Monday morning, we had the big breakfast with eight family members and my two mentors; Maggie and Mabel. As is usually the case the eight family members sat around at the table talking and Maggie and Mabel and I went outside to play. When those adults came outside Maggie and Mabel complained that they were not paying them attention as they raced up and down our miniature racecourse then eventually one adult (not counting whatever I am) watched. Maggie yelled out ‘everyone look!’ so she managed to get a larger but not complete audience, though their father was inside, probably watching footy or whatever young Aussie males do.
When we got tired of the adult non-attention and outside we did the usual thing, computers. Maggie at age five likes the games but I am trying to steer her toward programming and Photoshop. Mabel is starting to use Photoshop, a few months ago, in Washington D.C., Liam, age eighteen months, give or take a month, had his first lesson in Photoshop… so bottom line, who wants to hang out with adults who no doubt are talking about politics when they can hang out with younger humans who want to play?We told everyone that we were leaving Tuesday but by Monday afternoon we started packing the caravan to drive to Melbourne. We had booked in a caravan park for Friday – Sunday in Melbourne giving us five days to get there. Five days for 1000 kilometres should be a couple hundred a day. That is about two or three hours driving. We don’t go very fast with Narda liking to stay around 90 Ks an hour and getting anxious with me comfortable at 100-110, so to maintain equilibrium in marriage I try to stay around 90. Not sure why but we took a long time packing and did not leave until after four pm. About an hour away we got to Truro Roadside stop. Roadside stops are fine and there are many listed in our free-camping book, “Camps 8”. The only problem is that on a main road, it is noisy from trucks all night, which was the case with the Truro Roadside stop.
Looking up Truro we find that it is known for a spate of killings; about eight in a few weeks a few years back and of course that is always what you want to read about when camping in a dark place alongside a highway outside of a small town. We watched the movie ‘Selma’ and I didn’t think about the serial killings again; until I awoke at two in the morning. We drove on the road that Martin Luther King and his mates walked to Selma which was the basis of the movie a few years ago, giving us the feeling that we were part of something that had happened some time ago that changed the southern mindset for a while.
As we approached the Victorian border we saw the ominous sign, “no fruit or vegetables in the Riverland or an on the spot fine of $350 applies”. We had a large bucket full in the van. Damn. So being thrifty and conscious retirees, we pulled over into the next parking bay, turned the gas on, and boiled the tomatoes (yummy tomato soup), the sweet potatoes, broccoli and something else green (yummy stampot….it’s a Dutch thing) and the apples (yummy appelmoes…another Dutch thing). So congratulating ourselves and feeling very smug, we drove past the sign and the bin where we should put our precious produce (an American thing), and happily ate for free for the next 3 days; leaving money in the budget for more Crispy Crème Donuts.
We were up bright and early (and not killed by anyone, which was pleasing to us) and continued our epic journey to Melbourne. Perhaps it is not epic mileage-wise as we recently did a round-the-world, four-month, trip, but epic in the sense that every moment is epic or could be… or possibly part of an epic-experience that we call our life.
Coburg, another dying town. Terrell and I have decided that what Australia needs is to spend lots of money on trains, and revive all these lovely country towns. Fill the country with a maze of trains. Some could be high speed, connecting small towns with cities and employment. Terrell decided that he will be the mayor of one of these towns, and I can be the post mistress. Hmm. And Coburg can open up a dedicated yabbie store instead of leaving it to the earthmoving store. There were 3 general stores in the past we discovered on our exploration using our bikes, each with their own speciality: pizza, petrol and other general goods. Two of them now boarded up.
And yet there was a beautiful riverside park in Coburg, welcoming ‘grey nomads’ to park there for ‘a small donation’. There were many caravans and RVs there. The park was great alongside the Murray River, with some amazing scenery, wildlife, old gum trees, tracks for cycling and grassy areas for camping.
A source of happiness for me is waving to the other drivers with caravans on the back. When they wave back, I smile. It’s complicated though. You have to be careful not to be offended if they don’t wave back. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the driver is too young and too trendy. Or perhaps their rig is just so much superior to ours. Or perhaps they are concentrating on their driving, with a huge Mac truck tail-gating them. So there it is, small things in our life.
Our next night was at Kings Billabong camping area 8 km south-east of Mildura. Mallee Country outside of Mildura. For our friends, not familiar with Aussie stuff, a billabong is an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. Wikipedia. Mallee Country is an informally defined region of north-western Victoria with Mallee trees like in the picture below.
We buy Mallee roots for our fireplace as it is slow burning. If Mallee roots are really your thing, there is a contest every year for the world’s largest. See; ‘Guinness World Record officials have put a little town in north-west Victoria on the map — thanks to a very big root’ (of course to Australians ‘root’ has a different meaning so if you’re here from overseas be careful with some terms: Root (verb and noun): synonym for f*ck in nearly all its senses: “I feel rooted”; “this washing machine is rooted”; “(s)he’s a good root”. A very useful word in fairly polite company. http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html). The town staved off a challenge from the nearby community of Tooleybuc to take out the top honour’. Who knew? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-27/mallee-root-festival-sees-ouyen-take-out-big-record/8389516
We camped at Psyche Bend which is part of Kings Billabong Park campsite. The road becomes corrugated soon into the park which rattles our truck, caravan, and us to smithereens. Being new at driving off-road we have always gone slow over them and put up with our bones clinking against each other. However, asking folks lately, it seems we should be driving much faster, like 60 – 80 Ks instead of 15 – 20 Ks, and deflating our tyres which we have never done which of course means having to pump them back up which means buying a pump of some sort. We have a lot to learn before doing the loop (driving around Australia, taking six-months to do which will involve lots of off-road, outback driving). We’re planning to use the upcoming month of June to get in some real outback driving by going to Coober Pedy (opal capital of the world) and getting off road north of there. Watch for out blog of that trip sometime in June, probably toward the end of June. Needless to say, we did not drive very far but took the first camping spot we saw along the billabong. Below is the road leading to our campsite.
The place was ideal for tent camping and not our 20-foot thing we pull behind our truck but Narda, being the great backer-upper that she is, got us out of an almost impossible spot the next morning. We rode our bikes over to Psyche Bend as the sunset to see the waterbirds (pelicans, swans, herons and ducks) on the large billabong. There were several other caravan campers there making the spot we chose ideal. We could turn up our TV or radio and not test how far from the caravan we could go before still hearing us. We started watching the classic movie ‘Manchurian Candidate’ but being so quiet and dark and a bit chilly we got under covers and were asleep probably about 8 pm. Early, with the sunrise, the cockatoos, galahs, rosellas, parrots, and honeyeaters all let us know we were in their area and seemingly were having conferences with the usual loud mouths and disagreements one hears at a conference.
Photos below are where we camped at Kings Billabong Park on the right and the photos on the left where we camped along the Murray the next night in Nyah.
Taking our time getting to Melbourne, not that I was putting off seeing Sacha who we get to see about twice a year, but that we just want to travel slow, we managed to drive almost three hours before our next stop which was at Nyah Recreation Reserve Camping Area, alongside the harness racing track and alongside the river. Not only is it free camping, though there is a contribution box which we added to but one can stay for seven-days unless there are horses running amok on the track. We found great bike riding areas there too. The town of Nyah is quieter (deader) than our last exploration of Terowie, South Australia, see: https://neuage.me/2017/04/05/terowie/. There is only one shop to purchase milk etc. open anymore and all the other once-were-shops are boarded up. Our bikes, not the cool racing bikes others have, but bikes we bought our first month of our three-year stay in China working at Dalian American International School and sent to Adelaide, take us to many off-beat places.
After four-nights/days of free-camping we stayed at the Golden Nugget caravan park in Bendigo. We bought solar panels so we could get power for longer but we ran out of water which is something we need to work on before taking our next trip. I got a power inverter so we could keep our computers going; I’m good with roughing it as long as I have my Nikon and laptop and smartphone charged and at the ready. We could probably go without watching a video or one of our Netflix series but a computer and camera are a must on every trip. I could even do without a phone for a day or two seeing that we do not use it as a phone, Sacha is the only one who ever rings me, but we get 3G/4G all the time and it makes me feel secure knowing I could see if WW III has started or not. I suppose we would just hide among the gum trees and camp for the next few years. For the most part we avoid the news when we camp except to troll the headlines every few days.
Today in Melbourne, we are back in a trailer park (for those Aussies who don’t know what that is, watch an episode on Trailer Park Boys on Netflix). The community is amazing, everyone talks to everyone. And you don’t have to be cool or wealthy or intelligent or good looking. There’s the lady across the road from us who has 9 brothers. She came from Malta but will never go back “26 hours on the plane, are you kidding me, it’s too bloody far”. She has a grandchild I don’t think she has met yet. There’s the guy who is waiting for his son to pick him up. He doesn’t drive anymore because he had a stroke, He told his son it would be fine to drive “but just in the country” but his son is fine with picking him up.
Narda, the social one in our family of two travellers, manages to strike up conversations with folks quite easily. Me, I am happy talking to a tree or a magpie. Humans kind of confuse me. I tend to be the one making a meal, playing with some Adobe update, or taking photos of something I can use for my picture-textual-thingies that I have done since the mid-1960s. (see https://plus.google.com/collection/E_6JaB, https://youpic.com/photographer/Neuage, or possibly https://www.flickr.com/photos/neuage/ for some I have done recently). Narda, seems to collect the misfits in life (that is why she married me) and gathers interesting stories from them. I think she should start a series of ‘tales along the way’ or some such narrative title.
Below is the ever-growing Melbourne apartment buildings, these to have 96 stories. Apparently, they are throwing together another one soon (The project consists of a 317-metre-tall (1,040 ft) apartment building with 1,105 apartments over 100 floors) that will be bigger yet. Already, they have the tallest building (Eureka Tower – 297.3-metre, 975 feet), an apartment building, in the southern hemisphere.
We stayed at a caravan park in Melbourne (Springvale) for three days/nights; Sundowner Caravan Park http://sundownercp.com/ as that is the closest to Sacha’s home. Melbourne is lacking in caravan parks and there definitely is no free-camping anywhere near. Sundowner was not as good as some places ($33/night which is cheap for Melbourne) that we have paid for in that there was no Wi-Fi but the hot showers are nice compared to a cold wash-up in our caravan. Also, plugging into electricity is good as our 12V caravan will not run my 1000W smoothie maker but does charge the computer, lights, fridge (though the fridge runs colder when on gas) and TV and radio. When plugged in we can also put on the heater making camping a luxury on a cold night. I made four-days of smoothies when we started and again I made that much to get us home. Being on a low-carb diet my kale, hemp seed, almond milk (yes, I soak my almonds then take off their skins to make my own milk), protein powder (pea protein), fruit, sprouts, yogurt, (we make our own yogurt every day too) and whatever else is laying about is my main nutritional intake. I make my own low-carb cookies and bread too which is fine because we have a gas oven. Along with vinegar (the one with ‘the mother’) and olive leaf oil extract every day, and of course no meat, I seem to keep my body going though Narda thinks I’m a bit high maintenance.
Three days with Sacha as always is good. For those who know him (he is not on Facebook or I believe he is but he won’t tell me what name he is using in fear I will embarrass him which of course is what parents have children for) he is doing well; thinking of starting a family with his partner of the past fifteen-years, still doing music stuff with a room full of recording stuff, and working for Melbourne Council with troubled youth and he is very happy. What more could a parent want? Oh, and he has a new car that he bought a week earlier, very sporty and fast, so he took us up into the hills outside of Melbourne for a tour.
We left Melbourne and stayed at Lake Bolac in a rain storm. We found a place away from others (there were three others camping in the area) and settled in early. Even with the rain we were quite happy with where we were. It was the darkest and quietest place we had been in. With a break in the weather we went for a bike ride. During the stormy night we watched the movie, ‘Hereafter’ with Matt Damon playing the role of a psyche who could communicate with dead people, directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood. I liked this movie as it is never far from my mind this sort of thing because of my son, Leigh – http://neuage.org/leigh.html
Lake Bolac, one of the stops on the way back was a surprise. In the middle of farming country, this substantial lake. The weather forecast was rather grim; strong wind warnings with the possibility of large hailstones. We discussed the possibility of finding shelter in a local hay shed. Well it turned out to be fine. The darkness was complete, with thick cloud cover, and though we did get some rain, the tarp we had added to the roof (we sprang a small leak) did the job nicely.
Wannon Falls Needing some waterfalls for a new series I am working on (video poetry) we stopped at Nigretta Falls then past Hamilton on B 160. See the clip below…
Along the way we stopped for sheep to wander off to a new paddock – see clip below…
On this trip we listened to ‘Lake Wobegon, A Prairie Home Companion’, with Garrison Keillor. Narda took me to one of his shows at The Town Hall, New York City, for my birthday years ago and she bought me a two-cd set of his shows for a birthday about five-years ago and finally with time to listen we had a great vision of all those Lutherans up at Lake Wobegon.
Robert said he heard his mate calling him from mid-north SA. So he and his wife packed up, and moved there. They bought a house for $90,000 opposite Robert’s mate’s garage. He told us about the murders in Terowie.
“Just like Snowtown”, he said, “Maybe worse. These victims were buried in a wall.” (any American reading this may like to Google “Snowtown murders, South Australia…chilling reading)
It was a warm Saturday night, around 8 o’clock when all the young ones are out partying, or having expensive dinners. Not in Terowie. There was one young one. We saw her sitting on the swing in the local, nicely kept, playground. This was in the afternoon, on the Saturday. We returned later and she was still there, swinging.
But the boys were out, with cans of West End, sitting on upturned buckets and some old car furniture, shooting the breeze with Robert’s mate. This was where and when we found them. We had just set up camp on the nearby railway siding. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves, with our shady little spot, free, and our new bike rack.
Then we discovered one major puncture in one of our bikes. Bugger. We remembered passing this servo on the way in, so we walked along the main street till we found it. And there they were. Action in Main Street. Having nothing to lose we asked the mechanic (Robert’s mate) if he might have time to fix the hole.
He said, “No worries”.
Nice bloke. He was the only one working, among the boys and their West End cans. We returned later and joined the friendly banter. That’s when we learned of Robert’s life story, his mortgage, the murder and many other things. In the end the mechanic refused to charge us. Blimey. We felt a little humbled.
That is Terowie. A little town at the end of its life. In its hey-day there were 2000 folks living there; a town of lovely stone buildings, a bustling railway town, where broad gauge trains have to unload their passengers, their animals and their goods, and reload them onto narrow gauge trains, heading north. Now the town is sad. A few buildings; the blacksmith, the old post office, and the old general store have been converted into museums, but there’s no-one there.
And yet, it keeps on. A big “RV friendly town” sign welcomes you as you drive in. The toilets in the main street are kept clean by an unknown person, for the convenience of Grey Nomads, who camp at the railway siding for free. The mechanic, who is also the owner of the large Victorian hotel, used to offer counter meals. He recently decided to stop, because “the pub in the next town is also struggling, and there are not enough customers for us both”.
Why is this? There is a giant wind farm only 20 minutes south, with millions of dollars invested in hundreds of giant wind mills. Why is this not bringing some wealth into the area? Robert, who knows such things, told us that the money goes to NSW, and we don’t get any benefit as a state, certainly none as a town.
So there it is. We spent three days there; but it made quite an impression. The town has treasures, like absolute silence; what an unusual gift, and clear black skies where you see the colours of planets. It is enough. And if you’re wondering about the bodies in those walls, ask Robert. We have no idea.
Our Video – with kangaroos and real outback footage and heaps more – for first time internet users click on the white arrow in the image below – everyone else do the same.
Our first stop, real stop, not counting Elizabeth twenty-minutes from home was in Saddleworth, in the Gilbert Valley, approximately 100 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Wanting to be accurate I looked up Krispy Kreme store-locator. I am sure it is Elizabeth but I wanted to be sure. Perhaps their IT department needs to work on their location finder. It said the nearest one was in Missouri and Google provided a map to there which was most helpful.
Saddleworth is definitely a town that looked worth exploring. There is a caravan park there but we did not see a free site so we kept going.
We were having a bit of a bother with our Pajero which had an engine light warning. We had it looked at and some minor repair but ‘Billy’, our Pajero (our caravan is “Holiday”) was feeling a bit under the weather and the further we went the worst he felt. By the time the trip was over we could barely make it up a small hill even in first gear. Currently Billy is booked in for surgery next week and Holiday is at the caravan shop getting a review of her situation with some add-ons such as solar panel so we can go further afield and do more free camping. We did limp into Terowie, a town we had passed through several years earlier. I even bought a fridge magnet there. This time the town was very quiet and though the entrance sign boasted 150 residents, most of those have since gone and places are for sale at bargain prices. We looked at the post office that was for sale for $105,000 with land, four bedrooms, all modernized with beautiful floors – I want to be the mayor of Terowie and being a Leo is really all the qualifications I need to succeed and Narda could be the post master.
We were alone at the free-camping along the rail-line the first night and the second night there were four others. The area was so large that everyone was very spread out and we did not have any contact which is fine with me but Narda likes to meet people and get stories such as above. I just want to be in a quiet place to write a novel or another version of my memoirs. (you can read my original version of ‘Leaving Australia’ @ http://neuage.org/e-books/
We chose this town in part due to the flatness of it. After six-weeks recently in Holland and riding every day – even in the snow (this was January – February 2017) we were up for riding more. Our house in Adelaide is in a bit of a hilly area so we rode heaps – though there was not far to go; one end of town to the other – well there is five-minutes of our life gone. We did ride around the ‘suburbs’ which took another fifteen-minutes. This is a photographer’s dream place. I did not get anywhere near the amount of photos a ‘real’ photographer would have gotten. There are four or five old churches on one street, not Main Street, a couple old pubs and lots of buildings.
This was an important train stop between Adelaide and the North. One of their main claims to fame here is that General Douglas MacArthur paid a visit here with his family after WW II. For Australians MacArthur was some military dude for the USA, a five-star general – which is a lot, who was quite important during the time he was important.
We decided to go to a place called ‘World’s End Reserve halfway back to Adelaide. Due to a combination of not getting internet where we were and our GPS, which hates us (I have spoken of this in a previous blog) we got hopelessly lost on a gravel road and never did find the place.
We got to Eudunda, found some free camping spot: changed gas bottles, started cooking, smelt gas, panicked, drove home, got home two-hours later, and realised how good life is, once 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/
“Do not take my Vegemite ”
In the past six weeks we have gone through eight airports with their security checks: Dalian, Beijing (three times), Newark (twice), Atlanta, Albany, New York, Kula Lumpur (twice), Adelaide (four times), and Melbourne (twice).
Narda bought a jar of Vegemite and a jar of Promite at Woolies (Woolworth’s) in Adelaide after we had packed our check-in luggage so she placed it in our carry-on. No worries, we went through customs at Adelaide and KL. After a short night’s sleep at Metro Park Lido in Beijing (we arrived in Beijing at one AM and got to the hotel at 2:30 AM, up for breakfast five hours later and to the airport in time for our fight to Dalian which we just discovered has been delayed four hours. Most flights in China or out of China are delayed by many hours.
Customs @ Beijing Domestic was brutal. We had to take almost everything out of our carry-on bags then they took the jar of Vegemite and Promite from Narda’s bag. Narda was far from ‘she’ll be right mate’.
Vegemite ad from the 1960s “We’re happy little Vegemites
As bright as bright can be.
We all enjoy our Vegemite
For breakfast, lunch, and tea.
Our mummies say we’re growing stronger
Every single week,
Because we love our Vegemite
We all adore our Vegemite
It puts a rose in every cheek.”
The customs agent chick walked off with the two jars in her hands with Narda close by saying ‘give me back my vegemite’. Good grief. I shoved all my bits and pieces into my bags – three carry-on bags because we were overweight for check-in plus Narda’s carry-on bags and ran after the jar carriers. At some desk in a corner of the terminal the customs lady was trying to open the jars which Narda was trying to take back from her. Narda kept saying that it was food and that every other airport allowed it through. Finally Narda opened the Vegemite jar, the woman sniffed it and started to look up on her computer monitor but Narda had the jars in her hand and we were off to our gate. I think the smell was a bit OK as it looks and smells a bit like something that could have been created out of soy bean paste. Narda was still upset but we had the stuff. Granted I remember seeing a few tubes and jars of it at home in our pantry but I suppose there never can be too much of one’s comfort foods. It is like Dutch Salty Liquorice, we always have a bag or two near at hand; well Narda does and I will have a salty drop now and then. Her parents always have a box of them next to their driver seat so whenever we go someplace there is the Salty Liquorice. Most people hate it and will spit out the liquorice right away though I do not mind them. I wonder if we would have had such an ordeal with customs if they took away Narda’s salty liquorice.
We did get out of Beijing though several hours later than we were scheduled to. Standing in front of us were two new teachers at our school and their sons from Peru, though at the time we did not know that. We saw them a few days later when school started and I said to them that I was standing behind them in line on the way to Dalian.
As always our true and faithful driver, Jack was there to meet us at the airport and we instantly felt like we were back at home. Being back in our home after six weeks flying around and rescuing vegemite from the grasping hands of officialdom was a nice experience. Our plants had been watered by the cleaning ladies and our home with all our crap was there shaking with excitement at our return.
On the note of all our crap… as if I have joked/complained/explained in the past it is scattered: in a house in upstate New York, in a shed in upstate New York, furniture in our Jersey City home, a piano in our Adelaide home, of course our home in China with even closets filled with boxes from years ago that we dragged here from the States two years ago and our furniture and now a storage bin in Adelaide full. We get exhausted just thinking about all the material belongings we have and I wonder how I managed to spend decades with just a bag of things when I was in my 20s and early 30s and traveled the world. The stuff in Adelaide has been moved about for more than a decade from being in the parent’s shed to Narda’s son’s shed then he moved and now into paid storage. Our firm confirmation, including a handshake, was that we would go through each box and toss what we did not really really need/want. We had left Adelaide in 2002 bound for New York with the belief we would be back in one maybe two years. Now eleven years later we have made the decision it will be one more year overseas then back home. So what we stored twelve years earlier we have managed to live without and therefore no longer would keep. Narda wants to sell everything and buy a live-in vehicle and travel around Australia for years as normal retired folks would which would mean all the more that we need to dump stuff. When we were in upstate New York a few weeks ago we went into one of those large bus-homes that Yanks trawl the USA, staying overnight in Walmart car parks in. It was ten years old, had pullout sides and would have suited us fine and we considered purchasing it on the spot until reason reared its ugly head and we realized it was not only impracticable but we did not have the money or place to store it not to mention that we have no intention to live in the States again. Nevertheless we got ourselves all psyched up and went to the storage bin with a whole day in front of us to do nothing but go through all our stuff and put it in a locked bin. At the moment it was all sitting outside of bins until we arrived to dump and store. We opened two or three boxes realized we did not know whether we wanted to keep the stuff within or not, resealed the boxes and put them into a storage bin. So hopefully a year from now we will move into our house in Adelaide or get an RV with less worldwide possessions and hit the road. We are following the grey nomads, an Australian site, http://thegreynomads.com.au/ that are blogs of folks that live and travel around Australia in their vans.
So my word for the summer is ‘letters’. Firstly, I found a box of letters from my brother Robert that he wrote to people in the 1960s and 1970s (he died in 1994). I found a box of letters from ex-girlfriends but we won’t tell Narda that I slipped that box in between other boxes I kept and then there are the most important discovery of the past ten years for me.
When my son, Leigh, was playing baseball in South Africa for the Australian National Team in 1999 he met Jackie. I would find her name in his belongings years later. I contacted her once in about 2005 and said I found her name and could she tell me anything about her meeting with my son. I also told her that Leigh committed suicide in 2003 a few weeks after turning 20. I set up a Facebook site for Leigh which has hundreds of people who knew him on it. A year ago Jackie contacted me via Leigh’s Facebook page to tell me she had moved from South Africa to Perth in Western Australia and that she had a pile of letters that Leigh had written her. I do not check Leigh’s Facebook page much as it is too difficult for me. I see all his friends, most of whom have children now, including Jackie. I usually check on his birthday in July and read the wonderful tributes his friends write him on that day. I told Jackie I would be in Australia last month and she sent me his letters. There were seven of them, some ten pages long. He had written them in late 1999 when he was in Adelaide and early 2000 when he moved to Florida to play in the LA Dodgers organization. They were love letters. I had never known that he had met someone in Africa. He had a girlfriend in Adelaide and as I was a single parent with him and his brother I thought I knew all that was going on. I never knew he was having problems in his mind until I read his last very long email to his girlfriend in Australia written August 10th (my birthday) 2003 in which he said he had known since the age of ten that he would kill himself. What am I supposed to do with that?
His letters to Jackie did say he was having problems but he never said what they were and I always thought that he was at the top of the world being chased by six or seven major league teams since he was 16 (1999). His brother and I lived what I thought at the time was a fairly happy life.
I wrote my hand-writing analysis friend two days ago; he is a world authority and works with the FBI and police in the States and has written several books on the subject and I asked if he would look at Leigh’s letters. He wrote straight back that he would. I scanned and sent off several pages. So this is why the real word in my mind to describe the summer holiday was ‘letters’. Today is my 66th birthday (August 10 – see? Leo all the way) but that is not the significant day of my life. August 13 2003, ten years ago, Leigh flew to Sydney without notifying the Dodgers; met up with his ‘girlfriend’ at the time, not Jackie (story at http://neuage.org/Idol-star.gif click on the image to enlarge) and the next morning he was at the bottom of his fifteen story balcony at the Novotel Hotel Olympic Park across from the baseball stadium where he had practiced for the Olympic team that was to play in Athens. I did not even know he was in Australia.
I was finishing my PhD at the University of South Australia and we were to head back to New York after the weekend to go back to teaching. Narda came in to my office put her arms around me and said ‘Leigh is dead’. Nothing can change those words. We flew to Sydney and I had to identify him. Narda kept me together then and has since and here a decade later we are preparing for classes again. Now is not like then. We flew back to New York after the funeral and with a couple of hours sleep, incredible depth of despair, jetlag, and all the rest I was standing in front of a room of girls at Russell Sage College welcoming them back to a new year of school. I did not say “I am falling apart because my son killed himself five days ago” but instead taught that first class which was on ‘communication’ and the rest of my classes that day and my classes at the other school I was teaching at, the University of NY at Albany. I managed to appear and teach but it was just a holography of me the real me had died too.Ten years does not diminish depths it only gives it more texture. There is nothing that can be done. I still wake from the same type of dreams; Leigh has done something that has gotten him out of baseball and I am trying to get him back as he keeps asking me – then I awake… Narda hears me my despair wakes her too. I find comfort in going to the gym and lifting weights. I keep lifting more as if I can lift the burden off of me. I suppose it is better to do that than any other escape, at least it is healthy. Leigh use to life weights and spent a lot of time at the gym, maybe which has added to my escape. Leigh was big and strong, he weighed 220 pounds, was six foot four and a solid athlete. He has been reduced to a box of ashes which I still have no idea what to do with. So ‘letters’ were my theme and one word mindset. After death everything pales into insignificance, almost everything. I have a son who is happy and successful and doing stuff that is good: recording hip-hop, working with boat people who have crashed into Australia, works with youth programs involving street kids getting them into street art and hip-hop, giving their life meaning, so he and Narda – my islands and mountains and strengths and they who make me laugh and help me go forth into the day so I can believe that when I feel that all else is insignificant that nothing can hurt me ever again I can still love; my son and wife give me that, they are my two protectorates. I have become inoculated against suffering, nothing can be taken away. In a way it is a liberating feeling to know nothing more can be taken only layers and my core is not accessible by life’s activities or babbling voices that echo off the walls of my Self. I also have freed myself of beliefs that I had which too is liberating because the beliefs that we have, usually passed on to us or brainwashed into us via media or spiritual hustlers are nonsense to begin with. To stop believing is to start living. Instead of following where planets are I now look at a moment and see how that can morph into something creative. How can I storyboard a mesh-up of many different colours happening at once?
We were talking today about standards yesterday, a big focus within our school, and I said I am not following one standard, like the technology one. I am using the Language Arts Standards to create the story, the music standards, the Arts Standards, IT, maybe math and other standards – I want to use every subject in our school to produce a collaborative film. Then I want to take the story, whether written by the Language Arts, or some other department and send it to Frank and Kay who are now in Burma and have their students create a film interpretation of the story as well as my film class to do the same then we can make a composite film. We integrate technology, actually that is my job at our school, but I want to integrate creativity using every department into film making this a year of production of the parts of the whole. Something like that in simple statements. Instead of getting too hung up on grades I want to unfetter the yoke of learning and see if we can find the divine spark in each student to create not only their masterpiece but a collective community of strangers piece. To quote Jefferson Airplanes (1960s)
“you are the Crown of Creation
And you’ve got no place to go’
I would add yes they have a place to go – take it to the next realm. We quit too easy. I continued with 14 years of university under trying times; raising two children, poverty, ten homes in ten years, no family support (I was in a foreign country, Australia, which strangely enough is now my home and the USA is my foreign country. Though I am a duel citizen I no longer feel that I am a Yank I don’t care how much my wife tells me I most definitely sound like one) and when you’ve got no place to go the only way out is to be creative. Maybe it was because I was a street person most of my life and I could live in the moment which is quite a creative thing to do. Creativity to a street person is survival meaning to survive one needs to be creative. But in reality I was most not successful I failed to read my son and at the time I thought I was very tuned into my children, I thought I was psychic in regards to them I was at the top of the spiritual mountain but hey it is all an illusion. One son is now happy has a great girl friend and will soon be making a three month tour of Europe. I think he and his life is real kool. I thought my ball playing son was kool too. We threw a ball every morning and every evening, one-hundred times, I taught him to be a major league pitcher then he no longer wanted it all. He had star potential. We all have start potential.
At the Dwight School in upper Manhattan the graduating students could choose anyone to give their graduating speech. Dwight is a prestigious school with many famous people having children at it (Paris Hilton was there up until the year before I started and members of The Strokes a popular rock band started their band while students at The Dwight School). I was just a silly person who came up with silly ideas for projects. But I was the overwhelming choice to give their farewell speech. I was going to say no but the Leo in me jumped out and said yes. I told them the story of my son – it was sad I suppose – high school students were teary eyed, maybe I am just mean but I had to tell the story. I was a bit graphic but I sure highlight the good times too. My message was simple that no matter how difficult life gets do not kill your self. My son ended his life because his relationship to his girlfriend ended. My belief is that because his mother was not an active part of his life he could not have another female reject him though I would never say that to anyone – maybe I said it to his mother at his funeral because she said mean things to me that day and told me it was all my fault.
How much more fun can one have in life than to say to some kids ‘hey let’s make some films, do some news shows, make rock videos, collaborate with students in other countries and create a film via Skype with them? The older I get the more interesting life is becoming. I goofed off and partied and did what I thought was creative stuff – like my thousands of on-line picture poems and before that I was a street artist in New Orleans, NYC, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Adelaide, South Australia where I did my last shows in 1997 when at age fifty I finally woke up and thought maybe I am too old for this and I should just go nuts on academic stuff. I found I loved doing research, I loved computers and when the World Wide Web was invented in 1990 I knew my life had just started. I probably have ten-thousand web pages; if I believed in astrology I would say it is such a Leo thing. No doubt this will be my last year of teaching but the next thing to do will be even more fun or creative or fulfilling; I have ideas but they are best kept set aside to be nurtured throughout this year.
Malaysian Airlines (international) – check-in, they have allowed us 24 kilos (any number of bags), plus 7 kilos carry-on, strictly enforced (this was ‘enforced’ at the Adelaide end, we were a bit over, almost a kilo, but Aussies help when they are able) and a camera bag or computer bag. The carry-on rule was not checked in KL because we were in transit and as Malaysia is touting themselves as the shopping capital of the world (forget Singapore and Hong Kong) they would not mind if we bought heaps of crap at the airport and added it to our carry-on which of course we did – oh look more stuff to put into storage and drag through life with us).
China Southern (domestic) – check-in = 20 kilos (any number of bags), carry-on – there seems to be no restrictions; we were overweight for check-in and took three bags as carry-on, all quite heavy as they would not allow our extra bag to be checked-in. They then disputed Vegemite as a liquid. Good grief!
Virgin Airlines or any Australian airline (domestic), inflexible – check their info.
USA, good golly what a mess… As I wrote a couple of blogs ago Delta lost our stuff three times for one destination (simply put it was on a flight to Newark which was cancelled after we sat on the tarmac for a couple of hours so instead of staying in Atlanta overnight and going on a flight the next day we took a flight to Albany, New York that evening and we were told our luggage was on our flight but it was not. Three days we were upstate and our stuff never arrived. After three days we said not to send our things to Albany as we were going back to Jersey City and we would collect it at Newark. When we got to Newark Narda’s bag was there but not mine, it was sent to Albany hours before we arrived and it took another couple of days to get it. Though we do appreciate that Delta reimbursed the $400 we spent for ‘necessities’ we needed until I did finally get my luggage).
Basically even United International will not allow more than one bag per person unlike Malaysian Airlines.
As this is getting a tad bit long and I already have begun thinking about my next blog I need to wrap this up – I just wanted to catch up for the past couple of weeks – I write for myself so to remember stop, after all I am now 66 did I mention that already?
July 12-13 2013: Friday/Saturday
Home – I think – after decades where home is becomes questionable I think we are home. If we go by where the majority of our crap is that would be China but if we go by where we own our home then that is either one of two houses in upstate New York but nether of them feels like home anymore and our house in New Jersey we saw our furniture in there last week but that no longer feels like home. So perhaps Adelaide is home but this is not quite what I remember. I lived in various places in South Australia from 1981 – 2002 so this I suppose is home. My children and I lived in ten houses in ten years during 1984 – 1995, a bit of an unstable time.
Australia as visiting-home; from 2002 until February 2013 we would visit for four or five weeks a year as we lived in New York then China. We even built a house in Adelaide, in Lochiel Park, that we have never lived in and our tenant has now had it for three years and we wish he would buy it. When we would visit here for the past eleven years we stayed in an apartment upstairs from Narda’s parents but they moved a couple of months ago and for the first time in Adelaide we are homeless. Narda lived here ever since getting off of a boat from Holland when she was four up until teaming up with me. Now we are both homeless where we feel at home.
Not to worry we loved Malaysia and even managed to see a lot considering we lost one day after Malaysian Airlines canceled our flight and put us up for an extra day and night in Beijing.
It was the easiest airport we have gone through anywhere in the world. Just a stamp in the passport. No stupid questions both when we arrived and when we left. Malaysia is courting old folks so perhaps that is what they think we are. They want Westerners to retire there as long as they have three-thousand dollars a month to live on. I think that is per couple. The people are very friendly though I do admit I am at a loss to understand their belief system. I have always wondered why people believe what they do and why they are so adamant that their beliefs are the way it is. I have tried many belief systems even spent years toward becoming a priest and decades being an astrologer and basically I think they all have something to offer but none of them are really the complete system. I have taken bits and pieces from different belief systems and believe-in what makes sense to me which I suppose is what the majority of people do. Every religion is based on a leader who at the end of the day if you take away what the reality at the start of their trip was and then morph it over the centuries it is never like what everyone claims that person did or was or even still is. Perhaps humans believe in and follow someone because they are afraid to live their life without the crutch of an outside force/person/being/etc. It is easier to believe in someone who no longer or never did exist and describe it in terms of faith than to take on the responsibility for one’s own life. I blunder through life I know but I surely am not going to ask an outside non-existing being or ‘invisible’ deity for guidance. I am going to make a rational stab at going in a direction that makes sense and do what I think is best, and depend on mistakes/short comings/walking-into-walls and random experiences that may or may not have been beneficial/correct/moral (as per someone else belief system). I mean do we want to believe David Icke’s trip about how reptilian people are waiting to take over the planet? I must admit I have looked at his stuff for the past couple of decades for entertainment purposes and he is a hoot, one of the world’s great comedians and even funnier are those who believe him or take him seriously. Many people are just ‘trying-it-on’ and I am sure they are just as amused that anyone takes them as true blue as I am.
I have always loved monorails – every since seeing one in the movie Fahrenheit 451 in the mid-1960’s and riding one at the Montreal World’s Fair in 1967 and of course the one in Sydney I have thought a city should have lots of them and not just as a tourist attraction. Kuala Lumpur has a functioning good monorail and we rode it end to end. They do not have subways but elevated trains and the train to the Islamic Arts Museum stops at Pasar Seni which is one of the main places to go to. The other really different experience in KL is raised pedestrian walkways. Instead of footpaths (they have them too) along the road they have footpaths in the air (I have video clips but not photographs though if I were not so lazy I would use Adobe Premier and take a photo out of the video. I love the Adobe Creative Cloud and have a year’s subscription and have downloaded all their programs. Want to just stay at home and use the Creative Cloud but I hear there are other things one needs to do when coming to visit family, like visit family)
Below is me hanging out with Narda’s daughter-in-law. The last time we were here, six-months ago in February, Maggie would start crying every time she saw me, which I thought was just a normal female reaction to me, but this time we got along and collaborated over some technology. She was showing me stuff on my iPhone and I was going to show her how to make her own webpage using Creative Cloud Dreamweaver but she was not that interested which I understand a bit as she is only about 18 months old. She was even less interested in my new computer which has 16 gig-memory and all the latest bells and whistles and did I mention the whole new Adobe Suite – why would I leave the house?
This was our first visit to a Muslim (65 per cent they say) country. I do like the get-up folks wear and if it is not irreverent to say it is like being at a costume party with us being the ones who forgot to bring any kool looking gear. We went to the Islamic Arts Museum which was really interesting. Their art is great but after reading lots of stuff from their beliefs and looking at exhibits I really do not understand what they are on about or why they do what they do. I did come away with the feeling that they are really really pissed off at the Jews and Israel. Again, I am not a politician or know much stuff, probably really don’t know anything about anything but if their exhibits are true then Israel really did do the dirty on the Palestinians. I see there is a book to buy called ‘A brief history of Palestine for dummies‘ that I can download, perhaps that will clear up my confusion. I read one book in the museum – it was really thin – about how the Christian’s Paul was really a bad dude – I never realised how much someone disliked him. I read it because on the back cover it said that the author had studied religion and that this book described the differences between the early Christians, Paul (which the book said was pretty much a bad Jew) and the Muslim religion. After skimming through it I realised it was quite the pro-Muslim read and was not really a thesis on comparing religions.
Besides the rhetoric and propaganda we did like their art. I would love to have our home – if we actually knew where our home existed – with tiles like they do. Of course they embed their verses from that book they like to read into a lot of their art and I am not sure if I want some of those lines on the wall of my home.
It is 12 RM ($3.78 US) per person to get into the museum but they only charged us 10. I thought they were being kind to us until I looked at our tickets more closely after we left and saw the word ‘senior citizen’ 10 RM at the bottom of the ticket. What? Are we that obviously old?
Narda in front of the museum – I have lots from inside even though there were signs, which I saw after – that said no photos, oops!
Our hotel was really good. At the bottom was a large shopping centre and of course having Narda come through the door of any shopping centre is a cause of celebration and welcoming for the locals,
We were on the 26th floor of the Premiera Hotel with a great view, below is watching the reflection of traffic on a building,
Of course the big thing to do is visit the Petronas Towers. I think I found a new thing for 911 conspirators to think about – you know how they come up with all these theories and why the New York City towers came down – well I saw tee-shirts that said ‘Petronas Towers – currently the tallest twin towers in the world’. Maybe it was not one of those many conspiracies that folks on the Internet want us to believe but in actual fact the sellers of these tee-shirts who had family members do the deed just so they could sell more tee-shirts that said they were the tallest twin towers in the world.
We did make one sort of a blunder. We got lost as we do wherever we go and Narda suggested we pop into a hotel we saw right where we were lost. The Majestic Hotel – OK so it looked a bit classic, later we learned that it was built in 1932 and I love the movie ‘The Majestic’ with Jim Carey so we went into the very fancy lobby sat down and asked for a cup of coffee.
Well we were surprised at how small the cup of coffee was. It was served in fancy ornate small tea cups with a pretty little bowl with sugar. We relaxed and stopped at the bar to pay – holy cow – 45 RM which is $14.17 (because we put it on our credit card the Visa charge on our account is $15.22 US for two small cups of coffee) or to put the two cups together which still would not equal a full cup; we paid twenty-eight dollars, US for a cuppa. Blimey. To put that in perspective we had a full breakfast of eggs, toast, two cups of coffee and two cups of orange juice each at a our favourite Indian restaurant (Lotus Restaurant in Chow Kit) earlier in the day for nine dollars for the two of us. Not to worry, we just are not the classy folks that we thought/think/wish/perceive ourselves as. I suppose we should have just booked in a couple of days and eaten our meals there and forgotten about affording the rest of our trip.
After that little expense we walked to Central Market and along the Historic Walk all about twenty minutes away from the propaganda wielding art centre. We got another bag of clothes with the illusion that we needed more and the hope that we could squeeze just a few more garments into our bag and once again ate our meals in Indian places as most eatery places were closed due to Ramadan fasting.
Below is a curve in the tracks in Kuala Lumpur.
So here we are, Adelaide, sort of home for me for more than 20 years plus a visit place for another 12 years, in the midst of winter which compared to where we live in Northern China is not cold at all.
After the start of our mishaps with Delta Airlines (who just wrote to say they would reimburse us for the $400 we spent on ‘necessities’ due to lost luggage, – see earlier reports – so we sort of like Delta a bit and almost apologize for what I said last week how they were a crap organisation) then having Malaysian Airlines cancel our flight to KL (and their putting us up at a good hotel and paying for three meals) we did get ourselves here and it is up to us to have an enjoyable time.
This will probably be my last blog until going back to China in three weeks because what would I write about? Everyone in Australia is so normal there is nothing to say about them. I will spend lots of time, if I have any free time, sorting out the previous couple of week’s video clips and putting them on YouTube and of course having a grand old time with Adobe Creative Cloud. I know there has been a lot of complaining about taking away purchasing programs and giving us subscriptions. I would rather have the subscription because every month Adobe updates various bits and pieces in the 26 programs I have – some I have never used before. Social and family life? Hey can I put that all on hold for a year just to get really good at making webpages, e-books, videos, apps, games, and enhance photos of myself so I will not look so old in a few weeks when I turn 66?
International Day @ Dalian American International School
neuage webpage for this is at http://neuage.us/BLOGS/42-internatiotional-day.htm
Every day is international day at our school, after all we have about 25 countries and 15 different languages but once a year we call it International Day. The difference is that we can dress up and be a country – usually one we are from. I chose to be Australia because I sort of am an Australian – a duel citizen, being born in the States and only living in Australia for 22 years a bit less than a third of my time on this planet but enough Australian and with no one else representing it I tossed myself into the nationality pool for a day. Narda could have been the real Australian but she joined the Dutch having been born there. We are both Australian by next-after-birth spot; though she was a boat person having arrived with assisted passage during those days Australia was flirting with that part of Europe to come and be them back in the 1950s. Now days a boat person is frowned upon and the unhappy lot get tossed into detention centres. I was a plane person arriving in 1981 and Narda was a boat person so really I too am an Australian though I am told I sound more like I am from New York.
I wore my son’s clothes as one does on these types of days. Leigh played for Australia before signing with the LA Dodgers and this was his shirt he wore on the U-18’s World Series in Canada in 1998.
Last year we had the , Drum Club come out from Dalian and they did not fail to entertain and get us all moving again this year. I made a bit of a clip and put it on youtube drums http://youtu.be/Y7Vpt3vXI7M – though only three minutes of about half an hour I recorded. Like last year this was the first warm – sort of warm day, of the year it got up to 16 centigrade which I think is 61 ferinheight only because Narda says that 16 turned about is 61 – and as she has reminded me in the past she comes from the clever country as Australians say – but I too am sort of from the clever country and I never know stuff like that.
What these countries do have in common is that they are meat eaters which means where am I from? Some distant galaxy? Speaking of such things at least North Korea did not get too silly. I noticed that there were five planets in Aries this week and with the moon transiting there too I thought that would be a trigger to give us an interesting week.
Well as one of those people who worked on this event and was at it at again at 6:30 this morning and now it is 11:06 pm I will make this a short blog and toddle off to bed. At least I was not as sick as Narda who was running this event and has spent the two past two days really sick – some of us get to watch life from the sidelines and that is sort of what I did and now I am just sleepy though it could be the healthy does of sleeping pills that are making it almost impossible to hit one key after another……but I feel good so that is beaut.
I took hundreds of pictures but I got smitten by pictures of shoes which is unusual as I am not into footwear a whole lot except for the practical purposes of not stepping in dog shit and stuff like that. Maybe it was because I had on my son’s baseball shoes that he pitched in when he played for the LA Dodgers. I have had them in my closet for a decade – well lots of closets as I have moved about a dozen times since getting them in 2003 and I had never put them on. They fit well and being baseball shoes they have cleats on the bottom and being in that shoe frame of mind I took these photos amongst hundreds – not of feet but of people too.
A highlight to the whole day for many was the world premiere of a song written in several languages by Lana Mountford in the state of Washington for Dalian American International School and Directed by Tyler Smith. The work was done through emails and Skype and though the performance in our gym is not as good as in a concert hall this gives a bit of a sample of it. My film class Skyped Lana at the start of her work last October and again last week. She is part of a group who write choral pieces for schools. I am not the go to person on this so I am writing from a very limited perspective which is that she was given a poem and had to compose her music using several languages. She said was fine with the English and Spanish and I think German parts but writing sections in Chinese and Korean was her biggest challenge. I put it on youtube but it does not do the piece justice. My video suite is two rooms away and I have been listening to them practice for many weeks. Having it played in a gym with people milling around and speaking themselves in many different languages made it more difficult. Nevertheless here is my clip of it on youtube, http://youtu.be/sVxYglz5xfI Our music teacher Tyler Smith
Had them right on target…
There were lots of other
Ah Tomb Sweeping Day, Qingming Festival;; the day that one tends the graves of their once-were-mates. One of those great non-Western holidays that we celebrate by not working, well working but not usual working, working in the plan-our-holidays way. The thing is about two and a half thousand years old and for the most part from what I see they do a few extra fireworks – a few extra – considering most mornings I hear fireworks from some local cemetery – a few extra gets to be a bit annoying when one wants to sleep in a bit. And they burn paper money though I am not sure what that is for. Nevertheless we jumped fully into the day; firstly, by changing our ticket back to Australia in July. Originally we had a six hour stop in Kuala Lumpur, on our ticket from Beijing to Adelaide after two weeks in the States. Today we changed that to four days in KL. The reason being that Narda has been looking for places we may retire to.
Somehow my mind disappears when I hear about retirement as my life I am doing sort of backward. I started my university career as a student at the age of 44 and continued it for 14 more years in the midst of being a single parent in the middle of a foreign country trying not to be foreign to myself but I may have failed and just ended up re-inventing myself as an old person. I started to teach at uni in 1998 whilst doing my seven year trek through the brain-numbing, though at times, interesting, world of a PhD, at the University of South Australia – age 51 – when some start thinking of retirement I started thinking what I would do when I grew up and finished my bloody thesis http://neuage.org/ODAM. I liked my world – the kids would go to Wirreanda High School in Morphett Vale for the day and I would take the train into Adelaide and spend the day in my office. It was an escape back when the Internet and making webpages was fun before the world was swamped with so much instant changes and so much information. I went slower in those days; fifteen years ago when I was only 51 I went at a much slower pace than now, probably enjoyed life much more, and definitely accomplished more in a day. I could teach classes, work on my thesis, and have time to be a parent, write children stories, do my picture poems, be on a basketball and a baseball team with my children and oh so much more.
I loved being a single parent and would recommend it to anyone if not everyone. We roamed the world; doing a couple of round-the-world trips, we dreamt of incredible futures – which almost eventuated and life was good. Life is still good but I felt I was more retired when I was in my 40s being a single parent, dreaming impossible dreams and just chilling. Now I have embraced adulthood – even must say it is quite enjoyable – I am just getting going and retirement? Nay, it’s not for me. But Narda, she is looking at the beaches, and grandchildren, and travel as if three trips to Australia and a trip to the States as well as other local spots: Viet Nam, various Chinese cities, in a year is not enough. One of the places that Narda has been reading about is Penang, Malaysia so we are looking for places to stay in George Town, an hour flight away from Kuala Lumpur. Four days in Penang and no doubt I will be shown the merits of retirement.
Actually I equate Tomb Sweeping Day with retirement. What I did get done on this glorious holiday was putting together my vast number of video clips from last week’s pop into Shanghai and distilling them down to two three minute clips. They are now youtube videos: http://youtu.be/KzbtUqU7Qcs = Shanghai, and http://youtu.be/FgWA_yne1VI = Zhujiajiao, as well I have made them additions to my blog for those two events: http://neuage.us/BLOGS/39-Shanghai2013.htm for my two blog readers in all of China and whom may not be able to get on to youtube due to not having a VPN. What we should have done today was ride out bikes but it is still cold and windy and well we tried a mini-retirement day. I even stayed in my jammies for most of the day and took a fifteen minute nap and now I will toddle off to the gym and work on body sculpturing or keeping the fat bits away anyway. I suppose if retirement was like today it was OK though I am really looking forward to tomorrow to go back to work.
I have my film class first block; 8:45 in the morning and we are finishing up quarter number three. We are Skyping with people in India and a person in the State of Washington who has written an orchestra piece that our school is performing. As well we are preparing our Skype work with a co-producer in LA who has recently had her film in the Sundance Festival and she is working with my class to do a film online. So retirement? Not this week mate. I love my job – I have so many projects going at once and rush from thing to thing, reminding me of decades ago when I lived a project-based life and in the midst had time to laugh with my children and dream incredible futures. That is what I love about my job; I not only can accomplish stuff I need as well as want to do but I have lots of flexibility to try new things and get involved in new directions. And now at 65 when others think of retirement I have started a new career as a film dude as I am getting involved in a kool global niche of creative possibilities I had not dreamt of even last semester.
Oh Narda has just found a caravan for us to purchase – another retirement plan of hers. We will have a caravan in Australia and live in it when we visit family when we are not cruising the Nile or trekking Nepal or whatever it is old people do that have money – well that is not us, too ugly and too poor maybe but not ones with money so maybe we will just buy an old caravan – tie it up to our old car that sits in storage in Australia – and become trailer trash and get fat and live along the coast of Australia. Every day will then be Tomb Sweeping Day.
so much of it
Islands ~ continents
Pools of wetness
Next to me too
Different dreams than me
I dream of the future
that is the past
long ago past
when decades I have known
I had not known yet
but you were with me
even during that phase of me
that you were still
far into the future
How is that?
This is why I like
Dreaming in flight
Skies Stretch Silently So Sensually
Clouds are sections of life
->-> I blow out the window
to land – maybe I won’t again
keep your distance
I am staying in the sky
where I belong.
flight between Melbourne and Dalian
A Chinese miracle
Just to prove that miracles are not the sole (soul) domain of the Western religious-philosophers-‘we-are-the-chosen’ we discovered that even in China miracles do occur. I am defining miracle as that which is outside the ‘normal’ realm of our flitterings through life; those events that happen with some possible intervention beyond some dim bats occasional form of self-interpreted helpfulness. I grew up (really I did) with the notion that according to the Methodists anyway that China’s communist darkness would never allow in a sliver of light that would guide a couple of lost Westerns who were not lost until the Chinese directed them toward a path that could have led directly to disaster – disaster in the sense of experience deprivation of wanted experience, not a disaster of impending doom.
OK! The story.
We left Campus Village all excited about getting our sorry asses to Adelaide in time for Narda’s sons and one of their 30th birthday parties; one son flying in from Atlanta, Georgia, one from Hanoi and birthday boy at home in the Adelaide Hills with granddaughter in tow; and us popping in from China just for a party. We booked our flight six months in advance knowing that everything would be booked for Chinese New Years. We got to Dalian Airport three hours in advanced knowing how they have a tendency to stuff things up. We had gotten an email the night before saying our flight was on-time and wishing us a great journey or ever what they say, in Chinese. At the China Southern counter, ‘flight canceled’! After recovering from the shock of that news we were informed that another flight to Guangzhou was leaving in a few hours, which of course would be too late to hop onto our flight to Melbourne.
These are the same people, I am sure, at least it is the same airline, who lost our Piggly Wiggly umbrella – see the previous post https://neuage.me/2013/02/01/a-piggly-wiggly-story/ after it made the journey from Atlanta, Georgia to NYC to Melbourne > Adelaide > back to Melbourne to Guangzhou – then somewhere between Guangzhou and Dalian China Southern managed to lose it – the umbrella.
After finding someone with some English to understand that we could not miss our flight to Melbourne they said they could fly us to Shanghai then put us on another airline, China Eastern – which we hate, but we had to get to Melbourne by the next afternoon to continue our flight on to Adelaide to get to Narda’s son’s birthday party in the Adelaide Hills. We had even taken two days off from work without pay to do this. Plus Narda surely wanted to be at her granddaughter’s christening – which a fellow worker wondered how we got two days leave to attend a pagan festival – which is Sunday. We had to get to Australia.
We got ourselves OK to Shanghai and ran through the airport dragging too much crap as we do, getting into line – body blocking aggressive Chinese passengers trying to pass us in the queue and collapsed in front of the ticket counter as we tossed out suitcases of too much crap onto the weighing machine. ‘Flight full – no seats, take your bags off’. Holy guacamole – did they really say that? We told them about China Southern saying we could switch airlines – we had our vouchers but they said to go and wait at the standby counter. Narda was fighting back tears, I was trying to keep us from annihilation, and the crowding people around us all looked like enemy foo fighters – whatever that is.
At the standby counter they said the flight was overbooked and already full. Narda said we had to get on the flight to get to Adelaide for her son’s wedding. Me, never being good as a spy or secretive person said whose wedding, which of course upset Narda all the more because I am a bit of an idiot in these situations.
They said we would be moved to the top two if any seats were opened which would only happen if there were two no-shows, the chances we none to slim. We looked at the options which would be to try and get to Guangzhou the next day and hope we could get onto the next night’s flight which too was booked full and we would miss Narda’s party which was the whole idea of this trip we had planned for months.
At 7:30 the flight was closed and at 7:32 we got the call to the desk with a simple ‘passports’ and that was it. We quickly got our suitcase onto the conveyor belt and got our boarding pass plus a sticker to put on our clothes that indicated that we were to rush through lines like customs and passport control and all those other things the Chinese like to check us out with. These things always tax me – running through airports with camera bag, computer bag, things falling out of my pocket – it is easier for Narda – she is organized with stuff in one bag, and she is seven and a half years younger than me and I get out of breath trying to keep up with her but of course what man could keep up with such a vibrant chick on a very focused mission of seeing her sons within 24 hours? Puffing and panting, waving off potential heart-attacks, leg cramps, a very real stomach ache, and head ache I followed her through the VIP lines and somehow we got to the gate panting and puffing to find the flight was delayed by an hour.
We use to fly through Shanghai on China Eastern as part of round-the-world fares with Star Alliance and every time, this would be at least four if not five times, the flight from Shanghai to Melbourne was hours late. Now our concern was the flight Melbourne to Adelaide which Narda said left Melbourne at 11:30 AM and we were due to arrive at 11 AM the next day. Thirty minutes to get through baggage, customs and get our boarding pass at Qantas domestic which is a long hike from the international terminal
Bottom line was that we were on a plane finally though 20 rows apart but at least on the same plane. I told the first hostess that I saw about our changed flights and that I had to have vegetarian. Two reasons for that is that one I am a vegetarian two even Narda orders vegetarian because the meat meals on Asian airlines are shockingly horrible and taste worse – so I am informed. I was told there were no vegetarian meals but she would check first class and lucky there was. I asked to trade my economy seat for a first class meal to a first class seat but her English was not good enough to understand my request, or else she thought I was not funny, or possibly just stupid, nevertheless, I did get a good meal for din din and again for brekky.
We got to Melbourne at 11ish and the impossible task of getting the next flight loomed. We discovered the best thing about being the last onto the plane meant our luggage was the first down the chute at the end of the trip. ‘The last shall be first’ of my Methodist upbringing was actually realistic. Now I wish I had listened to more of their fairy stories. Whilst waiting for the baggage we changed over some 26,000 RMB that we had stored away and got about $3700 Australian for it, a bad deal by hundreds but we were not fretting now. It was good to have some real currency again. The passport line was long as several flights arrived in Melbourne at the same time. For the first time ever we tried using the kiosk for checking in with our passports because we had the new ones with electronic chips in them and it worked saving us another long line. At baggage inspection the line was incredibly long and Narda pleaded with some official type and we got sent through a very short line and no one checked our bags which is very unusual coming into Australia we had saved about 45 minutes so far but we only had 15 minutes to get to the gate so again we ran through the airport panting and puffing and collapsing at the counter pleading to get onto the plane leaving at 11:30, it was now 11:15. The counter person said there was no 11:30 flight that in fact our flight left at 12:10 so for the first time since leaving Campus Village 24 non-sleeping hours earlier we actually had enough time to walk to the gate and sit and wait.
So that is our miracle.
Arriving in Adelaide Narda’s three sons, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter were all waiting… of course Maggie burst in to tears – probably not of joy – of seeing us. Ooops
But she made good a few moments later for a good family photo
And we got to Stu’s birthday party, worse for wear, and even stayed until about 11 PM last night. Now, the next day, Saturday, we are booking my flight to Melbourne next Thursday for me to see my son, Sacha and his partner, Georgia, for a couple of days before going back next Saturday to arrive Sunday night in time to be at work Monday morning. And tomorrow Narda and sons are all excited about baby Maggie’s christening.
A fun week we will have next week. We have rented a sea side place for Narda’s three sons and a couple of wives, granddaughter and us for four days; Pt. Elliot, which is where I use to live with my two sons back in the 1980s when I was a single parent wondering what would become of my life. And now I know thirty years later, married, living in China with one son left to share it with and my new great family.
In general I must say life is good.
A Piggly Wiggly story
I do not recall having heard of the Piggly Wiggly chain of stores before last summer. Not sure why that is as I lived in the States for about 42 of my 65 years on this planet and I surely have wandered through the south where they have 600 stores in 17 states. And it is not because they just started popping up around the place. In fact their website says they have been “bringing home the bacon for millions of American families since 1916”. Perhaps it is because my vegetarian life has created a subliminal blind spot for sellers who are such whole-hearted braggers, sporting the bringing home the bacon rhetoric – though it could just as easily have been my birth in the year of the pig that placed them over with other things I have avoided as much as possible in life: restrictive humans, haircuts, Pisces and most water-signed-people (having only Jupiter in Scorpio I did have some strange fixed fascinations in my youth with aspects of that sign – I use to find women with Venus and Mars in Scorpio a bit of a fascinating matrix to get involved in, as long as there was an escape clause – having five planets in Leo I am not afraid of the Scorpion sting but of the threat of water to put out my fire, I still avoid water sign people because of that; how they put the damper on us fire people is appalling… I am drifting here), and the clinging to material possessions such as umbrellas which this blog is actually about.
I horde stuff; a shed full in South Australia, a house full of stuff here in Northern China, stuff in an attic in our upstate New York house, and the shed next door to it, and our furniture in our house in Jersey City but that is not really an indicator of clinging to material possessions. It is really art artifacts that someday I hope to assemble in various arrays of sculpture and do gallery shows. That was a dream of mine during the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and then I got married (again) and the idea of gallery shows was replaced by stored artifacts around the world that no doubt will end in the rubbish tip before I get to collect them all into one non-disposable spot.
On with the umbrella story…
Last summer we were driving around the south. We left Atlanta with Narda’s son’s car headed to my old stomping grounds of New Orleans. I had wanted to take Narda there for the whole decade we were living in New York but we ended up making little trips to Europe, Asia and the yearly hops over to Australia, leaving no time or money to explore the States. Somewhere in the south: Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas or maybe we were in Alabama or Louisiana but somewhere down there we were in a small town lost on a country road and there was this big Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Narda saw it as quite funny, the born-in-the-year-of-the-pig part of my over active reptilian brain was offended but with no other shops in site and the last temperature reading we saw being 102 Fahrenheit ( Celsius = 38.88) the thought of something from a fridge was becoming overpowering. But getting a cold drink was not enough. At the checkout were umbrellas with the Piggly Wiggly emblem on them so of course I had to have one.
The umbrella got buried for a couple of weeks in the boot of the car as we drove around and we wondered how we would get it back to China. And not just back to China, but to Australia too as we were going there for a few weeks first. Narda wanted to bring back a curtain rod too because she could not find one in Dalian that was long enough to span two large windows in our lounge so she could hang some over-priced hand-sewed laced curtains we had bought in Belgium – yes Belgium lace, a few years ago. She found the curtain rod she wanted in one of those southern states and she taped it together with the umbrella that somehow magically would find its way back to Campus Village here in Northern China via Australia – and of course flying out of Atlanta, NYC, and all the stops between like Melbourne and Adelaide and Guangzhou in China.
First hiccup…. We were driving on a four-lane freeway heading north. Narda was driving and I was playing with my new Nikon camera when there was a big bump and Narda said ‘he hit me’ and at about 70 miles an hour we were going across a couple of lanes of freeway sideways and fortunately for this story to be told there were concrete blocks dividing us from traffic going the other way and we smashed into them sideways. Another few feet and we would have rolled. Of course Narda being Narda managed to restart the car to chase this huge truck that had hit us thinking he would get away. The back end of the car was dragging and we had flat tires. I was as much in shock from Narda restarting the engine and us going forward as I was from spinning across a few lanes of freeway. The truck did stop which was good because so did our car. Narda said afterwards she was waiting for the pain to hit her when we started spinning and I was waiting to hear the crashing of glass. I had been in three major car crashes before and that memory stays. There was no crashing of glass, the air bags did not open, and we did not get hurt but the car was totaled. We stood alongside the road in 104 degree heat – that is the absolute truth – the truck driver rang for the police – he took full responsibility, saying he did not see us when he switched lanes. Narda often says people don’t see her because people don’t see women past 50, but this was a whole bloody car he didn’t see. As we stood alongside the concrete barriers traffic passed by with almost no space between cars at high speeds. It was quite amazing no one hit us as we crossed lanes; there was just this few seconds let up in traffic when we decided to go for a bit of a spin.
Here is a photo of Narda under our Piggly Wiggly umbrella with a state trooper.
I wish I had had presence of mind to tell Narda to turn the umbrella so as to show the Piggly Wiggly figures but who thinks of these things at a moment like this?
We told Narda’s son we put a bit of a ding in his car – impossible to repair – was the verdict, rented a bright red car so we could be seen and I drove about ten hours straight back to Atlanta. Narda was still in shock, I did not want to stop for a day and besides we had about two days left before our flight to Australia. The truck company was really good and bought the car at a really good price and took care of our rental and on we went.
There was not any problem with the airlines; they just put the umbrella/curtain rod in with checked luggage. In Melbourne we took a domestic flight to Adelaide and again no problem.
Here I am in Adelaide with my Piggly Wiggly umbrella in Rundle Mall with my favourite sculptures – pigs of course.
So we tape up the umbrella with the curtain rod to hold our Belgium laced curtains and checked them into the flight to Melbourne. In Melbourne I visit my son, Sacha, for a couple of days, and Narda and I check our umbrella with the curtain rod into baggage. There was our name in large letters as well as our Chinese address and phone number. No problems everyone is happy. We fly out at 10 pm as is normal and arrive in Guanzhou about 8 am the next morning, switch to the domestic to Dalian. Our baggage has been check through from Melbourne to Dalian so life is good.
We get to Dalian Airport late in the evening and wait for baggage. The suitcases come along just fine. Jack, our driver, is waiting for us as usual which is so great after a long flight. We wait and wait but no umbrella and curtain rod. Narda finds someone with a handful and a half of English. We show our baggage claim for our parcel. They ring Melbourne and sure enough it left there and it was even traced to Guanzhou but then it stopped. They said to ring the next day. We did. Day after day for a couple of weeks until finally they said they would give us money. I think we got about $50 US maybe less but it did not come close to paying for the umbrella. It only costs seven dollars or so in real terms at the Piggly Wiggly store but what we had gone through no money could have paid for it.
So that is my Piggly Wiggly story. If I ever get back to one of their stores I may get another one but it won’t be the same. It looks as if we will be in Atlanta in six months, so perhaps I will get another one and this time take it as carry-on luggage.
I am not sure if I fully understand the differences between hording, cherished possessions with attachments, and material things that are filling spaces of ours around the world. What looks like junk to others, i.e. my wife, has special meaning to me. And I am sure if the Piggly Wiggly umbrella had survived the trip and not been lost once it hit China we would use it on rainy days and remember standing in the very hot sun alongside a freeway after an accident that surely we should have come to grief in but didn’t.
no longer in the future
no longer in the past
what a time to re-create me
Who is it?
is this me?
Not me before
Not me future
HERE I AM
Laughing in the noonday sun
Falling from the sky
landing to fly
into all that will be
when I open my eyes and exhale
synchronizing my senses
to possibilities yet to be imagined
Goodbye to all before
Did it ever even exist?
to re-invent a new instance of me
arriving Dalian, China after six weeks away: New Orleans (home of my soul), the south, dying on a freeway in Mississippi or was that Alabama where a truck ran us off the road only to re-boot my life so I can write such stupid stuff as this? And a month in Australia – and back again but not really because back then is no longer now. terrell neuage 5 August 2012 Golden Pebble Beach; Jinshitan
July blog and some of June too
Sunday, July 29, 2012 PM
Spending this week at Bellbrae Country Club, five minutes from Bells Beach, an hour from Melbourne; 1992 my father came to Australia, he was 87, traveling alone, from upstate New York. I was with my two sons, Sacha age 11 and Leigh, 8.
We rented a large mobile home, collected my father from Sydney Airport and drove north to the Gold Coast and Brisbane, spent a couple of weeks getting back to Adelaide and parked in front of our house in Victor Harbor with our mobile home. I am not sure who was the most handful on the drive; my children or my father – they were all so demanding. Not only was I the sole driver, cook, sorting out three complaining humans but I seemed to be the unofficial happy person to keep everyone else the same. Bottom line, we got to Bells Beach a month after collecting my father in Sydney. Sacha said he would surf no matter what. We parked his surfboard in the toilet of the mobile home and I doubted the wisdom of bringing it from the get-go. We parked overnight on the beach in front of the ‘no camping’ sign. Sacha proclaimed the water too cold, and that was it for my eleven year-old surfing champ. The next day we dropped my father off at Tullamarine Airport, took our mobile home to the rental agent and flew back to Adelaide, with an unused surf board.
Twenty-years later we are back. A different configuration; my father and Leigh are dead and I am here with Narda. Sacha and his girlfriend visited for the weekend. We all went to a micro-brewery and the Jack Rabbit Vineyard. Sacha long ago left his surfing career behind and is happy with his life; working with and recording hip-hop, working with asylum seekers from Iraq and Afghanistan and etc. Sacha left a few hours ago to go back to work in Melbourne and we are watching the show Mad Men, waiting our next group arrival; Narda’s son Stu, wife, Claire and of course the seven-month old granddaughter, Maggie. The one who covers are fridge back in China.
This is now but this is just an add-on to what I was going to post a few days ago….
One month later than I was going to write. Not a long time but not on time to be current, except as reflections of then compared to now and long ago reflect in now like any normal hologram type of holistic comparisons. Then again one year ago today I was packing to move to China and that seems not too long ago; ten years ago I was packing to move to New York; twenty years ago I was doing my BA in journalism, something I never really used; thirty years ago I was a single parent living on a farm with my two boys and on it goes, all seemingly just moments ago. I wrote a book for my children, “Leaving Australia” (550 pages leather bound, two copies; one for the one who decided to stay on the planet and one for me) in which I listed everywhere I was at on Christmas for the years 1965 – 2005 (when I stopped writing it) and I had been in something like 35 places in those 40 years at Christmas.
Last Christmas I was at:
1965 – Key West, Florida, alone
1966 – New York City, with a girlfriend whom I cannot recall
1967 – New Orleans – have no memory of the day
1968 – Glen Ellen, California – living in a commune
1969 – 1970 Honolulu – in a religious Order with Carol Ann
(whose daughter I helped raise for a while and whom is a friend on Facebook 42 years later)
1971 – Clifton Park, New York with a girlfriend, forget her name
1972 – Clifton Park, New York at my parents
1973 – New Orleans with a girlfriend, not sure which either Rita, Chialeah, or Robin or Tamzon
1974 – Cheyenne, Wyoming – in a religious Order – trying to be celibate
1975 – Syracuse, New York – in a religious Order – failing celibacy at an alarming rate
1976 – Baltimore, Maryland- in a religious Order – failed again
1977 – Towson, Maryland
1978 – Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland – with a girlfriend, Beverly, who wrote recently that she did not want to be in touch with me ever again; after not being in touch for like 30-years, then finding me on-line and emailing me to say she did not want to be in touch again – why do females make so little sense?
1979 – Towson, Maryland with a different girlfriend than the Christmas prior, I think she was Lynn, who committed suicide – I think it is my Venus conjunct Saturn/Pluto all in Leo square my Jupiter that gets me with people who do these things… just my dumb luck to be born with Saturn conjunct Pluto in Leo, exact to the minute, and with Mars conjunct Uranus in the 8th house – no wonder….luckily I no longer believe in that crap! Especially since Mars and Uranus descendant go through where I live in northern China, where we return to next week – talk about weird; Uranus was at 25 Gemini when I was born and that is the degree and sign it was in when discovered in March 13, 1781. [I love this quote: The discovery degree of Uranus has been found to be primarily important in three categories of individuals. The first is writers, particularly those who achieve wide recognition during their lifetimes. The second is political reformers, and the third is astrologers. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born with Mercury at 24 degrees Gemini. Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle both had Jupiter at 26 Gemini and Aldous Huxley had his Jupiter at 25 Gemini, the discovery degree of Uranus. http://www.stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0000270.HTM%5D Of course I am living proof this is not true.
1980 – Honolulu with wife number one
1981 – 1982 – Adelaide, South Australia with wife number one and Sacha
1983 – Adelaide, with wife number one, Sacha, and Leigh
1984 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents
1985 – Clifton Park New York with my brother and parents and two children; Sacha age 4 and Leigh age 2 and a half – I traveled alone from Australia to New York with my children – not so easy
1987 – Mt. Compass, South Australia, with my children (three different
homes, a different one each Christmas. Uranus rules my 4th house and I have never kept a home for very lone)
1988 – Port Elliot, South Australia, with my children
1989 – Middletown, South Australia, with my children
1990 – 1994 – Victor Harbor, South Australia, with my children
1995 – 1997 – Hackham, South Australia, with my children
1998 – 2001 – Christies Down, South Australia, with my children
2002 – Clifton Park, New York, with my 97-year-old father, with Narda
and two of her sons
2003 – Round Lake, New York, with my 98-year-old father, Sacha,
Narda and her son, Stu.
2004 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with Sacha
2005 – Paris, France with Narda
2006 – Melbourne, Australia, with Sacha
2007 – Crossville, Tennessee with Narda and her son Chris and his wife
2008 – Melbourne
To cut to the chase here I am for the tenth summer, actually winter in Australia, staying in our little apartment upstairs from the in-laws. For ten years it was part of our summer holidays from New York, this time it is our summer holiday from China. Nevertheless it is our last time in this house as the parents are moving out and a change once again is in front of us, except we get to spend our summer in winter once again.
Two weeks ago we got a taste of summer and that is really what I want to write about as it really does bring into memory so many decades. We left Dalian, China in the warmth and arrived in Atlanta with 40 C (104F) greeting us for the next two weeks. After driving off with Narda’s son Chris’ and his wife Jessica’s car we got off the interstate as soon as possible and in Mississippi stayed at a motel that looked not as bad as the ones next to it. Yes it is true that motels in the south are almost all run by citizens from India. A curious situation that has been reported (even a movie was made about it) in the NY Times – “According to the latest figures from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (A.A.H.O.A.), slightly more than 50 percent of all motels in the United States are now owned by people of Indian origin.” And that was said in 1999, now I would believe from our experience over the years it is about 87.46 % though I may be off by a fraction.
I added “Life behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream” to my Goodreads Book list to read. Unfortunately the list is growing and the read for pleasure vs. the read because I am teaching the bloody subject (Adobe CS6, and too many other programs) is becoming a gap too wide for this year. Saying all that we stayed at this place either called the Motel Alabama or the Alabama Motel; usually we read up on a place first but we read after that people complained that there were drug dealers and prostitutes all over this place. Having watched five seasons of Breaking Bad I was up for an interesting night and kept looking out the peep hole in the door for interesting action but nothing seemed to be going on and suffice it to say we had a good sleep. The importance of a good sleep was that we were jet lagged to buggery and actually fell to sleep as soon as we checked in at 3 PM for a couple of hours with our bodies thinking they were still on the way to work over in China. No matter how many times we told our bodies it was 3 PM and not 3 AM they just would not pay attention.
Driving route 80 over to Selma we saw reminders of the 1965 civil rights walks. So much has changed since “Sheriff Jim Clark had issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of twenty-one to report to the courthouse that morning to be deputized… Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback…” from Wikipedia.
We found a soul food restaurant in Selma and the food was good – the people there reminded us of our life in China, where everyone seems to stare at us like we are aliens. I suppose they do not get many of us type of people in their area. Back in 1965 we would no doubt have been beaten as sympathizers – hungry sympathizers who did not want to eat at McDonalds over in the white area.
Our end game was New Orleans. I had wanted to take Narda since meeting her eleven-years earlier and seeing her play saxophone in her big-band, the ‘Little Big Horns’ at a firemen’s ball in Adelaide. New Orleans is my favourite city in the world. Of course when I was a street artist in Jackson Square 40 years earlier life was a shade different; I was younger, I had not gone through the 40-years I just experienced, the world just seemed to be an easier and more liberal place in the early 1970s. There were only about two and a half billion people, now there are seven billion. But that was then and now my dream back then of being with a jazz saxophone playing female had come true. I have a photo of me in 1972 selling picture poems alongside Jackson Square at http://picture-poems.net/ and in my mind little has changed.
I never liked the first few blocks of Bourbon Street with its strip bars – not even when I was young and feistier than I am at 64 and eleven-months.
Further down the street, about @ St. Peters the music clubs take over and all that New Orleans is known for fills the air. Of course even the French Quarter changes over forty-years. I could not find the music clubs I loved in the late 1960s or the gallery I had further down Bourbon Street. It was called Tiphareth, after the Tree of Life – middle path on the Kabbalah. Tiphareth is the beauty sphere. I sold my art and a few other’s craft and art things there. It was at the end of an alley off of Bourbon that seems to no longer be there. I was in New Orleans in 1967 – 1968 with lots of journeys in and out; hitch hiking back to New York occasionally and once stowing away on a freighter bound for England which I got into heaps of strife because of. After a few years in a cult order (1969 – 1971) in Hawaii I was back in New Orleans 1972 – 1973 before going back to the order for another five years. It was those years in New Orleans I remember best; selling my pictures alongside the fence of Jackson Square with all the other artists; reading astrology charts and tarot cards for people; telling passing girls how well our charts synchronized, for personal gains I will not elaborate on here. I rented a large house at the end of Bourbon Street and because none of my hippy friends made money I paid the rent from my street art stuff. We could not find the house anymore – in its place there is something newish which is too bad. We did find some good music halls and listened to late into the night which surprised us as we usually are off to bed when the young people are going out.
New Orleans is the best. I still keep in touch with a few people from those days; Randy Dandurand who I had known since our days in Los Angeles and San Francisco during those days of fun at the end of the 1960s, then he got me involved in that Order in Hawaii in 1969 and that stuffed me up for a while, but I returned the favour getting him out of it in 1972 when he was in charge of some station in Nashville and we headed off to New Orleans. When we got there we were almost out of money and slept in our sleeping bags on the lawns of Tulane University out in the Garden District where passing students the next morning woke us and someone told us to piss off. I spent my last five-dollars on some water colours and art board and made a few pictures and sold them at Jackson Square; which became my source of employment for a couple of years. Randy now lives in Eugene Oregon and makes a living off selling old shit on EBay. I still keep in touch with Dell Crowther who went off to Guatemala during the Regan era because of his political disagreement with the US and he built a huge weird house in San Pedro la Laguna on Lake Atitlan. We visited him a couple of years ago; he is so depressed and quite ill but refuses to come back to the States. He is 70 now. We are the only people to ever visit him in Guatemala but I doubt if we can again. Guatemala is so dangerous and Dell is so difficult and it is all so far away from China and Australia. When we were New Orleans hippies we all looked up to Dell, he was just this really cool person. My how times change us all. And there is Shane who changed her name to Mariya —- and I keep in touch with her on Facebook but I have not seen here in person since 1994 when I took my two boys, age eleven and eight at the time on a trip around the world and we stopped in Louisiana to see Mariya, Los Angles to see Daniel Bushnell who I was in that Order with in Syracuse New York and Towson Maryland and I see on Facebook but we don’t seem to say much to each other, Hawaii to visit Randy, Indiana to visit Tamzon and New York City to see my brother who was dying of AIDS then we went to London, Paris, Germany, and Switzerland; it was a good trip. And there is Tamzon, she joined that Order from our days in New Orleans and seems to have had more favourable thoughts toward it. She befriended me for a couple of weeks on Facebook but was upset about what I had said about her in my Leaving Australia book which I had as a pdf on-line but I took it off to save some people embarrassment though I do not understand why some are so precious about what they did in the past. She seems to have dim thoughts of me now.
The only people I still know from four-decades ago are the ones I met in New Orleans; except for my first girl-friend from the early 1960s or was it the mid-1960s? who I keep up with on Facebook and who will hopefully one day sell our houses in upstate New York and Marta Waterman who I knew as a child and who is writing a book about my brother.
We liked the Treme series and drove around the area which has been re-done, for the most part. It is next to the French Quarter and the music is less touristy and more authentic some say. I have always liked the street musicians and there are still plenty of them about. See my youtube video —- http://youtu.be/QGzf4mQVNtQ
After a few days in New Orleans; and Narda loving the place too, though maybe she tired of so many of my stories from so long ago, we went south and stayed for three days at a bed and breakfast in the Bayou. We did the tourist thing of going on a swamp alligator airboat, it is on youtube @ http://youtu.be/hYxw0-T8O7c. Spent a couple of days wandering around to the tip of Louisiana and put our feet in the gulf where it was so warm but having forgotten to bring our bathers we did not plunge all the way in.
Leaving Louisiana we stayed somewhere in Alabama. It was so hot that we were in the motel pool within ten minutes of checking in and planned the next morning to be back in Atlanta by early afternoon.
As they say, ‘one never knows what is around the next corner’.
Narda was driving on the interstate rolling along at about 70 mph, 112 Kph, I was looking at something, probably at our new Nikon D5100; what a great improvement to the little digital camera we had been using, when there was a big bump, our car started swerving all over. We were in the middle lane. Narda said, ‘he hit me’ and I waited for the glass to break and the car to roll but when we hit the concrete block in the middle of the highway separating us from oncoming cars I felt everything would be fine. Narda said she was waiting for the pain to hit. When we came to a grinding halt and the car stopped Narda discovered she could restart the car and went off chasing the truck that hit us. I could not believe it but of course it is such a Narda thing to do. The back wheel was broken, we were in shock, and we are off. Luckily the truck pulled over and stopped. I took lots of photos and by the time I got out of the car Narda was already standing in front of the driver, ‘what was that?’ she demanded. Fortunately the truckie was a good bloke and rang the police and took full responsibility. He somehow did not see us when he changed lanes and clipped us sending us across a couple of lanes.
Luck was on our side that no one was in our lane or the next one over except for the truck that sent us on our merry way. The interstate was extremely busy and there was just this little break in the traffic when we decided to kiss the wall. And of course we were lucky to have the bloody wall as some places there is no dividing barrier which would have meant we would have been going across the lanes coming toward us too which would have killed us off for sure.
We stood in the sun, 104 degrees, 40+ c, for more than two hours watching the heavy traffic go pass us, waiting for a police then a trooper then a tow truck. Having been in three previous serious accidents and never getting a scratch I wonder what keeps me going. I survived the 1960s, car accidents, marriages and just so much and I am still full of gas – well probably that is not the correct analogy at my age… We rented a fire-truck-red Volkswagen and got our sorry asses back to Atlanta, though still in shock, by that night, Friday.
I said to Narda on Sunday as we boarded a plane to Chicago > Beijing that if we had been killed we would be having burial things done about then. We spent a night in Beijing and went on to Adelaide the following day. I said we had a great chance to re-boot our lives. Maybe we were killed out on the Interstate and now we can re-craft our new lives. It has been a rather liberating feeling – that we had this choice either to be dead meat or to keep on living and embrace every day anew.
At the moment I am writing this in Horsham, Victoria. We left this morning, 26th July, Thursday, and got this far on our way to Melbourne; doing another road trip. This is so different. Whereas driving Atlanta to New Orleans is filled with towns and cities and massive freeways and wild truck drivers; here is not really nothing, there is the outback, which at the moment is quite green due to so much rain of late, single lane each direction roads, with massive trucks – road trains they call them and instead of the single trailer they pull two and even three giving us the feeling that we truly would be cactus if they hit us.
Tomorrow we get to Melbourne and I am excited that my son will stay with us for the weekend, the one that is still alive; the other son visits too often, but in reality he is dead, and his visits freak me out. It is almost nine years ago since he flew from the Dodger’s headquarters in Vero Beach Florida to Sydney and went off of a 15-story hotel balcony when his girlfriend broke up with him. The Dodgers were looking for him and were concerned because he was acting strange the week leading up to then and he left without telling anyone. I had a dream recently that he had pitched a perfect game but of course that is not true at least not in my realm. I have been having dreams for all these years where he is in some sort of trouble and he asks me to help him get back on track to get back into baseball then I wake up and say ‘no you are dead’. I hate those dreams and I get them regularly month after month year after year. It is all so disconcerting.
Then I remember the 1960s and early 1970s in New Orleans when I had nothing and how simple it was. But then again it could be true that we died out on the Interstate a couple of weeks ago and all this is just some wayward thoughts coming through someone else. Just like my son asking me for help and I awake and say but you are dead, we may awake and someone will tell us that we died out on the Interstate. For now, I will go back to Leigh pitching a perfect game, somewhere in the universe; http://neuage.org/leigh.htm the perfect son.
Keeping warm; of course this is Australia and warm is the in thing to be. Like 30C lots and on Sunday – New Year’s Day it will be a mere 40 C (yes 104 Fahrenheit). What is so interesting about that? Well on Tuesday we fly to Harbin China ( now -28C; -18 Fahrenheit – definitely a warm streak compared to what is expect next Tuesday when we arrive) to hang out at the ice festival for a few days before going back to work in warm Dalian which now is -10 a plus 14 Fahrenheit; 18 degrees below freezing. The last couple of weeks in China was interesting with me being a judge at the 10th 21st Century CASIO National Elementary/High School English Speech Competition for Liaoning Province. Of course at 43,746,323 people it is only the 14th most populated province in China but still a lot of folks to choose the best from. What was most amazing was that the contestants spoke perfect English whether 7 or 18 years old. They gave great speeches. The younger ones tended to give speeches about how much they loved their mothers and fathers. The older ones how much they loved China or a great invention they would create. After they gave their 3-4 minute speeches I asked a question that they had to answer. That is when they became unstuck. Most of them did not have a clue of what they had said. If I asked, what have you done lately for your parents or a question about their ‘invention’ they would have no idea what I was saying. Like China they could imitate and copy. It reminds me of my iPhone 5 – it looks like the real thing, if there was an iPhone 5 but it does little. It says 64 gigs on the back but really has like 24 kilobyte memory. Actually I got our real iPhone 4 unlocked yesterday so hopefully that will put me in the real loop next week back in China. Back to the speeches; so there I was on the stage with the winners, “from Australia, professor of speech at universities in the United States and in Australia, Dr. Neuage.” I did this for four weekends and the last one was televised so after five months in China I make it on TV. The whole bloody thing was televised, eight hours of it – not sure who would watch it but in a province of close to 44-million I am sure someone saw it. I am expecting to have a contract for TV appearances when I return next week.
My goal is to be on a sit-com; I would be the silly Yank who thinks he is Australian (well I do have an Australian passport and I am an Australian citizen but just yesterday a woman said to me, ‘oh you are from New York right?’ bloody hell, I am an Australian why can’t people see that?); the foreign English-speaking buffoon. I did get some bright red folder with a document signed by some person of note. It was very cold when we left Dalian on the 17th of December so we were fine being in Melbourne. I enjoyed spending a few days with my son and I am working with him to make a webpage for his music so I am happy about that, keeping me up-to date and even a bit trendy. Narda is all gushy about being a grandmother, I am just happy to be making webpages and preparing my Flash animation classes for two weeks from today. And that is it.
For decades I could not understand why fashion houses were not beating down my door for advice and why Narda for so long has thought (and mentioned) something about my colour coordination not being up to snuff and today my doctor said I was colour-blind. Something about not seeing stuff in the blue-green spectrum. I always thought those two were two shades of gray– blimey.
hardware, software, knowledge of staff, time to learn and integrate more, finding commonality – this can be the largest task; one favours Mac or PC, Android, Ubuntu, Windows, Open Source, Microsoft, Adobe, laptop, Zoom, iPad, Blackberry, Firefox, Opera, Explorer, Open Office, Safari, Flash, and on and on. I have hundreds of programs on my computer, I have hundreds of video servers and web servers. I have highlighted a few that should be useful in a school environment at http://neuage.co/tabor
this is first and foremost with integrating technology.
I have more than fifty I subscribe to (see http://neuage.org for forty or so) and blogs – again I use six main ones and a handful of others I am having a go with to see what may be useful. OK so I was adopted, and I am a Leo with five planets and my MH in Leo but even without those little annoyances I still would be investigating all this so as to be the best educator I can be.
from being in Shanghai last week I know Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and about 25 other services I have tried are not available in China. I will look at building our own in-house social media site as I want to have a webTV service for our school as well as collaborative events available with several schools; St. Luke’s School in NYC definitely wants to be apart of us. Skype education is good for this and I am sure we will find the best way to broadcast and set up a small webTV for our school. I will follow David Truss (http://davidtruss.com) and his blogs as he was the principal of our neighbouring school in Dalian for the past few years though now he seems to have left. But he is very much into integrating technology and having done this in Dalian will give me a lot of guidance.
Each day that I am able to I will jot down what I am exploring/working with. I need to go to Melbourne and collect visas for China and we will be doing family things but most days I should be able to look at useful stuff. I will list each day also what web sites I have followed that day that may or may not influence my thinking in educational technology.
packing a crate to send to China back in NYC then dragging five overweight suitcases to Adelaide and now dwindling that down to one suitcase each to take to Dalian that I have not had much time to work on this. Plus getting renters settled in three houses; two in New York and the other in New Jersey. And of course we have to go through a shed of our stuff here. We went to New York for a two year working period and to look after my father who in his middle 90s was getting old but he lived to 102 and we stayed in New York for nine years. Now the shed of our stuff in Australia is in pretty bad shape and all that has to be sorted out but there will be time to blog on setting up technology for China.
started this tech educational blog for China (http://drupal.neuage.us) though I will post it elsewhere probably. Going though the new Fireworks 5.1 to see changes. DAIS has Adobe CS4 but I want to do e-books (like my tofu e-book – see http;//tofu.neuage.us) and teach this to others and inDesign CS5.5, just released, should be useful for this. But today it is Fireworks I am working with and Dreamweaver CS5.5 and reading David Truss’ blogs to get familiar with Dalian.
Now I am really really upset with China Eastern. It is not bad enough they have the worst food of any airline I have ever been on (and I have been flying internationally for 40 years with many airlines). As we are leaving the States for good (except for our three houses there which somehow keeps us attached) and moving way too much stuff to China and storing way too much in Australia for someday when we are settled in one place we have five overweight suitcases and several carry-on bags with us, I thought putting Leigh’s ashes into my checked-in luggage would be fine. Not only did they break open the box to see what was inside (there is a label on the box clearly stating “the remains of…”) but the box, which had also been inside a plastic bag, was left to spill all over my clothes and other articles. Since Leigh died in 2003, throwing away a successful career as a LA Dodgers’ pitcher for a girl, I have had his ashes with me. I was bringing them back to Adelaide with the thought of someday putting them somewhere. It is a traumatic thing to begin with now China Eastern has made my life a bit more difficult. Sacha has some ashes too and he does not know what to do with them. For now they are in his recording studio because he too wants to keep Leigh nearby.
It is so cold in Melbourne, a rainy winter storm night. A few days ago it was 98 degrees in New York City now I realise my winter clothes are in storage on a dock waiting to be shipped to China.
It is five AM, Narda is happily asleep probably dreaming of someplace warm and I am wide awake, shivering (they do not have central heating in houses in Australia) thinking it is 5.00 PM the evening before this morning. ‘Hey body clock get with the program.’ But it is great being here. From 1980 to 2002 Australia was home. I was poor with two children in tow those years. I am still poor but I get to fly around now instead of taking buses. So much has changed but decades changes everyone. Back in the 1980s I had a tenth grade education (that is why my syntax is still budget often); then for some strange reason at 43 years old, that would be 1991, I thought I would try and educate myself as it was obvious I was not going to become a well loved, sought after poet with no learnin’. I applied for, tested for, was accepted for a BA program at Deakin University in Melbourne. I thought, sure, easy, two kids, a failed tofu business, almost homeless, I can get a degree. Well I worked really hard and four years later I had a BA in literature and journalism. Then I thought, hey maybe I am smart and capable and applied to do an Honours degree, did that, and went for a Masters, did that and went for a PhD, which almost killed me and took seven years on two continents, but after 14 years I had gone from a tenth grade drop out to a doctor something. So I taught at university in Adelaide and then in New York then became a high school computer teacher then a middle school computer teacher then a primary school computer teacher and then it seems I was too old for any school in the States to want me so I went and got my teacher’s certificate from Darwin University. I did that off-campus whilst living in NYC watching Narda go off to work everyday, teaching. I did my ten-week practicum at Torrens Valley Christian School in Adelaide last July – September and lived upstairs from Narda’s parents whilst she was happily teaching in NYC. Got the teaching degree then got hired by Dalian American International School, Dalian China to be the middle school computer teacher and technology integrator. I am so excited. And sitting here, shivering in the dark, so as not to wake Narda, not even 24 hours back in Australia I realise what an interesting trip this has been. Not sure why I never did well with schooling in the States and Australia I do so much. Perhaps it is because my Mercury passes through Adelaide, like if that matters.
I suppose I am not a Yank anymore. After fleeing the States of the past 9 years I am totally using my Aussie passport. Lived here 22 years, and the States 41 years but now my China work visa says Aussie. ‘Hey World I’m OK.” Yet everyone says I sound like a Yank. Just don’t get it.
Sacha is doing so well, so maybe a little bit of my parenting rubbed off. His new DVD is so good but of course it seems everyone is doing a new DVD (except me – I am just writing an e-book on tofu – tofu.neuage.us). And yes Facebook/Twitter/youtube was blocked in China but it seems my blog links show up in Twitter and Facebook even if I don’t see them in China.
This is our second home in airbnb. In Harlem we lived for 17 days in Penny’s pad, we learned a -lot about her from her photos and poems all over the walls. In Melbourne we are at Imogen Manins’ studiom http://elwoodstudio.com.au/ which is only a few blocks from Sacha’s house. From the posters on the wall we learn that Imogen, http://www.imogenmanins.com/about.htm, is a cellist with lots of awards.
Staying in airbnb places http://www.airbnb.com/ is so much better than hotel rooms.
Now it is 6.30 AM, still dark outside, mid-winter and all, and I am ready to go back to bed. But I am starving and all we have is a loaf of bread. See I am wealthy.