August 19, 2014

Ye Olde Obligatory Trip Log

First day of our "amost wasn't" trip. Like the mailman and Hollywood, I suppose the show and mail must go on.  This time two days late due to our dog being sick. It was a pretty restful drive - traffic surreally light despite or because it was a weekday. We lit out of Columbus belatedly, around 6:45am, but the trip felt almost effortless given how good a traveler our dog Buddy is.

The highlight of the trip was taking a sabbatical after about four and a half hours of driving. I'd suggested it might be fun to take Buddy on a micro walk on the Appalachian trail (and give him a chance to hopefully poop), so I looked to see if there was an exit off I-77 that might serve for that. I didn't find anything too promising but figured a state park in West Virginia might work. And so we stopped off, serendipitously, at Camp Creek State Forest and Park. We were greeted at the entrance by a fawn in the woods, and Buddy barked like there was no tomorrow at the pseudo-dog. The smell of alpine woods was intoxicating, the fresh mountain air and stream. We hiked along a street closed to visitors, having the place pretty much to ourselves. Later we drove around the sparsely populated campground. The highlight was seeing this gorgeous mountain stream waterfall. Water over stone. Primal. We could've sat next to that stream for hours.

Didn't read much on the trip (definitely not while driving, ha) - just some of George Will's new book on Wrigley Field inspired by listening to an interview by Brian Lamb. Arrived at 7:30, located the new condo, and then began the process of "home-izing" it: moved all the junk off the balcony into a spare bedroom, unpacked our belongings, and set up our Apple TV. A difficult operation, trying to thread the HDMI cord in through a crack of space between the television and the wall but motivation is 99% of solution. Sweet to have our "comfort shows" available, namely "Out in the Wild: Venezuela", a reality show rather than a drama. We gravitate away from dramas when our own drama is going on.


So here we are in the familiar flora and fauna, Spanish moss and rhododendrons. A balcony. A courtyard. Sun. It reminds me of early summer at Miami U., which overlooked a courtyard of similar dimensions and architecture. I can see just beyond the condos the taller structure that looks French reminding me of the architecture at the Continent Apartments circa 1987, and prompting a desire to read the book on Paris I have on my Kindle. I can dream of Europe in August in South Carolina.

Read the following quote on architecture, via George Will:
Ernest Dimnet was a French abbé who frequently traveled and lectured in the United States. His business was soul, and he said: “Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul...It has been well said that architecture exists not for the structure itself but for the space the structure creates by enclosing it.
Last month was the third coolest July ever for Ohio, so the sun there feels tentative and instantly perishable. But here in paradise it's sun daily, clouds need not apply.   When God gave me Irish genetics He was teasin'. Morning sun lingers on the back, east-facing balcony and so I enjoyed that till about 12:30. Then much pent-up demand on the exercise side of things. Ran like the wind! 3.5 miles. A lot more than usual anyway.  Later fought amazing waves for a half-hour or more. The undertow was pretty surreal and the waves powerful due to Hurricane Bertha about 80 miles off the coast. Glad it didn't make landfall to put it mildly.

So after the two hours spent running on the beach and swimming in the surf, headed back to the Casa for a brief lunch and to collect beachware for the day: Kindle, beer and iphone.

I did try to live my "vacation life" in one day: after gathering beer and Kindle, rode bike up to Sea Pines gate and back, just to revel in the incomparable play of light and shadow along that path. There's a reason people flock here. Then rolled to beach and read some of a Hilton Head book ("Unpacked and Staying") before reluctantly heading back at the relatively early hour of 4:30pm. Nice to hear some rich Latino music too on the iphone - the party music goes well with the beach.
Constellations of sun,
naked bun and forgetful rum
I long to marrow the suck out of life
and savor the flavor of rife.

Some say Bette Midler's The Roseis less poetry than purple prose,
and some say I'm a romantic
in the seconds I'm not a pedantic.

From the tit of Samuel Adams
I quaff the brevity
You may call me fat and middle-aged
but I hope that's just levity.

Ah sigh I could get used to this. 1:30pm on a sun-rich beach reading White Tiger novel.

Woke and read a dollop of resource-rich Logos Bible app. Egg and ham breakfast. Around 11 headed to BI/LO, not to be confused with Buy Low, and picked up key supplies like beer and super glue. Oh who am I kidding? Super glue is not a key supply.

Biked down Pope Ave and saw a gator just on the edge of a lagoon. Got off the bike and headed down for a picture, ideally a selfie with the alligator inches behind me. Unfortunately the edge of the bank was wet marshland and didn't want to soak my shoes, so for want of that little bit of comfort I have no picture of Mr. Gator and me.


It's kind of funny how memorable a book that Gerry House offering. From the name, Country Music Broke My Brain you're thinking it ain't Shakespeare. And yet I was sad when it was over, oddly for the gossipy read. Reading seems such a crap shoot: thousands if not millions of them serviceable and satisfying but far fewer memorably lasting. And this one all from hearing a quick mention of it on Sirius/Xm radio.


Drink first, ask questions later.  Started brew o'clock at 3:10 (to Yuma). A long solid read session, beach walk and swim. Nice routine! I could get used to it. One slight problem with retirement is that it's not retirement to a beach.


I was a child when a song by Tammy Wynette was popular in our household. It was called Good Lovin' and it went, in part:
If you don't believe what I'm tellin' you is soPut your man right out in the street and watch him goRight to the arms of a woman who couldn't even hold you a lightWhen a lotta good lovin' would've made everything alright.
Now it sounded to me like “Put your man right out in the street and watch him go, Bob Cousy!”

I'm fairly sure she sings something between “watch him go” and “right to the arms” but the 'net has failed me, lyrics-wise. But far more certainly, she doesn't sing, “Bob Cousy!” after the famous Celtic pro basketball guard. But at the time I was into basketball, especially historical figures (historical to me at least) like Cousy. and I liked the pairing of “watch him go!” with “Bob Cousy”, imagining the fleet-of-foot guard dribbling around some six-eight behemoth. The song, in other words, gave me something that certainly wasn't intended by the writer. In fact I had no idea the song was even about love, or a facsimile thereof. It was satisfying.

I wonder how much of the ambiguity of art is satisfying because we get different things from it. Similarly Scripture is sometimes ambiguous and centuries ago saints might've thought one thing about a certain passage, maybe gleaned some powerful insight, while later biblical scholarship shows that that wasn't what the passage was intended to mean. I think God can work even through misunderstandings of words and his Word.

(LATER: Turns out she's saying "watch him go, raaht to thee ... arms of a woman," et cetera.
The disputed words are "right to the." With a very Southern i-sound in "right" and an over-emphasized vowel in "the.")


My first time at the beach, on Tuesday, it felt so temporary, like I'd never get enough beach time this foreshortened week. I felt like an interloper among beach veterans. (Veterans, mind you, of just two days.) But today I feel solaced by the time here, such that I even dared come down late today, around 2 after a bike ride.

Inevitably I think about the swift-flowing river that is Summer and its passing….I still long to play golf and run or bike ol' MU before she's past.

The daily wash of beauty via Beauty. I'm sort of amazed I can be so appreciative of the surroundings, of the palm trees and Spanish moss and cane and light and shadow.

Thought about how the Miami president runs with students every Saturday morning. The cool thing about being as extrovert, it would seem, is you get credit for being generous with your time when it doesn't actually cost you anything. Extros get their energy by being with people, so they can spend time with people and fill up the tank at the same time. Not sure there's an equivalent advantage for introverts.


Love that feeling of magic early in a scenic bike ride. Never do I feel the charisma of “summer afternoon” so easily on a bike ride. (Oh, or maybe on the hammock…or being next to the sea… Or..). Anyway, loved the simple thing of seeing the neat beds of auburn pine needles everywhere along the way. Nothing quite says “Hilton Head” like pine needle beds. Palms? I think of Florida. Spanish moss? Savannah. But pine needle beds the color of Irish hair equals Hilton Head.


I don't have opinions on this beach; I have only the present moment. As if the sun isn't reassuring enough there's the sound of fresh-flown waves, available every minute of every day, like God's consciousness, so unlike our own intermittent pattern.  I join the amniotic waters again today, reveling in the flow.


There's something confusing and “opposite world” about seeing these young people in the reality show Out of the Wild check their visages in a mirror after a couple weeks in the wild and be appalled. They all looked perfectly fine and photogenic to me, but they were crestfallen. Reminds me of something I read recently, that we spend the first half of our lives wishing we looked like somebody else and the second half of our lives wishing we looked like our younger selves.


So the drip-dram days come to an end, tis Friday. I'm writing in the window'd nook overlooking the green of day. The rich Hilton fatigue has set in, the pleasantness of physicality writ redundant.

Last night Steph went out for dinner with friend, husband, their adult daughter and Melanie's sister. They inherited some money and aren't shy about spending it: they're staying in a $4,000-a-week place on a beach in Sea Pines. Retails for $1.9 million dollars (ours for $130,00). The sore temptation of money is to spend it frivolously if you've got it, something we're increasingly susceptible to. Certainly our vacations are proof of that. Not the most Christian of impulses.

I watched over sick Buddy, or rather he watched me, especially when I was eating. Brian's Song was on the tube, which I haven't seen since it first came out. At the time I thought it was the saddest movie ever made, tainted as it was by the ending and I've avoided it ever since. It's the Old Yeller of sports movies. Seems a bit more watchable now, although I did skip the ending. Which is sort of like saying that the movie Titanic is great pre-iceberg.

The funny thing is I'd assumed that the running/training scenes the actor who played Sayers had to slow down for the actor playing Piccolo, but it was the opposite. The white guy in this case was faster than the black guy! James Caan played some college football and was far quicker than the black actor whose name escapes. Via the magic of the Internet was able to read up on his widow, who remarried three years later and whose husband is very supportive of her keeping Piccolo's memory alive via a foundation of some sort.


The reading cognoscenti down here are impressive from what I can see. Not too many junk novels, although there's a whole lot of Kindle reading going on which, obviously, prevents snooping. Saw Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland in the wild, as well as Kyle Idleman (don't call him Idolman!)'s Gods At War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart. Of course I immediately downloaded samples of both books which is why I can't read The New York Review of Books. A single issue of that and I'd be downloading samples from two dozen books and spend all my time trying to decide which to read instead of reading what's in front of me.

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