Category Archives: Travel

Ireland, here or there

I recently traveled to Ireland with my son, and we experienced the wonderful scenery, the friendly people, the history, and the delicious food and drink that this island has to offer.  We flew into Dublin – and after an exciting time on Saint Patrick’s Day – we set off by rail to the western, more wild part of the country.  The scenes from the train changed from urban to countryside, as we made our way to Cork.  All the little village stops along the way were quaint and the conductor would announce the stop in both English and Gaelic, concluding with a thank you:

Thank you for riding Iarnród Éireann. (Thank you for riding Irish Rail).

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To my ears, it sounded like he said, “Thank you for riding, here or there.

This thought resonated throughout the journey as we went by bus or shuttle to remote locations or simply walked through villages and towns in which we spent the night. There is something exciting and wonderful about rambling through the country-side and discovering new places.  Whether it was the colorful row how houses above Cobh harbor or the barren stones and sea/landscape of the Burren, forests near Killarney or the city street, Ireland offered what seemed like all possible combinations.  And these were accessible from points A and B or C or…Z

Just by what seemed a random direction, any number of beautiful sights and experiences could be found by wandering.

It is no wonder then, that the Irish poets and storytellers, or those that emigrated over the last couple of centuries, spoke and sang so fondly of this beautiful country.  It stands in stark contrast to the tragic history of conquest, famine, civil war and unrest that has plagued the people of Ireland over the centuries.  Both sadness and beauty erupting from the same surroundings is remarkable, and dare I say, poetic.  The countryside simply cries and laughs and inhales – everywhere you look.

Here or there.

 

Dispatching the Doldrums

It is time to clear the cobwebs and write about anything.  Blog writing for me is  a way for me to exercise my creative skills and (bravely) share what I’m writing.  Every now and again, I like to share what I’m thinking/doing/reading/listening to/watching.

Watching

A week ago, I just finished watching Band of Brothers on Amazon, which was based on the book of similar name by Stephen E. Ambrose.   I  know I’m a little behind ( it first aired on HBO in 2001).  But, I didn’t subscribe to HBO then, and never invested in DVDs of the miniseries.  Wow.  An incredibly well-done set of vignettes from the history of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne during WWII in Europe.  It was produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks – it has much the same feel as Saving Private Ryan.  Each episode centers around a different event and focuses on a different character’s perspective.  My favorite episode involved the Battle of Bastogne, and told the story from the perspective of Doc Roe, the company’s medic.  He displayed courage and a singular ability to keep going in bone chilling cold under relentless bombardment, while keeping the men is his company in fighting shape and providing care to the wounded.  The scenes are graphic and the emotion is raw.  The miniseries drives home the point, that in war- there is no rest.  Even when you think you may get a weekend leave, something happens to call the company back into the fray.  After battles, you move on to the next line.

Reading

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a slow reader and one who is prone to start multiple books to find one that captures my interest.  Right now, I think have five books in various stages of reading.  Most recently, I started reading Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta, by Richard Grant. It is a true tale, a collection of tales actually, of a British travel writer (Grant) and his girlfriend after they decide to buy an old plantation home in heart of the Mississippi Delta.  Stories of Southern tradition, along with the tenuous combination of gentility, race and class, are told without judgement – but with a keen perception of the relationships involved.  This book is a great look into this forgotten region of the country.  Truth be told – I am related to people who grew up in this area of Mississippi, and am very familiar with the themes of this book.  The Delta is a both a wasteland and a land of riches.

Listening

I have eclectic music tastes.  I will listen to almost any genre, depending on my mood and as long as it is well done.  In recent years, I have become interested in Americana/folk styles.  I like the realness of it and how it can impact you emotionally.  With that in mind, I want to recommend music by a friend.  I met Mark Currey in high school, when we both attended a Gifted/Talented Summer Camp.  We were in the choral program, and were introduced to many different genres of music in the program.  We were encouraged to be creative in our free time, and it was obvious that Mark was a songwriter even then. I wrote in my journal in my free time- ain’t life funny.  We weren’t best friends, but we got along well. After that summer, we parted ways (like most everyone does), only to reconnect many years later via FaceBook.  I found out he had recorded an album, his first, in 2017.  The classic story of the Late Bloomer – I can relate.  His record, Tarrant County, is part Country, part Americana – and I encourage you to give it a listen. Mark has a very warm vocal style (he’s a tenor), and his lyrics are real storytelling.  You can download it at the either of the links above, or you can find it on streaming services.   There are some really nice musical moments, some thought provoking lyrics, but never overdone.  You might find something you like.

Thanks for reading.

***

 

 

 

Sleeper

Show me your heavy eyes.

Between each field’s border,
the ground takes on shadows
as the sun begrudges
being dragged west
drifting in a transmuted
grey.

Let me hear you breathe a landscape

with hills barely hiding the
clapboard buildings and
lonely trees of the next homestead.

Embrace me
into your dream,
immobile among the passing scenes,
drawn into deeper sleep.

2014 -Es war ein gutes Jahr für das Schreiben und Tomaten.

2014 was a difficult year.  

It was a year of very large statistical variances…very high highs and very low lows.  In retrospect, I recognize it as a phenomenal year of change.  Change is never easy, particularly when thrust upon you unexpected…unplanned.  But you manage it, take the opportunity life gives you and move on.

Eventually, things even out.  It is important to remember that life happens to other people as well.  And the recognition and  ability to help each other out in times of crisis is what makes our human existence different from other creatures.

I encourage each and every one of you to do something to help someone in 2015.

At the beginning of 2014, I posted a resolution post with three goals for the year about writing.

I think I achieved two of them. I did attend a local writing conference and had a blast. I will do that again, and will seek other opportunities to improve. I wrote a lot this year (even without participating in NaPoWriMo in April) and ventured beyond poetry for much of it. I did seem to devote several posts to tomatoes…but it was a banner year in my continuing efforts to grow good tomatoes. They tasted good too. I made numerous batches of salsa, tomato sauce, fried green tomatoes, and a season ending green tomato salsa, which was such a hit, that my plans to freeze most of it and save it for winter months was squashed. It was gone after 2 weeks.

I traveled this year. In May, my father, my eldest son, and I traveled to Germany for a bus tour of the country. It was a GREAT trip. It is worthy of several posts on its own, but I just haven’t plowed back into my journal and pictures to write posts on that. A recent blogging exchange about Johann Sebastian Bach reminded me of the trip and I thought I would share this.

On our trip, we had numerous stops and very short (or at least in my opinion…short) durations to see the sights. One of these stopovers was in Leipzig. We had two hours to see sights in the old town, shop, snack, etc. The bus stopped in front of St. Thomas Church, where JS Bach served as cantor.

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig

Bach’s tomb is prominently placed in the front chancel area behind an iron gate.

JS Bach Tomb, St Thomas Church, Leipzig

JS Bach Tomb, St Thomas Church, Leipzig

During our short time there, we were fortunate to listen to a choir rehearse from the choir loft. And in no time, 2 hours was gone (I have tried to upload the short video I made of a portion of this, but WordPress does not like my video).

Here is a view of the altar, past where Bach’s tomb is located.

The altar inside St. Thomas Church, Leipzig

The altar inside St. Thomas Church, Leipzig

Germany was definitely a highlight of 2014, lots of good food, fellowship, mountains, and castles, and I will strive to post more of our travels in 2015.

Later in the year, after such a peak experience, there came an incredible low. I was released from my job. A bitter pill, but I am better off mentally and physically. I’m still looking for full-time work, and am hopeful that 2015 will bring not just a job, but the RIGHT job.

So what does 2015 have in store. I don’t know…but I am setting up for a really great year. I will continue writing, and if 2014 has taught me anything, it is to be willing to go into the unknown. So my writing may be somewhat different this year. I may try my hand at short stories. I also want to go to another writer’s conference or perhaps a workshop.

And to all of you out there, Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best in 2015. May you experience all the joy and success you can hold.