Final hours

As midnight arrives, less than 24 hours remain for our brief stay in the UK/Great Britain/London.

Could we have stayed longer?


Should we have?

Good question.

Much remains to be seen outside the tourist stops.

We certainly could see more remains, more burial grounds.

We have learned more than we’ll remember, as usual.

I, for one, have a greater appreciation for the writings of Douglas Adams, knowing now why he seemed to have an obsession with doors, doors which “love nothing more than to open and close for passing users, and thank them profusely for so emphatically validating their existence,” after hearing announcements on the Tube and on our apart’hotel lift such “Please mind the door. Door closing.  Please mind the door.  Door closing.  Door closing.  Door closing.” repeated over and over sometimes before the door would finally close as if it was testing your patience or making absolutely sure that you were securely away from the door mechanism.

I felt again a love I held for a woman I can never call mine when I sat in Queen’s Theatre in London and listened to the excellent performances of current cast members, especially Rachel Ann Go singing anything and Eva Noblezada singing “On My Own”:

On my own pretending he’s beside me…
And when I lose my way I close my eyes and he has found me…



Haven’t spent much more than a few hours in London, two instances both occurring in Heathrow Airport.

Until this week.

Arrived in London a little more than a day ago, seeing almost immediately that London, like any other large city, represents the world of humans, some subcultures sticking out more than others.

Sitting in our rental flat this evening, watching a bit of tellie, BBC coverage of the 2016 Olympics, I’ve quickly learned that the level of slick television journalistic professionalism of a small island like Great Britain or Ireland can’t compare to larger countries like the U.S., India or China, simply because of available population to participate in television production.

It’s like watching a state-level show on the tellie back across the Big Pond in the States, slightly rough around the edges but slicker than local community stations.

Beats the old days of the BBC, though, which seemed to show dairy farming films on every channel and those period pieces that all resembled one Jane Austen novel or another that never approached the quality of a Merchant-Ivory production.

With offshoring still a popular choice for employing underused humans, I’d think every electronic broadcast could have the number of bodies necessary to up the level of television production to the high quality.

Apparently not.

Maybe it’s like Uber, creating semiprofessional amateurs replacing a professional class of highly-trained personnel earning a good annual wage with workers who are good enough, earning a little extra spending money whilst trusting Google Maps rather than one’s memory for getting a passenger from Point A to Point B.


Born to be a man of the cloth: A poem

Born to be a man of the cloth,

Forever Lost in childhood wonder,

In joyous merriment,

Laughing on a royal parapet;

At comfort and peace in ancient abbies,

Hearing prayers for the royal family,

Wishing for life in a monastery;

We all seem to worship services,

Giving them names like religion, sports, celebrities, family.
Born to be a man of the cloth,

Choosing, instead, to live amongst the throngs,

Tempted by love to veer off the path,

The path which points to Life where the cloth is laid out on another sphere.

— Rick Hill, Sunday, 14th August 2016


in the details

How quickly we forget the little details of our travails.  I, for one, know I’ll forget the first time I rode the Tube in London because a train, whether elevated, underground or overland, is a train.

Just as, when traveling the Tube today we met a couple from Malaysia, the husband speaking English, the wife possibly only Malay and Chinese, but the two of them wanting to talk with us (me only saying repeatedly “Shay-uh, shay-uh” to the wife as she continued to share Bing cherries with me), discussing with keen interest the American presidential election and the ramifications of one major candidate or the other, them looking forward to their Stratford trip (he quoted Shakespeare with ease and joked about the difficulties Will’s schoolteacher must have had with a young lad so well versed in his home language).

Or Justyna, our server tonight at the pub, who’s just over to Great Britain for the summer as she works long hours to earn money for her spending money where she’ll pursue a career back home in Poland as a military doctor.

The server this afternoon in an Italian eatery, who calls Milan her home.

The cashier at Harrod’s working on his university studies here in London.

The worker at the London Eye with the last name Husband.  If she is a Husband, where is the wife? (a joke she (jokingly) never gets tired of hearing)

The Beefeater at the Tower of London who was angry at me for taking his picture because there were security personnel behind him and I hadn’t asked his permission first.  When I did ask his permission, he said no and to leave the entryway immediately.  Was he in character?  I couldn’t tell because he continued to have an angry disposition the rest of the Tower tour.

The snippets of life histories of fellow tourists, as if we’re in “A Room With A View,” “Bride and Prejudice” or an Oscar Wilde/Simon Pegg screwball comedy.

These details, as well as others — our strong-willed, warm, gracious hosts at the Cashelmara Lodge and Orchard House B&B in Ireland (which already feels like a lifetime ago (has it only been a week?)), who make you want to return again and again, like visiting your favourite aunt.

If I don’t capture these moments — clearly seeing the Milky Way Galaxy in Galway Bay — they’ll pass into remote recall when I’m in the nursing home with my robot caretakers trying to decipher my mumbling based on their analysis of my digital life, extrapolating trends and interpolating gaps in my life history.

Rather than spend time writing notes on postcards to friends and family back home, I write here and spend a few minutes remembering the recent past in a blog entry.

At one time I would’ve stayed up until the wee hours drinking and dancing with strangers.

I won’t this evening.

I create reasons not to go out, including sun poisoning.

Despite all the wonderful new memories I’ve formed with others on this trip, I’ve offworld inventions wanting their day in the sun.

Good night, my friends.  I look forward to sharing more adventures with you!


Molly M

Alive a live o-oh, alive a live o-oh…cockles and mussels…

That’s the words I hear in me head when I’m standing in a pub, listening to traditional Irish music on a Sunday (soon-day) night with a friend and a room full of friendly strangers.

The moments we can’t capture on fil-um, when a pint of Guinness (or Murphy’s or some hoppy lager) fills your stomach and asks you to stay a bit longer.

Yes, those.

And these — the smiles we share when we’re clapping together in sync with the Celtic tunes almost as old as time, the bits and pieces we pick up from the instruments (accordion, pennywhistle, guitar, fiddle, voice), the singalongs and the drinkalongs, the couples kissing, the couples arguing, the singles dancing and the groups laughing together at an inside joke…

Yes, indeed.

Tonight was just such a night at a popular spot in Killarney, no need for photographs, living as one did in the moment, giving oneself to the performers, listeners and barkeeps (and some combination of them all (none of us giving much thought to quantum mechanics (probably (most likely (maybe)))))…

Wantin’ to relive memories from a decade ago, doing so, getting locked inside a pub with a singer, his daughter, and granddaughter belting out old tunes, acting as door bouncer meself for the tourists who di’n’t know better that a feller from Alabama was lettin’ them in after 11 p.m. at a Killarney pub he’d never set eyes on 15 minutes before.

What was the name of that pub?

Can’t remember, me bein’ alone and all, my previous night’s companion headin’ back to the B&B, full of diet Coke and wantin’ a full night’s sleep afore we take the RoK at 8 in the mornin’.

So there I was, all by meself, watchin’ the honest, heartfelt performance of three generations of pub singers and thinkin’ back earlier on the day when I showed a clerk behind the cash register at Bunratty Castle shopping centre a video of Jenn Nye and Travis Nixon dancing West Coast Swing, explaining to the clerk, who mistook me for Travis that I’d help Jenn teach a class of West Coast Swing and woulda kept doing so until me wife complained I was getting too familiar with Jenn, so, to show the clerk the difference between West Coast Swing and what the Irish call jive (since I’d seen the clerk dancing a bit of solo to a pop song playing over the PA system and her telling me she liked line dancing and then asking me if I was a dance instructor meself), I pulled me wife over and showed the clerk and her friend the difference between West Coast Swing and East Coast Swing (a/k/a Irish jive).

Days such as this I live for, making connections across the globe to complete strangers with whom I make instant friends.

No photos or vids necessary.


Preparation for offworld exploration.

Bit by bit.

What will tomorrow bring?

More of the same, and happily so!

How else are we going to explore Mars without an extemporaneous expository exposition?


A most peculiar case

In the faces one meets on Planet Earth, the humans, whose ability to create many voices speaking the same language of the human body…

Their stories.

A school district where all the children receive free breakfast.

Traveling more than halfway ’round the world in order to find oneself starting a new life in middle age serving warm pretzels in an airport snack shop.

The children of such working as teenagers in the snack shop next-door.

Wheeling physically challenged customers from one airport terminal to another, dropping one off at the loo whilst you check your Internet tablet for your next pickup.

Growing up in the working class neighbourhood of a large, cosmopolitan city, happy to meet new people from all parts of the world as part of your job.

Selling all rugby team shirts but favouring Munster over Leinster, if truth be told.

Leaving the space travel to others more suited to mentally traveling well in a large canister to Mars for many months, perhaps not coming back, ’cause you’d rather stay on this planet, thank you very much.

All of us dependent on those invisible engineers and scientists who improve our working conditions via new technology, including the invention and improvement of language, creating new voices such as the sounds that ditch-digging equipment makes with more efficient gears, or the squeak of high-tech gloves holding a shovel…


Half Moon

In a moment like this, when I sit where I have sat for almost ten years, writing to the universal You rather than the specific you whose attention I share via words, well…

I’d rather not sit here but, for the sake of a lifelong narrative, I do.

I sit and I think.

I stood in the treehouse as the woods darkened, listening to the sounds of the outskirts of Huntsville, Alabama, the buzzing traffic including revved up engines, the barking dogs, insects…and I thought of you.

I wondered about our species, why we turn on each other like starving, savage beasts, attacking unmercilessly while at the same time showing love, care and concern selflessly.

Despite all our medical advances, we grow old and/or die.

At 54 years of age, I look at my hands and face, seeing the 54-year old and I celebrate my half century plus life with joy.

I am pretty healthy, no major complaints about my body conditions.  Sure, I am nearly deaf in my left ear and have lost 40 percent of hearing in my right ear but that’s just a part of my being human.

I can still read and write, thanks to LASIK surgery.

The treehouse that I planned to build is nearly done — one roof panel and some clear pane walls to keep the major rainfall out and I’ll declare the project finished — a place for up to five people (preferably very small and/or lightweight) to stand and look around, even room for a kerosene heater (preferably at very low heat).  I’ll stick a plastic chair and an LED lantern up there after the roof/walls are done so a person could sit and write as it grows dark, assuming the attraction of insects isn’t too distracting.

I thought about screening in the whole thing so you could sit/stand in the treehouse and be free of insects/bugs/bears but I want to stop spending money on the project and move on.

The treehouse has always been a symbol of my growing freedom.

It has four floors or levels, starting with the one I’m building, the third floor.

The fourth floor is the sky, represented by infinity rafters, a set of four wood posts that point toward a convergence at infinity.

The first and second floors are where I will live next, where my true freedom lies and toward which I’m working, have been working for many, many years.

I may or may not build stairs up to the third level.  They exist in many forms in my imagination — circular, winding stairs; escalator like staircase; rope ladder; metal extension ladder that I’m currently using; climbing up the tree bare-handed.

I’ve given myself until the end of the month to add whatever features the treehouse will have before I declare I’m done with it.

Then, the next project begins, the next phase of my life about which I’m most excited.