dimarts, de maig 31, 2005

An Unmemorable Memorial Day (English)

An unmemorable Memorial Day it was indeed. However, it was not unpleasant. I left Schenectady on Saturday morning and went to Pennsylvania. My mother, brother and I had an enjoyable ride in the country and then dinner at a nice pub-ish place in Mt. Bethel. Later that evening the neighbor and her daighter came up and we played Texas Hold'em for a couple hours while I sipper Jameson and Diet Pepsi to kill the relative boredom Sunday, our family friend, Barbara, arrived from Nesquohoning, and we all went to the Pocono Brew Company for lunch on their deck, which was also enjoyable. Since you can't buy beer in Pennsylvania on Sundays, we rode across the river to New Jersey and procured some decent beer and some more Jameson near Columbia, then Monday it was back to Schenectady.

Monday evening I spent with Anna. We went to a new-ish restaurant in McKownville (perhaps it was Ellesmere, the lines between those two hamlets are hard to discern) called Caberbet Café. We both had the pan-seared scallops and we shared a cheese and meat platter for an appetizer, very yummy, as they say. Today it was on to more mundane tasks, but I did clock twelve miles on the bike on an absolutely stunning afternoon along the Mohawk. The only bad thing about the bike ride were the inch worms, who attacked me fairly consistently as I cruised along. Sadly, I had to help several dozen of them along their karmic journeys...

Friday was graduation, by the way. It went well, but was longer than normal. Afterward I met Th. and M. and we went to Raindancer for small meal. I had scallops again. I can't seem to get enough of those darn "eraser heads" as Carolyn calls them. Earlier that day I had taken Bill to St. Peter's, and his procedure seems to have helped alleviate some of his malaise...

diumenge, de maig 22, 2005

Which Golden Girl Are You? My friends would not be surprised!

Which Golden Girl Are You?
Robert, you're most like Dorothy

Hey, Pussycat. OK, so maybe that's not your nickname, but you're most like Dorothy because you've got a lot going on upstairs. You're a smart cookie who's got your feet firmly planted on the ground. You don't get caught up in pie in the sky ideas or ditzy daydreams like some other people we know.Realistic and practical, you're the one people count on to tell it like it is. Honesty is a great policy, but keep in mind that people may not always want to hear it. It's your quick wit and clever comments that will stir up the most laughs. Now that's smart!

(photo and test from tickle.com)

Seasons (English / Cornish)

The days have begun melting together now, in a never-ending sense of Saturday, lovely and slow, even when they're busy they bring the reward of rest near at hand. The summers in upstate New York are delicious, the springs sublime. Many people who have lived here their whole lives complain incessantly about the weather, but truly the spring, summer and fall of upstate New York are God's gift to us. The springtime is cool and moist, the fresh scent of new plant growth fills the sky, myriad flowers, but especially tulips and poppies, dot the landscape from the beginning to the end of the season. The rains come and bring a cool lushness to the earth. The summers are gentle and sweet, rarely hot and sticky; the sky is more often blue than grey in this region, and the falls are equally sweet and gentle, with many warm days that hold on well into October.

Today the rains threatened all day, but I still managed to walk about four miles through the Upper Union district of Schenectady and Old Niskayuna, neighborhoods full of mosstly 1920's and 1930's houses, well maintained with lovely little yards and gardens. This area has not experienced the same kind of decay wich has struck large swaths of other parts of the city, and it has remained a highly livable place, with a nice strip of small shops and eateries along Upper Unions Street. It was unfortunate that I didn't get any work done of the garage, but there are many weeks before I leave for Brittany.

The weekend was eventful, although like so many of these days this spring, with highs and lows. Friday I spent all day in Fulton and Montgomery Counties. First I had a "Development Day" - kind of like in service for professors - which lasted all day. In the evening, I journeyed into Gloversville, to the Vintage Manor, where we a had retirement party for two of our colleagues. The retirement party was no great shakes; the food was mediocre to poor, and the service was awful; moreoever, I had to make do with Tanqueray for my Gin and Tonics. The retirement speeches were rather long, and for one retiree in particular, not especially complimentary. Luckily my company at the table was good, even including the Vice-President of the College, who was unusually casaul that evening; all in all, I can't complain on my on behalf, still the night was not all it could have been.

Wosa henna, niver noweth a re deus y'n chy - niver yowynk ha cales gans blas da warno... caroryon ow bewnans, tra pur da yntre an traow trist... den yowynk tomm dhe gysi, pur da!

Saturay, after my long night Friday, I awoke and accompanied Carolyn to Vermont where we stocked up on alcohol; I noticed a deficit in my supply of Scotch, and so bought several bottles. I bought a bottle of Isle of Jura Superstition, Balvenie 12 year old, and Bowmore 12. The Bowmore is cheap, but I find a good day-to-day sipping sipping single malt. I also bought a bottle of Vermont Vodka, distilled from Maple sap, and I'm really looking forward to trying it out. Finally I bought a bottle of Hendrick's Gin in it's lovely dark brown, almost black, bottle. Hendrick's is the only Gin for which I would turn my nose up at Bombay Sapphire. After we stocked up on out liquor in Bennington, Carolyn and I went up to Manchester and had a late lunch at Mulligans, a kind of pubby place in Manchester Center.

We returned toward Albany, but made a stop at a very at a very interesting and inspirational place: the Grafton Peace Pagoda. The Peace Pagoda is a Japanese Buddhist center located about halfway between Albany and the Vermont/Massachussetts border, deep in the woods even some miles from the tiny hamlet of Grafton. It consists of a beautiful temple surround by trees, and quite an impressive stupa which you can walk around on three levels: grown, mid and upper levels, and thus make a sort of prayer walk by climbing the stupa. On the mid level there are friezes of Native American icons from various Creation Myths, attesting to part of the the reason the pagoda exists at all. On the upper level is the story of the life of Buddha in quite lovely friezes. (I will be putting some pictures from the center on the blog later this week.)

I say the place is inspiring because I have been dwelling for some years now on the question of my own spirituality. I cannot see myself ever becoming a Christian again. It has been so long since I was a Christian that not one cell in my body was even alive the last time I believe in any of their dogma. The Pagan Path seems to have been somewhat wrent from my being by my ersatz brush with death, as were nearly all spiritual inclinations I had ever had. My Unitarian Universalist beliefs are not sufficient fodder for my, nor very likely, anyone else's soul (whatever a sould may be...), at least not alone. It's one thing to have have questions, quite another to never seek their answers...

On the same token, I can't see myself ever leaving the Unitarian Universalist movement; it is deeply meaningful to me on psychological, social and ethical levels, all because the convergence of those liberal potentialities allow me to explore so freely other spiritualities, or rather, I should say, simply spirituality. I can, however, see myself moving toward Buddhism. Even in Binghamton I attended Buddhist meditation, and I am taking a great deal away from my Yoga classes. There is a simple logic to Buddhism which I admire, and knowing what I know about Buddhism already, I know I could easily be a seeker following the path of the Buddha, appreciating and following in the footsteps of my Celtic Pagan ancestors, and a good Unitarian Universalist. Really, the latter two are what makes the former functional anyway....

The rest of the day was less inspiring, but nonetheless instructional. Carolyn and I went for icecream, and then I went to Club Phoenix to meet friends. As luck would have it, I had a text message from J, and and he I went together. As the night progressed a couple other people I knew arrived, but since I knew I had to go to church this morning and be the Parlementarian, I couldn't enbibe too much. My comrades, however, were not so indisposed and by the time I left, were very very very drunk.

As always I left with a disconcerted feeling. After 33 years, I know what my sexual feelings are, and I know what kind of person I want to see between my legs. Nonetheless, I have so little in common with my fellow gay man, except my lust. I'm further from understanding them now than ever before. When I was younger, I just believed in the stories about love I saw in television. Now that I'm older, and have begun to come to terms with my own mortality, and the outright death of my dream of love, I realize that I have few mechanisms at my disposal for me to be ever be in touch with them.

I do, after all, come from a different world, apparently, and have journeyed someplace else. We can exist in the same phsyical reality, but, it would appear, not the same social one. Our expectations are very different, I suspect. I could be wrong. The friends whom I met are not quite so removed from my social reality, certainly not J, with whom I do have the potenital for a future strong social connections. However J is the exception and not the rule. Most everyone else in that "community" seems to have a radically different view of the world, one which I could probably never accept.

Still, Buddha inspired me, since I was able to be there and not feel the overwhelming depression I have various felt in clubs. As the night wore one, I found myself pondering the possibility that some day I would leave all my shallow, worldly chicanery behind me. It's hard right now to imagine the day where I would reject my pleasures of the flesh, but perhaps someday I will have become strong enough to abandon them. Sixteen years ago I never would have believed I could ever let go of romantic love, and yet, looking deep down inside, I know that it is dead. Only its ghost still haunts my memories and periodically makes me think it might still be alive...

dimarts, de maig 17, 2005

A Perfect Day for a Jag (English)

A day out with the Jag made the day seem more festive than it was. I've decided to save the Jag for events, or for times when I want to make something into an event, rather than tooling around in her just for day to day travel. Besides, she's really not gussied up yet; Blodwen, the Jag, is old, 20 years old now, and she needs some TLC. She still cuts a fine line, but she has some rust near her underside, hardly noticeable yet, but it needs relatively immediate attention.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful spring day, an order-made day for a car built in England. Blodwen cllipped along the by-ways of Schenectady, Fulton and Montgomery Counties her six cylinders churning away in her 4.2 litre engine giving me about 200 HP, but only 17.8 miles to the gallon. Oh well, no one's perfect. It was a great ride with the moonroof open, and since part of my mission for the day was to ferry B to his endoscopy in Amsterdam, it seemed the best mode of travel. It makes going into the hospital for an uncomfortable procedure easier when you're sitting on real English leather and staring a beautiful mahogany veneer dash.

After dropping B off, I went to the college briefly to meet colleagues. We then transported ourselves up to Lanzi's on the Lake north of Mayfield, but south of Northville, along the Sacandaga Reservoir, a massive 29 mile long reservoir used to control water flow in the Hudson. Again, Blodwen was in her element, grabbing the country roads with a tenacity only a car with such a long wheel base can do. On the way up to Lanzi's I was alone, however on the way back, one of my colleagues came back to the college with me.

We were at Lanzi's to celebrate the departure of RA. RA, a female instructor, has been with us only a year, and has decided to return to here native Metarie, LA, the main suburb of New Orleans. We are all at a loss to understand why exactly she is leaving; she has claimed that it is for personal reasons, although I must wonder what kinds of gross personal reasons might compel someone to give up a $40k/year job for an uncertain future in a region where academics are payed much less well than they are here. Nonetheless, RA has been a lovely colleague for a year, and I had had her here to the house in the Fall for a "Southern Louisiana" soirée which she very much enjoyed. She brought the red-beans and rice and other friends and neighbors brought other food and beverages. B actually came to that party, as did Jon and Kim. B had brought the primary fixings for mint julips and I had procured the necessary ingredients for sazeracs, both of which were the main drinks for the evening. It will be sad to see the back of RA, and I can only hope that the man replacing her in the fall will be as good a part of our community.

Lanzi's was an ironically fitting locale to have her farewell luncheon; it sits ashore the massive reservoir and looks out across a beautiful vista, across what once had been the Great Sacandaga River Valley. The valley was flooded in the 1930's during that era of great reservoir building in which many small villages and towns across America were drown to create more sources of water and power, both of which are products of the Sacandaga today, as well as steady tourist industry of lake-lovers. The view really is spectacular and may well epitomize the Adirondacks, and all that RA will leave behind for the sultry summers of deep southern Louisiana. Perhaps she was just too attached to her land to really leave; I have a feeling I will never know.

At any rate, after lunch I returned to campus and collected some things people wanted me to shuttle to B. I took them to his house in the Bellevue section of the city, and then returned home to prepare for Yoga. The class was crowded but good. After it, Carolyn and I went to Lots of Noodles for lots of noodles, and now here I am home and winding down after another well-spent day.

dijous, de maig 12, 2005

Strange Days (English / Welsh / Cornish / Spanish / French / German)

I can't remember a springtime like this one. I have never felt so conflicted, so exhausted, in such wanting for a rest. It is true, I'm not getting any younger. Still, I don't think my advancing years have all that much to do with my estado de ánimo; estoy agobiado, quemado. Necesito cargar las pilas, pero no creo que se pase tan facilmente.

These days everywhere I turn, there are people imploding emotionally, at least it seems that way. Sometimes there are valid reasons for their emotional malaise, but other times it's just selfishness, in the French sense of égotisme.

I have always looked forward to spring, and it has always made my heart light. With the exception of that one spring 11 years ago when my aunt Arwilda died, every spring I can remember has represented release, rebirth, renewal. Yet this spring is replete with depression, bouleversements, disease, rampant worry and sadness. I am the owner of some these, but so many people around me seem also to be similary affected. What ill has overtaken us? Are our collective biorythms all ebbing low? What an inconvenient timing for such a theoretical convergence.

What follows is a list of some of the primary instigators of my woe. This list just serves as a written attempt at catharsis and does not imply blame unless expressly mentioned.

B: B is probably the primary source of my anxiety these days. He is a friend, a colleague, a mentor. He was the first person to extend a hand of genuine friendship to me at FM when I arrived. In those days the power structure of the old "feudal" system that ran everything in the two counties was still very much in place, and it was hard learning to navigate the social labrynth; stepping on snakes' tails was easily done and the pit of vipers was rabid. I survived my early years there in no small part thanks to early friends I made, B being the oldest and chiefest of them. Now B is very very ill. I've been running some small errands for him, and luckily they, in of themselves, have not been a burden. Altho still at home, his condition is very serious; he has some sort of blockage in his pancreas and is jaundiced and weak. It is hard for me to look at him, not only because his illness, and it's hard to see anyone you like suffering, but because it makes me think of my aunt Arwilda and Nutchie, both of whom died of pancreatic cancer. It seems so soon to have watch someone suffer that again. If he does have cancer, I will have to witness once again.

Ha den pur drist yu B. Yma ev ow beo yn flat yn unnek. Mae'r lle yn wag gan mwyaf, dim ond hen baburau sydd yn gorwedd o gwmpas y lle mewn tyrfau. Does dim llawer o ddodrefn yn y lle, a dim o gelf. Dwi ddim yn gallu bod yn sicr, ond rwyf yn credi rwan mod i wedi gweld ei gartref fod dirgel-ddyn ei galon mor dirst a mor wag â'r llety.

J: J has totally dropped of the radar. Let me add him to one more of my utter and ludicrous failures. This is is totally my fault. I have to stop starting relationships with people when I can't follow through with them. I was a jerk, and so now I suffer. J also represents another sad realization that I have had. Termmyn coth yu dhe dherbyn ow vewnans avel yma ev, yn unnek, hep dhen dhe gara, ha ow gara vy. Yma'n hunros wosa marow. Tus yu dhe gysi, nyns dhe gara, tybyav...

End of Semester: The students reek with desperation, anxiety, fear. The end of the semester is hwerw hweg. Thankfully the last day of classes is tomorrow, so there will be more hweg than hwerw.

JA: JA is a friend of the family. I have known his wife for my whole life, and him for most of it. I'm very fond of them both. He has been laid low with esophageal cancer and has had his esophagus removed, replaced with a section of his intestines. The operation was not wholly successful and must be repeated in August. He was a strong and active man, and is now crippled, weak, and always in danger of getting an infection and dying.

M: M is another colleague of whom I'm fond, and she claims to be going through a midlife crisis. She claims all she wants to do is pick up and leave it all behind. She is otherwise a positive and helpful person in my life, but I've seen that look before. She might. The thought of that worries me.

TG: TG has become a real thorn in my side, again. She gets annoyed over the strangest and smallest things. Currently she is berating me for my tone of voice on the phone when I told her I was very busy. In TG's world I'm not allowed to use "tones." In TG's world everyone must conform to her gestallt. If you don't, she will make you pay by constantly reminding you how much you upset her by disappointing her. She is also on a balliwick about my not calling her on the phone. I call basically no one on the phone, least of all for long conversations. Nonetheless, now I must call her at some relatively near point in the future to assuage her bruised feelings. TG is one of the ones who expects too much of me. In particular she expects me to be just like her in my attitude; this is largely because we do share many of the same opinions. Nonetheless, I am not the ironwilled tin-pot despot that she is.

The Ones Who Expect Too Much of Me: This is very nearly everyone I know with the exception of a view people. Generally I'm predictable, level - keeping the disgyl yn wastad, the dish level, as the Welsh say. Woe to me when I am not. I'm told I'm irritable, stubborn, cranky, irrational. Since when has it been written that I am not allowed to have emotions? Given the amount of others' emotions I'm forved to endure and sop up on a regular basis, should I get the chance to express, the most socially graceful way I can muster, a negative emotion? Must I only express myself in my Blog? According to most of my friends, yes. They seem to have relatively little patience for my relatively meek emotional outbursts - they're far too busy expressing theirs....

diumenge, de maig 08, 2005

Random Thought (English)

A random thought:

If you design your own paradigm and follow it, it will prove true most of the time.

Not advice, just an observation of the annoyingly lucky, who believe all their own bullshit. On second thoughtm naybe it is advice...


Aelodau'r Gymdeithas Gymreig wedi gorymdeithio i faes Ffair Sir Columbia dros Wyl y Celtiaid. Dyma fi ar y chwith, wedi Leslie a Pam yn yr hetiau du. Posted by Hello

dilluns, de maig 02, 2005

Celtic Buddhist Musings (English)

each blissful martyred minute
embrace it
hold it as long as you can
live in it
the dream will not last forever
you will miss it when it's over
or meeker
life is the knotwork
our thoughts the silver thread
our inner soul the memory
time from time
dream to dream
when at last you surrender to darkness
when at last there is no choice but to surrender
do it sweetly
accept your fate
revel in the moment of release
let the last moment you taste be as soft as it can be
embrace the valley of death
as though it were your home
whatever else it may be
it is a release
a recompense
at least a momentary peace
like life
it is a gift we are all granted
and one we cannot deny
something that cannot be avoided
should not be loathed
rather accepted
let the path to that place be long
and its end welcome

diumenge, de maig 01, 2005

Social Graces (English / French / German)

Yes, it has been a long time since I've blogged, but then again, we're coming up on the end of the semester, therefore, things are hectic. I will take a few moments out now to toy with the etymology of one of my favorite words: outrage. It comes from French, and it has really very little to do with rage in the English sense of the word. Indeed, it comes from the old French oustre which meant beyond. Our English verb ouster shares the same origins as outrage. In later French, oustre became oûtre, the noun form, meaning 'the state of being beyond,' as in beyond the acceptable parameters, became oûtrage, not unlike dressage, assemblage, or mirage. This weekend I sufffered two social outrages, in the French sense. The first one should surprise no one really, as we all know people (sadly) who would behave this way. The second one will go into the same category as the story of Lady X as chronicled in my blog entry "Synchronicity I & II."

Saturday I was in Binghamton visiting Tom with Carolyn; as is often the case, Tom had a small number of friends over to his house for a "gathering." Two of the attendees were would-be paramours of Tom, at least in their own minds. They spent the entire evening fawning over him, competing fiercely with each other while ignoring everyone else who was there. It was, what they would call in my valley, bad form, a total lack of social grace, and really an example unabashed poor parenting. Both of those two girls (they do no warrant the title of women), were, as we say in French, mal élevées. Morever, neither brought anything to the table that was really alluring enough that they should be tolerated for anything more than informal conversation. As much as they were lacking in grace, they seemed to be lacking in the ability to engage in real conversation. Finally, they were also both very plane Janes. As has been said by others, no looks, no class, no brains...

Dispensing with the future scullery maids of Bingladesh, let me move on to the other great outrage of the weekend. Another person in attendance - I shall leave him and his kin nameless - invited Carolyn and I over to his apartment to see his spouse's and his newborn. The baby was lovely, quite cute. The baby was not directly part of the outrage...

As we sat in their tiny, cramped living room which was twenty degrees too warm (everyone knows, newborns are supposed to be kept in environments stuffy enough to choke cockroaches...), they chose to share pictures of the birth with us. The wife asked the husband in particular to show us pictures of the PLACENTA!

Actually, when she first made the request, I figured I had misheard. Sadly, I was wrong, for, what to my astonishment was delivered into my hands but that lovely Kodak moment when the wife, her belly splayed open in full Ceasarian section was the would-be newborn tucked ever so neatly away in a bloody sack of puss and guts. In further photographs, we were able to behold the placenta stripped of its cargo laying on the mother's side as the grand-mother gazed down with utter disgust at the gray, purple and red mass. Just as we were viewing this 'interesting' collection of snaps, the husband brings out a tray of small pieces of PIZZA!

Gott in Himmel!

Alors, l'outrage du jour...