Showing posts from October, 2009

I cried today

The day today was engagingly beautiful, clear blue skies that required no need for a coat to defend. For four week previous to today the man at the top of the John Hancock’s building tells us, 94 stories up, you could not see the next tower due to cloud. But today we can see far into the horizon of Lake Michigan. As we wondered thru Chicago towards Millennium Park we were unsure what we would find, newness and discovery are great companions on a journey. Perhaps part of what I have discovered on this journey is that expectation should be much more of a constant companion in everyday life. But do not rule out surprise. A life without surprise is a life without joy and I am aware now that too many of my days before this journey have been joyless, lacking surprise and light with expectation. But today is a day of surprise. As we walked across the water of Crown fountain towards the next event I was unprepared, for how can you prepare for joy. Before me, before us all was something of joy…

Self medication

As an ex mechanic when raise the bonnet of the car there are a number of challenges that i feel more comfortable with the expert dealing with.
When i take a walk down the aisle of a chemist here there is a growing sense of unease within me as I engage with the possibilities of self medication in the USA. For the most part self medication in England is the choice between Ibuprofen and aspirin and if you’re not sure go to the doctor anyway it is free and he has nothing to do if you don’t go and see him or her.
I want you to have a think for a moment, count the amount of various holes ins and outs you have spaced around your body? The sort of places you often tell young children not to mess with in public or put anything into them. Remind me to tell you the time my daughter got a pea stuck in her nose. Anyway back to the point as I walk the aisle of the chemist where you can buy coffee and doughnuts i am astonished what the sell. I know I sound like the kid from the county again. But they…

Things you should never overhear

There are things you should never overhear, confessions to and of a priest. The whisper of lovers, unless you’re one of the two. The cries of a desperate man under the pressure of life. The public admission of our dark parenting methods. There is a story that does the rounds of people I know. In the good old days if a child would not sleep grannies encouraged parents to dip the dummy into sherry or put a little drop into their bottle, it will help them rest, was the belief. I am sure you will know it too.
After a long day, a longer night and then another morning on one of our train journeys the children around me are tired, excited, looking forward to going home. So show little signs of rest. As the family prepare to leave the train or de train as they call it here. Mom, I presume, says to the little one “if you don’t stop I’ll give you a RitilinshaKe”. I have to check that my hearing is correct and we agree Ritillineshake. The child then begins to sort of sing a song I want a shake, I…

we`are going to be early

It is 8 in the morning and they announce the train is going to be early into Chicago. We expected to be at 4 in the afternoon. So they are bringing breakfast and lunch forward. Don’t forget this a three day trip and can be 5 or more hours late. So they finished breakfast early so we could fit lunch in at 10:30. So i am presuming we are going to be in at just gone 12. Another announcement informs us all we will be arriving at for a 30 mins early arrival they bring lunch forward to start at 10:30. I am wondering if we would be 1 hour early would they bring breakfast 6-7 then lunch 8-10,i am a bit confused. When i first got on the train in NT to New Orleans i looked at the menu and thought oh that’s nice, then New Orleans to Houston i thought Oh that’s ok, then Houston to LA i thought that’s familiar, then LA to San Francisco MMM, then San Fran to Glenwood Springs I thought this is very familiar then Glenwood springs to Chicago i thought bloody hell not again. I could have had ha…


When is too much too much? When we are all held ransom to the talk unlimited mobile phone contract is the answer. As my blog would indicate I have had some excellent and stimulating conversations with people here. But I have had to listen to many more people and their vacuase inane desperately dull phone monologues. I can only assume that after 25 minuets of my neighbour in the train carriage inflicting their monologue on their loved one on the other end they will go home and find they have shot themselves out of desperation. Because at times I am looking for a window to throw myself out of onto the wastelands of Iowa and Jesus said love your neighbour he did not have to sit next to this lot for two days.
At times I go to a Christian community a house run by an order of sisters and most of the time (Major Saints Days excluded) we have silent meals which I have grown to appreciate. But all my evangelical zeal used in explaining the benefits of the silence to my children still leaves th…

LA other views

Hi for both of you who read my relefctions on Los Angeles might be interested in an article on the link below it is not good reading unless your out for revenge

San Francisco to Glenwood Springs

I am watching a group of 25 year olds go up the train one has a silver metal case I presume he has a musical instrument he will play in the observation car. By the time we reach the observation car, strange name like you can’t observe from any other car, tanoy announcement stop looking out the windows unless you’re in the observation car, end of announcement. Yes so I get to the Observation car and the case is open and in full swing you guessed it is a poker game. There are neat piles of different coloured chips in front of the players and playing cards are doing the rounds. This game continues to evolve in one form or another until Reno ** hours. There is beer drunk stories swapped money lost and won but no arguments, no bad language, no difficult embarrassing encounters with fellow human beings. Just fun.
This train journey is made up of the usual Amtrak characteristics top speed of 50 70 MPH, the occasional stop for track maintenance, when you are always told by the crew what the p…

LA Church

I have toiled with this blog about church in LA, because it was so disappointing and therefore did not want my immediate feelings to dominate my writing,
On this sabbatical journey church is always a challenge. It begins with Google; searching, mapping, locating buses etc. I planned to go to a St Mary’s here but the buses worked against me, so I go to the cathedral. I wonder how St Paul did his church hopping without Google maps.
For those of you who don’t do church this might fit all your expectations. It was a vast building hiding a highly decorated interior. I brought a book from their bookshop before the service and spoke to a guy in the queue who was very nice and offered to take me for a beer, but I told him I was moving on the next day.
I sat in a pew on my own and waited for the service to begin trying to prepare myself, an indulgence I do not get to do often. There was music and a procession of the good and the great; robed, costumed and looking out of place in modern America. …


Today we drove down from Monterey to The Big Sur, it is the first Sunday of my sabbatical I have not gone church.
We spend some of the afternoon on the beach and the experience is truly beautiful. The sandy floor is the on the edge between clear blue sky inland and the fog coming of the pacific and on the shore are waves. The waves come and come and come in their different forms rushing with excitement as if they are going somewhere they come with purpose as if they hold an appointment with someone or something. The big waves come to the show like large teenagers running towards daddies’ car to be loaned. The smaller ones like children running to the ice cream van eager for reward. Then come those waves that slowly edge their way across the sand when they arrive they hardly cover your feet they are like old people make less noise happy the stroll not in need of excitement.
But the waves come in all their forms. And they have come to the sand dependable since before time. Before the plan…

just out of reach

It was a late Monday night and we were exiting the Westfield shopping complex the sky was Disneyesqu in its colour, in front of us was a man with a paper cup. Ok so some of you are a little pissed with angle I am taking. My brother has text me to say he is having to get some therapy because I am depressing him.
So what has changed since one me has become 2 well. We have also been doing the married things we usually do on holidays. Does this ring any bells with you? looking at supermarkets to see what the locals buy. We also go looking at estate agents to buy houses we will never live in and can’t afford. So we take the hire car to Moteray to go the Big Sur, but I have to own up to a lie. I promised myself at home to hire, a Ford Mustang (red if possible) with no hoffing roof. I get to the hire shop and say, like a man of 50 something with no vision, do you have a compact? I look round to see who would book such a car to go down highway 1 in California. There is no one else inline, it’s…