Category Archives: travel

Planning the New York City adventure, or how Molly Crabapple’s art will begin the meeting of a life-goal.

The best days are the ones that contain an adventure or several. The second best days are the ones where I get to plan an adventure.

Today was one of those second best days.

It’s been one of those weeks, where all I wondered was when the week would end (which was particularly cruel since the source of my dread this week was work, and it’s a 6 day work week O.0), and I was searching for something to look forward to.

Normally, I would plan a trip to visit friends, because most of my friends moved far away, and I love an excuse to travel. But I just got back from visiting some of my friends in Portland, and the other places are quite expensive (but I’m still trying to plan for those in the near future).

Continue reading Planning the New York City adventure, or how Molly Crabapple’s art will begin the meeting of a life-goal.

Sometimes I get lost

Besh-Ba-Gowah (34) by 3nglishN3rd
Besh-Ba-Gowah (34), a photo by 3nglishN3rd on Flickr.

I love to wander around and explore. But sometimes I get lost. I usually get most lost in an area adjacent to one I’m very familiar with. Like the time I ended up half-way to Vegas trying to get from Rancho Cucamonga (where I was visiting) to Rubidoux (where I lived). 10 minutes away and I could’ve been on the moon, I was so lost.
But I don’t mind being lost, really, because then I never get lost there again. And sometimes I end up in really cool places.
Like the middle of a cholla patch.

(p.s. I wasn’t really lost. (this time) I was at Besh-Ba-Gowah)

 

This is why we can’t have nice things

Bishop, CA Petroglyphs at Bishop by Cave Art Gal

Apparently, a group of people (I’m assuming because how could 1 person pull this heist?) decided that the petroglyphs of the Paiute people in Bishop, CA, that had survived the elements for thousands of years, needed to move to a new location. And aside from taking 5 of the drawings with them, they managed to destroy several of the other remaining images.

Seriously, who wakes up one day and decides that what they should really do with their time before the sun sets is haul a concrete saw, ladder, and generator up on a hike so that they can add weight to haul back with drawings older than the European presence on the continent? And damage the ones they decided to leave behind just to ensure that future generations of people from around the world won’t get to experience the magnificence of an original people who still go to worship at the site.

I don’t even think that these people took lessons from the lady who restored the ecco homo picture of Jesus earlier this year. At least, though she failed spectacularly, her intentions were grounded in the desire to preserve an image that inspires many on the planet. These people must have been motivated by something else. Greed? Hoarder tendencies? Psychopathic levels of desire to inflict further insult to the Paiute people?

I don’t know. But I know that these thieves have images that belong to the Paiute people and everyone on the planet concerned with keeping our record on this planet in a form we can all access. And, because of their carelessness, since they obviously didn’t consider how stealing the carvings would affect everyone who cares about the preservation of our history, the people who go to visit the site in Bishop, CA, will have fewer instances where they can stand in awe.

Their actions demonstrate the level of thoughtlessness that I fear is becoming more prevalent. It could just be that my age is beginning to show, but it could also be that I just notice these stories more because my life experience connects them to me. Because these irreplaceable icons mark the path we as people have taken to get where we currently are in the journey. They are the photographs and ephemera in the scrapbook of humanity; the fragments that hold us together as we continue along the way.

Life passes so quickly and is quite fragile, and we need the tangible markers to show those who come after us where we’ve been so that we don’t forget. Each of these markers freeze the chaos and turmoil of life and trap it in a form that we can share. So when those markers are destroyed, we all lose, and it’s this irrevocable loss that makes me sad, when it can’t be helped (as with the Twelve Apostles), and makes me angry when it can, such as this instance.

Because how can a person be so selfish that they can’t share? This inability to share is why we can’t have nice things.

Home from a fall

Indiana Huber Farms Trip (155)I’m home again. I didn’t get to write as much on the fly as
I would’ve liked, but the internet connection was persnickety. And I was having
too much fun out an about. This just means you’ll end up with week-old stories.

My current feelings about the trip are best summed up by
this picture. It was beautiful and lovely and full of wonder, and I am more
than a little sad to have to come home.

Life calls, however, and I have much more to do before I can
really rest.

Thank you for participating in security

“Thank you for participating in security.”*

This statement from the TSA is one of the more annoying aspects of flying today.

Because the statement assumes 1.) That what they’re doing is helping avert disasters 2.) That our compliance is in no way coerced 3.) That we have to need of 4 year olds to receive positive affirmation 4.) That we’re players.

And I’m just gonna stop there.

The statement appears on the first signs in the Secure Area (of at least the LAX/Ontario airport in California), which helps to manipulate all of us into compliance by assuming we will be.

The condescension also assists in putting everyone in their place by subtlety demonstrating that whatever power we may think we have disappears upon entry into the line. It’s the tone people who dislike children take when they think the kid’s being smart. Continue reading Thank you for participating in security

Autumn

I don’t really understand what the rest of the U.S. means when they talk about “Autumn”. In Southern California, we call it “Fire Season”. It’s the time of year where fines are issued for people with land they haven’t cleared of brush. The weather warms up again after a brief cool down from the summer heat. And we all tie down anything light weight.

When I read about the reds and oranges of the fall colors, I think of flames devouring hundreds (or thousands) of acres and the (increasingly more frequent) local community. The crisp air comes from the excess of electricity in the air that puts everyone on edge. And the trees fall, along with their leaves, pieces of roof, and the occasional semi-truck from the strength of the Santa Ana winds.

So I decided, since my roommate lives where this Autumn thing everyone raves about takes place, to fix my lack of knowledge. I’m spending a week in Kentucky to experience the fall everyone outside of the American Southwest seems to know. I expect there will be many pictures. Many will probably end up on tumblr and flickr with links and further posts here.

Please fill me in on this phenomenon, if you know about it! I might need a few pointers.

Wandering along the road

Road to Masii, KenyaPerhaps you’re like me, and you frequently find yourself wandering along pathways you never knew existed.The journey may be pleasant, or perilous, or a blending of all possibilities.

But regardless of the road conditions, you continue on. Not because you’re promised that the next bend will bring you your life dreams, or your life nightmares, but precisely because the next bend reveals what is unknown in the moment – the future.

This picture comes from a trip to a very small village in Kenya. 2 hours away from Nairobi, over a rutted, occasionally washed out, giraffe-lined road.  The trip was challenging, but what I learned continues to be priceless.

I would cross that road, or others worse, to meet the kids who smiled and played and laughed with us, despite the death of their parents and the poverty of their families. We went with Tumaini International, an organization that gets people from the U.S. to sponsor orphans who have had one or both parents die from AIDS, so that they can continue to live with their families and go to school, eat, get medical care.

Before I met the students, and laughed with them, and saw their joy at being able to attend school, I was hesitant about the trip. It was filled with many possibilities, and some of them, like malaria and yellow fever, were a little frightening. In the end, though, the risks were insignificant to the lessons I learned: how to laugh, not despite the pain of life, but because the pain makes the tiny joys of running freely, playing with friends, and teaching others what you know stand out, because the small joys are what make life enjoyable in the midst of our circumstances.

If we could always know what awaited us around the next curve or over the next hill, good or ill, would we really want to know? Would you willingly walk into the den of a dragon if your path guaranteed your entrance? Would any amount of treasure really be worth facing a foe most likely to kill you? You may even see your dreams in the valley from the mountain top, but you still have to climb down to get them. The path through the forest is dark and treacherous, are you willing to risk the journey to gain your heart?

The road may be pleasant, or perilous, or some mixture of each part; are you willing to walk it with eyes opened to see what it holds?

Bookmark Wandering along the road

A Broken Ring

So my time in Australia is ending very soon. And I’m very sad. I’ve met so many great friends and reconnected with some that are like family and enjoyed this time tremendously.

And this time around I’ve had one of the best farewells of my life.

I’ve been spending a lot of time this trip with the people at a small church in the heart of the city called Ann St. Church of Christ. It’s a great little church because the best people are there. The heart of the church is with several families who all support the church in their own way. One of the larger families come from one of the Eastern Torres Strait Islands, and on Sunday they bid all of us (because there was a large group from the church I go to at home) by dancing for us. And not like dancing you’d see in a club if you went to one. Like dancing that their family has done for generations.

family dancing

This time of year is when the people and this family do a lot of dancing to celebrate when the first missionaries came to their island and brought the message that God loves people enough to set aside divinity and take on humanity, die, and come back to life to fix the relationship that we broke.

The dancing was beautiful, and what made the dancing even more amazing was the fact that the dancers are all people who are now family. And when I thought that I couldn’t appreciate their generosity and love any more, they taught us all several dances where the dancers have to sit.

So we all (probably around 50 or so people) sat on the floor of the hall in a giant circle. And then the beat started and we all started slapping our thighs and then we started slapping the ground in front of us and the dance just continued from there. And we all laughed and tried our best and had a great time as a family.

And in the midst of this great time, my Australian Iron Ore ring that I’ve had for 4 years broke into several pieces and fell on the ground.

If it had happened anywhere else or at any other time, I would have been incredibly sad because I have connected numerous memories to that ring. But I think because I was surrounded by family having such a great time learning a new dance, the saddness was brief.

Because even though I cannoth possibly ever wear the ring again as intended, I will never forget that I was dancing with family when it shattered. And I will still have the memories because how could I ever forget dancing with family?

a broken ring

Alice in Wonderland Moment

I'm around 5'7", the little house I'm in was only a few inches taller, and I had to take the broom off the handle to use it effectively.

This is me working in Eidsvold. It’s the name of the town where this playhouse is located, not the name of the house. The house is probably just under 6 feet if you’re measuring to the very top from the outside. I am around 5’7″. The broom I was using, on it’s handle was probably on the far side of 6 feet.

And I had to use that broom to sweep the cobwebs and spiders out of this play house at the Eidsvold Christian Centre so that the neighbourhood (do we spell this word with a “u”? I guess all this time where people spell the British way has completely confused me…) kids can play here.

Sidenote: I hate spiders. Not to the point of being incapacitated with fear, but still that instant moment of panic when they appear, especially if they end up on me.

I had been working on a different project, and when I went to the man with the plan he gave me this job. And, swallowing my fear and hesitation, I started in on sweeping.

And where I was sure I would be freaking out, I had peace. And when I thought I would die because my back was incredibly sore from bending over to sweep the house out, one of my favorite 3 year-olds came over and started playing in the house just after my friend took this picture. And while I was feeling like something out of Wonderland because I was using a broom too big for me to clean out a house smaller than me, I saw the importance of doing something so simple as sweeping because that ridiculous moment for me provided the local small children a clean place to come and create their own Wonderland moments.

Cemeteries!

6 July

So today we went to the Eidsvold cemetery and it was fantastic. This isn’t the first cemetery I’ve been to in Australia because I love old cemeteries everywhere (I took my MA graduation pictures in an old cemetery close to my parents’ house). I feel like I need to write a blog that expresses and explains what cemeteries mean to me.

They express the high cost of living. They are the remnants of stories. They are the potential that was never realized. They are the home of life. They are the monuments of our loves. They model how all life fades while still becoming part of the lives that continue on. They are beautiful. They are life.

When I wander around cemeteries I find myself drawn to those graves that lack names. The ones that are marked by broken stone or generic crosses or some other simple way that lacks specificity. Those are the graves where I feel most connected to the lives that are represented because I wonder more about whose life is marked so simply. Did they know that they would be buried there? Did they know there would be nothing to distinguish them from everyone else? Were there people who were sad they died? Did anybody care? Or were they hated in life to the point that no one bothered to acknowledge their non-existence? What circumstances surrounded their life at the time of their death to make it so they are part of the unnamed dead?

I also wonder what prompts some people to mark graves lavishly? Were the families neglectful of the person whose grave is marked? Did they even want the child that lies in the grave? Do they mark the grave with plastic or carved flowers because they know that they will not come back to visit ever? Do they feel guilty that the person in the grave will never be visited? Do they feel like they have to pretend to care about the person in the ground? Are the flowers for themselves or their need to feel like they care or their need to appear as though they care?

And then I wonder why we have to make the graves look tended at all? Is it because we are afraid of the life that might spring up from the death the stones mark? Why not simply embrace life in all its stages? We in the US tend to keep the grass clipped short, we attempt to discourage life from moving in, we try to keep death contained in its small plot. I think that we do this in an attempt to ignore what we will all face some day – not being alive.

And that terrifies some people, so they try to avoid cemeteries and they look at people who enjoy spending time in them oddly and as though they are breaking some rule. But I think that if we embraced the fact that our lives will one day end and our bodies will be in some place like a cemetery, we might see that the time we have to actually make a difference and leave a longer lasting impression on the world than our brief grave is very short and be more motivated to leave that longer echo of ourselves in the lives of others. We might risk more if we were more accepting of our already brief life, and we might live more if we really accepted the cost.

What I love about the Eidsvold cemetery, and most older cemeteries, is the respect that is shown for the last remnants of the lives marked.  The grass is kept down so that people can walk more easily to the graves they want to spend time at, but not to the point of obsessive suburban gardener. The grass on the edges comes in long, and there are snake and other small creature holes by some of the graves. There is an air of life amongst the death, and it invites the living to come in and commune with the past. And it stands as a living history of the town of Eidsvold, telling a story that no book could completely capture.