:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Travel (Page 1 of 2)

J.E. may be the only one who appreciates this

I was reading Atlas Obscura this afternoon, and they talked about a beautiful clock in Glastonbury. A deeply embedded memory of this surfaced:

It was 25 years ago, around this time that I first saw that clock. 25 years ago, exactly, I was in Norwich packing up to start my Navy Dumb training. Now to get some Toasted Tea biscuits for Jerod.

Resolution Music Thursday

This year, one of my resolutions is to be faithful in contributing to Music Thursday.  Like most resolutions, I hope this one isn’t fashioned to be broken.

I’ve been listening to this song by Imogen Heap like crazy for the past couple of weeks.  I thought I’d share.  On the deluxe version of the album, I really like the instrumental version.  It doesn’t have the emotional tenor of the vocal version, but it really converys a mood to me.  For some reason this song really makes me think of being in England and living in the 80’s.  At the same time.  It’s kind of a strange sensation — this song causes two deeply nostalgic periods of my life to overlap that I never would have thought compatible.

I’ll let you listen now….


01 | First Train Home
02 | First Train Home (Instrumental)


Thanks, JE, for hosting Amanda and me last weekend. We had a wonderful time and were thoroughly inundated with artistic inspirations at every turn. I left with more motivation to return to my artistic nature than I have felt in a super long time, it was good for my soul. I would like to incorporate one of my current creative thoughts/challenges with the group. My proposal is that we craft a worthy children’s story with animation, a good message/lesson (perhaps like a fable) that would be timeless in nature and be something that our children would incorporate into their lives and share with their children. I recognize the huge undertaking here, but I think we definately have the talent between the lot of us to put something together. I have seen middle school projects where their work has been made into quality hardback form. Perhaps we could find something like this and have nicely bound copies that could be in each of our homes. I would think the logical place to start would be with the story’s arc and outline. I would like to extend this challenge to each of you. I would really like to be able to share the collective wisdom of our friendships with my child/children. So, who’s with me? Any thoughts about characters and stories?

On a second note- I am going to do some work on a graphic novel (semi-inspired by Maus) based on a character I will call Promi the Squirell, who steals a flaming marshmallow from a suburban fire pit. My initial sketches ceertainly aren’t of the caliber of Ned’s but, whacha gonna do?

No Line on the Horizon

Looking out to that horizon, today, on the release of a new U2 album, it seems appropriate to write to you all with a serious proposal. Namely, let’s look forward and think about a significant journey to Ireland.

I’m not suggesting this happen next month, maybe not even this year, but if there is interest from even just one of you, I’d like to get a date in mind on the calendar and start saving the money it will take to make this a real journey. You’ve got to dream out loud.

What I am proposing, what I am dreaming, is two weeks in Ireland–mapping out a course from Dublin, most likely, and spending the bulk of the time in the western wilds of the country. It would mean setting up lodging in bed and breakfasts and/or hostels, renting a car and braving the narrow roadways, eating in pubs and the like–doing it as cheaply as we can, but also not sparing out on any experience. I’m open to any road, but imagine spending 2-3 days in Dublin, and spending much of the rest of the time in the west and in Northern Ireland.

Certainly this is an expensive proposal, in terms of cost and time and planning, let alone a significant time away from home and family. It is likely cheaper to go in the off months, November through February, for instance. With that in mind, and looking at my own schedule, perhaps January or February 2010 would be a time to shoot for. I hate the idea of being away from Jen and Beckett for two weeks or so, and obviously this is just the beginning of a possible conversation, but I also hate the idea of time and youth so quickly getting away from us. And they are getting away from us. I know there was once a lot of talk among us, on a broken Kansas hillside, about just this very idea of a journey with whoever of us can make it. I’m not even certain I can make it. But I hope, and I scheme, and I instigate, and so I put it back to each of you to think seriously about this and to see what we can do in service to our friendships and lives.

Asps. Very Dangerous. You Go First.

Not an asp. 

You guys might have heard, the first Indiana Jones movie in 19 years is coming out this Memorial Day weekend.  So, Steph and I have devised an equation.

Memorial Day + Kansas City + HM and their wives + Indiana Jones + (optional beer & pipes) = a Memorable Weekend

Are you in or are you out?  Let us know.  Discuss below.


The holidays are upon us. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving next week, wherever you will be. Jen and I will be in the Pacific Northwest from Tuesday through Sunday. So here’s wishing you a good feast to you and yours, from there.

As it happens, I have a fairly grand holiday break set up for myself this year, due to the fact that my class ends the week of December 10, I’m three days a week at Graywolf, and I have saved up vacation days all year, apparently. I will more or less be off of a regular work schedule from December 13 to January 7.

I’m hoping that might mean I can come to Kansas for a few days somewhere in there–either before Christmas or sometime after. I will certainly be in Minnesota roughly December 23-26 for family gatherings here. I thought I would see when others of you might be around the McPherson area during the holidays, to see if I can match my schedule to yours, as it would be great to see you all, in addition to my parents, grandparents, and extended family.

I need to get my air fare set as soon as possible, so let me know what your plans may be. And of course, it’s always interesting to know what all of you are doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s…


Just a quick post to say that June approaches, and we have June 15-17 as the weekend for you all to come up to the lake, if you are interested and able. Everyone is invited. Let us know what might work for you. Or let us know if you can’t make it, so we can plan accordingly.

We can arrange to pick you up at the airport, or we can give you directions to the lake if you’re driving up.

I hope this will be a good way to get together this summer!


And now, looking ahead, it must be asked: what do you foresee in 2007? This can either be predictions of important events or people, or it could take the form of personal New Years resolutions. It’s always such a reflective time. I’m reminded that the month of January comes from Janus, the Roman god of endings and beginnings, with a face looking backward and a face looking forward.

So, looking ahead now, here are a few thoughts and resolutions from me.

In 2007, I expect:

  • to see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Rudy Guliani in the spotlight for the Presidential elections of 2008, as they all announce their candidacies. (I’m already surprised to see John Edwards announce his candidacy, and so early.)
  • a withdrawl plan from Iraq.
  • peacekeeping efforts deployed to Darfur, through a renewed United Nations.
  • the biggest seller in books, by far, to be the new and final Harry Potter.
  • the biggest movie, in terms of blockbuster status, to be the new Harry Potter movie.
  • to be exhausted by Harry Potter by this time next year.
  • additional evidence for global warming.
  • one of us to announce a child on the way.

Some of my personal resolutions include:

  • to eat vegetarian as much as possible, with only occasional fish when eating out.
  • to eat less, eat more healthy foods, drink less alcohol, and drink more water daily.
  • to exercise at the Y at least 12 times each month.
  • to post and comment regularly on the Hollow Men site, including a weekly literary/poetry feature.
  • to work to organize our house better.
  • to begin more sustained writing.
  • to be in better touch with family and friends.


Music Thursday: Part II (March and Dance)

Last night, Steph and I went to one of her friends’ birthday parties.  She was turning 50 and wanted it to be a memorable occasion — it definitely was.  She had the Marching Cobras come in and perform.  They’re spectacular.  At one point in the evening, the members ran up and grabbed everyone and had us dance with them.  Invigorating and delightful.  At the end, the girl who tugged us into the dancing beat hugged Steph and I and said “thank you so much.”  If you ever get the chance to see them, do. 

I had this funny feeling of coordinated choas while watching them.  Take a look at the video below and you can see for yourself.  Everyone is sort of doing their own thing, but together it is tighly coordinated.  Hard to explain….  If you watched one person doing it, it wouldn’t necessarily be very impressive.  Together, it’s amazing. 

The African-American marching band is fairly famous…it’s made up of young and old, thin and heavyset, and men, women and children.  It was like watching something happen that is simultaneously old and tribal and yet novel and urban.  Did I mention it was spectacular?  Click on the link above to go to their home page.  If you click through the link to YouTube, you can see more videos of them.  Here’s a video to see (though dimly) what they’re like performing:


On an additional note, I found this video a couple of days ago.  It’s been inspiring to me and I get chills every time I watch it (which is often, at least once a day since I’ve found it).  There’s a lot of hope I feel when I watch…sadness, too.  I wonder how long the locales Matt dances in will be there, and at the same time, I marvel in the wonder and diversity there is in the world.  We miss out when we think the American Experience is the cumulation of humanity.

This has opened up a deep longing, and at the same time, a deep satisfaction in me….


Back in Elgin…

shattuck.jpg…and as safe and sound as one can be in Texas.

The highlight of the return trip was the Shattuck Windmill Museum in Shattuck, Oklahoma. We talked to a very nice women holding forth in the gift shop where we purchased a book titled, “Windmills and Windmill Weights,” a jar of plum butter and a mug.

If you are as crazy about windmills as I am (and I know you are) I strongly urge you spend a least an hour at the Shattuck Windmill Museum. That is, if you are ever traveling on or near US 283 through Shattuck in the Oklahoma Panhandle (and I know you will).

Devil’s Backbone

Well, October has been a great month for me. 

This past weekend, you all know what we were up to. 

One weekend ago, some of my K-State friends congregated at our house for a reunion we have once a year, usually in the summer. 

Two weekends ago I got the to enjoy the Ozark autumn, with trees just at the cusp of their full fall colors.  I went camping with 3 guys from Kansas City I know through our church in the Mark Twain National Forest.  The end destination on our hike: the Devil’s Backbone.  Below is a photo my friend took while we were on the ridge (it was very backboney).

Click on the photo to see the full panorama….

While we were there, I thought about all things Devil’s Backbone and was reminded of a great movie by Guillermo Del Toro: The Devil’s Backbone.  Since this is Halloween night (I’m currently writing while waiting to hand out candy with Steph, the kids keep coming up to our door) I thought the movie buttressed up against my reflections of this October nicely.  I recommend this movie greatly.   It takes in Spain during the Spanish civil war in 1939.  I don’t normally watch horror films.  However, the horror from this film isn’t produced by the film’s ghost, but instead comes from the humans caught up in this war.  At least, that’s my take on it.  It’s a ghost story where the most terrifying element comes from the humans.  Watch it, if you’d like.  I’d love to hear your reactions on it.  The DVD cover stinks, by the way.

Oh, and catch Pan’s Labyrinth when it comes out, also by Guillermo Del Toro.  It looks fantastic too.  …of course, it has the right to be horrible and I’ll have to take my ringing endorsement (for a film I haven’t even seen) back.  I should be more careful.

Feel Free to Do Likewise

I am sending this letter to both of my senators and all eight of my representatives. Feel free to use my letter for your own purposes, or make your own. Both of my senators are Jewish; so I am assuming the word genocide means somehting to them. I am also sending it to my very own President of the United States.

To: The Honorable Russ Feingold
506 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4904 

Dear Senator Feingold, 

This letter is written to plead that you and other United States representatives pay attention to what is happening in Darfur, Sudan. I, a voting citizen in a swing state, implore you to take some action, whatever action you can, to prevent the genocide occurring as we speak. How many more hundreds of thousands must be killed before we act? President Bush himself has described the situation as genocide. I am horrified, outraged, and flabbergasted that our country has remained neutral in action on this heinous situation. “You can look at it this way: back in 1944, the Germans didn’t want anybody coming in and seeing their death camps. Today in Sudan, the government doesn’t want anybody coming in and seeing what amount to death villages.” * 

Please let us use our resources where we can make a true moral stand against murder and injustice. Can we not send more aid to these areas? Can we not more fiercely condemn these behaviors? Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton both recognize Rwanda as their crowning failure. Will we stand by and do nothing, again? Is it true that we have resisted sending a U.N. Peacekeeping force because we have received information on Osama Bin Laden from leaders in Sudan? “It’s been a very good deal for the government of Sudan to give little tidbits of information about suspects around the world in order to blunt United States outrage over what’s happening in Darfur,” Prendergast says. * 

First, I challenge you as a respectable acting member of the government of the United States to respond to me with a letter entailing actions you are taking to prevent the slaughter taking place in Sudan and answer my questions. Are we turning our backs on Africa and Sudan because we have no financial interests there? Secondly, I challenge you to send me information on how I can make a tangible difference. 

Ned Gannon
2028 8th Street 
Eau Claire, WI 54703

* http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/10/20/60minutes/main2111909_page2.shtml

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