Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Transition Periods

Now we are in the season of the windup and wind down. One move over, one to go.

This one has more permanence than the last, as this one means I will be saying goodbye to my fair Korea, and trying (very hard) to reintegrate into an American lifestyle.

I do not know what this will lead to. I do not know what kind of adventures I will have—if I have any at all. However, I generally tend to find entertainment and take it where I can.

I’m looking forward to more music. Already I have tickets to Riot Fest and Alt-J. There will be more. The fall is a good time for bands and I plan to explore them.

Work is a transitional, lateral move. I think it interesting to say that, since teaching about lateral thinking is something I do in one of my workshops. Lateral, yes, but not totally gone is all the dedication and commitment I have put into my career.

Korea has been good to me.

Korea has loved me.

Korea has forever changed me.

Korea has hurt me, too.

I am stronger for my time in Korea.

I feel a sense of overwhelming sadness and loss to be going.

I will need to work out several thousand things perhaps, but all of this can be done with time.

Today I am thinking about the future and the future seems bright, but at the same time sad and filled with ennui. Yet change is the only constant.

I am both better and worse now than I have ever been. Does that make me neutral or indifferent? Perhaps; sometimes I feel that I am this way.


What does that mean to me anymore?

Out there—somewhere—is an inland sea waiting for me, with a dog, a Boy, a job, a city, music, and adventure. Things I love. Things I have often missed.

Fall is coming soon. I think it will be a good fall.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Magical Discovery of Glowbath

Two hours is a lot of time to anticipate something, and I had two hours to think about this bath I was about to take. I still had a bit of bubble bath left, so I had brought it with me. I dumped it into the bath, but after two hours even an awesome bubble bath can dissipate. There were still some bubbles but it was perhaps not as strong as it could have been:

I didn't mind. My book in hand, my glass of wine nearby, I slipped out of my robe and climbed (literally climbed) over the side of this thing and slipped under the water. This was no ordinary tub; it was more like a small swimming pool. I slipped, and slid and tried to maintain some semblance of balance in the water. It was freaking huge and I was holding on to the sides like someone who had just learned to swim. This was awesome.

I leaned back into the batch, into the captain’s chair, and found the button that would turn on the whirlpool jets. To my delight and surprise the bath started to buzz and blow water around me, and now I really did need to hold on to the sides to avoid getting pushed under the waves in the small sea that had been erected somehow in the middle of this Korean love motel. The sea, which was fast moving and had crests and eddies and glowing lights in the bottomwhat an interesting and awesome place this was to be.

And then the lights went out.

As I should have been aware (and as is the habit in many love motels) the lights were on a timer, and I had been filling the bath for quite a while. The lights, had in fact, flipped off once while I was working to fill the tub, but it had not occurred to me when I turned them back on that this could happen again. Instead, I was mostly concerned with just getting enough water in to immerse myself. Immerse I did, but now, with the lights off, what I was immersing myself in was a glowing, cascading sea of water.

Thus, glowbath was born.

It was the most awesome glowbath, and I had the best time sliding around in waves and lights and taking silly pictures of my feet in water, until finally I just sat back, relaxed with my book, and found a way to prop myself against the sides so I would not get blown away. It was all rather awesome—so much so that in two days I had something like four baths. Glorious.

I shall go again. Glowbath and I are bound to each other. Once glowbath has been experienced, no mortal bath can possibly hope to replace it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Celebration Hotel

The move was hard. Work was hard.

So, after having finally finished the move and finally getting to a place where I did not work weekends, I decided to celebrate by checking into a hotel for the weekend. It would be nice to have air-conditioning, and that really was the selling point for me. I talked about it with the Trainer on my session.

“You know, I’m going up to Seoul; why don’t you take my place for the weekend?”

It was a sweet offer. The air conditioning was a big selling point. But also, “Well, I’m really looking forward to a bath.”

Yes, there is a bathtub at the new place, but since the new apartment has been trying to kill me, the prospect of bathing there was not enticing.

Yes, the new apartmenta catalog of injuries if you will:

  • A bruise on my arm for two weeks
  • A ripped-off toenail
  • A smashed toe
  • An earring ripped out
  • A concussion

It’s been emotional.

The last straw was the concussion. The concussion was the result of me sleeping out on the porch and the fan that was there to cool me; instead, it shook off the shelf and hit me in the head, hard. A seven-pound fan. This in and of itself would maybe not have been so bad, except for the fact that I had minorly concussed myself in the same area a few days prior, hitting the exact same spot getting into a cab on a bad night.

Getting out of the apartment and into a bath seemed like a really good idea, and one that I wanted to explore further and so, while the offer of a free room was sweet, I decided against it and check into the hotel. Work was hard with the concussion, I was dizzy and nauseous all day, but managed to maintain. Fortunately, Friday was a short day.

With a plan in mind I left at one. Went straight home. Got the dog. Went straight to a hotel. Turned on the air conditioning. Pulled back the covers.

And passed the fuck out for two hours.

When I woke up around four, I was feeling much better about life in general. Sleep had soothed me, although my head still felt damned bumped. It was then I realized that all I had brought with me to the hotel was the dog, and I had no clothes, no food, nada, nothing, and I was planning to stay for two days. I would need to go back to my hot apartment and at least get a change of underwear. And so it was that I ventured back out into the thirty-seven degree Daegu summer heatwave weather to get a bag with clothes, some coffee, and some food. I ordered chicken as that seemed easy, and as I waited for it to be delivered I packed up.

The chicken came quickly, and I was in a cab within minutes of the delivery, realizing I had not eaten all day. When I got to the hotel the first order of business was, in fact, to eat. Then I realized I could have a bath. I went into the bathroom thatup unto that pointI had only really glanced at.

In the bathroom I stood.

In awe.

There, in front of me, was the most magnificent beast of a bathtub I had ever seen.

It had captain’s seats.

I was in love with this inanimate object. I wanted to be inside it more than I had ever wanted to be inside another man or woman. So strong was the attraction that I actually felt weak in my knees for a moment standing in front of it. My head raced with thoughts, one of them being: how long will it take to fill this thing?

(Answer: two hours.)

Two hours later I had a glass of wine, a belly full of chicken, a good book, and was ready for a bath.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gom Jabbar

I light a cigarette.

I pour a glass of wine.

I wait like a spider in the web.

Waiting makes me feel cool, powerful. I feel myself slipping into the mantle of control. I wrap it about myself, building power.

Thinking about pain.

There are three sharp knocks at the door. As instructed, the supplicant enters, placing items by the door, coming in to stand before me. He stands, head down, not speaking. I smoke. I read my book. I sip my wine.

His head peaks up, looking at me, trying to make eye contact. I can tell he wants to speak. I can feel the tension in the air but I do not allow him words. Cool, quiet, patience, and inattention are all that greet him. I flip through another page.

“Take off your clothes,” I say.

As he disrobes, I continue my book. His nudity is not the prize that I seek.

“It’s been hot. You’ll need a shower.” He turns and marches away to attend to himself in the bathroom. Smoke tendrils wisp around my head and I feel my power concentrated in my center: becoming, blooming, solidifying, taking shape. When he comes to stand back in front of me I am in the seat of my power.

I stand and point to the seat, having him replace me there.

In my hand is secreted a small device (omitted from my table). I allow him to sit and contemplate my table and the meaning implied there, the direction my thoughts may have wandered in creating this scene.

He sits quietly, naked, still somewhat wet from the shower. His eyes are on the table, then they are on me.

Quick, catlike, I jump across the table and straddle his lap. He sits back, head still down, eyes not meeting mine. Then he feels it, as his neck, a small point, just a touch of pressure.

“I am going to speak to you," I say. "I will ask you questions. You may answer these questions in one-word sentences only. Do you understand?”


Smiling, I press my point against his neck just a bit more, make it felt, real.

“You know about the gom jabbar?”


“Do you know what it is?”

“May I answer in more than one word?”

He is smiling, cheeky.



“And what kind of test?”


“And how is the test conducted?”


“Now, you are going to experience my gom jabbar. I will give you pain, and we will see if you are human.”

Stiffness; his shoulders stiffen, his body stiffens; there is a faint patina of fear. I smell his fear on him.

“Do I frighten you?”


I smile again, and slide off of his lap, making him stand against the wall. I choose from among my array of devious device to test his body. I bring out cries and halts, watch how flesh moves into and away from falling strands of leather, or the stiff slap of my hand, watch the body avoid what it wants and craves and the pain that I wish to drive into it.

Pain that brings one to their knees.

Pain that can be withstood.

And he stands.

And he does not buckle under my pain.

I am the maelstrom, the whirlwind, in the middle, wheeling a wind of colored strands whipping through the air, interspersed with bites, and sharp slaps. I am an angel and a demon, bringing punishment, followed by ease, only to bring punishment again.

I move my victim from wall to bed, to wall, so stand facing front or away, to endure the spirit of my tests.

Finally, covered by a soft sheen of sweat on my own flesh, I yield.

“I must have wanted you to fail,” I say.

Smiling. Smiling returned, mirror smiling. Mine with cat-like teeth.

“My turn,” he whispers.

And the test is endured, ending in shared pain, shared pleasure, shared humanity.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bourbon Dreams

The Artist was drunk. The Geisha was not far behind.

“We should spend his money,” the Artist slurred.

“Okay,” I said.

“I have to go to Busan,” said the Geisha. She had a tattoo appointment.

“Let’s go to Busan. We can go to a casino,” slurred the Artist.

“I’ve never been to a casino in Korea,” I chime in.

“Yeah; let’s go to a casino and spend his money!”

“I’m not sure about this,” from the Geisha. Being the girlfriend, her prudence was appreciated.

“There are casinos in Daegu. We could go here,” I suggested.

“Yeah! Let’s go to a casino here, but you have to come,” said the Geisha. The Geisha is polite and poised and puts off all of our advances until we eventually all parted ways, with the Geisha going back to her home. The Artist at this point was failing badly, so I decided what we really needed was a hotel. While we had the new apartment, it was not really unpacked, it had no air conditioning, and after two days of working her fingers to the bone, my lady love needed a freaking break. We tried for a more expensive actual hotel first.

“We don’t have any rooms.”

“But I’m an employee of this very well-known company,” The Artist slurred, showing her company badge.

Sadly, the hotel we were trying for did not have an agreement with said well-known company, and as such, we were unable to get in. Although we tried to con, trick, and connive to get ourselves there, all we got eventually was an escort out. The Artiststill in her alcohol-induced hazechatted up some Finnish engineers outside until I eventually dragged her away. The two older ones seemed happy to be rid of us, but the younger one smiled.

“We have to go now,” the Artist screamed toward our escort, “and I have to go have sex with this beautiful woman.” I smiled, the young Finish engineer smiled, the escort rushed us, and I hustled us into a cab before he could catch up and managed to get us toward where we were going, a place with many comfortable hotels. Eventually, after some work, I managed to get her in a room, undressed, and into bed. Within seconds she was asleep.

I sat up next to her for a while, watching her snore soft bourbon-fueled snores, while recounting the many wonders of her existence before finally, a few hours later, I allowed myself to wind my way toward sleep.

And as I drifted, I thought here is a woman who has done more for me than I can possibly imagine, and because of this, I shall never be able to repay her, and can only love her even more. I fell asleep holding her and feeling the deepest love.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Give us the Fucking Money, Lebowski! And Her Dick was Out!

Throughout the day there were calls and texts. As I should have known, the moving company screwed us in a way, demanding money from the Artist even though I had arranged to pay by wire transfer on Monday. I tried to call but things were tetchy, and eventually I was left just wondering what was happening, unable to get a hold of either of the girls.

Work was a torment that I simply wanted to finish so I could go and deal with the new apartment (albeit with an impending sense of dread).

At 4:30 I grabbed a taxi home.

Up the elevator; into the new place, I came upon the Artist and the Geisha on couches facing each other. The moving company and thrown things willy-nily everywhere and the place was a fearsome disorganized disaster area. Nothing was where it was supposed to be.

“They got really angry with us when we told them where to put the beds. After that, I think they just didn't care anymore. Also, I’m drinking all this good bourbon,” the Artist slurred.

The good bourbon was some sort of hand-numbered, hand-labeled, oak-casked bourbon I had bought in Seoul, which had been discounted a hundred dollars. It was expensive and I was glad she was drinking it. They told me the fiasco: there had been three trucks of stuff lifted into the new apartment, the movers had basically ignored them, and there was resulting chaos that ensued with the money. I was pissed, but it was over, and now it was just a matter of sorting and putting things into place.

I also heard about the problems with the old landlord over lost keys, and the issues with trash that needed to get brought downstairs.

“The landlord showed up?”


“Okay. I checked on the way home, though and he hasn't paid the key money back.”

The key money was a big deal. Renting in Korea requires a down payment to secure the key. This is not like a "first month/last month rent thing", but like a "five-to-ten thousand dollar investment thing." The apartment we had just left had required a large amount of key money and I needed to get that back ASAP to pay off the key money on the new place. Without key money finalized on the new place we might have to move again. This was not going to happen.

With the Irish out of the country, my only backup was to get a hold of his occasional drinking and “bitching about the womens” buddy to try to find out the phone number of the landlord. After a few tries, I got a text message with a number.

“And, then he was like measuring me dick. And I was standing there with my dick out. And I didn't know what to do.” The Artist was slurring in her drink; this was the third time she'd told the story of what asshats the movers had been. The big problem with the movers was they understand Korean style, but anything else was unacceptable. I’d left instructions for where things should go, but they decided I couldn't possibly be right, and so just really started to throw things willy-nily wherever they wanted to put themwithout a care for what was wanted. This had resulted in the ensuing madness that made a rather large apartment look shoe-box sized. I knew I could fix it, but it would take a few days.

In the meantime, I needed to call the landlord.

“And then he was all pissed, but I was pissed, and my dick was out,” the Artist continued.

“Lovely, give me a moment, I need to make this call.”

So I called the landlord.


Right: landlord doesn't speak English.

“Yeah, Ahjussi, nanun Sara-songsaengnim. Peadar-chingu. Key money piryo hada.” Which is (in my horrible Korean) something to the effect of, this is the Irish’s friend, and I need the key money.

This resulted in a ten-minute explanation in Korea of the landlord being angry that the keys to the old place has been lost. I could appreciate the anger: the place had all electronic locks and after I had learned the key code I didn't care about keys, but the Irish enjoyed handing out the fancy dongles and key cards and they had all disappeared sometime int he past two years. I also knew that during the morning move the girls had paid for the keys, giving the money directly to the landlordso this was a non-issue.

“I need the money, now.” I repeated in Korean. I was thinking in my head Give us the fucking money Lebwoski. Where is the fucking money?

“Yeah, but you see the keys“ he started in.

“Can you have the money in the bank in five minutes? I need to pay the key money on the new apartment. I need to pay it now. I need the money in five minutes.” Or I’ll cut off your Johnson!

I basically continued to repeat this regardless of what he said in Korean. Finally he gave me a yes, yes, and hung up.

Ten minutes later I got a message on my phone that the money had been deposited.

“And I’m standing there with my dick exposed,” the Artist slurred again.

“Honey, do you have your bank account number so I can send your money back to your account?”

“I, just…how do I get that? I had my dick out,” the Artist comes back.

Somehow I managed to make it through the fog of her drunkenness to get the account book from her, and with that and the Irish’s account book I headed to the bank. Sure enough, the money (which I was seriously worried would not get paid) was all there. Three minutes later it was all gone to the accounts it had to go to in order to settle all the debts up on the place we had just moved into. I also pulled out enough money for dinner (as I had promised the girls we would do that) and smiled at myself as I walked home, knowing that even though it wasn't done, at least it was closer to finished that I could have hoped for at this point.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Quiet Before the Storm

I feel like I am in the space inbetween all things. Love, sorrow, transition, and becoming. Awareness supersedes all things. There is everything here.

Part of it is upheaval from the move. Yet there is a storm here, powerful, moving.

Everything is about to change.

I am embracing change.

Twelve years in a place makes that place your home. There is no way to avoid that, you just spend long enough in a place and it becomes a part of you. I’ve made a happier life in the twelve here than I had in the eighteen in which I was—under some descriptions—raised. Yet I am alone here, utterly, and completely alone and feeling that separation, that loss, that lack of being more and more acutely. A sense of longing and nothingness and desire.

And yet here I have loved more deeply, been loved, allowed myself the freedom to be loved. Perhaps this is what I am afraid of, in that moving back I will no longer find a way to be acceptable, and yet all evidence to the contrary says this is untrue.

So, what is it that I am afraid of?

Not just the change.

It is a fear of myself.

I love my best friend. I have for some time. And I never want to see that same person again. Caught in a paradox that seems all too familiar, where I bridge love and hate. I love, deeply, and yet I’d rather excise that existence (and all it’s accompanying thoughts) from me like some gangrenous wound. Perhaps if extracted I will heal.

I will heal either way, in the end, I think to myself. It’s just a question of the scars.

I feel like I need to explore this, although the exploration may be damning. I need to know why I am so angry, because I am angry, as well as sad and hurt.

Perhaps it is the feeling that I have been used. One could argue that I have only done what I volunteered to do, and I would not argue this. I did volunteer, yet…to know me is to know that I will take on all responsibility as if it is my own with the belief that in doing so I somehow ameliorate the sins of my own past, reclaim myself from being this immoral, base, and despised thing I was raised to think of myself as. Aren’t I, in reality, constantly trying to redeem my childhood sins, the guilt trap I was born into, fueled by El Diablo Madre, and powered further by my own childish decisions?

I am capable of great love. I will do what is asked of me out of a belief that it is my duty, and that it is the right of anyone who shows me any affection that they can ask anything of me, and I shall do to my utter destruction whatever they ask. Those who I end up becoming deeply entwined with know this. Feeling angry or bitter because they take advantage of this seems unfair, and yet I am angry and bitter because of this. I allowed myself to trust, and that was abused, and now I am angry.

I have no right to be angry.

I am brutally angry.

The anger comes from the past, that trauma trigger from being constantly placed in the middle of great burdens, from constantly having to feel that I shouldered a burden of responsibility that was beyond me. It was too much, but I could not protest because I was a child, and I resented it. I should not have felt that kind of terrible purpose; I should have been protected, allowed to experience my own childhood, and yet I wasn’t. I was asked to do something and I did so out of a sense of burden.

In the end, I turned my back to all of it—walked away and never looked back.

I want to walk away again.

How much family am I willing to lose over this?

That is the question that is rattling in my head. Because my friend—my dearest and sweetest friend who has been a pillar of support and love, who has shared with me...doesn’t that make us family? Not that I didn’t provide the same pillar; not that I didn’t give as much as I received, but to strike it all down for one request that asked me to go beyond what I was capable of: should I be so angry about that? Shouldn’t I, instead, embrace it as the expected?

My best friend will come back to the country tomorrow, and for the first time in five years, the thought of standing there, face to face, saying hello after a long absence, fills me with nothing but dread.

I need to fix it.

I’m not sure how to fix it.

And I am floundering.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Because Nothing Can Ever Be Easy

Before heading back to the Korea, the Irish pinged me online.

“I’ve news.”


“We have to move.”



Thus, I had a move looming over my head on the way back to Korea. After landing, the first thing I did was get off the plane and find the Irish a new apartment. Thing is, I was fairly sure when I landed that I would not be staying for long this time.

“This place will do, but are you sure? You can stay for as long as you like.”

“I know.”

Our conversations about it were cut short with him getting ready for a trip to Ireland. Here was the problem: the Irish and the Geisha were flying to Ireland so the Geisha could meet the parents. I would be in Korea, and the person who would be responsible for the move. The Geisha would theoretically be back in time to help.

Basically it was on me.

“Do you want help?” This from my lady love.

“Beautiful, I don’t want to ask.”

“I’m offering.”

“I know.”

“I want to help.”

“I’ll think about it.”

As the two of them took off to the plane I was left with an apartment to pack and less than a week to do it in. With all of it hanging over my head I managed to get absolutely nothing done, I also had a course starting that week and really no time do much of anything. I decided after my rather long first day of work on Saturday that what I really needed was a drink. Having not been out on the town in Korea since damn near April, I decided that I was due. It was dinner time and I suspected that chicken wings were in my future. I said goodbye to the dog and hit the road for some vodka and some wings.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Oyster Bar

“What do you want to eat?”

We had decided to eat in St. Louis, and since it was on the Mississippi, I thought it might be nice to have some fish or something. Much to my surprise though, even though we did a lot of looking, there was no trout to be found anywhere. So we ended up at some sort of city institution called the Broadway Oyster Bar, which we found quiet, quaint, and quick to accommodate us.

They served Cajun, which was close enough to what I was looking for to make us both happy.

He has some sort of gumbo and I had a blackened chicken. We shared some really lovely crawfish poppers as well, and that was most awesome.

I pursued the drink menu while we waited and discovered the Sazerac.

Temptation Rye Whisky, dash Peychauds Bitters, simply syrup, La Muse Verte Absinthe, Lemon Twist


That seemed like a yes.

“So, the Sazerac, you think you can make this without the simple syrup?”

“Let me ask.”

After confirming, they brought me said drink, and it was…yes, it was yes. Of course, there was the part of me that remember that night with an Absinthe martini (it ended in eighteen-year-old girls) so I was sure I knew better, but I drank one anyway. And before we left had another for good measure.

The place had the feel of a seedy Mississippi bar, and as such, was a perfect compliment for the city and the river. The food was good, the music a proper mix of delta blues, dust-bowl folk, and the occasional blues-y rock to make it work. We enjoyed our stay before heading outward and onward on the road again.

“That was nice,” said the Boy.

“You liked?”

“Crawfish. Who knew?”

I smiled and tripped on the sidewalk as we made the way back to the car. Running around with the green fairy was the next two hours of the drive.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Underground Journey

The 7th of July happens to be an anniversary of sorts, and as such, I wanted to do something special. I had started to think about it the weekend prior when we were at the seafood dinner, and finally it just solidified in my mind. I wanted to go to a cave. I like being in the dark and underground and I thought it might be nice to do in the states for a change. Though Korea does have some gorgeous caves, I realize that I had never visited one in the US.

I also found myself recalling, during my US tour, that in a year or so prior I had been contracted to write a bunch of books about the US. Though the project itself was, like many others, a project that drove me batty, I did learn a lot of things that I had either not known or forgotten about the American states. One of those things was that Missouri is the cave state, having close to 6,000 caves. After reading this factoid it must have stuck itself deep down in my brain waiting for just the right moment to reveal itself. That moment, apparently, was while sitting on a couch and thinking about what to do for the 7th. After some research I discovered just the thing, a cave in Missouri that has special tours done by flashlight only. The cave has no installed lighting, and is a bit more advanced then some of the other touring caves nearby. It was perfect!

I told the boy about it.

“Let’s go to a cave.”

“Ok. Where?”

“In Missouri.”

“Okay, which one?”

“Cathedral Cave, you have to walk through it and bring your own light.”

“Okay. When are we going?”

“Next weekend.”


I love these conversations. So the following weekend we packed up and drove the six-odd boring hours through the state of Illinois to get to the much-less-boring-to-drive-through state of Missouri, to discover that I had the wrong time for the cave tour, and that there was not, in fact, a tour at four in the afternoon, but there was one the following morning at ten.

We drove on to find the hotel and crashed hard, discovering as we turned on the news about the Asiana flight that had gone down. I had actually been on that flight before, so we listened with alarm for awhile, until finally we had some food and crashed out for some much-needed sleep.

In the morning we woke bright and early, packed up the dog and headed off for what I hoped would be the most awesome cave tour. I waited while the Boy walked the werewolf, and we eventually met up in front of the old shed in the Onondaga State Park and waited for the ranger who would take us on the tour of the caves. While waiting we were eventually accompanied by a nice couple of women with their son, and another couplewho were mostly likely from Poland—with their very young daughter. The ranger commented when he got there that this was perhaps the largest group he had ever taken on the tour.

To get to the cave we did a half-mile hike up the mountain to the great big steel gate that was all locked up. It was explained that the security was necessary, as some twenty years ago the cave did have lights until someone stole all of them. This was not an easy cave to get to, making this a rather audacious crime to commit. At the entrance the ranger bid us wait while he went in ahead, after a few moments he waved us in while he closed and locked the door behind us. In the entry he pointed out some spiders and a few of the other insect residents that lived near the front of the cave.

“We have a big mother wolf spider in here, but I don’t see her at the moment. I didn’t want her to frighten anyone. With a large spider, the best thing is to just let them be. Especially a wolf spider. They carry their young on their bellies, so stepping on them is only going to release about a thousands smaller spiders to crawl up your leg, which will definitely make your problem much worse.”

We all stood in sort of hushed awe after the speech while he opened the door to the cave for us, and down we went. I had a headlamp on loan from the Boy, and he had a flashlight. Since all of us had lights, actually, the Boy never really turned his on unless he was lighting up a feature for me to take a picture of. In the cave it was quite, peaceful and cool. We worked our way down the first set of stairs and up to one of the easier features.

Our ranger explained a number of things to us as we walked through.

“You see this puckering here that looks like popcorn? If you are ever stuck or trapped in a cave that is what you need to look for. This happens when outside air reaches down into the cave. If you see this, you know you are near an entrance.”

We walked further in and he pointed out the stalagmites and stalactites that had formed over many thousands of years.

Later, he pointed out the straw like objects hanging down from the ceiling.

“These are soda straws.” I couldn't remember exactly what that meant, but apparently it was Albert Einstein who eventually discovered their purpose in a cave.

“This is cave bacon,” He said as he pointed out a long hanging-down piece that seemed to cascade off the wall.

“As you may have noticed, those who study caves are sort of obsessed with eating, so a lot of things get named after food.”

We laughed and continued in to the dark depths. Even though we spent a lot of time looking, we never did see a Cathedral Cave snail, which is apparently rather unique. Although it has rather a large cave population, no one is quite sure what it eats, though the running theory is that it might live off magnesium. We did manage to see quite a few of the cave salamanders, and at least three bats, only one of which did a flyby, practically brushing my ear. We climbed down about five hundred feet and hit the end of the cave where we saw the impressive Cathedral Cave feature: a beautiful towering spire of rock that looked much like an alter from a church. It was at this point that we all turned off our lights together to experience a moment of total silence and total darkness.

It was absolutely blissful.

I grabbed my boy's hand.

It was the perfect way to spend a day together.

On the way out we revisited some of the more interesting points, until finally, back in the hot sun, we prepared for our trek down the mountain. It was there that one of the group discovered the wolf spider hanging out in a dead log. We all went over to have a peak at her. She had what seemed like a thousand eyes and looked to be a bit bigger than a tarantula.

“You can see why I didn’t want you all to stumble upon her in the dark.”

We could.

The walk down the hill was quiet and contemplative with my love and I hanging in the back, taking in the quiet of the wood and thinking about the deep dark depths we had discovered here. We were silent for a while on our drive home.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The 9 O'Clock News

I had just gotten off the train and been picked up and taken home. My love was chattering about and as we pulled up to the house he asked me how my day was; around the same time he mentioned that he had only just gotten up and the dog had not been walked.

“Love, take the dog for a walk and I’ll tell you about my day when you get back, okay?”

It being agreed, he hopped back into the car, and I walked into the house. Being that it was a warmish June afternoon, I did the only thing that one would normally do on a June afternoon: took off most of my clothes, grabbed my favorite hanging-out big shirt, a glass of wine, and my computer so I could watch some TV.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Mind you, when wearing a big shirt to beat the heat, generally one does not wear much else, and so the reality was that I was in my big shirt and my panties, sitting on my couch, enjoying my wine and watching my TV. That was when I heard a rather large and nasty clap of thunder.

“Huh, storm is coming,” I thought to myself, having not checked the weather today.

Another big clap and I decided I had better get up and shut the windows.

Now, see, I was watching the TV on my computer, and so I just figured that I would take the computer with me since it was portable. As I walked into the main room, what I noticed as I looked out the window was that the rain was starting to fall. Unfortunately it was not falling down. It was rushing horizontally across the lawn and the brush across the street.



I grabbed the computer and dashed to the basement, just as the sky got about seven shades darker. I heard a huge crash, more lightening, thunder, and the sound for all the world of a train rushing by. There I was, fairly sure that a tornado was touching down in my backyard, hiding out in the glow of my computer as the lights crashed out, and not thinking very clearly.

I listened to the wind overhead, wondering if it was in fact a tornado.

Then I started to wonder if I was safe.

Then I started to think about whether or not the house might come down on top of me.

Then it dawned on my that I wasfor all intents and purposesstanding about in nothing but a shirt and panties and I was very quickly about to become one of those people on the 9 o'clock news rescued in their bra and panties.

As the wind passed, I decided that as soon as possible I needed to at least get myself in some pants.

About ten minutes later I was in pants and realized that I had sent my love out into the storm and that it was headed his way. This lead to me making a dozen phone calls to a dead phone. I started to freak out pretty quickly after that, and the only thing that kept me from jumping on my bike to try to find the Boy was the Irish, who I was chatting up online.

“Do you even know what park he is in?”


“You have pants now?”


“Sit, drink wine, wait.”

And that is what I did. Until the car pulled back into the driveway and I went running straight after it to find my love. Together we assessed the damage, and tornado or not, it had done a bit, cutting in half a tree in our backyard that destroyed the fence between our yard and our neighbor's yard and pulled down the power on practically the entire block.

Everyone was safe, although we were without power for four days.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Impromptu Wine Tour

Among the more notable adventures in June during my brief time at home was a very fun wine tour in the part of Michigan that is actually close to Indiana. This came about after an accidental discovery of the wineries last year when driving out to see the Grand Mere. On the drive back from the dunes, I kept noticing signs for wineries, until eventually I convinced my love to pull over so we could go see. He happily drove me around to two of the places that were open, but as it was late (and I was entirely unprepared for surprise wineries) I did not manage to do too much but sip a few things and then pack back into the car.

Sitting in the living room one quiet evening, my love piped up and asked “Do you want to go do a wine tour this weekend?”

“What do you mean?”

“We could rent a car and drive around Michigan and you could go to the wineries.”

“Are you serious?”


“You don’t mind?”


“Is this some sort of trick?”


“Okay, I’m in.”

And so it was that I spent a very happy summer solstice in the front seat of a car being driven around to the many wineries of Michiganor at least as many as my liver could process in the amount of time allowed. The route was designed so that we could start with lunch at Tabor Hill, since I wanted to feed my boy, and then we would move on to the Round Barn, Free Run, and one more to be named. Whatever came up was my thinking, or if we had time left.

It took us awhile but we managed to find Tabor Hill after a short trip to the Grand Mere. Having failed to buy a parking passport, we couldn’t park in the normal spot, and my shoes were not appropriate for scaling the dune from the back. The dog was less than amused, but we drove on to lunch anyway. At Tabor Hill I sampled a couple of wines, but being familiar with the brand I didn’t really find any surprises there, so we ended up leaving after lunch to hit the Round Barn.

At the barn, I sampled several wines and settled on two American White wines for a dinner party in Chicago. Though I’m not a fan of white, I have friends who are and I thought that might be happily received with the seafood feast we had planned in the city. I also picked up a bottle of bourbon, but failed to get a bottle of the Round Barn Divine Vodka, which really and truly is Divine!

From there we were getting a bit into the afternoon, so we headed off to the Free Run winery. This one was rather new, so I was excited to try it out and see what they had. As we drove up we ran into someone directing traffic who asked a question that neither of us heard very well so we just assumed the answer was no.

At this point we had been driving around all day, and while I was happily drinking wine, and feeling better and better about the day, my boy would walk the dog on the pretty grounds. At this particular winery, however there did not seem to be much of a place to walk. I promised to make it quick as I didn’t want to torture the Boy or the dog, and went in. Upon entering I walked up to find out how the tasting worked at this winery. It was very much like the others, where you paid around eight dollars to get a free glass and chips to taste up to eight different wines. While asking, a women entered through a back door with a pair of Pomeranians in a stroller. I wondered about this for a moment and then noticed a large friendly lab sniffing the smaller dogs as the owners talked. I turned around.

“So, uh, what’s with the dogs?”

“Oh, it’s our Wine and Wags event.”

“Wine and Wags?”

“Yep, the winery is open to owners and their dogs today. Although dogs are always welcome here; we are a dog-friendly winery.”

“Oh really? You mind if I leave this here a moment? My love is waiting for me in the car with a dog and I think they would both enjoy this.”

“Sure,” said the perky girl behind the counter.

So out I dashed to grab the Boy and the dog, both of whom were curious enough. Gracey did not approve of Pomeranians in the stroller and immediately started to bark, which is unusual, since she rarely ever barks at all. This lead to her being hustled more quickly into the winery while I discovered I hated cherry cordial but loved the Zinfandel that this winery produced. I went outside to find the Boy and have a full class of the Zinfandel and meet the other dogs. Gracey was making lots of friends and, since she is a gigantic werewolf, helping the dogs who had heretofore been the biggest does seemed more charming.

We walked about and up and down through the vines, looking at all the wine that would be, and enjoying the very pleasant weather while drinking among the branches. It was absolutely heaven. After asking about, I discovered that Wine and Wags was an annual event and we had just managed to stumble upon it. I was pleased.

After that, we discovered what was my favorite winery of the dayalthough Free Run gave it a run for the money: the Gravity. This new winery did a tasting that included wine and food pairings, and had some amazingly good wines on tap. I wanted to buy a bottle of everything, but settled for another bottle of an American Zinfandel and marked it as a return to later. I ended up getting a full glass of the wine I liked, while convincing my boy to come and join me for a bit of a small margarita pizza before I was eventually driven home. Where I relaxed in my favorite chair, happy, amused, and sipped wine until I was very gently put to bed.