outside the old city, her apartment is the end of a row, and the benefit is amazing views all over the countryside with the freeway wizzing along in the distance. She has a lovely back room surrounded by glass; a great place to sit and chat. It turns out we are related. She is the daughter of Tante Nels’ brother. Who knew. So I have a second cousin. We walked to the French restaurant, Suzettes, yummy food, Terrell had a quiche with salad and I had the soup.

Vianen

Vianen

Vianen video is at https://youtu.be/Wpo7zFbzgrY

28 January Saturday DAY 64 of trip

Another lovely visit with my cousin Karin and her husband Frank. Poor guy had just got off the plane from the USA a few hours earlier, so he did really well keeping himself awake and us entertained with lots of interesting stories. They have recently moved into this lovely house in Niewegein, just south of Utrecht. A very pleasant afternoon.

20170128_143216

 

29 January Sunday DAY 65 of trip

After a lazy morning at home writing, photoshopping, video- stuff we went to IJsselstein

IJsselstein is in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city.

We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my cousin Hans and his wife, Mirjam, and daughters Linda and Suzanne (see our video below). They took us for a very interesting walk through the village (town) of Ijsselstein, entertaining us with interesting stories of the history of building and events. The video below gives some snaps of this. For dinner we had the traditional gourmet, using a large heating plate, and leaving folks to cook meals for themselves, table top, to their heart’s content. Lots of fun and very gezellig. An interesting and hospitable family; a highlight for us.

IJsselstein

IJsselstein

IJsselstein video

End of this cycle – next blog starts with our trip south heading to France though we may stay in other places instead – who knows? A week or so from now you will and so will we.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Washington DC to Amsterdam and life in between

11 January Wednesday Tuesday DAY 47

Watch for travel tips

Morning spent completing blog for the period 1 – 10 January. See https://neuage.me/2017/01/12/more-of-not-the-same/  which took longer than expected which isn’t that always the way? To paraphrase Narda. We write these in Word but change it to html for an online blog, each photo gets re-imaged so it is easy to read on any device.

Washington DC in January

Washington DC in January

We are winding up six-weeks in the States: one week Hawaii, a week in Oregon, a week in New York and three weeks in D.C. As we write this we have five days left before we leave but I am sure we will find more than enough to keep us busy. When this gets posted we will have spent a day in Helsinki which now we wish we had booked a couple of days in, and we will be settled – hopefully, into our home for the month outside of Utrecht.

museum of national history

museum of national history

We left the house this morning with the thought of merely going to the hardware shop and getting some plywood or other cover for our two stained glass windows we made a few years ago and are trying to get to our home in Australia. At Ace Hardware, the shop that actually assists customers, unlike big box store hardware places that ignore us or if they see us heading toward asking for assistance they quickly disappear down another aisle, we were given cut offs of sheets of plexiglass for free and cardboard. From there we figured we should get a few groceries at Safeway. Then we decided to go to the Metro Shop and get SmarTrip® cards for ourselves as we have been using Chris and Jessica’s cards to explore the city and for me to get silly material for my Facebook posts. I was up for a senior half price card which is 85 cents for a subway/bus and half fare to the airport next Monday. The difficulty with driving in DC is finding parking. It is best to take public transportation but we were in our car going from street to street in search of a carpark. The one we found was in front of a very fancy building.  The National Building Museum @ 401 F Street NW http://www.nbm.org/ this seems to be the place where presidents have their inauguration balls each turn over.  In 1885, Grover Cleveland began the tradition of hosting presidential activities in the Great Hall; a tradition that lives on in present day of we won’t say who next week will be strutting their stuff

lunch time at the National Building Museum

National Building Museum

The building is quite incredible and we saw a few exhibits and got back home six hours after leaving to get some stuff to pack our stained-glass windows. We realise we would drive anyone nuts who travelled with us as we change our mind so often rarely doing what we set off to do.

Chris and Liam and our home Washington DC

Chris and Liam and our home on 15th street Washington DC

On the way to collecting our new senior-money-pinching-metrocard we came across the Terrell Building. Aside of the fact that it seems to have a lot of office space available to lease it caused us pause so I could Facebook myself in front of it.

Terrell Place 575 7th St NW #100, Washington, DC 20004, USA

Terrell Place 575 7th St NW #100, Washington, DC 20004, USA

12 January Thursday Tuesday DAY 48 of trip

After going through the stuff from Terrell’s father which was still stored here (by our realtor and attorney…good people, let us know if you need a reference) we decided to make a massive parcel and mail a whole lot of stuff home. ($250 postage…oops) It actually took pretty much all day to sort it all out, including our little stained glass windows, which we made when attending Stained Glass101 in upstate NY one snowy winter many years ago. I have my fingers crossed to see if the glass makes it.

We picked up Liam from day-care today, he was very pleased to see us. Little gorgeous boy. He has a fascination for trucks, especially bulldozers, which he calls “boobootrucks”, always followed by “very loud”.

narda-liam-car

Liam

I’m sure going to miss this little guy.

13 January Friday Tuesday DAY 49 of trip

Today, nearly our last day we took a bus to Georgetown. It’s always one of the bonuses in bus travel that you get to speak with the locals. I was sitting with a lady, about my age, and commented on the picture of a certain deplorable person on the front page of my newspaper. Actually I turned the paper face down and commented, “I can’t look at him”. This started a long and emotional conversation about her fears for the future and the future of her children under this looming administration. She actually started getting teary.

At the next bus stop we started talking to an older guy (the older folks are so much more amenable to conversations), who had fairly recently retired from a long career in the ‘services’, which also included the Department of Homeland Security. He was very knowledgeable; and also very concerned that we have the potential of ‘running over a cliff’ with this new government. Blimey. We saw this from a distance easily enough; the media keep us on a 24hour loop, and we all agree that we are talking about a ten year old bully running things, but when it comes from an insider, that’s worse. Over 90% of Washington DC voters voted against Trump. He has promised to overturn Obamacare, to cancel the peace agreement involving nuclear weapons with Iran, to skip NATO, and to embrace Putin. All wonderful things to look forward to and this is only a small part of it.

well now that is a surprise we no longer can do a White House tour because of some new dude living there

well now that is a surprise we no longer can do a White House tour because of some new dude living there

We went to The National Museum of American History. As always there are not enough hours so we have to be selective of what we see. This museum has a lot of areas to explore but with just an hour before we had to leave to do Liam-duty we went to the first thing we saw.

Exhibitions: FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000 (Julia Child’s home kitchen, re. fast foods etc.) http://americanhistory.si.edu/food; 1950s and earlier life – including first mobile homes which we liked especially as we are in the transitional stage of becoming grey-nomads. As of yet I have few grey hairs (probably because I won’t be seventy for another eight months, + I let Narda do all the worrying and I just take photos and happily live in la la land) but I don’t think that grey hair is the number one qualification to be a grey-nomad. Just being old and travelling heaps. This caravan from the 1930s is not much different from what we have back in Adelaide. There was a bedroom, kitchen and sitting area. Couldn’t find the loo but perhaps it was beneath something. I would rather have this one than our newish one though we have a bike rack on ours. No doubt they were better made in the 1930s. A rather cool site for caravans of this era in the UK is at http://www.period-classic-caravan-club.co.uk/1930s

1930s caravan at the Museum of Natural History, Washington DC

Having grown up in upstate New York in the 1950s – 1960s I remember these cars and going on trips every summer with my family.

We didn’t get to any of the other areas and planned to go back but other stuff filled our days and that was it. I would suggest going to their web site and having a bit of a plan of what to see. Of course, we never do that and I start planning after we get to a city then start planning after we get inside of a museum or place of interest so I am not a good tourist guide. Learning to live in the moment back in the 1960s (‘be here now’ and all those groovy sayings which has become re-packaged and trendy now as ‘mindfulness’) I have no sense of what comes next. Narda begins planning a year in advance the detail and I look for the exit door in the moment. Somehow it works and we do get to lot of places and see stuff.

National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History

14 January Saturday DAY 50 of trip

Hard to believe that we are at day 50. Didn’t we just leave Adelaide a few days ago? We are coming to the conclusion that we are should be global-grey-nomads, not just going around Australia dragging our caravan nomads. Just spend the rest of our life going and never staying for long anywhere. Not sure how the economics would work though. I don’t care what folks say that money is not important – it is – we need to get to the next place and eat and stay somewhere. We made a four-month budget which at times we come close to being close to but more would be better. And having a twelve months of travel budget that would include at least business class travel on long trips would be good.

Chris and Narda in front of Lincoln Memorial

Chris and Narda in front of Lincoln Memorial

As we were heading out of town shortly we spent the day packing and cleaning the house until early or late afternoon. Time is a matter of translation in comparison terms. To me it was late, to me-side-kick it was early. Not to worry, we got our sorry asses out the door and into the cold DC air.

So, day 50, about twenty of those in DC, and we had our fourth museum day, and as in the past we were able to squeeze in a bit of an hour or two at the Museum of Art. I like art museums. Always have. I never spend much time in them but every so often I need an art fix. Old art. Not the new throw-paint-on-canvas stuff; ‘I can do Jackson Pollock’ dribble (I used to do that as a street artist in New Orleans too, 1968 and 1971 – 1974) that people drool over now days but real art. We spent blocks of minutes looking at some of the best of Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and as we are heading to Holland the best of other Dutch artists and other old shit. There was a room full of folks attempting to make art of art they were looking at, if we had time maybe we would have joined them. Probably not. Feeling refreshed, enlightened, fulfilled as tourists of the moment we took a bus back home.

creating master pieces from old master pieces at the National Museum of Art

creating master pieces from old master pieces at the National Museum of Art

I did my first picture poem of the year and posted it to several of my photographic-art sites such as:

And of course many more. What was significant in my little world was that I finally did something creative on the road. I want to be able to travel and continue with projects such as writing e-books and doing my photographic textual work. So far on this trip we just seem to be too busy. Everything is about priorities but my priorities are travel, experiences, creativity time to do writing, photography, films, as well as read and spend time with others. I need to be on a planet with twice as many hours and twice as many days in a year.

15 January Sunday DAY 51 of trip

Last day today, spent most of the day cleaning and packing. We took Liam to the park in the morning; the weather was a little warmer, sun, shining and Liam really enjoyed playing outside. We put him to bed for his afternoon naps; he slept 3 hours! During the nap we cleaned the car too, the I took Liam to Chris’ church. Chris preached another masterful sermon on grace, and our prideful unwillingness to accept God’s grace. He always manages to hold his audience, and to find a new and interesting angle on stuff I have listened to for so many years.

I didn’t go to church, stayed home: wrote, did photoshop, listened to music (Supremes and other 1960’s stuff) and had a wonderful evening.

Packing is difficult. We have already sent a box of we had too much stuff to carry onto the next flight to add to our shed of stuff back in Australia.

16 January Monday DAY 52 of trip TO HOLLAND

Leaving America; sad. I will miss the kids. We had a long trip ahead of us, first Chris dropped us off at a Metro stop; Liam said ‘bye bye Oma, bye bye Rell’, about 3 minutes after we had left…bless him!

typical bad family shoot

typical bad family shoot

The ride to the airport was easy; Ronald Reagan Airport is so nice; old style classy, and not too big. It’s been added to our ‘favourite airports’ list, along with Portland and Schiphol. The next leg to Helsinki was fine, no hassle, but I certainly did not sleep, despite the sleeping pill. Bummer. Food with Finnair was good, hosties, all blonde and very fair-skinned, many with plaits, were friendly.

The next stage was interesting. We arrived at around 9am, and did not need to leave for Amsterdam until 4pm, so we found an airport locker (6 Euros) and took the train to downtown Helsinki (5 euros each, each way, but worth it!). A very nice city, snow covered, lots of old buildings, a harbour and some wonderful eateries, where we ate smoked cheese soup (Yum!!!) for lunch.

Travel Tip We walked to the ferry terminal and discovered that we could have taken a 2 night cruise, leaving that day to Stockholm and back for 90 Euros. A special for a quiet winter day and certainly a great idea for a future trip. There are also ferries (I mean large ships with cabins) running to Tallinn, Estonia, and St Petersburg. So a word to those considering Finnair; a stop-over in Helsinki has many interesting possibilities.

Leaving the USA Narda takes train to Helsinki

Leaving the USA Narda takes train to Helsinki

17 January Tuesday DAY 53 of trip

On the return trip to the airport we were both so tired, we slept and missed the airport stop. We managed to cross the tracks and go back with plenty of time to spare. When I got to the airport, I fell asleep sitting bolt upright; possibly with my mouth wide open and drooling, but Terrell will not tell me! [Why would I? The other passengers and I were all taking bets on who could shoot the M&M into her mouth]

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Anyway, slept all the way to Amsterdam. Met the Dutch guy, Hans, in whose house we will be living, at Schiphol. Alice had made us a delicious meal of pumpkin soup and Indonesian rice. Life is good. I slept with the aid of Chris’ American over the counter blue sleeping pills, for 12 hours straight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.

18 January Wednesday DAY 54 of trip

Our first day in Holland.

Anyway, slept all the way to Amsterdam. Met the Dutch guy, Hans, in whose house we will be living, at Schiphol. Alice had made us a delicious meal of pumpkin soup and Indonesian rice. Life is good. I slept with the aid of Chris’ American over the counter blue sleeping pills, for 12 hours straight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. 18 January Wednesday DAY 54 of trip Our first day in Holland.

first morning view from our window in Woerden, Netherlands

We slept until about 11 I think it was, Terrell on and off, me solid (it’s usually the other way around!) had a lovely time revelling in all the good food at the local shopping centre (amazing). I will take some photos.  Mum used to say, food is so much better in Holland, which used to vaguely irritate me as a young person, but she was right. She did stop saying it in later years. So we bought croquettes, both rund flees and vegetarian, and some salade punnets….all good.

After it started getting dark, which was pretty soon, we drove into the old town. It was not so easy, especially when bike tracks look like roads, so it was a combined effort, one driving (me) the other bossing the one around. It seemed to work well.

I managed to collect a cold somewhere between DC and Holland. Narda had a cold and sore throat for about four weeks now it is my turn. I managed to sleep about six hours and finally slept sitting up in the lounge. I dragged myself through the day. No one will feel sorry for me. We are retired travelling the world, couldn’t be better – except not to have a cold.

skating in front of our house here in Woerden

skating in front of our house here in Woerden

19 January Thursday DAY 55 of trip

You’d think I would be getting sick of travelling by now, but no, I’m just getting started. Being in different places, places I’ve never seen before excites me. I do miss family, but I also know that I will see them again soon. This is a great way to travel; we don’t do much touristy stuff, rather we try to experience it all as locally as possible.

In the evening we had a very gezellige time with Tom and Ineke who came to visit. I was able to talk with them about mum’s last weeks and they took the funeral service program and death notice card with them.

I met Narda’s uncle and his wife about a decade ago. They stayed with us in upstate New York and a memorable moment was driving to NYC for a day. We were standing in Times Square on the day Ronald Reagan died and a reporter asked them how they felt about Reagan’s death and Ineke said ‘we’re from Holland we don’t care’ and on the large screen above Times Square; there we were! How cool is that? I also remember Tom and his pacemaker/defibrillator. His parents were told at birth that he would not live past 14 or 15 years old because of his heart condition. He is now in his mid-80s and on his third pacemaker/defibrillator while I am on my first.

20 January Friday DAY 56 of trip

I managed to feel sorry for myself for the day catching a bit of sleep off and on all day because I could not breathe due to my stupid cold. By 4 pm though we were bored with my condition and sitting around the house watching me dying or close to it so we bundled up and headed to the next nearest town, Oudewater, a fifteen-minute drive away. See our YouTube clip at https://youtu.be/vinkc4CMSUE

Oudewater

Oudewater

Going to bed about eleven pm feeling fluey – maybe a fever or two I saw lots of buzz about the Women’s March against Trump. We knew about it from earlier in the week when we were in DC. A mistake we tried to rectify but were unable to was to stay in DC for the march; not the inauguration but for the march the following day. We looked up Amsterdam Women’s March and saw that there would be one tomorrow. Hoping to have a good night’s sleep we were keen to attend – tomorrow.

21 January Saturday DAY 57 of trip

Finally had a night with some sleep. We were up at six am and though I still felt ill I wanted to go to Amsterdam. We got out of the house at ten thirty being the slow moving folks we are. At our local train station we missed the first train due to the machine not taking our credit card. From these smaller towns, after twenty minutes of frustration, speaking to someone on their help line who no doubt was in Amsterdam and not ‘live’ in our local station we found we could only get on the train using coins. The girl at the local food shop in the station was really helpful and gave us coins for twenty Euros, the amount to get to Amsterdam. Train travel is expensive in The Netherlands as we just found out. The train ride was only about 20 minutes and at Centraal Station Amsterdam we were able to use our credit card for a return trip.

Travel Tip: Credit cards are not as often received in Holland. We found this at grocery stores as well at train stations and most shops. Have cash.

So there we were, in Amsterdam, at the Women’s March. We walked to the starting point which was about 45 minutes away, at a rather rapid rate. We find that we walk faster than most people, maybe being tall is part of it, but even at our age we are always passing folks. The Dutch are the tallest in the world so we are no longer taller than most around us. For example the man that collected us from the airport a couple of days ago and whose place we are staying at was much taller than me. For example, he left his bike for me, but I cannot get on it, though I will try again. When I am on it my feet do not touch the ground. Can’t wait to get back to Southeast Asia where I will be tall again.

We found a map to the Rijksmuseum where the march would go from on its way, we assumed, winding through the streets of Amsterdam and finally ending in front of the US Consulate with lots of whoop and holler and of course signs.

Anyway, we got to the march, feeling sore from walking so fast, and me going through a few packs of tissues and wondering if my head would ever stop hurting. surprising, though I do not know why, there were a lot of people when we got there, exactly to the minute of its beginning. We were hoping the march would not be too long. Perhaps we would go with them just part of the way then take the train back home.

Women's March from Rijksmuseum to US Consulate

Women’s March from Rijksmuseum to US Consulate

There were a lot of people there and finally the ‘march’ began. We walked and walked… five minutes later we were there.

Amsterdam Womens March

Amsterdam Womens March

And yes, of course, naturally, there is a YouTube video we did of this:

The march was exhila Watch this space!!!rating. We were surrounded by a huge crowd of Dutch people, all enthusiastic and hopeful. There were lots of laughing and chanting. It was so nice, after our dark experiences with the election and endless reading and dismay with the results. America is certainly not alone in its fear and depression; there is support from all over the world. The last I read was 700 marches worldwide. No violence, only joy.

Today we have bikes, the beginning of a whole new thing. Watch this space!!!! smiles

Narda looking for our bike at the Woerden train station

Narda looking for our bike at the Woerden train station

The Windhond windmill is a distinguishing and important historic feature of the city of Woerden. This round stone mill was built in 1755.

The Windhond windmill is a distinguishing and important historic feature of the city of Woerden. This round stone mill was built in 1755.

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

More of not the same

01 January Sunday DAY 37 of one-hundred fifteen of our round-the-world retirement catching up with family and friends tour and trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet

Back in DC. Great start to the year! Kids went out for New Year’s Eve and we babysit and got to bed by 10pm. Our kind of night actually. Yesterday we left our hotel Clarion in New Castle Delaware and made it home pretty quickly, not much traffic on the road. We started by taking a secondary road, which was nice, you actually see the country that way, but by Baltimore we took the interstate home.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Washington DC Narda finds a man

We took Liam to the local park. It was a nice relaxed time. I had an interesting conversation with another dad watching his kid. He was from Brazil working in the Brazilian consulate. He’s also been posted in Guatemala City, where he was paid for trips home because of the danger. This is the 2nd person we’ve randomly chatted to employed at a consulate. The other one was a woman as we were boarding Best Bus from NYC to DC. She was working in the Spanish consulate. Coincidentally, the Cambodian consulate is 2 blocks from where we are living with Chris and Jess.

Church time, Chris again preaching an amazing sermon on the disconnect with who we really are, and how we act. Lots of things to think about here. Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

Chris' church

Chris’ church

Terrell and I went for a walk through the local area, gorgeous little row houses, close to Georgetown.

img_15751

Sweet potato and spinach mash for all. Again, as I have waffled on about in previous blogs – let me do the cooking then I know we will be having a low-carb meal.

02 January Monday DAY 38 of trip

Today was  Chris’ day off, so he took us to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Really great. I’m not such a museum person, but this is so well done and interesting , even to the museum-semi-literate such as me.

Lovely morning, and then lunch (pulled chicken for me) in the cafeteria. Large salad for me.

03 January Tuesday DAY 39 of trip

Purchased slide projector for $50. We had looked on Craig’s List for a projector that would hold my father’s carousel slide trays – there were 18 of them with up to 140 slides in each, and found one for sale 45 minutes away in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gaithersburg is located to the northwest of Washington, D.C., and is considered a suburb and a primary city within the Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV Metropolitan Statistical Area.

A bit of a well-to-do space with large stately looking homes. Stepping into another person’s space is interesting; culture-evolution at play. This dude who was 75 said he had found the secret to success in life when he was 53; he retired and his wife kept working. This sounded quite sound to me and I took a quick look at my wife only to realise we just sort of retired a few months ago with me pushing 70 and she barely at the start of her youthful 60s. Retirement seems to have been good for him. A nice home, grand piano, well decorated for the Christmas holiday, through his kitchen I could see a pond and nature. I could live here. The slide projector was a Kodak that my father’s carousels fitted in.

Outside of the little rich-man’s-cove we found a bit of a shopping centre with our favourite shops, a Staples, an Aldi grocery store, and a Dunkin Donut where Narda found two donuts to her liking and I had coffee to go with my home-made organic low-carb cookie. (he’s such a try-hard!)

We started looking at slides soon after getting back home.

Made spinach soufflé dinner for us all. Baby Liam likes my cooking and has never complained about a meal.

04 January Wednesday DAY 40 of trip

Finished blog about New York and visits and posted at https://neuage.me/2017/01/05/snow-country/

To post office mailed book about my brother to Kathy. I discuss this book in the previous blog.

Groceries – made sweet potato and pumpkin soup for dinner

Forgot Sacha’s birthday – which was today but yesterday in Australia. {I was a single parent for about 20 years. I never forgot Sacha’s birthday in thirty-four years. My feeble excuse is that the 4th of January in Australia is the third of January in DC. Sorry Sacha. I will buy you that pony I promised you as a child next time}

05 January Thursday DAY 41 of trip

Up at 8 am out the door at noon

Counted our money and started looking at trips for 2017-2018, main idea is to get a house-swap before August or after August with a boat trip around 1 – 15 August anywhere in the world. As I will turn 70 August 10th I want to be at sea which will be some sort of symbolic representation of my life.

Back to the museums by bus which was fun. Had an interesting chat with a passenger about the state of the nation…couldn’t really figure out if she was pro or anti the president elect, whom I can no longer name (we have decided to ignore him from now on, it’s too stressful to even think about this maniac). She was keen to know about education in Australia, but pretty supportive of Australia’s tight borders. Hmmm.

The Museum of Natural History was simply amazing. We watched a film on creatures in the deep ocean, which we really enjoyed. Then we checked out the Origins of Humans display which was so interesting, especially knowing that Jess is involved with the research in this area. We should be riding buses more, you really get to experience things differently.

dsc_1539

Hmm, stuck in the back with oma

We are fascinated about our origins. I am more interested in cultural evolution than physical. No one has shown for sure how we got to where we are physically. Millions of years, thousands of years, trillions of stars and planets; perhaps even millions of universes. Too much to grasp for me and it does not really matter. I have this body and all I can do is shove in what I believe will be good to keep it going. I drink my smoothies, eat my low-carb crap, I have been a vegetarian for lots of decades for better or not, I exercise, and bop around with mostly happy thoughts. I was born white with whatever DNA stuff one has. I could have been born something else but I wasn’t. What I find fascinating is cultural evolution. How did I get these beliefs, how did society get this way, how have certain people re-invented slavery for thousands of years (now it is working for minimum wages for some)? How do religions get made up and people are controlled this way to be pawns of wealthy intuitions? How does society get shaped by fake news? Inventions? Events?

Narda of course, had to point out that one exhibit tried to claim that eating meat was important for the development of the brain and the increase of intelligence. Really? I know lots of idiots who eat meat and only cool people who are vegetarian. What more proof do we need?

Being sucked into having my face morphed into what I would have looked like 50,000 years ago (it was free) I had myself transformed. I didn’t care about the extra grey hair but whether today or 50,000 years ago would I have thought the same? Probably not, they didn’t have social media to influence us.

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave – 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Saint Terrell of the cave - 50,000 years ago in your backyard

Narda reaches out to Saint Terrell of the Cave’s hand printsssssss

Made dinner for all: sweet potato chips, soup from last night, meat for them, mushrooms and salad for me.

06 January Friday DAY 42 of trip

Finished looking and separating slides of father. What to do with thousands of old slides? We took a few out of each carousel and I am taking a photo of the ones I am keeping to have a digital copy and maybe printing some. The difficulty in tossing away the past is that the past then disappears. Thus my argument against de-clutter courses and their silly ideas. The few I was dragged to (kicking and screaming – at least inside of myself) annoyed me. I have a shed back in Australia full of my crap (the shed is small only 20 foot by 40 foot) and of course our house too, but here is my problem with de-cluttering. For example, my father’s slides. When they find their way to the local land-fill here in DC for the next brothel or whatever they build on top of land-fill the memories are gone too. I no doubt am the last one with images of my father from the early 1900s and the stories associated with them. Well Narda knows some of the stories too. My father who was cactus at 102 years-old told her stories when he was in his late 90s when we hung out with him in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). He was born in 1905 and his teenage years were filled with the wonders of the first car, the first telephone, World War 1, World War next, and all the stuff of the early twentieth century that we know little of. We barely remember when there was no internet or evil GPS that get their jollies by getting us lost all over the States then laughing deep in cyberspace about how disorientated we are. By destroying images of the past the past no longer exists except on some level of consciousness that at least I am not evolved enough to replay again after I am dead.

A lot of the slides were of travels my parents did. I grew up doing road-trips. Every summer we were off exploring and camping in national parks for a few weeks then I got shipped off to Bible Camp for the rest of the summer, every summer. I did like the travel though. In later life after I left home my parents travelled even more (I left home about age sixteen, just to avoid being shipped off to Bible Camp anymore as it was affecting the structure of my adolescent brain development in a crazy way causing me to spend years in alternative therapy of my own 60’s-70s choosing to erase those harmful summers). My parent’s slides show their trips through Canada, the Western USA, Alaska – all while in their 70s. Alaska is a long drive from New York and my father took a lot of pictures. My father even came to Australia in 1992 when he was 87. Narda and I looked at the many photos of that trip when my father, my two sons, and I drove half way around Australia in a campervan (RV) for a month.

What Narda and I got out of these slides that we have spent many hours going through instead of making new memories tromping around DC this week was that we are quite keen now to go to Alaska. It might be our next trip to the States; maybe late 2017 or mid-2018. We do plan ahead. We planned this current little four-month trip a couple of years ago. 2017 is already quite full with travel and some creative projects I hope to dabble in back in Australia. 2018 we are planning our trip for three-months to India, January – March.

dads-slides2

Looking at many photos – and taking photos of the slides which does not give a good quality but does provide an essence of what is being captured we could see the slant I was raised with. Some photos are quite good and we will print from the slide to get better quality. But to give an example to my ranting above; according to my sister we could be one-eighth Indian but even without that knowledge I find the nature of this slide racist. That the lives of white settlers are emphasized over Indian lives. My father has taken a lot of slides of plaques that provide us with this sort of narrative.

indian-discrimination

Nevertheless, we completed our project and put the slide projector back up on Craig’s List, got $40 back, and we are thankful for having this opportunity to have a sticky-beak into my parent’s lives. It does explain a part of my reason for a love of travel – the other reason is that I am always trying to escape the moment before. Narda has always had a love of travel; even before her parents migrated to Australia from the Netherlands, she has a story of when she was three taking her two-year old neighbour down the street heading to the train station to see her grandmother and they apparently got a few blocks before being found by anxious parents. It sums up our life. Now we have anxious off-springs.

I don’t want to trivialize my father’s slide collection but I sort of was aware that there were a lot more photos of my brother than of me. There were more pictures of churches than me. There are more marijuana shops in Oregon (more than 400 and multiplying daily) than Starbucks and McDonald’s. So what? I am still alive and my brother and my father aren’t. I don’t need to see slides to know I exist.

Friday night was lovely. We met with Trish and Allan, and wonderful re-connection with a dear friend from Dalian days. Trish and Allan live in a lovely house, on a ½ acre in Fairfax county. Allan cooked up a delicious New Orleans style dinner and lively conversation was had by all!

Though the GPS said it was about 40 minutes down the road, we decided to leave at lunch time and explore the area. We checked out a few shopping malls (had not done that for a while). The first one, Landmark Mall, in  Alexandria, Virginia was completely derelict. Only a large Macy’s and  Sears where there, the rest was boarded up. Weird. The second one, Tysons Corner Centre in McLean, Virginia was fabulous. Book shop, nice café with tomato soup, a train station and a movie theatre. A perfect mall!

We realised when we got home that night that we had been running the car on empty for too many miles. Given the extreme cold, this could have been not-so-nice.

07 January Saturday DAY 43 of trip

Finally got a bit of snow. I want two feet of the stuff. We had a fair amount when we were driving around last week in New York – see last blog, but not like what we used to get when we lived in upstate New York (2002 – 2010). We did get about an inch and a half, enough to cover some of winter’s brown but never enough.

Narda went with Liam and Chris to Ikea to buy furniture. I stayed home and had a bit of a play in Photoshop and catching up on a writing project I have had little time to do these past six weeks, no doubt something to do with travelling and not enough down time. Took some photos of Liam’s toys in the snow for some future picture work. See http://tinyurl.com/hjt7lrf

When Chris, Narda, and Liam got back we bundled up and headed out to the snowfields – well actually down the street for a block to wade through the one and a half-inch snow.

cambodia-embassey

Looked at P&O cruises out of Sydney instead of flying to some far-flung-foreign destination and there is one during my birthday time so we may do that one. Anyone having any recommendations for a cruise let us know. If nothing else at least I will know that someone read this blog.

Made eggs with Liam in the evening

img_16028 January Sunday DAY 44 of trip

-9C off to Safeway for groceries –  Took Chris and Jessica to Slims for lunch. We have had been to Slims before over there on the corner of Upshur and Georgia Avenue. There is a limited menu but worth the effort. I tend to go for the eggs and grits and the others like meat pulled off animals. The wait time of almost an hour on a cold day was a bit budget though once settled into our booth we are all content.

We took a bus to the White House – then to Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.

We froze waiting for the bloody bus and thawed by the time we got to the White House. Of course, we being lowly citizen could not get anywhere near the place.

nardawhitehousecomments

I, who sometimes lobby hard and get my way, ‘suggested’ that we climb to the top of the hill where they have that Washington Monument monument. Narda could not believe it. We had walked all around the White House looking where we could get at least one photo. We were shooed away from each street nearby and we were thinking we were getting frost bite. When we lived in China, way up north, even when we went to the Harbin Ice Festival we were OK but we were dressed for it. The warmest for today was -6, I think that is 18 Fahrenheit, add a bit of strong wind to cut through our clothes and we were almost ice cubes.

But as a loving wife who ‘understands my photographic needs’; “but honey the pictures will be fantastic look how blue the sky is…” or some such rant, side by side, wind picking up, temperature dropping we managed to finally get to the top of the hill to the entrance. I pointed out from the start that there appeared to be very few people going up to the monument, no doubt because it was so cold and we would not have to wait in line and I could guarantee that it would be warmer inside and of course going up the elevator to the top for our spectacular pictures would be warm and we would not have to wait in line.

We dragged ourselves to the entrance door,

closed

Oops…

Well how was I supposed to know that?

Narda said we were going into the first open building we got to. I was in a bit of the bad-books and could not offer any suggestions such as perhaps going to another monument.

smithsonian-national-museum-of-african-american-history-culture

Barely able to get into the door because we were so frozen the first person said “you cannot get in without a ticket”. Narda said we need to just come inside the door to get warm and a kind lady at the check-in thingy said that she had two extra tickets and we could go in. We were so grateful. The first thing we did after the toilets was to go to the ‘Sweet House Café’ – talk about pricy – we each had a small cup of coffee and a small sweet (I was so cold I thought stuff the low-carb nonsense I need sugar to get my blood moving and got a fudge thingy) for $17.05. Now I know how they funded this new building. Because the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is the newest Smithsonian museum there apparently are heaps of folks who want to get in so one needs to get a ticket. Tickets are free but they allocate a date so the place is not over crowded. Perhaps because it was cold or maybe fewer people go here on Sundays it was not too full.

For us white people this is a real eye opener. We were both amazed and the hour we spent there was far from enough. I guess what struck us both is how our current society, the Western World, is built on top of slavery. Beginning in the fifteenth century and until recent times and in some places of the world even now, it is the slaves who create the wealth of a country. The United States was not built by hardworking individuals but by slaves who worked for a minority of white men.

I remember a segregated south. When my father would take us on trips through the south in the 1960s there would be segregated toilets and areas in restaurants. I don’t think I even saw a black person, except if we were travelling (there surely were none in the area of upstate New York I grew up in) until I left home at age 16-17.

And where was the church or any other religion for those five-hundred years? Well they were making money too off slavery. I shouldn’t go into all this but suffice it to say that the National Museum of African American History and Culture is well worth the visit. Not just a place to defrost in.

Walked heaps took a bus to Chris’ church got there only half frozen.

Made zucchini spaghetti for dinner.

09 January Monday DAY 45 of trip

Home Narda working on Chris’  Ikea furniture. Chris has collected non-collectables from Ikea – you know those flat boxes that just need a nail and a screw to make them become 3-D? Narda and Chris worked all day on those cupboards and drawers and still were not done. I was as supportive as I could be – I stayed out of the way, and spent the day on this laptop. Due to luggage constraints we only brought one computer on this trip which means sharing and with my usual work-load averaging eight-hours a day on this thing I have not had too many straight forward shots of non-physical contact to exercise my digital-self. We also bought only one phone card when we got here – imagine sharing a phone with someone, but we have and it is good. We just get lost together now.

Made spaghetti squash for din din. We have not found this in Australia and it was a favourite when we lived in New Jersey and New York. Liam loved it. Actually, little Liam has liked everything I have made, even tofu, to the wonderment of the eye-rolling folks at the other end of the table. I am sure Liam would be a happy little vegetarian alongside of me given the chance.

10 January Tuesday DAY 46 of trip

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Fact Check: Washington D. C. is bugged

Took a bus back to the Museum of Natural History. WE were just in time to see the Imax film, narrated by Robert Redford, on America’s National Parks. A really beautiful film, worth seeing. Some amazing sights. I scribbled notes for future travel. Then we checked out the Insect Zoo where I got to cuddle some critters!!! We bussed/trained it back home; stopping half way for another Panera tomato soup lunch; the best! Then it was our turn to pick up Liam from day care. He was happy to come home with us, though he did ask where daddy was. We stopped on the way home to pick up some groceries. Liam, while we waited at the checkout, was able to communicate to the old black guy riding a red scooter, also in line; that he would like one of those too!

homeless

Here are the homeless in a wealthy city where rents are sky high. I walk by, give them a couple of dollars to salve my conscience…..and feel BAD, just bad. Easy to say, why isn’t the government doing something, but much harder to actually get off my own bottom and do something myself.

loos

AND THAT IS ALL FOR THIS BLOG. Thanks for reading. We have five more days in DC then to Utrecht, The Netherlands via Helsinki for a month. No doubt we will have stuff to say in a bit too. Today, Narda is still working on assembling the Ikea stuff and I am having a bit more time on this laptop then we are off to some museum though we will have decided which one when we feel we have been on the bus long enough and say “let’s get off here”.

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

Our next blog will be next week after Helsinki and settling into Utrecht, The Netherlands for a month

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

 

Snow country

25/12/2016 NYC ~ DAY 30 of trip

We wanted to leave early to have a day in NYC. But by the time we got laundry done, went out to dinner, and started re-packing for the week ahead it was ten pm Christmas Eve. We had gotten back to DC from Portland at six pm and we were tired from starting at 4 am as written in the previous blog, ‘Oregon – oh so legal now’.

While planning for this trip in Adelaide we thought it would be nice to spend Christmas day in NYC. It would be nice and quiet, everyone would be indoors with family having presents and dinner. And we thought, let’s book a hotel in the Wall St area, there will be no one there, everything is closed, plenty of parking on a public holiday. HOW WRONG WERE WE! Every ‘man and his dog’ was there. Millions of tourists had swarmed the city. We, also tourists, joined them like sheep. First Time Square. When we lived there we NEVER went to Time Square. “That is just for tourists”. Ha! Here we are, shoulder to shoulder with citizens from all over. Actually, after a short time, it got a bit tiresome, struggling for your spot on the pavement. We found us a nice little Indian joint at 160 E 44th St, called Minar. It looked empty, cheap, scruffy, our kind of place. We ate a delicious Indian meal, topped up with the inevitable mango lassis. Yum. We sat in front, facing the street, and watched the peering tourists reading the menu, then we gave them thumbs up and brought them inside……I recon about 8 people. We’re going back next week to collect our free meal. Just kidding. We have a soft spot for all things Indian as we plan a future trip there..soonish, hopefully.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Then on to the Rockefeller Centre and as you can see the crowd followed us. Taking the subway back downtown we checked out the new World Trade Centre, interesting. There is a tree which survived the whole tragedy, standing still, only metres away from the South Tower. Amazing.

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree

A Callery pear tree became known as the “Survivor Tree” after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth. https://www.911memorial.org

There is even a free children’s poem eBook: http://tinyurl.com/hkldtgj

The new WTC subway stop is a strange, spectacular cross between a super modern cathedral and a high-end shopping mall. Locals complain that there are not enough escalators. We noticed that too. Back in the day when we used this stop there was a bundle of about 8 escalators, side by side taking one down to the PATH stop; now it’s just individual ones. Weird.

 

World Trade Centre subway stop

World Trade Centre subway stop

Our hotel was fine, Holiday Inn Express on Water St, though the heater was bloody noisy, and so I turned it off, and shivered all night.

42nd street Times Square

42nd street Times Square

26/12/2016 Monday ~ DAY 31 of trip

Next morning we negotiated a somewhat mild Holland Tunnel and went to visit Nancy and Larry in Jersey Heights. Nancy, an artist, has a house that looks like a gallery, full of beautiful, funky and interesting stuff. It was a great visit.

So far in our wanders we have yet to meet a Trump supporter. People are still in shock and concerned about the future. Our flight to Europe leaves five days before the inauguration – but we want to see the streets of DC though our airline won’t change our flight. We will have to watch the shenanigans from The Netherlands.

David Bowie on building Hoboken, New Jersey

David Bowie on building Hoboken, New Jersey

Oneonta, Monday 26th Dec, day 31

The next day we started driving upstate and gradually the whole world changed from rust brown to white. There was no actual snow falling, but as we got closer to Oneonta, there was ice. This would have been fine on the highways. They are generously salted, and ploughed, but our GPS, actually both of them, decided to take short cuts, which we, like good little citizens, followed. Several times we had to turn back because the roads were closed., or completely covered with ice. We found out that you really can’t drive uphill on ice.

We finally arrived two hours later than we had promised at the home of Terrell’s sister, Susan.

Fortunately for me I had made a large batch of my special cookies (no, not special cookies like they make in Oregon) and that became a large part of my diet on this week’s trip. Narda found other things to eat but I am finding less all the time in shops that I will put into my body. It is not because my body is some spiritual vessel, or that I am opposed to the unpronounceable ingredients on packages under the term ‘nutritional content’, with their funny terms for sweeteners, salts, artificial flavours, factory-created fats, colourings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives and just some made up chemical terms that have no specific purpose.

low-carb cookies

low-carb cookies

My cookies are in some random amounts made up of: coconut flour, baking powder, flax seed, almond flour/meal, coconut flakes (pea protein powder in Australia – I have not found that here), almonds, walnuts, any other nuts I have, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, butter, stevia, almond milk (I prefer to make my own by soaking almonds overnight then taking their skins off – adding four cups of water and beating the hell out of them), though today I bought some organic processed milk – a rarity, but there was no time to soak) and if I have vanilla I add that and a half-dozen eggs more or less. My recipe changes at times dependent on what I can grab from the shop. I make about two-dozen rather large cookies at a time and freeze them. They lasted on this week’s trip until the last day when the last two tasted a bit funky. Narda is not opposed to them and says I should save them for me as I am a bit picky when it comes to food. Maybe she hates them and says to save them for my diet to be nice. (N:Truth is he puts peanut butter in them……eewww)

I forgot to bring our bottle of apple-cider vinegar (“with the mother’”) so my diet was already suffering and we did not have Chris’ Vitamix to make smoothies to pour over my cereal which is basically similar to the cookies except for the eggs and coconut butter and butter not included but I did have the nuts and seeds as I try not to eat oats or anything that would make my blood sugars go up or would cause Narda to think I have finally gone ‘normal’.

But that all was just a side-track to our immediate journey.

Our GPS hates us – both of them.

We had left New York City, visited Narda’s workmates from her NYC teaching days and were heading northwest to Oneonta, New York. We were already upset with both our GPS (Garmin) and the Google Maps on our phone. Both had gotten us lost going to New Jersey weeks earlier when we had to go collect my computer that I had left on a bus from NYC to DC (that pitiful, though happy ending, story was in a previous blog) and it would have gotten us lost getting to our visit in Jersey if we had not already known the way.

our GPS hates us and took us off onto this icy road to nowhere

our GPS hates us and took us off onto this icy road to nowhere

But now both the GPS and Google Maps were really mad at us. We were motoring happily along on interstate 86 headed toward Binghamton and yes, of course we would have to head east at some point but first one then the other got us on to some smaller road which led to a smaller road. Because it was getting to be late afternoon and the temperature was dropping to below freezing (-2 C or something below 32 F) and there was some snow or rain or drizzle falling we saw several cars that had slipped off the road and two that had just crashed. We got to another turn off and yelling at our directional devices, which by the way does no good, continued like idiots following their looney-bin directions, until we were stopped by some emergency vehicle and told that we had to turn around and go back because the road we were on was closed due to accidents. By now we were really getting lost and after finding this quaint little town, Walton, we were sent off onto even a smaller road – like one lane. We asked a man walking a dog how to get to Oneonta and he pointed to the road ahead and named a litany of strange sounding roads thereafter. He ended by saying that his mother was from England too. Not quite the right thing to say to an Australian and as Narda was driving and on an icy road she was unable to do a burnout but following the man with the dog and a mother from England and our GPS and Google Maps drove us forward until we got to a hill that we could not get up. We spent a long time turning around inch by inch and slowly headed back to the bit larger road we had been on to begin with. We got up to Franklin and instead of putting us onto the main highway (route 88) our Google Maps (by now we were so mad at our Tom Tom GPS that we locked it up in the glove-box) took us through many winding streets until we got to my sisters fifteen minutes before her son had to catch a bus back home in northern NY (Potsdam I think, on the Canadian border) but I did get to see Dustin before he left.

But now both the GPS and Google Maps were really mad at us. We were motoring happily along on interstate 86 headed toward Binghamton and yes, of course we would have to head east at some point but first one then the other got us on to some smaller road which led to a smaller road. Because it was getting to be late afternoon and the temperature was dropping to below freezing (-2 C or something below 32 F) and there was some snow or rain or drizzle falling we saw several cars that had slipped off the road and two that had just crashed. We got to another turn off and yelling at our directional devices, which by the way does no good, continued like idiots following their looney-bin directions, until we were stopped by some emergency vehicle and told that we had to turn around and go back because the road we were on was closed due to accidents. By now we were really getting lost and after finding this quaint little town, Walton, we were sent off onto even a smaller road – like one lane. We asked a man walking a dog how to get to Oneonta and he pointed to the road ahead and named a litany of strange sounding roads thereafter. He ended by saying that his mother was from England too. Not quite the right thing to say to an Australian and as Narda was driving and on an icy road she was unable to do a burnout but following the man with the dog and a mother from England and our GPS and Google Maps drove us forward until we got to a hill that we could not get up. We spent a long time turning around inch by inch and slowly headed back to the bit larger road we had been on to begin with. We got up to Franklin and instead of putting us onto the main highway (route 88) our Google Maps (by now we were so mad at our Tom Tom GPS that we locked it up in the glovebox) took us through many winding streets until we got to my sisters fifteen minutes before her son had to catch a bus back home in northern NY (Potsdam I think, on the Canadian border) but I did get to see Dustin before he left.

then our loving GPS took us into even deeper snow

My sister… I was adopted in 1950 (already I was a bit old – like three) and did not locate my blood brother and sister until 1988 through a series of long and complicated adventures. See Leaving Australia, ‘Again’: Book 2 ‘After’ @ http://tinyurl.com/z6mzxof. My brother (in Hawaii) and my sister, Susan in Oneonta, and I shared the same mother. I have seen Susan four short times previous: 1992 with my two boys in Herkimer, New York, and in 2003 and 2010 or so with Narda in Oneonta. This was the first time Narda and I stayed with her and her daughter, Nikki. Her other daughter, Amanda and her two children came over while we were there.

family

Oneonta is a college town with the State University of New York College and Hartwick College flooding the city with hordes of undeveloped prefrontal cortex humans (there is an interesting article online “Understanding the College Student Brain” you can read after reading our blog). What is interesting in my world is Hartwick College.  I know one of the professors there whose daughter went to school with my sister’s daughter. He is the cousin of my friend Dell (who lived in Guatemala and we visited him a few years ago. I have the blog “Dell and life in general” @ http://tinyurl.com/zj6ppfr). I have always seen life as connections and links; synchronicity in real-time. The World Wide Web, invented in 1991, illustrates this so well. We live the future in the moment by links made in the past. Of course, no one knows how far ‘the past’ is. An immediate past, or a past forged in another time, perhaps in another life time even. No one knows. We go through life never knowing why we have such connections. Perhaps it is all just random stuff with no interpretation needed. Or maybe not. Whatever the caper I found myself at my sister’s who I did not know of until I was in my forties who lives next door to the cousin of my friend from my 1972 – 1974 New Orleans days. I find these connections all the time. Even at this moment as I write about my sister and her family they are all on Messenger-group texting back and forth and they would not know I am writing about them or that I have my phone next to me with their texts going back and forth. Life is cool.

I left Terrell with Susan in Oneonta and met with Diana, Cathy, and Ann for lunch in Cobbleskill. It was a really nice restaurant with a gift shop, taking up lots of rooms, a wine tasting cellar downstairs. So great to catch up with 3 wonderful women that I used to work with more than 10 years ago. We had so much to talk about, and yet everyone was the same, despite lots of water under the bridge.

Narda's teaching mates from Albany Academy

Narda’s teaching mates from Albany Academy

In the process of looking for fulfillment of our state of hunger Susan told me about the cult group The Twelve Tribes (http://www.twelvetribes.com/) and their restaurant, the Yellow Deli (http://yellowdeli.com). Being an escapist myself from a cult back in the 1960s-1970s I was curious how a hippie-cult still existed. The restaurant was great; a creative and natural looking place, with great food, especially vegetarian. I had soup and declined the bread due to my low-carb diet and my sister and niece had a salad and some other eatable matter. They have these Yellow Deli restaurants in many places including Australia (Katoomba, the hippie area in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney).

Liking to have some say in dinner, Narda and I made a spinach soufflé and happiness was experienced by all. I got to know more of my family, my sister and her family. The fact that it has taken me sixty-nine years to hear stories of my mum and other members of my origins was good. Susan reckons we are one-eighth Chippewa Indian but without one of those DNA tests that are floating around the world I am not sure. I thought for a few days of doing a test to discover my heritage then decided against it. The reason being is that until I was in my forties I had no idea about my blood family and never identified with any nationality. With two passports I consider myself a world-citizen and that is all I need to know. Narda is a world-citizen too; born in The Netherlands, raised in Australia, lived in the USA for nine years and married to a Yank. Though she is Dutch through and through with about five-hundred years of pure heritage until I came along. So perhaps my people sold Manhattan to her people for some shiny trinkets – it makes sense; land for sparkly jewellery. I have five planets in Leo, I do understand. Of course, being of the Twitter – Internet generation (OK a grandparent of the Twitter – Internet generation) and having observed in horror the news of 2016 that especially the Republicans spun, without fact-checking I am sure the Dutch gave the Indians $24 worth of useless glass beads for Manhattan. After all it would have been on the World Wide Web if it had existed and Trump was tweeting. Luckily, I am not political and have no opinions about politics or its aftermath.

28/12/2016 Wednesday ~ DAY 33 of trip

We had the top floor, not the attic, but the top of the house with skylights which Narda pointed out were covered with snow when we awoke. I checked my phone to see if was or had been or would be snowing and no, no chance of snow. In fact, my phone said it was a sunny day. Luckily Narda was OK with going out and shovelling and warming up the car. We used to call it ‘hero of the dawn’ when we lived in upstate New York for four years and one of us had to go out and shovel out the car and defrost the windows so we could drive to Albany for work. And yes, I had plenty of ‘hero of the dawn’ episodes.

hero of the dawn

hero of the dawn

I like texting as much as the next guy but I think we take it to a new level when we text someone in the same house. Susan texted me to see if I was awake and what were we going to do for breakfast. She was downstairs and we in the upper room. Narda has texted her son too from our home in the basement (a nice little apartment) all the way to the third floor. When I see a couple having coffee at the local hip-shop I wonder if they are texting one another.

We left Oneonta and family at ten am and visited the last of my family, Jason, my nephew, from my mother’s side, in Albany. After checking in at the Albany Hilton Garden and leaving our crap we went to visit my cousin from adoption, Joyce and her son Derrek. Knowing they no doubt had different political views than us we avoided all political talk and had a nice time. Joyce had looked after my (adopted) father for decades and we were often in contact with her and her friend, Bud, as my father aged from 97 to 102. We had a few difficult times after our protesting about the war in Iraq and they’re in favour of it, but at the end of the day family is what matters and we sort of got past our differences. Joyce being five or so years older than me remembers me as a troublesome teenager. It is intriguing to look at someone and wonder what they remember of you.

We had dinner at a nice restaurant in Albany with my friend Kathy and her husband. Kathy was my first girlfriend when I was a teen and we have corresponded with her over the years. Being a real-estate person she helped us with our houses in Round Lake and now that Narda and I are becoming grey-nomads we are asking questions of others who have been travelling around doing the same. Kathy and Jim have a new mobile home setup and had spent the better half of last year in their caravan (RV to Yanks). Again, what do people remember about us? Do we change much in fifty-nine years?

29/12/2016 Thursday ~ DAY 34 of trip

We got an early start because it was starting to snow. An early start for us now that we are flirting with retirement is ten am. We were on the way to Woodstock, New York to see Marta (http://martawaterman.com/).  Marta too knows me from my teenage years as she was the girlfriend of my adopted brother, Robert. Marta has written and published a book about Robert along with the author Marc Seifer (http://www.marcseifer.com/), and me (though I am on the cover as one of the authors it was really Marta and Marc who put this together. I just offered some poems and photos and other artefacts).

book-covers-resized

Before heading south, we had to go see Liz, the real estate lady who sold our house in Round Lake, New York (http://neuage.org/house/) five years ago. She had found four boxes I had left in the shed. For years I thought they were some small boxes, perhaps of papers so I said the next time we were in New York we would collect them. Holy Cow! Four large boxes. Seventeen carousels of slides (each with 140 slides) plus lots of old books and papers. We put them in the boot (trunk) and drove off. Now we are not sure what to do with them. As we are on this little four-month world-retirement-visiting-folks-tour we have no room for anything more. I am sure there will be some discussion between the wife and me about this little matter in the sweet bye and bye.

Being in the dog-house is an expression of where one should be put. Chris texted and wanted to know if we had used the stove before leaving on our week’s adventure. They had gone to Tennessee for Christmas and we were the last in the house. Well it was me. I had eggs for brekky and somehow left the gas on and when they got home after five days away the house was full of gas. They had to wait outside in the cold with baby Liam for an hour. I would not be surprised if I get shuffled off to a nursing home soon.

By the time we got to Kingston the snow was falling at a steady thick rate. For a while there was almost a white-out, with the snow making visibility non-visible. We had Narda’s son’s car. We had managed to demolish his car several years ago in a freeway accident in Alabama, not our fault but still it happened coupled with the fact we had not driven in snow for five years made us nervous. Marta was unable to drive from her unploughed home on the back hills of Woodstock so we bunkered down at the Best Western just off exit 19 on the New York State thruway. Being hungry again, perhaps because we hadn’t eaten since morning, we found the Kingston Buffett. I usually am not too keen on Chinese all-you-can-shovel-down eateries but having had limited food choices for the week my needs for vegetarian low-carb matter was adequately fulfilled though perhaps not of organic status and we slept the night away dreaming of fulfillment. Well at least I did.

Woodstock not summer 1969

Woodstock not summer 1969

30/12/2016 Friday ~ DAY 35 of trip

We met Marta at a diner for breakfast and she brought us a set of Robert’s books. We do not get to see folks from our past that often as we all get so scattered over the place. We saw Marta about six years ago and before that in about 2005 and before that I knew her as my brother’s girlfriend in Clifton Park, New York, in the mid-1960s. I like the fact that time, friendship, spaces, have no boundaries.

So far in the first thirty-five days of our trips we have seen eighteen people from our (my) past. Four from when I was a teenager more than fifty-years ago, others since Narda and I have been in the States (2002 – 2010) and we will be seeing more from our working days in China that we will visit with here and in Thailand and Narda’s son in Cambodia and here we are living for six-weeks with Narda’s son and daughter-in-law in DC. We are getting snippets of people’s lives. We are re-entering lives. In a sense, there is little difference between going from room to room; there are these years in between but they lose all significance when we are together. Sometimes the initial moments are a bit awkward but soon we could have seen one another yesterday too, instead of years ago. Perhaps having social media connections helps us keep up with one another’s lives and it is more like we have never left.

We stopped at the Woodbury Outlet Malls at exit 16 on our way back to NYC. Crazy day to go, so many people there, it took us ages to get a car park, and even longer in a queue for a pair of trackies. But are nice trackies and I get to leave my old worn out ones, also bought in the states, here for car polishing cloths! ($20USD for nice Nike trackpants….maybe ..not sure…..if it was worth the wait).

After a way too short of a time with Marta and sharing stories of the past few years we got back onto a well salted and ploughed highway and got to Millburn, NJ in the early afternoon to see our lawyer, Marilyn, who had two stained glass pieces we had made. Narda and I had taken stained glass window classes about a decade ago in upstate New York and had made these two groovy pieces which were in the window of our house in New Jersey. When we sold it we forgot to take our pieces and realised when we were in Australia, that we wanted them. Marylin who was involved with our house because of some horrible tenants, rescued them for us and kept them for whenever we would return to the States. We have no room in our luggage for them, but we’ll see. The de-clutter course we took many years ago is just a fading memory now.

two-stained-glass

Being too tired to brave the last couple of hours to DC we stayed at the Clarion Hotel The Belle, 1612 N Dupont Hwy, New Castle, Delaware. We stayed here a couple of weeks ago. Nothing exceptional except the room was cold until we figured out the heating system so Narda rang the front desk and asked for a blanket. When Narda was told that housekeeping was closed (at 8 pm – never heard that one before) she asked Bobby, the front desk person, where she could get a blanket and he said at Walmart. I thought this was so rude that I wanted to write it up in TripAdvisor’s judgemental-thingy but Narda thought it could have been just a misunderstanding. I am not so sure. We were not going to run out at night and purchase a blanket while travelling because the motel would not provide one. My friend Randy who we stayed with in Eugene the week prior has never been in a Walmart in his life due to philosophical reasons. Where would he have gone?

31 December Saturday DAY 36 of trip

Left after breakfast about ten am drove around Wilmington – got lost thanks to our GPS from hell.

Took country roads until Baltimore then onto i-95 stopped at a Spanish supermarket with little written in English (in Washington DC) and got our sorry asses home in time to babysit Liam so Chris and Jessica could go out for New Years. First Liam then us – all asleep long before midnight. How can tomorrow be a new year? What nonsense. It is really just tomorrow. The first day after today. But many people do go bunkers about it all being a turning point. To us tomorrow is just the next new day to explore and be opened for an amazing time.

salt-and-train

To DC about 2:30 pm

Made cookies and zucchini spaghetti had vinegar (with ‘the mother’) in my freshly squeezed organic lemon water and made a smoothie with almond and coconut milk, avocado and other nutritional stuff. Then I felt wholesome.

liama-and-us

img_1564

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

Marijuana friendly-Oregon

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

Sunday 17-12-2016 Day 22 of one-hundred fifteen of our round-the-world retirement catching up with family and friends tour and trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet

Despite dire warnings about the Artic Vortex and freezing rain, our flight to Portland took off right on time. Terrell and I had asked for a window and an aisle seat, hoping for a free seat in between. It was not to be, another passenger came between us and we stayed put. I watched 5 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy straight, so I wasn’t much company anyway! We had brought our own food, cheese sandwiches, snacks and chocolate, so we’re right on budget. And there’s free coffee and tomato juice on the plane.

Randy was right there waiting for us at the Portland airport, a really nice airport actually. We spent the first night in Portland with Randy’s friend Tony, who kindly put us all up. The following morning, a nice brekkie of eggs benedict with some other friends. Then off to Eugene the next morning. The last few days have been really relaxed, catching up on lot of stories. The freezing rain was quite spectacular, sparkling all the trees, bringing a few of them down. Now we have regular rain; more typical of the area. Eugene’s a great little town, very organic, nice size, folks on the treat are really friendly. Randy’s place is a lovely old house, full of interesting nicknacks. Gezellig! We’ve slept pretty well, though this morning I was awake at 4.30…a little out of wack from the east coast. Randy is a gracious and generous host; we’ve had lots of lively conversation.

Breakfast with Tony, his ex-wife, Randy, and me was at Biscuits Johnson Creek, a great place to eat with meals large enough that Narda and I shared our breakfast.

snow-road

Portland to Eugene on I-5

I think what strikes me firstly about the States is the amount of homeless people. There always have been homeless but this time there seems to be a lot more: Hawaii, New York City, Washington DC, now Oregon. In Portland we see people in the snow under pieces of plastic or living in their cars. It is below freezing but people are still living outside. Driving into Portland there are several tent cities.

Portland's homeless - Portlandia's other people

Portland’s homeless – Portlandia’s other people

Of course there is the general, all over the States, forebodings of the next president. We have not met anyone that feels positive about this and every city we go to the local newspapers paint a dire picture. Of course Americans are generally positive and giving, but there is this dark shadow looming. We made our plans for this trip almost a year ago due to the complex nature of going to so many places and catching up with people. Now we wish we had added a week in DC so that we could be there on the 21st of January. Instead, we are leaving on the 17th for Europe. Everyone says it is a good thing that we are leaving before the inauguration but we would have liked to be present during the actuality of this train-wreck. In other visits to the States there is very little political talk when we are with our friends and family but it just dominates every conversation now. Even with strangers. People here are so obsessed with the future.

We have not been to Portland before except for me passing through the airport a couple of times and staying with Randy’s friend was interesting in answering my wondering of what became of the people from the 1960’s hippie culture in California. Well they moved to Oregon.

I first met Randy in 1968 in Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore in Laguna Beach: we went looking for spaceships in an altered state and that is how our relationship began. You know how some people you meet at some point in your life and they pop up or you pop up in one another’s life for the rest of your life? Well that is my story with Randy. He features in my e-book ‘Leaving Australia – Part One – “Before the After”’ available from Papertrell at http://neuage.papertrell.com/id004005007/ or Amazon (where the first ten pages are available to read for free) @ http://tinyurl.com/z4efohb though if you were to purchase it please get it from Papertrell. Just one major tidbit, Randy was mostly responsible for my surname. When I was in Hawaii and sort of had to get married the first time for Sacha’s alleged mother to stay in the country (she was from Australia) we argued over what to do for our surname. We didn’t want to combine them, she didn’t like mine, I barley could pronounce her Russian-Ukrainian name. We spent days trying to agree on a name. One day Randy said in a sarcastic tone ‘you think you are such new age people just change your name to newage’. We looked at it numerically, astrological, egotistically, and every which way. We came to the brilliant conclusion that Newage was a bit tacky so we dropped the w and put in u which was good numerically and astrologically. We got divorced a couple of years later and I was a single parent for the next twenty years so whether our name had anything to do with all this or not I do not know. Narda did not change to Neuage and in fact kept her family name.

Times and places that our paths have met over the past 48 years. Most not pre-planned:

  • 1968 met Randy in front of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love’

    Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore

    Laguna Beach, California in front of the Mystic Arts World; Timothy Leary’s bookstore

  • 12/1969 – Randy gets me into a metaphysical cult order in Hawaii
  • 5/1972 – I get Randy out of metaphysical cult order in Nashville – we go to New Orleans – see each other over next couple of years
  • 4/1974 – hangout together in San Francisco then I go back into metaphysical cult order
  • 4/1980 – work with Randy in Hawaii my first son is born in Hawaii 1/1981
  • 1/1985 – visit with Randy for a week in Hawaii (I have been living in Australia since 6/81) with my two children age 4 and 2 and a half – I am a single parent now
  • 1/1992 – visit for a few days with my two children in Eugene, Oregon
  • 6/2007 – Narda and I go to Randy’s daughter’s graduation – Syracuse University, New York
  • 7/2010 – I visit for a week, Eugene, Oregon
  • 12/2016 – Narda and I stayed with Randy for a week

To make a long story short we stayed at Randy’s mate, Tony’s house in Portland after arriving from DC in the evening.

18/12/2016 Day 23 Sunday

After breakfast at Biscuits Johnson Creek (http://biscuitscafe.com), Randy drove us to his house in Eugene. Trying to stay in control of my diet Narda and I made dinner which was one of our usual-low-carb-vegetarian-easy-make-Terrell-happy meals of mashed sweet potato, spinach, onion (not cooked chopped fine), with vegetarian gravy. For meaties the others had some road-kill or some such dead thing and I had portabella mushrooms – yummy.

Life is easy at Randy’s; laid-back, at-home feeling. Randy has been doing eBay reselling junk or stuff or collectables I believe they are called for more than two-decades and has managed to synchronize working and chilling at a comfortable level. Not being a sports fan except for when NFL football is on TV (they call it grid-iron in footy-mad Australia – which by the way is a totally different game; more of a free for all with a ball in the middle) Randy and I watched the NY Giants lose and another team too which now three days later I have forgotten. We watched the Portland Trailblazers lose too. Narda read and was not concerned by who was losing.

19/12/2016 Day 24 Monday

I lived in Eugene on Friendly Street in 1969 – long story – see my e-book mentioned above.

 

Not Portlandia Terrell 1969 Friendly Street, Eugene

Not Portlandia
Terrell 1969 Friendly Street, Eugene

Yes, that is me in the photo(s) and Desiree has been my friend on Facebook for years. I lived with her and her mother for a few years in California, Oregon, Hawaii. I think of her as my ‘almost daughter’.

We found where I used to live on Friendly Street and as life would have it there is the Friendly Street Market. At the Market there is Moss-Crossing (https://www.leafly.com/dispensary-info/moss-crossing) a marijuana dispensary. Of course for Yanks this is nothing unusual with all the legalization happening across the country but not having lived in the States since 2010 when this stuff was illegal and living in Australia where you surely do not see shops selling pot it was all quite interesting to visit and have a sticky beak around the shop. I know in The Netherlands and other places this is not uncommon. Granted I have not been around this for some forty years and have no interest of re-visiting that phase of my life but a few things about all this. In the past you could be jailed for many years for marijuana possession and now, here you are; giggling in the corner. Unfortunately, except for I think it is Vermont, people who were arrested before it became legal; like about a year or so ago, are still doing their time. I have been asking lots of questions about the effects of legalization as any curious tourist would. Like are there more road accidents or what limits and a whole bunch of stuff that I know everyone else knows except me; a once-were-hippie, who knew lots back then and less than nothing now. How could that be?

So, what I think I have learned in the past couple of days. The difference is between medical and recreational. Medical is legal throughout Canada in about eight states of the USA. Recreational is legal in several states but since I am looking at Oregon we’ll stick to that. Here in Oregon one can purchase marijuana for either medical or recreational. The difference is that there is a 25% tax on recreational purchases. Medical one needs to get a certificate from a doctor. Not a regular doctor as it is not recognized by the doctor’s association folks. But there is a specialized dude that is a doctor but has a special permission thingy and someone wanted a medical certificate must pay a couple of hundred dollars a year so lots of people have their hands into the pot. A person can get any amount they want but can only smoke within their home/property. However, with a medical certificate, as long as the person is not driving, they can smoke. What folks are using nowadays is vape pen which is the same as an e-cigarette setup. All that can be looked up online. Does it affect one’s driving? From my research, no. Are people going around stoned? No. Randy says that there are more marijuana shops in Portland than Starbucks.

People are so friendly in Eugene. Walking along the street, in the shops… why is that young lady smiling at me? Is she high?

  1. She thinks I am a model, a stud, a movie star, rock singer
  2. She thinks I am homeless and people here are sympathetic to them
  3. I remind her of her grandfather who took too much LSD in the 1960s and sits in elder-care dazed and confused
  4. She is being polite
  5. She is high

If I were younger, not retired I would try to get a university to sponsor me for a second PhD doing research on these states that have become legal the past year or two. After all my first doctorate degree was a bit cutting edge at the time (mid-1990s) ‘Conversational Analysis of Chatroom Talk’ and yes, I actually did get a PhD on that and my 500+ page, 150,000 word book is available in e-book form. I would love to research everything; is there is an effect on

  • student’s grades – I know students have been getting stoned forever but it is now different. With these vapor pens one can easily go undetected with a toke. My understanding is that a toke can space one out for four to five hours
  • motivation/ambition – does one become dulled? I have witnessed folks (Not my friend Randy by the way btw) who sit in front of their TV all day just high
  • does one’s philosophy/outlook on life change?

Of course there are many more questions. Maybe this is a government conspiracy to get everyone so stoned that the new awful government can do what they want. After all a large portion of Yanks did not get out to vote. Could it be that they were home and too stoned to do so? Maybe during this administration there will be commercials advocating getting high first thing in the morning and throughout the day to produce a zombie society. “take your morning toke – your government is looking after all your interests – just sit back and cruise – we have your backs”.

Oh, and costs. I forgot to get a price sheet from the pot store – well actually I did but I sent it to my son thinking he would like to see it. But the vapor pen costs $18 and the refills cost about $50 which gives about 300 hits and one hit gives one a high for four to five hours. I cannot vouch for any of the effects but friends, who start smoking when they start the day, give me this info.

We like Eugene. It is a mellow place – maybe because marijuana is legal. There are a lot of organic stuff happening – this is such a wholesome city. I sleep well here too. Why is that? Is there so much pot in the air that we all just lay down and slip off so easily into la la land?

Last night we went out for dinner, Randy’s treat!  It was a Japanese restaurant. We all ordered bits and pieces and shared the food. Quite yummy. Randy’s ex Cheryl and their son Shane came along. Lovely to meet these people.

The restaurant ‘Izakaya Meiji Company’ www.izakayameiji.com  we would highly recommend. Pricing is fine (though because Randy insisted on paying the bill we lost track of individual items) Most individual items were around three dollars. The final bill for five of us was $77 plus tipping which of course to Australians is almost a foreign concept. I got my share of the vegetarian stuff and the others filled up on animal matter.

I lived with Cheryl and Randy when Sacha’s mother arrived in Hawaii (1980) with him inside of her. Cheryl had Sephera inside of her and there was a time we were all at the beginning of parenting and the future was just a seed. Things became unstuck along the way but there was a time in Hawaii that we were all at the start. Though we did not know what that start was. Cheryl, Randy, and I Skyped with Sephera who was in Connecticut and I tried to get Sacha on but sorting out times in Australia with the East and West Coast of the USA did not work this time.

Oh dear we lost a day somehow – but if I hadn’t it would be listed as 19/12/2016 Day 24 Monday and it would be here

20/12/2016 Day 25 Tuesday

The highways into Eugene have so many RV dealerships. Randy took us out for a day of RV window shopping. At the first place we stopped we went into a large bus, with pullout sides. They wanted about $175,000 for it I think. The salesman told us a long winded story about how some rockstar, with a vague connection to Elton John had the dealership store this RV, and when he returned to the area in his jet, they would make it ready for him so that he could take it on the road for week or two at a time. (hmmm I think a fact check might be in order). After he finished his story I asked him if he had something for $5,000. He looked at me in shock. So I went easy on him and said, Ok maybe $10,000 or $15,000. Well, then we were back in business. He showed us a couple of pretty groovy class A motor homes (getting the lingo see..class A is a big square bus). This one was about 22 ft long, pretty good size, a bit old, but quite roomy. A couple of really comfy arm chairs, but a smallish bed.  It was owned by an old lady (who must have driven it to church). The appealing thing was that it was simple; no computers running things, very low mileage (40,000 m) good tyres, all for $15,000. He said that if we traded it back after driving it for 6 months we could pretty easily pocket $10,000 again. No such a bad idea.

We visited another place that had the same kind of range. These $15,000 buses are 1995 model approx., though we did see one 2002model in that range. So it’s doable I think. They really look comfortable, all with full bathrooms, lounge chairs, separate bedroom at the back, decent kitchen. Much more living space than our Jayco at home. Not complaining, mind you.

dsc_0909

My cold flared up again. Productive coughing. (sorry about that). I actually felt really crook later in the day and lay down for a while, slept a bit. When I got up I felt worse, and it felt like the flu. I sat in my easy chair wrapped in a blanket not functioning much. Then Randy offered me a dose of CBD, which is a derivative of the marijuana plant, minus the ‘high’. He put some drops under my tongue. After 5 minutes I started feeling better. No…. really. It was quite weird. I am such a sceptic with this kinda stuff, but for the rest of the evening I felt almost normal. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not. But that’s exactly what happened. As I write this the following morning, I’m feeling pretty good. Go figure.

I am still managing my diet. I made a low-carb spinach soufflé for dinner getting our ingredients from the local you-beaut organic wholefood market. Randy’s friend Moria visited and had dinner with us. She and Randy and their upstairs neighbour stayed with us in New Jersey about six years ago for a week and of course we are seeing everyone we can now on our retirement-world-tour. She was a music teacher, like Narda for decades and we all ate a great meal; she made a mushroom dish and the others ate some animal that was organic or something, maybe it was wholesome and we watched a Portland basketball game. People here seem to support the Portland Blazers. Narda and toddled off to bed, being nine pm, before the game was over so I do not know who won.

21/December Wednesday Day 26

 

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

We left Eugene at eleven AM driving Route 101 along the coast: coming into Florence, stopping at Heceta Head Lighthouse which is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast (the beacon shines 21 miles from land) with a fantastic view – when we were there the waves were quite large which my little photo above does not truly capture. We stopped at Newport, a very similar to Newport, Rhode Island place, had lunch, watched a bunch of sea lions and taking the turn east of Lincoln City managed to get to Portland by 7 pm.

 

sea lions getting high in Newport, Oregon

sea lions getting high in Newport, Oregon

22/December Thursday Day 27

A day of exploring Portland seeing snow-capped St. Helens and Mt. Hood (shown below).

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Our two main stops were Powell’s bookstore with Narda getting “Hotel Honolulu” by Paul Theroux @ $7.50 for a used copy, I got a couple of fridge magnets and a mighty bright light, and shopped at Whole Foods Market, primarily getting food for dinner. As I seem to say in several of these posts, having a specific diet is always a bit of a challenge. One of the ways I have control is cooking the evening meal. I enjoy cooking anyway but staying with folks and suggesting I cook dinner could have opposition but it never has. We have been cooking dinner for Narda’s son and daughter-in-law in DC and again in Eugene for Randy and now at Tony’s house. Tonight’s meal was zucchini spaghetti and as usual I had my meaty (which in this case was tempeh, though usually it is mushrooms), Narda, Randy and Tony had lobster tails. We did not have our veggie spaghetti maker so Narda used a potato peeler to make strands out of zucchini and yellow squash plus we added garlic, onions, and mushrooms and sautéed it and tossed it all into a pot of spaghetti sauce and another rather low-carb meal was enjoyed by all.

23/December Friday Day 28

We watched a couple episodes of Portlandia which is filmed in and around Portland for the past five or six years. According to our hosts it does depict Portland with all its trendy ways.

This morning we went to the Country Cat for breakfast – really good feed; on Stark Street. A Portlandia copy. Hopefully we will catch another episode of Portlandia tonight. Our host, Tony, and Randy drove us around the countryside showing rivers and the burbs. Explored an Airstream (caravan) lot and looked inside several. Narda didn’t ask if they had any for five-thousand dollars. We went to Tony’s daughter’s house and fed the chooks. This is a place we could live in.

portland

24/December Saturday Day 29

The taxi rang at 4:15am that he was outside. We got up at 4 and somehow were showered, dressed, and packed and we were at the airport by 4:38. Portland airport was quite busy for such an early hour. Narda had to go through a special sorting out because we did not bring our passport, thinking that since it was domestic to Portland and back that our driver’s license was good enough. But no they did not know what to do with Narda’s Australian ID. I was OK with a Jersey license that would expire in early 2017. We thought for a moment we would not get on our way but after examining every bit and piece of our body and luggage they decided Narda was no danger to the American way of life as is known.

If we wanted to take the time we could have made money on this trip with all the overbooking the airlines does. Firstly, going to Portland we could have gotten $150 each, then coming back the offer got up to $300 per passenger for a flight Portland to Chicago, and $150 when we were in Chicago to get to DC. In other words we could have gotten $600 each and considering our flights cost $25 total (we used flyby points) we could have come out well. But we want to spend Christmas Day in New York City; just the two of us, so changing flights at any profit was not good. But do take in mind that to gain in the world of flying pick holidays, pay your tickets months in advanced then give up your seat for the next flight for cash. We have done it in the past with our favourite being an upgrade to business from Bangalore, India to Hamburg, Germany just because we were willing to get on a next flight.

The served us Stroopwafels on the plane. They’re not even Dutch. A bloody bonus I recon.

flight

dsc_0943

Days 19 – 21 of retirement world tour reunions

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

Day 19 – DC ~ Baltimore

15-12-2016 Wednesday

The rumour of a polar-vortex starting tomorrow got us out the door and heading north. I had thought that it would be interesting to go past where I used to live @ 1719 Broadway Rd
Lutherville Timonium, MD 21093 in 1977 – 1978 or so for a couple of years. The only reason I know this address is because it has been listed online under ‘Marriage & Family Counselors’ and/or ‘Individual and family services’ for about twenty years. Go figure. Firstly, I am far from a family counsellor, especially marriage. And there is not just one listing but many. (under Terrell Adsit which was my name at the time – having changed it to Neuage in 1980) I am amazed how it stays there. Perhaps back in the 1990s when I was a single parent I put that in for a joke but I do not recall. I am listed in Maryland’s top counsellors pages too. Good grief. I did enjoy living in Lutherville Timonium in the 1970s when I was working as a psych worker at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson and doing art shows around the northeast. For years before then I was in a cult-order that was located in Baltimore then Towson so I wanted to have a bit of a look-see and poke around the area. Once again perhaps I overestimated what could be done in a day. We left our pre-polar vortex habitat a bit later than planned and actually headed out of DC by eleven am with the desired thought of being back before dark. Sure!

Traffic between DC and Baltimore – we sure miss quiet little Adelaide (1.3 million) which has the population of DC (658,893) and Baltimore (622,104) combined with the close to a no-wait traffic pattern. Perhaps few leave Adelaide and fewer come to Adelaide. There surely is no five-lane road; just a couple of lanes up the South-Eastern Freeway toward Melbourne eight hours through scrub-outback try-and-stay-awake territory. But I-95 – give it a miss if possible. We didn’t. Sitting in traffic with absolutely no movement and Baltimore in the distance we manoeuvred ourselves around a truck or two and escaping to a close by ramp with no known perspective of what direction we were headed toward. The first thing we saw after abandoning the freeway was a Dunkin Donut; which of course we did a few days before, vowing not to do again, keeping my low-carb diet low-carbed. But we were frazzled from the drive from DC, which was in reality only a bit of an hour already though we were in dire need of coffee and whatever else they sell at Dunkin Donuts.

I knew we wanted to find the tallest buildings as they are near the inner harbour which was one of my original goals to go to after Lutherville Timonium and Towson and Fells Point none of which we were getting to and a couple of other places I wanted to see. Sometime early afternoon we got to some city street that was blocked by police cars with flashing lights. Keeping the tall buildings in view we went up and down several streets with our direction taking us on some historic scenic street, Pratt Street, where the first thing we saw was the B&O Railroad Museum which looked interesting so we parked, went inside, saw a sign about admission but as no one was around we went in and had a great couple of hours looking at and going in trains and hearing tour guides, watching model train sets and generally having a good old time. We assumed because it was part of the Smithsonian Institute was the reason entrance was free. It was not until we told Chris and Jessica about it when we got back that they said it wasn’t free and in fact admission was $18 or $16 for the likes of us (seniors)… oops. We did purchase a fridge magnet for $4 so we did sort of pay our way.

B&O Railroad Museum: Baltimore Maryland

B&O Railroad Museum: Baltimore Maryland

Being hungry and the day quickly slipping away we saw signs for the Horseshoe Casino and knowing that in Australia casinos have good meal deals we went in. For example, Melbourne Crown Casino has an all-you-can eat restaurant which is good for a low-carb vegetarian such as me: lots of choices of lettuces and stuff. There was no smorgasbord at the Horseshoe; just budget, almost fast-food places. I had an omelette and Narda had some meat-induced stew thing.

Narda wanted us to head back to DC about 3:45 to avoid traffic and a sun setting too early. I had yet to see anything that was on my original list and was determined to see at least the harbour. Getting lost and a bit frustrated, by keeping an eye on the Baltimore World Trade Centre, we managed to get to the water; I took a few photos then we fought our way onto I-95. Eventually seeing the road was so slow and getting slower we got across to Route One, The George Washington Memorial Parkway, and into the night getting home at 7 pm. Bottom line, when on holiday, make no plans. Or another translation: our life is a holiday – therefore, we make no plans – or few and they turn out differently than anticipated so back to make no plans.

Day 20 Thursday ~ Solar Vortex day

warm times for all in DC

warm times for all in DC

Not quite Adelaide weather. With the wind-chill it was -14. OK that is Celsius.  17.8 Fahrenheit but cold nevertheless. We stayed inside for the day; a down-day, always so important when on holiday. Though lately it has been about three down-days for every out and about day.

Feeling better today, we have had a few days of feeling a bit crook, coughing, sore throat, but no matter, a few days hanging about has been the right thing.

Jess was done with her presentation at the conference in San Francisco, so we decided to do some nice together slow paced activities. Had a great brunch at a true blue American diner called Slim Jims. I was still full from brekkie, so I had the Greek salad, really yum. Great little place, we hope to return.

Then we had pakjes, which is our family Dutch scaled down gift giving thing. We bought Liam some stuffed Aussie animals and a little music box, which turned out to be his favourite.

The kids went out for a date night, and we stayed in and took care of the little guy. Watched episode 2 of The Crown, really good actually.

Day 21 Friday to Oregon

Now at the Dulles airport waiting for boarding. It’s not a nice airport; pretty old, long walks, not enough food, and low ceilings. Can’t complain though, ours was one of the few flights not delayed by the freezing rain this morning, which coats everything in a layer of ice.  So there’s a lot of folks here trying to fly United, not looking at all happy.

Day 21 Friday to Oregon

ice on my lines

ice on my lines

Above picture is out the front door this morning – the streets and porch were iced up.

This flight is true of all flights, just the tool to get where we are going in life. One minor difference they have only male hosties – Qantas sometimes has that but first time I have seen this on United. The glorified waiter in the sky serving the drinks is grouchy. He looks like he would prefer to be out playing rugby – I expect him to tackle someone if they ask for too much. I wanted tomato juice and coffee he said I already had a beverage – so I asked him again – he gave me that ‘I am a pro-rugby tackling dude’ look but because I am the customer he did cough up the coffee – giving me a half a cup. Guess I will just have to push the buzzer and get him back for the rest of my coffee. The other two seem like happy larrikins so maybe I will ask one of them.

We got this flight at a reduced rate. We used our United mileage points and paid $25 each which seems like a bargain. It is an over-booked flight and we could have gotten $200 each to take a next flight which would have given us a profit of $350 for a trip to Portland but we didn’t want to wait another day. We make too many sacrifices in life to think of profit over fun.

Travelling of course is great but we have this extra element this time of diet and medication to deal with for four months. I also must keep track of this little device that looks like an iPhone. It monitors my defibrillator/pacemaker that some happy-go-lucky cardiologist in Adelaide shoved into my chest a few months ago. Not only do I need to keep the bloody thing charged up but I am supposed to carry it wherever I go. Someone in Adelaide checks it every morning their time and the thing uploads to their server at one am Adelaide time (not the same one that the Clintons or Trumps use I hope; perhaps in some paranoid conspiracy embedded Russian think tank they are following the rhythm of my heart. Gosh, how romantic). I forget which time zone I am in comparison to theirs and forget to have it with me at times because one am in Adelaide is surely not one am wherever I am. Perhaps when they log into my monitor they get a blank and wonder if I am still alive or whether somehow they should send a jolt to restart my heart.

But all that is the easy part of our travel. Next is keeping track of the medication. Liver stuff, diabetes things, party-heart-parts, prostrate and you don’t want to know the rest, I don’t, and on and on. I love being old it is such a thrill. I used to take pills in the 1960s and 1970s for recreation now I take them to stay upright but travel is recreation and on some cosmic level it all is sustainable. I got the pharmacy (that I support) to put my pills into little packs that when rolled up; with the dates and times on each sachet, are the size of a pair of socks; winter socks. I have four rolls, one for each month – another thing to fill our suitcases along with winter crap. By the time we get to Cambodia we won’t need all the winter clothing and my pills will be reduced to one thick pair of socks size. Maybe we can donate our winter clothes at the Amsterdam Airport bin and have lots of room to purchase more crap to put in our house. Like as if we don’t have enough on our walls from fifteen years of travel. Of course writing this now reminded me that I have yet to take my evening pills which are stuck in one of my pockets.

We worry that I will lose my pills or my heart monitor or some other life-enhancing item like we did last week when we (I) left the laptop on the bus between NYC and DC of course as we explained in the last writing that turned out well and we were able to collect it a few days later giving me a new lease on life.

The really most difficult thing though is trying to do a diet. I have always been a bit difficult with travel being a vegetarian. Of course I have done this so long that I forget whether why I started this fifty years ago was because I needed attention being adopted and a Leo or because of the hippie communes I lived in during that time or that when I started I actually had some belief of some sort but what is so groovy about being a vegetarian is that I get my food before everyone else on flights that serve meals which now day is just international flights. if you want to get a meal before everyone else on a flight the trick is to have a special diet – doesn’t matter what. I am always finished and onto wiser things such as playing on my computer or annoying Narda before everyone else gets served. Now with my low-carb diet; yes, it does work for diabetes – I have been doing it for a year and my blood sugars are normal except for when they aren’t which is when I go off my diet. I do a bit of an intuition calorie count which is probably not as accurate as someone counting them exactly. Wow, how boring. I have my fruit smoothie then my veggie smoothie and my seeds and nuts brekky then for morning tea I have one of my homemade you-beaut healthy cookies and a couple of eggs for lunch and low carb stuff for din din. A couple of times we did the Donkin Donut flirt and it fitted into my ‘intuitive’ carb count just as a piece of chocolate sometimes does. I have managed to survive with thirty-seven percent of my marbles still intact so I am sure something is being done right.

Bottom line – still going and almost seventy which I forget but get reminded by my body when I try to do anything too youthful like skip and jump which as you can imagine is rare.

What does keep Narda and I somewhat fit and is important when on the road for months at a time is walking. I do weights at home but they kind of don’t fit into my baggage scheme so on trips we try to walk a lot. here due to the cold we don’t do much but in Hawaii we would walk most of the day.

Almost to Portland now. Lots of interesting stuff for this next week. We will stay with Randy for a week. I have known Randy since 1968 and he has played roles in my life in LA, SF, Hawaii; 1969, again in 1980  I stayed with him in 1985 with my children in tow (age two-and-half and four) and other times and places. I lived in Eugene in 1969 and visited Randy there in 1992 with my two children and the last time was in 2010 when we went white-water rafting down the Willamette River. Perhaps the place has changed since last there.

We’ll see.

The announcement from the flight-deck at arrival @ Portland was something about that there is no smoking of cigarettes aloud in most places in Portland – but other things, well.. which of course got a laugh from everyone as Oregon is now a legal marijuana state. I know when I was living here in 1969 an ounce of pot was for sale at ten bucks and being sold in the cafeteria of the University of Oregon here in Eugene but it was illegal though no one seemed to mind.

NYC – DC days 6 – 14 of retirement world tour reunions

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/

Day Next 6 – 14 /December/2016

After too few hours’ sleep we positioned ourselves into the morning breakfast line at the only eating place open at 7 am in JFK where we were rewarded with a couple of eggs and a slice of tomato for fifteen bucks; they tossed in a bit of fish scraps with Narda’s eggs for an extra few dollars. After blowing our food budget for the day on the first meal we joined the Qantas flight that had originated in Sydney and fortunately had a half-empty full plane to stretch out and get a bit of sleep in.

Actually the breakfast was really good, and the fish scraps where smoked salmon and capers. Nice and salty. Can’t beat that!

Our New York days. We started off with no luggage. Somehow between Hawaii and NY our luggage went awol. So after settling in our back-of Brooklyn apartment (it was a hood, but hey, welcome! brought back wonderful memories of Joisey!) we walked to our local Sears and bought some stuff…coats..much needed, undies, sox and Terrell bought some gorgeous softie pants, made of some wonderful microfibre. He will no doubt live in them as much as possible. I will steal them when I can! Our luggage turned up the next day. So now we’re not sure how much Qantas will contribute to our spending spree. Got some nice stuff though, also in H&M in NYC. Winter clearance sales. (concerned with the fact we could barely close our suitcases and here we are with bags more).

Information girl at Grand Central Station New York CIty

Information girl at Grand Central Station New York CIty

I love New York. I love America and Americans. The two days in NYC were a treat. On Saturday afternoon we spent a couple of hours drinking Blue Moon beer (my favourite…with a slice of orange) with two wonderful friends and colleagues from St Lukes. One of whom has a gorgeous historic home in the middle of West Village (Greenwich Village), one of the only remaining wooden houses, pre-dating all the brownstones in the area.

We did spend quite a lot of time with our NY friends discussing the-end-of-the- world AKA the-president-elect. Grief counselling mainly!

And then there was our lovely lunch with Kay in a nice Brooklyn café on Henry St. So much to talk about. (We taught with her in Dalian, China; visited her and Frank in Yangon, Burma; and stayed with them in Chiang Rai, Thailand earlier this year.)

We have always found New Yorkers to be helpful to strangers, the guy in the subway who was listening to our conversation, and told us that we could not get off where we wanted to as we were on an express train. Or the guy at the street cart who made us coffee (good coffee), and 2 sandwiches for $8 in record time with a friendly well-wish. Or the guy on the street who asked us “how ya doooin”, not expecting to be told how. I thought they only did that in Jersey. Then there was the guy, one of the guys who walk very fast, saying, unprompted, the shuttle is this way. New Yorkers are again in post-disaster mode, the previous one was post 911. Think about it! They are looking out for each other.

The next day we went to the school. I got so many hugs and well wishes. I also met the new music teacher. His class remembered me; it was lovely. They remembered that I had banned the word “like” in the music room. I asked them if they say the word now, and they replied “yes”. So that was my profound impact on St Lukes!!!

The Air B&B apartment was nicely decorated, posters, candles, but lacked some basics..salt, sugar, a coffee maker, a TV, even no towels when we first got there. But it was a good spot in the back of Flatbush, close to Beverly St Station on the 2 and the 5 trains.

I feel really good today; sitting on the bus to DC. Can’t wait to see our loved ones there. This bus is nice, plenty of room, smooth driving. We were told by a consular office from Spain, while waiting to board, that this beats the train by miles. She says that the train is dirty, in need of repairs, and unsafe! Blimey. And the bus saved us quite a bit.

Narda on The Best Bus

Narda on The Best Bus

Had a great ride, that did not end so well as we left the good computer on board. BUGGER

When we got to our stop it was raining. Seeing our suitcases unloaded onto the curb to soak up whatever was falling from the sky we grabbed our coat and whatever crap we had taken onto the bus; and alighted. Running across or dragging our sorry asses more specifically with too much stuff to the other side of Dupont Circle to huddle beneath a bus stop we waiting for Narda’s son Chris to collect us.

Our travels of the past fifteen years have changed from doing a city; sometimes a country, in a few days to weeks in the same place. We get a chance to become locals. There is also my diet which is always a project. Having a low-carb diet is difficult but add the vegetarian trip and other sides then it is a project. Staying in the same place gives me the opportunity to put together my wholesome-time-consuming world. We start mornings with my cereal which is really seeds and nuts and Narda’s is oats and stuff then comes the smoothie. Earlier this year we travelled with a small ninja smoothie bullet setup (as seen on TV) so I could make veggie drinks in Thailand and Cambodia. We could not fit it in this trip as we are carting winter gear which fills every nook and cranny. But there is a proper large mixer for our usage here. Our brekky smoothie consists of yogurt, frozen blueberries, spinach, apple, orange or a grapefruit and a banana which gets poured over our cereal. I use what is left and add my day’s drink which is an avocado, almond milk (I make my own: soaking almonds 24-hours then taking the skin off and adding four times the water to the almonds), kale (I cook up a batch then freeze it and take a healthy amount each day), chia, LSA (not LSD – that was the 1960s – 1970s) and coconut milk/water. BTW, LSA is a blend of ground linseeds (flax seeds), sunflower seeds, and almonds. I haven’t found it in the states so I make my own blend of those things. Then of course to be healthy we need a litre of water a day so I have a one and a half litre bottle I fill and squeeze a lemon in it. All this preparation does not include making meals. Bottom line, we need to stay in a place more than a few days to purchase all the stuff to make my high maintenance diet. I made cookies my first day here in D.C. My low-carb cookies using almond and coconut flour with lots of seeds and nuts and stevia for sweetener. I think I am becoming a difficult traveller. Sitting here this morning with the flu or a bad cold from trying to switch from Australian summer to east coast freeze I am not sure how effective my diet really is. I have been on it for a year now and my blood sugars are often normal giving me that ‘hey, I am normal’ euphoria.

So I realise sometime in the evening that I did not have my laptop. Holy Cow! Utter and sheer panic we ring the Best Bus company and fill out their lost property form online. We stay up half the night changing pass words and I am trying to track my computer with my phone which shows where it was last – Dupont Circle. I had left it on the seat when I put on my cumbersome winter coat dragged from Australia through a week in Hawaii to NYC. I watched all next day, Wednesday, 7th of December, but no one went online with the computer so I started thinking maybe no one pinched it and possibly it got turned in. But where? Best Bus has several depots and as of Thursday, two days since losing it no one seems to have a clue where it could be. Another night of little sleep as I worry about my laptop and whether anyone could get into my bank accounts or webpages and of course not being able to work in Photoshop or play with video creations is a bit of a letdown. But hey, we are in D.C. and what a great place to be.

We went to the police station nearby and reported it as lost/stolen for our insurance company. The police lady was really polite and a nice human being. She asked if there were any government files on it, this is D.C. so I supposed that does happen. I said no there were only some not nice comments about the president-elect which caused her to smile. Did anyone actually vote for this clown?

Friday Narda, Chris and baby Liam (see ‘Finding Liam’ in ‘Liam’s Secret’ @ https://youtu.be/Oy-g3Rpdibo) and I go to the Lincoln Memorial (which also featured in ‘Finding Liam’) then while at home, when Narda and Chris are off to the local playground with Liam I get that exciting email

we have your computer

we have your computer

Holy (organic-grass-fed) Cow! Life is good. People are honest. It was not a cheap throw-away laptop. We paid $2100 for it and the software is worth more than the computer. Usually I save stuff to three backup external drives and on cloud-servers but not for the couple of days before leaving it on a bus bound for New York City.

DAY 8 – 14

But wonderful to be living underneath Chris and Jess, our own little pad, we did shopping, twice, took a nice autumn walk, discovered the Ethiopian store and best of all made friends with Liam!!

What a little honey bun. He learnt his first Dutch word, Oma! And he calls Terrell “Rell”. Yesterday Chris and I went with him to the playground after picking him up from the day-care. Chris throws him up into the air, Liam laughing and then saying “more” or was it “again”? Me standing to the side hardly daring to watch!

Last night we took their little car, very nice actually, to….you guessed it Walmart.  I had no problem with the right-hand driving, but there were a few challenges; lots of traffic, darkness (it gets dark around 4.30pm, blimey) 4 way stop signs on intersections, impatient drivers honking…a lot. And in the car park not being able to engage Park, until Terrell figures it out. Phew…didn’t have to ring Chris.

Terrell and I are both down with the dreaded ‘lurgy’. Sore throats, a bit achy, and no voice to speak of (haha, pun intended). On Sunday we went to Chris’ church. Wonderful sermon I say without bias. A great community of young people and some older ones. We sat next to this interesting couple, she was dressed in gorgeous colours, I wish I had taken a photo, and was writing notes with interesting illustrations. Chris later told us they come from about an hour away and have 7 kids. I would like to meet them again. Last night Chris had another church friend over, we insisted on him eating with us, had some lively conversation. A nice lad, who had come to Chris’ church because of two, separate recommendations. So that’s pretty cool. When Chris left the room, the visitor spoke very highly of him as his pastor.

So here we are, snot, tissues, cold and flu tabs, and many naps. Nice little break to rushing around. They expect “artic vortex” weather later this week. We’ll see. If this is our last blog, then you will know that it was not good. J

Saturday, the tenth, up early and out the door, packed for an overnighter, heading to Hoboken to rescue my laptop from a life of ill fortune. I had this great notion that we could save lots of money by not paying tolls. Just a short nod to Pennsylvania over there to the left then swing back and plough into Jersey with dollars still in our pockets. I mumbled something about ‘just fifteen to twenty minutes out of the way dear’, ignoring Narda’s slight groan from somewhere off in the distance with some barely perceivable hidden though clearly intended thought pattern that suggested a not fully belief I was right.  ‘We’ll be there easily by one thirty’ I proclaimed; another groan in the distance. After all the distance, straight to Hoboken from DC is less than four hours on some hyper-freeway with tolls and aggressive truck drivers so how could a little detour be anything but short? I drove the first section heading out of DC up through Maryland toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was great driving again in the States. We had recently driven to Melbourne from Adelaide and the ten – twelve-hour trip is so boring with little scenery beyond the common outback stuff one wishes they could avoid. There is a town every few miles here in Maryland and all the other States in the area.

We felt in need of a map. A GPS on the phone is great but nothing beats seeing a real map with all the towns and rivers along one’s way. Seeing a sign for a visitor’s centre I got off the main road which was not really a main road to begin with and drove and drove looking for the bloody visitor’s centre. I did discover we were in Carroll County and we eventually came to some outskirts to what seemed to be a large town. Most signs pointed to a Farmers Museum which for unknown reasons we were not a bit interested in. Once in a seemingly town centre we went to the library to ask for a map and take a pee. A friendly librarian sent us off to the ‘official visitor’s centre’ though of course being the creators of their own language in this country spelt it ‘center’. We got our Maryland map and I said, ‘and more importantly – where is a Dunkin Donut shop’? Being morning tea time it made sense to go to the ultimate American morning tea icon. Granted I have lived on this strict low-carb, no sugar diet for this year and I should know better but we did get our donuts and I did feel guilty and a bit ill but the quickly passing pleasure was kind of groovy. We left this ‘historic civil war’ town with their farmer museum and headed toward Harrisburg. It was early afternoon and getting to Hoboken by one-thirty seemed a bit of a stretch considering it was past one now.

Narda took over driving and I the navigation. Harrisburg suddenly looked out of the way so we took Route 27 through Cranberry/Manchester, Maryland and in Pennsylvania took Rout 194 until we got to toll roads going into Hoboken – long story short. We got lost because our GPS did not know about all the roadwork in Jersey and we rocked up at the depot, collecting our prize after six pm.

Milford Mill, Maryland

Milford Mill, Maryland

Having dinner not far from Hoboken at a turnoff from the interstate (toll road) we decided to get to Delaware and booked Clarion Hotel The Belle in New Castle, a fairly adequate place. We got there around 10:30 pm putting to rest my thought of getting to Hoboken at 1:30 pm and to a local country motel by five or six pm. Oh well.

What we remember from our old tromping around the States days is the included breakfast. With my diet I am quite limited to an apple or some such nonsense though Narda liked the bacon and other brekky stuff. Being a lover of covered bridges; we used to search them out when living in upstate New York (2002 – 2006), and found Wooddale Bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle. From there we managed to get home by 2:30 pm Sunday taking toll roads so we could go to Narda’s son’s church thingy.

Feeling ill from colds we lay about and had lovely retired days for Monday and Tuesday. Today, Wednesday, we are headed out to Baltimore; taking country roads, looking for covered bridges, seeing some of the places I lived in 1975 – 1979.

Wooddale Bridge is a covered bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle County, Delaware.

Wooddale Bridge is a covered bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle County, Delaware.

 

Day 6/7 01 – 02 December: Thursday and Friday

70th Annual Kaimuki Christmas Parade

Our last night in Hawaii was as local as you can get.  We took the 13 bus. The actual stop, we discovered on our last day was right outside our block of flats; you just had to go to the other end of the lobby. We chatted for a while with 3 homeless guys, talking about how expensive real estate was in Hawaii. Just before we left one of them came up to me and said, “if I were a bit younger I’d ask you to marry me!” Well there’s one to blog about. I think he was about 50. It made my night. The bus took us about 20 minutes up the side of the hill near Waikiki. We stocked up on some munchies at the supermarket and found ourselves a good seat in the gutter. It was fun. We discovered that if you had a bag, you would be given many gifts by the paraders; candy canes, tootsie rolls, even little lights. It was a fun hour.

Friday 3 December

Our last day in Hawaii. Maybe sometime to return. I have managed to find myself here six times, five from Australia and twice with Narda. We were supposed to have come here in August, 2003, but the events of Leigh stopped it. Our ticket was for a Monday and his last day was the Saturday before which changed everything for me and we went to Sydney instead of Hawaii. (http://neuage.org/leigh.html) It took us thirteen years to get back this time.

Of course I had to compete with a homeless guy that wanted to run off and marry Narda but I had the promise of an upcoming parade to go to and no woman can forego a parade. I used to be in the Shenendehowa High School band in upstate New York back in the 1960s and playing trombone I was in the front row; always a chore for me as there was just too much to keep track of: staying in step, playing the song, and watch where we were headed. I seldom could do all three and usually chose to watch where I was going. I looked forward to seeing a parade that the write up said would involve 1,500 people with lots of floats and several marching bands. Of course you would have seen our  video by now and realised that the parade was a series of mottly groups of disorderly people. But this is Hawaii and there are not a lot of order and rules. When in Hawaii it is best to chill and follow your own path. Life is a parade and Hawaii is the best one.

Now is winter. By tomorrow we will know what winter really means when we get to New York City in the evening with a 4 C forecasted. Looking at my app for the weather right now at all our places we will be in before back to Adelaide (centigrade): Honolulu = 23, D. C. = 9, Saratoga = -3 (that is minus three – we will be there later in the winter when it actually gets cold), Eugene, Oregon = 3, Helsinki – 2 (minus two), Utrecht, The Netherlands = 7, Chiang Ma = 20, Phnom Penh = 26. Of course all those places will change as we get to them being colder for the east coast and northern Europe and warmer for Southeast Asia.

Observations: Observations of a selection in time is always tricky. I am 47-years older than the first time here – damn! It was the 1960s and early 1970s. The homeless dudes we saw in Waikiki could have been my lot. I had a time after leaving the occult order that I got sucked into for a couple of years in Hawaii then later in the 1970s when I had nothing. I had lost track of the girl and her baby I had come to Hawaii with and I was homeless. I went and lived on a beach in Maui for several months then on the big island. I got the money from my parents to get back to New York. Decades of some good breaks got my life from a homeless person in Hawaii to a few months from seventy-years old with a good mate and enough money to make Hawaii a stop on a round-the-world trip.

When I lived here 1980 – 1981 and Sacha was born I had another observation of Hawaii. I worked here and started the parenting thing. I lived in Honolulu and Waikiki those two stages of my life. This time I was here as a tourist. Narda and I were here as visitors in 2002; on the Big Island visiting my brother who I have only seen once in my life (half-brother, same mother – found each other at the end of the 1980s). I stopped here with my children in 1985 as a single parent when we stayed with Randy whom I have known since 1968 and who got me in the occult order here in Hawaii in 1969 and whom we are visiting in a few weeks in Oregon.

Not a lot has changed in Hawaii in those forty-seven years that I have seen during various phases of my life. It has always felt like a long way from anywhere – well it is a couple of thousand miles from the mainland of the USA. To be homeless and out of money here is really being stuck. It is not like one can hitchhike to another place. Money here is generated by the tourists so being older and not in the tourist business and not being Hawaiian is difficult. Maybe being a surfer would be good. Hawaii is very expensive, even more so than Australia. Food is mostly all imported from the mainland or Mexico. Our eggs came from Arizona our milk from Texas our tin of pineapple that said Dole Pineapple on it was from the Philippines – go figure. All that food is expensive. We had decided to be able to make it for four months we would have to have a budget of fifty-dollars a day for food until Asia then forty-dollars a day. We managed to be $78 under budget by the end of this first week so we are proud of ourselves. Our first day we ate at what appeared to be the cheapest eats around and that was $48 by the end of our scrappy little meal. Also, with my low-carb diet and vegetarian high-horse mind-set eating out is not really much of an option. We had better meals than we would have had at restaurants anyway. Then there is the tipping. Australia is free of such nonsense. They pay their servers a fair amount. Why do we have to give 20% to someone that is already being paid to bring us the food? OK so they don’t get paid much – add more to the bill and pay people properly. Here if a meal is $15 there is a service tax, city tax, and then they want a tip so it suddenly becomes $20. If someone picks up your bag they expect a tip. You can tell which are the Aussies and who are the Yanks at hotels or for airport shuttles. Australians say thank you, Yanks give cash. I like to thank people for their efforts.

As I have pointed out prior the best way to get around is by the bus for $2.50 or we just say two seniors and put two-dollars into the thingy. There are also the open-air trolleys from Ala Moana shopping centre to Waikiki for two-dollars. Watch out as they will try to sell a $25 pass for the trolley to get around for the day.

We got the afternoon flight to Los Angeles feeling a bit worse for wear arriving close to eleven pm and getting to the Crown Plaza and to bed closer to midnight than we would prefer. Sinking into the multiple soft pillows I questioned whether we would be getting ourselves up and to the 8:30 AM flight. Unfortunately for my aging body and wobbly consciousness I was awake too many times and Narda told me in the morning that she slept even less.  We were finally, deeply, happily asleep when the front desk rang with an incredible loudness fifteen minute before the requested time of 5.30. There was the inevitable falling forward to the airport where we had a rather good though expensive breakfast. A couple of eggs with a bit of tomato and toast equalling our allotted allowance for the day.

With a good five-minutes of sleep under our belt on the plane’s drift into the clouds we settled in to watch films and I played around with photoshop and some photos of clouds and snowy hills covering someplace in Arizona. I had to make some adjustments because the original photo was too light to discern clouds from snow from earth from something blue so I changed some things; actually the blue was not in the original photo.

clouds outside my window over Arizonia

clouds outside my window over Arizonia

So next stop, New York City and a few days at an Air B&B in Brooklyn before settling in for a few weeks in D.C.

 

Day 5 & 6 of 116 day retirement world-tour > Oahu

Day 5 & 6 of trip or day 4 & 5 in Hawaii 29/11/2016 Tuesday/Wednesday

We are getting better at this time zone change situation. I took this picture when we were almost all the way to Hawaii to remind myself which side of the day I was on. Flying over the International Dateline and the equator at the same time got us twisted about. Of course we were awake for most of the trip whether it was then or now or perhaps even a tad bit before. I am saying this because after only three or four days we are within three or four moments of being almost normal which we are mildly excited about. In other words I was asleep at ten pm last night; OK so I took a sleeping pill, and up at six am. Narda took longer to sleep and was up at 8. Yes, blogs can be this boring and mundane.

Qantas flight to Hawaii - Night and Day

Qantas flight to Hawaii – Night and Day

I was particularly anxious to get an early start to the day because this was the day we were going to go around the whole island. We plan to go around that other island we have lived on since moving back from China and before that New York – Australia, but we will probably take a lot longer to do that. Oahu we were going to do in one day. And cheaply too. There are tours for hundreds of dollars per sucker offered by everyone you meet here. Hawaii is a real hustle but that is what the place survives on. Us tourists, well not us – but ones who actually spend money, shell out the income for these paradise lounge lizards.

The best way and of course cheapest, is to take the Circle Island-via North Shore bus. Bus #55. We ask for the dollar per-trip senior rate even though Narda is five-years too young and I am four years past the mark for it. We average out the 65-year old requirement and that is almost honest. The regular cost is $2.50 so even that is quite a cheap way to get around the island.

The bus, as everything in the States where there is a hint of warmth, was super air-conditioned and we sat shivering because we did not think of bringing a jumper because hey this is Hawaii and it is supposed to be warm. We noticed everyone that got on the bus had a jacket or jumper or something a tad bit warmer than next-to-nothing at all. We got off two hours later at the Dole Planation, on the Kamehameha Highway in Wahiawa, just to get warm and to grab a cuppa. As we had transfers we knew we could get back on the next bus to get to Haleiwa.  It is listed as the number one spot to visit on some tourist brochures but somehow, we were not terribly impressed. There is a large sales place to go through with lots of overpriced crap all with images of pineapples on them. Pineapples themselves, and this is where they are grown, cost a couple of dollars more in the shop than at Walmart. Go figure. Then there is a train ride for eight bucks through pineapple fields which we didn’t go on. I did go on it back in May of 1981 when my parents came over from New York to visit because Sacha had been born six months earlier and they wanted to see him. We went to Maui then too but this trip we are staying on Oahu. The last time Narda and I were here, July of 2002, we did this bus trip too but we did not stop at this pineapple place. We did not go on the pineapple walk for six dollars per person either but chose to look at the pineapple plants around the store and over the fence. What really caught my eye were these trees which are a gum tree though not the same as we have in our front yard back in Adelaide in which we get the occasional koala visiting and I run out and take photos to put on Facebook. These trees are Mindanao Gum trees and have colourful markings. They remind me of paintings from my street artist days (1972 – 1974) in New Orleans (yes, you can see my paintings from any one of my four ‘Thoughts in Patterns” books available in e-book format from (http://neuage.org/e-books/)

mindanao gum (Rainbow eucalyptus) at Dole Pineapple Plantation

mindanao gum (Rainbow eucalyptus) at Dole Pineapple Plantation

We stopped in Haleiwa and got warm again and had coffee, and took the bus to Kahuku. The waves were not high today. Not even at Banzai Pipeline or Sunset. In the next few weeks they can get to 40 – 50 feet swells. We did have good views from our bus window. The night Sacha was born, January, 1981 a previous passing through my life (and having a couple of kids with me) entity and I drove to the North Shore for the birthing experience and the waves were going across the highway (I was working at Queens Medical Centre and we wanted a more natural setting plus we wanted and had taken classes to do the Lamaze underwater birthing trip and Kahuku Hospital was the only one who would go along with it.).

Vans World Cup - World Surf League - Sunset Beach, Oahu

Vans World Cup – World Surf League – Sunset Beach, Oahu

We only saw this from the window:

world cup championship seen from Bus #55

world cup championship seen from Bus #55

Terrell was actually an angel on the bus and let me have his back-row corner seat which was heated from the engine. It was such a relief I nearly wept. No kidding, hypothermia was not far off. The second part of our circle-the-island trip was speccie. Our driver was a speed demon, but not the same as in Cambodia where you seriously start planning your funeral as the bus dodges and weaves at a million mph, while texting. This one was fast and good.

I am sure few folks go to the hospital where their children were born. I have now done it twice both times with Narda. As I explained to Narda it is the process that is enjoyable. Going to Hawaii then taking a day to go to the end of the island to see some little hospital. Not exactly on the tourist top one-hundred places to visit. We only spent ten-minutes inside then went out and got the next bus back to Honolulu.

Kahuku Medical Center

Kahuku Medical Center

It is an Hawaiian custom to plant a tree over the placenta so feeling Hawaiian back in 1981 I did that. Yesterday we looked for the tree planted in 1981 but not sure which it was or even if it was.

Tree planting over Sacha's placenta Kahuku Hospital, Oahu

Tree planting over Sacha’s placenta Kahuku Hospital, Oahu

When we arrived in the rain into Honolulu we bought some groceries at Walmart and had a nice home cooked meal back at the flat. I’m getting quite attached to this place. The weather is perfect, cool breeze all the time, warm enough to swim. Last night we watched a few episodes of Blacklist.

Each morning we get a free coffee and cake from the convenience store, ‘on the house’ as long as we turn up before 9 am. They call it a continental breakfast.

Waikiki lanai meals

Waikiki lanai meals

Our balcony – the ocean is visible between the buildings

30/11/2016 Wednesday

 For us it’s morning tea. So this morning I woke up normally, no pill, feeling good. We went on a long walk to Diamond Head and the suburbs nearby, crossing though a park full of these Banyon trees.

banyan tree at the Honolulu Zoo

banyan tree at the Honolulu Zoo

We discovered open inspections in this area and I managed to drag Terrell inside.

Lady Muck sitting on a $1.6 million Lanai

Lady Muck sitting on a $1.6 million Lanai

The first one was a 2 bedroom flat listed for 1.6 million dollars. The next one was amazing, every piece of furniture hand-picked and designed, all sorts of beautiful jungle colours; only 3.6 million, 2 bedrooms 2 bathrooms. Unfortunately, they did not let us take any photos. Not sure who buys them. I asked the realtor that question and she said they were most often bought by foreign investors. (not teachers!!)

We also, ‘toured’ a house for a few million that was built in the 1920s. I think that is the one we will purchase and in a future dream move into it. There was no shed involved so bringing all my belongings that fill our shed in Adelaide will be a problem. We probably should buy the house and the apartment overlooking the ocean and that way Narda would not send me off to de-clutter classes in the future, again.

Diamond Head Park between the sea and the crater, always one of my favourite parks in the world. Memories of going to music concerts in the 1960s – 1970s in the midst of the volcano. Sitting under coconut tree reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy – feeling like I was part of King Arthur’s Court. Not quite sure what these folks were doing in my favourite park but it wasn’t King Arthur’s Court.

Diamond Head Park butts to the wind

Diamond Head Park butts to the wind

Being retired teachers (we think) (yes, definitely says Narda) we try not to think of school but a surf school would be ideal as long as they stayed in the water and we on land; or we drove their school bus:

Surf School Bus

Surf School Bus

 

Aloha from Narda and Terrell

Aloha from Narda and Terrell

With only two days left in our first stop in our four-month ‘retirement-world-tour’ we hope to get up and about tomorrow, Thursday, good and early though it is already 10:30 pm Wednesday so we may sleep in.

Some other times in Hawaii: 1981, 1982, 1985 with Sacha:

Sacha Neuage 1981 and with Sacha and Leigh 1985

Sacha Neuage 1981 and with Sacha and Leigh 1985

 

 

 

 

Day 4 of 116 day retirement world-tour > Oahu

Nothing says “this is Hawaii” better than having Elvis with some hula girls singing on Waikiki Beach. Yes, it is him – the reason it is blurry is because no one was supposed to have seen this. Like in those UFO photos.

What is more iconic in Hawaii than Elvis with hula girls? Well Elvis with Narda, of course. She looks so happy with him. Luckily, I am not a ‘jealous guy’ as Elvis once sang to me.

Narda duets with Elvis at the Aloha Tower

Narda duets with Elvis at the Aloha Tower

Today we had a bit of a late start – got out of our flat at 12:30. This Hawaiian slow-mellow-relaxed life style is good for us. We grabbed a bus to downtown Honolulu, passing Queens Medical Centre where I worked for a couple of years 1980 – 1981 well closer to a year really. I worked in the locked psych ward – not just with loonies but a bit dangerous ones. We used to give some electric shock treatment; not me but the doctor and I was doing the nursing thing of strapping them in and sitting with them when they came too. I hated the whole process and thought it was a bit mean. So, we wandered around Honolulu for an afternoon. Went over to Aloha Tower, had some lunch and watched a ship come in, and I tried not to talk about my past all the time as that is annoying.

(I was kind of asked not to include my thoughts about the below image but I can’t help myself) We had stopped into Walmart for the loo-toilet-bathroom, whatever they call it in the States, and I was looking at toys as one does. I was fascinated by this particular hula girl doll and the fact that ‘Moana sings her iconic movie song, “How far I’ll go”’ with bold lettering at the top telling us to “TRY ME”. I have no idea what is going on here. My only frame of reference comes from my male reptilian  adolescence brain. And that is all I will say on the topic. I did not purchase it. After a few giggles and being told that I was “not funny” I went on to think about some other thing though I can not recall what.

"How far I'll go"

“How far I’ll go”

I really dislike all the cat and dog things people post – how annoying; saying that, I thought this was an interesting shot. Actually, the dog should be getting exercise and it seemed more interested in my pack of imported spicy Korean Seaweed in individual packs or perhaps the dog near me, than walking.

dog in a basket

dog in a basket

We had a nice sun-setting evening with the beach only two blocks away from home. Finally got my sorry-ass into the water and had a bit of a slash then we sat on the lawn and watched the day disappear into the sea. We love Hawaii and this is another place we could live for a long time though it looks like Southeast Asia is best for us.

We got into a chat on the beach-lawn with this guy from Alaska, who’s girlfriend is from Bulgaria. OK, time for more research. I edged the topic towards the recent election. His response was quite moderate, though he said he voted for the T guy (can’t bring myself to write the word). He said he had also read Obama’s book ‘the Audacity of Hope’ and had concluded that he was a really decent fellow. So there. Another take.

I am an American, though part-Australian having lived there for twenty-four years. My American part sure quickly comes out; especially with sports. I almost forget about NFL or worry about the ups and downs of the New York Giants, when living in Australia. Here there is always NBA, or NFL on or college games. Hawaii Uni won yesterday and got themselves into a Bowl game. Folks here are excited. Not that we sit around and watch sports but I do sneak in a view now and then. Half the people in this area are tourists from the Mainland and the other half are from Japan with .004 % from Australia, New Zealand or some other distant place. I like the Americanisms though it is difficult to pick them out specifically. I feel like a tourist in Australia and still get lost in Adelaide after living there for more than two-decades. I get lost in Hawaii and on the mainland too but I feel less lost.

 

Day 3 > Honolulu

Day 3 Sunday 28/11/2016 Honolulu

One of my first impressions of Hawaii when I first arrived in December, 1969, was all the images of a cold northern winter. Australia does this too. Both places with no snow in sight for thousands of kilometres unless you go to the mall. Then there are songs about dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh and songs about snowmen and crackling fires in the snow and here in Hawaii, they are doing the hula to Christmas songs. I was here in December of 1980 too. It was a month before Sacha was born. This year though for Christmas we will be on the east coast though we are not sure where but no doubt real snow will be involved and no one doing the hula.

Ala Moana shopping centre is the largest outside mall in the world. It was right from the beginning. Of course, with a climate like here it makes sense, one of the things that does here. We walked the 45-minutes from our pad (do they say that anymore or is that a left-over from the 1960’s?) to Ala Moana. I have been saying for this past year; “we’ll get it at Ala Moana”. Now with our suitcases filled beyond what they can hold we are unable to purchase anything more than a fridge magnet. We were a bit disappointed. It is just another shopping mall, like every mall in the world, only bigger and outside. Narda said our local mall in Adelaide, Tea Tree Plaza, was the same size and to save the argument and not be one of those people who claim “I told you so” I looked it up; Tea Tree Plaza equals 312,769.03 square feet, Ala Moana Centre (Center) equals 2,100,000 square feet. So, one is seven times the size of the other but I will not say anything. They are equal when it gets to snow scenes but Hawaii has the hula snow scenes; how cool is that? We did find the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk fascinating. Maybe a hundred or less Japanese eating places. Sacha and Georgia recently had gone to Japan and were telling us about how much they liked the food so this is the closest we could get to matching their experience. We found some vegetarian and seemingly low-carb eats that were really tasty and took the bus back to Waikiki. We got on and said “two-seniors” and paid a dollar each. One of the perks of being old.

Japanese vegetarian low-carb at Ala Moana Shopping Centre

Japanese vegetarian low-carb at Ala Moana Shopping Centre

Of course things change. But one that I was quite disappointed in was the International Market Place in the centre of Waikiki. This was once a great place to hang out with lots of funky shops. Now it is ‘world-class shopping’ meaning a lot of glossy expensive stores that were empty even when the area was crowded with tourists. Honolulu will never be Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore or anywhere else except Honolulu. Why they are trying to downgrade it is beyond me.

Narda chilling at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Narda chilling at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Like most cities, we are living shoulder to shoulder with our neighbours. Because of the climate people leave their doors open. No privacy here. This is looking out from our window.

our neighbours in Waikiki

our neighbours in Waikiki

It is great to have no plans for the day. Narda is still asleep and it is 8 am. She used to be up at five most mornings, never sleeping this late. So Hawaii has already become restful after a stressful few months before heading out into the world of ‘could this be retirement’?

Ok, “my turn” as Maggie would say. First some fact checks. I think that the Tea Tree Plaza size was measured in metres not feet..just sayin’. Furthermore, Ala Moana was dominated by Coach, Fendi, Gucci, Cartier, bla bla bla stores with NO ONE in them), and TTP is NOT. So, that’s all I will say.

We went shopping at Foodland (not the same) and were so shocked by the prices. Eggs $6-$7, bread nothing under $5, milk $7 etc. Blimey, there goes our budget. But…we’ve managed. We found a groovy sweet potato, $1.99 per pound, mixed it with chopped spinach, gravy on top..yum. Dinner on the lanai (my new Hawaiian word). Very nice. Me drinking Yellow Tail, sorry Bren.

corn eaters of Waikiki

corn eaters of Waikiki

After dinner, some rain, then a nice little walk around our own hood, staying away from the Waikiki strip. (More Gucci, Amani, whatever…). We came across a little pub with 4 old guys singing old style jazz, and lots or rock n roll. Think Rockin Robin, The Twist, Blue Suede Shoes, Crazy little thing called Love. We went in, even though was WAY past our bedtime. It was fun. We gotta get out more.

old Hawaiian people singing 1950's music to old people from the Mainland (and Australia)

old Hawaiian people singing 1950’s music to old people from the Mainland (and Australia)

If you read e-books my storefront at http://neuage.papertrell.com/ sells mine along with others I have favoured. Or go to http://neuage.org/e-books/ for my scribbles and photographic-texts of the past few years including ‘Leaving Australia Part One and Part two. If you want a preview of my photo-texts; I post on my picture-poem collection page on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB occasionally one I favour at the moment.

Day 2 Retirement (or not) World-Tour > Honolulu

Day 2 Saturday-again 27/11/2016 Honolulu

Perhaps because we have not travelled much for the past two years except for the caravan jaunts between Adelaide and Melbourne and a trip earlier in the year to Cambodia and Thailand, but it all seems like such a thing to do the same but different day twice in a row. When we lived overseas between 2002 – 2014 we did it every year and even twice in some years. Saturday is good. It means not going to work; wait we are retired, every day is a Saturday. Of course, we may go back to work someday. If we got another great offer at an international school where we wanted to live (which are many places; Narda often says, “we could live here”) and we felt like it or we could do a few days of relief teaching in Adelaide for extra cash for another extended trip – this one is only four months before returning.

So, another Saturday. Stumbling through Honolulu Airport dropping stuff as I go. It is that stupid bag of food we dragged with us, we look like the Beverly Hillbillies. It is my diet. I don’t trust airplane food to nourish me in my elite-low-carb-organic-vegetarian-I-need-light-and-love-in-my-food way. We had made enough seeds and almond flour etc. bread for our week in Hawaii and three days in New York City. We will start all over in DC; maybe Michelle Obama would like some, with the baking. I had my large container of cookies too lovingly-handmade filled with low-carb gluten free organic stuff. The bag had fallen open when a strap broke on my way onto the plane back in Adelaide but Narda had completed an emergency-rescue on it so we could continue. Unfortunately, in my sleepy forward motion getting out of the plane in Hawaii, pulling it out from the overhead locker it opened, dropping on a couple of passengers behind me. Embarrassingly (not for me I am used to my ways but for the other) I quickly scooped up, I thought, all the items. It was not until we unpacked in Waikiki that we discovered the bread container was gone. I also had left behind my sleep mask eye patch on the plane. That is replaceable though. Narda hasn’t or won’t, forget which, replace my sleep mask that she made years ago with the Spiderman material. I lost that on a flight years ago. So, on the first day of our first of 14 more flights for this trip I managed to lose my bread, face mask, computer mouse and a one-day pack of pills that I had taken out of a larger pack to keep me alive. Well not that drastic but pills that old people take when they have diabetes and heart stuff. The last trip back in March when we went to Cambodia and Thailand we took one of those super blenders and I made smoothies everyday but we had no room this time.

And sleep. Holy cow. We got to our flat, a cosy studio air b&b a block from Waikiki Beach and moved in at 1:30 pm. It wasn’t ready before that and we dragged our sorry assess to the beach and felt miserable from little sleep on the plane. Our last long flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Adelaide was business class because of the upgrade by our insurance company after Narda fell off her motorbike in Cambodia and got serious burns. On that flight, we slept well but not in economy. The beach was not a good place so we went to a large fancy hotel and sat in one of the rocking chairs facing the beach. As we often do, we ignored the sign that rambled on about hotel guests only. Narda fell asleep for a few minutes but I stared at the rolling waves and felt happy as they hypnotised me. Having lived in Hawaii in the past I know the magic of this place that takes over when one relaxes. We slept for an hour in our flat, then wandered around in a daze until past nine pm.

If you read e-books my storefront at http://neuage.papertrell.com/ sells mine along with others I have favoured. Or go to http://neuage.org/e-books/ for my scribbles and photographic-texts of the past few years including ‘Leaving Australia Part One and Part two. If you want a preview of my photo-texts; I post on my picture-poem collection page on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB occasionally one I favour at the moment.

A flashing light on the phone showed a text from Chris at 6am. Luckily I had already been awake for 3 hours, and I love him to bits, otherwise I might have had to give him the stink eye. He welcomed us to Trumpland. Oh my. The first greeting we received in this country was some wry advice from the immigration officer, upon examining my passport; “you’re better off staying there you know”. Terrell said we should survey everyone we meet and gave the job to me. So the first interview was our shuttle bus guys who said “he did not care”. Actually I think he said “I do not give a s&%$#”, but in American I try not to not swear, lest I get accused of having a “potty mouth”.

 

Day 1 Adelaide > Sydney > Honolulu

Day 1 Saturday 26/11/2016  Adelaide > Sydney > Honolulu

Quiet day at Sydney Airport. Really. It must be a slow day or could it be that everyone is so excited about being in Sydney that few have come to the airport to leave. I asked a customs person and he said in a few hours things would change. We don’t want that but for now large empty spaces is good.

Lady at customs says to Narda – ‘I should confiscate that shirt!’ Then she says ‘just don’t tell me you are going to Hawaii’ – I said yes but I bought the shirt in Thailand. And I thought I was looking a bit tropical…

Tropical Hawaii shirt from Krabi, Thailand

Tropical Hawaii shirt from Krabi, Thailand

Sydney airport is quite different than Melbourne. It has all the shops to wander through, which I love, a world-wide obsession of mine is to spray myself with several perfume-testers. I smell like a brothel refugee by the time I get onto a plane. But, or perhaps just a slow day, it is quite spacious though without the eating places Melbourne has. In other words, bring food. Which of course we did. What I find annoying is the lack of outlets at airports; world-wide. Not Sydney airport. They have outlets everywhere and charging places for phones and all the other gadgets humans have. I am so charged up that I will be able to keep going for hours through the night on our night-flight to Honolulu. Keeping the poor buggers trying to sleep next to me awake. I do have headphones so neighbouring passengers will miss out on hearing my collection of Dylan, and other associated music from the 1950s through and up to about 1971; so of course, that is too bad.

On to Hawaii. One more check before getting on the last flight of the day. Inspector lady looks at my passport then me and says that the beard is a nice disguise. My passport photo from some clean-cut day is not the same me as of today, when I have gone more Australian bogan or post-hippie drag. Perhaps this will be the make fun of Terrell tour of the world instead of yippee-retired-tour-unless-run-out-of-money-then back-to-teaching world tour.

So here is the challenge. Is it possible to pass through airports without spending a cracker? So far we have had lunch, leftovers from last night that we tried to pass on to Stuart, reassuring him that Clare will love it because it’s low carbs. Stu said “no it’s OK”. OK so then the dish, which really was yummy…spiralled zucchini with Aldis premier Sicilian pasta sauce….was put into a disposable container, which Terrell dripped and dropped on the carpeted causeway walking down to the plane in Adelaide…luckily no red matter on the carpet….we ate it cold with a coffee. It really works well as a salad. We’re doing this again. What I don’t like so much is the shopping bag of food in our pink bag. But ya gotta do it.. for the cause, low carbs and all that good stuff.

travel bag of low-carb-organic-vegetarian-positive-energy substance

travel bag of low-carb-organic-vegetarian-positive-energy substance

I feel a surprising sadness that we are not here heading back to our home in Dalian, meeting other international teachers on their way back to another school year. This was a short but very special time in our lives, and we do miss everyone. I am so happy that Brendan is getting to experience this too.

If you read e-books my storefront at http://neuage.papertrell.com/ sells mine along with others I have favoured. Or go to http://neuage.org/e-books/ for my scribbles and photographic-texts of the past few years including ‘Leaving Australia Part One and Part two. If you want a preview of my photo-texts; I post on my picture-poem collection page on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB occasionally one I favour at the moment.

Leaving Australia – Again

Leaving Australia again… end of 2016 edition.

Packing. We seem to be always packing. In a couple of days, the next trip begins for Narda and me: leaving Adelaide to get the international flight to Honolulu. I lived there in the past. 1. In 1969 I arrived with my girlfriend and her one-year old daughter, Desiree (my friend on Facebook now). We ran into a friend from my hippie days in California one day then next I knew he, Randy, got us into a religious cult order which I got stuck in for more than a decade before my escape. A couple of those years in Hawaii. 2. The next time I was in Hawaii was in 1980. Randy still in Hawaii said I could do an astrological radio show so I packed and left my home in Baltimore and went to Hawaii. In 1980 someone whom I had met in Sydney, who visited me in Baltimore, who was now pregnant because of that visit arrived, pregnant, in Hawaii. Sacha was born in January, 1981. The girl and I got married and we changed our name to Neuage because we did not like each other’s surnames. The girl, Sacha, and me moved to Adelaide, South Australia in 1981. 3. The next time I was in Hawaii was in 1985 with Sacha, now age four, and his brother, Leigh, age two and the ex was back in Australia, spewing about something or the other. 4. The last time I was in Hawaii was in 2002 with wife number two but really wife number one, if you know what I mean. We have been to heaps of places these past fourteen years, including living in New York for nine of those years and China for three.

After Hawaii, we are in D.C. for six weeks. December to January 2017 will be an interesting time to be in the States and especially D.C. because of that trump person getting elected by who-knows-who. During that time we will visit Randy for a week in Oregon, my sister in Albany, New York, who I did not know existed until I was 48-years-old and whom I have seen twice before in my life. We will visit other folks we met while living in New York as well as a friend of my adopted brother, Robert, who has written a book on him. I have known Marta since the mid-1960s. I will also see who I believe was my first girlfriend from the mid-1960s too. So, this is a bit of a journey forward through the past.

After the States, we will spend a month in the Netherlands near Utrecht where Narda was born. Then a month in Cambodia and a few weeks in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Both Narda and I will blog during this trip and share the past, present, and perhaps the future of life on this little journey.

After completing five e-books in the past two years living in Adelaide I am looking forward to going out and getting new material. My e-books are at: http://neuage.org/e-books/

Cambodia Again

20 January 2016 Phnom Penh

Louisiana Blues, the two-hour length – non-stop version. I look around; Narda and I are the token Westerners on this flight to Singapore. I look over, she is watching ER, there are more than 600 movies on the screen and she is watching ER so I know she is not listening to Louisiana Blues and I am sure no one else is either as they all seem to be glued to their screens watching some foreign thing. Not to worry, being the only one amongst hundreds; isolated, hungry (I will get back to the why and wherefore of that shortly), forty-five years older than my New Orleans days, when I legitimately was immersed in Louisiana Blues, digitally obsessed (iPhone in ear, laptop on pull-out table working on an eBook, iPad – writing this and watching a movie; just like being at home) though Narda is no doubt the only one embedded into ER. Of course we are all really alone in our world and I know I am not into sharing any of the other passengers’ world. How can they watch the crap they are watching?

We are on a new diet: low carb and high fat. The latest ‘fix’ for diabetes; Narda is doing it to support me. We have struggled forward for the past two weeks using our Ninja blender to live on raw stuff; not even eating soy products as they are supposed to be bad. I was a tofu maker for eight years in Adelaide and consumed huge amounts of soy. I make almond milk now and eat kale and other stuff. I may join some local cows and live in the local paddock and eat grass all day soon.

So we always order a special meal for me on flights, vegetarian. Well that is not good enough on a low carb diet. Narda ordered a low carb diet; lots of meat and fish but that is not for me, I had to go for the raw-diet;

Singapore Airlines low carbs vegetarian

Singapore Airlines low carbs vegetarian

And of course I could not have the cranberries or the raisins because of their sugar so Adelaide to Singapore this was my diet; and no doubt the rest of my life.

It was all good. I watched ‘The Intern’ a story about a 70-year old (Robert De Niro) sorting out some 30-year old group of start-up-up-themselves-manic-Interneters who are overwhelmed because as we-adults know most30-year olds and younger don’t have a clue – about much of anything. Being a year from 70 and totally ignored by anyone under 35 or so I related to this film. I tried watching some of the other things on offer but got bored with each after ten-minutes or so and went back to experimenting with Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 updates for Photoshop and InDesign and Premiere and some of the other creative-time-wasters of the Adobe World.

So we get to Phnom Penh with Brendan’s guitar in a huge box that Narda built around it: the photo below is me holding the box in a tuk tuk and Narda with the rest of our (a large suitcase of stuff for Brendan included) things in another tuk tuk. As is usual for here it was hot, muggy, and scary going from the airport to our home for the next three-weeks.

riding into town with Brendan's guitar and Narda in Tuk Tuk in front

riding into town with Brendan’s guitar and Narda in Tuk Tuk in front

 

 

 

 

DSC_4023View from our ‘penthouse’ well it is on the roof of the building and is as local as local can get.

In between explorations and trying not to get knocked over by bikes and tuk tuks I am working on my next Amazon eBook

In case you missed the previous three there is always this one to start with:

‘Thoughts in Patterns Book 1: Picture Poems 1965 – 2015 of Terrell Neuage’ Kindle Edition

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A7S3JBG?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

Of course it can be viewed on any device and the first ten pages are free to view just as this one is ‘Leaving Australia’ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A766DIY?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660

And for the academic minded my PhD thesis on Internet Communication – ‘Conversational Analysis of Chatroom Talk: Online Discourse Analysis Method’ Kindle Edition http://www.amazon.com/Conversational-Analysis-Chatroom-Talk-Discourse-ebook/dp/B017Y6S81A/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And that is it – back to travelling again after a year and a half off.

One note – I paid $7 (US) for a month’s unlimited Internet on my phone anytime/anywhere and it is fast. In Australia I pay $86 (Australian – about $70 US) a month for a slow connection – go figure.

me with Brendan's guitar on our penthouse balcony

me with Brendan’s guitar on our penthouse balcony

Dell and life in general

Neuage on Amazon    (See the first ten pages of each for free)

ODAM 21 November 2015 

Thoughts in Pattern Book 1 – 07 January 2016 

Leaving Australia – 01 January 2016

Dell-heading-blog

flying over Laos toward Viet Nam

This is really about my friend Dell and a tribute to him but I do wander in about Dell in particular as I am tossing in some updates about travel between China and Australia this past month as I do not have the time or inclination to write a separate blog about before last week. I am sure Dell would understand that my narrative goes astray at times. We both lived those kind of lives that seem to go off track, whatever track we were on.

  • Dell died today 19th July 2014 at 9 AM.
  • In real-life terms he died in May 2013.
  • When does actual death occur?

Below – one of us is not Dell – San Pedro, Guatemala 2008 DSC01578   Death of someone else to us is really when we become conscious of the event.

Before our knowing we are still speaking/thinking of the person; even nurturing them in our thoughts which if we believe we are all connected the mind begins asking “what then becomes of those thoughts/feelings/virtual warmth rays we surround another with? We die when the last person to have known us in real-life dies. There is a difference between the death of someone we have had moments with and someone that has died we did not have any interactions with such as a cut-out character viewed through non-touchable media; sort of a part of our psychic DNA. I worry about my parents because of this kind of thinking. My father died at age 102, I will be 67 in a couple of weeks, there are very few people left who knew him and when we die off then he dies. People exist through memory but only live via shared experience. Of course we all have a different view of someone dependent on our interactions with that person. Even names are changed and they live as those names. For example, Dell who was Dell to everyone that I know and we seldom heard any other name was known by his birth name to his cousins; Delbert, one of whom recently told me that he did not know that he went by the name of Dell. Of course we did not know his name was Delbert and maybe how we knew him would have changed if we had called him Delbert instead of Dell. Perhaps there have been ten-billion people who have lived and died and now there are seven or so billion more all destined to be remembered to someone for a moment then forgotten. I never understood why people grieve or experience loss when someone they have never met but who they may have seen on TV in a movie, read a book of/about goes belly-up. What? Someone can not take from us that has never met us therefore it is impossible to have a loss. Maybe a virtual loss, a mental loss because someone who was writing great scripts no longer is around to continue to enchant us but really how selfish? It is when someone we have encountered and shared and bounced around with leaves that a part of us leaves. That part of us that only the person who has left would know – they took it with them. I know this as I have had two mothers a couple of fathers, girl friends, a son, brother and friends die. People take from me. Each one another piece. I wish people I knew would stop dying.

view from the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Honk Kong

view from the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Honk Kong

I think it is because I have Saturn conjunct Pluto conjunct my Venus that I get these losses. And with my Moon in Taurus in the 8th house of death of course I get emotional but with Mars conjunct Uranus in Gemini in the 8th I can still intellectualize about it. And of course I do not believe in any of this astrological mumble jumble so it is easy to dissect my chart and then dismiss it. And now with transit Saturn in 17 degrees Scorpio in my first house in conjunction with my Jupiter and exact square my Sun – damn I’m screwed. But tonight with the moon in 29 Cancer conjunct my Mercury and going on through Leo tomorrow this is the time to write about my friend Dell. It was that Saturn making all the constriction on my Sun in Leo that shoved me in a hospital again last month in Hong Kong to get a party balloon put into my heart valve (get it Party Balloon – I’m a Leo). Back in October 28th when I was in Hong Kong with Saturn at 13 degrees 8 minutes Scorpio it was squaring my Saturn and Pluto both at 13 degrees and five minutes of Leo and I had five stents. How astrologically spooky that was. I tell you I tore up my chart after seeing that. Well not really but I should have. Back to Dell in a moment… But I have left Hong Kong. We had stopped in thinking I should visit my cardiologist who had put four stents in my heart area six months earlier. Surely just a short ‘how ya doin’ mate?’ would suffice. He lined me up for tests to see how I was doing. Lots of them. A day of tests. Machine after machine. Each one leading to another. By late evening after a full day of tests good ole Dr. King says there are concerns. Doctors saying stuff like this is a concern. The next morning he says I need another endogram. ‘The Endogram works by occluding blood flow in the arm and then gauging the post-ischemic pulsatile component of flow and the artery’s largest volume change…’ I hate these things. They put a tube up through the arm starting at the wrist and into the heart area. I just get a local in my wrist and I feel it all. There are big monitors to observe what is going on… for three hours. I get a balloon or two stuck in and told this is a new cardiovascular disease. Yeah go tell someone who cares. Last October I showed the DVD of the procedure to my film class and some liked it. Patrick showed his 8th grade science class that was working on a unit on fiber optics, so the movie of my heart being poked at got a showing in a few classes at Dalian American International School. After a few days and some ‘moments’ with our insurance company I was patched up and sent on my way. I have left China after three years and I have left Hanoi and we had a great time in Laos if following the lives of old people as tourist could at all be interesting. I like Laos the people in general seem content and not so attached to the slavery of western style consumerism. I did my part and kept to purchasing fridge magnets; not overly consumptions but enough to give me a memory of Laos. !!Laoswords A third of the population of Laos live below the international poverty line which means living on less than US$1.25 per day. Laos is a low income economy, with one of the lowest annual incomes in the world.” According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laos). How is one to feel in these situations? We surely have no restraints with spending money wherever we go so I am sure there were a lot of people who got more than a buck twenty-five out of us before the week was over. “As of 2008, Laos is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in the world. An average of one B-52 bomb-load was dropped on Laos every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973.” How forgiving humans can be. A few decades later and they are happy to have the Yanks come spend money along with people from the rest of the world. My how places change. We did the sightseeing adventures Luang Prabang, Kuang Si waterfalls, Wat Xieng Thong temple, Tat Kuang, Si Bear Rescue Centre and taking a ferry across the Mekong. Staying at the Thongbay Guest house (http://www.thongbay-guesthouses.com/was great. It is on the Nam Khan River with views of the Phousi Mountain.Narda and I had a cabin and Narda’s son, Brendan had a cabin next to us. I would suggest that is the place to stay if one were looking for a place to stay in Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang, Kuang Si waterfalls,

Luang Prabang, Kuang Si waterfalls,

A few youtube videos I made from Laos

I have said a few times I think maybe Dell died but there was no one to confirm or deny this. I felt this for more than a year. But should we trust our feelings? In 1973 (maybe it was 1974) I went through a time when I heard my birth-mother calling for me. I was a street artists in New Orleans at the time and I knew nothing of my birth-mother as I had been put up for adoption in 1950. I confirmed the date I was feeling my mother had died with my sister who I met at the end of the 1980s and it was like the same month. I do not remember the details at the moment. In 1973 or maybe 1972 – do dates really mean that much after a few decades? I met Dell, or rather he met me. I was a street artist selling my picture poems in front of Jackson Square in New Orleans (know little about the image below except it is me with a passing horse in the background and a passing girl next to me. This is the only photo I have of then and 40 years on is a long time to remember much though I think I have seen that horse before.

Jackson Square New Orleans with a passing stranger and a horse

Jackson Square New Orleans with a passing stranger and a horse

(from “Leaving Australia, page 120 – re. 1973) January 27th took three …. painted 160 pictures – took two hours to do it and two hours to clean up. END OF VIET NAM WAR – Dell stopped in, brought some good LSD. (have no idea what that could mean – 7/26/2014 – but surely it was not me or the me who I have become)

I was selling picture-poems

alongside Jackson Square

in New Orleans

reading astrology charts to the lovely ladies

(telling each how well our charts matched: “my Mars to your Venus – what a night we shall have”)

and selling esoteric sacred secrets to the Christians

when I saw her standing there

reading my picture-poems She said what my poems said shouldn’t be said she came and told me that every day at noon But I paid no attention (like any man would) Until the day she took me to her home somewhere north in the constellation of Andromeda (the chained lady)

I met her anthropomorphic parents

a tree and a shirt

Then I awoke twenty-years later

in this small harbor town

on a large island North of Antarctica

where I began selling picture-poems (poems saying what shouldn’t be said) in a park

again

(come and purchase your picture-poems at Rymill Park on Sundays in Adelaide that

aren’t rainy or windy 9-5)

But I watch for her like a criminal does for justice

knowing someday it will all make sense

and I will be like everyone else

free of me.

4-17-94 Victor Harbor South Australia

A lot of what I write about Dell below is edited (after all decades later I am a member of today’s society and much of the experiences one has when they are younger are best left on the shelf) from a 560 page book (150,000 words) that I wrote some years ago; ‘Leaving Australia’. I made two leather bound copies, one for Sacha and one for me. It is a large book (A4 pages) with lots of photos and poems and having two copies seems excessive but I am an excessive person.

Dell was always a bit of a scary person. He was a bit Gothic, a bit strange at a time when everyone was a bit strange. Dell was several years older and better off materialistically than the rest of us. He was the only one I knew who had a car. He dressed better than the rest of us. He had better… (I will say recreational enhancers for here but in “Leaving Australia” there are different words) I think he worked on oil-rigs for a few months at a time, making large amounts of money. Dell had a spider web tattooed on his hand which I had not seen on anyone else then or even now. In the 1970s, it was not so common to have tattoos as it is now when to be different from others is not to have a tattoo such as Narda and I who are different because we do not have tattoos do not have.

Dell has been a friend for the rest of my life and I saw him several months ago (this is from “Leaving Australia written years ago) before he went to South America. He believes that America is becoming a police state and that it is safer living in one of the small scary countries below Mexico. Dell defies logic when it comes to living. He just keeps on living no matter what. He has been knifed in foreign cities, he has taken heaps of drugs even did crack for a while but did not like it. He was in a Mexican jail for a year (and liked it).

One afternoon I went to Dell’s apartment and he invited me to friends who lived on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain. Before leaving the city, we (in “Leaving Australia again I am not repeating what is written there but there was an altered state involved). We drove across Lake Pontchartrain Bridge, which at the time was the longest bridge in the world, 24-miles, in a dense fog. I will always remember that drive as being the most frightening of my life. I was … and I am sure Dell was too but we got to where we were going and I spent hours throwing up from the fright of the ride and …. I stayed overnight wherever it was we went to party and got a ride during the day the next day with someone else. I did not see Dell for about a month. He use to come and go in people’s lives. Often I doubt he even knew where he was going or where he was. He lived in the moment better than anyone I have ever met and to this day I am trying to get to a point where I totally live in the moment.

I know that Dell use to visit me in my constantly moving houses (something that has never changed in my life even to this day in July 2014; Narda and I have lived in eight houses in three countries the past twelve years and there was a time when I was a single parent that my boys and I lived in ten houses in ten years in South Australia).

I remember that I was intensely studying the Qabbalah – Kabbalah and the occult. I was very intrigued by Aleister Crowley. Good old Alex had been in an Order too, very similar to the one I had been in. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was one of the early occult orders that believed it was part of the White Brotherhood’s plan. Alex though went his own way eventually. He believed he was ‘The Beast’ and went by the number ‘666’. He wrote several books, ‘Sexual Magix’, (The sexual magic of the Ordo Templi Orientis – a Thelemic Order ‘OTC’) and his motto was ‘do what thou will shall be the whole of the law’ which he wrote he says whilst in a trance. I had many of his books and I still have one on astrology and a little white book on ‘The Law’. I used his brand of Tarot Cards and I thought that he was really quite the dude to follow.”

Obviously all that is in the past and the only reason I thought of Crowley was when I was unpacking boxes that had been in storage for 12 years while we lived in the States and China.  I saw piles of astrological work I had done over thirty or so years and lessons from the Order I had been in and boxes of astrological and occult books. I kept them because I seem to keep everything. I have lost interest in all that is metaphysical for quite some time. I enjoy living in the moment and not trying to interpret what is going on or what could possibly happen. I am amazed at how many astrological charts I have. I used to do them on everything. From when I first met someone to when I thought up a business idea or any other idea. What I have realised is that my life has been far more successful since following astrology than while doing so. I even have lots of subliminal tapes none of which really made a difference in my life. It seems my life has gone the smoothest the past decade without any of this stuff. For example this morning, the third of August, seven days before turning 67, I got up at 5:30 am and worked on this blog. Twenty or thirty years ago I would do an astrological chart on what I should do today or try to see what would happen this week. I know what will happen this week; whatever and then some more whatever and I will face the whatever and deal with it in whatever way I feel like at that whatever moment. I do not need to have an iChing reading or Tarot card or mediation or read a chart, tea leaves, or my palm. The sun will rise the sun will set and in between I will do stuff and have a variety of thoughts.

I saw Dell in June 2004 and again September, 2005. He was always trying to get me to read his astrological chart. I never would. I no longer lived in the New Orleans mindset and no longer believed in much of anything except lets live in the moment and enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ70yXtLHvc (http://neuage.us/travel/2010/SanPedroTruck.html) http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xecdib_san-pedro-la-laguna-horses_travel

Dell in Lake George, New York June, 2004 age 60 something.

Dell in Lake George, New York June, 2004 age 60 something.

I had lost my cell phone (mobile phone) on this particular day that I had gone to Lake George with Dell and Narda and when I got home, I used another phone to ring my phone in hopes that if someone had found it they would tell me where it was. I thought that maybe I had lost it in my day’s outing to Lake George. I rang for a couple of days and finally Narda went to the shop where we bought it to buy another one and she tried one more time and Dell in his spacey distant voice said, “hello”. It turns out that when I had visited Dell at his motel after our day out so he could show me his art he was putting on his computer that my phone had fallen out of my pocket into the back of the chair I was sitting on. Dell said he frequently heard music coming from his chair, my ring-dial, but did not know what it was so he did not look until, after hearing it so many times he decided to investigate, he finally looked and saw it was a phone. That really sums Dell up. A cool person but a bit spacey.

To continue on this moment; Dell had been living at our house in 13 Second Street Round Lake, New York but being a night person and our needing to sleep so we could go off to work in the morning we could not have Dell banging around the house all night. We put him in a motel up along Route 9 on the other side of Clifton Park, a fifteen minute drive. He lived there for a couple of months though we did not know why except he wanted to be near us as Dell never seemed to have many friends in the world.

His motel room was more cave like and defied how one would think people should live. It was a bloody disaster zone to be specific. Aside of no clothes seem to ever finding their way into drawers there were boxes of unfinished meals, half drunk bottles of alcohol, cigar smoke and really no where for a visitor to sit comfortably. The shades were always down as Dell liked it dark all the time. He would usually have no shirt on and his long stringy hair to his waist would give one an impression of caveman. Dell was always very underweight. In the midst of this disheveled person and an extremely messy room Dell would be sitting cross-legged with his 17-inch Mac-book. There were partially completed paintings all over with paint on the rug on the furniture on the table and even some on the canvas he was working on. What was out of place was the computer. If you can imagine a caveman living in a messy cave in a cave-time era working on a laptop then you have a picture of Dell’s environment. Then one day he left. I do not recall him even telling us. The next we heard was a letter saying he was in Guatemala.

To backtrack just a bit… when Dell arrived the first time in Clifton Park in about 2003 to visit us; we were living in a trailer in a caravan park across from my father who was 98 years old at the time… he rang me to say he was at a petrol station nearby but he had lost his keys. I walked over and we spent hours looking for his keys which he had in his hands when he stopped to get petrol and to ring me to get driving instruction to our home. Somehow he had lost them which made me wonder how in the world did Dell get from place to place in life? Dell had a van that he lived in when he did not have a home to live in. He eventually drove it down through South American and had it when we visited him in Guatemala. His worldly belongings filled his van and we had to empty it to find his keys which turns out he had dropped between the car seats when he had gotten out to ring me.

Narda (well Narda more than me) spends huge amounts of time on keeping track of our life of where we are going; for example if we are going to Burma or Thailand or Paris and etc. she does a lot of research unlike Dell who is just where he is. I supposed I was more like Dell and only because of Narda there is some sort of order in our life. I like both life styles; having a sense of where stuff is and what to do is good, but the chaotic whirlwind life of Dell and that I lived all my life until I met Narda is cool too.

To add one more little story before going back to the original time-frame I was working in (1973); one time I was with Dell in Walmart in Clifton Park (the really big supercentre on Route 9) and Dell as usual had his shirt unbuttoned and being the skinny person he was with his long hair and a knife hanging on a string around his neck he was enough to startled anyone. I looked up the aisle we were walking in and a lady with a child was walking toward us and as soon as the woman saw Dell she grabbed her child and turned and quickly went into another aisle. I have always found that so humorous. Dell does look frightening and not what one expects to see in your local shopping centre but if one knew Dell; he was really quiet, peaceful, he was strong about his opinions and his anti-society views but he was in a morbid sense a great person to know. I always enjoyed being around Dell. He made me feel human and regular. Dell could just have easily spent his life as a monk on the top of a mountain but with a laptop and his paintings. Most of us see road blocks ahead of us and drive around them but Dell would just drive through. Dell was not self-conscious or worried at all about what others thought of him. If anything he really was shock value personified. We see celebrities who put on their makeup and who try to look outlandish and be weird in public but they just do that for the publicity. Dell was just real. I often thought if I could be ten-percent of Dell it would be his lack of caring what others thought and just do what I felt like doing in the moment.

During the summer of 1973, Dell was driving to his parents in New Lenox, Illinois. I wanted to see Carol Ann and Desiree. Carol Ann was living with her parents in Mokena, a few miles east of New Lenox so I went with Dell. I stayed with Carol Ann, Desiree, and Carol Ann’s parents for a few days. Desiree was seven years old and she only knew me through the stories Carol Ann told her. On a footnote to Carol Ann who I joined a cult religious order with in Hawaii in 1969 and was in and out of for another decade I am Facebook friends with her daughter who is about 46 now. I spent the first few years of her life with her. I was at a concert in 2002 in NYC when Carol Ann’s sister rang me and said that Carol Ann had died. My once-long-ago circle of friends gets smaller each year.

Wichita Kansas HOOM 1975

I returned to my Order in April 1974 and lost touch with Dell for a year but somehow we connected. I was in Wichita Kansas in the Brown Brothers of the Holy Light (really) and celibate branch of the Holy Order of MANS. Another side-note; I never did very well with the celibate part and was constantly getting myself in strife. Nevertheless there was a time when I really tried to toe the line. I had been successful with doing the ‘right things’ in the Order in San Francisco then Cheyenne Wyoming for a winter. I was in Wichita when I had two visitors both of whom did their best to get me to leave. Firstly there was Robyn Harper (who died about fifteen years ago without getting to Australia to visit. She wrote many times saying she was on the way but never made it.) who tried all her best feminine persuasions to lure me out of the Order but I was determined and sent her on her way back in 1975. We had been close in New Orleans but I was working toward becoming a priest and I wanted that more; at least at the time. Dell showed up a month later with mind-altering substances none of which I was interested in. He had a lot of convincing arguments for my leaving the Order but I stayed on.

1975 wichita kansas in the Brown Brothers of Holy Light - the sub-order of The Holy Order of MANS that I was shipped off to because I broke the vows of celibacy repeatedly; oops...

1975 wichita kansas in the Brown Brothers of Holy Light – the sub-order of The Holy Order of MANS that I was shipped off to because I broke the vows of celibacy repeatedly; oops…

 

Before the Internet era how people kept track of one another over the years is a mystery. I did not hear from Dell (that I remember now) between winter 1975 and 1983. In 1983 with my first wife I was in the States (we lived in Adelaide, South Australia) visiting tofu factories (I was a tofu manufacturer for eight years in South Australia, see: http://tofu.neuage.us/) when we stopped in New York City. Dell was living in a bit of a rough area down by the Brooklyn Bridge on the top floor of a tenement building. Nothing unusual about that as I have done that many times but what I remember from Dell’s apartment hearing neighbourhood sounds such as a baby crying all night, people screaming at one another, sirens on the streets; and building on both side of his building were burnt out. The wife and Sacha (age about one and a half) and I moved to a hotel after that. I had been at an astrological conference in New Zealand in Sydney at the start of 1980. While in Sydney I met someone I did not get along with and for some stupid reason gave her my address in Towson, Maryland where I was living at the time. After the conference I went back to Towson and low and behold the person I did not get along with at the Sydney astrological conference rang me saying she had driven across from LA to D.C. and wanted a place to stay for a day on her way to NYC. I was in the process of moving back to Hawaii at the time and had nothing left in my house except a bed which we agreed we had to share but under no circumstance would we touch each other. Five days later we basically got out of bed and drove to San Francisco. Half way across the country we began to argue and realised we just had to get away from one another. The woman I was with (who yes it is true rang me a month later when I was in Hawaii to say ‘guess what?’ then she was there in Hawaii and we had Sacha then one day she said if you want to see your son anymore you will have to go back to Adelaide with me, which I did, and as this is not about that part of my life I am now telling suffice it to say we had Leigh then separated and my children and I lived in our tofu factory then on a farm in Mt. Compass then Victor Harbor and a bunch of other places for the next twenty years) anyway we stayed with Dell somewhere out in the country on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I dropped her off at the SF airport and stayed with a female friend of Dell’s. I remember she was a Pisces and she helped me forget my recent traveling companion or at least until she rang me when I had gotten to Hawaii saying ‘guess what’? I kept in touch with Dell after going back to Australia after he we had stayed with him in NYC for a night. He never mentioned coming to visit like my other friends. He did write letters. They are very difficult to read and I try to piece them together almost one word at a time. His handwriting was amazingly difficult to read. Years later when we could communicate via email I still had a hard time reading his writing because his spelling was so bad. His letters were always about trying to get to Europe until around 2000 when he started speaking of then moving to Guatemala. What I could make of his letters were that life was always difficult.     dell scan leeter

I would like to have my friend, Marc Seifer, who is also writing a book about my brother, Robert Adsit to look at Dell’s handwriting some day. Marc is a handwriting analysis specialist. He has published many books including the Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis, Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2008. When I was visiting him in Rhode Island a few years ago he was telling me about my brother and how his handwriting showed that he was a genius. I showed Marc my handwriting and he did not say much. Oh well. Though I would like to know what he has to say about Dell. Not to worry I have always believed that my friends were cooler than me and that is OK. Dell was always an artist. Like 97.6% of artists he wanted to be known for his work. The only image I have is of a painting he spent more than a decade on which I will show further below. Dell was a night person and would sleep during the day and paint all night. Several of his letters speak about some slides he took and sent to galleries and that usually no one replied to. He was excited for awhile saying a gallery in New York City was interested in his paintings but nothing came of that. I do not think Dell ever had a show anywhere which has always been such a sad thing in my thinking. He did a lot of work which now a year after his death I do not believe exist anywhere. He had a large volume of work in storage in Illinois. There is such a fine line between one who is a successful and famous artist and one who creates for fifty – sixty years almost daily then has nothing after they die for anyone to see. My brother was an artist (http://neuage.org/robert_adsit.htm) who did a lot of work and fortunately Marta Waterman http://martawaterman.com/ along with Marc Seifer http://www.marcseifer.com/ are writing a book on him which gives him a live-on sphere of influence to others or at least those of us who were and still are; if the dead are still alive within us, being influenced by him. I know the artist mindset or at least I believe so. Since being a street artist in New Orleans I rarely have had a time when I was not creating something. Like Dell I have a large body of work, like Dell no one sees my stuff, unlike Dell they still exist; in my closet I have boxes of picture-poems and on a ship between China and South Australia there are more boxes. I have put some on our wall but because I share a home I can not put them everywhere. Narda http://narda.us/ has suggested we do a whole wall just of my picture-poems (http://picture-poems.net/) which is really nice but I won’t do it. I am hanging out for a gallery show like Dell always was and like my brother often did.

After 1990 Dell was living in NYC we went to visit him in Chinatown; actually we went to visit my brother (who died of AIDS two years later) and my father and a few others in the States, but he wasn’t home I don’t think, the front door was missing and there were many broken windows and a lot of graffiti on the walls. We did not go inside as it was all too spooky. Dell then said he would meet us at Grand Central Station but didn’t so we went back to my brother’s and then took the Amtrak to Albany. It would be the last time I would see my brother. A week later my children and I went to Europe for awhile then back to Australia.

Dell wrote me for the next decades, and when he got onto the Internet we stayed in touch. Dell was not happy with politics in the States and said it was all getting too difficult and insane. He was particularly unhappy with Bush – Bushes actually. I have never paid much attention to politics so I was not a good sounding board for Dell. He moved to Guatemala and started saying we should purchase a piece of land next to him. Narda and I decided to visit him and we had planned a trip with two other people who Dell and I had wandered the French Quarter of New Orelans with back in 1973-74; Randy Dandurand and Shane (now Mariya Fields) but when it came time to go only Narda and I went to San Pedro la laguna, Solola, Guatamala. Lake Atitlán Aldous Huxley famously wrote of it: “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Atitlan)

Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán

Guatemala trip 2010

What is it about friends that lives deep in our consciousness that we will not reveal even to ourselves? I think one aspect could be comparison. Perhaps it is part of our DNA something to do with survival. We immediately compare ourselves to others when we meet even for a few seconds; friend-foe, sexy-give-it-a-miss, potential this or that; of course I do not do that but others do. I can feel/see/sense it when I am shopping, being a tourist (I am always a tourist – never being settled; on my gravestone someone will write ‘tourist’ probably because it is obvious that I never did anything else on this planet except be a tourist. Though I stayed away from tours, I did a lot of sightseeing, had heaps of opinions about too many things and as any tourist probably a bit too loud, too flashy – except now in old age I just drag my sorry ass from destination to destination.) I have a few photos of Dell but no video. I was saying to Narda this morning that we must take more video. Of her aging parents, of friends and family. I should have filmed Dell sitting in the motel room with his laptop, or in Guatemala. I have video of Guatemala but not with Dell in it. Now days with Instagram and all it is so easy but I do not think it is being saved long term. What I find so frustrating about the Internet is how lousy a retrieval system it is. I can not find anything on Dell and all that I can find about my brother is what I have put up. The Internet does not replace correspondence such as letters. It adds to correspondence a bit; I can find emails from Dell but none from my brother who died just as the Internet was coming into being. I have some emails but not many from my son who took his life and left little behind even though he was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and his baseball card is available on Ebay all that exists are the many pages I have made for him. http://neuage.org/leigh.html I have no video of Leigh even though I was a single parent and raised him. I have heaps of photos. Now I take videos all the time and have several hundred on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/neuage09, https://www.youtube.com/user/tneuage and a few other places though I forget where at the moment. But letters trumps all the electronic correspondence. They show who the person is through their writing style, even how much pressure a person puts on the paper, according to Marc Seifer. Dear Dell We will be in Guatemala city June 17 – 19th and two nights in Panajachel at Hotel Princess  It looks as if we will arrive in San Pedro toward the end of the day Monday the 21 st of June. We will come across the lake from Panajachel. And that we did. Global Nature named Lake Atitlan the ‘most threatened lake of the year’ in 2009 (http://blogs.egu.eu/gfgd/2014/01/30/field-research-in-guatemala-3-environmental-hazards-at-lake-atitlan/

Back to Dell in a moment

now back in Adelaide August 2014

We signed up to do relief teaching and thought maybe we would get a day or two a week. We have been relief teaching since the day after and that put off our getting settled into our home today I had reception and grade one; reception is the same as American kindy. Walking in to say good day to 29 children as their teacher walks out (she had a conference to attend) is always a humbling experiencing. As there is often difficulty with saying good morning Dr. Neuage between about K and 2nd grade I say they can call me Dr. N. That always works fine. Of course they think I am a medical doctoring dude and I have given up trying to explain the difference between a medical doctor and an academic doctor; not sure if academic doctors are surgeons or not so we go through the day with me being Dr. N. I have not had a kindy class since Ross Global Academy in NYC five years ago when I would have a computer lesson with them once a week. I have never been left with a class full for a day. They were beaut we read a story, watched Hansel and Gretel and made gingerbread houses, played outside and on computers. There were a few tears here and there: someone said someone else would not play with them, another said someone said something rude, another said another said they were weak there were a few spills and we went through a few band-aids but overall what great children. I am unable to edit video in Adobe Premiere or shoot some good chroma-screen footage or philosophize about anything at all. There was a point when I took them out to the play area and so did a lot of other classes and soon I realised there were no other teachers and I was surrounded by at least a hundred children many of whom had issues about someone not playing with them or someone saying something they perceived to be as unkind. My favorite as always were issues with not knowing what to do. Hey we are on a playground with playground equipment and a hundred children and you are asking someone who will be 67 in two weeks what to do? I would just say, “go play” and they would say “OK” and be off. And I got a PhD to come up with these lines? Eventually some other teachers came out and stood around talking with one another so somehow I became the go to dude for issues. I think it is a bit rare having a male in primary or maybe they are amazed someone so old is still walking around. One stray child probably about grade five of six followed me around telling me all the words he knew that Americans spell differently. OK so we leave out the u in lots of words and use a z instead of an s. Yesterday I had grade two and they were like taking the best children one could find in a country and putting them in one classroom. We had a great day and actually they enjoyed learning. Last week in a different suburb I had a class where they took all the worse kids in Australia and put them in the same class. How do they do that? Those children did not want to do any learning activities and spent most of the day wrestling, running around and yelling along with using toys for unguided missiles. I have been called back some more as they say no one wants to work at that school as a relief teacher. I wonder why?

I have a history of being surrounded by children. When I was a hippie in California Eileen Busby and I lived in Glen Ellen. Glen Ellen has a bit of fame from Jack London who write such things as ‘Call of the Wild’, White Fang‘, ‘The Sea-Wolf’, ‘The Iron Heel’, and etc. We lived on this side road of about six houses that was named Hippy Hollow. All the other houses had single mothers with children and as the mothers were often in states of consciousness that impeded their parenting children would come over to our house for meals. Often we would have five or more children eating a spaghetti meal I had made. There were also times when a mother or two would go into San Francisco – a few hours away – and not return for a day or two and their children would camp out in our lounge. We had a pickup truck (a ute in Australia terms) and being one of the few people on Hippy Hollow road with a vehicle children would pile in the back and off we would drive. We never got a ticket for having people without seat-belts in the back of our truck or perhaps there were no laws about that then. Today taking a third-grade class a boy asked if it was true that kids in high school are allowed to have sex. I replied that I was from American and was unsure if that was allowed here, trying to be a bit diplomatic about the subject. A girl answered that yes they were allowed to have sex in high school. I moved us on to another subject but there was a continuing discussion about this among several of the children. Maybe I should stick to reception and first grade they do not come up with these kinds of questions.

San Pedro

We decided to stay with Dell in San Pedro instead of staying at a hotel. Guatemala was a part of a world-trip that summer. Narda and I were teaching in NYC and not being soccer fans we got a bit swept up in the World Cup of that year. We watched games of Australia and The Netherlands in San Pedro, and while driving through France, seeing the final in front of the Eiffel Tower with thousands of Spanish fans (Narda had her Dutch flag wrapped securely around herself) with Spain beating The Netherlands 1 – 0 at the end. Of course this last World Cup in Brazil we watched as we traveled between China, Hong Kong, Hanoi and Laos only to see The Netherlands not quite make it to the final. We saw the previous World Cup of soccer in Istanbul sitting outside watching Australia get thrashed by someone. I only bring this soccer stuff up as a shadow of our life that summer of 2010. We do not follow soccer and Dell was not interested but Narda and went and watched a few games at a pub in town. We were in pubs because we could not really eat at Dells. He tried to make his home comfortable for us and we did appreciate that. We spent our first day at his house cleaning his kitchen which kind of embarrassed him but it was really beyond what we could cope with. Dell built an incredible house. I have never seen anything like it. He had bought land on the side of a hill and there was no road to his house only a path. All material for his house was brought up by horse and on the backs of the workers building his house. Dell had drawn out a plan for how his house was to look. He did not have an architect look at the plans until it was almost done.
With a large portion of the house done Dell asked an architect to look at how it was going and the architect said it would all collapse without pillars and braces. Dell had the pillars put in – see below for the lounge;

6-lounge

Dell had a beautiful view of Lake Atitlán but he had bars over his windows and due to mold and dirt it was impossible to see outside the windows. He wanted to leave Guatemala for several reasons. One was his health which had been going downhill for years. He had something wrong with his back and to be able to walk without pain he would carry rocks in a bag over his shoulder which of course gave him quite a strange presentation. He said he was always in pain. He spoke of wanting to go to Berlin. He had been there the summer before and stayed with a lover or a friend, I could not sort which, but the person did not want to see Dell ever again. This happened many times. I think I am one of the few people who stayed friends with Dell so long. I remember my friend, Linda, who lived in Lake Charles in Louisiana who wrote me back sometime in the late 1970s to get Dell to leave her house. Linda was one of our friends in New Orleans and Dell had written me if I knew someone he could stay with while he worked on a painting. I had stayed with Linda earlier and thought she would be fine with it. She wrote me that he insisted on having the lights out and that he would just sit in her lounge all night staring at the wall. He even had a falling out with Randy when he stayed with him in California. They each told me different stories so I am not sure what happened really. But Narda being the caring an nurturing person she is felt sorry for Dell and we both tried to make our stay with him good. And Dell tried too. He was depressed as he has been every since I met him back in 1973 and he was very anti-religious which he has been since I met him but we all tried to make the best of the visit. For Dell it was very important because no one had visited him in the seven or so years he had been in Guatemala. We brought him lots of stuff like cigars, an ipod and several other items such as tea and herbs he was unable to find locally. His cousin in New Lenox had loaned him a thousand dollars so we could bring him things.

Dell had sort of a toy-boy, an 18-year old who we thought was hustling him and we had a bit of difficulty adapting to. He gave the toy-boy the ipod which we were opposed to but Dell said he made him happy and it was all a mutually beneficial situation. The toy-boy was a street person whose parents had kicked him out of the family due to his sexual persuasions. Having always been strongly heterosexual I have not understood really a lot of what people are on about. My brother died of AIDs, Dell just always did his thing and I never thought much about it, and being a non-judgmental person for what people do with their lives I don’t put any thought into stuff like ones sexuality. However, I still felt Dell was being taken. Narda looked the other way when she showed photos of her sons and Dell said ‘I like that one’, gulp! OK so why do we hang around people that we do not understand. I use to say with Dell that I am amazed that he stays alive for so long. I think I have studied Dell for forty years, probably not something to base friendship on but not knowing anyone that is so different from every life style I have known or people I have known I am just fascinated by him.

2-back-stairs

At the end of March the rains from Tropical storm Agatha triggered a landslide. Rocks and mud came down the San Pedro volcano. We were quite concerned for Dell. He wrote that the mudslide was meters from his house but that he was fine. We set up a donation centre at St. Luke’s School in NYC where Narda was working as their music teacher and collected several boxes of shoes and clothes to take with us to San Pedro. The shoes and clothes were new designer stuff still with labels on them. St. Luke’s has lots of celebrities’ children at it so there was a great pouring out of help. Unfortunately we were limited with luggage and ended up taking a suitcase and a half of stuff with our meager poor persons personal clothing stuffed in between the good stuff to give away. Due to Dell’s strong opposition to anything to do with Christianity we could not give it to a local church-mission place but we did find someone who was a part of the relief efforts and we gave what we had. We toured the path of destruction next to Dell’s house. I do not know if his house would have withstood the onslaught of huge rocks tumbling down the mountain – though he did have a lot of concrete involved in building his house.

His house was huge. It was three stories with each story being about fifteen feet high. There was no railing on the stairs and the toilet and shower was open with no privacy which Narda was not thrilled about.

DSC015669-front door

Dell’s primary complaint was the government had cracked down on drugs and there was not much good cocaine around any more. He was also concerned due to the mold everywhere and the effects it was having on his paintings.

He was quite excited when we there about one painting in particular. I probably would be the only person in the world who would know when Dell was excited because he does not give any outward clues. He was working on a painting when he was staying with us in Round Lake New York. He showed it to us and said he had been working on it for years and it was to be his masterpiece and he would sell it then buy a house in Paris and we could come and stay with him. When we were in San Pedro he told us how he had spent a lot of time recently working on his painting to have it finished while we were there. He had been working on it for more than a decade. We were not allowed to see it right away as he had little more to do on it so his 18 year old toy-boy showed us around town for a day and we went and watched soccer another day and another day we took boat rides around the lake until the last day we were there he was finished and he brought us up to his balcony to show us his painting he had worked on for ten years. We did not know what to say. He told us it was the universe or actually many universes exploding and life was beginning in various areas of the painting. I would say the canvas was about 36 inches by 36 inches maybe a bit bigger. He was reluctant to have me take a photo of it but I insisted and I am so happy I did as it may be the only record of its existence.

8-painting

Dell wanted to sell his house so we brought up a real estate agent that we found online living in San Pedro. The person was amazed and simply told Dell he had no idea how he could sell it. There were not really rooms. Upstairs there was sort of a lean-to structure with a bed and a few shelves. Narda and I stayed in there the week we were at Dell’s. The bed was uncomfortable the house was shocking but to this day we both say we never slept so well. Narda and I are really bad sleepers in that we wake up many times during the night which means we wake each other up. Rarely in the thirteen years we have been together have we slept through the night without waking at least once if not many times. In San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan we slept through every night and felt so rested the next day. I usually have to go to the toilet more than once at night – OK so I am old – but either because we slept so well or I was terrified of the stairs with no railings but I did not get up once. We spoke about how well we slept to other people we met and they said the same. Lake Atitlan is known for its peacefulness. In such a dangerous country it is something to have a place so peaceful. Before seeing Dell we stayed in Guatemala City – one of the most dangerous cities in the world according to web reports – people at the hotel we stayed at said we should not cross the street after dark unless we had one of the armed hotel people with us but we did to go to a restaurant down the street. At the restaurant there were two men one at each door with machine guns – that is how dangerous the city is. We were told it is dangerous to walk around in the daytime too but we were told that in Mexico City and we stayed during some horrific drug feud squabbles. We own a house in a rough area of Jersey City and lived there for three years. Like Dell we just go forward until we are unable to anymore.

Dell built his house like a fort because he had been robbed so often and even this peaceful part of Guatemala was really dangerous. There are no buses in San Pedro so one gets about hitching rides in the back of pickup trucks; similar to the songthaew in Thailand. It seems dangerous but it is fun. As Dell lived on a bit of a back road and his van was parked in storage in another town the only way to get around was on horseback or in the back of a pickup truck. Narda and I did ride horses through the coffee fields one day but that was more as tourists than transportation.

riding through the coffee fields near Dell's house

riding through the coffee fields near Dell’s house

One night we just could not eat what Dell had – nothing against his kitchen – well… but I being a vegetarian we will suffice it to say we wanted something else so Dell and Narda and the toy-boy and I walked down the hill; which in itself was quite a project as it was always muddy and steep and we are all old, well except for the toy-boy to the road. We walked for awhile when Narda saw a pickup truck in front of someone’s house so with Dell shaking his head no and me say ‘it is OK she does this kind of thing all the time’ Narda went to the door and asked for a ride into town. Of course we do not speak Spanish and Dell was back on the road looking embarrassed and they did not speak English but it was obvious what Narda wanted pointing at their truck and pointing in the direction of town and besides it was starting to rain. To our amazement; well Dell and me – not Narda she usually gets what she goes after (at St. Luke’s School in NYC the teachers have a saying, she worked there for five-years ‘what would Narda do?’) they agreed and we all piled into the back of the truck as well as about five family members and off we went. The end of the story is that we got a good meal in town does not matter as it was getting there that was fun. We found another pickup truck to take us back home and we climbed up the steep hill in the mud and rain and were happy to be back home. We were concerned about the scorpions in the house. Dell had said just watch for them. He had been bitten twice. The first time he said was quite painful the second time he got high. We were lucky I suppose as no scorpions bit us

Dell's studio was on the balcony in the upper right area of this photo

Dell’s studio was on the balcony in the upper right area of this photo

Antigua Guatemala

We decided to go to Antigua for a few days and I forget why but Dell was going to meet us there instead of go with us. We had come out from Guatemala City by car for a hundred dollars US as everyone says the chicken buses (really old USA school buses painted up) are very dangerous and we had read so many stories online about people being robbed and killed and beaten up on them that we did not take any. But to save some money we took a van to Antigua with about a dozen others. The others were young people traveling around South America. In the three hour or so ride we heard lots of horror stories about travel in Guatemala. I know Dell said once that he was driving along on a back rode and a bunch of bandits tried robbing him at gun point so he threw a bunch of money out the window and drove as fast as he could.

We stayed at the Four Seasons at Radisson Villa Antigua Resort in Antigua Guatemala. Not because we are snobs or rich; it was just affordable and we needed a nice place. Dell arrived a few days later and rang that he was in the lobby. Now picture a five-star hotel with its fancy lobby and in the middle is Dell with his bag of stones over his shoulder because of his back pain and a tattered bag with his clothes all of which obviously need a wash and – well there he was. We went to the front and collected him and as we had a two-bedroom apartment for that week or it was less than a week but for ever how long we stayed it was all quite good. Dell said he had not stayed at such a place for decades or did he say ever? We toured around Antigua the best we could – Dell could not walk a lot but we had lots of laughs and we even watched a soccer game with The Netherlands at a restaurant.

We really did plan to go to see Dell again. We were with in June – July 2010. The next summer we went to Ecuador then on to China to live for the next three years – until a month ago actually. We did not tell Dell we were going to South America as he would have wanted to meet up with us or have us visit him. He was quite stressed and we just did not know what we could do. I started making a webpage to help him sell his house but we could not come up with what his house could be used for. We thought maybe some new-age centre or a place for a craft/artist person. The view is amazing but the house is just so huge and strange. We wrote back and forth and thought maybe after our China tour we would go to visit meaning like now. I had said to Narda for the past year that I thought Dell was dead and I was feeling quite sad about it. There was no way to contact him. He did not have Internet on at home and could only use it when it went into San Pedro which was maybe once a month or so. His phone at his house did not work. His cousin said that he had put it on my Facebook a year ago that Dell had died but I did not see it. Facebook is banned in China and I would view it rarely using our VPN.

Dear Terrell and Mrs.–

Glad I found the correct email address for you.

Delbert died in an accident at his home in May 2013.  He had locked himself out of his house and was attempting to climb the outside wall to get in.  He fell, as I understand it, from between two and three stories.  A neighbor heard his cries and went to help.  (I didn’t even know he had neighbors.  I thought he was out there by himself in a remote area.  He never spoke of neighbors.)  A doctor and others were called to help.  In the process of taking him to town, he had a heart attack and died.  The death certificate indicated thoracic trauma.

A person from the US Embassy in Guatemala contacted me about three days after he died.  It took them that long to locate my information.  He informed me about the accident and that deaths were handled differently in Guatemala than in the US.  No refrigeration, no embalming, etc.  The heat and humidity had bad effects on the body and burial was done as soon as possible after death.   He is buried in a cemetery in Sololá in an unmarked grave.  A grave can be rented for 6 years and then the person is either buried like Delbert, or rented again.  It was not possible at that time to dig him up and ship him home, so he is forever in Sololá.

I do miss him.  Miss the unexpected phone calls.  Miss hearing what is going on in his life, mostly problems.  His legs and back were bothering him and causing him considerable pain, and I cannot understand what possessed him to think he could climb a house in his physical condition.   We will never know.

I hope all is well with you and your wife.

Karen

 

Dell tried to climb into his house and fell - he had leg and back problems so to climb something so high is a mystery

Dell tried to climb into his house and fell – he had leg and back problems so to climb something so high is a mystery

How is it we think ~ dwell ~ feel someone that is not in the physical and create in this moment with them? I do it. I am influenced by my dead son, by Dell, by my brother Robert, by my son, by girl friends; not all at once of course but I can be writing or talking or going through my day then suddenly this person from the past influences me and I change or add or morph – whatever I do at that particular moment. I disassociate with the moment, even sometimes with myself and associate with someone else. But I do not become who I was when I was with them but maybe who they are now being with me if there is life after life where the dead can embed themselves into now.

 

All my dead family and friends keep asking me

for favors

Last night one of my dead girl friends

asked me to feed her dead cat.

8-25-94 Victor Harbor

here is to you mate:

Delbert L. Crowther

  • January 22, 1940 – May 11, 2013
  • New Lenox, Illinois
  • New Orleans, San Francisco, New York City, Paris, Berlin, San Pedro Guatemala and so many places in between

Mariya Field There are many things to have been said about Dell and I also was part of the Musketeers who knew him in 1973. I was a teen run away on the streets of New Orleans, Terrell, Randy and Dell were my protective, loving, quirky, generous big brothers. I was never afraid when I was with them, and trust me the streets in those days could be brutal. Dell had a way of making silence beautiful. He introduced me to some of the most amazing and haunting music I ever heard, all on vinyl, he loved a good glass of vine, some serious pasta and an evening with a few of us contemplating the universe even the darker side at times.. (Terrell will remember a late night trip to Charity) . A few years ago I received a somewhat rambling email from Dell mentioning this coffee house on Royal street called Until Waiting Fills it was a true artist hang out (Like only existed in the 70″s) and over many cups of tea or carrot juice we contemplated the magic around us….Dell’s life was a bit harsh at times, he followed no known path he definitly was creative, different,, smart and loyal….and I hope wherever he landed his spaceship he can listen to his Voltaire and drink some killer red wine….Cheers dear brother

Durand Dandurand Dell was so different from anyone I’ve ever known. Dark and moody, always interesting; he did what he pleased, even if he was living in your house. Very strange guy, but I always liked him. A toast to you, Dell!

sunset

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Last!

June 18 – 24, 2014

Last!

Add-on at end of page as of 8 pm Tuesday 6/24/2014

Last week at our school, Dalian American International School, Golden Pebble Beach, Dalian Development Area, Dalian, China.

Last time at Discoveryland. That is good after four times. This is one of those places I would never have gone too. I took my children to Disneyland in California in 1992. Discoveryland, here, five minutes from our school in Golden Pebble Beach, is a diluted Chinese version of someone’s concept of what a Western theme park should be like. For the third year we have taken the upper school for a day out. There is a blurry, merging shadow between parenting and being a teacher. As a teacher I can say meet me at our meeting point at noon but I am not saying anything about those ninth graders holding hands and going into some area that does not appear to be supervised by a so-called responsible adult. I recall as a single parent hearing one of my sons kissing in the backseat of the car – he was about 12. I did not turn around or look In fear of what I would see. Even worse was one morning when I went into the kitchen and there were two girls in pajamas. They informed me they were staying with my 14 year old. Holy cow. Was I to say something? What had they said to their parents? Was I a bad parent? Then there was the time when my younger son, about 16 at the time, when I walked into his room and he was curled up with a girl on the bed (they had their clothes on) and I said hi to the girl by the wrong name. She had long blond hair like the one I thought was his current girl friend and in my defense she looked the same. I was in the dog-house for quite some time following that.

 

I am sitting here next to some roller coaster ride eating fruit; everything else to eat is so Chinese —- The last time I was here I was with Narda because one of our teacher friends had his 60th birthday party here, not sure why as Narda and I really dislike this place. Anyway we went into their eating area in hopes of finding something to eat. And sitting down with our overcooked white rice and slimy MSG infused vegetables we were treated to the spectacle of a girl throwing up next to us. We got up and left quite quickly without eating. Really! When the Chinese throw up their own food it is time to move on. This time I brought sandwiches.

 

So sitting here my ex-parenting days come back of my role in life. I am surrounded by children’s bags. Dr. Neuage can you watch our stuff? So off they go leaving me with their gear. Now I am being asked to take a video clip when the roller coaster and their screaming selves comes around. Another child wants to know if I know where her phone is. How would I know that? Wait I am a teacher. My parenting days are long gone. What is the teachable moment? I know…. “Hey keep track of your stuff or you may lose it”.

 

Last! Last few days of using Internet in China. What a horrible place to try and get stuff done online. Not only is wireless almost non-existent but often when it is available it is so slow that little will download. Now I am home back in Campus Village trying to recall pages of text I wrote on the iPad which somehow disappeared when I got home.

 

It was a good day compared to the past three times when Discoveryland was packed and the weather was hot. Because it rained part of the day… damn this was actually interesting back several hours ago before I lost all that I wrote.

 

I had commented on, as it was live at the time, the daily parade that goes through the parkbut now it does not seem that interesting. It was overpopulated with scantly dressed Russian and Chinese girls.

 

Last! This could be my last official school teaching job this life-time. Good. Bad. Yet to know. We left Adelaide shortly after 911 occurred in NYC and I started teaching at the State University of New York at Albany. I taught ‘Globalization and Culture’ http://neuage.org/gc.htm for a few years then taught as adjunt at a couple of other colleges and became the Director Of Technology at the Albany Academy for Girls and Albany Academy for Boys which is not the Albany Academies. After six or seven years upstate we went to NYC and I taught at The Dwight School then at the Ross Global Academy before our three years at Dalian American International School. Now we are sitting in Hong Kong with last week being our last week in China and the starting of this blog which I was writing at Discovery Land and wrote some more at an airport or two and now in our hotel in Happy Valley Hong Kong. I am hoping this is our last trip to Hong Kong for what is the third time here for. Last October I had four stents put in to keep my heart pumping along then last November to see if things were still flowing OK and now to see if the past is equal to the tasks of the present.

 

Yesterday was a bit difficult. The Adventist Hospital is tops. A good vegetarian hospital with really great caring staff. The little downsides yesterday were the five hours of tests I had to have. Things like having my arms tied down over my head for twenty minutes at a time (did that twice) as I laid in an x-ray machine that made me feel like I was in a coffin. I am claustrophobic as is and I had waves of panic but somehow managed through it. I have no idea how people who are tortured maintained any sanity when I barely manage 20-minutes. Whatever you do keep from giving me any state-secrets because I would pass them on after the first few minutes of torture. I grew up in a heavy Christian family that used to tell me that the Russians (1950s) then the Chinese (1960s) or whatever communist group was in fashion would pull us out of our farm house in Clifton Park New York and torture us because we were Christians. Maybe that is why I have spent the last 50 years of getting away from Christian indoctrination because of the torture that the Russians and Chinese would inflict upon us. I had Chinese nurses and doctors torture me yesterday but it was because of my heart so maybe that is OK. Other torture silliness yesterday included being on a treadmill until I almost was dead. They had lots of wires hooked up to me and the treadmill would go faster every few minutes and then they would take my blood pressure. They got me up to 180 and said just one more minute. Now I do exercise going for walks every day to the beach and I lift weights almost every day. But walking on a treadmill that was going 4.2 times faster than my legs possibly could move was really nuts. I kept thinking what state-secrets could I give them to stop this torture but I was coughing and panting so hard I could not get any words out. Then of course there was the intravenous in my hand pumping in who knows what to my body for their tests. When I was in the x-ray machine I was told I could not fall asleep, not that I would but if I did and began to snore they would need to start over. There were other less stressful tests and lots of blood-letting and tube fillings as my life essence was drained out for them to look at underneath their microscopes. OK just tell me I am old and I have a faulty heart and let me on my way. I go back this afternoon to see what those results are and hopefully they won’t say that I moved when I was in the machine and have to do that test over though this time for five hours and that spending 20 minutes on a treadmill until I was close to death was not enough and that now I have to be a part of an upcoming experiment that involves being in some Honk Kong marathon up their mountains with intravenous fluids flowing through needles into several parts of my body.

So Discoveryland was not as bad as yesterday at hospital but it was a bit annoying. I amused myself looking for creative Chinglish signs;

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and getting a new Facebook ID photo;

Discoveryland Dalian China

Discoveryland Dalian China

and taking photos”

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Last time using squat toilets. I managed to make it through three-years and not once to have to have squatted on a squat toilet https://neuage.me/2013/06/02/skip-to-my-loo/squat-toilet/ though I use them but not to squat and more I will not say.

 

Last time I get to watch Narda’s elementary music classes when she has other stuff to do. For example, the last class was kindy; most of whom were crying because she is not returning next year. One child has been crying since 9 am and it is now 11. Good golly when I was that age my mother was putting me up for adoption and then I got adopted by a house full of Christians which twisted my brain into difficult to repair fragments of reality. The children wrote notes to Narda such as:

 

Dear Ms. Biemond I will miss you

you are in my heart

for evey and erey

I will relly miss you …”,

 

Dear Ms. Biemond

you do evey thing for us

we love you Ms. Biemond

you see evey people is crying

because about you are liveing (I think she meant leaving and not living – it would be mean to cry because she is living)”

 

Not to worry we are watching “Muppets Take Manhattan”. Meanwhile my own middle school advisory class is running amok next door but it is the last day so it is all groovy. Of course no-one is crying because I am leaving though an 8th grader gave me a hug and I thanked her and recalled when I returned from heart surgery last October that she was the only one to run up and give me a hug and say she was glad I was OK. Middle-Schoolers are to adolescent obsessed to see much beyond their own world and to high school students I am a means to an end (to get good grades to get to university). Elementary are the ones to teach to get great emotional stroking though when I taught them at Ross Global Academy in New York City (a Charter school full of public kids from Harlem) they were quite terrible. Students at Dalian American International School were exceptional. I have never seen students that were so good. Maybe it is because of the international community that we were sandwiched in and lots of students actually lived in Campus Village and we saw them all the time outside of school too.

 

And all the pressures of not knowing if we could even get out of China. Now over as we head out. What happened was that soon after returning from my softball tournament https://neuage.me/2014/05/25/softball-and-wedding/ I had my passport on my desktop at home in Campus Village. We needed my passport to get a hotel room and realised it had gone missing from my desk on the same day that the cleaners cleaned our apartment. They come in Tuesdays and Tuesday after school it was not there. We looked everywhere. We spent two days looking through every speck of our apartment. Thursday morning when Narda went to get some clothing she found a credit card of mine that had been with my passport amongst her nickers that had been returned from the wash on Tuesday when they cleaned our house. We had notified Campus Village that my passport was missing and when we found the credit card – which was fortunate as we were going to cancel our card which would have made travel difficult with no way of getting a new one sent to us from the States before we were to leave China for good. We figured that somehow the wallet with the passport and credit card had fallen into the tub of laundry and the cleaners had found it melted and my passport probably ruined.

 

Getting a new passport is difficult and is only one-half of the problem. I went to Beijing to the Australian Consulate to begin the process which eventually took three weeks. But when I did get the new passport it took us three more weeks to get the Chinese work visa put in. We got it four days before flying out. Of course getting a work visa for my last four days of work is nuts but that is the nature of our lives.

 

Last shipping of same stuff around the world. We sent stuff at the start when we went to the States in 2002. For a decade we went back to Australia sometimes twice in a year and each time dragged more crap back to New York. By the time we left New York we had more than a five-thousand dollar bill to send our stuff to China only half of which the school paid for. Some of that stuff originated in New York during my past before I took it to Hawaii then to Australia in 1980 and back to NY in 20012 then to China. Last month we sent our crap to Australia more than six-thousand dollars worth; ten and a half cubic square meters of what? Some of which originated in NY then went to Australia in 1980 back to NY in 2002 then to China and now back to Australia. We had 86 boxes which included such crap as my yearbooks from Shenendehowa Central School between the years 1954 and 1965, letters from people in the 1960s (actually letters are like antique collector’s items as few write them anymore), Mardi Gras coins from 1978; along with our bikes which we have become very attached to, my father’s desk that he had since the early 1900s (he was born in 1905) and even a chest that originated in China and that my missionary aunt brought to New York in the 1930s. It is all now on a ship somewhere floating past pirates and where the Malaysian Airlines plane fell into the sea headed for South Australia to fill our garage along with a shed full of crap we have had in storage since 2001 and stuff stored in family’s sheds. Amongst all our stuff are two books about decluttering that Narda picked up once from a course we did in NY on how to declutter our life which I think we have failed miserably at.

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Last time of taking photos of business that makes me wonder what were they trying to say? Did this shop say you would get a stomach ache from eating their cakes?

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And the last time of living in what we called our assisted-living quarters.

 

I forgot that I will be 67 in a few weeks when I pranked a neighbour. Brandon our mid-20s neighbour who as strange as life can be is from the same area of upstate New York that I grew up in (we have two others; Sean and Jean, who also are from the same area and even so close that Jean’s sister lives across from where I was adopted) started the Asian thingy of putting his shoes outside of his door. First his sneakers and work shoes then a few more shoes. People started to do things like put his shoes on the elevator or in front of other people’s doors then eventually someone put a shoe rack out for him and more shoes began appear. I wanted to put a pair of female Asian style glittery high heal shoes amongst his manly shoes but did not want to spend too much. A couple of weeks ago we found the perfect shoes and for 25 RMB (about four US dollars). I put them amongst his shoes on a Sunday night. Monday other teachers asked him if he had a visitor – actually we all had a bit of a go at him and he just kept saying he had no idea where they were from. Then Erin put an ironing board against the wall next to his door so I put it up and put the shoes on them. More things appeared over the last week there including condoms, beers bottles, Vaseline, and when we left it was a sort of a piece of art. I will miss our time in China it has been good.

 

In front of Brandon’s door. Note the hair dryer (a few more ended up there) considering he keeps his head shaved or very short this was definitely needed. This display was much larger when I left with many more things added.

Brandon's shoe rack before we added much more on the last couple of days

Brandon’s shoe rack before we added much more on the last couple of days

The shoe rack started off like this

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Add-on

After five hours of testing yesterday I saw Dr. King who put in four stents last October and he was concerned about some results so he sent me to take another test. The one where they inject dye through your body and shove you into a large x-ray machine. Much like yesterday except this one gives a metallic taste and whenever they inject more dye it burns through the whole body.

 

So after the test he says he will call me at six tonight which he did to tell me I have more heart disease – new disease that was not there eight months ago. Damn ! Now we have to run around and get our lame ass insurance company to OK the surgery to happen in the next few days. We have already canceled our trip to Hanoi but hope to still get to Laos next week. Bloody heart…. having five planets in Leo with Saturn and Pluto and Sun and Venus and the like squaring Jupiter – give me a break I don’t even believe in that stuff.

 

June 26

 

Get heart surgery tonight at 7 pm at Adventist Hospital Hong KongDSC_7592

watching the world go by in Hong Kong

watching the world go by in Hong Kong

Softball and Wedding

Videos associated with this blog:

Wedding http://youtu.be/hXTnilDBg1Q
Temple visit http://youtu.be/a8QCaHBe9tA

Part 1 Softball

April 19 – 20

I thought it was last weekend but then I was wrong; so I thought it was the week prior then the weekend prior to that but now looking at the date it was a month ago. When yesterday was a month ago and last weekend was closer to tomorrow and tomorrow in reality does not matter as it has yet to manifest then living in the moment has been actualized. It is really the goal of human existence; if not stated then at least alluded to in one’s subconscious or super-subconscious or maybe even in the collective mind that we work so hard at denying exists so that we can have our alleged individual-walled off-tweeted minds but it is a trick. We really do live in the moment.

It is simple physics that what exists is existing now and not tomorrow and not really what did exist because that is what did and what is, is the magic of now. Part of the magic of now though, as humans, and maybe animals – how would we know? Is that we can transcend now and live elsewhere without living there. So I am thinking that it seemed like last weekend but it was not and that is fine because there has been so much good stuff since what I am really going to write about at least at first here that I have not had the opportunity to write since that great weekend because of all the other great moments since. Narda says I use way too many words to get to the point and because she is much smarter than me I suppose that is correct so I will get on with it.

In between or during, on top of, along-the-side of, those great moments are the mundane though thought provoking due to their life changing results moments; such as packing. It is close to moving-on to the next experience in life time and to alienate myself from what I believed in the paragraph above and just a few moments ago I am thinking and probably trying to live a tad bit in to the future because what we have been doing will be reflected in our future. For example what do we toss, what do we ship, what is carry-on luggage, what is dragged along with us stuff? A minor problem, well not problem but more of an issue is that all our belongings; I need to rephrase the part about all our stuff as we have a shed full of stuff in Adelaide, Australia that has been in storage for about 12-years, we have furniture and nicknacks in our house we our renting out in Jersey City and stuff in both of our houses in upstate New York that for some reason we have not really gotten rid of and we actually avoid any conversation about whether we should get rid of because it will just cause stress and no one wants too much stress in their life so we put the ‘we-have-crap-to get-rid-of’ bag over our consciousness and go forward into the weeks, months, years and now decades of whether we should have a conversation about bringing our past into the future.

For now we live in the moment – the ideal space – and what we collected and stored in the past can just stay there for now. I am not fond of packing unless of course I am packing to drag more of my past into the future then I am a real fan of packing. Back in the mid 1980s when I was a single parent in Australia living on a farm in Mt. Compass out on Tooperang Road (on the Fleurieu Peninsula) – the photo below is where my children and I lived from 1986 – 1988 – the years get blurry sometimes but strangely enough alive enough to feel like last weekend too. I even moved my tofu making business here – see my never-ending ~ ever-evolving e-book on making tofu and raising children with stories such as when the cows came and ate all my tofu-burger mix for the week at http://tofu.neuage.us/ what I do notice about this picture and where I live now in China is the blue sky and white clouds; all so different than the polluted skies and air we have here.

our home in Mt Compass South Australia from 1986 - 1988
our home in Mt Compass South Australia from 1986 – 1988

Back in the mid-1980s my children and I packed boxes and I said the next time we open them we will be in New York. It never happened and those boxes of toys and clothes stayed packed and we moved them from place to place; we lived in ten homes in about 12-years; not the easiest life being a single parent but overall it was good. Of course my children at the time were about five and seven years old and the concept of storing and dragging memories and loot from place to place was not really a manifest destiny at the time other than what they saw in one place was magically transferred to the next; not magic for me as I packed and lugged then unpacked to give our home in so many places that seamless ‘it is home’ look. Not that it is now thirty years later makes me any different. I read recently in an article about designing responsive web pages that fifty percent of our personality has genetic causes meaning I obviously inherited the need to hoard from those who came before. [Prinker, Steven, ‘How the Mind Works,’; in Aarron Walter’s article on ‘Redesigning with Personality’ in Smashing Magazine.}

That weekend ago; I looked forward to it for a month; actually now a month later I am looking back at it a month; sort of the midpoint between now and then and the month before when I first decided to play in a softball tournament in Kunshan (a bury burb of Shanghai). “The ‘Zhou City Cup’ slow pitch softball Kunshan Grand Prix; 25 teams from across the Taiwan Strait…of intense athletics.” Source: China News  –  Views: 7-Times (four of those times was me, showing how popular this article was in a month’s time in a country with a billion plus people http://www.vhteam.cn/feed/en_1996233).

The population of Kunshan is 1.647 million (by 2010) according to Wikipedia which is more people than Adelaide, South Australia which is the fifth largest city in all of Australia with 1.203 million people (2010 – I know I counted them) and which we are moving back to in five weeks. Kunshan is a small town in China. To get an idea of how small it is The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that at least 15 mega-cities with 25 million residents are now in China (all of Australia has 22.68 million (2012). Kunshan is, like most of China, a construction site with highways all over the shop being tossed in.
unfinished road ramps-resized


The fact that most of the people on our team were half my age had Narda asking ‘are you sure you want to do this’? There were seven of us English garbling folks; five from Dalian American International School and two that work at local international companies. The rest of the team were Taiwanese. We have been practicing with them on Sundays for the past year and last year when I had a bit of a heart problem and got sent off to Hong Kong to get four stents put in some place in my heart area they got together and signed a softball with all their names and no one thought I would or probably that I should play with them again. The doctor said whoa but four weeks later I was out there chasing flys and hitting the ball all the way to the pitcher – OK so I am the worse player on the team but I am also the oldest.
team with sign-me

Actually I do not look that terribly old – the next oldest is ten years younger and most are in their 30’s with Brandon there at 24 and some in their 40’s. So to recap; one in the sixties (66 and in another two months 67 – yippee), one in his fifties and the rest just young.

It was a hoot. On Saturday it rained all day so we just slipped and skidded around and I even got a hit and got on base – what a dude. I was the catcher as they probably thought I would have a heart attack if I had to run after the ball and I did make a few good plays. We lost by heaps the first game something like 17 to two, and won the next. On Sunday we lost one and won one and did not do well enough to make it to the next round so we only played four games. For whatever karmic reason that we get what we get in life we got the crap field with lots of mud holes.

We played at the Kunshan Zhoushi Middle School and it was closed meaning toilets and any human related facilities were not available. We managed to get our bus driver to go off and find a Starbucks and bring us back large cups and luckily I brought enough sandwiches for two days because the box lunch that were provided looked and smelt pretty foul being composed of meat from indeterminable origins. Or to say I did not see any cats, dogs, rats, birds, bats, flies, butterflies and etc. in the area could be a hint of what could have been in the lunch boxes. We had fun though and we all laughed a lot and the younger ones had not problem with making fun of one another.

We stayed at the Crown International Exhibition Hotel Kunshan for the weekend getting in Friday night after mid-night. I knew for weeks that enough sleep was not going to be on the agenda. Narda and I usually go to bed at nine pm and we are up at six but this weekend Narda was a bit concerned that I would not have enough sleep – even my wife thinks I am old. Sure enough I was up and down for breakfast around six am on Saturday and off playing by eight. The others had stayed up a couple of hours more to have drinks. Saturday night I was determined to be asleep by ten but first we were all off to the KTV attached to the hotel. If you have never been in China and have no idea what KTV is well I suppose one could Google it. Basically you get a large room and it is to sing in on the lowest end of the scale. It is not a front for prostitution (they say) but where one pays to have a girl sit with them then according to how much you pay then you get more. Girls are led in, in groups of 5 – 7 and if none are chosen the next group is brought in.

A person will even announce how much a girl to drink with you is; in the first group it was 500 RMB for a girl to talk with you and have drinks which were extra. One group we were told was 700 each as they were some top sort of girls whatever that meant and then one group was a special at only three hundred per girl. In the short time I was there I counted six groups of girls. Us baseballers were just looking at the TV and laughing at the songs and drinking. Well I drank water as I stopped drinking alcohol about seven years ago. I was told several times not to take photos but I did anyway and took video clips until at the end when I was taking video in the hall I was escorted out by three tough looking dudes who had no smiles between them. I am not making any youtube type of clips for various reasons but here are some images I took off of the video clips I managed to get.

KTV

The girl in the blue flight suit was kind of in charge – there were a couple of them and when someone chose a girl – the Taiwan players were keen the girl would turn over some electronic device to the girl in the blue which I supposed was an expense account-tracker.

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The TV in the background is the karaoke screen. I do not remember if the hand in front of me is telling me once again to put away my camera or if it was choosing a girl. After some people looked aggro at me with my Nikon (especially when I had a zoom lens on) I took photos with my iPhone and sent them to Narda (hey guess where I am?)KTV-4resize

I took video in the hall because it was such an impressive place with stained glass and lovely furniture and I thought no one could see me but I was quickly escorted out of the building – but here is an image from a video of a hall:

KTV-7-hallway

I thought it was all quite interesting from a cultural anthropological position studying the primordial role and development of the reptilian brain of sports players. Everyone was having a good time drinking beer, singing, and me watching until a female sat next to me and started saying ‘hello’. I did not want to be antisocial but I was not interested in talking either. And further more she did not speak English and she was young enough to be my granddaughter. I don’t want to sound like abnormal as a sports player but I was thinking maybe I should get a blanked to put over her as she seemed very skimpily dressed for the air-conditioned room and she could easily catch a cold then she may be missing school. I could have asked her why she was not home doing homework but again there was a language barrier. I have no idea why she was sitting next to me trying to talk then I realized the Taiwan dude next to me, I am sure, paid for her for me. He asked me if I could speak Chinese so I could talk to her and he assured me she was good. Good in meaning she gets all A’s at school? Or she sings well in the local church choir? When I went to take a sip of my water she took her glass and clunked mine and said something and I smiled and said, ‘sorry dear I have to go’. Gosh things change when one goes from being in their twenties to their 60’s. So I went back to my hotel took a sleeping pill and slept from nine pm until feeling refreshed Sunday morning I was ready to play ball.

The first time I came across a KTV was when three couples were in Dalian for the weekend our first month at Dalian American International School. We had all started at the same time; now three years later, one couple: Frank and Kay are in Burma – we went to visit them a few months ago and the other: Jean and Sean, are still here. We had no idea what we were walking in to and we sat down and these scantly dressed females came in. I think it is about karaoke as there is always a large television screen and you get a microphone. We got into laughing fits and left. That was my full KTV experience until Kunshan. Everyone was going in the evening after dinner. Dinner was quite the event with band and singers all in a large Chinese-style-over-the-top-chandelier laced room.
Reason for doing.
Everything we do is because of.
Conscious or not.
I was conscious about why I was going to play softball with a group of energetic young folks. I do not socialize much here and rarely have socialized much anywhere. My idea of a nice weekend is creating a new webpage or doing some writing, making something in Premiere or After Effects, having a play in Photoshop; I have had a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for the past year and there are not enough hours in a week to learn and create in all the programs and do all the wonderful things I try to squeeze a few moments in a day out of to make something. I am fortunate to have a job where I can use lots of programs during the day at Dalian American International School. One of the creative parts of my job is DAISlive which is our in-house news show that I do with my middle school and high school classes. I try new animation and video features each week. The rest of my position is ‘technology integration coordinator where I work with teachers and we create stuff using film in courses from literature to science and we use designing and CAD programs so I will miss all this creative buzz with students and teachers. But outside of school I do not do much with others except of course Narda. I am lucky for many reasons but one of them is she likes to spends stacks of time on the Internet looking at real estate or on Skype with her granddaughters or sons in their various places of residence (Hanoi, Adelaide, South Australia, Atlanta, Georgia) and now as we are moving back to Australia she is looking on Gumtree (Gumtree is Australia’s answer to Craigs List in the States) for furniture so now at 5:30 AM I get to continue to write.

OK drifting is so often common in my thinking which manifests in my writing too often and to wander off to the actually point of playing softball at a tournament at the age of 66 almost 67 six months after heart-repair and a few aches and pains acquired from who knows where?

When Leigh was fourteen he went on his first out of town baseball tournament. He went to Melbourne playing for a spot on the U-16 National Team playing in St. Louis Missouri. (sites I made at the time: http://www.angelfire.com/hi/U16/australia.html and http://leigh.neuage.info/u16.htm). He did not tell any of his friends that he was trying out for the national team because he did not want to say he did not make it. He was ready to keep going though and had a week’s clothes and his passport with him. I had spent a lot of time in family court getting permission for him to go as his mother did not want him leave Australia thinking that in someway I would run over there and keep him there. By this time in 1997 I had been a single parent since 1984 when Leigh was a year old and Sacha three and a half but we had already been to family court heaps (we managed 66 times in court during the course of parenting, mostly over money and my wanting to take the children to the States to see their grandparents which I managed to get permission for twice). He made the team and helped Australia to get into 4th place in a field of 12 countries. There were a lot of away tournaments following that from playing on National Schoolboy teams to Australian National Teams, a World Cup in Taiwan, a series in Africa and the Under 18s World Series in Canada (http://leigh.neuage.info/u-18.htm) and on to playing for the LA Dodgers. Leigh was constantly taking a bus, train, flight to somewhere to play ball. Sacha had left home the last couple of years Leigh was home before Narda and I too left and went off to New York to live in 2002. I would clean Leigh’s room and sit in there thinking about him traveling around and try to visualize his life on the road. I often made web pages for whatever team he was on or tournament he was at. Between 1997 and 2003 Leigh got to travel a lot. So my going off with a team and playing in a tournament was exercising ghosts and mind-spacings I have had for a long time. http://neuage.org/leigh.html says it best.

LeighWS-large

I was successful with my travel. I would not do it again but taking a flight and buses and staying at a hotel and wearing Leigh’s baseball cleats and using his glove all put me in the right place and I have cleared a bit part of my life and now I can drift off into old-age knowing that I too played ball in an international tournament. Riding with the guys on a big yellow bus – I think if Leigh had stayed on the planet he would have thought this was kind of kool – of course he would probably be a big-time ball player but hey we all have to start somewhere and getting on the bus to the game is the first step. It has been a month now and no scouts have rung me like they did when Leigh was a teenager when scouts from Atlanta, Arizona, Minnesota, and finally LA though there were others whom I have forgotten all visiting me because of my son. Maybe I did not do well enough or it could have been the language barrier.

to-bus-small

We got home after midnight or early Monday morning. Somehow I managed a couple of hours of sleep and then I was off to school. Needless to say it was a day of being tired. The downside of working where you live – or nearby, as Dalian American International School is a five minute walk to Campus Village where we live, is that it is very tempting to go home and have a nap which I have not done in three years but it is reassuring to know it is possible.

Part 2 Wedding

May 10 – 11
Vivian has worked with us for the past couple of years. She teaches Mandarin at our school. She speaks English very well and as she lived in Minnesota for a few years she is quite Western sounding. When she sent out the invitation to the whole school 27 of us signed up to go to her wedding in Liaoyang. At first we thought we were at the wrong venue because the photoshop folks had kind of made Vivian look not like her but sure enough we were at the correct place.

Vivian

Liaoyang, another close to two-million people town has wide streets and is known for its petroleum products; maybe not widely known, I had no idea what that meant until after a weekend there. It is is one of the ‘oldest continuously-inhabited cities in northeast China’ according to Wikipedia.

I had not been out of town for almost two weeks since going to play ball in the international tournament down in Kunshan as us sport players who are constantly on the road just have this need to go to the next town. We took the fast train up which only took 1 hour 40 minutes and cost 143.5 RMB (23 US dollars). The fast trains in China are one of the best things in this country. They are exactly to the minute on time,very comfortable, cheap, clean and of course fast. The ordinary trains are quite budget.302 k

The hotel, Grand View International Hotel was good and we had a view across the town.photo from hotel

This was our second Chinese wedding and they never fail to entertain. See http://youtu.be/hXTnilDBg1Q for this wedding and http://blog.neuage.info/?p=35 for my blog about a previous wedding which also at http://youtu.be/PJoDYbCswC8.

After the wedding we spent the day touring. On Sunday we stayed together with the group that went up and Vivian gave us a narrated tour but on Saturday when the wedding and brunch was over, all before noon, Narda and I went off in search of the local pagoda in Liaoyang White Tower Park. Guangyou temple, first constructed in 1145 houses a giant statue of Buddha made from sandalwood. From my observation it was about four stories high and as always he looks quite happy.buddha
There were heaps of interesting images (just a smattering are here) including a series of creatures holding up Buddha’s foot.buddha shoe

We climbed local hill tops to templesumbrellas

And wondered how a controlling country like China keeps track of 1.3 billion people and saw our answer in the park; they send children out on patrol missions in little vehicles.

police

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that is it… probably my last blog written here as we ship everything off next week to Australia and we are off soon after: firstly to Hong Kong to have another peak at my heart then to Hanoi and on to Laos and sometime in mid-July we will regroup in Adelaide and a month later our shipment of crap will arrive and by then we will be looking around wondering why did we move back to Australia.

terrell-toilet

 

 

 

 

 

narda messenga service

Embedding Thailand

Embedding Thailand

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Three years ago our school, Dalian American International School, gave us our spring break unfettered. Professional Development, as a Common Core (a favorite buzzword at our school) active-learning-function, should be embedded within school-time, according to values held amongst staff, was separated from holiday time. Professional Development of course is part and partial of instructional education and as the name implies (professional development) is a segment of what enhances the teaching environment which is what people pay to send their darlings to our school to learn. Three years ago the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) conference was in Bangkok and as usual went from Thursday to Saturday. Spring Break holidays followed the next week. As our school gives us a thousand dollar stipend for PD we usually use it for a conference and the thousand dollars US comes close to paying the airfare, the conference, and the hotel. So naturally when the conference is during school days prior to a holiday why would we not combine them? which we did three years ago and about half the teachers pissed off on a Wednesday went to a conference in Bangkok then on to holiday the following week. I think we went to Viet Nam that year after the conference. Which made sense as our airfare was paid for most of the way by going via Bangkok.

 

Not to worry we made do and Friday right after school we were on the way to the airport, one hour away, with Jolly from our Jack-controlled fleet of drivers. Being five o’clock in Dalian add a 45 minutes but we were in flight and arriving in Guangzhou before mid-night. We chose to get out of town thinking we would get to our sea-side town by Saturday noon and to have five-days before being burden with the great mind minds in the educational world; should not be sarcastic here as there are always a few guiding lights at these conferences though a large quantity of ‘look at how great I am‘ presenters too.

Staying at the Pullman Hotel at Guangzhou Airport, a five minute walk away from the entrance to Gate A – International is the best way to start a holiday. Yes, there are soft beds in China and large soft pillows. Even at top hotels we find hard beds waiting for us but not at the Pullman and five thirty Saturday morning came just too soon for the comforts one craves at any age. We got to Bangkok and taking the Airport Rail
Link (06:00-midnight) that connects downtown
Suvarnabhumi International Airport with Bangkok we were at Hua Lamphong Railway Station (สถานีรถไฟหัวลำโพง – ah the joys of cut and paste), or for those of us who struggle with any language of any sort, the Bangkok Railway Station.

(my youtube video for this is at http://youtu.be/tjxnVU4FoGk).

Bangkok Railway Station

Bangkok Railway Station

The train station is a typical older big city Asian place. The toilets are horrible (bring your own tissue – and be prepared to squat if squat action is what your body needs to do), there are restaurants, we ate at one upstairs that was very grubby but the tofu stew I had was fine though I suspect that like most meals was heavily laced with MSG which makes me more hyper than usual which is fine after a cup of coffee and a long train ride. The noon train was fully booked and the only place left on the next train at 2.30 was first class sleeper which sounded groovy and comfortable and elitist and we bought on for those moments of merging with the chosen and higher echelon of whatever social grouping we were to be embedded with. Eventually we were off to Hua Hin; promoted as the closest beach resort of Bangkok, located 281 kms away.

DSC_5239DSC_5280

Hua Hin Train Station

Hua Hin Train Station

The photo of the Hua Hin Train Station below is the next day.

 

 

We brought snack food with us which was good because I was unable to eat the dead-animal-laced meals that were on offer but we did have drinks in the restaurant car and a good view of the landscape which was mainly flat and rice fields (see the video). The upper crust we were on board with looked pretty working class or below which probably coincided with the fare of about $15 US. So this was not Amtrak and the sleeper car definitely was not what we expected (see image above) but was actually our seats folded down with a pull down bunk on top and a thin mat on top and curtains. OK so it was mid-day and we did not need sleepers but we thought it would be a hoot (I think it was me that was thinking in turns of ‘oh boy this will be kool‘) to get the beds made up and I went off to find a porter type of dude who made up the beds with pillows and sheets and the half inch piece of foam that would serve as our mattress. Of course as we live in a world of ‘hey they are doing it so we should do it too‘ and of course with us being the only westerners on the train obviously we knew what we were doing so the people across from us did it. They had a child of about five who thought it was all a big Cubby House and chattered the whole trip (six hours, two hours longer than the advertised time) and climbed between up and down bunks.

Then the next seat did it and soon as shown above the whole car was one big sleeper and it was only about four in the afternoon. Not to be a trend-starter for no reason I climbed up on the top bunk and promptly fell to sleep for about an hour and I was not even sleepy to begin with. But I tend to relax and go to sleep quite easy. I do it on airplanes; often being sound to sleep from starting on the runway to waking in the clouds – maybe something about my level of consciousness being played out there. One of my stranger times I suppose was going to sleep whilst the dentist was drilling a few months ago, they woke me up a couple of times. And forget massages – Narda will tell me that soon after they start I am snoring. The bad part of my sleeping habits is that I awake a few hours later, like around one or two in the morning wide-awake ready for the day and I just lay there, usually quite frustrated for a couple of hours before going back to sleep. I tend to fall asleep always within half an hour before it is time to get up.

Nevertheless we got to Hua Hin station about 8.30 PM with the people who we had arranged our airbnb waiting the extra hours for our arrival. In contrast to our smartypants idea that leaving Friday night would have our toes in the warm waters of Thailand and away from the still freezing weather of Dalian was quite in error in judgement as some others left our school Saturday morning and once at Bangkok Airport took another flight and got to their beach side resort early Saturday afternoon with us leaving a dozen hours earlier and getting to our destination hours later than the others.

We stayed in a small apartment owned by a Dutch couple@ the Tira Tiraa Condominium (http://www.tiratiraahuahin.com/). The whole joint is full of Northern Europeans, lots of Danes and Germans who live there for several months at a time and of course Narda was thrilled and the word retirement came up multiple time. (It sound like an echo off of a distant mountain filtered through many layers of resistance in my brain stem scratching against the reptilian part of my brain.). Good western restaurants and we went to the ‘S & S Indian Restaurant’ which is listed a Ranked#9 of 348 restaurants in Hua Hin in Tripadvisor and we ranked it as number one of three restaurants we ate at which of course is a higher ranker but not as credible because we are no-body. We had several eats at ‘I Rice’ which was only a block away and we ranked it as number two out of three though Tripadvisor Ranked it as #70 of 348 restaurantsin Hua Hin. Forgot where we ranked number three, I think it was where we had breakfast.

The Tira Tiraa Condominiums have a wonderful large swimming pool and we made use of it and a gym which I made use of everyday. The rest of the time we wandered around, took a random bus to Cha Am which is a distant extension of Hua Hin and is full of Northern European tourists beneath kilometer after kilometer of umbrellas. See below:

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Songthaew, taxi truck Songthaew, taxi truck

Bus to Cha Am

Bus to Cha Am

As we usually do we took random tuk tuks to places we did not know including this random bus that went to the next town, Cha Am. The town centre is nowhere as nice as Hua Hin so we started down the road to the beach (see umbrella infested shore photo above) on a very hot day and fortunately were able to hail a taxi truck (“songthaews”) most of the way. We walked all the way back to town which was miserable, taking an hour in the noon-day sun.

We got the bus back toward Hua Hin but being the tourists that we are and having read about The Venezia Hua Hinwhich online (http://www.theveneziahuahin.com/) and on our tourist map boasted its significance: The Venezia Hua Hin: The inspiration of this magnificent project came from the charming of the world famous river city named ‘Venice, Italy’. Venice is known as a city that massively uses water transportation by using the canal as a traffic channel through out the city. In addition, the Venice has also preserved traditional stores with beautiful sculpture surrounding of the canal area. These charming can be compared to one of the most charming in Thailand, Hua Hin.

Hua Hin is the major tourist destination and long time famous city in Thailand. As of the fact that Hua Hin is currently regarded as the prime tourism potential in terms of rapidly and steadily growing in the business and numbers of both Thai and foreign tourists. As the distance between Hua Hin and Bangkok, it is very convenient to travel as same day trip between Bangkok and Hua Hin; It takes less than two hours by car. Hua Hin, the city of relaxing place for living and visiting supported by surrounding many major attractions. Of course, huge buying power of over 65 million people across the country and oversea visitors.

We loved being in Venice and all the other places of Italy we have wandered about in so a day at a Venetian Shopping Centre – of course, why not?

Holy Cow! The shopping centre had to be the most tacky and ill conceived place I have ever seen. To make it even more idiotic they charged 50 baht to get in; OK so it is only $1.50 US but the nerve… Surely it was built by the Chinese as I doubt any other country could have come up with such a stupid concept. Due to the heat being in an air-conditioned mall was a relief but what a bunch of stupid shops. Everything was so overpriced and the place so empty.

There were mixed styles; some I think were suppose to mimic Italy in someone’s twisted dream and some just did make sense. I think they were a Thai copy of Disney, not sure. There was a sort of Christmas theme happening too I think even though we were in the middle of March.

A Christmas theme in the sense that there were reindeer or horses with horns and trees with lights and packages beneath. I doubt whether the builders/designers had ever been to Venice. It was even more tacky than the The Venetian Macao (see my blog of Macao @ http://wp.me/pcHIf-iz). We discovered that we needed cash and the ATM did not take our Chinese Union-pay Card (most countries and ATMs do including in Hua Hin, Bangkok, Burma and etc) but not at this strange place which was good as Narda had found some wings she was buying for her two-year old granddaughter and a soft sheep. We had just enough cash to get on a bus back to Hua Hin.

The Venezia Hua Hin

The Venezia Hua Hin

The Venezia Shopping Centre

The Venezia Shopping Centre

The Venezia Shopping Centre

The Venezia Shopping Centre

The Venezia Hua Hin

The Venezia Hua Hin

Once we had dragged our sorry asses out of the air-conditioned mall and alongside the sun-killing highway we waited and waited though it was only 20 minutes for the bus. There was no shade and I tried entertaining myself and Narda (she was not entertained) by making fun of a bullock in the paddock next to us.

don't eat animals they are kool

don’t eat animals they are kool

Not to worry we got home had dinner at ‘I Rice’ and had a swim in the pool and Narda talked about retirement and I checked out the bandwidth which needless to say was a lot better than what we get at Campus Village back home in Dalian which is close to non-existent. I am not sure whether it is funding cuts at our school that has gotten us less bandwidth or the fact that the Internet mainly filters through student housing first to keep them happy or if it is because of the government. No one is enlightening us on why our Internet in China is so much worse than it was two years ago. So I hastily uploaded YouTube clips of our travels so far on this trip. And of course posted to and read Facebook and Twitter and other sites banned in China.

We walked along the beach in Hua Hin stopping at the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa because when one wants a proper toilet a western hotel is the place to go. The Hilton did not let us down and we rested in their beautiful lobby overlooking the sea (picture below)

The lobby of the Hilton Hotel with water falls into a pool and on into the sea

The lobby of the Hilton Hotel with water falls into a pool and on into the seathen we went on to the Centara Grand Beach Resort Hotel

(http://www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centaragrand/chbr/) which was formerly the Hua Hin Railway Hotel (when it was affordable). The lawns are amazing with sculptured bushes and all the old world charm in the lobby before whatever bad-tastes-tourism’s wrecking ball has done to the beautiful places of the world. If we were not staying at the Tira Tiraa Condominium and had three-hundred dollars per night to spend on
lodging we would have stayed at
the Centara Grand Beach Resort Hotel. Narda says we will stay here for a week to celebrate our twenty anniversary of when we did the ‘M’ thing back in 2001 so we have seven-years to save our coins in a jar and by then if the world has not gone on some crazy end-of-the-earth bang we will stay at the former Railway hotel.

gardens at Centara

gardens at Centara

gardens at Centara

gardens at Centara – Old Railway Hotel – elephant style

just a random school but I took a photo of it to remind me how easy our school name is to say – Dalian American International School

just a random school but I took a photo of it
to remind me how easy our school name is to say – Dalian
American International School

jetty in Hua Hin

jetty in Hua Hin


 Narda and a local shop in Hua Hin

Narda and a local shop in Hua Hin

Narda checking out a place to purchase so we can face retirement

Narda checking out a place to purchase so we
can face retirement

 

We went off to grab a photo of the train station and inspect more of funky Hua Hin – which is good at this moment in time because it is not filled with tourists like the other resort areas in Thailand.

Narda on train to Hua Hin

Narda
on train to Hua Hin


There are the retired and semi-retired who have homes for months at a time (Narda’s direction for us – just make sure there is fast Internet and I will be OK) but for packs of tourists, not yet. Narda had a bag she bought in Yangon a few weeks ago that needed repair so we stopped at a sewing place. I looked down the road and saw all the traffic stopped two blocks before the one round-about in town. Walking to the one round-about in town I saw traffic was stopped in a directions and the road crossing town was empty except for police and military lined up. Not having a clue as usual I went out to the centre of the round-about to take photos and video and cops from several directions came running toward me waving to stop filming so I went down the street and behind a pole began filming again; see http://youtu.be/XvOScADNIKQ, turns out that the King of Thailand was going to his summer palace which is just outside of Hua Hin. The people lining the street were chanting and waving Thai flags. It was all rather quaint. Narda was nervous that I would be arrested. Actually I am a bit of a journalist as I have a BA in Journalism from Deakin University in Melbourne and having never really had much chop at using it in a real world situation I thought this would be a good time to get a story but in actual fact there was no story to get as apparently the king spends a lot of his time at his Hua Hin home.

Narda always says we need to live somewhere beautiful, it does not matter whether it is in a poor area or – well I think a poor area is what we can afford and Thailand is so full of beautiful places but it is gradually, like the world itself getting overrun by… well I suppose it is people like us. We all want to live in a beautiful place and not in polluted choking places like most major industrial areas. But we bring our industrialized values with us which is stuffing up the once beautiful places. I don’t know what will happen to this planet in the next couple of decades but from first hand viewing it does not seem as going too well. Of course we would just be happy with a reasonable shack with some solar panels, a veggie patch and some chooks on a beach somewhere in Asia but then the water rises and a tsunamis comes or radiation from North Korea or everyone is running out of drinking water and food and gosh…

We took a bus back to Bangkok. It was a 22-seat-coach to Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport, comfortable and less than four-hours. A lot better than the train. I slept most of the way, not sure why as I was not sleepy when we got on at noon but I seem to sleep wherever I am.

We arrived Bangkok in the evening and caught up with Kay and Frank our neighbours last year here in Campus Village and recently our host at their home in Yangon, Burma and a few others grabbed a foot massage, I fell to sleep and snored and Narda in the next seat woke me and the next day Thursday we were at the EARCOS conference.

I of course attended the tech ones such as ‘Innovate now or become irrelevant’ and about Digital Badges which has merit but after digging around in it there are too many companies just in it for the money. Of course education is about money and when you get into private schools and narrow that down to international schools the flow of money overrides it all. I attended too many sessions that were in essence a sales pitch either to take a course to get credit but of course these are paid courses and what more do I want to add to a PhD I am not sure but this is perhaps where open badges comes into play. That we can get cred for whatever we do. But then again to issue badges costs money. Ryan our elementary tech person is working on it and has already issued me with a badge;

totalhippieawardthough somehow I think it misses the educational systems hierarchy of sustained learning. I in turn made him a badge with something about educational rapping as he is our local rock star (Cronkite Satellite) and in fact I filmed the video for one of his songs for a you-tube clip – http://youtu.be/sOide6Bf140 and I have been doing some chroma-screen (blue screen) work with him for projects in our video suite at school.

Back to the conference – so presenters seem to be focused on selling their courses or selling a web-based program. The venders all line up in the lobby but all we do is taking pens, thumb-drives, bags and other crap on their tables. One presentation I went to was identical to what he presented at the last couple of conferences I have been to. The good part of these events is to hear the lingo I suppose, though I do not feel I moved forward with anything useful. I have known about digital badges and questioned their usefulness years ago. I am on-board with them and once we figure the java scripting for them I will issue some for my film class. Of course they will not have the currency that one issued by a university or the United Nations will have but I will at least have my students mindful of earning more in life than grades.

Narda and I took a river cruise and of course as usual got lost.

DSC_5539

DSC_5540

Don’t ask me how one gets lost on a river but we did it. We were told we could get off wherever we wanted and catch a river-taxi back. After an hour I was busting for a loo so we got off at a stop that looked useful and that was large enough to catch one back to the Shangri-La Hotel where the conference was. Off of the boat we realised we were kind of nowhere and we after walking found a bustling centre of whatever suburb we were in and after using the loo and sitting on the pier until the sun set we asked a chap about when the next boat back to the Shangri-La Hotel was. OK so there was none because the last boat stopping there was the one we were on and the ones we saw going by were only stopping somewhere where we were not. The man write out what buses to take – and as all people do with us either because we appear to be old, and possibly are, or because they think we are deaf they say the instructions louder over and over. Saying stuff louder in a foreign language does not make the meaning any clearer.

This happens often in China, people just say stuff slower and louder like we would understand it. So we dragged our sorry-asses to a bus stop asked some people where to get the bus got on and rode for a very long time until we got stuck in traffic and grabbed a taxi. We were rushing to get to the Shangri-La Hotel because they were having their conference dinner at the pools and by the river night. We have been to these before and the food is not too bad; a little light on the vegetarian crap but for meat loving Narda there was plenty. And of course it is free tucker and we figured we would catch up with the rest of the 18 teachers from our school and others that use to work at our school and are now elsewhere but still being sent to these conferences being in Asian schools and all but we saw like two or three people. We ate as much as could shove in, had a few
drinks and that was it.

We went to the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant with a group – see below and that was good. The restaurant at 6 Sukhumvit Soi 12, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, is a bit of a condom crazed place. Their profits go to help poor people and it is all very interesting. We gave our condoms back that they give at the end of the meal saying ‘look at us do we look like we need them?’. Some interesting things are shown below –

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant with Jean, Frank, Kay, Narda, Terrell and condom friends

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant
with Jean, Frank, Kay, Narda, Terrell and condom friends

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant – Santa’s little helpers

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant: good cops vs. bad cops

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Cabbages and Condoms restaurant

Now back home shopping in the Jinshitan market Saturday morning bundled up.

shopping in the Jinshitan market Saturday morning bundled up.

shopping in the Jinshitan market Saturday morning bundled
up.

We have twelve weeks left here before our little three-year journey in China is over then we go to Hong Kong to check my four stents put in awhile back and on to Laos for a couple of weeks and back to Australia after a twelve year absence. We went to New York back in 2002 for a couple of years but that turned into nine years and then three here. I am sure we will be back in some other country within another year or two.

 

Today was good; Sunday the sixth of April. I practiced softball with the Taiwan team this morning as we get ready to go to Shanghai for our
tournament in two weeks. We had a whole school bar-b-que at Campus Village; something we will miss in the future. Last night I had the whole gym to myself and shot baskets whilst listening to the Delta Blues station on my iphone. Being a fan of anything from my New Orleans era of the 1960s is incredible so many years later. Yes, I will miss this place. And even better, tomorrow, Monday, is a holiday; tomb sweeping day. Yes, I will miss this place.

 

Myanmar

Blog Index Updated 23 February 2014Korean airline flight Seoul to Yangon

Korean airline flight Seoul to Yangon

There are so many ways to travel, to be a traveler/visitor/observer.

  1. Tourist! The list of type of tourist is extensive. Perhaps to be identifiably simply categorized during my current time~space as a tax-paying retired in consciousness at some level though in worldly terms ‘gainfully employed’ I would be teetering on the educational-tourist variety in a merger to or toward a trial ‘trying-it-on’ retirement phase of life. Yet at the end of the day ‘tourist’ would be the placard society would stamp on me as I was shoved onto the conveyer belt of passing human experiences. Maybe I should have a tat that reads ‘tourist’. Never having had a tat and everyone seems to have at least one perhaps now is the time.
  2. Observer! Of course it is at the level that observation is situated that gives an interpretable meaning. I like or really I embrace the ‘live-in-the-moment’ what I see is what it can only be model of existence. Knowing that it has taken all my life to get to this point, or when I slip into the fantasy-illusion of other lifetimes, it has taken all my lives; but at what point does that start? When I was a single-cell in search of a solely lonely hump in a primordial soup with hopefully an attractive other single-cell to produce a future or in my deepest dreams, many many mes that would evolve into a living breathing traveler(s) hooked onto (a) passing moment(s) that transcended so much to get to this moment; the fact that I don’t remember shit does not prove the non-existence of an earlier pre-spaced out current me because I rarely am able to embed what I did yesterday into my local-moment vision if in fact there was a yesterday and this moment like any other that I remember was mashed to now so that I would believe there was an earlier moment.

Not to worry. I will go on about being an observer before I forget what the last couple of days have looked like. We are in Bagan – up north in Myanmar with four others from last year’s Dalian American International School grouping two of whom are our host; Kay and Frank teaching in Yangon and showing us around for the ten-day Chinese New Year break. Thanks mates

Narda, Sean, Frank, Kay, Jean, me

Narda, Sean, Frank, Kay, Jean, me

We may feel like we are in Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club (that ridiculously silly show that we have watched five seasons of in a month back home in China; we even have our own VP (Narda) and I am sure the village people run into their huts in fear as we approach. Of course they would not hear our hogs because our choppers are electric and they go about the speed of an ox-cart.

ox-cart-words

It is old-people-like enough that we live in Campus Village, our assisted-living like environment back at work but this is really embarrassing. Not to worry we rode into the local village – New Bagan, then on to Old Bagan. The difference is that everyone who once lived in Old Bagan was moved to New Bagan by some passing government. It was a good thing though because governments only do good things. Well not China; they had that culture de-evolution period that wiped out anything old or of historical meaning at least from a tourist’s view, well, and to anything civilized all together, and replaced it then and still today with crap. I read in a paper in Korea on the way to here that the new head of China looks up to Mao and saw him as a great person. Damn! There goes any hope of China ever trying to save anything of its past. Could anyone ever do as much destruction as Mao? Oh wait; they are building ghost-cities and knocking down anything that remains of the past. Good on ya new China Head, you may outdo Mao yet.

Myanmar; not its real name, it was Burma until the 1980s when some passing government saw fit to change the name to something that would barely fit on a fridge magnet, did do something really right. They preserved their heritage and still are. How wonderful China would be to live in if they were not so hell-bent on wiping out of anything of value and replacing it with brand-name copies. See I am not a bit political and I have no opinions about running countries though if I were asked how to do it I could probably think of some stuff to make people happier, or at least fed and the generals to have fewer luxury cars and stop destroying the environment so a few people could be stupidly extremely wealthy. Like the destruction of mountains by Chinese land-stealers for jade (see “Myanmar suffers from curse of the jade scorpion” http://www.afr.com/p/lifestyle/review/myanmar_suffers_from_curse_of_the_yEBvn1gLsJ8cGXnYJEN6VI)

DSC_4835

We went into lots of pagodas finding the one thing the couple of thousand had in common, a statue of their hero. One of their more famous and largest is a pagoda that has a replica of a tooth of the Buddha and the way they determined where to build it was by putting the replica of the tooth into a gold box on the back of an elephant and where the elephant laid down they said that was the spot. Of course in a place so hot and dry the poor beast probably died on the spot but why diss a sacred story? The story is more believable than the one that has a hair of Buddha beneath a huge rock that is now painted gold. For some reason Buddha lifted the damn thing and put a hair beneath it. I think he did it to keep the rock from falling down the hill and killing off life forms. I love religion. Everyone has such fantastic stories surrounding the hero. If the world came to an almost complete end now and all that could be found by a new set of people were some comics and videos about Batman a religion would emerge and Batman and the Son of Batman would become the heroes and worshiped. Good grief.

So the airport here in Bagan. What’s with these domestic airlines? We came here on Air-Mandalay which was fine – an old creaky prop-job but it found the runaway and stopped too so that was good. Their fleet is currently comprised of two ATR-72-212s and one ATR 42-320. If there was any doubt about how safe these things are we are completely reassured by their safety statement: “All aircraft in Air Mandalay’s fleet and the maintenance facility are inspected once a year by the Direction General de I’Aviation Civile (DGAC) of France.”. Of course being in Burma we know there is no chance of corruption. Once a year does not seem very often. I use to look under the hood of our car more often than that and I am surprised to this day we are still alive from our last car. Fortunately in China we do not have a car. We rely on the mechanics and drivers in China for our safety. Have I already said ‘good grief?’ The airport in Bagan is like the airport pre-when-I-got-there-1981-Adelaide-Airport or something in the states in the 1950s or to be generous, early 1960s. That is fine but now we are at the airport waiting to go back to Yangon and the flight was supposed to have left a couple of hours ago. No one is sure where the plane is…

Bagan (1)

OK here it is and on life goes.

OK that is really old news as we are up up away on a propeller driven thing that too no doubt is pre-fifty years ago. Air KBZ ‘Flying Beyond Expectations’. I am not sure what that quote which is on everything from the vomit-bag to the packs of powered milk for the powered coffee. Their fleet is currently comprised of four ATR 72-500 and two ATR 72-600 aircraft – prop planes. I know it sounds like Air Mandalay’s fleet but I think they are older craft even though the numbers are higher.

I call it Air KGB and wonder why no one laughs but then I have been wondering that for years. When I wanted my students at uni to laugh after saying what I thought was funny and everyone looking at me like I was nuts I would say ‘not to worry my wife doesn’t think I am funny either’ and that would put them over the top with laughter.

We have discovered the main bank where we get our cash converted into cash or Kyats into US dollars is also KBZ. Below is a quick snapshot of their bank; the photo does not do the volumes of cash piled up justice. They bring in lots of metal crates stuffed with cash. The locals like US dollars and of course who doesn’t? However, the bills have to be perfect; no marks, no creases and look like they just were printed which possibly they were. No problems with the amount of hundred-dollar bills either. We set down our pile of Kyats; one-thousand equals one US dollar approximately. They had a pile of US one-hundred dollar notes with three tins of Red Bull on them. I tried to grab a photo but the bank-girl would not move and I had no real line other than ‘could you move over dear I want to take a photo of a stack of hundred dollar bills with tins of Red Bull on them’. US dollars and Kyats are treated as equal but on the day it was about one-thousand Kyats to one US dollar and one cent. We needed a few hundred US dollars for flights to Bagan as travel agents prefer US dollars to the local currency. Taxi drivers and shop keepers are happy with a US dollar so when paying three dollars for a taxi ride slipping in a US dollar is OK.

And talking about taxi rides. We use to think Dalian was cheap. Well actually it is as 6 RMB about a US buck will get one through town but we pay $20 to get to the airport which takes an hour. In Yangon we could get an hour taxi ride for 3 to four dollars; four if after dark. From where we stayed with our friends Kay and Frank who taught with us last year at Dalian American International School and now are at Yangon International School, a five-minute walk away, to downtown is usually half an hour away if there is no traffic but that is rare. We usually were caught in traffic.

Yangon is going through a bit of a change which is easy to look about so I will stick to my observations and not what the media or the web says. Yangon is like other Asia cities with too many cars. That is what I saw. Apparently just a year or two ago there were a lot less cars but as the country is trying on a bit of freedom stuff everyone seems to have a car. Back to Yangon shortly but I realised I was still talking about Bagan.

Kyats piled up 1000 = 1 US dollar

Kyats piled up 1000 = 1 US dollar

 KZB bank. Company. Yangon, Burma ·Facebook  0 people like this.

KZB bank. Company. Yangon, Burma · Facebook 0 people like this.

It is a bit better of a prop-plane than the one we came on as the seat is at least tall enough to rest my head on if I were so inclined. The Air-Mandalay plane was something designed as a child’s school bus if children were to fly to school. The fact that there is no leg room is just part of the package. We did get dinner; being that this is obviously the dinner cruise flight. We got a chocolate croissant and a piece of what could possible be sponge cake and then they passed out candies wrapped up. Three desserts for dinner; the diabetic special, but really I am happy. We all are. What a fantastic place Bagan is. The fact that my blood sugars are through the roof after a week and a half in Burma is something my body will just have to deal with. Really, after seeing tins of Red Bull atop hundred-dollar bills I started drinking them often in Myanmar with some strange psychological belief that the two were related and soon hundred-dollar bills would come my way if only I would keep drinking Red Bull which my fellow travelers could not believe I would drink. ‘You look so healthy, vegetarian, gym careful of what you eat and you drink that shit?’this what we want to fix up into a mobile home and travel the world with

this is what we want to fix up into a mobile home and travel the world with

We stayed at Ruby True http://www.rubytrue.com/, which had individual cabins/huts with little porches. The place is on a dirt road which no doubt is at the end of New Bagan town. Tourism is new I think in this part of the world. As I was going to talk about at the start of this section labeled, I think, ‘observation’, which I am full of but I lack in knowledge about what I am observing.

I am trying to learn here though. This is different than going to Krabi, Thailand like we did a month ago and spending weeks going swimming, riding motor scooters and living a relaxing life. This is different than going to all the other places; China, what do I know about the place after three years? Really little to nothing. I know the Chinese are having another culture revolution to destroy whatever heritage and culture they missed the first time around and that they are building empty cities but that is from looking and seeing and interpreting usually from my own thoughts.

Here. Burma, it is different. The pace is slow at least up in Bagan.

Bagan (5)

We had dinner along the Irrawaddy River, rode our motor bikes (e-bikes), Narda bought material to make longyis, those long dress-like pants that men wear there. See our youtube video at ttp://youtu.be/tmni8aPnHMY. Frank and Sean wore theirs to dinner but unfortunately I forget where in our hotel room mine ended up. Luckily we found them the next day, after photos were taken and now they are in a box with lots of material Narda will make lots of dresses with. Kool.

Bagan (7)

DSC_4759

Along the way we came across what I thought was a wedding – we had heard it for hours as we toured around New Bagan and took a bit of footage when it began its trek down the main road. See http://youtu.be/O4FeilB7_QY I have been corrected on that – it was children becoming monks.

DSC_4689

Back in Yangon where we stayed with Frank and Kay we continued to explore and spend money as one does on holiday. For some unknown reason four of us when we were out and about; Kay and Frank were at work as they do not celebrate Chinese New Years like we do (ten days off from work), someone said ‘oh look lets look at glasses’. It is more of a female thing I think, to get more glasses. I think Kay has about a dozen or maybe less, Narda just bought glasses in Hong Kong which she really like for a day or two and I got glasses three years ago in Dalian. I actually was the only one who needed glasses as mine are a bit scratched and I need stronger glasses because I got really old the past couple of years. To make a tedious story shorter we all went in and bought glasses. We are all happy that we can see and with designer-type glasses that cost half the price as they do in China. Mine are titanium frame scratch-resistant tri focal progressive and so are Narda’s and mine includes magnet attached sunnies. Sean mentioned that it was like getting eyes tested 40 years ago and it did look quite basic and yesterday and I only hope that I can see a month from now. At the moment they are stronger than what I had so that is good.

Narda and I had one of those life changing experiences whilst in Yangon. We had several meals at Monsoons downtown (85-87 Theinbyu Road in Botataung Township) and one day after lunch we went to the Yangon River and took a ferry at Pansodan Terminal across to Dala. There are two government-owned ferries, the Kyan Sit Khar and the Anawyahta and we did one going over and the other coming back. Youtube video = http://youtu.be/iVIZ1nUQmxA. The ferry is incredibly noisy and very crowded with a handful of tourists or at least western-styled ones and laborers and vendors who sell at Kyimyindaing Market, the major wholesale market for fishery products in Yangon.

Ferry across the Yangon River to Dala

Ferry across the Yangon River to Dala

We met a fellow on the ferry who was a trishaw driver (rickshaw in other places). Narda does not mind talking to strangers and often seeks them out whereas I would rather swim across the muddy terribly polluted Yangon River before talking to someone. Narda actually asked if he could drive us around Dala and I in my usual doubtful way about humans being little more than hustlers after something for themselves at our misfortune was trying to remember how much money we actually had with us. I think we had recently drawn out 300000 Kyats which is $300 US. It is easy, just rub out the last three zeros. The trishaw driver said he would charge us 2000 Kyats ($2 US). Narda said we were too heavy for both of us to go with one person so he lined up with another driver and off we went. The roads are wide enough for two passing bikes or motorcycles.

Before going on here: help us find these two trishaw drivers, we want to help them;

  1. Koko, a tall, for Burmese style lad about 25 years old with a tattoo all the way down his left arm. We do not have a last name for him but his trishaw number is 0249 and he said there is an office when one gets off of the ferry they can inquire about drivers there.
  2. Aung Aung number 023. trishaw drivers

They drove around for a couple of hours. At the end instead of 2000 Kyats that they had asked for we gave them 15000. $15 to us is so little but to someone who earns a couple of dollars a day it becomes a week’s earning. Both had lost family during Cyclone Nargis the second deadliest cyclone of all time which wiped out most of this town in 2008 including killing off the family of the boys giving us bike tours. Aung who has four daughters lost his parents and brother in the cyclone. Of course what people say could be anything so I base what I know on what I observe.

We rode through incredibly impoverished areas along the Twante Canal which connects the Irrawaddy River and the Yangon river. If we had time we would have taken a boat ride for an hour but it was already afternoon. They took us to a village with no roads and we walked along the footpath with children running up and wanting to have their photos taken. It was not like in India where they ask for money or expect gifts. They genuinely seemed excited to have visitors in their village. There is no running water in the village but then again we did not see running water anywhere. We did see people with pails of water in the late afternoon. There are only two times a day people can collect water so when we were headed back to the ferry about five pm we saw a lot of water being carried. There are a few pumps along the way nearer the ferry terminal. The pumps were put in by some United Nations organisation. There were no pumps near where the village we visited was.

village children

Koko’s dream is to go to university which he said he could do for $25 a month. If we lived in Myanmar we would have tracked down the uni and set up an arrangement where we would pay for his schooling based on his attendance. Perhaps one day we will. We have read that the government often bulldozes these shanty towns away leaving the people to start again. We were told the Chinese are buying up all the land which is what is forcing the people off of it. I would suggest reading The Irrawaddy Magazine which is online at http://www.irrawaddy.org/ for more about what the Burmese government is up to. We have the latest issue and have been reading how China is raping the land for jade.

We stopped at the one internet cafe before ending our trip. The computers were pretty dirty and old but we had to check our email and find where we were going for dinner with Kay and Frank and off we went. If I lived in Yangon I would go on weekends and teach internet usage. I think if I could set up our two drivers with email accounts and promoted them on Trip Adviser they may get more business. They were really fun guys and we had laughs and just a great tour.

Narda-childrenvillage

Koko’s dream is to go to university which he said he could do for $25 a month. If we lived in Myanmar we would have tracked down the uni and set up an arrangement where we would pay for his schooling based on his attendance. Perhaps one day we will. We have read that the government often bulldozed these shanty towns away leaving the people to start again. The Chinese are buying up all the land which is what is forcing the people off with no where to go. I would suggest reading The Irrawaddy Magazine which is online at http://www.irrawaddy.org/ for more about what the Burmese government is up to. We have the latest issue on how China is raping the land for jade.

We visited Yangon International School where our hosts work. I went to Frank’s 7th grade class twice as I am making some clips for my in-house news show, DAISlive, back at Dalian American International School. One of the things I have started to do on the show is to have a bit of movement. For house points the students are supposed to move to about a minute and a half dance thingy. So we had Frank’s class do one that I will put on the first show when we get back. I have middle school moving about but the high school students just sit and watch and some will say ‘we moved our eyes’ so my movement portion is not quite the success I had hoped for as of yet but we still have another semester to go and I am determined to get students up and moving so we will see.

We did not see any of the cobras that we have heard so much about. Maybe not disappointed but footage of at least one would have been nice. Frank said they found three at their school last week. We were visiting at the best time of the year when it was not too hot and there was no rain. When it rains the walk to school or anywhere is pretty gruesome with water past ones ankles and always the chance of having a cobra winding up your leg.

We took taxis everywhere and one of my favourite times was when we offered a puppy to a driver. Frank and Kay have some dogs and one had puppies that are now two months old and they are looking for homes for them. The puppies are from Bonnie of the Bonnie and Clyde street dogs they have adopted. I had never seen so many street dogs anywhere as I have in Burma and they are almost all brown. Kay and Frank have set up a bit of rescue street dogs situation where they clean them up and look for homes for them. At the time of our visit there were a dozen brown dogs but five were puppies and Bonnie and Clyde live outside the gate as they are street dogs and only come in to the house on occasion. So long story short it was good a taxi driver took a puppy. We drove into town with him and he had the puppy on his lap the whole way and he was quite happy. He said he had three children and they would like it.

We did the usual visit to pagodas including The Shwedagon Pagoda in the centre of town. I think everything in Yangon is measured from the distance to The Shwedagon Pagoda. There is a replica of Buddhas’ tooth and so much more. The only downside to these visits is one has to be barefoot and on a hot day the feet do burn. We found ourselves almost running from shrine to shrine to keep from burning our feet.

I love the written language it looks so creative. Even on their license plates;

license plate

The other thing to do in Yangon (number one is to take the ferry and go to the villages on the other side and do something helpful/useful) is to take the Yangon Circular Train. We rode for quite some time on it and the only reason it was free was because we could not work out how to purchase tickets so we just got on and no one seemed to care. Of course the women folk like shopping and were off to the Bogyoke Aung San Market where Narda found more material. We went to Coffee Circle for western breakfast and had a good massage at the Pearl Centre.

Oh wait! Massages – right up there with what to do. I had two. One at an upmarket joint which set me back eight dollars US for one and a half foot shoulder back legs massage and I gave the girl a three dollar tip which the others in the group said was a lot. Then we went to the Pearl Centre and that was even better and cheaper. Seven dollars for the hour and a half head, shoulder, back, foot massage. Of course we tipped them, a dollar. It is easy to feel guilty in some situations. In China we pay ten to fifteen dollars for a foot massage and up to fourty dollars for two hours full body. But then everything is realitive. I paid about $120 in Clifton Park New York for a Valentine gift massage years ago for Narda. Maybe my future life will be to go to a village for a day to help people then in the evening get a massage for seven bucks.

Our last meal in Yangon was at The House of Memories. This is where General Aung San had offices before being killed off. The food is excellent – I had a really good tofu dish and my new favourite, tea leaf salad though this time with ginger. We went to the gate of Aung San Suu Kyi and asked the guard if we could come in but of course we were not invited in. Shucks.

House of memories, No. 290, U Wizara Road, Kamaryut Township, www.houseofmemoriesmyanmar.com General Aung San’s first office

I would write heaps more but I have to get ready for school and as so often it happens that I did not create lesson plans whilst on holiday. Damn!

And, not an excuse, but I have spent the weekend trying to upload this one blog. All day Saturday and most of Sunday. To upload each image takes up to an hour. Then of course the whole site crashes. Maybe I can use my VPN in China to get onto Facebook, YouTube and my blog but the Internet is slow it is almost not worth the effort. I put up four YouTube videos at the airport in Seoul in less than an hour. Here I started one Saturday night at six pm and by nine AM Sunday – fourteen hours later, finally a six minute video got uploaded to YouTube. I wouldn’t even try to post it on to Facebook that would take a couple of days and then there is always the Internet crashing. China is about at the same level as Burma when it comes to Internet.

As far as I could imagine
was never far enough
to place me here.
I was prospecting in a small town up north
(Papunyu in the Northern Territory)
The circus had left a small tent behind.
I peeked inside, looking for adventure.
There was a gypsy sitting naked in front
of a crystal ball she was fondling.
She had my portrait tattooed on her breasts…
it was impossible not to notice – even for a man.
She said my future was mapped in my hands
would I put them on my portraits
to know.
I remembered her from some distant shore
(when we were children it was her dolls
I had sacrificed to Aphrodite
during mass and she never forgave)
I didn’t want my future told
I knew where all the doors were
AND THAT IS ALL ONE NEEDS TO KNOW TO GET OUT
As I left the tent
I felt Chiron’s hot laughter behind me
and turned just in time to watch the tent
disappear into the screaming mist
Before long I did forget it all
until tonight when my concupiscent concubines
came home and said a gypsy was looking for me
to tell my future
she was no longer smiling.
Now I know it is my end because I sacrificed
to the wrong god so long ago
like all men do to bring about their end
Storiette #7 4-17-94 Victor Harbor SA

http://www.neuage.org/picture_poems/weekly/romo2.html


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Langkawi wowie

video for Langkawi at http://youtu.be/xjsETcPNtNI

Not to be confused with Maui wowie or anything to do with Hawaii except what a great place Langkawi is.

Left home. Home was back there. Back there was Ao Nang. We had made ourselves at home so quickly. Like within hours. We left the motor scooters out front where we got them two-weeks earlier. I re-read the local tourist magazine ‘Passport Magazine’ again paying particular attention to the section about ‘motorbiking in Thailand’ as I had ignored it before we rented our motor scooters; “Statistically, Thailand is one of the most dangerous places in the world to drive (or ride)’… the article goes on to say a lot of scary stuff about how many people get killed a day, especially tourists riding motor scooters. Not to worry. We survived for two-weeks on country roads and highways with others who seemed to have little regard for us or who cared whether I stayed alive to write this blog. After all I had survived heart surgery in Hong Kong two months ago and I have survived three major car accidents any of which I should have been killed in and I survived the 1960s and 1970s and of course the following decades but it was the 1960s that was the most challenging as all people in their 20s come to realize that if they can get past their 20s they will make it a bit further.

Narda got our home from searching on airbnb.com and it was one of our better finds. The price was reasonable; a whole house for $22 US a night and the scooters were six dollars US a day. Of course we did not pay for insurance for the motor scooters. What could go wrong on a little thing like that? The house was basic but being in a quiet forest area at the bottom of a cliff we found it our kind of home. There were a few things that were different than living in Campus Village back in Dalian; such as the huge rats that would run along the rafters and clang around the roof at night until I would throw something at the metal roof then they would quiet down for a bit or until I put in earplugs then they would not seem so bothersome. We learned on the first day that no food could be anywhere not even a crumb. Ants of various sizes and the red ones do bite would be so quick to be there – like spontaneous combustion – well that is a stupid analogy but they did appear suddenly. Of course anything edible would bring forth the rat families. They even chewed up the sponges we washed dishes with no doubt being tricked by some foot smells on them of course there were spit out chewed up bits of sponges further down the way; stupid rats.

The frogs were OK though the first time I heard them at night when I went outside to the loo – well not outside outside but outside to the loo that was attached to the outside of the house; I thought someone was saying hello in a deep voice so I kept saying ‘hello’ back until I realized there was no one there. After a few nights of freighting myself in the middle of the night I realized it was not a human saying ‘hello’ but a frog I stopped saying it myself to no one at all but to frogs. It is the dumb things we do in life that no one knows unless of course we tell them, which I would never do, that are funny but they are only funny to ourselves if we do not tell someone else and a problem I have is that I will tell someone something that I think is funny and they don’t so after many decades of being a self-appointed-comedian I am thinking about call it a day with my humour and I will learn to laugh at other people’s jokes instead of my own that no one else thinks is funny.

And there are the cats who live nearby that hang out at our door for affection or food or maybe even both but who are too lazy to chase away the rats or who are afraid of them as the rats are the size of the cats. They must have been given attention by the previous tenants as they believe; there are three, that they can just waltz into our home when they want and meow. We did not feed them during our two weeks thinking they would go away but they didn’t. This morning I gave them a bowl of sweetened condensed milk as we had a tin left. We developed a taste then an addiction for sweetened condensed milk back in Hanoi a few years ago and now only drink coffee with it in. Narda said they would get sick from such rich milk but I gave them the tin full anyway. The kitten of the trio took to it right away but the older cats only had a bit. Blimey, I am getting bored with writing this…

This is always a writing dilemma; keep my audience, which is me, interested, at least to the end of the paragraph. I do not believe in astrology and I have written about this in length before, but as a non-believer I will just add that part of my writing dilemma is having Mars conjunct Uranus at 25 degrees in Gemini. (really very interesting is that Uranus was discovered when it was at 25 Gemini in 1781 and here I have it at its returning point in 1947; holy cow – see http://www.stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0000270.HTM for the meaning of Uranus) I suppose that if I said and that conjunction is in my 8th house you would say ‘well this sentence is dead in the water’. Get it? 8th house being the natural house of Scorpio, a fixed water sign. My 8th house is ruled by Taurus and I have my Moon in Taurus there as parts of my fixed cross between Moon opposite Jupiter all square my four planet conjunction in Leo in the tenth. Go figure!   So all that is why I no longer believe in astrology; of course it is obvious with my Neptune in the 12th and Neptune rules my 5th house which is the natural house of Leo. I once gave presentations at astrological conferences on ‘The fifth house and self-realization‘. Thus is life; a series of miss guided belief systems we cling on to try and explain why something or why we are the way we are.

Our house, probably a shack by some definitions; had lots of open windows, all without screens. So besides the rats and the talking frogs and the ants and cats we had heaps of mosquitoes. Fortunately we slept under a mosquito net and we had lots of mosquito coils and mosquito spray to slow the bites. I showed a picture of my knees well bitten on the previous blog ‘next’. Obviously with everything we could do we could not keep from getting bitten. Not to worry if we were getting any diseases from them I am sure we would have them now.

We did like our little house though. We had a lazy time. We even developed a routine of walking to the main road, about twenty minutes, to get coffee at a local outdoor ramshackle bamboo hut then across to a market for a liter of water each and back home to get our scooters then off for a bit of a ride.

In the late afternoon we had a swim, and either we would go out for dinner or make something at home and watch a couple of episodes of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ which I find rather dumb, predictable and over acted but we have the series with us. There were other routines too such as the rats having a party at two or three in the morning – I would throw something at them, whatever I could find, so there were often shoes or other items that flew out the window when I missed the ceiling and there was the call-to-prayers about 5.15 every morning. What is that about? Considering we live on a country road with a house on both sides and one across the road then nothing for a long way why such a loud production each morning? I am not a music person like Narda is a music teacher and musician but to me ever who was doing it seemed really off key. It did not sound as musical as what I have heard when we were in Istanbul or KL or other Muslim entranced places. Nevertheless I never had a good sleep so part of my routine was taking a nap every afternoon. Narda saw this stay as a trial toward retirement but I hope retirement does not have so many rats, mosquitoes, stray cats and talking frogs and ants and calls-to-prayer.

Really. Do those prayers really change anything? As a researcher of many belief systems and a down-to-earth human being I would say nope.

And the king, what is up with him? Photos of him everywhere sometimes doing various activities and of course he is on the paper money. We learned this from a previous time in Northern Thailand a few years ago that it is best not to even mention the king. I think of the prime minister of Australia and how everyone just makes fun of him or her or whatever is in office. The same with the president of the US everyone seems to have a go at him. And the king and queen of the Brits get dissed often in Australia but not the king of Thailand. My favourite photo of him is on their one-hundred baht bill with him holding a camera. Maybe he is a photo buff as I have seen large paintings of him with a camera around his neck. It is a Cannon and I have a Nike so we are on a different page. He probably was not a hippie either nor does he hoon around Thailand on a motor scooter or stay at $22 US a night digs with rats. What is the point of a king? But the people of Thailand seem to think he is an OK chap. We have read and been told that if you drop paper money with his image on it and it starts to blow away do not run over and put your foot on the money to stop it as one can get a fine or go to jail for that.

Our lives are governed, controlled? By turns taken. We are sitting on this crap ferry because of a direction taken not meant to be taken or at least by the conscious part of what we think we use to control the directions we take in life; our brain. We researched and decided to take a train from nearby; probably Trang, down to KL; about a day and a half. What we have read was that the overnight sleeper through Thailand is great but the train through Malaysia is air conditioned and quite cold but we still wanted to do the ride. We rode our scooters to Krabi Town – half an hour from home, to purchase a ticket. We had read we could buy one in Krabi Town. When we got to Krabi Town we came to an intersection that we could not get across nor could we turn right which was the direction to downtown where we wanted to purchase our train ticket to KL. After sitting too long and getting freaked out by the traffic, and remembering the article about Thailand being one of the most dangerous countries to drive in,  we went left thinking we could make a U-turn and get our sorry-asses downtown. There was nowhere to immediately make a U-turn and in fact there was a foot high barrier in the midst of Utarakit Road for a kilometer or two.

When we did get to the U-turn we thought it was another one of our synchronous moments because right there at the U-turn was the Government Tourism Office. The dude in there printed out a train timetable for us and in the midst of our excitement over getting a train all the way to KL he rang someone whom he sent us to so we could purchase our fun ticket. I wrote about our Muslim travel-agent chick in the last blog, ‘Next’ so I will leave it to the fact that she was not sure how to get us a train ticket but she could get us on a ferry to Langkawi and from there a flight to KL. She made it all sound so groovy and pleasant we left singing her praises – me singing off-key like our neighboring call-to-morning-prayers chanter or whatever they are referred to as.

So here we are sitting on the Tigerline Ferry. What a horrible little piece of junk it is. A fast ferry? Not sure about that. The webpage and brochure shows a two level deck and the ticket lady that convinced us to go this way instead of by train said there was a café on board where we could order food. All that is close to that is some deck hands selling beer and water from an esky at the front of the boat. We are sandwiched into our narrow row – four seats on either side of the row with little leg room on the first level with scant air conditioning. There is a pool of liquid in front of the loo door coming down the aisle. The second level is upstairs as all second levels are – but it is outside with a small covered area. They have sold twice as many tickets as there are seats so the top is covered with folks sitting on the deck in the glaring sun. it is also very loud as the motor with two smoke pipes pouring out thick polluting smoke are up there too. The boat is old, rusty and filthy. There are a lot more people than there are life jackets and we have noted where the kick-out-windows are in case this thing goes down. The ferry we took from Phuket to Ao Nang was first class compared to this. The ferry we took from Dalian to Yantai was more like a small ship had state rooms and was cleaner than this. This boat should be condemned and sunk or used for target practice for the military.

Maybe it is because we are old and get grumpy over things. I do not see anyone complaining, just Narda and me. We started off with a mini-bus from Ao Nang to Krabi. When we got on the Tigerline Ferry mini-bus there were already six people on it and we collected four more in Krabi. They were all in their 20s. A different mix than when we took a mini-van tour in Phuket with a van full of folks from India.  These kids were quite the mix: three males from South Africa, a couple from Denmark, two girls from Briton, a girl from Germany a couple with an accent I could not work out and us wherever we are from. Young travelers are good and they just accept the way things are. Young people just think of sex and beer no other part of the brain has kicked in yet so conversations are limiting usually. Travelers are a little easier to speak with but with large signs advertising ‘beer pong tonight’ in the backpackers where we collected some I think all people in their twenties are pretty much the same. Narda said I was an original hippie from San Francisco and the British girls seemed impressed. One asked if I wore flowers in my hair. I am not sure about that but I did have hair to my waist and I did live quite the hippie life in San Francisco at the end of the 1960s. And I suppose at other times along the way.

1969 Oregon Coast with Terrell and Desiree

1969 Oregon Coast with Terrell and Desiree

Maybe I have gone full cycle or full semi-cycle. Life is cyclic often and we do end up where we were though we should be at a higher place on the circle than we were the first time around.

I dropped out in the 1960s as many of us did; tune-in, drop-out, turn-on then kind of tried to integrate myself back into society raising children and teaching in universities and K-12 schools for the past 15 years or so and now we are dropping back out gradually. I think some refer to it as retirement.

Kids today; not sure how different they are. We all had long hair and dressed quite colourfully in the 1960s and now the thing is to have tattoos and piercing. People in their twenties have lots of tats. At the beach it is so noticeable of course as these are not Muslim kids but Western kids in a Muslim area thought no one seems to care. Some tats are picturesque but some are look like a drunken sailor had a go with some needles and ink. And the piercing; belly buttons, lips, eyelids, ears, tongue, checks, and probably some areas that were barely covered. Other than the tats and piercing and the music adolescents or whatever the next stage is now are the same as they/we were in the 1960s.

Before my generation there was not much happening for folks in their twenties, just wars and farm or factory work. The main difference now is that these kids are not part of a big war movement li