Sunday, January 20, 2013


More travel: 
 Vineyard in Spain

Home mid-January, gone again mid-April.  It just happened.  Really!  Not my idea!  Rye, New York mid-April was a must… it was brother Jerry’s 70th.  We, his siblings, just had to attend:  He is the first of us to reach… the age of dignity.  From Rye I went to Nashville, Tennessee to visit Jerry’s oldest daughter, Catherine, and her family which includes a new baby born the end of February... a must see, given she is the 6th in the Marlatt family’s new generation; and given Tennessee is on the way to Alabama. Andrea picked me up at Catherine’s and we travelled through Georgia, including a stop to see Roy Eugene Davis, a man in his 80’s, who is a disciple of Parmahannsa Yogananda.  Then Andrea’s semester ended and she wanted to go back to Spain,  “Of course!” I say… and we headed to Madrid, Santiago and the ‘El Camino’, then up through Galicia to the old Spanish resort town of San Sebastian… Bilbao and the Guggenheim.  Following this 6-day whirl, we met Seale and Zoey in London.  Andrea and I were back in Alabama for my birthday, May 26th, when we celebrated by getting in some summer plantings around the house. 

Plantings at Andrea & Seale’s home

But that was not the end!  At the beginning of June, I flew north to visit my cousin in Essex, Ontario… another must, given Judy’s husband Bernard, had died in February; and I am closer to Essex when in Alabama, than in BC.  (It was good to spend time together.)  THEN… the last excursion before home… a 10-day retreat with Roy Eugene Davis in Georgia.  Finally, there were 10 more days with Seale, Andrea, and Zoey before I flew home at the end of June.

Did I write any ‘Musings’ during this time? No.  Contemplation was not the mode… I was travelling too fast.  But it feels wrong to leave this whirlwind of gallivanting out of the 2012 picture.  The following are some snippets of the stronger impressions.

1) Rye, New York:  What to say to one’s brother on his 70th?  While it could have been about his accomplishments (of which he has many… he has been recognized by the NY Law Society), that was not my knowing of him.  Mine is a life-long knowing:  He is my older brother, so has always been there!  WHAT was always there? 

When I thought about ‘always there’, it was not so much about his personality, which grew and became shaped over time and events; it was about something deeper, something I knew even at the non-verbal level… I think.  Gradually, an image came to mind:  a very quiet, patient, gentle ol’ soul who was a natural teacher and guide.   In every picture of him that I pulled out of our family photo archive from his babyhood… to ‘the boy’ everyone chose to show their horse… to the young man graduating from high school in Chino, California… to the lawyer and family man, I saw these deeply ingrained qualities.  It’s in the eyes… where you see it.   One family story, in particular, catches it:  the 3 year old little boy sitting with his 1 year old sister (me!) by the freshly tilled vegetable garden:  Patiently, he says, “No.” and gently pushes her hands away… from rubbing out his dirt roads.  I think he may even have tried to teach her, “Roads”.  The story goes on to say he gently pushed her hands into her lap, again… and again… and again.  The dear soul never lost his patience.  (Little did I remember I was so trying!)

My wish for him and those around him is that these wonderful qualities may be fully lived… now.  Living the ‘good’ life has happened, may he now enjoy the ‘fullness’ of life… the age of dignity.

A celebration… amazing how kids really know how to party!.  There were 3 of them under the age of 7!  A perfect delight… a perfectly NOISY!! Delight.

Jerry being decked out with necklaces by daughter, Emmy; and grandson, Zachary, enjoying birthday cake. 

 Henry, Emmy, and Zachary… celebrating by taking over Jerry’s chair.

2) Nashville, Tennessee:  Catherine… and her family!  Aughhhh… I remember those years.  Busy… Busy… Busy.  How does anyone do it?  It was a privilege to re-visit those years… to see it all again.  We were 3 generations.  Catherine’s mom, Linda, lives close by… I remember Linda in my! parent’s kitchen, sitting at the table doing the very things we were doing with Catherine.  Fun to watch Linda and Catherine; and for Linda and I to re-unite in this delightfully busy family setting, after all these years.

Grandma Linda and Marin

There was also a whole new world for me to explore.  Catherine took me to her place of work.  She is a managing accountant for Gaylord Entertainments… the world of Nashville’s ‘Opryland’!  What a complex… acres:  4 hotels… shops… gardens… restaurants… conference centers… theaters… and a broadcasting station.  I took pictures like I did at the Alhambra in Spain… an incredibly different age, an incredibly different culture, yet the detail was equally amazing and the overall impact equally overwhelming.

 Gaylord’s ‘Opryland’

3) “Oh! Spain - What a creature you are… you have seeped into my soul.”  Madrid is one of Europe’s grand old dames… but, so thoroughly Spanish.  The grandeur of its’ Royalty is dauntingly close to the surface… it was the last medieval court in Europe, existing into the 20th C.  The King and Queen still served a lavish banquet to the poor in 1925… even to the extent of washing the feet of the poor in a ritual ceremony.  It feels nothing like the royal history in London, where the medieval surfaces in a purely decorative way.

 Royal City: Madrid

THE BULLFIGHT!  I cannot say enough.  Andrea saw it as a circus; I was totally captured by the worship of ‘courage’ and ‘death’.  It is perhaps cleaned up since Hemmingway wrote, “Death in the Afternoon”… the horses are well padded and can no longer be gored.  But death permeates the scene… it will be the death of the man or the bull.  There is no out!  THAT is the thing… THERE IS NO OUT.  Man facing bull; bull facing man… the energy radiates; the image magnetic.  One’s own energy pulsates (reminiscence of daring circus acts?). It is very clear that facing death takes courage… even to watch takes courage.  We know the courage it takes to live… day-in-day-out.  This we learn gradually.  But death happens only once.  So Spanish, this fierce courage… yes, I think a defining characteristic of the Spanish people.   

The ‘cult of death’ predates the ‘cult of the hero’… here is a living memory of that first cult.

Following the bullfight was the ‘El Camino’, the most revered spiritual pilgrimage in Europe.  Such an intense contrast…  THAT’S SPAIN!  We attended Sunday mass in the Santiago Cathedral on Mother’s Day!  (Mother and daughter together… how did this happen??); and walked ‘the path’ for one day.  Andrea plans a return, to do the path (and herself) justice.

Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

Choir during Mass

On the Camino

To the above add a Gaudi palace for a Cardinal, and the Guggenheim in Bilbao… the architecture throughout Spain is a ‘must see’:

Residence for a Cardinal by Gaudi (Astorga, Spain)

 The Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao by Gehry

ALL of this in 6 days:  What did I quote in one of my winter blogs on Spain?  “In Andalusia, we swallow men.”  I think that could be said of Spain, in general.

4) Essex, Ontario:  My cousin Judy and I grew up together in Vancouver; and, I think, we are growing hand-in-hand again as we each enjoy a nice long retirement.  We both retired in our 50’s… pure luck!  Though Judy is grieving the recent death of her husband, Bernerd, she eagerly took me in hand and showed me a great time: we walked the lanes in the farm country where she lives, neighbors with Bernard’s sister and her son’s family; we visited family and friends throughout the county of Essex… she has wonderful support! we toured the rather crumbling city of Windsor… talk about a depressed city! and visited her yacht club.  Due to Bernerd, Judy has a Mazda Miata convertible…  not really her choice of car, but we loved spinning around in it... like a couple of teenagers again.

View of 'home' farm bldgs. from Judy's screened porch... cool and no bugs in the coffee!

AND it was 2012… so! I got a blast of Canada celebrating the War of 1812 and “The Making of Canada”.   The town of Ashville, a 20-minute ride in the Miata from Judy’s home farm, is the sight of one of Canada’s major historic forts in the 1812 war… across the river from Detroit; and the attacking U.S.!  The land around Essex was the land that got ‘taken’ and ‘re-taken’ during this seminal war of the ‘Making of Canada’.  Well, I have come through this year’s celebration with a great admiration for Tecumseh, as opposed to the weary and faltering armies of either Canada or the US.  When Tecumseh was killed, the 1812 War trickled away… and so did Canada’s promise to Tecumseh.  Goodness! THAT was ‘The Making” of Canada?  I guess it was the first time ‘we’ Canadians fought for our own nation… that seems true.  But the story of what we promised Tecumseh and the native peoples, and then reneged on, is also our legacy.  I am humbled more by that historical fact, than I am by the general non-event of the War of 1812 and ‘The Making’ of our nation.  Perhaps we as a nation need to grieve some of our history, not just celebrate it… that was my glimpse of the 1812 War:  Three cheers, Tecumseh!


5) Northern Georgia:  Parmahansa Yogananda; Roy Eugene Davis; a 10-day spiritual retreat… 

Roy Eugene Davis next the lineage of  Paramahansa Yogananda

On the grounds at the retreat

 View of the grounds at the retreat

AND all 3 books of “Shades of… Grey”!!  (Judi’s faulther Mother’s Day gift!).  What a combination:  periods of meditation followed by periods of reading… about a flaunting erotic sexuality!

Meditation is back in my life.  “Thank You, Roy.”  AND…“Shades of … Grey”???  What to say?  What I will say is, "if you have not read the book, I will not listen to your criticism." True: The story line is too simplistic. True: The writing is only average. True: It titillates. Yet there is such lightness and zest. One is left with feelings of deep trust for one's body and naive good sense. I say, "Well done author!" A book of lightness and zest. Perhaps not bad as an accompaniment to meditation. :) 
General Comment:
When I think of 2012, I think it exemplified ZEST!  I left India in 2011 with a great need to be active… to be ‘LIFE’!  This need morphed into a haunting image of all the 1920’s Rivieras in Europe and the great ‘zest for life’ this symbol seemed to represent.  In 2012 I took advantage of being in Europe for Erin’s wedding to explore the symbol:  Ibiza, the Dalmatian Coast, the south coast of Britain, and the Costas de Sol & de Tropica… all were either current or past ‘Rivieras’.

A zest for life continues… thank you India and my first 10 years of meditation.  Now for the next 10 years!   In retrospect, I think of 2011 as a culmination, with so many ‘endings’; and 2012 as a transition year… ushering in a new beginning.  Beginning of what?  I have no idea! FUN!

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