Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to you too

My mother works at the Mater Hospital where the Starlight Children's Foundation have their Starlight room.

Dad and I picked her up to go and see some carols by the river during the week. We stopped to look at the message in the Starlight room widow that mum had noticed that morning.


Merry Christmas to you too Captain Starlight we all thought. 




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writing, right.

Have I told you? I've been doing some writing.

I'm planning on attempting to record some stories from the past 11 years or so. It has been a mixed experience so far and I get the sense it will be a massive challenge. Painful and jubilant, but also grinding at times.

It feels like a valuable thing to me, and as I was reflecting this week I feel really good about having it as a task to build my time around.

I'm currently working on the beginning of 2009 and I thought I might share this little bit with you. It makes me feel good about our girl Stacy. A little easier to remember and feel her presence with some words that might have come from her.


Boxing class started the next week and Stacy got stuck right in. Stacy would meet Leila and the group in the parklands and training would last for an hour. Running, punching, squats, running, sit ups, punching, holding pads, punching pads, running, etc. 

The first time Stacy came home she looked like she had be rung loose after an hour in a washing machine. Her face and body were stretched and squeezed, hot and dripping. She sat on the couch and went quiet for a while, quiet. 

‘Good session Stace?’ I proffered with a grin.
‘Oh my God!’ 
‘Really? What’s the story at boxing Muncher?’ enquired her strangely pleased husband. 
‘Oh my God Mike, my arms! I don’t think I can hold them up anymore. It was hard to drive home’ she said dramatically. 

Having opened the flood gates her description flowed. ‘then you have to run around the…you just have to keep punching the pad until…and there are so many stairs...the thing is Mike, that you don’t stop until everyone is done.’ She recounted the session and basked in the effort and the obstacle. 
‘It is great to see you so pumped up and also so worn out Stace. Go and have a shower and lets eat’ I prompted. 

‘I am so hungry, I want a bowl as big as my head’ she threw over her shoulder, closely followed by her shirt as she headed down the hall. The shirt landed with a slap. Training had begun. 





Friday, December 6, 2013

Hair cut in Brisbane

It has been coming for a while, a post about being home.

Before I left, and at times during the trip away I experienced a feeling of trepidation about returning to Brisbane and more specifically returning to life outside of fantasy.

Finding a job, driving around the neighbourhood, walking the dogs down familiar paths, cooking dinner - for one, visiting friends, Christmas and birthdays. These regular parts of life hold both a simple enjoyment and in part a haunting parody of those same activities in another time.

Towards the end of my travels as I began to look towards returning from a most satisfying adventure, it was natural to consider what it would be like to be home. The reality has been that life here in Brisbane is much the same as life anywhere, challenge and opportunity.

Generally I've had a really great time since I've been back home. When I say back home I mean broadly Australia and Brisbane but also specifically Victoria St with Mum and Dad. It has been really nice to spend time here with the folks, we had a bit of sharing and mutual mourning to do.

In other areas I've sold a few Barbecues, taught a few lessons at school, thrown a few frisbees, scratched a few words out with the keyboard and spent some time with friends.

The plan from here is to follow the pattern of the last few weeks however to follow it in the nation's capital. I'm going to head down there in the first week of January and attempt to delve into recent history through some writing while I delve into the future with some running, and catching (Frisbees).

I feel very hopeful about the planned events of the new year and I'm confident I will continue to enjoy spending time here at home.


Oh and I got a hair cut, it was good.








Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One Pair of Shoes

Hello folks, Mike here.

I put some pictures of a shoe together, it's pretty sweet. Don't mind the backgrounds.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walkabout


Well that is it, I'm flying home tomorrow.
Frisbee - done,
Colombia - done,
Italy - done,
Wedding - done.
Montana, Denver, Florida - done,
New York, Detroit, California - done,
Canyons, canyons, Vegas - done,
Trip - done, almost.

I'm flying to Brisbane and then Canberra tomorrow. Make a few connections, play a little frisbee, make some reconnections then head on home.

I was thinking a day ago, as I was completing a great hike in Bryce Canyon, that walking has been a significant part of this trip. I've walked in some incredible physical places and i've walked in some significant emotional states as well.

I walked in Rome, I walked in solitude and in company.
I walked in Florence, I walked in loneliness and in connection.
I walked in Glacier National park, I walked in jubilation and in distress.
I walked in the ocean, I walked in relief and in freedom.
I walked in New York City, I walked in pain and in optimism.
I walked in Zion National park, I walked in positivity and in hope.
I walked in Bryce Canyon, I walked in reflection and in remembrance.

I walked in these, and other emotional states through these and other physical places. I looked at sights and I felt things. My physical location changed and my emotional experience followed. I haven't been on a walk this trip that didn't involve some kind of emotional shift or journey. Some changing slightly, others dramatically. Forwards and backwards, sometimes combining laps of emotions with laps of a city.

I've had some really positive and joyful emotions out here on this adventure and I've felt some exquisite distress. When I look back I can recall various emotional experiences in a similar way to remembering physical destinations. Just like each stop on this fairly long trip has been different, unique and valuable as a part of the whole, so too i think each changing emotional condition has contributed to my overall current optimistic sensation.  

Walking though the world both internally and externally have been excellent aspects of this large and complicated adventure. Some of my treasured moments have involved me, some thoughts and some distance to cover.

The walkabout is over for now as i'm coming home. I have no doubt though that the journey will continue, and i'm very hopeful that I'll take all those great walks along with me as I go.              







Thanks to Shannon and Maggie for some great walking photos.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A big view


What is it about a massive vista that makes the viewer feel so strongly?

The size, the age, the beauty. It's like when you look out onto a landscape that is vast and majestic, almost to the point that it becomes difficult to comprehend, something happens. Something happens within, a change surrounding emotion and perspective.

Perhaps when you realise that a physical space is so large and beautiful that your mind can't really grasp or understand it, peace is found in the knowledge that other incomprehensible issues might be beautiful too. Why do bad things.....? What does it mean when......? How can suffering be so.....? What is the reason for....? Who would deserve......?

The answer to many of these kinds of questions are "I don't know", or something vague enough to actually mean I don't know: "there is a plan", "luck I guess", "everything happens for a reason", "when a door closes a window opens", "I don't know".

It seems to me that some things in life are well beyond our ability to explain, understand, categorise and even really sense effectively. What is love? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die? When will I understand life?

I think there is value in becoming comfortable with not knowing. Accepting that understanding life and the world isn't what it is all about. This is easy in times of happiness and peace. How lovely to say that right now I feel excellent and I don't really even know why. In times of strife however we seem to frantically search for a grasp on the why. This may not actually be helpful.

When I look at an epic view that includes shapes, structures, light and movement I feel a peaceful acceptance that the space before me is too significant, too magnificent for me to ever truly understand. I give up attempting to evaluate and categorise, label and know. Simply the task is just to look and feel wonder, smile and breath in the calm sensation of acceptance.

The lesson is directly before us, parts of the world and my life are clearly beyond my understanding. How beautiful to be able shift all that energy and effort towards appreciation and finding value.

The world is wonderful and terrible, knowing why does not change that.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Impressions, exchanges, travel - Zion

Today was a pumping day with a hike up the virgin river to The Narrows. It is cold and slippery and awesome. As the sand, water and dirt accumulate in overwhelmed shoes, so too the feeling of peace and joy accumulate in the heart. To enter a pure, and in actuality as well as name, virgin place it is difficult not to be internally affected.


Walking directly up the river has the powerful affect of creating a feeling of connection with the environment, possibly even a feeling of change. Each visitor is not simply strolling by, or walking over a track or mountain. To enter the Virgin river is to enter into a mutual interaction with the country. Water rushes into shoes and over shorts, rocks press and roll beneath searching feet. The walls close around heavily occupied vision and the river pulls at invigorated skin.

Striding up the canyon into the Narrows takes the traveller away from civilisation and into nature. The river claims the attention and the canyon walls surge forwards to earn it back. Small sandy banks and islands become as a forgotten home or a long lost friend. Sanctuaries from the relentless cold reach of the rushing water.

The river is at one moment an enemy to be avoided and escaped as soon as possible, then quickly transforms into a companion. A fellow traveller moving through the ancient rock kingdom. Briefly enjoying the mighty scale and inspiring shapes of the canyon walls, then hastily flowing on to new sights and furthur turmoil. It doesn't flow alone.

With every step a stone is turned or rolled, sand is kicked and scattered, water is splashed and shifted. The river and canyon are permanently altered by the awkward stumbling presence of human visitors. Each new passage slightly changes the pristine landscape.

It is however highly likely that the affect is repaid in full with the river leaving its cold, sandy and magnificent impression firmly on its fast moving and temporary canyon companions.  




I was a willing and joyful companion yesterday. The word spectacular describes more than Utah's Zion National Park, today it reaches to describe my buoyant spirit and fast flowing sense of optimism.







Friday, October 4, 2013

Beyond me, but maybe not Walt

I'm nearing the end of a week in New York City. It has been a wonderful time as I revisit and rediscover this city that at times feels familiar and for the majority seems beyond my comprehension and recollection.

I suspect my remaining five days will continue to delight and propagate development.

It truly is an amazing city and I'm thankful for the opportunity to visit here with exellent contacts and friends, both old and new. This man seems to have a fair handle on describing an almost undescribable city;

"It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails not;  20
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence;
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and know how it is.
  
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;  25
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d."

Walt Whitman

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mighty Montana

When I arrived in Montana I was ready for a rest, I didn't get one. After running around Colombia and Italy I was yearning for a home, a quiet place for a little while. What I got was a raucous wedding week.

Liz and Jeff's wedding was excellent and for me full of flower preparations, suit hunting, mountain climbing, memory sparking and wine drinking action. It really was a great time and i'm really glad I was able to spend some time with the bride and her attendants before the wedding. It was also an excellent college and high school reunion. I didn't attend the University of Norther Colorado, or Great Falls High however the people from both places feel like a home away from home to me, Go Bison!

After the wedding I found the nest I was craving by heading up to Great Falls to spend a couple of weeks with Dave and Debi and the rest of the GF community. It was a really good easy going time. I meet up with folks, organised my semi circumnavigation of the States, visited some memorable spots and explored some brand new corners of Montana.

I appreciate how familiar and comfortable my time in Great Falls was, I wanted a home and that is what I found over here.

I'm off now on the next section of the trip and leaving Great Falls feels like at step away from a home and the beginning of a journey home. I'll still be over here for five weeks, however it feels like i'm back on the road and that now i'll just follow my toes until I find myself back in Australia.

I remember when I booked this trip I wanted to make sure that it was long enough to begin to engender feelings of hope and enthusiasm at the idea of being back in Australia. I was afraid of being back home trying to live a life too early. I don't really know if that plan has been or will be effective however I know that i've had some great times and some sustained feelings of happiness over the last nine weeks.

I do feel optimistic about the future and about returning home in some ways. I think that internal journey can't help but be influenced by the external journey that i'm experiencing. I'm open to it taking me where it will, flowing smoothly, jolting aggressively, sharply changing direction or pushing against resistance. I don't have the fear and feeling of dislocation that I did in March and April anymore. I've never been short on positivity however I think that constant has been joined by an extremely comforting sense of optimism that is new and encouraging.

Travel on.


Here are some photos from my time in Montana. It was spectacular. Truly spectacular.

 





Friday, September 6, 2013

Lunch in the West


Every time the heavy glass door swung open and rattled closed again on its metal frame it was clear another person had entered the restaurant. Like a pair of timber saloon doors in an old hall in the Wild West, slamming or creaking open to mark the grand or meek entrance of the next customer. Upon entry every new patron is greeted by a slight hushing of the old western piano and a cessation of verbal violence across the saloon as games are held and evaluations are completed.

Most times life goes back to normal, most times.

So too at the Chinese restaurant in Great Falls Montana this afternoon. The Wild West is a bit of a stretch, although we are out in the west and at times it does get a little wild out here. The 'New Peaking Garden' is not a western saloon of the 1800s. The creaking floor boards, rowdy atmosphere and burnt black steaks have been replaced by industrial easy clean carpet, popular PG music mixed with family conversation and moderately over sauced vegetables and tofu. The plants are synthetic, the wontons are packed to bursting with cream cheese and the waitress used up all of her best material hours ago.

Dave, Debi and I came in after the lunch rush and were expecting a nice quiet meal in the near vacant restaurant. Only two other tables were occupied and the restaurant provided a gentle and cool respite from the baking and dusty summer day. We'd been riding all day, our horses were dry and our saddles were sore.

On most days and in most States a lunch at the local Chinese would climax with a full belly and questionable fortune, I'm still waiting for my "important email", I checked right away like it said. Not this day, not in this State. Immediately after a large plate of fried wontons crackled down on our table the familiar sound struck clearly. The front door opened firmly and blew back like the wind on the prairie.

Restaurant life stilled just slightly as a new man in town entered the New Peaking Garden and Wild West saloon. A lone man, a hard man, the kind of man you wouldn't want to rustled up a posse and have to ride out after. A man of few compromises, who knows what's right and that he is it, a man who doesn't wait in line, unless there is a sale on camoflague back packs.

Hard ridin', eye squintin', pink lemonade drinking. A baby faced bandit with a heart of gold. When he sits down to eat, he already knows what he wants, when he stands up to leave he just needs one hitch on his jeans. A legend in his own lifetime, thirty winters hard and thirty summers soft, a free man in a wild world.

As he strode through the entryway he was behind my back and not in my view. Dave game me the look, the head nod, and the sly grin. I knew I was in for a classic Montana sight. It could have been anything, a family all wearing overalls, a woman carrying two dogs, four punks, four hats, all backwards. My mind raced and I inclined my head in anticipation.

Blue jeans: fit - slightly baggy
Hat: baseball cap - camo
Shirt: T - slogan, "same shirt, different day"
Flip flops - oh you better believe it
Belt - Knife on one side
Pistol - Six barrel revolver


I've lived a fairly sheltered life with only a few dicey situations, perhaps I'm being naive. When I get to the point that I think I need to bring a Dirty Harry style revolver into a semi deserted Chinese restaurant at 2:30pm on a monday afternoon then perhaps things have gotten a little out of hand.

Dave and I asked ourselves if we were feeling lucky, and as it turns out we were so the pistol jokes flew through the air above our small cups of hot Chinese tea and the world seemed like a slightly crazy but also pretty fun place.

Lunchtime in Montana, the west is alive, classic.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A brush with Life, and Rome


I began to walk with a solemn countenance, understandable for a man wracked by past terrors and present torment. I hit an emotional trigger this afternoon and it all got pretty gruelling for a while. The past few weeks, in fact this whole trip so far has been wonderful, I've been happy. This afternoon it hurt a bit.

With a splash of water to the face, a pair of trusted and comforting companions on my feet and a fresh piece of fruit in hand I embarked.

The brilliance of life in our world assailed my mood and I almost ruefully smiled and shook my head, 'right you are existence, you are joyful'. I passed many sights on my walk east across the Tiber and into the old city. The vision that shook me to light was a family of four desperately manning their defences against an attack of gelato.

Each person was tested their full measure by the heaping cone of delicious Italian ice cream that was occupying their resources. The distribution of gelato to cone surface area was bold to say the least, one could almost describe the exuberant portion as reckless. Once combined with the presence of the warm afternoon sun the ice Cream pressed its advantage and this content family of tourists found themselves in the most serious of afternoon treat situations.

Licking was combined with leaning, biting with bending and as cameras, maps and day packs treacherously wriggled in their already heavily occupied grasp the only option was to surge forward with bold heart and broad lick.

This snap shot of a wonderful family scene pierced my mildly melancholic mood as I continued to move through the city and my own emotional complexity. I was grateful for the irrepressible magnificence of life that has repeatedly presented itself to me recently.    

I walked onward to one of my new favourite locations. On the back of a small hill, looking down at a long ago drained swampland. I sat and thought, thought and looked.

I am forced, thankfully forced to accept that to live here, in our world, is something that will be a source of joy and pleasure as well as occasional distress and disorder. I can expect the full variety, and importantly I suspect that if I'm open to it, the ice cream episodes will resolutely continue to follow the melancholic moments.





Friday, August 23, 2013

Hair cut in Firenze


 It has been coming for a while, one failed attempt in Boglietto, and a couple of months of concerted growing find me in a position of intermittent grooming distress. Really only the most benign state of distress mind you, however on occasion over the last fortnight I have thought to myself, "I could do with a hair cut".

With five days planned in fair Florence and with no actual plan to fill the days, my goal of arresting the exuberance on my head seemed highly manageable. Upon mentioning my primary goals for the day to my ragazzo Erjon up in reception this morning, "look at some statues, get a hair cut", he promptly proposed a solution.

"I don't know the name of the place but it is around the corner and it is where I get my hair cut". Based more on his choice of fashion forward shoes than his perfectly acceptable hair cut I decided to take Erjon's advice. Plus it was just around the corner.

With a passing remark about the hairdresser's frequent state of being "in demand" rolling in my mind I set off to make an appointment, or with fortune's favour boldly surge forth into the chair. I struck out through the market and scanned for the crucial corner to in action, go around, via Faenza.

A smooth run through the streets, with the relaxed air of a man on a mission that need not necessarily be done, and I soon found myself across the narrow traditional feeling lane that is via Faenza from a hairdresser. The store was indeed difficult to remember the name of as I'm not sure it had one. The thematic fashion decoration on the window and the ranks of chairs beyond gave away its purpose, my shaggy head gave away mine.

The salon hound greeted locals and tourists alike as they milled around the street or attempted entrance respectively.



I crested the entrata and was brought face to face with a signore who I'll elect to describe as looking like an Italiano hair dresser. Proud and effortlessly lofting hair, a brisk white button up shirt with sleeves rolled up in workmanlike fashion, delightfully stripped pants and a glorious pair of green shoes. Now to call these things shoes is an unfortunately accurate under description. They were more of an achievement in mans' never ending conquest over the realms and principality of comfort, design and aesthetic originality. The man looked the business, and for the second time that morning I was making a not completely inconsequential evaluation based on footwear. Close, but not completely.

This is either a sign of my slow absorption of Italiano customs and ideas, an inspired, inventive and effective new method for determining my life direction or a fundamentally flawed and potentially useless decision making matrix. Perhaps a combination, suffice to say that if I knew the Italian word for shoes I would have said, "nice shoes".

Gratefully as I approached he reined in the galloping morning music and we pretty effectively bridged our language gulf to organise a cutting of hair right then and there. Success! I believe now that I was the unwitting benefactor of Italian time management. I think I walked in at the very beginning of the day's trade and slipped right into a window between the day's first cafe and the day's second cafe slash first appointment.

The salon assistant had not arrived and between the hound, hairdresser and potentially my mentioning of a recommendation from a friend at the Hotel Corti de Medici we resolved to get started immediately.

This man who I will now refer to as Michelangelo set to work with a level of precision that I found most impressive. With the only real guidance given by me the word "shorter", he began the process. Scissors, texturising scissors, clippers on the long blade, clippers on the short blade, smaller clippers and finally a strait edged razor. This initial attention was almost exclusively applied to the hair line.

When I checked later the English word 'precision' does in fact translate to 'precisione' in Italian, which I'm thankful for because I said it and I meant it, precisione. I say Michelangelo because; one, I don't know many authentic Italian names. two, I appreciate a hopefully only slightly offensive national stereotype. three, the city I'm currently enjoying, renascence cradle, etc, etc. and four, my hairdresser's impressive attention to detail on the job, masterful. I mean it affectionately and I was a fan immediately.

As I was sitting in the chair enjoying this experience a few observations began to form into a thought, the time that Mich was taking, the comment about "high demand" from Erjon and the quality of the man's shoes suddenly made we wish I had checked the price beforehand. "This could get rough" I thought. Fortunately I'm skilled at releasing uncontrollable factors in life from my care and I quickly settled in to the experience, both in the chair now, and at the register later.

Some more scissors, a second wash, the hair drier, a second cafe and some hair wax later and the job was done. A simple wash, cut, wash, brush, shave, style, eyebrow trim all knocked over while the day's first booked customer and signorina Kate the salon assistant casually arrived.

Michelangelo did his work well and as I discovered from signorina Kate, who spoke fluent English with her native Ohioan accent, that he had been doing so for 15 years. "He is from Napoli and they start their apprenticeship young down there, when they are 13".

We agreed that you could tell, he is good and really precise. We also agreed that Ohio was a great place to grow up and then great to move away from, to Montana, Florida or say, even to Florence.

A Firenze hair cut, not so grand an event, but maybe a little moment worth rambling away about.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Firenze moment


Once I got clear of the street merchants selling all manner of gear Firenze turned out to be beautiful. The Palazzo Vecchio and it's adjoining piazza del Signoria form a special place.

Tonight the moon was full, a wonderful acoustic guitar player was caressing the evening and the grand buildings and statues of this 'cradle of the renaissance' were lit up beautifully. There was a magical moment tonight that is already hard to capture and I expect soon to be hard to remember. The spirit of the place was alive and while it wasn't necessarily gentle or benevolent, exciting or invigorating, it was palpable. It didn't grab you and say "feel me, experience this!" The moment was there if you decided you wanted to be still long enough for it to all come together and emerge to be experienced.

The music occasionally muffled and then soaring as it danced with the crowd noise, the moon, easily lost amidst all the other structures and sights, sliding through cloud drifts to gently illuminate the city. Rambling streets that forced the buildings to gather together like people standing and talking in a crowded room. The never before seen and yet uncomfortably familiar shadow of one of the David replicas standing in front of the Palazzo. Tall statues, taller buildings and upward facing lights. A large crowd of people that steadily move into the absent foreground given enough time in one place to observe all of the other factors that are waiting for you.

I sat on the stone ledge of a magnificent colonnade for long enough for this magical scene to become accustomed to me and swim up out of the depths. Showing itself as a fleeting whole to only briefly be glimpsed and appreciated. Once I noticed it I realised that of course it had been there all along. The living spirit of a place, delicate and precious that I suspect has been robustly here for an age.

It was a beautiful first night in Firenze and I'm very thankful to be here.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Northern Italy


Tuesday's plan was to drive around the local area, get a look at the Piemonte region, Wednesday it's off to Alba for morning tea, walking around and then Lunch. Thursday is an Italian holiday so we'll just take it easy and then head down to the local town fair, Friday we are heading to the coast for a day at the Mediterranean, and on Saturday we will get a hair cut.

The only event on the packed calendar for Saturday was to get my hair cut. The whole family was committed to this plan, Clare and girls would stay at home playing outside in the morning, Jason and I would head down to town and i'd get the local Italian special.

Unfortunately the Saturday morning hair cut seems to be a broadly appreciated plan here, and finding myself at the end of a five deep line some quick thinking was required. It was quick and in relatively unusual fashion for me decisive. Eh, my hair isn't that long.

So with the single plan for the day having promptly failed the only choice was to spend today, eating, drinking and taking a cheeky jog up the local version of heartbreak ridge.

It has been a magnificent day in the Northern Italian hills. Breakfast, relax, run, lunch, kids, nap, Saturday night footy on the internet, phone call home, dinner and now vino and sunset on the patio.

I'm loving the time up here with Jason, Clare, Zali (4) and Chelsea (2). It has created a nice feeling of home for me to relax, review and rev up for the next little section of exploration in. In a couple of days I'm heading back south to Firenze and then back to Roma. Both cities continue to captivate my imagination and i'm really looking forward to wandering through the streets and enjoying the blend of history and the present that exist in these wonderful places.

I'm wondering through my own history and present life internally most days, so it feels appropriate to cruise the streets of a place like Florence that shares its modern day city centre with the Roman camp that it began as.
Mum in case you were wondering Firenze was created as a town by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in the late days of the republic as a place to settle his veterans. You'd remember Sulla as Marius' friend, general and eventual arch enemy. Dictator of Rome, mum, anything?

Anyway i'm looking forward to the next section of my trip, however it is going to be pretty difficult to turn my back on this Piemonte farm house full of love and friends with it's spectacular sunsets.






Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Most August


The August sun refuses to set here in Roma, it's 7:55pm, dinner is over and this is the view:
The lights just came on here at the outdoor seating of the restaurant. As far as I can tell it still looks like 4:30 in the afternoon.




Perhaps this summer evening is just attempting to keep pace with its name sake, Augustus Caesar the first emperor of Rome. Young Octavius whose great uncle Gaius Julius Caesar lifted himself so far above his peers that he ripped the republic apart and gave birth to the spectacular Roman Empire, may have struggled his whole life to eclipse his adopted father. Gaius Julius Caesar who's name gives us the month July, was followed on the path to history by Octavius, who became Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filus (son of a god if my suspect historical fiction education can be trusted) after Ceasar's assassination. He then later emerged from a titanic struggle for power as the first emperor of Rome, Augustus.

August follows July like Octavius followed Gaius. The summer evening seems to powerfully hold sway over this day as night seemingly gives way to the irresistible power of an August afternoon.

For me sitting here in the beauty of an unrelenting and yet soon to be bested August evening holds a certain perspective. Part of that perspective may come directly from the mouth of the half bottle of Merlot that came with dinner. 375ml of Italy's low to mid level finest. To me it seems borderline awesome, my palette could probably use some work.

Perspective: The earth has been here for an age, people have been scrapping it out for thousands of years and my life is just a vino drop in the ocean of red grape juice. Parts of it have been challenging, the majority has been spectacular. Many have suffered loss and disaster. Here in this city pain has been mixed with delight for thousands of years.

The challenge is to strive like the August (or July) sun to shine while you can and maybe light your corner of the world for a while.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hola Colombia

Colombia has been a great mixed experience. Some frisbee, some holiday time with team mates and friends, some looking at stuff. I'm really grateful to have been here.

As always frisbee comes first. The team was good, our connection was strong and everyone seemed really happy to be a part of the unique experience. We played pretty well and won the silver medal. aussiecrocs.net is the place to get all that info.

Having the World Games in Colombia definitely added an exciting level of interaction to the event. Four years ago in Taiwan it was obvious from the decorations, facilities and city wide organisation that the games were a big deal in town.

This time in Colombia it was obvious that having the World Games in town was a significant event because of the way the local people interacted with us. The level of interest, engagement and excitement that came from the Cali locals was massive. They seemed to love having us in town and I don't think we exhausted their enthusiasm for photos, autographs and pieces of our apparel and equipment.

It was a remarkable experience of interacting with locals who craved our attention because of the Australian team shirts we were walking around in. Sharing this magnificently foreign experience with our small group of team mates was an absolute highlight. The people on this  team will look at each other in years to come and laugh and shake our heads at the incredible experience of being on team Australia at the 2013 World Games.

The frisbee is over now and the fans are gone. We'll they have probably just moved on to Canoe Polo now. My post tournament experience has been excellent too. Jonno and I headed up to Bogota to spend a few days with Manuel and Lilian who lived in Brisbane for a few years and are now back at home in Colombia.

Excellent hosts and a portal into Colombian life that we were not able to access from the police escorted coach we travelled around in at the tournament. Dani from the team has been in Bogota as well and together with our local friends we have climbed Monserrate, explored the old down town area and spent an evening dancing like the Colombians do. It has been a nice come down from the semi ecstatic experience with the team in Cali and a gentle way to face the reality that the mission of our lives over the last six months is over.

Bogota has been a great pit stop and now the journey continues. I'm off to Italy tonight and no one is coming with me. I'm definitely feeling a yearning today as I detach myself from the company of my friends who have been a mighty source of strength and joy over recent weeks and months. Moving ahead now by myself for a while feels a little daunting, i'm not sure what i'll find with an uninterrupted period of my own company.

The course is set now and i'm sure the next piece of my trip will hold some expected and unexpected experiences. I'm pretty sure i'm interested.

Love to you folks out there. Thanks for your continued company on the journey.

Mike





Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Driving north, feeling lighter

I left Canberra on Wednesday last week. It was a great visit, a real sanctuary for me. I have significant feelings of gratitude to Jonno and the assembled Canberra community, new friends and old for their welcome and hospitality.

None the less it was time to move on, maybe even move up depending on your understanding of the world. Road trip.

Three days with overnight visits to the Delaney connection in Sydney and the Holmes connection in Coffs Harbour.

It was a good trip, these photos fail to do it justice:









Speaking of good trips the next one starts in less than 2 days time. LA, Miami, Colombia, Italy, Montana, Colorado, Florida, New York, Ontario, Michigan, California. Whoa.

This blog will probably be the best way to follow, maybe some Facebook.

To follow the team this site will be solid: http://aussiecrocs.net

To watch actual games you need to get on this now, today!: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/broadcast-of-ultimate-at-the-world-games-2013?c=home

Brisbane has been pretty excellent these last 4 days, I wonder if the world will live up to it?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy


Day 115
Thursday 27th of June

Sometimes I think it is hard to remember how happy we were together. There are events that are possible to remember and highlights that catch the mind. Happiness is an emotion though and not a thought, I think that means it is harder to recall. A thought is something that can be stored and rethought. Brought back out from time to time and thought again, changed, merged, returned to the original and thought again. As such they can be remembered, like a place or a time of year, you can go back and be there again.

Emotions are much less tangible and I think that makes them more elusive. When you are experiencing an emotion it is full power. The emotion can be everything, or just part of a thing, however it is at its fullest in the moment and retaining or returning to an emotional sensation is an impossible feat I suspect.

Looking at these photos from May 2009 I think I can grasp at a sense of how happy Stacy and I were. 
We are on our way to a weekend away and stopped at a beautiful roadside country café. Stacy ordered a burger, as is her want, I ordered Devonshire Tea. The photos capture the moment when Stacy decides she now wants Devonshire Tea as well.

I knew this was going to happen, she knew this was going to happen and we are both so in love with each other and the spectacular relationship we have built that this is something we are happy about. I play the inconvenienced husband, Stacy plays the cheeky and doted on wife. We share my scones with jam and cream and are so happy it comes tearing out of the pictures. 
















Saturday, June 1, 2013

Out with the pack

video

Still good in Canberra, Holmes and I are plus one dog and minus one house mate. Frisbee training is going well, I'm getting stronger and staying interested.



I'm doing a little writing as well, it is laborious, however it feels good to do. Here is a sample from the other day. This is set 2 days after I picked Stacy, and 15 other new staff up from the airport in 2001.



Mid lick of my heartily heaped ice cream I lost control and the loaded cone seemed to gently fall through space to touch down intact on the gas station floor. Sanitation level; questionable.  It sat there proudly with the cone facing directly towards the ceiling and with a jaunty tilt back towards the booth where Stacy and I were sitting. Somehow the ice cream had sustained less damage than my rapidly melting ego.

A moment of still followed which seemed to stretch unexplainably. I looked at the ice cream, I looked at Stacy. Stacy looked at me, then she looked at the ice cream. As a woman of decisive action, and with a keen sense of the cheeky Stacy briskly reached down, picked up the ice cream, licked all the way around the edge and gave it back to me.

The momentarily stunned reaction from the booth was convincing shattered by Stacy’s completely infectious and irrepressible laugh and life returned to normal. That is except for my world view which had been shaken up and was only slowly settling back into something recognisable.

One of the most beautiful, funny and contagiously likable girls I had ever met just licked up ice cream that had fallen on a country gas station’s floor. She had done this for me so that I could continue to enjoy my ice cream.