Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm in Denmark now...

Been in Denmark for a few days and it´s pretty amazing. Definitely should be on everyone's list of awesome places to visit. I'm staying on a farm right near the North Sea. The farm is home to Per, Nina, Heidi the German shepard, and a bunch of Icelandic horses.

I've been to the water and walked the rocky beach (most other beach areas are more sandy) near a small fishing village called Lild. Looked at the little boats pulled up on shore. There are still fishermen who go out from there and catch some fish. There used to be more, but - of course - the changing conditions of the ocean and the world have cut those numbers dramatically.

Met a nice lady who was searching for lucky stones. They are rocks that have a hole worn through the middle and look like little donuts. I was lucky and found a nice piece of amber. Per, my host here, told me there is a name for people who can find amber easily and perhaps I am one of those. That wouldn't surprise me since I do notice things and I have a bit of an affinity for the sea.

I've gone walking or bicycle riding during the day and we take an evening walk before sitting down with a glass or two of wine and some conversation. Per is full of amazing stories and be a great spokesman for the Danish tourist board, he loves it here so much.

Yesterday, we drove to find the grave of my Mother's brother. He was shot down in the late days of the war and washed ashore south of here. He was buried in S√łnder Nissum, a small village south of the Nissum Fjord. We found the place and Per bought some flowers for me to plant. I took some photos for my Mom so she could see that it was well-tended spot. There were several soldiers buried there next to one another by the lovely old church.

It was quite emotional for me, even though I never knew my uncle. Maybe it was knowing how much it would mean for my Mother. Or maybe it was looking at his stone and realizing that he was so young - only 21 years old - and his life held such great promise.

Speaking of churches, the one in Per's village has ancient carved stones built into it. They are very old and one of them - the cock (a rooster, you dirty minds)- is on the 100 Kroner note.

Per pointed out - during our driving - some little burial hills from Viking times and earlier that held the remains of local chiefs. After he pointed them out, I started seeing them everywhere. It's really quite amazing how many there are around here. And although many have been lost, there are a lot still intact - intact and possibly untouched. The people with them on their land are now trying to preserve them for future generations. It's really a wonderful country like that - they are very conscious of their effects on the land and try hard to minimize those effects. We would all do well to follow the Danish example.

I don't know what my plans are for the next few days. I might head to Copehavn for a little look about, but I'm not sure. I'm supposed to be back in Oldenburg, Germany on Monday in time for the ballet that evening. The ballet - gasp - and I haven't a thing to wear!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

you try typing on a German keyboard

No...I'm actually really serious. It took me a good three minutes to figure out how to get the at sign to work. Throw in letters in the wrong spots and you have a disaster brewing.

After about 4000 hours on the plane and trains, it was nice to get here and relax. Went for a walk with my friend Steffi last night. We went out in the country a bit. She´s sort of a nature girl. It was a nice walk.

Went for a little walk today. There are a lot of moors around here. Very pretty. Then we went to the seaside and had cake and coffee. Of special interest there is the giant penis statue on the beach. Yes, you read that right...a giant penis. Hard as a rock too...literally and figuratively.

It´s been beautiful weather too. Nice spring weather over here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Indian bling time

It's probably best that I'll be on my way to Germany Friday. It will distract me from the bummer of yet another beautiful woman being scratched from the list. Not that I'm saying I was going to be going out with Aishwarya Rai anytime soon, but at least when she was single...

Anyway, India's Aishwarya is getting married Friday and it's going to be the big whizbang party of the decade over there. There's going to be some serious glitter, shine and flash going on - that's for sure. Rai is the top of the pile in Indian film, the closest thing to royalty left in the country once known for the lavishness of it's princes, princesses and other royals. I've been watching her in Bollywood films for years. My favorite was probably 'Devdas' - it's long, but worth the watch. I also liked her in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' - try saying that five times fast.

So, as I'm winging my way to Europe, yet another dream is disappearing - going the way of my Olympic medal aspirations - destined to never come true. The march of time goes on.

Come to think of it though...curling is an Olympic sport and Europe is filled with beautiful women. So all hope is not lost. Take that march of time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tee minus two days...

In just over a day, I'll be winging my way to Europe for a couple of weeks. After sitting beyond the horizon for the last couple of months, the reality of taking off is suddenly breathing down my back. I guess that's not to untypical.

The long stretch of being away for two weeks seemed like so much time not too long ago. Now it seems like it won't be any time at all. That's probably a common feeling too. I'm only going to be in Germany and Denmark anyway, so I suppose two weeks is going to be long enough.

Spent part of today shopping for some things I needed - or wanted. Bought a charger for my iPod, Boris, and an adaptor for the European plugs I'll be running into. Also picked up some gifts for Steffi and the rest. Got my Eurail pass by FedEx yesterday. That was a load off.

Really, all I have to do is pack, stop for a few small things at the store and take my bird, Joey, to be boarded.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Violence

Screams erupt as shards of hot metal rip into human flesh. Some die so quickly that a scream never leaves their mouths - the grim lethality of the uncaring tool of destruction striking so quickly that their brains never have the chance to tell their mouths to yell in pain and terror.

No, the screams come from those who are spared. Those who are spared from quick death by an accident of feet, inches, or millimeters. Those screaming are the ones who may just live. They will be carrying scars - inside and out - but they will be granted a few more days, or weeks, or years here. They will be able to call parents, brothers and sisters, and friends to say that they are okay. Well, maybe not okay. But they are alive.

The fear born on this one spot - a speck of a spot no different than many other spots - radiates out. Those nearby run for cover, seeking any safety they can find in a world suddenly unsafe.

The word travels farther afield. Something just happened. Something terrible, horrific, heinous. Death is lose and striking people down in less time than a blink.

Cel phones ring.

Those dialing them are calling out for aid. Something terrible has just happened and someone needs to come right away. Right away. Please come fast.

Everything is confusion. Chaos is all around. The order of life has been violently shattered. There is never anything normal about violent death. Or maybe there is and that is what is so frightening. When the thin veneer of control and culture is stripped away so forcefully, can it ever be repaired? The answer is, of course, no. Nothing is ever the same after such a terrible thing.

Farther away, the event is picked up by news outlets. Reports are confused. One person has been killed. No it's 15, 20, 30 dead. People turn from what they've been doing. Where was that? What happened? Why doesn't anyone know anything?

For many, it's just a horrible act. It's terrible and awful, but it's not hitting their lives. But for others, one second has changed everything. The girl with the impertinant smile and quick wit is lying in a pool of blood, her dark hair matted in a congealed puddle of red. The shy boy with the good grades and funny glasses will never worry again about his grades - there are no grades in death. The husband who was just going to work can't console his wife or explain what happened to his children - the life was blasted from him, maybe at the very second he took in a deep breath and marvelled at the wonder of life.

Do those who die so quickly care if the day was sunny or grey? Do they have enough time ask why this has happened to them? Or, is the only word that comes to mind - fuck!

On Saturday, a car bomb exploded in Karbela, Iraq. 50 people were killed. There was no warning, no reason beyond someone's dark and twisted need to destroy. Today, someone took the lives of at least 30 people in Virginia. There was no warning and no reason for this massacre either.

Stop for one minute and ask yourself if either is more horrific than the other. Stop and imagine the terrible way that lives have been shattered. Stop and ask yourself what if it was your family.

Think until the understanding dawns that suffering is the same in Iraq as it is in Virginia. The parents of young people killed in Virginia and the parents of young people in Iraq, or Africa, or anywhere violence strikes, all share the same tears. And then pause and say a prayer for those everywhere who are suffering right now. And say one for yourself too - that you will always remember to have compassion and to feel for everyone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I've got yer easy pieces right here

Sometimes the tubes of the internets are pretty awesome. Just when I was beginning to wonder what ever happened to well written pieces of journalism, I read this one. Someone read it and sent the link to someone who sent it to Ottmar Liebert and he posted the start of it on his blog with a link. It's really kind of interesting and - like I said before - well written. Bravo Washington Post Magazine for going with it amd thanks Gene Weingarten for writing it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

"Before we beg, our begging bowl has to be emptied..."

-Chogyam Trungpa

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Big Orange Moon

The moon - orange and large - danced at tree-top level as I drove out to do a job last night. Sometimes to the left of the asphalt path I was on and sometimes to the right - shifting with each curve in the road. A bit to the left, a bit to the right, but always there in front of me, bobbing like a boxer.

Thoughts crossed my conscious, coming in Chandleresque bursts like slugs from an automatic. That's just how I am. The latest reading seeps into my being and sweats it's way out of my pores.

Of course, it wasn't really reading at all that was clipping my inner dialogue shorter than a drill sergeant's cropped hair. It was 'The Adventures of Philip Marlowe' on my iPod that was doing that work. Episode after half-hour episode, LA's best-known private detective was seeping into my head.

"Damn you Marlowe! Let me go. Let me go I say...or else."

"Or else what? You've had me locked up in there for long enough. Now I'm long on time and short on answers, and you're going to change the answers part. And if you don't give me the answers, you're gonna at least do some listening. Brother, have I got a story to tell."

He had me. I bit like a hungry small-mouthed bass on a warm summer evening.

It wasn't till I sat through a marathon of his stories that I realized what a chump I was. Yeah, he played me like a patsy and I sat there and took it. Took it and kept coming back for more.

I couldn't get enough of his stories. The Orange Dog, The Panama Hat, Red Wind - his stories filled my night.

And when the I finally dragged myself home early this morning - just beating the sun and chirping birds, the bane of all drunks and night workers - the moon was still there. Higher in the sky and bright white instead of orange, but there.

Was it laughing at me? Maybe, but I was too tired to care and just smart enough to know I couldn't do anything about it.