Friday, December 18, 2009

Need I Say More?


I have been a grieving parent now for 17 years. From the middle of the Rodney King riots when I was called away from the tumult in LA and SD....for E's birth, I have dreaded the day when she would leave our family. With her final year of high school hitting us next year I have not looked forward to the split for college of whatever calls her away.
This Christmas I am thankful that I still have a little princess who dresses in her Tinker Bell pj's and fills our home and life with music, singing, chocolate and laughter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sittin N Thinkin



Stealing a little time away from the crew I walked to the Sisters of St. Clare's garden today. Tucked into our Brea neighborhood the garden is open a few hours a day for visitors. So I sat and thought for a few hours. BIG on the sitting.



Monday, December 14, 2009

Last Dispatch from Asia

Grants Pass daily courier column here


With our return to Asia just a few months away...I finally got down to the grit and filed our latest dispatch.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coffee Kind of Day


I know you are probably tired of my coffee tales. Let's just call it the grind of our lives. Today we got what we wanted...wet, wind and repose. With Stanley feeling not so hot, we ran a few errands and spent the day in front of the fire and drank Toffee Nut from the Lower 48's best coffee press, courtesy of Dutch Bros..  He, is stuffed up, dripping and moving slow. Finally.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Gift of Time

Mustafa Bey
Reverse psychology is always a bummer. So I won't try and convince you to do something that you wouldn't want to do, so this is what it is...a nail in building bridges between east and west. When we were getting ready to come back to the states from our days of wandering thru Asia...the janitor of our Istanbul apartment complex asked quietly if it would be possible to bring him a wrist watch from "Amerika". He added that he would be happy to pay for it.

Coming from someone other than us, as a gift, a watch would mean a great deal to our dear Mustafa Bey. If any of you would like to jump at this chance to spread a little bi-cultural love let us know. Simple would be better than extravagant or complex. If there was such a thing as a metal band with Arabic numerals (1,2,3 etc.) and either an auto-wind or simple battery powered...it would mean the world to him. It would need to be water proof and bang-resistant....he works hard.
If this rings your Christmas bell send us a note and we would be happy to play the middle man. The key here is simple durability and inexpensive...something spendy would ruin the moment.
Our Apartment (small flag is our balcony)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Attitudinizing Pecksniffer-ites

Tuesday Views
Yesterday we closed the book on the formalities of death. With the services behind us we are working at getting back to normal and trying to use the next week or two to power down and find a little rest. It also gives me time to peruse the buoys that chart my course as our crew moves through life.
Your vacillating vagabonds get pretty serious about closing out the old year and bringing in the new. For as long as I can remember we have always spent part of December  canvassing our checklists from the year before. The things we had hoped to accomplish vs reality and zeal.
I am a shameless attitudinizer. I love SoCal.  The beach and sun will always be burned into my bones, and yet, I love foul weather. Ann and I long for stormy wet days. The draw to Wales is just that...finding a place where a fire is welcome and sweaters are needed.
One of our favorite destinations throughout our marriage has been the High Sierras. Whenever we headed north from San Diego, our first stop was always at highway 395 and four corners (Boron). Stepping out of our truck the wind and chill would cut right through us. I don't think I have ever been on that speck of the map without high winds, blowing dust and the sense of adventure that would leave our civilized SoCal-ness gasping for breath and holding on for dear life. There is something about nasty weather that engages the senses.
So while I engage in a little pecksniffery from time to time...I love dirty weather. Maybe its because I am not often exposed to it and love the sense of jeopardy it brings to my day. I have bemoaned for years the shirt-sleeved holidays...its doesn't seem natural to wear shorts and T's during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Does it?
Today the skies are blue, the air is cold and there are only a few leaves left on my favorite tree. The forecast tells us that the rain and winds will return tomorrow and life will be good. Thanks for letting me gripe from my sunny porch. Yes, as I admitted above...I am a hypocrite, but a happy one nonetheless.
Wednesday Views

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Kindle-Ized


For those who have wedded into the Kindle family, Amazon liked us enough to Kindleize our blog (like that was in question). You can get wireless updates when we post by tapping into Amazon's link to us here. For the rest of our vast readership of 2 you can still get us free...you just have to keep checking into us via web-snail.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Creeping Along with Life


Ann just came home after another 200 mile roundtrip to help plan the funeral for her stepfather. Monday will have us at the Rosary, then back to Los Angeles. Tuesday morning we will be headed back down for the funeral and the after-burn, getting home late Tuesday evening.
With Al's death and the unravelling and resolution of his life this little vine caught my eye a few days ago. Creeping along an outside wall several tendrils have found their way into our little laundry room in the backyard.
Some of the time I feel my life is just creeping along...how is it then that we always seem to be busy? Whether its here or Istanbul I don't have the time to get to the things that I think are important. Since my teen years I have always had a reading list. A stack or shelf of books that I am working myself through. Lately...the stack has turned into a column about two feet high. And while I enjoy reading and have/am reading several books concurrently...I haven't been able to get to the end of one.

Waiting for the funds to grow until we can return to Asia is another area that seems to be creeping along. With never enough cash around to keep all the billers happy...its a wonder that we have an end date to return to Istanbul in March.
As I took the time today to trace our persistent vine back to its source in our neighbors yard...it showed me that patience and persistence pay out eventually. Maybe just showing up pays off in the end. Thanks for stopping by today...I am just creeping along.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Flip of the Coin



Doing what we do....that is, dragging our kids around the world, I sometimes wonder if the broad experience they are exposed to is worth the lack of a steady home life. Same home, room neighborhood and friends. Ann and I made a commitment a number of years ago when I left the PD that we would try to limit the amount of time we were separated. 
Since the time we became an item we have been apart only a few days....over a 30 year period that is a pretty good record. Our desire to wander together isn’t limited to the two of us. Elle and Stanley have almost always chosen to hang with us in the canyons and valleys of the Silk Road rather than stay home with friends. Even on the odd occasion when one of us is called away to speak about our travels the kids have expected to be included. As Elle says....we do what we do as a team. Without all of us together it just doesn’t work the way it should. I couldn't agree more.

As she inches closer to 18, I wonder if that passion that puts us in proximity will begin to flicker, and then fade once he (whoever that might be) comes along. 

A few years ago prior to leaving SoCal for Asia we spoke to a group of people who met regularly to discuss current events and offer prayers for peace in the world. When we had finished speaking about our love and passion for living on the far side of the world. A ramrod straight man approached and handed me a heavy coin with his name and unit on it. He simply said that he admired the courage it took to take a family to the countries along the Silk Road and build relationships. With those few words and with a solemn voice he gave me the coin, saluted me and walked away. 
There was a crowd of people waiting to greet us so I pocketed the coin and later dropped it into my dresser.



It was years later while living in Istanbul that I realized the significance of the coin and the ritual of passing it along to another. I mentioned it briefly to a friend in conversation and he stopped me...telling me that it was one of the highest forms of paying respect to someone. Usually from one member of the armed services to another.

Why, on that day 5 or so years ago I got honored in such fashion is beyond me. For a guy that never served in the military to receive a coin from a retiree is a mystery  But it goes to show you that life is more than a flip of the coin.  Life for us is often wrapped in things we don’t understand as we live travel and wander on the far side of our little world....which today, sits just outside Los Angeles.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

SoCal Office of the Day



Throughout my adult life I have been a complete failure at keeping my dependence on or to any one thing,  location, or item limited.  From my Ecco shoes to my button-fly Levi's I discovered a few years ago that I had habituated all the corners of my life. Living most of our days in the arena of global adventure this was something that I was either going to suffer through.....or conquer.
First came the socks.
For years I had worn only one brand of socks marketed by REI. Thick, white and durable these babies seemed to never wear out and worked with boots or walkers. Last year they suddenly became unavailable and in-spite of my attempts to locate them...they were not to be had. Finally forced to take the plunge into those I could find in the pazar in Istanbul I discovered that change...was not as evil as I had expected. Next came underwear, shirts and so on. Eventually I had overcome the sense of security that bites into the comfort of the habiliments of travel and living abroad. I also learned that my Ann had the ability to flow with the current of what was available and adapt to it seamlessly.
Trying to find a place clear of distraction to compose my chaotic chronicles became a search for solitude...it seemed that no matter how hard I worked to find my niche in which to write, no place, especially in our little corner of Asia, was consistently quiet. This led me to an unusual location in which I found the solace to scribble. A little cafe named Cemre Kebap about two minutes of walking away. All it took was a few minutes of greetings...the ordering of ├žay, and the owners, who have since become part of our Istanbulu family, left me to my cup and contemplations.
They even went to the lengths of reserving a corner table for me. In the summer my little office is on a shaded terrace where I can see the busiest street in Istanbul from behind a hedge of hydrangeas. In the winter it is next to a large wall heater that you could fry an egg on and shoved deep into the corner of the busy cafe.
My hosts, Ibrahim and Fikret keep the tea coming and allow me to sink into my thoughts. When the terror of a blank page taunts me for too long...they have the uncanny timing of calling me to the owner's table and feeding me...a technique that doesn't always work for a struggling writer...but sure adds to my epicurean appreciation.
Outside of Istanbul I struggle to find that same ambience that stokes the flames of prolixity...I have had to once again adapt my slow-wittedness to the environs in which I expound on the small stuff of our lives. Which is why today's posting is special. Today's office found me, on a backyard swing, with an empty fire pit that was soon roaring with the last of our wood. A rich cup of coffee from a Dutch Bros. press and an hour or two of plunking away at a column few will read. No finer office can be found in the county.

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World

Living, Traveling, and Wandering on the Far Side of the World