Travel: Portugal (Day One a.m.)

I began my travels at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I arrived at the VRBO twenty-eight hours later. I’m pretty sure day one would have gone much better if I had been able to sleep on any of the three flights, but as it was… barely a wink.

My first flight was delayed by an hour, but that was OK. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why they had be go to Salt Lake City and then to Rome, instead of flying east, but as it turns out… we’ll just call it providence. Last I heard, because of the winter storm “bomb”, there were over 1,400 flights cancelled. Salt Lake had to wait for a plane to arrive, but otherwise, I flew over all the mess below. Here’s a shot flying over the Rockies and then another of Mormon Central as I landed in Salt Lake. (I can never get good pics looking out a plane window.)

After a few hours, I caught the flight to Rome, which was a little over nine hours. Not much to report there. Listened to a book, watched a movie, and stared into space (while trying to sleep.) I looked for the Eiffel Tower as I was flying into Rome, but maybe it’s not lit up at 1 a.m. Maybe you can find in the photo below.

I searched for some M&Ms while in Rome, but it appears to be an M&M free zone, so I had to settle for some of the finest chocolate I’ve ever put in my mouth. When in the Rome airport, if you need something to cheer you up a bit, I can highly recommend this. You won’t be disappointed.

After another short delay due to weather, it was time for the final leg of the travels. Below is you’ll see the coastline of Portugal and a quick shot I took of the Cristo Rei. I’ll take the ferry across the Tagus River and see it proper… probably a day trip. Look at the clouds rolling over… so pretty.

And then there was Lisbon…

For the next two hours, I thought I had made a terrible mistake by trying this on my own. I got seriously lost. Fortunately I was not conscripted by the Russain army.

I’m not sure if it is Google Maps not working well here or cellular data not so good, either way… I took the right subway out of the airport, but then missed the connecting stop. I did not know there was a connecting stop, so I rode awhile. I apparently looked lost because a very kind lady told me it was the end of the line. I said, “Thank you,” and got off instead of riding back and starting again. I thought, ‘Hey. Google Maps will get me where I need to go.’ It did not.

I wandered for about an hour and a half trying to figure things out. I called my carrier, attempting to get data working. I ended up aimlessly walking about. Keep in mind that I’m on about twenty-six hours and no sleep and haven’t had anything to eat in quite some time. I could not reach my host (he actually had emailed me instructions, but… yep… no data!)

I eventually found a policeman—he did not speak English, and I did not see a name badge that I recognized, but if I gave him a name, it would be Angel. I explained my situation, and he listened. I showed him the hotel name where I was to meet my host. I asked/mimed if he could walk, and he said, “No.” The wrong train had gotten me about six miles from where I was supposed to be. Ugh. He was trying to direct me back to the proper subway, but my only word was, “Taxi.” Angel walked me to a main street, flagged me a cab, told the driver where I needed to go, and stayed until I was off. Thank you, Angel.

Fifteen minutes later, I was deposited in front of the meeting place, and twenty minutes later, I met my host, Andre Fonesca. Andre has hooked me up with a fantastic apartment and helped me to learn how to get around. He has provided maps, places to see, etc. I don’t have access to Google Maps, but Andre gave me great confidence to head out and see this beautiful city. It isn’t all that difficult to get around once you’ve got the lay of the land, and if all else fails, I’ll call a cab and be set.

Last night, I slept thirteen hours. At some point, a young couple got into it for a bit, but they didn’t bother me. It was cool, and then it started to rain. With the windows open, it doesn’t get much better.

Andre told me that the cruise ships arrive in the mornings and drive around with about fifteen busloads of folks, so it is best to go to some of the more popular places after lunch. That works for me because I really want to see this city at night. They have such amazing lights throughout.

For now, I’m signing off, but I will update you all this evening. With my trusty map, I’m headed out…

Journal: September 11, 2022

The Queen was always a big help while I was writing. Full of inspiration and love bites to keep we awake. Crazy Cat!

I typed the date and realized that I should probably be journaling about the events of this day twenty-one years ago, but no… there’s been so much of that. Time to find peace even in the horror of it all. Instead, I checked back and saw that it was June 3, 2022, of my last journal entry, and I needed to catch up. (I’ll be off and on with this, so don’t expect one all the time.)

What’ve I been up to? Writing. Writing. Writing. I have finished the third draft of The Marble Finger: a Father Anthony Savel Mystery. What a remarkable process writing a book can be. It seems that every waking moment and available thinking space in the mind can be consumed with something entirely fictitious. I wrapped it up on Saturday, but all those characters are still chatting away in my head, wanting to go off on some new adventure–which, by the way, I’m already plotting… Salt Lake City. A long way from Wisconsin, but… no. No. No. That will have to wait for another time. Must finish up the Finger first. It is presently in the hands of five beta readers. Once they blow holes in it and I attempt to patch them up with bubble gum and ostrich feathers, I’ll get it out. The original deadline was December 1st, but I believe I will be several weeks ahead. Keep you posted–of course, I will! I want to sell a few copies! But… back to that bit where they want to keep chatting.

I’ve been so involved with it for so many weeks now that I’m finding it hard to let go and not want to go back and fiddle with it a bit, to be involved with them and have them fill the mind. That is one of the great aspects of writing: they take over. They do their things and say what they’ve got to say, and you are at their mercy. OH! That does remind me of a movie: Magic. I don’t know that I ever saw it, but I remember it. The movie poster! Such great rhymes 🙄…

I sit on his knee.

Presto chango,
and now he is me.

Hocus pocus,
we take her to bed.

Magic is fun;
we’re dead.

I promise you it is certainly not all that bad! It is just that the process is very consuming, regardless of whether or not the end result is any good. Anyhow…

I’ll be working on the grammar of The Golden Fistula and reissuing it a few weeks before the Finger comes out. Of the criticism that I received on Fistula via Amazon, it was the grammar. I’ve no idea what to do with any of it, but now I’ve got people who do. haha. I’ve also got new cover art coming for Fistula. The same artist will be doing Finger and the label for the new wine that is currently fermenting: Isabella. Can you say, “Some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Preach the Gospel. Write books. Make wine. Hmmm… I haven’t painted for a while.

Recipes to try: Pull-Apart Rosemary Garlic Bread. This one looks delicious, and I will definitely be trying it out.

What I’ve learned: If you try, you may surprise others, but you’ll definitely surprise yourself. You have a great mind. Apply it.

Thought for the day: Rejoice with me! I preached it this morning, and it is a good thought.

That’s it for now. Time for sleep and dreams…

Ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

… and Shakespeare now sleeps.

Journal: June 3, 2022

I arrived back in Oklahoma late in the evening on Tuesday and have been processing all that I was able to see and do while in Italy (Florence/Rome). It was my first time out of the country (other than Canada and I don’t really count that one), so it took me a few days there just to get past the initial travel jitters. Afterward, I settled in and enjoyed it all. Funny, in all the pics and photos that I posted and that generated the most comments, etc, it was The Hat that generated the greatest conversation.

I do like the hat and it has now found a prominent home in my house. A great reminder of a wonderful experience.

I haven’t decided where I’ll go next, although the church has a pilgrimage to Israel in the works for next year, I’m thinking I would really like to visit Sweden/Norway. Not sure why other than to go up to the northern parts of those countries to try and see the trolls (an excellent documentary on the trolls can be found here.) There’s also India and that has been pulling at me for a long time.

For now, I’m working on getting back to normal. Nothing bad on the jetlag issue, but I have been waiting on the plumber to show up for the last three days to fix a leaky main leading into the house. Yep. You can go on vacation for as long as you like but the pipes are still going to break and the world is going to continue to revolve, and that’s OK too. I’ll be back at it for real on Monday but for now, I’m going to continue in vaca mode, which included bottling up the new vintage: Lucrezia (as in Borgia).

A very tasty, bright, and light, Chardonnay.

Finally, this morning, The Queen knocked over half a cup of coffee onto the book/manuscript I’ve been trying to write for the last couple of years: The Marble Finger (the second of the Fr. Anthony Savel mysteries). I figure that it was her way of telling me to get on with it or get it off the desk so that she’ll have more room to lay down. It is time. Actually, it is past time: let the murdering begin!

Journal: January 20 (almost 21), 2022

Where have I been for the last month….

The sun rose and the sun set.

The inn was full and Christ was born.

The moon rose and the moon died.

The shepherds visited and the Innocent perished.

The Magi made a clandestine visit and we listened for the drummer.

This is a picture of St. Anthony in Torment by Michelangelo with a watercolor overlay.

Then you realized your rainbow was full of demons….

I’ve been doing the “dry” January, which has turned out to be a semi-arid environment with the occasional shower. It has been good and I have dropped more than a few pounds. It is good.

I’ve been reading more than usual, but when you have a 1,200 page book, it takes more than a few days to get through it. Yes… The Stand. There truly is not a more remarkable book outside of the Good Book. And whether he admits it or not, S. King knows more about God, the devil, Holy Scripture, and everything else in between than most of us folks who run around in fancy robes (or skinny jeans) on Sunday mornings. You can’t paint the picture unless you’ve seen the original…. no what I mean? Yes. Yes you do.

The Priest work is going well. It is good to hide behind my robes, but I’m guessing most can see the hypocrite in the shadows. It is the reason for the failure. My friend Brennan ( what a great name) says that Jesus comes along side each of us and says, I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship.

Funny I can never remember the rest of it.

I should just go to sleep now and wake up…. later.

Life is good. Yes it is.

Ah… The Queen. Her Majesty is a Royal…. um… yes… Hinney! LOL. She has her moments, but it is a delight to come home from the day and find her waiting for the scrub under the chin. She is Rain, but she lives into her “title”.

There are many thoughts and so many things to say, but they seem to wander off on their own and find other places to germinate….

Do you ever just not want to go to bed because it is the first time in many days that you have the opportunity to think, write, paint, dance, listen, etc.? There are days that this is the way we roll around here. I’ll stay up too late and listen to tunes, paint goofy pictures, think of writing, pray (yes, I do that), wonder who I would be if I let go of control, and then sleep…

…. No more—and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep—
To sleep—perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?


… but still………… let’s stay awake for another hour or so.

Journal: November 15, 2021

Black white and other shades of gray
these are the colors of the mind
these are the colors we see
but I am blue…

I remember writing something like that years ago and being self-confident enough to submit it to The Paris Review (they rejected it.) I had the naive misconception that I would be the next Henry Miller or Robert James Waller. Clearly neither happened, but life did and that has been a very happy and satisfying (although at times depressing and drudge) adventure. Why bring this up today….

Photo by . liane . on Unsplash

For many years I was convinced and wanted everything black and and white. From the artwork to the sheets on the bed to the general philosophy of life. It was a gray world, but I typically knew what was around the next corner. (I’m thinking about this, because the adventures in watercolors led me to attempt a painting using only the black and the white of the page–go to the bottom of the page for the latest watercolor.) However, over the last few years (and I believe that I’ve discussed this recently) I have discovered, to my delight, that I am in love with color. I recently purchased this light weight blanket from Jaipur, India — it is flaming and clashes (yet compliments) everything I own. Why is that? Enquiring minds want to know, but they don’t care if anyone else likes it or not. Isn’t that nice for a change. I began my career, post-college, crunching numbers and making less than mediocre statistics sound like Midas himself had come down and touched them and now… now… I’d rather paint the entire picture outside the lines with all the colors of the Crab Nebula (aren’t those blues amazing!) than to be defined by the black white and other shades of gray. Life is good. I recommend living it rather than being constrained by your own opinions of yourself (and as for the opinions of others… (there is no thumbing of the nose emoji.))

I watched a disturbing and fascinating movie the other day: Undergods. Yeah. This one is a bit twisted and the plot takes an active mind to follow. It is all tied together in a present-dystopian / dystopian / what-the-heck-is-going-on kind of way. If you like a movie that you won’t fully understand and that won’t leave you wanting to dancing off into the streets singing with David Bowie and Mick Jagger, then you’ll like this one.

What am I reading? Folks, I’m 208 pages into The Stand. I know. I’ve read it before. I’ve seen the movie more times than I’ve read the book, but… it is so satisfying. The characters, story, plot is so far developed beyond anything else I’ve read that even after diving into it for my 10th? time, I’m still amazed. I know exactly what is about to happen, but I can’t hardly wait to read / experience it again. Thank you Sai King for such an amazing story.

My friend Sean and I are almost ready for the big reveal on the project that we’ve been working on for the past year. The live date is December 1st, so watch your emails, because I’ll probably blow up your inbox promoting it. The Episcopal Church is more than the “frozen chosen” and we’re out to prove it. Can you say, COKO!

What I’ve learned: We’ve been afraid for too long. It is time to live. There is nothing you can do about one simple fact: you’re going to die. Live. It is OK and it will be OK if you die. God is good. Take a leap of faith. A step of grace. Put one foot in front of the other and live your life. No sense in waiting… all those silly cliches. Live it! I am blue!! Shout out your color and live it.

Thought for the day: If there is not a single soul in the world that loves you… I do. I love your life, your dreams, you passions, your fears, your everything… you are loved.

Journal: November 4, 2021

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Picture it: approximately 4:00 a.m. Sleeping peacefully in a queen size bed… all by your lonesome. Things are going well. Not too hot… not too cold. You’ve had the bed to yourself for several years, so you’re accustomed to roaming from one side to the other. This side is too hot… roll over to the to her… Ahhh…. nice and cool. Then tragedy strikes: at some point in the night, you’ve forgotten that you’ve rolled over to the other side and then there is the cat. The cat is hot. So, throughout the night you subconsciously move away from that precious little ball of fur (a.k.a. Her Royal Highness, the Queen of All that has Ever Been Created) and unbeknownst to you–Yes, Charlie, you’re on the very precipice of a 30 inch drop. What do you do? You roll over and…. “Shi……!” The first “whack” is to the head, right on the eyebrow and the second is to the shoulder. I do not recall the last time I fell off the bed (IF EVER!), but a few nights ago, I did just that. Even The Queen was embarrassed, although I did catch her laughing hysterically a few moments afterwards…. little bitc….. and now, here we are. I hope to go another fifty-six years without doing it again. By then, my bones will be so brittle that my skull will pop like a melon and I won’t have to endure a ridiculing cat!

The sabbatical, the great adventure on the Camino de Santiago… yeah. Probably not going to happen next year. Sigh. Still planning the trip to Rome and maybe even to Lisbon… definitely Rome. That one is already booked.

There has also been another project that I’ve been working on since December 20th last year with my friend (yes, I have one), The Rev. Sean Ekberg. Code word: COKO and I hope to be sharing with you soon as we’ve just about completed round one. We feel confident that this will be something for the entire Episcopal Church and pray that it will bring a bit of hope to us all… trust me: it’s good. It is very good! You’ll know it when it arrives and probably ask me to please stop promoting it. Enough! However, with that on its way, Fr. Anthony will have a bit more time to solve another murder. The Marble Finger must have its story told!

And I’ve picked up a new hobby… watercolors. This one is a challenge, but I find that I can do a bit of painting between other projects. Let’s the creative side have a walkabout without… I don’t know. It seems to go faster than writing, but I do need to be a bit more patient. Before putting a second color on top of another, there must be time for drying. Also, I’ve got to give the paints more time to do their thing as opposed to dabbing at it and spreading them. Leave them alone. They’ll spread on their on at their own time and make a much better picture. This is attempt #4 after watching a video. I actually kind of like it, but see the areas for improvement. I’ll keep practicing. Doesn’t really matter if you’re any good at this sort of thing. It really is about just enjoying the process and seeing what happens. Oh, and The Queen (she’s showing quite a bit in this post), she likes to drink the water that I wash the brush in. Weirdo. (Don’t tell her I said that.)

Thinking about going to NYC for a few days. Will take photos.

What I’ve learned: At some point, you have to start living. You can wait a lifetime to begin, but then that life will be over and you will be standing by the side of the desert road with your thumb stuck out while waiting for the ride that will never come. Start walking. Start walking and they’ll eventually find you and if your journey should take you into the desert where the cactus grow and the scorpions hunt… then watch your step and all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

Thought for the day: Modo liceat vivere, est spes. While there’s life, there’s hope. — Terentius. Preaching on this Sunday. It is the one thing that didn’t escape out of the box, but it is what Jesus brings.

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