Saturday 27 April 2013

People ask, "What is your Favourite...?"

And I am always struggling to answer.
My favourite music?
My favourite food?
My favourite author?

I can't answer. They change, by the day, by the hour, by the moment, by the mood. Today's answer is neither tomorrow's nor yesterday's.

And if I say I like a particular book, or a particular painting, it does not follow that I am delighted by every book by that writer, every painting, nor does it mean I am uncritical of that item, maybe something in it is not quite as I would wish it, maybe I think it could be better in some way.

Poets? There are a few, well quite a lot who, from time to time I think of as favourites. T.S. Eliot is one, four quartets is something I can read over and over, but it does have some lumpy lines.... "T.S"., I'd say, "That's no good, take it back and do it again...."

e.e. cummings though. oh e.e., how did you get that vision? how did your mind work? why did you eschew capitals? was your shift-key broken, or did you just hate it? were you a one-finger trypist like me?

Oh, you were so lucky, you died before you  could ever meet the f@*%ing capslock key.

Here's one of your poems. I wish I could write poems like this.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


Friday 26 April 2013

The job was supposed to take a couple of hours.

Put up temporary supports, cut the steel rods with an angle-grinder, working off ladders. (oh, and go get the generator, grinder, spare blades, fire-extinguisher ), saw through the treads in sections, take down in sections, carefully.

But of course, if you have a fifty year old vehicle and a bit of blue string, there might just be a quicker, safer, and easier way...

Saturday 20 April 2013

Austin, Texas, "Keeping Austin Weird".

We just missed the Lonestar Roundup, due to work requirements, but there were still plenty of interesting old cars to look at, a few days later .

I asked him if I could take a picture, I don't know his name, but like so many of the people we met on our travels, he was smiling and friendly. I come from Yorkshire in the north of England, where we value eccentricity. I'm happy to say, Austin does too.

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Tuesday 16 April 2013


It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Red Dirt Girl and I share some laughs over shoes. Her blog, the one I first read, posted pictures of the shoes and boots she liked, along with the poetry she loves. She had, just before my arrival, taken possession of a pair of extremely neat red lace-ups, which I admire greatly.

It would not be an inexactitude to suggest I was a just a tiny wee bit jealous of her for having such cool footwear.........
I had always wanted a pair of shoes with toes in them, so I threw common-sense to the wind, and went ahead and bought some Vibram Five Fingers. They're silly, but comfortable, and allow me to hang upside-down like a fruit-bat, using my prehensile toes.

Okay. I lied. I can't hang upside down using my toes, but I can leave strange footprints in the mud.

Not to be outdone, the Red Dirt Girl's youngest son (12) just came home from school with  this cool footwear made out of duct-tape over socks, by his schoolfriend. Kelyn.

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We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house

We stayed, on our travels, in an old ranch-house, built here in 1859, when Texas was a very different place. Sam Houston became Governor in that year, and far to the north-east, John Brown led a raid on the federal armoury at Harper's Ferry, sparking what is often held to be the genesis of the civil war. Two  years later, against Houston's strong counsel, Texas became one of the five states that seceded from the Union.
Also, in this year, Juan Cortina spoke out against the mistreatment of mexicans within Texas by the incoming settlers, and led a short-lived uprising centred on Brownsville.
Just a few miles away to the north-west, the U.S. army was sending an expedition to map the way west, men, camels, and mules, faltering and dying of thirst on the way.

I say this because I sometimes joke, unfairly, that Texas' history started only last thursday; -coming from a place where I can see evidences of the sweep of history pretty much forever back into the past, iron-age, bronze age, celts, vikings, romans, it amuses me to see what in my world would be unremarkable buildings revered because they were built in 1920, and thus are 'Historic'....
I pass a building every day here, built in a.d. 1150.
A few miles away, I can find 4000 year-old stone carvings on the moor tops.

Staying in this cabin, travelling through the Texas hill-country, I was very aware that the people who settled this land were truly pioneers of the unknown. This was the frontier, the edge of the known world. Yes, California and the west coast were being settled, but for the most part, the lands to the north and west of here remained unmapped and mysterious. Life was precarious and uncertain. 

Now, in the current era, life is not so bad, and the Gruene Homestead Inn (New Braunfels, handy for San Antonio and Austin,) is a very good choice as a place to stay. More about it later, maybe. One of the pleasures here is breakfast, held in the main house, a rather grander affair, moved bodily across the street and planted here a few years back. This is the only place I've ever seen fruit salad with strawberries teamed with hard-boiled eggs and cheese.

(Very tasty, I must say. Especially after a good dose of bacon and scrambled egg).
"How", you might ask,  "do they shell all those eggs?"

They have a machine to do it, of course!

At the Gruene Homestead Inn, this sight intrigues me, the old well and water tank. Wind pumps are a common sight in the vistas of Texas, in so much of the country, the water's deep below the surface. But here, the hard edges of the steel are tempered and softened by the twining wisteria, who sees the  opportunity, in her embrace, to climb above the surrounding countryside, turning the steelwork into a frame for her blue flowers and soft green foliage.
We stayed here a year ago. Another post from this place can be found here.

Sometimes I see this as a metaphor for us, RDG and me. Each partakes of the other's qualities, and each gains in the exchange. Over the years, like the windpump and wisteria, we've grown together, and entwined.

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Sunday 14 April 2013

Just start from here... In your own words, no hurry. When you're ready? Okay?

Well, yes, where do I start?
I really have forgotten how to do all this stuff with keyboards and so on. I've been away. Away from the world, away in another place, but not a place you can find on the map, I've been away in a metaphysical sense as well as a geographical translocation.
I've been travelling with the Red Dirt Girl.
Those of my readers who have a history here will know some of our back-story, but it deserves a re-telling. It extends back to just a little before page one of my blog, back at the end of December, 2006.
I'd been blogsurfing, found a writer who'd posted a poem which I liked, wandered into the previous posts, had a fun hour or so of reading, looking at pictures, fascinating diversions. So I left a comment. Only the blog didn't accept anonymous comments, nor, so far as I then understood it, comments from anybody without a Blogger i.d.
What to do? I want to leave a comment to say how neat the blog is, so, I sign up, get a blogger i.d. and leave my comment. Only now I have a blogger account and no idea what that means, nor what to do with it, so I indulge my inner idiot, and invent a blog name and write something, and suddenly we're careering toward the trees with no stabiliser wheels and no brakes. I'm sure the occupants of the interwebs, those folk who were here first, before me, the big kids.... yes, just like that, like your first day at a new school. They're going to stomp on my lunch, ridicule my speech, flush my head down the toilet. But no. they were kind and welcoming, and its now well  over six years, and that blogger whose blog I liked, well, she responded, and we started a dialogue, and about seven months later, she stepped off a plane, thousands of miles from home and gave me a big hug.

I can't imagine really how much courage it took to do that, especially when her dad was warning her what a crazy person she was, going to meet some unknown foreign guy, far away from all that was safe, he was probably a weirdo and a serial killer.

But she did. She made that leap of faith, and, as luck would have it, I may be weird, but I'm no cereal killer. Except for corn-flakes. We'd learned a lot about each other, of course, by then, but even so, it was nerve wracking. After about three days I told her that I planned to marry her. I didn't exactly ask, I just told her. We were sitting in York Minster, in a beam of coloured light from ancient stained-glass windows. She didn't scream. Nor did she run away.

A little later, I persuaded her to sit on the pedestal of a roman column, for a photograph, she was not too sure, thought the romans might arrest her, for despoiling an ancient monument. That's what happens when you grow up in a world where a building from the 1960s is regarded as 'Historic'.

 I think she looks happy?
Here we are, six years later, and we're still both happy.  And I'm packing up my life, ready to move to the U.S. to marry her. 
There's a ring, made specially for her finger, by a craftsman working in a tiny village where there are remains of Roman villas, some 20 miles north of where that picture was taken. And there's a heap of paperwork, grinding slow as a glacier, through the machinery of government, but one day soon, I'll get the piece of paper summoning me to the embassy in London for a 'Fiance Visa' interview.
Once my passport is stamped, I'll be winging my way west to a new life, with the person I should have met twenty years ago.

As I say, I've been travelling. With my best friend, my missing piece, the one who says the word I'm thinking. We're not clones, we're very different, but we fit. We fit like matched gears, like jigsaw pieces, like beats of a heart.
At the moment, we're apart. We speak every day, the phone companies  should love us, but instead just overcharge us with glee. Thank heavens for skype.

Sometimes the internet does good. I wasn't looking for this, I'd no idea this would be the result of one little comment, but I'm very happy it did.

Happy Birthday, Red Dirt Girl!

(More travelling, and pictures to come)

Thursday 11 April 2013

This blog will shortly resume.

I've been travelling for a zillion hours.
I want to go to bed, but if I do, then I'll wake up at about two in the morning, still on Texas time.
I need to go out and buy food and milk.

Update when my brain catches up.

But I can tell y'all, that when I touched down at London Heathrow, I wanted to walk straight over to the gate that was boarding a flight back to Texas.