Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaj-ji) was asked: how to serve god? He answered, "Feed people." Abraham Maslow talked about the necessity of taking care of our basic human needs before we are able to think about more esoteric things.
Here in LA, Union Station Homeless Services feeds people. The Sally, as we called it when I was working with the homeless, feeds more. Churches and food banks try their best. None of these are enough to care for the entire, dreadful weight of homeless people in our country, let alone the entire world. This Thanksgiving, serve people: go volunteer at the shelter or work at a food bank, or help out at a church supper and take a friend or a child along with you.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I was 15, and had
The whole story would basically frighten the crap out of any reasonable person, let alone a parent, and for the most part I kept my worst stupidities from my parents (like sleeping under a bench in the port of Piraeus so that I wouldn't miss the boat in the morning, with no-one keeping watch), but eventually I arrived in Mykonos, quickly made friends with a dozen Berkeley grads on break, and settled into one of the best times of my life. (I did make SOME attempt to keep my folks informed of where I was and that I was OK; I wasn't a complete jerk, just 15 and incredibly self-centered.)
Anyway, after about a week on the main beaches, we decided to move to a more remote area, mostly to get away from the incredible tourist crowds that plague the islands. And so we found a beach around the side of the island, and hung out together, singing at night to the same 15-20 songs, which were all we knew on the guitar, cooking and swimming and just, you'll have to excuse the expression but it really does capture it for me, grooving.
Eventually, we got hungry for something more substantial than the vegetables we were buying from the local farmers, and headed into town for dinner and retsina. None of us had much money, so we looked around until we found a taverna with reasonable prices, and the 12 of us settled down with a couple of bottles of resin wine and some appetizers, and considered the menu. To our side, a spit turned, the lamb on it roasting gently and the smell of the dripping fat and the herbs just captivated us (we had been vegetarians by necessity, not commitment.) As we started to order, it became clear that we were all going to order lamb, and finally the proprietor asked us it we just wanted the whole thing? He'd make us a deal. Oh, yes, please kind sir, you don't have to offer twice...
He covered the table with butcher's paper, and he and a helper lifted the lamb from the fire, and slid the entire carcass off the spit, onto the table. A sound of orgasmic moaning came from 12 throats, and 24 hands began to slice small pieces off the edges of the meat, a process that rapidly became 24 hands tearing chunks of cooked flesh from a rapidly decreasing carcass. I have no idea what we looked like (starving wolves?), but we didn't care. The owner kept our glasses full of wine and water, and handed out paper towels and we ate, and ate, and ate.
Eventually the frenzy died down, and after some final picking at what was by now the skeleton of a lamb, we paid up and staggered off into the night.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Anyway, along about July 1980, I was on my back to India for a second, hopefully longer visit. (Yes, I know I haven't told you about the first visit. Patience, young padawans.) I met my dad in Rome, where he was living at the time, and he took me around to meet some of his friends, one of whom had a rather fetching young daughter, S. We hit it off and spent the next few days touring Rome (where I had grown up in the late 60's, but it had changed in many ways, so guiding was important) and meeting her friends and extended family, culminating in a big family Sunday lunch out in the country. If you ever saw "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding", you know what sort of gathering I'm talking about: 40+ people, a table from here to there packed with food and drink and the whole thing happening at top volume and high speed.
My Italian is pretty good, and I was able, for the most part, to keep up my end of the conversations, asking vocab questions as needed, letting the older folks correct my grammar when it wandered into slang and generally relaxing and enjoying the wine and food. Especially the wine. I knew enough not to drink the homemade brews casually (they are often closer to 20% than 12%), but I was still feeling a bit light-headed as the chaos diminished along with the food. Finally, we were all at that point where you are looking at a particularly lovely piece of dessert or fruit and thinking it might just be too much trouble to raise your arm to put it in your mouth, when one of the Nonni (Grandparents) asked me what I did in America?
Well, the last real job I had held before my initial Indian excursion that I was willing to talk about (I had no idea how to say "Aircraft fueller" or "Drywall carrier" in Italian, so they were out), was working at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, CA. So, that's what I said, in Italian, "I worked in a casino."
There was a moment of shocked silence, and then stiffled laughter and sideways glances from the men, and blushes and giggles from the women. I had no clue what I had just said, and trying to fill the silence, I added, "I quit because working all night was too hard."
More choking and sputtering. I turned to S., who was trying her damnest not to burst, and said, "What did I say?"
S took a few deep breaths, and then said, still in Italian, "A gambling hall is a cah-see-NO. The way you pronounced casino (cah-SEEN-oh) means bordello." She had to stop again, as I contemplated how I could maybe disappear under the table. And then, getting hold of herself, "And then you said the night work was too hard!" and at that, all decorum was lost, and the nonnis and the bapus and the mothers and the kids were shrieking with laughter and making jokes and it all went to hell and we had a great time.
So when my little one asks about Brazilian Blow-Jobs instead of Blow-Outs, or for a bathing suit instead of a suitcase, or for me to pass her a condom instead of a condiment, I smile and think that she is certainly my child, all the way.
So, one detail that the sharp-eyed readers have noticed is that each house could be completely self-contained for electricity (solar/wind), waste (septic/compost) and water (well). True, but this makes the space each house needs much greater, and severely restricts where you can put 3000+ people! A three-bedroom house (septic is calculated from the number of bedrooms, not baths) needs approximately 1/4 acre of drainage, more if the soil doesn't drain well, and even more if it freezes. Septic zoning in upstate NY (say, Lake Placid) is minimum 1/2 acre leech field per 3 bedrooms, for example. And you need an oversize septic tank for when the ground is solid, which has to be pumped regularly. Meaning roads have to accommodate septic trucks (low grade and maintained) and, of course, this septic waste has to go somewhere. Who is going to take it? The problem is magnified for common buildings like meeting halls and for restaurants and businesses.
Solar is great, if somewhat spendy to set up, IF you get enough sun. Wind, ditto. And your well needs to be deep enough not to become contaminated by the septic system. (I've worked on a well-drilling rig, and I would like the contract for GBstan if he gets that far. Cash only, paid up front, per 1000 feet.) You will also need water storage for fire fighting, usually a pond or lake. (We're going to meet this again in governance.) And the thought of all the Tea Party wives trying to convince their husbands to sort, recycle and compost makes me smile. It's like they are re-creating the hippy communes of the '70s - anyone remember the Farm in Tennessee?
Anyway, you still need roads. Can't get away from that.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
(When you Google it, you'll get all sorts of interesting things, especially if you use the Oregonian for a source. You should know that my experience of being there and in the middle of the whole thing didn't match what they report in many, many significant ways, and they got most of the details wrong, too. Such is life.)
Anyway, without going into the rights and wrongs of what we did there, let me just say having built a city, I know that it is not an easy nor a simple task. It took hundreds to thousands of dedicated people years to build the infrastructure and systems, and it will be no different for GB, if and when he does something other than create a Ponzi scheme. Let's take a look at what's ahead for ol' Glenn and for the Citadel, too, while we're at it.
First, building a city boils down to 2 main areas: infrastructure (the easy part) and governance (the hard part). Let's take a look at the easy one first, since that only takes shit-loads of money. The physical plant is basically six things: Electricity, sewage and garbage disposal, roads, fire department and water. For 3500-5000 people, you can manage well with a volunteer FD if someone buys the trucks and gear, but the rest is actually quite extensive. Let's take them in order:
Electrical: You need a good size substation for this place, and the power company will not bring one in for free. Nor will it run the lines to power the substation without a contract specifying just what you are going to need (plans, distribution network etc.) So you need someone to negotiate who has the power to make contracts and lawyers to make sure you aren't signing something you shouldn't (whoops, we're into governance already. Well, we'll get back to it.) A medium-sized substation in the 80's cost around $300,000 in direct costs (the actual transformers, etc, a subsidized amount based on the power we were contracting to buy from them), but the contract we signed was for $5.5 million over 10 years, for them to bring the juice in 2.5 miles from the nearest accessible hook-in point. Then another $150,000 to set up the substation and more when we were ready to have them hook it up to our own poles. We had to run good-size power lines to every significant location, so that was about 200 poles; a crew was still working on that when we shut down, 4 years later. And we had a minimum monthly bill, etc.
Sewer: we built our own sewage treatment lagoons, up to spec for the times; they are much pickier now and so more expensive. You need to plan ahead for this, as you don't want to either have to dig up the sewage lines nor expand the treatment plant until you absolutely have to. Every house will eventually need to be connected, so you need a master plan (governance again!) You'll need a landfill and trucks to collect garbage, and your neighbors aren't going to accept your unsorted trash unless you want to pay them to sort it (free market, yes?) You need trash cans and compactors and lift stations for the sewage (there's always a low point in the system, and it can't be your lagoons or they will fill with rain water. So you need to pump the sludge UP to the treatment plant. Who wants to volunteer to clean the lift station every three months or so? And let all the women know that flushing tampons is a no-no. Ooops, a rule. Or, free market, make all tampons registered, so you will now who flushed it. I'd rather register my guns, thank you. I had to clean that thing a couple of times.) Anyway, this stuff costs real money, and your neighbors aren't taking your sewage either.
Next, roads: where they go (governance), and what they are made of (money). Try not to need blasting, as it is expensive to get good people and more expensive to fix the damage from the ignorant (not speaking from experience or anything, nuh-uh not me.) Anyway, you need lots of roads and you need to keep them repaired. Graders, bulldozers, excavators, concrete for curbs and sidewalks (do you have sidewalks? Governance!), pavers, oil truck, diesel fuel trucks, more repair people, etc.
Last, but certainly not least, water: A source of clean water, a treatment plant, and miles of big pipes, just to get to the street where you live. Do you need a water tower?
So by this time, I think I've made my point: it takes a lot of time and money to actually just build the infrastructure. And that, if you haven't noticed, is only to have it exists, not to bring it to your house, but just to have the basics in place so that you could hook up if you wanted to. How you get the services to your house/bungalow/apartment building is another thing entirely, as is the question of what you can build.
But the bigger questions are: Who pays for all this infrastructure, who owns it and how do they get repaid for their outlay? Who decides when the services are at capacity? Who decides how much sewerage you need for a 2 bedroom? We'll get to that next.
Monday, December 31, 2012
I was reading about John Travolta and his wife Kelly,and how they lost their son to a seizure, and John described the feeling as being covered by a wet blanket. I know how that is. For most of the first year after Alysia's death, I oscillated between numbness and exquisite pain, pain that was actually physical as well as emotional. I described it as, "feeling like my skin was going to split open and peel off." It is a common theme among parents that the absence of their child is felt throughout their body as well as in their hearts. And the pendulum swing to numbness isn't actually any better, though it is less painful: being absent from those you love and who would reach out to you brings feelings of guilt and despair. You would like to be comforted, but all the attempts do is highlight what you have lost. The natural result is to push away the out-reaching hand, which then leads to more loneliness and guilt. It is a death-spiral of emotions.
A commenter on a friend's blog mentioned a friend who had lost a child and that 5 years later, he was still in the fog. That fog is the result of emotional overload, combined with a complete loss of life direction. When you lose a child, all the things you had planned, consciously and not, are blown up. And it is not clear at first, and maybe not for a long time, just how deeply committed you were to the direction you thought your life was going. I re-wrote some of the lines from "American Pie" in the months following Alysia's death:
"And the three things we had hoped to see,
College, a marriage and a grand-baby
We realized were not to be,
the day Alysia died."
Not Grammy material, I grant you, but an indicator of the direction we had planned. Would we have been willing for her to change? Of course. But that doesn't change the reality that we HAD the plans, and our lives were thrown into turmoil and we felt ungrounded, adrift. That feeling is a big part of the fog, because you suddenly don't know what to count on. Never mind that it was all made up in the first place, it was a plan. And we do have plans for our kids, don't we? Even if we are enlightened enough as parents to say to them, "Find your passion", we still think we know what's best or at least what will work well for them. And by extension, that means for ourselves as well. Their lives help define ours, and when they leave, we are left rudderless for a time, longer or shorter. Recently, I was looking at our granny unit, (we call it the cottage) which is where Alysia and Sean had stayed when they came home. We redid it last year, took it down to the studs and rebuilt it, and it is beautiful. But I was suddenly struck by the fact that the kids would never stay there, and the grief burst over me: who was I doing this for, now? Why should I bother? And it took quite a while before I could think that maybe I could do it for myself. That's how deep it runs.
When parents don't speak about this, when they don't acknowledge with each other the degree to which they feel that they have lost their purpose, they drift apart. It seems to me to be why so many marriages break up following the loss of a child: the parents don't realize that they need to reaffirm their commitment to each other and to the family direction, and so they head off in different directions. This is exacerbated by the differing grieving styles that men and women often have: men moving outside, and women going within. As usual, Frost was there first, in the poem "Home Burial", where the wife berates the husband for cleaning the shovel he has just used to bury their child, and he in turn chides her for not facing life going forward. He thinks he's just doing his duty and then going on, and she understands that the ship has hit an iceberg and needs the captains to direct the action. But he just sees it as more talking, because it hits deeply into his view of himself as the leader, the patriarch, for his family to be directionless.
Most of the books we read about dealing with the loss of a child focus on the distinct style difference in grieving between men and women. But from a spiritual perspective, men and women are the same, and the soul cries the same way regardless of the body it is attached to. Focusing on our spiritual selves, meant that we could leave the notion of "What are we going to DO?" out of the conversation, as the answer for us is something to the effect that we are not directed to a single end point, we are here to work on ourselves in whatever way presents itself. And if that way is to learn about grief, then so be it. It is true that 5 minutes later, we wept again and were bereft and distraught and caught up in the crap, but those few minutes gave us common ground to work with, and so we never were seriously in danger of splitting the family. There were, however, some windows and a camera that bore the brunt of our grief, and still now, more than 2 years later, I can be caught by an upwelling of emotion that can really flare into anger and lashing out at the physical world.
Another thing that our practice has given us is ownership of our own feelings. When one of us was really in the pits, the other doesn't try to jolly them out, or make them wrong, or any of the other ways of not dealing with our own pain that we know. When we are sad, we're sad. Happy, happy. No explanation needed nor asked for, and so no defensiveness and no separation. But it took vast amounts of energy to make this work, energy that we had precious little of. I now know why that during the first weeks, while other members of my family and friends tried to comfort us, we could not accept their help. Never mind that it was in fact a way for them to ask us to help them as well, we could neither accept help nor give anything to them, and I know we hurt some people tremendously. People do not know how to deal with their own deep emotions, let alone anyone else's, unless they have examined their own issues around death and dying, and we were no different except that we knew we could not spend any energy helping other folks to deal with their issues around my daughter's death, having gone through it with our older son not 3 years before. My sister asked my why we couldn't get together to commiserate, and I pointed out that the word means "to be miserable together", which I couldn't do. Her misery, coming from both her love for my daughter and for me and my family, as well as her guilt around Alysia, was too much for me to deal with. There were other friends and family that Joy and I also had to push them away, as their expectation was that we would all grieve together and that we would help them heal. But Joy and I couldn't spare the few clear moments for anyone but our younger daughter and our son, and ourselves. It was very selfish, and, I believe, totally appropriate.
But, as I am fond of saying, we have freedom of choice, not freedom from consequences. And so we find ourselves without some of the friends we used to be close to, a collateral damage that none of us could have foreseen. And that is another layer of sadness. I hope that we can recover together, though I know that there is no stepping twice into the same river.
(I put this in drafts back in May and didn't publish it for some reason, but yesterday was the 5th anniversary of his death, and I want him to know how I felt.)
Hey Sean, it's Yogi. Man, I hope you're doing OK, wherever you are and what ever you're doing. We got some bad news today: Jamie Rodriquez passed yesterday or today. Sucks big time, I know. You and he were so close and he really never got over your death, even though a lot of people tried to help. Kind of like Alysia, but more out front, I think. She really took it hard that you two didn't reconcile: she kept waiting for you to reach out to her, and I couldn't help her see that you really couldn't do it, but that if she would, you would meet her. But your sense of manhood wouldn't let that happen and that's too bad too. Anyway, the better news is that the family is doing pretty well. We miss you, of course, especially your Mom and Michael. He's growing up to be a good man, even though he's still got some ways to go to get out of the holes he's dug for himself. But mostly he's just getting by, he's got a girlfriend and we're helping when we can and when it's appropriate. Mom is still pretty broken up about your and Alysia's deaths. So close together just whacked her hard, and it still creeps up on her pretty often. We wonder what would have happened if you were still here, and of course she has her "If only"s and "Why did I?"s, like you'd expect, and just like I do. I don't think we know the real story of your death, and I doubt we ever will. I don't entirely believe the trial testimony: there are holes in the narrative, and some explanations missing. But that's done now, and we have now to deal with, right? You always did live for the moment, and for the people around you, even if it did piss off your parents, the courts and anyone else. You were always your own person. Alysia saw that in you, and tried to emulate it sometimes. You both has such big hearts. And such little care for consequences! I try not to be too angry with the two of you, but sometimes it just guts me that you both could risk everything without any qualms, or considerations of what might result. And boy, did we all pay for that.
Anyway, your girls are fine, I believe. We talked to the oldest, H, a few times in the last year. She wants to go to private culinary school and then open a B&B, at 18. We're trying to work with her, but she wants what she wants, and won't hear that there might be another way. Sound familiar? Your ex is still just as she has always been, so we don't speak. Maybe one day she'll figure things out, apologize and try to make amends, but I won't hold my breath. We are going to help H with college, and the others as well when they get older. We're up in Sacramento, tomorrow we're going to pick up a new puppy for Aliana and then drive home. We had dinner with K and a friend of hers and another friend of Mom's, and now we're back at the hotel, getting ready to hit the sack. But I wanted to wish you a happy birthday before I went to bed, so here it is. I love you, son. I hope you've always known that. Your other step-dad, Yogi
"Umm, yeah, a little bit. (hack cough choke) Why, honey?"
"Well, one of the teachers asked me what the problem was with my leg, and I said nothing much, but that I was a little kinky. And she got this really funny look on her face!"
"Uh, did you mean you had a kink in your leg?"
"Uh, huh. Isn't that what I said?"
Too much fun.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Even after losing the kids, both my Love and I feel that we are luckier than we have any right to be. Financially stable, relationshiply stable, 2 loving kids, grandkids, family and friends, we are unbelievably grateful for the life we have. A lot goes on, weirdnesses abound, people are people even (and maybe especially) when you're related to them, but we sail on. I can work up some serious complaints from time to time, but they are really just mostly noise, with a good helping of butthurt.
So I want to take this father's day to thank my kids, my wife, my parents, my family and my friends. I have the life I have in part because of each of you. I learn and grow because of you. (Yes, even you, you lurker. Call me, we'll have coffee.) Yes, I get arrogant. Yes, I can be unbearable. But even at my worst, I do remember that I love you, and sometimes even like you, and that keeps me from becoming SO totally insufferable that you never speak to me again. (Which would be a shame: I have so much to tell you! :-))
So, to my kids, I thank you for trusting me to advise you and sometimes even guide you. More to the left, dammit! The other left!
To my beloved, thank you for putting up with my noise and nonsense, and for believing even more than I do that on this funny path we tread, it is better together.
To my parents, all 3 of you, thank you for demonstrating how not to. Seriously, parenting wasn't any of your strong suits. But your love always came through and now I know how difficult a difficult child can be, and I have lost my illusions that I was anything but a really tough kid to raise. I like to think I was worth it though, and since you're all gone, I get to keep my
Brothers and sisters, thank you for being endlessly entertaining especially when that wasn't your intention. Thank you for reaching out to us when we were drowning. You have no idea how important you were and still are to us both.
Friends, both online and in person, thank you for being there. Sometimes I feel like I need to reach out to someone I'm not completely involved with, just because it is so much less drama. And the comments and letters mean a lot. Santa Monica girls, you are the awesome sauce of my life.
A special thank you from the bottom of my heart to my Other Daughter. Alysia's love shines through you to us, and I cannot think of what it would have been like to live these last 2 years without you and your strength. You lost your whole future in that moment, and have recovered while reaching out to help us. I cannot thank you enough. Know that I love you dearly.
What's next? We're heading off to NY, to the Adirondacks for few weeks. I have some thoughts about grief and grieving and about relationships I'd like to get down. We'll see what I can get to, between waterskiing, fishing, cooking, boating, jigsaw puzzles, Mexican Train, and assorted lazing around. (Quit bragging, Yogi.)
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The man, being then as now a romantic to the core, decided that he would be the "man of the family" and although he was only 7, he set out to do this. but the other members of the family weren't so sure about having a little boy (as they called him, not unfairly) run the show. So they made fun of him, not un-nicely, and ignored him when he tried to run things. This made him mad, especially when he could see that he was right and they were wrong.
The mother, who was pretty as well as well-off, found herself wanting to get away from the confines of her home in the country-side and moved the family to the big city, where her head was turned by many suitors, but none so much as the young italian man who looked at her as if she was the moon, sun and stars, and talked wildly of Art, and Passion, and Love. They were married, and the young man, who very much liked his new "father", sang at their wedding.
Alas, the Grand Love of the Mother and new Father burnt brightly but short and in only a few years, the young man's family was once again broken. The parents fought and made up, over and again for many years, until eventually they became great friends. The not-so-young man was grateful for this, as he loved them both, even as he thought them completely insane.
The not-so-young man grew into a man, and found Love for himself. Interestingly, his Love came with two children, both teens. And the man felt his love grow to encompass the two young men, as well as a grandchild that he and his Love adopted as their own, and eventually another adopted child. And through all the trials and tribulations of raising a family, he read a singular book to the children, younger and older alike. And to his first adopted daughter, he would say, "I love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." And then he would say, "No matter what. Period. End of story." And she would hug him and then do the most annoying things a child or a young girl could possibly do
And sometimes the man wasn't nice, but mostly he was, and he would always tell her and himself, "I'll love you forever..." even when the words stuck in his craw after some particularly egregious behavior. Because he was and is a romantic to the bone, and he wanted his daughter to be able to boast that HER dad loved her in spite of her behavior. Which he did and so did she.
And the man read the story to all his children, and promised them to love them forever. And he did, even when the oldest boy was sent to jail, even when his heart felt torn between wanting to hug the children or beat them, even when the eldest daughter said unspeakable things and wreaked havoc on the family. And eventually things got better, and wounds healed and the father and the daughter and the son and the Parents all were very happy and nice and sometimes thoughtful and sometimes crazy but things were better for a year.
One freaking year. If you'll excuse the plagiarism, 525,600 minutes, more or less, maybe 16 months total. And on New Year's Eve, the man and his Love got the phone call no parent ever wants to hear. And they buried the older son, and the Love's light dimmed, like a sun behind a cloud. And the man tried to understand and be a loving father and partner and care for the rest of the family, in particular the eldest daughter who was the child of the oldest son, who he and his Love had adopted, who had wanted to reconcile with her biological father, but hadn't quite. And after two years, his Love's light began to brighten and he basked again in the warmth.
And as his Love's light shone again, his relationships with his surviving children did too. HIs son, eldest daughter and younger daughter all loved and cared for each other, and help each other through more trials, but few tribulations. And the eldest daughter found a deep love and the son adopted a half-brother of the eldest daughter (are you keeping track? there will be a quiz soon) and the man and his Love were very happy. And the Parents were there for some birthdays, and sent cards for others and in general all was good.
And as the eldest daughter's partner was graduating, a party was held and the daughter and her partner went to the party and beautiful pictures were taken and sent and the man saw his daughter's picture from 5 minutes before the party, and the daughter promised to call when it was over. But many drinks were had, too many, and harsh words were exchanged and feelings were hurt, but eventually eldest daughter was tucked back into bed by friends of the partner.
But the hurt struck the eldest daughter deep, and she feared losing her beloved partner, and so she found her car and drove to find her partner and she lost control and the man and his wife were woken at 3 AM by the sheriff's deputy and the nightmare began again.
And this time the man understood deep in his bones what he had not understood before: that the loss of a child who you have nurtured is like tearing the skin from your heart.
And at the memorial, he said to his daughter, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." And he wept.
And the Parents saw the man's anguish and came to his side and tried to comfort him and generally acted better than they ever had, and the man found comfort in his deeper relationships with the Parents. And some wounds were healed and fences mended and the Parents and the man and his Love and their son and daughter pressed on, though more t 'n' t lay ahead.
And even when the Parents died and more family, and things were just the shits, the man and his Love said to their children (and to each other), "I'll love you forever..." even though sometimes they couldn't say the words aloud.
And the story ends (or doesn't, really) here. But when my Love or my children read this, they will know:
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, my babies you'll be."
Because I"m still the romantic who said, when he was just seven years old, "I'll take care of you. Don't worry." And I still mean it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
"Think of cool nights breezes while you walk to meet your friends for a beer on a Thursday. Think of waking up in flannel sheets on a snowy morning and kissing someone you love. Think of hung-over diner breakfasts and the best cup of coffee in the world. Think of the sound of tires on seamed highways while you travel, think of French kissing and leather jackets and push-up bras and bourbon, think of the joy of hard work with friends. Then think of me.
"Not sad, not the melancholy solitude of empty skies, but the full days and crowded bars and signed contracts, a smile too big for my face, remember I said I stay busy enough to fit three lives into one. When you hear that I have died, know that I want laughter, and dancing, real dancing, to music that makes you move with out thinking, you’re wearing boots and jeans and a great t-shirt and wondering if the girl at the edge thinks you’re cute. And you motherfuckers had best DANCE, none of this bullshit rock-nod hands-in-the-pockets shoegazer nonsense. No, make an ass out of yourself, feel your hips, kick off the high heels and sway on the shoulder of a stranger. When I die, you’d better be laughing your ass off on sidewalks, eating deliciously unhealthy food, drinking shots and tipping your bartender well no matter how much money you make.
"When you hear that I have died, the best thing you can do is to get laid that night with a comfortable stranger, use my story to get their sympathy, and when you kiss them for the first time, think of me then.
"When you hear that I have died, and you will, remember your best revenge is to live well, take risks, save up money and chase your perfect happiness. Beat the system and learn to make your art really support you, craft into something your audience can’t live without. Then make the world an even slightly better place ― stop throwing your cigarettes on the ground, vote in the next election, graffiti your life on the eyes of the hungry.
"Then just do me one last favor. Please. Love some thing. Anything. Start with your self, but find passion in everything, from an apple pie to a novel, make a family, get a degree, walk what ever path is yours with your chin up and feet planted firmly. Have the best stories to tell in the old folk’s home, about life long friendships and epic love affairs, about the time you lost every thing and yet found yourself happier than when you began.. and remember that time we got in SO much trouble...
"Poets, remember: This is the story that never ends. When one of us leaves, another walks through the door. The pages turn, the sun keeps rising. All you can do in the meanwhile...is to speak for yourself. Raise your voice high, tell your story, join hands against the dark and sing our souls to the sky. Know the best in me comes from the best in you, that as you tell your story, you will be telling mine, and our lives will be linked together for ever, and every one who hears you will become a part of the change we make.
"So when you hear that I have died...
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
If you can sit at a lunch counter with your spouse and not be ridiculed, and I am forbidden to speak about it on pain of a beating, we do not have equal rights, you have special rights.
If you can go to school without being mugged for the way you dress or speak and I can't, we aren't equal.
If your taxes are calculated by averaging your spouse's pay with yours, and by law mine cannot be, we are not equal.
If you can get married by signing a piece of paper, and I have to pass a law to live unmolested with my chosen partner, you have special rights, not me.
If you can go to the hospital, and decide on the treatment for your spouse because you are of the opposite gender from them, you have special rights, not me.
If you demand that we let you keep your special rights, by calling our demand for equality a "Special Right", then you are blind, and mean-spirited, not me.
If you try to keep us from having equality, by hiding your mean-spirited behavior behind a religious curtain, you are a hypocrite when you claim that we are looking for special rights, because in fact you are seeking nothing less than special consideration of your religious beliefs.
Every human being, gay, straight, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, undecided, decline-to-state, every single human being on this planet deserves nothing less than legal equality. And nothing more. This world is too damn tough to have to fight each other just to have one's basic rights not be limited. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" is not empty rhetoric, but the reality that this country was founded on, the first country in the world founded so.
For those who believe that allowing others to behave in ways that they disagree with will result in the destruction of society, I cannot tell you how intensely I desire the destruction of that "society." When my friends, my children, my family are attacked because of who they love, and you stand there and give your approval, it's time for your way of life to end.
I grew up surrounded by men and women with same-sex and opposite-sex partners. They were and are my family. I cannot fathom the hatred and sheer meanness of a group of people in Washington State and California who would deny their fellow humans the right to have the family of their choice, and still describe themselves as having "pro-family values." I know it is a dog-whistle for right-wing christianity, but I cannot wrap my head around it. How small must your heart be to do this?
In a couple of weeks, I am going to visit a dear friend in the heart of Michelle Bachman territory. Recently, several gay teenage children have committed suicide in a suburb close to where I'll be. (It's in the current Rolling Stone, if you have the stomach for it.) Part of my work is to make sure that the GBLT and questioning teens I meet know that there are adults who will protect them, unlike the cowardly teachers and administration of their schools, who piously defended their inactions. I don't seek confrontation, but I will not back away from it.
|Ana & Tucker|
|Oliver & Tucker|
|Tucker, Bella & Oliver|
|His favorite resting spot: we call it, "monorail dog." |
He would sometimes patrol the patio by walking back and forth along the wall.
Wallaby's Smokin' Tucker
9/2007 - 1/2012
May you chase and catch all the balls your big, furry heart desires.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Let's start with a couple of photos of the Good Ship s/v Susanna.
That's her, in the foreground. There's another boat right behind her, with a green and white spinnaker, named Gentian. We're in the Deer Isle Thorofare, in Maine. We're winning. :-)
In harbor, near Camden, ME.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
So, a week from Sunday, 1/2 the country will eat itself into a coma, while watching grown men hurl themselves around a field. I will be one of them, rooting with my wife for the Giants :-)
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The basic idea is that you should wait to buy a new product until just before the new one comes out, thereby saving yourself some money. It apparently has never occurred to this fool that if everyone did that, there would be no new products.
And he proudly calls himself Aristotle. Un-fucking-believable.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
From Roger Knapp's "Jokes of the Past Weeks":A newly discovered chapter in the Book of Genesis has provided the answer to "Where do pets come from?" Adam and Eve said, "Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you anymore. We are lonesome here and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us." And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves."
And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal."
Go on, go to Roger's site to read the rest. You didn't think I'd spoil the ending, did you?
Love and laugh's to all.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuscan Chicken and Sausage Stew.
Feeds 4-8, takes a couple of hours, including cooking time. Great with garlic bread, side salad, etc.
1 cup diced shallots
4 cloves garlic
1 15-oz can cannellini or Great Northern white beans
1 whole chicken, cut up, or 8 chicken thighs, skin removed if desired
1/2 - 1 pound italian sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
1-1 1/2 cups dried small pasta, aciuge di pepe or orzo or similar
3 TBS olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes to taste (Aleppo pepper works well, too)
1 tsp dried italian seasoning, or Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset
3 TBS tomato paste (about 1/2 little can)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes, or 1/2 large can of peeled tomatoes in sauce, chopped
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 small head bok choy, or small head escarole, or 4 cups baby spinach, trimmed and chopped into bite-size pieces, optional.
1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 300〫
Season chicken with salt and pepper, then brown in a large pan or dutch oven with olive oil, in batches if necessary. Remove to a platter, cover. Brown sausage in same pan, breaking up as little as possible. Add to chicken platter.
Reduce heat to medium, add shallots, garlic, red pepper and herbs; cook, stirring until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until brick red, about 1-2 minutes. Add wine and deglaze pan, then cook until reduced to syrupy texture.
Add beans, tomatoes and chicken broth, bring to boil. Return chicken and sausage to pan, with all accumulated juices. Put pan in oven, cook 45 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked. (Or cook on stovetop 20-30 minutes.) You may need to skim fat from the pan at this point.
Add pasta, and cook on stovetop until pasta is done, adding broth or water as necessary. Add greens if using, and heat through, about 4-5 minutes. Ladle into bowls, and top with cheese.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
How do I answer such an innocuous question?
Often, I can't . Or sometimes I just start crying. Which is really difficult for people in the grocery store, who think they're being nice (which they are: they have no idea what a can of worms they're opening.)
Sometimes I answer, "I have 2 living children." Which is just begging for a question I don't really (or really don't) want to answer. Sometimes I ignore it, and answer something else. Sometimes I pretend I never buried 2 kids, and answer "Two", which leaves me feeling like Judas.
6 months after Alysia died, I found an old friend online. When he asked me about kids, I couldn't answer. A year has gone by. Now what do I say when I try again to reconnect?
Four. I fucking well have four kids. Just because you can't see two of them, doesn't mean they're not there.
But I still don't know how to answer.
Monday, November 14, 2011
"There will now be a decade or more of criminal trials, and perhaps a quarter-century or more of civil actions, as a result of what went on at Penn State. These things cannot be prayed away. Let us hear nothing about "closure" or about "moving on." And God help us, let us not hear a single mumbling word about how football can help the university "heal." (Lord, let the Alamo Bowl be an instrument of your peace.) This wound should be left open and gaping and raw until the very last of the children that Jerry Sandusky is accused of raping somehow gets whatever modicum of peace and retribution can possibly be granted to him. This wound should be left open and gaping and raw in the bright sunlight where everybody can see it, for years and years and years, until the raped children themselves decide that justice has been done. When they're done healing — if they're ever done healing — then they and their families can give Penn State permission to start."
Right to the point, and right on.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold." Frodo Baggins, "The Lord of the Rings"
A friend posted a reply:
"There is no going back, only moving forward. Not always easy, and healing nonetheless."
Another friend said, "One day you will notice that acceptance has replaced today's grief, and that you are fully engaged in this day, this life."
I love my friends, and I have to disagree with them. This post is my reply. It's far to long to go on facebook, and I wanted time to think before I answered.
Some background on the original quote, for those who haven't memorized large portions of the book or movies. Frodo, a hobbit (who is an avatar, essentially, for everyman), inherited a ring of great power and evil. He undertook the year-long journey to destroy it, nearly dying in the process, and at the end of the story is once again living in his old home. But not everything is the same: HE is not the same, and so everything around him is different. His wounds pain him, the memories of death and dying haunt him, the burden he bore changed him fundamentally, and while he knows that what he did was the right thing, he also paid a dear price for doing it. In time he realizes that he is permanently changed, damaged beyond repair by the events of the journey.
Joy and I decided over the summer to let our daughter watch the Lord of the Rings, and that I would watch it with her, to answer the inevitable "WTF just happened!?!" questions, and to pace it. So we watched the extended versions, all 13+ hours of it, in 3 chunks over 6 weekends. And I was struck once again at how sad a story it is. No one is unchanged, nothing will remain the same, some things better, others worse, everything different. And that quote just jumped out at me.
This is what I was trying to say: that no matter what, there are things from which there are no return. Acceptance is wonderful, healing is necessary, but neither healing nor acceptance change the raw facts, nor do they magically wash away the pain. Ask a man who has lost a limb, and they will tell you of acceptance and healing, and of the fact that there is never a moment when they are what they once were. It is the same with the loss of a child: it is fundamentally a different experience from other losses. I can speak authoritatively from my own experience, as in the last 4 years I have lost a step-son, both my parents, one of my sisters, and yes, my daughter. There is simply no comparison, and if you have not gone through it, you cannot comprehend the difference. I could not, when my beloved wife lost her oldest son Sean, at the end of 2007. I knew Sean well, loved him dearly, had been his step-father for nearly 20 years. I had held him when he cried, knew as much of him as any parent could of a teenager who had grown up. And still, it was a qualitative difference when Alysia died.
What I am saying is that the common notions of healing and acceptance don't cover the right ground: they are orthogonal to the pain, a separate part of the Venn diagram.
(If you are interested in a couple of different views of death and dying and grieving, I highly recommend Pema Chodron's book, "When Things Fall Apart" and also "A Year to Live", by Steven Levine. When my stepson Sean died, I found work in those books that I could take on to understand myself better. I have returned to them many times since.)
I have been having harder days, now that we have begun our Christmas preparations, always a special time for family, and one of Alysia's favorite times of the year, a time to be with family and connections. Alysia is very present in my life, as are my Mom and Dad. But just because the times are harder doesn't imply that I am not accepting of the reality of my life: sometimes accepting reality can be quite painful. When Ramesh Balsekar's son died, a disciple informed the father, who dropped to the ground weeping. The stunned acolyte stammered, "Master, haven't you told us that this is all illusion? Why do you weep?" The master turned gently to the man, and answered, "Yes, this is indeed all illusion. And this is the most painful part." Illusory or not, accepting or not, pain is there. I believe we must accept the pain as well as the joy, with the knowledge and understanding that it all ends eventually.
And moving forward? Towards what? We are in the day today, I am who I am today, my pain and my joys are real now. To believe that acceptance will come tomorrow is to NOT live today, with whatever is here. I have spent much of the last 40 years learning to be present, and I thank whatever deities there are that I did so: I think that otherwise, the pain would have unhinged me (further, OK?). Same for Joy: losing 2 children, less than 3 years apart, and she's still standing. Why? Preparation in the form of meditation, therapy, whatever you want to call it. We are sometimes miserable, often happy, excited by our children, loving both the living and the dead, just making it through. So don't worry when I get a little dark: it's just another part of me, needing expressing.
At the end of the summer, I went to a retreat at the Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, NY. I had discovered that my grief had begun to harden, to stagnate. I really have no other words for the feeling of stiffness in my metaphorical heart, my 3rd chakra, so that'll have to do. Eventually I figured out that I wanted to do some type of retreat, but had no idea where or when. My wife asked me what type of retreat I thought would be good for me, and I answered, "Music and silence." The next day, an email link from Deva Premal and Miten (singers and writers of wonderful mantra music) led me to a weekend retreat of chanting and silence.
I sang, I danced, I chanted, I did everything but sleep for 3 days (well, OK, I did sleep a little.) It was one of the most intense, painful, hopeful, joyful, special times. At some point in that wonderful, magical time, I realized that I would always have the pain of losing my daughter in my heart. At the same time, I understood that this wouldn't block the way for me to have a wonderful life: I could go forward with both feelings simultaneously, embracing them both, however painful it was. This was both the beginning of my healing, and of my acceptance. But it also was the beginning of understanding that the pain would never really leave, even if there were days that I would pay little attention to it, for there is a piece of me that I willingly gave up, and now can never reclaim. So all joy is tempered by the knowledge of my loss. And all hardship is also tempered by the understanding that I can survive regardless.
Love to all, Yogi
"You know what I want? A Brazilian blow job."
"Uhhhhhh..OK? What's that, honey?"
"That's where they do some fancy hair-drying thing to make your hair all cool."
"Right. Got it. Brazilian blow OUT."
"Is there a difference?"
It means something different when >I< say it, that's for sure.
Finally, I ask, "What do you want to do with a condom, honey?"
"Oh, decorate it the way I want to, get some furniture, a dog, have all my own stuff."
"Oh, you mean a >condo
"Yeah, won't it be great!"
Yes, darling, it really will be. But I'll miss the Gracie Allen moments.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Today, we bought Xmas decorations. Alysia always loved the decorating of the house and tree for the Fall holidays, it didn't matter which one: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, whatever. Presents, she loved indeed. and I loved giving them to her.
And now that is no more. and I still decorate, and I still buy presents, and I'm sure I'll be OK, eventually, but today is a Bad Day.
I'll talk to you all soon.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
|Don't mess with me.|
|I'm not sleeping, I'm planning an ADVENTURE!|
|We're not related, just buddies.|
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My first thought was to call them and offer some of our children's ashes. You know, because we have extra.
My second thought, and the one my wife came up with as >her< first thought when I told her about this, and she stopped laughing at my first thought, was that we still have some of her father's ashes, would that be OK?
We're obviously in serious need of help.
I still think it's funny.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Way back on 1968, while we were living in Italy, my parents bought a boat. Typically for my father (my adoptive father: my biological dad had died 4 years before, and my mother had remarried in 1967), the boat was beautiful and seriously impractical. That was my dad to a tee: always the esthetics mattered most.
Susanna was (and is) a gorgeous wooden sailboat, built in Venice the year I was born, 1957, at the D'este shipyards from a Laurent Giles design. If you are a wooden boat fanatic (there are no other types, from what I know) you will know who and what I'm talking about. The rest of you should just understand that it is meaningful to us weirdos, kind of like owning an original Carol Shelby Cobra. She's 48 feet overall and 10 1/2 feet wide. Supermodel thin, that is; almost anorexic. She's also deep, at 7 feet 9 inches of draft, and the combination makes for a couple of things. First, she's fast: we've legitimately seen 9+ knots, which is Usain Bolt speed for a wooden. Second, she loves to dip her rails under any serious wind, making life somewhat wet for all aboard. Third, she's totally the wrong boat for a family, unless you figure that the 2 boys (my brother and I) would sleep up front with the anchor chain, and everyone else gets a 1/2 twin-size bunk. Which we did.
You just kind of get used to it, and we sailed her all over the Med until 1973 or so, when we shipped her to the US. My parents had split up by this time, and my mom wanted to sail. (Although the marriage lasted less than 5 years, they remained best friends and frenemies to the end of their lives last year.) My mom and occasionally my dad sailed the east coast for the next 35 years, until shingles put an end to Mom's summer sailing. I was an occasional guest, mostly for races: the boat was too cramped both physically and emotionally for me to spend a lot of time on her. But my brother loved it, and went many, many times.
When Mom died, she left the boat to the three of us brothers, two of whom (me and our older brother) gave our share to YB (I don't have his permission to use his name yet.) The reason is that, while any boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money, a wooden boat is also the nautical equivalent of a Brazilian mistress: demanding, exciting and highly impractical. And OB and I just couldn't deal, each for our own reasons. So YB ended up with the boat. Which was fine with him, he loves her and couldn't wait to bring her out to SoCal and go sailing. Which he did, and here are the pictures to prove it.
So Susanna is now in her third ocean. We'll see how long she can stay: the area isn't great for cruising, in that there are few destinations nearby, and long trips up and down the West coast are or can be a real ordeal. But for now, she's in Ventura, and we've already been down to Catalina and back, and it was a great trip.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
But soon enough, we found our way the block and 1/2 down onto the main street, which was now filled with stalls and people, from one end to the other. We took one look at the chaos, and decided that we needed more coffee. But when we sat down, I noticed that the man next to us, middle-aged, good-looking-in-a-"I'm a typical french farmer"-way, had a glass of rosé and some pastis.
Now, I'm a big fan of pastis, and ouzo and all such anise-flavored liqueurs, a taste I acquired when I was a teen-ager in Greece, during the summer I turned 16. I spent a good portion of it working in a boatyard on the island of Syros, and everyday when we finished, the whole crew went to the bar for drinks and meze (snacks). I discovered that I had a huge tolerance for alcohol delivered in this form, which isn't actually great until you learn to handle it, which took a while. But once I did, it became my competitive drink of choice. Remember the scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Karen Allen is drinking with the Russian soldier, and drinks him under the table, only to get up and go back to work as if nothing happened? (I heart me some Karen Allen.) That's me. So, don't challenge me, OK? Or you'll be tasting black licorice in your sleep.
ANYWAY, I ordered a pastis, Joy got some coffee, and we watched the show for a while. Amazing what a little alcohol in the morning does to your disposition.
Eventually we went browsing through the stalls, admiring the cheeses, the cured meats, the handbags, the leather goods, the fresh vegetables, just an amazing amount of things to look at and touch and talk about. I keep trying to use the French I remember, and the stall owners are great about helping me out. It is a fact of French life, apparently, that everything comes with a lesson, an explanation or some conversation, and because I'm in the right frame of mind (i.e. not in a hurry), this seems wonderful.
We gather enough goodies for lunch, and head back to the apartment with some salami, some brie and banon cheeses, bread, ham, olives and wine, and just enjoy the shit out of it.
Lunch over, we head out to see what there is to see, and end up in a little town called Beaumes-de-Venice, which literally means "Canals of Venice". Except that here it doesn't, as Beaumes in Provence means "caves", like for storing wine, and "Venice" refers to the old name of Provence, Comtat Vennaissin, or the country of the Popes. Oh well, it's so pretty no matter what it's called, and we drive and stare.
We stop for a short wine tasting at a local vineyard, where Marina, the proprieteur, chats with us about our trip and her recent 6-week tour of the US. She's really fun, mid-30's and so excited about their wines; she and her husband have owned the vineyard for about 5 years, and are changing the way muscat (sweet) wines are made here, so that they have more acid, rather than the cloying sweetness that is usual for this type of wine. We buy a bottle, and head out, smiling.
A couple of hours driving later, we're back at the house, and take a break before dinner. It seems that that's all we do, isn't it? Eat and drive, eat and drive, and drink more wine.
Yep. That's why we're here.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Anyway, we get up and fart around figuring out what we want to do, which is go get coffee and croissants, but it's a bit late, so let's just get dressed and head out to explore, but look, there's a cafe so let's sit down and
slow down, (phew)
and have the coffee and realize that we're in a foreign country, we have no plans, no one to meet, just the two of us at whatever pace we want to set.
OK, then. Wow. Relax, what a concept.
Looking through our guide book, the increasingly indispensable Cadogan guide to Provence, we find that there's a market and some antiques over in Isle Sur la Sourge, about 20 minutes from us. Want to go? Sure, even though we really don't get the whole "fill your house with the stuff other people don't want, especially if it's old and kind of beat up", but we love to look at it and chose not to take it home.
Whatever floats our boat, you know?
Anyway, we head over, using maps instead of GPS, so that we can begin to learn the area, and drive through this incredible countryside, just beginning to show autumn in the browning leaves of the grapevines. Bright blue sky, warm and happy, we drive the narrow roads, pulling over as necessary to let the impatient few past.
Eventually, we reach the town, and park in a sort of random mass of vehicles. Serious, people, lineups aren't your strong suit, I get it, but still, it looks like you all spilled hot coffee on your laps and then just got out. So we just pull in and stop, and get out and walk to the market, which is almost over, as it's now 12:30 and they end at 1, but who cares, we're here to enjoy , which we do, browsing among the sellers of linens, and trinkets and antiques and Jesus there's a lot of stuff!
Are you hungry? I am.
So we find a place that has a table left, even though by the time we get there it's almost 2, and they're running on empty, but a kind waitress takes pity on us, and we sit in the shade and order wine and salads and just take in the town. (Pictures are coming, I swear.)
Lunch over, and the wine finished, we head out for more exploring, and poke our heads in random shops. Many aren't open (it's Sunday, after all), but some are and we enjoy looking at bunches of stuff we don't usually see, linens, and soaps and wood bric-a-brac, and tourist crapola, but DIFFERENT crapola that at home, so it's fun. Joy finds a table cloth that she takes a fancy to, so we buy that, and a few trinkets for loved ones, and eventually find out way to an ice-cream shop that makes unreal apricot and lemon sorbet, and then sit by the stream and watch the ducks dive for invisible fish and tidbits. Soon, we head back, and unload our loot, and take a nap. (That's when I posted the previous post.)(I don't nap)(usually.)
After nap and showers, we're ready for more, so we go out looking for dinner! Now, I don't speak French, really I don't. I'm fluent in Italian, because I grew up in Rome, and kept it up over the years, so I have a good accent and a firm grasp of the grammar, but French I have to fake. Well, I seem to be doing OK, because I can make myself understood pretty well, and it gives me such a thrill to be able to ask directions or about the menu, or really, anything. It's really cool, and I'm happy that I had all those French lessons in high school, even though I hated them at the time. But it's been 35+ years! Anyway, we stumble though the menu at a lovely outdoor restaurant call Le Gouses D'ail, or the Garlic Cloves. We eat and drink and eat some more and drink some more until we're stuffed and drunken again, but this time the car is already at home, so we stagger home, and sleep it off, and next thing you know, it's 6:30AM, and the church bells next door are ringing, every freaking HOUR, twice.
WTF is with THAT, anyway? Is it really neccesary to ring the chimes twice each hour? Plus the little Bong on the 1/2s? I've got to find someone to ask. Maybe tomorrow.
Location:Bedoin, France and Environs