dimarts, de desembre 27, 2005

En pensant à Nicholas (French)

Bientôt à Montréal, la ville de mes rêves. Pourquoi? Je ne sais pas, mais cette ville m'a toujours amené quelquechose, une joie de vivre, un reconfort. Je l'aime comme aucune autre ville. J'imagine quelque fois qu'une de mes autre personalités est là, ça veut dire une de mes personalités quantum. Je ne suis pas (encore) fou!

Oui, une autre version de moi habite à un autre Montréal, tout à fait la même ville que maintenant sauf que j'y habite, et que j'y suis totalement heureux. J'y ai tout. J'ai un bon boulot (ce que j'ai même ici), j'ai une belle voiture neuve, peut-être un Mercedes ou un BMW, un bel apart dans un gratte-ciel avec balcon et vue du centre-ville d'un côté et du Mont Royal de l'autre. J'ai de bons amis (ce que j'ai même ici aussi). Mais plus que tout ça, même au lieu de tout ça, j'ai un bel amant. Non, je ne parle pas de ses charactéristiques physiques, sinon de ceux sensibles, de sa térritoire psychologique, de son amour pour moi, et que pour moi...

C'est à ce point-la que je me rends compte que, pour moi, pour ce Robert, je ne rêve que d'une fantaisie. Cet amant n'exsite pas que dans me rêves. Si, si l'univers est infinit, alors il existe un Robert qui a cet amant, mais tristement, ce n'est pas moi. Si, j'ai une belle vie ici dans mon coin, avec pas mal de bonheur. Mais, hélàs, même qu'il existe des bras dont j'ai envie, des lèvres que je veux bien baiser, un coeur que je veux bien écouter en battant furieusement à cause de moi, une âme que je veux bien joindre.... tout ça ne vaut rient, rien du tout... mes désirs valent rien que poru de la torture interne....

divendres, de desembre 23, 2005

The Common Bond (English / French / Irish / Welsh)

Where do poems go
when the poet dies
when his people die
when his language is a relic

I know

Some of them, the strangely "lucky" ones
come to Montgomery County
New York
not the city
fie upon you
back of beyond
population 49,000

in our midst
Catullus has sung the praises of Lesbia
and Sappho of Lesbos the praises of her bien aimée
Gilgamesh has mourned Enkidu's worming
Ovid has demonstrated Roman metamorphoses
Pwyll and Arawn have ruled each other's lands
Maeldúin has sailed to his many islands becauseof his geis
A Pillow Book has been digested
Oedipus dug out his eyes
and some Egyptians extoled their love and lust
Daoism and Hindusim married in haste and gave birth to some other faiths
and some Sri Lankans or Ceylonese
depending on your prediliction
longed for missing lovers
Sufists and the Augustus had an evening nibble
no one died
god save it
and heaven forbid
the exploits of a dull Poconian Dutch Welshman
embarassed the tender eyes of some bumpkins
I know where poems go when they die

by happenstance someone reads them
in a distant land
where texts are still exhalted
picked up cheap
at a book market
perhaps in a cathedral square
next to Genet and Heidegger
underneath some Mapplethorpe
oh he of questionable lens

and by hook
by crook
some of those words wander back
to the auris puplicus
and god help us
some one hears

so then in some small valley
in the America of tomorrow
perhaps in Chad
adrfit in an Ice Age verdant Tibesti
a swarthy lad in Faya Largeau
may even read some trash
in a heap
written by that same Pocononian Dutch Welshman
and see the common bond....

dilluns, de desembre 19, 2005

For Tom (English / Spanish)

to each thing comes an end
to love
to life
to roses
to fruit baskets
to French class

at times we anticipate the end
with dread
with glee
with sorrow
with fear
with yearning

the end still comes

even to long held friendships
like ours

I write this little poem now
to say good-bye officially
to cancel my subscription
to ignore any future bulk solicitations

we grew distant
I'm sure it was you who stopped sharing
too much entrenched in friend-love
you wanted to bolt years ago and didn't
so our friendship became a Parkinson's vicitim
and long suffering
still only a shadow of its former self

you have small dreams of a big life
a wife and children
a career

you are your father's son
and each of his sins you hold title to
you drink too much
you have few friends
whom largely you ignore
your career is your life now
even so
as he
you will build it quietly
and no one will care
still you will laud it as earth shattering
and proclaim your self-assured self-righteousness as he

you wrote a poem to me and gave it to me
the second one anyone ever wrote
at least that I ever found out about
I have it on my wall
I read it from time to time
I muse upon it
and ponder a distant past
once upon a time I was relavent to you
once upon a time you were at a crossroads
in Frost's yellow wood
alas you did not take the road less travelled
rather you followed the time worn roads laid before you
and walk a path further and further from mine

it's not all your fault
I wandered off myself
to a comfortable world you cannot inhabit
a special kind of complacency known only to picaros
yo he llegado a mi buen puerto
you were born into yours'
you have something to prove
I just want to enjoy my bienes
el fruto de mi sufranza
I waited from time to time at life's roadside
always expecting that you would catch up
you will
and when you do you will walk right on by
I doubt you would notice me there

so I won't be there when you do
I'll be off in my little nest
and I won't pay you any mind
you have your future before you
embrace and love it
I will take my bow when the curtain falls for my small part
and remember fondly your charity your love
from the days when they flowed freely
when you were young and free
from the days when I inspired you to put pen to paper
that is how I will think on you
image of youthful poet
idealistic and energetic
that is is how you will live in my memory
and there
you will live as long as I do
and I will still cherish our times
and still in those ghostly murky realms
I will say
I love you

diumenge, de desembre 18, 2005

Many Lovely Days and Events (English / Cornish / Welsh)

The past three weekends have been remarkable, marvelous, in a word, fantastic. I enjoy burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle, when it means I can have as much fun as I have had over the past three weekends. The fun really began three Fridays ago when I had John, Kim, Laurie, Jim and Bill over to the house for a Welsh vegetarian meal at which I offered them Wyau Môn (Anglessy Eggs, a lovely potato, egg and cheese casserol), selsig Morgannwg (Glamourgan sausages, a meatless sort of pseudo-sausage), cawl tomato ac afal (tomato and apple soup, quite lovely), bara brith (a sweet currant bread which uses tea and whiskey liquor as a binding agent instead of milk), salad, cheese and kouign-amann, a Breton butter cake for dessert. Along with that the six of us polished off five bottles of wine, a bottle of sherry and quite a bit of coffee and cordials.

Then two Thursdays ago when the "Congress of College Educators," ie the informal group of comrades from the union gathered at the Country Club for our usual Thursday afternoon and evening and good pub food, good drink and good conversation. Friday was still a school day, so I had to be up bright and early, at least in theory; in reality, we had a small snowstorm and the administrators elected to cancel class for the day. Nonetheless, Friday evening was of special note. I dined at the home of two members of the Welsh society, both in their 80's, but who still know how to enjoy the rose moments, and who make them happen. They live in a beautiful penthouse above Troy with wonderful views from both sides of the apartment. It really was a lovely home and a lovely evening, with copious amounts of good scotch and good lamb, and again, good conversation.

Saurday, it was my birthday. I am now officially 34 years of age. As many have told me already, I beat Jesus. Well, I certainly would have hoped I could fair better than a semi-mythological literary character... Saturday during the day I made the house ready, as at 4:30, Anna, her older brother Romek and her friend from work, Daryl, were to collect me and take me away to the Stockade Inn to celebrate my having lived longer than Jesus. While I was waiting for them, I sat in my living room contentedly sipping Penderyn Aur and listening to the classical music station when the insipiration came to write the poem that appears in the preceding blog entry. It was a lovely moment really; so rarely do I feel such instances of contentment. The meal I had at the Stockade was excellent. I had a nice Cragganmore to start out with, then scallop salad followed by my main-dish, the filet mignon. I opted not to have dessert, as the first courses had been so rich; instead I enjoyed a lovely snifter of grappa. We all returned to my house for more drinks and more conversation.

Ha wosa hemma, nos pur da gans dew dhen yowynk poth... ro penbloeth pur wheg!!

Sunday, I was up fairly early inspite of Saturday's revelery and on my way to Saratoga to join the regional French club for Christmas brunch at the Gideon Putnam. Again, I had a lovely time, getting to dine with two curretn students, both of whom are returning adults, and the spouse of one of them. Also at our table was the director of our local branch and her husband. The rest of Sunday was really just for relaxing and for shoring up for the long and difficult final. Mes nos Sul, den yowynk aral a re dos dhymm, ro penbloeth aral!! Penseythunn a bothder bras yn wir!

Finals week was long and difficult, inspite of its abbreviated schedule. Still I had my grades calculated and in by Thursday afternoon. Friday, we had another snow storm, but I was expecting more guests that evening, and I had to journey out in the foul weather to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker amassing all the willful things for another Welsh themed dinner. I spent the rest of the day after that preparing by removing snow from this and my other house, cleaning, setting the table and cooking and baking. I made the cawl tomato ac afal again for a starter, and for the main course I made a potato and leek pie and lamb steaks baked in a red wine and blackberry jelly sauce, seasoned with garlic and rosemary. I also made bara brith and served salad and cheese in the French style. For dessert I offered pwdin Efa and icecream. That evening Jon and Kim returned, joined by T. and Mo, and Anna. Again we had a lovely evening.

Saturday, I rose late in the day. I was exhausted from the combined efforts of grading and socializing. Still I rose in time to journey to Galway and join many colleagues from my college and a neighboring one at Jon and Kim's home for a Christmas Salon where we ate, drank, ate some more, sang and read poetry. It was an all around lovely evening, and I found myself among the last to leave 8 hours after the party had begun!!. Sunday, today, I ventured out to Glen, some miles beyond Amsterdam, where I joined Laurie and Jim and some twenty-five of their friends, including Jon and Kim for a Solstice observance. Most of the people in attendance where people who, like Jim and Laurie, have chosen to live alternative energy lifestyles, and the hosts of the party were no exception. I was very tired through the entire event, but enjoyed it immensely, especially the massive bonfire. Now it is Sunday evening. The semester is finished, but there are still a few loose ends to tie up, and tomorrow I will set about doing them, as well as taking care of some other needful things. All in all, this has been one of the most lovely Christmas seasons I can recall in many years, and it's really only just gotten underway!

diumenge, de desembre 11, 2005

Eiliad Perffaith (Welsh / English)

Doe mi ddaeth
Eiliad perffaith i farw
Roedd y tŷ yn dawel iawn
a'r stryd a'r cylch
Roeddwn yn eistedd yn fy 'stafell las
rhwng y ffenestri bae
lle gallwn i sbio ar yr eira
yn gorwedd ar y tiroedd
yr haul yn machlud wrth ben y stryd
o dan wybren o gymylau trwm llwyd
Roedd y tŷ yn gynnes
siocledi yn aros ar y bwrdd coffi
y gerddoriaeth glasurol yn canu'n isel
Chopin oedd
a fi'n disgwyl ymwelwyr
oedd yn dod i ddathlu fy mhenblwydd
Roedd y stafelloedd yn dywyll â machlud yr haul
Goleuni'r stafell fwyta wedi'u troi'n isel
fy nghotyn hir du yn crogi ar draws un o'r cadeiriau
yn barod i fy nhaith i'r bwyty bras lle dathlen ni
gyda thoc a thic y clociau'n carlamu
Roeddwn yn eistedd yn drwm
yn hapus ac yn blwm
yn fy nghadair freichiau
gwydraid o wisgi Cymreig yn fy llaw
a fi ynghylch y pethau hardd a bras y casglaswn
yn Ffrainc, yng Nghymru, ymhobman lle trafaelais i
fi ynghylch yr anrhegion a chofion câr
oddi wrth gariadon, gyfeillion a pherthnasau eraill
Doe mi ddaeth eilaid perffaith i farw
Pechod na wnes i ddim.

Yesterday came
A perfect moment to die
The house was so quiet
and the street and the neighborhood
I was sitting in my blue room
between the bay windows
where I could spy the snow
laying on the land
the sun setting at the end of the street
below a sky of heavy grey cloud
The house was warm
chocolates waiting on the coffee table
classical music playing in the background
it was Chopin
and I awaiting guests coming to celebrate my birthday
The rooms were dark with the setting sun
The dining room lights turned down low
my long black coat hanging across one of the chairs
ready for my journey to the restaurant where we would sup
the tock of the clock knocking
I was sitting heavily
happily like lead
in my armchair
a glass of Welsh whiskey in my hand
and I amidst the pretty, lovely things I had gathered
in France and Wales, everywhere I travelled
I amidst the dear gifts and memories
from lovers, friends and family
Yesterday came a perfect moment to die
A pity that I did not.

dijous, de desembre 01, 2005

For the nick in the cup... (English / French)

Old lament
song never changes
l'empire se débauche
c'est normal
I wish you could love me dear
I long for you to love me dearly
to let me hold you in my arms
for as long as I got on this meter
I want to kiss you face till my teeth hurt
I will to kiss your sex until my tongue rots
I want to lay in bed with you till my body fails
but none of that really interests you
you have unchartered waters yet to imagine
and I have rowed most of them already

Alas, alack, my plaintive complaints
so many came before
all unrequited
passion unfulfilled is passion still
better than complacency
far better than perfection
Having had you once, twice and thrice is better than never
Beggars can't be choosers Momma always says
Still I would choose you and beg you
beg for you
Maybe longing for your love and lust is why I'm alive...

diumenge, de novembre 20, 2005

Ein Schönes Wochenende (English / Cornish / French / Welsh / German)

This has been a weekend to remember, on many levels, a weekend that was filled with rose moments, a weekend like I wish all weekends could be, days like I wish all days could be. Friday was the Follies, and I was the MC, a job which I publickly begrudgingly take but which secretly enjoy because I get to dress up in a tux and a full length coat and be glamourous. Looking at myself in the mirror with the tux, I can see that I have the body build to look good in tuxedos and suits, and I should wear them more often. I hate to brag, but I look very elegant in old-timey fashions, a bit movie-star-like. I could see myself tripping the light fantastic with some wafey flapper back in the 20's, a martini in one hand and my other arm around her waist swooshing and dipping and laughing across the dance floor in a black and white world. The Follies were a great success, and I'm sure we raised a nice chunk of cash for the Foundation and the United Way. It was great seeing so many colleagues and students grinning from ear to ear as they acted and enjoyed the spirit of the Follies. After the Follies, I joined several of my fellow revellers at a local eatery and drinkery from some beers before heading home

Saturday morning I had Welsh class, which went fairly well, although three members were unable to come, and that was dissappointing. After that I ran some errands and joined Anna for lunch and estate sales. We went to a place called the "Hidden Cafe" for Middle Eastern Food. I had Babaganouche and a chicken and pasta salad, both loaded with tonnes of garlic, all washed down by a lovely Warsteiner. Next we journeyed to the Spectrum, our local art theater, to watch "Capote," an excellent film about his researching and writing his famous novel In Cold Blood. After the film we went to Nicoles on Route 20 for martinis. After that we travelled to the Real Seafood Company where I enjoyed Scallops St. Jacques, some Hendricks and a nice Riesling.

Wosa hemma, my a re dos yntre yn chy ple my a re ganvoes den yowynk noweth, 22 blwydd oed, ha ev yu pur tek ha hir y goes, ha hwerw y has. Rwyf yn gobeithio y bydd yn ôl un fy nyth yn dydd cyn bo hir, ond os na fydd, roedd un noson yn fendith yn barod.

Sunday I was up early enough to get myself up to Broadalbin to join my colleagues, 13 of us in all, in hike up Hadley Mountain on the north short of the Sacandaga. Le jour était ravissant, un temps radieux, un peu frais, mais avec un soleil brillant. Moi, j'ai porté un pull, une chemise de chasseur, une écharpe, des bottes de randonée et un jean. Tout ça était sufissant pour monter. J'avais aussi ma casquette de randonée ce que j'ai achetée au Pays de Galles, comme ça la sueur de mon front pouvait s'évaporer sans que ma tête ait eu froid.

After the hike, it was back to one of my colleague's homes (Marlene) for beer, chile and bourbon. Now I'm finally at home enjoying some Bowmore and recording my thoughts of a full weekend. It was complete in all that a minor Hedonist like me needs. There was minor adoration, excellent company, excellent libation and food, and wonderful lust. I had a couple major and many minor sins, and as this days closes, thank God I'm a Unitarian, 'cause all this fun, and all this good company cannot be bad at all!!

dimecres, de novembre 16, 2005

Cynulleidfa Wag (Welsh)

unig yw dy fyd
ynghylch dy gyngerddi
dy freuddwydion
cymunedau'r bobl goll fel tithau

ti ddim yn meddwl wrth neb
dim yn wir
dim ond mynd o bonc i fonc
fel pêl pinball

yfed cwrw a fodca rhad
smocio coc a chanfod cyfaill dros dro
dy fyd yw byd yr holl hoywon
yr holl ddynion â châl ar y meddwl
does dim pobl eraill yn y dy fyd

mae bodiau yn dal i fod yn adloniant
actorion ar lwyfan lle ti'n medru dy eiriau melys
dy sibrydion cariadus
dalfaoedd bychain a charedig
lle ti'n casglu calonnau

fel anifeiliaid yn y sŵ
lle ti'n gallu sbio arnon yn ôl dy eisiau
Meistr y bwystfilod a siwgr yn ei law
a medd yn ei geg
ti sy'n rheoli'r sioe - yn dy ben

A thi heb weld nad oes neb
yn llenwi'r seddau
yn y gynulleidfa

divendres, de novembre 11, 2005

Recent Realizations (English / Welsh)

Periodically we all choose poorly. Lately, I have begun to grow aware that in the realm of relationships, I have consistently chosen poorly, even though my strategy has evolved over the years. I do not, in fact choose the same kind of wrong person, I just keep choosing wrong people of different kinds.

I have also realized that the children of the "Me Generation" are growing up to be the "Enabled Generation," a group of semi young people who are so wrapped up in their own egos that they can't even fathom that what they do is wrong or hurtful to others, and ultimately, to themselves. I see a lot of the Enabled Generation's characteristics in the under 30's, although I can think of some examples, early models shall we say, who are in the early to mid-30's. Being enabled is nothing new of course, but this generation seems especially prone to it; their parents have done them an incredible disservice but not being strict with them, but not holding them up to reasonable expectations, by not instilling in them a sense of self reliance and responsibility.

I have also realized that most of my friends who fit into the age range of the Enabled Generation, are indeed enabled, and clueless about others' feelings and emotions. Regardless of what happens and of what their role in what happens may be, it's always someone else's fault. The flagrant abandon with which they behave in this manner is amazing actually.

For my own emotional protection, I'm beginning to realize that I need to limit my time with the "to ifanc", we just don't see eye to eye, and while I appreciate their energy and their exuberance, their total disregard for the feelings of others and their lack of social grace stuns me. I'm not sure if time and experience will temper this disregard, if maturity will bring some kind of reckoning to them. One can only hope...

dijous, de novembre 03, 2005

Mon paradis artificiel (French / Spanish / English)

Ce soir
je flotte
dans un petit paradis artificiel
et je rêve

je rêve des bêtises impossibles
des mains fortes en serrant les miennes
des baisers forts en m'impulsant vers l'extase
de l'amour reciproque
de l'amour perdu dans les abîmes du passé

je rêve de l'autre chemin...

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

Moi, j'ai mal choisi
l'hymne de ma vie devrait être:

Il y avait un moment clé
Il y en avait plusieurs
mais moi, j'ai cru
dans mon ancien rêve
de l'embrasser, de l'aimer fort
de l'aimer toujours

Ya ves que venero, tu imagen divina...

Une fois dans ma vie, c'est vrai
J'ai aimé, et ça fort
Une fois j'ai cherché le vrai accouplage
et j'ai mal choisi
je désirais l'amour imprévisible
voire, impossible
J'ai parié
évidemment tout
et j'ai tout perdu

La vida es la ruleta en que apostamos todos

J'ai un belle vie de rêves accomplis
une vie pleine de roses moments
de chers amis
de chères mémoires
des voyages à l'étranger
de jeunes amants et des soirs de jouissance

Quand même

le rêve qui me hante depuis toujours
me hante toujours
ce que je cherchais tant
je cherche tant toujours
ou bien
je rêve à le chercher

Je ne le cherche plus
pas vraiment
je ne peux plus y croire

L'amant que j'aurais cru trouvé n'est qu'un revenant perverti
mort sur les champs de bataille de ma propre jeunesse
c'est ma croix
mon karma
mon purgatoire
moi qui crois en rien ces jours que la bouteille et l'extase temporaire
moi, j'aime toujours ce petit famtôme ephémère
dont la voix m'a tenté tellement sur les plages galloises il y a tant d'années
un rêve totalement réalisé dans la folie

le peu d'esprit qui me reste
se rappelle toujours d'un ancien rêve
ces jours-ci
fiction totale
d'une belle époque
où je croyais toujours à un passé lointain
où cet amant m'embrassait

je ne crois plus à rien comme ça

Que ça...
en faisant la fête et en cueillant les roses...

dimarts, d’octubre 25, 2005

Inventory (English)

In English for John, so he doesn't ask silly questions. It's just a pity he's monolingual ;) ....

Sometimes you have to take stock. I've been thinking a lot about that in the last couple weeks. Why, I don't know. Just something that happens in the fall, I suppose. It may make even more senes this fall, with the heavy and persistent rains we have been experiencing here. Over all I have to say that today, now, my life is full of rose moments. I have a lot to be thankful for, a concept which is lingering around the edges of my mind because Thanksgiving is fast approaching.

I have a lot to be thankful for in no particular order

-I have not one, but two houses which generate enough money between their three rental units to essentially pay for themselves. Right now, I'm spending about $300 a month beyond what they generate to live in one of them.

-I have not one, but two cars. My workaday car is a 1998 Saturn SL with almost 160,000 miles on the clock, and they're all mine. It still gets 42 miles highway and has the original clutch; I do believe that the Saturn SL is the 2-CV of latter 20th century American automobiles. My other car is a 1986 Jaguar SJ6 Vanden-Plas, one of only 18,000 ever made; even at nearly 20 she is still beautiful and still rides like a dream. Her burled walnut dash and her creamy leather seats are still as elegant today as when she rolled off the assembly line in Coventry.

- I travel regulary to Europe. I know the best Indian restaurants in Wales.

- I can blend in in four European countries.

- I speak 5 languages well.

- I live in Upstate New York, in Schenectady. Yes, I am thankful for that. I can think of only one or two other places I would honestly move to. Shangrila, this ain't, but it's not Somalia, Chechnya or Florida either.

- I have great neighbors, and at least decent tenants. These are my "house tribe" the way the Old People would have said it. They help me, and I help them. I will rue the day when any of that changes.

- I have a wide range of friends and acquaintances, some of whom I have know for ages. I have known Theresa for 27 years now. Many of my close friends and acquaintances I have known for more than 10 years. My friends live in 4 countries.

- I have a great job where I'm useful, perhaps even integral.

- I am paid well enough to enjoy some of the finer things in life.

- At 33, nearly 34, I can still attract and bed-down 18 and 19 year olds. Some people may think this is lecherous, but I think it's wonderful, and as long as I can, I will. My hat is off to my friend Kelvin from Wales who I saw snag a 23 year old this summer. He is 43. Perhaps it's the Welsh pheromones? It's lovely to know that some younger folks appreciate the skill and attention of an older lover.

- My mother is still alive. Even though she is not my favorite person, I have come to appreciate her lot in life more as I have aged. Additionally, as long as she is alive, then I'm not necessarily "next."

- I was raised in the country, and I know country ways. I know where my food comes from and I can honor the sacrifices of the animals who die to nourish me.

- I had a large extended family as I child. I still remember their names and faces, and the moments we spent together; I still miss them now that they are gone. I am thankful too that as they died I learned to appreciate life and people more than others who have not been so graced. It is, indeed, better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Because of losing them, I know how to let go of people when death takes them. I know to mourn the dead and bury them. I know how to scatter ashes. I suspect that I will have to do that many more times before I die myself. At least, I pray I will. I wish a long life for myself, not a short one.

Finally, I'm thankful for every rose moment, great or small. I'm sure life, if it has any meaning whatsoever, is for living and enjoying. I was lucky enough to be born in a rich country, with the waywithal to find a fair place for myself. I was born a picaro, but I have found my good port...

dimarts, d’octubre 11, 2005

Robat bysi (English / Welsh / Cornish / French)

No post for a while, not surprising, life has taken on its usual semesterly frenetic pace. I have spent the past month getting house number two ready for tenants. I have successfully rented the upstairs flat for the price I desired; although the downstairs flat has been quite a bit more challenging. Two decent prospects had presented themselves, but so far, no tickee, hence, no washee. Hopefully something will come by the end of the month. With the upstairs flat rented, I'm at least covering the mortgage and snow removal, but I'm really looking forward to having the month-to-month gravy from the other flat. For my budgeting purposes, I'm planning on paying the taxes for both houses out of my overload pay, but in real terms the longer the downstairs flat stays empty, the longer I'm actually losing money. This is of course is part of the risk of rental properties, but I would just as soon change that situation as possible. It doesn't change the fact that I bought the property at $30,000 below market value, and have only put $6,500 into to get it up to snuff, and all the while, the value is increasing. Still, the "gravy" would be lovely. Between the flat I rent from the house where I live and the second flat there, it would be like my getting three full paychecks every month. Who wouldn't want that?

Besides these sorts of things, I have been up to my usual socializing, today being no exception. After teaching till 12:30, I helped a couple Japanese students with their regular German verbs and how to decline the Akkusativ, then went to my colleague Marlene's house for an afternoon of Sex on the Beach and hors d'oeuvres, as well as conversation with a variety of colleagues. Marlene is nearing the end of a convalescence from some surgery and wanted to invite all her friends from work over for an afternoon of camaraderie. It was very nice, with great food and great spirits, in multiple ways. Next, it was on to the Table Française de la Vallée du Mohawk where we had a Basque themes supper, copious wine, and I helped thhostessse present some information on the Basque Country.

Now finally it's home, to sit back and relax with my good friend Basil Haydens and call it a night.

Hag an caryoryon? Eus, yma nowedhow war'n tra hemma, mes nyns yu mar dha yn wir. Oeddwn i wedi dechrau rhamant newydd, ac wedi ei gorffen yn yr un wythnos. A gweud y gwir, does dim wedi newid o gwbl. Nowedhow drok yu caryoryon, pur drok!

dilluns, d’octubre 03, 2005

My political profile

Your Political Profile

Overall: 40% Conservative, 60% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ancient Memories (English)

I don't know who you are
nor were
But I can't help but feel ancient memories
lurk behind your face

Your face and eyes were ghosts to me
I saw you, and I was lost for a moment
ancient karmic memory
or deep delusions
I can't tell which
the glint of your hazel eyes
the stitch in your lip
your olive skin
your dark hair
conjured old feelings in me
you seemed like so many lovers and erstwhile lovers
that to me were so dear

Were you one of them returned from across the Styx?
coming to taunt me and haunt me for a while
Or were you just a collection a pleasant peptides for my desire weary brain?

Just like a ghost you vanished
back into the ephemera from whence you came
Taking your beautiful eyes
your olive skin
your dark hair
and all the dreams I dreamt of them with you
back into the darkness

dijous, de setembre 29, 2005

Mother's Embrace (English)

In an old miner's house on Diaz Avenue
in the kitchen
The tiny borough of Nesquohoning stretching out across the valley below
visible from the back windows
its beginning and its end well defined - discriminated as a Daoist might say
six crosses peeking out above the rooflines

My mother said:
"So where do you think you go when you die?
Don't you think you go somewhere when you die?"

James said:
"That's baloney. You wanna know where I'm goin' when I die?
When I die I'm goin' right up there on Bear Moutain.
I'm gonna be cremated and Barbie and Wimpy are gonna take me up there.
That's where I'm goin'."

Where do we go when we die?
Gilgamesh 4,000 years ago wanted to know
He walked the length of the dark tunnel
crossed the great sea
and still he never got his answer

He staid beside the body of his foster brother
his lover
until the worms came and Enkidu never rose from the dead

I went to see my old aunt Arwilda
amid her passionless death throes
her soul, whatever that might be, long gone
her eyes blank and still beseeching solace
We laid her in the mother's cool embrace
it was a dry March that year
the frozen grass in Stroudsburg Cemetery brown and matted

For many winters and springs
falls and summers
I brought roses to her tomb
I waited in the world above her body till the embalming fluid turned her flesh to soup
And Arwilda never rose from the dead

I don't know where we go when we die
we go somewhere
maybe nowhere more than into the earth
into mother's cool embrace
our limbs
and guts
brains and sinews
our genitals
hopes, dreams, memories
of lovers and family
of friends and jobs
of joy and sadness
our strengths and our frailties
our pain and our anguish
our joy and bliss
all dissolve down into the dust
and come back in new bodies
of fish and foul
rose and hawthorne
stag and doe
rock and rain
atom by atom we return slowly

I don't know where we go when we die
James says he's going to Bear Moutain
My mother says she just wants to disappear
She doesn't want to feel pain any more ever

Me, I don't know where I will go for sure
Some of me should lay down in the flowers behind my church
and some of me should lay down in the leaves of the valley where I played as a boy
and some of me should lay down in the northwest of Wales where the sun sets over Ireland

Someday the mother who bore us all
will hold me in her cool arms again
wherever else I should go
I will go back to her
Someday all too soon I will find out just what that means

Someday all too soon
the mother will hold me in her arms
and never let go of all of me

dilluns, de setembre 26, 2005

Pour eux (English / French)

For their sake
I pray for an eternal soul
They who would not venture out
They who would not embrace desire
They who would not dare to be wreckless

For their sake
I seek a God who may not be
They who would not not love as men
They who would not fuck like beasts
They who not drink with sagacious abandon

For their sake
I attempt faith like a boy in a stick-shift car
They who would not stand up to tyrants
They who would not stand up for themselves
They who would retreat as children or Victorian scullery maids

For their sake
I strut upon the stage like a fool and a maniac
They who would only watch and never act
(Il faut, quand même, agir!)
They who would wait for tomorrow
Because tomorrow might be a better day to live

For their sake
I prostrate myself before the altar of hope
And yearn for them to see
The world and all they will ever know is now
Tomorrow is a shallow dream of yet unborn ghosts

Il ne faut pas tarder
Au jourd'hui c'est, en fait
le dernier jour de ta vie
pour tout ce que tu peux en savoir
Fais la fête, danse dans le bal
Ce n'est pas encore trop tard....

diumenge, de setembre 25, 2005

Autumnal Musings 2005 (English)

In the internal lanscape of my being
it is still high summer
barely the middle of July
with long trails of midsummer
and first harvest before me

Outside in the great world
the year has lurched forward
and the leaves turn golden
auburn, ruddy brown
on the air are perfumes of death

The night time smells like New Orleans
in the middle of winter
the mix of a cold northern kiss
and warm southern mud with the hint of roses
Sweet magnolia and rotting wood

In New Orleans the winter never really comes
a moist version of the old peoples' Summer Lands
at least the guise of eternal youth flowers
between the threat of ultimate, watery destruction
and hope for human salvation

In the Fall I have dreams of love
Embraced by lust like Spring never gives
in the sweet smell of earthly demise
the souls of millions of flowers, weeds, trees
plants of all nature release and ascend returning to mother's lungs

And I, I dream of finding love
it is always this way
When the last rose of winter comes
I will marvel at it
Until then I enjoy the autumnal funeral's colorful pagent

If Fortune smiles upon me
I will enjoy the autumn as much
the day it comes to my internal world
when my own summer ends and gives up ghosts of youth
enjoying the year before it and accepting the Fate of the Winter to follow...

dijous, de setembre 22, 2005

Updates (English)

So many days have passed without an entry, but this is the norm when life's other bits and pieces begin to consume too much of my life.

Here are some recent updates:

1) Things with the new house are going well, and more or less according to plan, albeit a more expensive plan than I had counted on. Fortunately one flat is already rented for October, and it seems like I have someone for the other one as well. Hopefully both will pan out, but at least having the upper rented will cover the mortgage and a nice slice of the taxes, so I won't really be feeling a dreadful pinch.

2) Classes are still going well. I've probably stabilized at 200 students, and still have the two idiots I had to begin with. Nevertheless, they are rarely a source of true annoyance yet, and an idiot level of 1% is extremely good. Most of the classes have had their first assignments by now, and in general, all looks well.

3) All the people in my circle who had been going through rough times seem to be coming out of the darkness well, and this is a source of great joy, especially Bill, whose cancer treatments are going quite well. He's on radiation and oral chemo, but not feeling any real ill effects.

4) Love, however, is still a cunt...

diumenge, de setembre 11, 2005

Newydd Dorri - This just in... (English / Welsh)

Nearly a week without so much as a siw na miw...

Here is why:

1) School has started again, 220 hungry brains to feed, ignorance to battle, etc.

2) The new house is consuming way more time and way more money than I would like.

3) I'm still trying to maintain a social life on a reduced budget and a reduced schedule.

Sheesh, when's my next break??

Sometime on the relative near horizon some terrible elucidating thoughths should be come to the fore. One happy note, I have heard from Barbara. She is a alive and well in Alabama waiting to see what the next stage of her life will be.

dilluns, de setembre 05, 2005

Meddyliau dros Orlians Newydd (Welsh)

Mae Orlians Newydd wedi bod yn fy meddyliau ers wythnos rŵan, a'r cyfeillion sydd yn byw draw. Mae hi wedi bod yn wythnos heb newyddion odd wrthynt, ac wrth gwrs rwyf yn meddwl amdanon nhw, yn ymofyn os ydyn nhw wedi dianc rhag y llifogydd. Rwyf yn siŵr y bydd ychydig mwy o amser yn mynd heibio cyn i mi gael gair o gwbl amdanon nhw. Dyna sut mae pethau ar hyn o bryd. Mae newyddion am bobl o'r ddinas yn brin ac mae pawb yn ymdrechu i weld beth sydd ar ôl o'u bywydau.

Bydd Barbara yn pryderu, rwyf yn siŵr iawn, ac yn ymofyn os ydy hi'n werth y trafferth i fynd yn ôl i'r ddinas Gantre'r Gwaelodig i fyw - efallai bydd hi'n ymddeol a mynd i ffwrdd i fyw efo'o merch yn Atlanta. Fel yna, byddai hyn i gyd yn ddiwedd oes iddi hi ac i mi - oherwydd amswer mor faith 'mod i wedi bod yn mynd yno.

Dwi'm yn gwybod - does dim meddyliau dwfn gennyf i sgwennu am ail ddinas hoff fy nirgel ddyn. Does dim on gobaith heno i le mor agos imi a'i phobl...

dijous, de setembre 01, 2005

Reflections on the Recent Fuel Prices, or "Time for Change"

"Time for a Change"
by Gwyddno Schenectady

I spend a week or two almost every summer in Wales. This summer I was paying between $6.04 and $6.40 a gallon, given an exchange rate of $1.77 to the pound. It would easily cost me $60 to fill up my little 4 cylinder 5-speed Vauxhall Corsa that I was renting. That sounds pretty awful.

My main car is a 1998 Saturn SL, also a 4 cylinder 5-speed which, like the Corsa is unable to get out of its own way. It also averages about 42 miles to the gallon on the highway. Even so, coming home to higher prices than those I left was a bit startling, but not as startling as the current $3.29 I paid today at our local Getty. Already in Upstate some prices are nearing the $4.00 mark for regular. Atrocious, outrageous, and dangerous for our, and the world's economy, yes, especially if the prices stay that high. However, we haven't been dealing solely with a national economy for the last century, if even then.

The early harbingers of our Great Depression began in Europe after the first World War and spread globally. Already in 1930, we were dealing with a global economy, but the weakness of the European economies didn't begin to affect us till more than 10 years later. In our current ultra-globalized economy, drastic downturns in local economies could impact world markets in perhaps as little as 10 months. No, no - I'm not prognosticating another Great Depression - but a long lasting world recession, I wouldn't be surprised. If the price of automobile fuel in America stays at such high prices, prices reached in so drastically short a time, ordinary working and working poor Americans are going to be hard-pressed to spend what little disposable income they have on other things. Even middle and upper middle class Americans may begin rethinking where they spend their dwindling cash surpluses. The United States is, as you all know, a major market for everyone on the planet. If we aren't buying, others aren't selling, and they in turn can't buy. China, as much as it has grown economically, will not be unaffected by a drastic reduction in US spending. The money on our little blue planet is dynamic and travels in all directions, but if folks' pockets hurt, they won't stick their hands in to them spend any more clams than they have to. A drastic reduction in clams circulation will leave us all in the drink - never mind that rising fuel prices are quickly reflected in nondurable goods, such as the goodies we like to stuff in our faces and, god help me, alcohol (bath tub gin Anna and Daryl??). For those of us in the Northeast, especially here in good old Upstate New York, with fuel oil prices also likely to skyrocket, the winter of 2005-2006 might really be "the winter of our discontent."

All that from one storm that affected one relatively small part of the earth...

Then again, everything is relative, as this 2003 article from the Cato web site points out. For my part, I do take some cold comfort in being better off, relative to gasoline prices, than we were in 1920.

"The late great economist Julian Simon, a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, was famous for teaching us that it is most important to look at the very long term trends in prices of natural resources, if one wants to make predictions about the future. Here is what Simon's long term data on energy and gas prices tells us. Gasoline prices paid at the pump have been on a steady rate of decline since the 1920's, with the obvious exception of the 1970's, when we faced an OPEC embargo and gasoline lines. In 1920 the real price of gas (excluding taxes) was twice as high as today. If the price of gasoline relative to wages were comparable today to what they were in 1920, we would be paying almost $10 a gallon for gas. (See The State of Humanity, by Julian Simon, Blackwell Publishers, 1995, Chapter 28.)" Quoted from the Cato Institute's web site at URL: http://www.cato.org/dailys/09-06-03.html

Oh, by the way, it goes without saying that Blodwen, my 1983 4.2 liter 6 cylinder automatic Jaguar SJ-6 Vanden Plas is stepping out on the town far less frequently, although with two gas tanks, she's still rolling with gas that only cost me about $2.50 the last time I filled them up before I went overseas.

My point in this now long diatribe-cum-essay is that it just seems to me that it's high time we stopped accepting this chicanery. The world, especially not the United States, does not need to be dependent on foreign oil. We have enough arable land to grow enough corn to fuel E85 and E95 (which are mixtures of ethanol and 15% and 5% gasoline respectively) vehicles for decades if not for centuries to come! Moreover, we can physically convert our old cars to run on E85 if the EPA and the federal government would allow the higher emissions from the converted cars (see http://www.e85fuel.com/index.php for some interesting, and perhaps, annoying reading). Even though I believe in the motto of the Cato Institute and still believe in my pipe dream Libertarian society, I don't want to piss away the environment either. It's true that the converted cars will pollute more than they had before conversion. On the other hand, millions of cars are already E85 compatible, and in the coming decades more and more will be (interestingly one the of the big investors in E85 is Shell Oil - irony? I think not!). Eventually almost all the old cars would wear out and be replaced with environmentally friendlier E85 automobiles (technically known as FFVs - flexible fuel vehicles).

However the proof that we are not a truly free market society, functioning in the more or less Jeffersonian (voire Libertarian) model of government envisioned by our vagabond forefathers (Theists, potsmokers and/or fornicators such as the majority of them were - my apologies for anyone with Christian Fundamentalists revisionist tendencies...) is in the fact that no entrepreneurs are making it to the fore to proffer the obvious solution to the problem. Big Business is not on the side of Libertarian principles, by the way, nor is anyone else who chooses to squelch personal freedom, civil liberties or personal wealth for the sake of the so-called common good when it's merely a masquerade entitling a very few to a life of happiness and dross while the masses struggle to choose between the electric bill, the rent/mortgage, food and medicine.

Maybe this emergency will shock enough Americans out of their complacency to see an eventual major shift in our paradigm, away from the soft-soaping, sweet nothing platitudes of the Republicrats to an all out open dialogue, debate and battle of wills between people of conscience who identify themselves as either Libertarians or Greens, but mostly as actively engaged, real Americans, and not just kowtowing plebeians in a world dominated by status quo patricians reciting ad nauseam the empty words of errant patriotism, all for the sake of their pork filled pockets.

The end of my sermon, friends, Romans, countrymen, is simply, think the next time you flip that lever, poke that chad, check that box or click that mouse when next you enter your polling place. The American democracy is still working, and it doesn't have to be this way, unless we let it. The longer it stays this way, however, the longer and harder it will be to effect any appreciable change at all...

diumenge, d’agost 28, 2005

Since you left, I've had no moonlight (inspired by Chavela Vargas' "Luz de Luna" (English / Spanish)

Pues desde que te fuiste
Yo no he tenido
Luz de luna...

your soft lips
your sweet lies
how you learned to use them well
so young
that's what caught me off guard

your long embraces
your languid sighs
each brush of your finger tips
they still brew, boil and bruise
beneath the gentle surface of my worldly countenance

a little more time
I would have loved you
a little more time
the tissue of lies you wrapped around me
might have completed their metamorphasis

I would have been yours
at the whims of your purile mercy
the sickness you left in my heart came on quickly
somehow I healed myself before infection set in
went sceptic and consumed me

still on nights I dreamt
of your moonlight
how the chains of your condecension
brought small gifts of light
to my cold, dark forest

obviously this evil is pervasive
even the very young are vile
no matter though, poppet
it's true you abandoned me
sampled my wares and then kicked me in the teeth

one thing you can never change
like all the liars, beggars, cheats and vagabonds before you
who feigned interest, kindness and tenderness
in exchange for orgasms:
I had you

in my arms, in my mouth, in my bed
our scents and essences comingled
conspired and covered our bodies in lust and sweat
Deny me for a thousand years hence and longer still
It will always be true

I had you once upon a time

divendres, d’agost 26, 2005

Un noson olaf o leuad (Welsh)

Heno mi es i allan i weld yr hogia. Pam? Penwythnos diwethaf cyn mynd yn ôl i'r frwydr ydyw, pan fydd yn rhaid imi fynd allan yn unig dros y Sul a byth yn ystod yr wythnos - nid 'mod i'n mynd allan yn ystod yr wythnos yn aml ychwaith. Mae'n blino, mae'n farw yn ystod yr wythnos. Hyd yn oed yn ein cymuned ni mae'r hogia yn arfer gweithio trwy'r wythnos, dim ond y rhai ddiog neu'r rhai fel fi sy'n gweithion yn yr addysg sy'n crwydro'r bars yn ystod yr wythnos. A fi, dwi ddim yn eu mynychu'n rhy aml ychwaith. Does dim lle yn y byd mor ddigalonu na ryw hen far ar noswaith Fawrth, a hon yw'r gwir yn onest.

Ond pam rwyf yn mynd allan o gwbl, 'na'r cwestiwn mwyaf. Rwyf yn dod o fyd arall. hen fyd lle mae ffordd i drin popl trwy'r amser - ffyrdd i 'neud iddyn nhw deimlo'n hapus i fod yno. Dyna hen dalent ar goll dyddiau hyn. Mae'r bars mor sglyfaeth, a fi heb yr asgwrn i fod mor hyll a'r lleill.

Roedd cyfaill yn sôn wrthyf yr oedd o am fynd allan heno, ond wrth gwrs, wnaeth o ddim. Mor anodd ydyw i gadw addawiad, ond ydy? Fi, mi es i efo poen yn fy stumog ar ôl cinio, gormod o stres ydyw neu fi sy'n mynd yn hen. Ta waith, mi es i, a mi ganais i: Luz de Luna ( tôn gam, diolch Shawn), La vie en rose (yn Saesneg, diolch unwaith eto Shawn), a Crazy, yr unig gan oedd yn weddol wedi'r cwbl.

Ac mae'r lle yn dwll hefyd! Roedd yr hen lanc tu ôl i'r cownter yn cynnig y gin cyntaf imi am $6. Wedyn gofynnodd wrthyf petaswn yn gyfaill i Shawn, y boi oedd yn rhedeg y periant Carioci. Yndw, wedes i (rwyf yn siarad ag o yn aml ar lein). 'Lly rôl 'ny, roedd yn siarsio $7! Yr hen sglyfaeth! Ac yn cymryd ennyd hir i gynnig diod aral hyd at hyn!

A does dim gen i'r atyniadu sydd yn eu gwylltio yn y bar 'chwaith. Ac a dweud y gwir yn onest dwi ddim yn edrych am ffyc brys. Rwyf yn gwybod na fyddaf yn canfod serch fy mynwes mewn lle mor ddu a hyll â hyn. Ta waith, rwyf yn mynychu'r llefydd er i fod yn rhan o'r gymuned, i gael fy ngweld ynghylch fy llwyth.

Fy llwyth.

Pa felltith

Fel fy nheulu, rhywbeth i guddio dan glo - dim eu derbyniadiaeth gymdeithasol ychwaith, ond eu gwirionedd - eu gwacter, eu duwch, eu hangen ddofn am rywbteh mwy a'r amhosiblrwydd o'i chael.

Ac efo nhw, fy ngwacter, fy nuwch, f'angen i...

Ta waith, rwyf yn ôl yn y nyth rŵan, yn fy nhŷ, lle mae'r hen atgofion, yr hen bethau cyforddus sydd yn f'atgofio i'r hen bobl a fu a roeddwn yn eu caru, ac oedd yn fy ngharu fi yn ey ffasiwn, yn llenwi'r lle. Mae'r nyth yn lle llawen ar ôl yr holl wacter a'r holl dduwch tu allan...

dimecres, d’agost 24, 2005

News Bulletin: What's Been Happening Since the End of the Rainbow Tour, or Wasting Away in Mediocreville (English / Cornnish / Welsh / Spanish)

Coming home from a trip overseas is hard. No matter how long I've travelled, no matter how tired I've gotten, no matter how much I wanted to be in my own little nest somewhere halfway along the trip, once the trip begins drawing to a close I begin to feel like I'm coming to the end of a really good book, and I just don't want to turn the last page. I had lots of trepidation at the onset of this trip. I was trying to close on an investment property, terrorists were bombing London, my travel hub, den yowynk noweth o yn ow bewnans ha kysyor ha caryor pur da o ve, and my good friend Bill was still not out of the hospital. I had more reasons to stay at home than take this trip, but at the very last minute, struggling with myself in the airpport, I steeled myself against anxiety and climbed aboard. The first couple weeks were frought with more anxiety, but they were well worth it in the end. As the end of the trip approached, I was, as always sad to be leaving.

After the return, like every time, I had to readjust to life in Mediocreville. Schenectady is not the Llŷn, isn't Rennes, isn't Hamburg, and the reality was that when I came back, I would be thrown back into the old swing of things, and that includes all the little troubles haunting the edge of my otherwise long quiet river.

Whenever I first return, there is always this disorientation; it was slight this time, but nonetheless present with aspect ranging from the real to the psychological, for example getting used to driving on the right again and to not hearing Welsh everyday. Since I've been back I've also been spending a lot of time on the phone, trying to close on this second house, finding that I'm beset with the results of other peoples' incompetence and ignorance, and it's costing me time and money, and with the onset of the semester time is more precious than money right now.

Ha wosa dos tre ple yma an caryor? Ia, ev o omma, ow cara avel just rak seythun mes lemmyn yma ev yn le aral, ow kewsel dhymm war'n pellgowser mebyl py war'n jynn-amontya, mes nyns yu omma gensi ple my a vyn ev. Ta waith mae mwy nag un pysg yn y mor...

I've been catching up with old friends ha hep an caryor noweth caryoryon koth dhe gonfortya ow colonn trist and readjusting to a life quite a bit less thrilling than my travel life. I'm sure after the annoying little vicissitudes of the coming weeks are hammered out, when I have tenants in the new house and I've sung Luz de luna enough times dhe ankevy an den yowynk noweth, as well as burbled enough bourbon through a sufficient number of coktail parties and minor social gatherings, I will be able to find the rose moments a little more easily. Now, it's back to reality and back to the day to day battled to get the universe to comply with my wishes; I want to keep the course of my river flowing smoothly...

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 25 - Sunday 7.26.05

After my first day at the Eisteddfod, I decided to take a quieter day. I got up an slowly acclimated to the day with breakfast and tea. Mary had guests in the caravan, and we would all be having Sunday dinner together. The guests, Collin and Joan were from England and were staying with Mary in her caravan off and on over the summer while they were selling their house and looking for another. Olwen's son-in-law Richard had the day before butchered a lamb, and so we would be having farm fresh lamb for our main course. After lunch was done, Mary and Olwen went off to Sir Fôn, and I went off to the Eisteddfod for a couple hours.

I was also going on a mission.

Earlier in the day I had been in contact with my old friend Kelvin who now lives in the U.S., but comes home to Wales in the summer to see his family. He was really keen on going to the Bryn Fon concert on Monday night. I told him that I would go and buy tickets if any were left. Everyone was talking about the Bryn Fon concert, and I was a little worried thatit would be sold out. The concert was to be held in the main Pafiliwn which holds 3,500 people, but that's a fairly small number for the "Welsh father of Rock and Roll."

As luck would have it there were a few, just a few, tickets left. I bought two, one for each of us even though they weren't together. I wandered the Maes for a little bit investigating some of the stands I had seen yet, and then went to the Cyngor y Llyfrau and bought three books: Rebuilding the Celtic Languages; The Incredible Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth; Last Tango in Aberystwyth. If you're wondering why I didn't buy any in Welsh it's because I had recently bought a huge box of Welsh language books from ebay which will keep me in Welsh language reading material for some time to come. Nonetheless, a couple of Mihangel Morgan's titles did catch my eye, but I had to be reasonable. I had already bought a suitcase to carry home what I had bought so far.

After the Eisteddfod I wandered down to the Bengali place in Garn for some Cobra and chicken Pathia before returning to Tai'n Lôn for the night.

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 24 - Saturday 7.30.05

The first day of the Eisteddfod!

Sometimes when it rains in Wales, you just have to make the best of it. Today it was raining, and when it wasn't raining, the water still lay about the Eisteddfod field in minor great lakes and muddy quagmires of impressive volume. The pants that I wore today have been christened Eisteddfod pants, and until the Maes (the field) dries up, I'm not wearing another pair of pants!

The rain did dampen my enthusiam though. I got to the Maes and got a decent parking spot and made my way to the Pabell y Dysgwyr, the Learners Tent where I had some free coffee and a very interesting conversation with a young Welsh language hip hop artist named Craig Jones from Yr Wyddgrug. You never really know who you will meet when you go to the Eisteddfod. Then I hopped between raindrops and navigated the recently formed bayous and backwaters of the Maes to see what and whom I could see. Among my stops was the Cymdeithas Cymru-Llydaw, the Wales Brittany Society where I got to try out some of my rudimentary Breton. I also went to the Cyngor y Llyfrau, the Books Council and inspected some books I planned on buying in the fullness of time.

A little after 1, I was starting to get hungry, and wandered over to the far side of the Maes where I found Arturo Roberts, publisher of NINNAU, the North American Welsh paper, and the Cymdeithas Cymru-Ariannin, the Wales-Argentina Society. A little known fact to most people outside of Wales is that in the 1860's, a group of Welsh emmigrants left for Patagonia in what today is southern Argentina. They had it in mind to form their own Welsh Republic, but eventually succumbed to the will of the central government in Buenos Aires. I stopped and chatted with the Cymru-Ariannin folks, and then with Olga and Arturo. Both Olga and Arturo, who now live in the United States, come from Patagonia and Welsh colony, known in Welsh simply as y Wladfa, the Colony. After chatting with them I investigated one or two more booths before wandering over to the nearest food tent.

I grabbed a Guiness and a lamb burger and saw Arturo and Olga also having their lunch and asked if I could join them. Arturo and I continued with our conversation from earlier, as we usually do, half in Welsh, half in Spanish. With the coming of the afternoon, I returned to the Pabell y Dysgwyr and watched Never Mind the Bocs perform, a group who does more or less traditional folk music. Once their concert was finished, I got them to pose for a picture and then picked my way through the recently formed Everglades back to my car.

Incidentally, this years Eisteddfod was held on the Faynol, or Vaenol estate that lies on the road between Caernarfon and Bangor, just north of the small village of Felinheli, and behind a seven mile long wall. The front of its land faces the Menai Strait and the imposing Plas Newydd Estate on Ynys Môn across the water. The estate is now basically an office complex and concert venue, but throughoput most of the 20th century it was at the heart of many local mysteries and rumors, not the least of which being that the lady of the house was indeed a lesbian. For allt he fuss that people made about the place though, in reality, as far as estates go, it was no Plas Newydd, and was only a little classier than JR's fictional Southfork. The grounds themselves are vast and pleasant, but the house is, for a manor house, rather a let down: fairly small and quite plane.

All its pretense and historical riches aside, it was still liable to the rain, and the path back to the car was muddier by far than the trek in had been. I journeyed back down to Tai'n Lôn and ane evening of hot tea and a coal fire to dry out.

dijous, d’agost 18, 2005

We Interrupt This Travel Log for an Emotional, Angst Ridden Outburst (French / Spanish / Cornish / Occitan)

Mais qu'est-ce qui me passe, qu'est-ce qui me prend comme ça? Ce n'est pas vrai que je sais mieux? Ce n'est pas vrai que la fin prévue de cette entreprise est mauvaise? Combien de fois est-ce que je peux finir mal avant de me cristaliser et puis me briser? Mon coeur, mon pauvre coeur pauvre, si longuement privé des eaux de vrai amour, maintenant les petites maudites sémilles de ma propre destruction commencent à se pousser comme des pissenlits! Et après, et après, qu'est-ce qui va me rester? Un champs jaunâtre et blanc en pourrissant après un été trop lascif? De souvenirs trop doux qui se mêlent à statut dégueulasse avec des crises d'angoisse et de soliltude?

Piaf a bien demandé, à quoi ça sert l'amour? Sa réponse, toujours la même, l'amour fait pleurer, l'amour fait souffrir, l'amour te laisse un goût de miel, l'amour c'est éternel!

Une punition éternelle alors, ou bien qui va rester longtemps bien que ça soit relativement jeune dans les sociétés humaines, en tant que nous l'envisageons. L'amour pèse, l'amour entre comme un feu et ne laisse que la désolation...

C'est une putain bien douée et bien manipulatrice - le pire des vampires, un revenant sans forme, sans matière qui existe partout mais ce qui est impossible à voir!

Mes ple 'ma ow caryor? Nyns omma? Mes yma ev omma yn ow golon, hag ev a wra kewsel dhymm war'n pellgowser. Ev vydh dos haneth a-nos? Je ne sais pas même... mais l'espoir me hante quand même, aussi bien que l'amour même.

Si, l'enfer existe. On le trouve facilement lorsqu'on commence à rêver, à désirer, à dépendre d'un autre être humain aussi faible que toi mais avec un coeur de fer qui ne bat que très infréquemment ou bien se trouve perturbé par une vie de peur si profond que même la pitié pour une âme une fois aimée, un corps une fois baisé, ne peut jamais achever son centre...

Ce soir j'entends les notes de ma camarade, Chavela Vargas, ce qui me donnent un peu de consolation, mais aucune solaz:

Yo quiero luz de luna
Para mi noche triste
Para soñar divina
La ilusión que me trajiste
Para sentirte mía,
mía tú
Como ninguna

Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna
Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna

Si ya no vuelves nunca
Provincianita mía
A mi senda querida
Que está triste y está fría
En vez de en mi almohada
Lloraré sobre mi tumba

Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna
Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna

Yo siento tus amarras
Como garfios,
como garras
Que me ahogan en la playa
De la farra y el dolor
Y siento tus cadenas a rastras
En mi noche callada
Que sea plenilunada
Y azul como ninguna

Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna
Pues desde que te fuiste
No he tenido luz de luna.

dimecres, d’agost 17, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Days 21-23 - Wednesday 7.27.05 - Friday 7.29.05

Day 21 - Wednesday 7.27.05

Today was a wet again, so I decided to head to town to do my normal in town things. I parked along the Menai and walked into town, stopping at a newer restaurant with healthy food; it's called Rhika's, and I enjoyed a chicken tandori wrap, very tastey. Then I went up to Dylan Thomas for Coffi Dwyfor and email, then finally back to Galeri on Doc Fictoria, having already planned to see the new Star Wars movie considering the weather forecast was for rain. The film was fine, nothing more or less than what I expected. I probably never would have gotten around to watching it at home, but day 21 with clouds and rain in Wales seemed like a good place and time toe watch it. After the movie, which ended fairly late in the afternoon, I went back to Tai'n Lôn for supper with Mary and Olwen.

Day 22 & Day 23 - Thursday 7.28.05 & Friday 7.29.05

Ych a fi, dyddiau gwlyb eraill! The weather forecast in both Welsh and English promised a rainy spell that would last for days, even into the beginning of the Eisteddfod on Saturday. I decided that since I would be busy at the Eisteddfod, I would use the next two days to get my shopping done. You might not think that I would have much shopping to do, but that couldn't be futher from the truth. On thursday I did the majority of the booze shopping in Caernarfon, at the Tescos, both for myself and for others. I also spent time looking around for another suitcase, so I would be able to get everything home. The suitcase shopping in Caernarfon was fruitless, but I did manage to get three bottles of Brecon Gin and one bottle of Penderyn Aur. The Penderyn is for my personal consumption, but the gins were all gifts for friends at home. We who live in Upstate New York know how to enjoy our spirits, and have learned to appreciate them even more during the seven month long winters. Thursday evening I dined at the Bengali restaurant in Llandwnda and had something new, a chicken dish supposedly from Iran according the menu - it was moderately spicey with a smokey flavor, but quite tasty.

On Friday I journeyed over to Sir Fôn to go to the Pringle's store in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch. First of all the Pringle's Store sells everything except Pringle potato chips, and second of all, yes, that's the name of the town, considered by many, especially those with a tourism business in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch, to be the longest place name in the world. Since Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch is obviously too long of the bureaucracies of the UK to fiddle with, the town is officially known only as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll on maps and road signs. To everyone who knows and loves it, however, it's still Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch. And, no, I won't tell you what it means, but feel free to cut and paste it into google and have a gogogoch (that was corny, I know), if ur so inclined! One of the great ironies of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch is that one of its nearby neighbors is called simply, Star.

Anyway, in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch, I was able to buy my extra suitcase and the gifts to fill it, including a couple bottles of Toffoc (Toffee flavored Vodka, much nicer than it sounds), some Mynydd Du - black currant liqueur, and some assorted teas and jams for the less alcoholically inclined among my friends! When I left Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysyliogogogoch, the rain was coming down like mad, so i returned to Tai'n Lôn and called it a day!

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 20 - Tuesday 7.26.05

One of the things I have yet to do in all my trips to the northwest corner of Wales is get to the top of Snowdon. A couple years ago I went to Pen-y-Pas and parked my car and began, protein bars and water, along with camera and cellphone (Welsh wilderness is great this way, cellphones works almost everywhere!) stuffed my my backpack. I walked along the trail taking snaps of little lakes is small glaciel cymoedd and began picking my way along the trail. Eventually tho I gave up. I had been excercising regulary for about 6 months at the time, but my "keep fit" routine was part of a comeback from passing a gallstone and a brush with death induced by a misprescribed medication. I wasn't yet strong enough to make the walk.

Since then I've been too busy with other activities to take on the mountain on foot, but this year I decided I would try to take the train, never mind walking, I was on vacation after all, and figured I would save the 20 miles bikes rides and minor mountain climbing for home. As I mentioned, on Monday I had tried to catch the train, but the tickets were all booked until very late in the day. I figured that if I arrived earlier in the day I might be able to catch an earlier train. I arrived in Llanberis around 10AM, parked my Corsa and trotted off past the Electric Mountain center and was shocked to see that the line for the train ended well past the souvenir shop. I enquired to the lady waiting in front of me if the line had been moving steadily, and she reported that her friend had ventured to the head of the line to see what the reservations were like. When he finally returned (he probably had to stop to water his horse along the way...) he revealed that the trains were already book to 4:30! I gave up and headed back to Caernarfon.

I stopped at Galeri and enjoyed a nice Coffi Dwyfor while observing the boats and people along Doc Fictoria. Then I decided it was time for lunch, and so I walked into the walled part of Caernarfon town. Just past the wall was a nice looking pub, the Hole in the Wall, where I stopped and had a Welsh beef burger, sglods (chips), and a couple pints of Guinness (it's a well known fact that dark beers counteract the bad fats in red meats ;) ). That afternoon was going to be the first official day of the Gwyl Caernarfon - the Caernarfon Festival, and a number of bands from the record label Sain were supposed to be playing in the town square, y Maes. After lunch I wander up to the Maes, but no bands appeared! I was disappointed, but I was already well acquainted with the Guadalajara aspect fof the Welsh collective psyche.

The day was warm and the sun was shining, so I got in my car and decided to drive down the Llŷn peninsula and see what I could find. The Llŷn is in some ways among the wildest parts of Wales, and also among the most Welsh speaking. The weather really was great, and soon I found myself tracking down medieval curiosities nestled in the coves and glens along the western side of the peninsula. After investigating a couple medieval churches, and stopped and followed a path down to one of the many small and semi-isolated beaches that punctuate the Llŷn. After my short hike, I head back to the car and picked my way up along the side of the peninsula that faces Cardigan Bay, and then back to Tai'n Lôn for supper with Mary and Olwen.

dimarts, d’agost 16, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 19 - Monday 7.25.05

The weather improved from last night. I got up and had breakfast with Mary after a midnight battle with the vindaloo. I went off to Caernarfon and stopped in at Dylan Thomas for a great cup of Dwyfor coffee, email, and some chile for lunch - like I said, people make very good chile in Wales. I go to Dylan Thomas every summer, and the owner, probably a couple years younger than I, remembers me from year to year, as do his mother and father who work there as well.

After lunch I headed over to Llanberis to enquire about a trip up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), but when I got there I found out the the next train with seats available wasn't leaving for another two and half hours. Llanberis is a nice enough town, but not interesting enough to spend so much time waiting around. I decided to journey across the back ridge of Yr Wyddfa over Pen-y-Pas and then down along the souther end of the mountain.

The weather was moderately sullen by the time I crossed through Pen-y-Pas, but still clear enough to afford pleasant vistas along the western and southern expanses of Eryri; the Welsh mountains have all the green of Ireland and all the ruggedness of Scotland, a perfect combination. So many beautiful photographs have been taken of the Welsh countryside, especially Snowdonia, but the reality is that no photograph can ever capture what the human eye can, no lense is wide enough to capture the full breadth of the elegance of these ancient glacier worn mountains, that even after the last ice age still reach thousands of feet into the sky where they kiss the low lying cloud that accompanies the Gulf Stream.

On my way along the road to Rhyd Ddu, I passed by a sign for a copperworks and decided to stop and investigate. The name of the works is Sygun, and not only is it a copperworks, but a mine complex as well. I decided to take the self-guided tour of the mine, so I donned my hard hat and shouldered by backpack and down I went. I've been in mines before, but this one felt especially cold and damp. In places the water was fairly deep, and boots would have been useful. Nonetheless I trudged on passing frightened Irish tourists afraid that they would slip and fall on the wet rocks. At times the ceiling was quite low, and rarely was it high enough to allow me to stand fully erect. I picked my way along the tunnels, stopping and listening to the recordings that described the various aspects of the mine and its operations. I decided that I would brave the entire length of the mine tour. Starting at the bottom of the mine, I clambered up 550 vertical feet of wet tunnel and steps covered in copper oxide, finally arrving at the top to be greeted by beautiful vistas of the souther Snowdonia range. The views alone were worth the climb and the battle for my breath against the thick metallic air of the tunnels.

After Sygun it was back "home" to Tai'n Lôn and supper with Mary and Olwen.

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 18 - Sunday 7.24.05

Dydd y glaw - rainy day...

On what would prove to be the first of several soaking wet days in Wales I mostly stuck around the house and read and watched TV. When it rains in Wales, and I don't just mean the little drizzle that can come at almost any moment, piddling down out of some errant cloud escaped from the Gulf Stream, but when it rains in Wales, it's not pleasant. The rain tends to blow in in sheets, few people bother with umbrellas because the wind has a way of coming in sideways as well. Your best defense, if you have to be outside is a pair of wellies (rubber boots, known otherwise as Wellingtons) and plastic rain poncho (gone are the days of the ubiquitous plastic "mac", which didn't include a hood). If you don't have to be outside, do something nice like read and drink tea. I had thought of going to see a film that was playing at the new artspace in Caernarfon, Galeri. I decided that I would venture out in the afternoon just the same. On Sundays, Mary and Olwen go to visit Olwen's daughter and son-in-law on their farm, Tyddyn Gwynt, but I long ago gave up on accompanying them. The folks at Tyddyn Gwynt are kind, but a whole day there is a bit much, even a rainy miserable one like today.

Once I arrived in town, I thought about stopping at Dylan Thomas, the cybercafé, but it's closed on Sundays, so I went on to Galeri, housesd in a new postmodern building along Doc Fictoria on the Menai Straits. I asked about the movie, but it didn't seem all that appealing. Nonetheless I wandered around Galeri and into a gallery, hehe, with a WWII display about the "facwîs" - evacuees from England. As luck would have it, they were actually giving away copies of the book 100 o Arwyr Cymru - 100 Welsh Heroes, so my trip to Galeri was worth it for a free copy of the book alone. After Galeri I went back to Tai'n Lôn and got ready for dinner, not with Mary and Olwen because they wouldn't be back yet from Sir Fôn, the rather large island northwest of Caernarfon where Tyddyn Gwynt lies, but to Madiba, the Bengali restaurant in Garndolbenmaen.

If it seems moderately ludicrous that a place called Garndolbenmaen would have a Bengali restaurant at all, never mind a very good one, you're not alone in your thinking. Garn, what the locals call it for short, is pleasant enough hole in the wall, but hardly the place for the best chicken vindaloo you can imagine. Nonetheless, along a windswept stretch of the A487 between the village limits of Bryncir, Dolbenmaen and Garndoldenmaen lies Madiba, in an old Little Chef, now elegantly remodeled and serving the best curries west of Dhaka, well at least as far as I'm concerned. The Bengali staff doesn't speak Welsh, but they're friendly and the chicken vindaloo I had was just what the doctor ordered on a cold, rainy Welsh evening. It was so suculent and spicey, I could feel it work its way all through my body. The waiter looked at me in shock and respect for ordering, my being a pastey white boy. I extolled the virtues of their vindaloo to them even as the sweat was beading on my brow, telling them how we couldn't get such good vindaloo in America, and we can't. The Indian beer, Cobra, was an excellent foil to the main course, and went well with my vegetable samosa I had to start out.

After dinner it was back to Tai'n Lôn and a quite rumble as the vindaloo worked its way through, releasing endorphins the whole while. A sublime meal and a path to at least temporary contentment. With the chemicals the vindaloo released in my body coursing through my veins, I wasn't worried about the second investment property I was trying to buy, or all the silly hogia hoyw, my bittersweet companions in lust and ersatz love. Nothing annoying, not a single pertubation of chemical vindaloo induced bliss could get through!

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 17 - Saturday 7.23.05

I was up relatively early and had breakfast with Mary. Inspite of the weatherforecast, the day seemed to be trying to clear up, and eventually it did. After breakfast, I had my obligatory half gallon of tea, te coch dail, I take my tea plain, no cream, no sugar, red - te coch and Mary still makes tea the old fashioned way, with real loose leaves. When you're done with your paned you can read the tea leaves if you're so inclined and have the requisite knowledge. Then I was on the road, bouncing along the one lane road from Tai'n Lôn to Pant Glas, birth place of Bryn Terfel, turning south toward Porthmadog and eventually to Machynlleth.

As the morning wore on, the weather improved and the vistas while driving were marvelous. Eventhough it's a main road, the A487 from Caernarfon to Machynlleth curves and winds its ways through the edge of the Welsh mountain country of high peaks, Snowdonia in English, Eryri, or Eagles' Heights in Welsh. You pass through places like Dolgellau near Cadair Idris and Trawsfynydd, past the Tal y Llyn Valley and eventually down almost to sea level at Machynlleth.

Besides having a name which few people outside of Wales can ever pronounce correctly, Machynlleth is home to the first parlement of Wales, led by Owain Glyndŵr during the Welsh revolution of 1401. This distinction the Machynllethiaid proudly proclaim as when you enter the small town the sign declares: Croeso i Machynlleth, prifddinas hynaf Cymru, Welcome to Machynlleth, Wales' oldest capital. You can actually visit the small slate building where the early parlement meant, but it wasn't the medieval history of Wales that brought me here today. I wanted to visit Celtica, a multimedia exhibition on the edge of town that deals with the history of the Celts from the ancient to the modern era; of course being in Wales' oldest capital, the focus is on Welsh Celticity.

When I arrived at the carpark for Celtica, I was surprised by the number of cars, and soon learned that on the grounds of Celtica that a Hispanic festival was also going on, called El sueño existente. I enquired at the ticket booth about the start time for the next tour through the multimedia area, and they told me I had about 40 minutes to wait. I used the time to stroll through the grounds and observe the various organizations that had set up booths and tents.

There is a romanticism that runs rampant throughout most of Welsh culture, Anglo and Welsh speaking, but it's not the cloying kind of guthy romanticism that most Americans think of. Rather it's a deep seeded respect for colorful characters, who ooze culture, creativity, artistic talents. Such people are often held in overly high esteem by many in Welsh cultural circles, and the plight of Latin America with its developing countries and economic bouleversements, its swarthy cantantes and tangos appeals to the Welsh psyche. Even though Machynlleth is far from everywhere (no doubt Glyndŵr chose it for his capital as it would be hard for the English to get to), hundreds of people were milling around the tents and booths eventhough the main entertainment wouldn't take place for hours.

Eventually it was time to go in and experience Celtica. Secretly I was hoping that they had updated since my last visit, more than ten years before. Unfortunately they didn't, but it was still entertaining, and eventhough some of the technology was showing the passage of time, it was still worth a second visit. Besides me on the tour were an older English couple, and English man and a family that were apparently his French relatives. Each person who goes on the multimedia tour is given a headset and can listen to the narratives along the way in English, French, German or Welsh. I was the only choosing Welsh this day, but the number of people choosing English were also in a minority!

At the very end of the tour is a room which addresses modern Celticity, and uses Dafydd Iwan's now famous anthem, "Yma o hyd" still here. Ten years ago when we got to this room I could barely hold back the tears, and today was no exception. The reality that Welsh culture has survived all these centuries, that it is still here, is overwhelming; it's joyful miracle. That Welsh culture is today stronger than it has been in centuries is also amazing, well worth a tear.

After the tour I wandered over to the caffi and had chile and jacket potato, believe it or not, the Welsh make very good chile. After my late lunch it was back north. The sun had come the rest of the way out and the trip home was even more beautiful than the way down had been.

It was almost evening by the time I reached Tai'n Lôn, but there was enough time to do a laundry and hang it out to capture the ocean breeze before it got too dark and too damp.

dijous, d’agost 11, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 16 - Friday 7.22.05

I was up early, far too early no matter what had gone on the night before, but the amount of alkie made it all the worse. 4:30 AM and my cell went off; I had to be at airport by 5:30. Dörthe got up to and made herself alert enough to shuttle me across the city to catch my plane. I did, and made the flight to Brussels without difficulty aside from being way too tired. The flight was short though, and so was the wait between flights. In little more than an hour I was on the Brussels Air flight to Manchester.

Once in Manchester I picked up my rental car, a little silver Vauxhall Corsa Life, but this time without the automatic and AC. I left Manchester airport around 10ish, and headed west along the M56 to where it eventually joins the A55 and the pretty sign that reads "Croeso i Gymru", Welcome to Wales. To Wales, and to "home."

Shortly after crossing the border the mountains rose up to my left into the cloud cover and sea roiled to my right. The A55 hugs this coastline of North Wales where the majority language is still Welsh and where the mountains and the sea collide. Shortly after leaving Manchester I had stopped in Chester, still in England and grabbed a Whimpyburger for lunch and made a needful pit stop. Now that I was in Wales, I could travel non-stop to the Caernarfon exit and turn south toward the beginning of the Llŷn Peninsula where I would stay for the next 17 days.

I got off the dual carriageway at Caernarfon and turned eventually on the A487 toward Porthmadog. I went through the ancient town of Caernarfon and the massive Edwardian castle where the Prince of Wales is invested, and south to the roundabout for Llanllyfni where I turned off and went through the small village. To drive in Wales, or anywhere in the UK is not just a question of getting used to doing things on the opposite side of the road, but it is also a question of adapting to size and space differences. In most Welsh towns, and cities for that matter, on any give street, unless it's a very big and well travelled street, you can expect no more than one lane of driveable space, and such is the case with Llanllyfni. I navigated the main road through the town with no resistance in traffic. Sometimes the cars were parked along my side of the road, other times I had a clear right of way, but from Llanllyfni to Tai'n Lôn you have to take a B road, which are often just one lane wide to begin with, and in the Welsh countryside, often lined with the improperly named "hedgerows," hedges which often conceal very hard stone walls. Such is the road to Tai'n Lôn where Mary Jones and Olwen Thomas, two sisters, make their homes on opposing ends of the Aber Rheon council estate.

Tai'n Lôn is a funny place really, not really a proper village, it's more of a dot on the map in a ninlle, a nowhere, between two bigger villages, Clynnog Fawr and Pant Glas, the latter of which produced the now world-famous opera singer Bryn Terfel. Tai'n Lôn is small, with little more than a dozen houses, and no businesses at all except the British Telecom red phone booth in front of Aber Rheon. The name of the place literally means 'houses in a lane,' and that's exactly what is, a string of houses in a lane running along a small hollow, or pant in Welsh. On the hillsides above the hamlet you can always see sheep and cows, and behind Aber Rheon, across the Rheon creek rises the bulk of the majestic Bwlch Derwin, a minor mountain the peak of which is often obscured in mist.

I arrived around 1PM in the afternoon, and spent the rest of the day visiting with Mary and Olwen before heading to bed. It was good to be back in Wales, and to hear a Celtic language not quite so endangered as the last one I had left behind.

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 15 - Thursday 7.21.05

My last day in Germany....

I was too tired from the day before to get up and have breakfast with Dörthe, so I got up and told her I was crawling back into bed - her sofa bed was really comfortable by the way, says something for German engineering! I didn't get up till 9:30, and when I did, the rain was blowing in sideways, and I decided to hang out at her place reading and watching television.

After she came home, she made a great spaghetti and salad, and we finished the gin and two bottles of wine, and the evening just talking shit as people are apt to do when drunk. The next day would begin all too early for both of us...

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 14 - Wednesday 7.20.05

Lübeck bound...

I was up with the cocks' crow, so to speak, and had breakfast with Dörthe. Then I collected my needful things in my rucksack (may as well call it that since I'm in Germany...) and went down to the Photo Dose to get my last set of photographs. I then hopped on the U-bahn (U2 line) and rode down to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and bought Täglichkart (day-long ticket) for the whole HVV transit system. This card would allow me to ride all the Hamburg metro area transport for the day, including the round-trip to Lübeck and the subway.

One note about the subway in Hamburg, the U-bahn, or Unter-Bahn. It's a very easy and efficient way to get around the city; it seems like there is a stop within two blocks of nearly everything, and like the metro in Rennes, it operates partially on the honor system. Once you buy your ticket you're on the honor system. There are no regular conductors or machines to verify that you have a ticket. Periodically however, transit authority personnel will set up flash inspections for tickets, and if you don't have a valid one, you will be fined. Unlike the the system in Rennes, the U-bahn is not 100% automated, altho ticket purchase is. The trains still have drivers at the helm.

Some other cultural notes about today's Germany... one: let the pedestrian beware. Bicycles are major modes of transportation in the flatlands of Niedersachen and Hamburg, and most streets have a bike lane, or permit the use of cycles on the sidewalks. In the case of especially busy streets like Osterstraße the bike path is marked out specifically along the pedestrian sidewalk. That means there is about 10 feet of sidewalk for pedestrians, about three for the bikes, and a further foot or so to allow pedestrians to stand at crosswalks. That sounds wonderful in theory, but in practice the reality is the some bike riders weave in and out of the bike zone attempting to pass plodding pedallers, and their zig-zagging can bring them in all too close proximity to walkers. Moreover as a pedestrian, it is very important that when you're crossing the street, you look both ways not only for cars, but for the cyclists as well. The natural tendency for many Germans is to hug the side of the pavement nearest the shops as this way they are less likely to be clobbered by pushy bikers. A second item of note is that jaywalking and crossing against the crosswalk safety signal will soon net you a 5€ fine. The Hamburg authorities are sick and tired of people crossing the street against the light and getting smushed by automobiles and causing traffic tie-ups.

At any rate, back to my train ride. After I got my ticket I had only a short wait for the next train to Lübeck, a small city north of Hamburg, well reputed for its old 16th-17th century architecture. After my train left the station, in less than an hour I was in Lübeck. The walk from the Hauptbahnhof there to the city center was perhaps 15 minutes, and as I cross the Stadtkanal into the original city, I caught a glimpse of the old city. Lübeck is indeed a very pretty city, especially the Rathaus at the center of the shopping district, but truth be told, it's not a very interesting place. After about an hour strolling the streets I decided that now I had seen Lübeck, there was no point in ever coming back. It's pretty, it's quaint (and it has a very scarey marionette museum, ewww), but as the Germans would say, langweilig, boring. Just as I decided that Lübeck was a bit of a snore, the skies opened up again, and even armed with an umbrella I got soaked from the mid-drift down. On my way up to the city center earlier, I had noticed a nice, clean, well-lighted restaurant called Luzifer where I ordered a very tastey salad and spaghetti bolognaise washed down with another Warsteiner. After lunch I strolled around the old city some more, and then headed back down the hill, across the Stadtkanal and to the Hauptbahnhof to catch the 2PM train to Hamburg.

During the train ride, both hin und zurük, I was, as usual now, accompamied by Jean-Marc and Mathieu. Reading the novel was emotionally difficult for me. So far from home and the reality of the life I had left albeit temporarily behind, and always with too much down time going from place to place allowing me to think too much. Il n'est pas facile après tout à s'identifier avec des personnages fictifs, mais c'est ça, je me sens un peu comme Jean-Marc en attendant son Mathieu. Est-ce Nick, le jeune homme dont j'ai fait la connaissance la semaine avant mon départ, ou bien est-ce que j'attends Godot en fait?

I arrived back at Hartwig-Hesse-Str. at around 3:30, just enough time to change out of my damp clothes, check my email and then head back down on the U-bahn to meet Dörthe near the Jungfriedsteig station along the Alster. I had a difficult time choosing which exit from the station I should take, knowing that one, and only one of the many at this main transfer station came out at the very doorstep to Dörthe's office. I didn't choose correctly and I circled the general area hoping to encounter her office building but to no avail. Luckily I had my international cellphone and she rang me up wondering where I had gotten to. We agreed to meet in front of the Rathaus, the city hall, in a few minutes.

As I approached the city sqaure in front of the Rathaus, a truly beautiful building by the way, totallty reconstructed after the WWII (most of Hamburg was destroyed during the war), I got to see yet another very interesting German tradition. The square was set up for some kind of cultural event, with food and beer stands (the legal age to drink in Germany, by the by is 16). Whatever the main attraction would be later on that evening, the big show at the moment was a nice looking man being dressed as a girl and covered in make-up in a clownish style, not by a troupe of drag-queens (which would also not be surprising in Hamburg really), but by his friends and family, including his old grandma. They took some hay and spread it on the pavement infront of the Rathaus, and then some powder meant to look like snow. He was clearly quite drunk as he was red faced and had a hard time standing up or still. Next they put a plack around his neck which read: Hilfe, suche Jungfrau, Help, seeking a young woman. In Germany it's the tradition that on your 30th birthday, if you're an unmarried man, your friends and family will make you stand in front of the city or town hall for a dose of public humiliation. For young girls, Dörthe was telling me later in the U-bahn as we went for our supper, the tradition is to shine all the doorknobs in the village. These days, friends and family usually find and old door and fasten lots of rusty old doorknobs to it and bring the door to the birthday party. Being unmarried and over 30 herself, Dörthe did indeed suffer the shining of the doorknobs.

In a few minutes Dörthe caught me up and we rode the U-bahn to Hallerstraße where we got off and went to the Shalimar, and really great Indian restaurant. We ate our exceptionally good food and washed it down with Diebels Dark before heading back across town to Hartwig-Hesse-Str. and stopping at a bar a block from Dörthe's place called the Lichtenstein. This was a really cool place, I rarely use the word cool, but it fits here. The Lichtenstein was "our kind of place," we being youngish, professional and well-educated. Truth be told, Dörthe and I were near the upper end of age range, but there were a couple customers older than we. We enjoyed a couple pints and I was really in a good mood - the spices from the curries, the beer, the company of an old friend, and yes even the thick cigarette smoke were all enjoyable.

The night was wearing on, and Dörthe had to work in the morning, so we had to call it a night. When we got back to her place, I changed into my night clothes and put my smokey gear out on the balcony to air out. It was exciting tho to smell the nicotene breathed into the fibers of my clothes. It brought back fond memories of going out back in Binghamton, long smokey drunken and debaucherous evenings at Royal. Now that smoking in bars and restaurants is illegal in New York, I have to admit I'm quite content, but there times when nostalgia makes me forget how nice it is to be smoke-free.

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 13 - Tuesday 7.19.05

The weather changed upon my arrival in Germany; even Sunday it was cloudy and threatening to rain, even producing a few small spells of drizzle. Today, the skies opened up, and it rained steadily throughout much of the day. Even so, after breakfast I wandered down to Osterstraße and picked up the first set of my photos. An error had occurred with the second set, and they wouldn't be ready till the following day. I also stopped at the Karstadt and the Super Spar and got the other ingredients I needed for the gin cosmos. I went back to D.'s apartment and dropped off my shopping, and decided that it was a good time for lunch. The Dynastie Chinese restaurant is only two blocks away from her apartment, and I decided to give it a try, as I remembered that it was good from my last visit to Hamburg. As I sat eating my chicken and brocoli and sipping my Warsteiner, the rain poured from the heavens. I was glad to be indoors eating MSG rich Chinese yum-yums. By the way, if you're wondering why I haven't eaten any German food it's because German food is especially hard to find in Hamburg!

After lunch I returned to Dörthe's apartment and was so sleepy from travelling and having so many busy days, and from the MSG and the rainy weather, that I lay on the couch and fell asleep for three hours, during which time I dreamed the most bizarre dream about two gay men who could turn themselves into cats. I was following them around, and they were on this strange mission to rescue the one man's daughter, who also had this strange transformative power. His daughter was the prisoner of this evil old English woman who lived in a big grey farmhouse in the English countryside, one of those big, blocky, gray stuccoed places. We arrived there, but not before I stopped at a Burger King and chowed down several hamburgers. Once we arrived at the evil old woman's house, one of the gay men killed her and we rescued the daughter who looked like a drugged out floosey. As the dream ended, the man who was not her father smacked her on the ass, declaring that she had beautiful ass just like her father. It really is odd what MSG can do to the brain!

Dörthe came home and made pizzas, one ham and cheese, the other vegetarian, and we drank gin cosmos which she much preferred to the gin martinis!

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 12 - Monday 7.18.05

I got up and had breakfast with D. Northern German breakfasts are a lot like Scandinavian breakfasts, altho without the prevalence of fish, especially in the cities. Every morning we had lunchmeat, cheese, good wholegrain breads, nutella, jam and fruit, as well as ample coffee. I'm not sure with D. became a coffee-holic before she left Germany to live in the States, or if living in the States made her one.

Originally she had come to the US to work as a nanny for a doctor and his family. Later on, she decided that she would stay and do a degree in Spanish, and her goal had been to find a job in the States and stay. Unfortunately things didn't work out that way, and she had to return to Germany where she did a business degree and now works for a seed trading company in Hamburg.

After Dörthe left for work, I did another laundry and then went "downtown", around the corner to Osterstraße. I had several missions to complete. I had to buy postcards and stamps, drop off my film to be developed, and finid fixin's for martinis for Dörthe and me. It was all relatively easily done. The main nexus of business is only about 20 minutes walk from Dörthe's apartment. The postoffice, cardshop, Photo Dose and Karstadt department store were all adjacent to the same intersection. After I got my cards and stamps, I dropped off my film and then went over the Karstadt.

Osterstraße's Karstadt is not a very big one, but it is big enough to have a food hall, so I hunted around for the martini glasses, then I went downstairs to the food hall to look for vodka. Much to my chagrin, their selection of vodka was pretty awful, so I opted for gin since they have Bombay Sapphire. They also had an exquisite collection of Scotch, including some very fine and reasonably priced 25 year olds. Unfortunately I wasn't in the market for Scotch.

The Karstadt didn't have any limes for whatever reason, so on my way back from Karstadt I stopped at the little Spar near Dörthe's apartment. I brought home my goods and chattels and then looked at the time. I was already late afternoon, so I took in my clothes from the clothes horse on the balcony (clothes dryers are still a rarity in much of Europe) and then went out for Chinese take-away - Germany does have very good Chinese take-away incidentally. Dörthe had a guitar lesson after work and wouldn't be home till around 8:30, so I took my Chinese yum-yums home, gobbled them up, and then spent some time with Jean-Marc and Mathieu in the pages of Le coeur découvert.

Once Dörthe got home, I introduced her to the wonders of the dry gin martini; she was very pleased with the martini glasses, but the gin martini was too dry and strong for her. We decided that tomorrow I would get the fixin's for a gin cosmo and see how that suited her, being a big devotee of Sex in the City, she thought she might enjoy them!