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Friday, May 27, 2011

England Part 5

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Went for a ride just to see how long it would take to get there.  Stopped into the camp office and talked to Nigel who printed me a map showing the route to Danebury Hill Fort.  I figure the tire will hold out for a short ride cause I’m only going 16 miles.  First oops!   Actually according to the map I’d be going 30 miles round trip.  However the map does not take into account getting misplaced from time to time.  Seems that the way of things you have the map all set then you get misplaced due to one thing or the other.   I leave the campground at 2:45 pm thinking I can ride a bit then turn back whenever I want.  Along the way I’m passed by a group of bike riders on sleek racing bikes.  Why is it that everyone passes me by?  I begin to speed up then remind myself that the tire is bad, and I’m in no rush to get anywhere.

They hit a hill and begin to slow down one actually gets off his bike and walks up the hill.  Not me I ride up reaching the top at the same time they do.  My head tells me this will cost you I check my map and head off as they rest.  At the next intersection one of the riders pulls up to me and asks directions.  Ha Ha!  I’ve got a map they don’t knowingly I give directions.  He asks where I’m heading “We not going that far” says he.   About an hour into the ride I stop and look at the map.  Looks like I’m about half way there no problem.  Stopping again to check the map I spy a back way to my destination.  This is great as I’m riding on a very busy road with car zipping by very close to me.  After a couple of oops I’m on a road that could be the right one.  By now I’ve gone up and down about 10 hills all of which have been very steep.

The road ends at a “T” and looking around for direction signs there are none to be found.  I’ve been on the riding two hours now and am faced with which way to go as this could not be the road I think it is.  Well I’ll pretend it is so off I go.  Half hour later I arrive at the Danebury Iron Age Hill Fort elated.  Now to return back to the campground via a different route so I try to avoid the busy road that got me here.  It is now four hours into the ride and I stop to check the map.  This is not going well my little detour is going to require more time gong back the coming.  I ride on and have now climbed about 20 hills of very long and steep duration.  My legs are getting tired but I tell myself no problem.  Five hours and maybe 24 hills later it looks like I’m still an hour from the campground.  I’m walking up the hills and costing down the other side.  I remember my first ride here when I could no longer ride and walked about 20 steps at a time.

I can do this, this is not then.  So back on the bike I clime and look for that second wind I’ve heard about.  Nope no second wind as I walk up the last hill, well I think it’s the last hill.  I’m passed by to other riders and tell myself they have not ridden as far as I have makes me feel better anyway.  So back on the bike and ride the last hill slow and steady reaching the campground six hours after I started.  Takes longer then you think to get there, sometimes doing things differently is not the answer, you can always make it one way or the other.

Monday, May 23, 2011

England 2011 Part 4

Saturday, May 21, 2011, 11:15 am:

Today is town market day and hopefully at good day to sell my old bike.  After moving around town to different spots we gave up.  After dinner we managed to get the bike out to the campground where it now sits in front of the office for sale.  In between I talked to my daughter then headed to one the events I was to volunteer at.  However, I ended up being almost an hour late.  Upon arriving one of the Stewart's sent me to the spot I was to work.  There I met Megan again who had volunteered to fill in for me as they thought I was not going to show up.  Her partner was quite put out by my late appearance and made sure all knew it was just not proper.  I surely thought she would have me taken out behind the Cathedral and flogged.

She reminded me of the times I’d been so inflexible, demanding all go just as it was suppose to.  A time of being very put out by those who did not follow the rules, or arrive on time so to speak.   There are times that I catch myself still doing this behavior.  I’m sure now that this is part of the funk I find myself in.  Things are supposed to turn out, or go a certain way and I don’t want to repaint my picture yet again.  The canvas is extremely heavy do to the lays of repainting.  Will there ever be a time I don’t have to repaint the picture?  That all will be as what was painted?  I know how to do that just paint a safe picture with me surrounded by fences and walls that should do it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011, 11:15 am:

Mark is off to Canterbury today.  We were up early so he could bet packed in time to catch his 10 am train.  He would have to get off the train and bus part of the way to his destination.  Also, he’d have to ride across London to get from one train station to the other.  From there he is off to Amsterdam then maybe a few other destinations.  He let me know later in the day that he had arrived safely with little problems.  After he left I rode around town looking for a new front tire, but had no luck.  There is not much open in Salisbury on Sundays.  When back to the campground took a nap then headed into town to spend time at the Kings head making SKYPE calls.  Spoke to my mother, Daughter and son catching up on doing here and there.  Today my son was holding a one year birthday party for my granddaughter Rebecca.  After that it was time to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Monday, May 23, 2011, 6:07 AM Arizona, 2:07 pm England

Mark discovered a bump and torn sidewall on the front tire of my bike.   Because of this my plan of heading to Southeast England has been put on hold.  This morning after porridge and coffee at the Kings Head I stopped in at Stonehenge Cyclery to get a new tire.  I spoke with Pip for a bit than asked Christopher to order me a tire called an Armadillo Cross Trail made by Specialized Bikes.  It will take two days to get the tire delivered so I’m not going anywhere this week which is just as well.  It is overcast today and quite windy again so don’t really feel like riding a fully packed bike in weather.  Really don’t feel like doing much of anything and am hoping that once I can get on the road this will pass.   I’m allowing myself to do nothing right now in hopes of finding something to talk to my spirit.

I sorted out my money which helped me feel better about being here as I am quite worried about having enough for the trip this year.  In November I resigned from 227 Tax Service dba as H & R Block after ten years of working the Block stores in Flagstaff.  So it was time for me to head on down the road into my own business.  This was not something I ever expected to be doing again, but with the help of my friend Lisa and her partner Gene it’s a done deal.  My new office is in one of Flagstaff’s historic buildings.  When my customers came in they did nothing but rave about the building.  The tax season turned out to be as good as I’d hoped for I'm in England aren't I.

So many things happened since last November that has caused me to sink into this grand funk.  First my son-in-law decided he no longer wanted to be married.  He expounded on the reasons he no longer wished to be married which ended being a cover for the real reason.  He’d had a girlfriend for some time now and wanted to be with her.  Sadly this caused my daughter and grandchildren great distress.  Then my brother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer and given about six months to live.  I’ve known Victor since he was seventeen and was very much more a brother then brother-in-law.   Vic, my sister and their daughter Laura made the trip from Florida to California via car.  Victor wanted to spend what time he had left with his daughters and grandchildren.  My son and daughter wanted to see their uncle before he passed so I made a trip with each of them to California.  My daughter and I made yet another trip for his memorial service.  

My former wife fell out of her car in October breaking her foot.  This caused her to end up in a rehabilitation facility in order to regain strength in her legs and get some other health problems under control.  She was expected to regain her mobility and return home.  However, the first week in January she took a turn for the worst and I received a call from my son on January 9th she had died.  We set about making arrangements for the funeral and setting up room for friends and family who were arriving.  My former wife had a lot of friends and most showed up at the memorial service.  My children and grandchildren still hurt from this loss.  Within two weeks I had two people with whom I had spent the better part of my life ripped from the world.  So many major losses not to mention several other events happening during that time have taken their toll.

My therapist as suggested that I take the trip in the hopes of having yet again a spiritual renewal.  So far not much of anything happening which hopefully will change once my new tire arrives, or will I find yet another reason not to move from this spot?  As usual when I look around, and pay attention there is God talking to me though people, places and things.  When I pay attention understanding begins to take place.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friday, May 22, 2011, 11:15 am:

Today moved to campground after getting everything packed into panniers.  Mark suggested that we take trial ride with the packed bikes so off we went.  Mark managed to ride into a hedge and fall over, but was not hurt.  He was not distracted by a woman, but a horse.  Other than that the ride went well and we made good time should be able to cover more distance this year.  We arrived to a warm welcome from Nigel and Wendy at the campground and were given our corner to set up in.  By the time we set up I had to race off to the cathedral for my first volunteering stint.  Here I spend 2:30 to 5:00 pm in the entrance of the cloisters to be available to answer questions about the performance going on there.   Joined Mark for dinner at the Kings Head Pub prior to the next event.

I found on the menu a Vegan dish of one of my favorite meals in England; sausage and Mash.  They had meatless sausages which were quite good, mashed potatoes, and a very tasty cider.  No butter or mike used to make the mashed potatoes.  Now off to the market place for the beginning night of the festival.  After a bit of direction I was paired up with two very nice ladies Megan and Kate.  We were to guard the fencing around the sound booth and one of the spot lights.  We had a great time chatting, watching the show, Kate helped a person who swooned, and I attempted to chase a person who had climbed up on the stoplight platform, only to find out she was a member of the press.  All in all it was a very enjoyable night. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

England 2011 Part 3

Arrived England two hours early flashed through customs, collected our bags and purchased a bus ticket to Salisbury.  Originally we were to land in England at 11:00 am which meant 1/2 hour wait for the bus, but since we landed two hours early we now sat around for an 1 1/2.   The bus ride is about one and a half hours, which gave us both a bit of dozing time before arriving in Salisbury.  Every time I get off the bus here I am reminded of the first time when I had no idea where to go.  I wandered around for about an hour before I found a map and headed off to the YHA.  Today I picked up my 51 pound bag, quite a bit heavier than the bag I used the first time, and off we went to the YHA.  After checking in it was time to the retrieve the bikes.

My bike, for the sixth year, was locked exactly where it had been deposited the year before.  Mark’s bike however was no were to be found.  My bikes, two of them, had four locks holding them in place to my dismay the keys in my pocket only unlocked two of them.  Had I not brought all the keys with me?  I racked my brain for what I had done with the other two keys.  As we walked away empty handed I hoped I’d not left the keys at home.  This would mean cutting locks while being watched by CCTV cameras.   I, slowly, remembered that I had put the keys on two separate key rings, but could only remember packing one of them.  I have to return to the YHA and dig through my stuff.  We stopped at a bike shop to check out prices and I was able to chat with Pip who had helped me purchase my bike last year.

Back at the YHA I went through all my bags emptying everything on to the floor of our teeny tinny room which sleeps four.     No key in that bag, no key in that bag, no key in that bag only one left.  Nothing on the bottom of the bag now let me empty out the side pockets.  Keys I found keys, wait these are the keys I already have one pocket left.  At the very bottom of the last pocket I find the keys I need to unlock both bikes.  Life is like that isn’t it?  Searching for something in all the obvious places, then when we look in the least obvious place we fine gold.  Some people spend a great deal of energy looking all the while missing the gold that God has but around them.  I’ve missed it time and time again.

It reminds me of a story about a prince in India who believed he was missing the most fabulous gem in the world.  The story goes something like this he set off to find the most valuable gem in the world.  While he was searching his palace fell in to disrepair, his servants striped it bare using their new found wealth to build their own palace.   His family had to use whatever money was left to buy food, but that soon ran out.  One by one his family members died and little by little the jungle took the palace over .  After the many years of useless searching the prince returned home only to fine ruin.  He is in rags as he has spent the fortune he took with him to pay for his journey.  He wanders around then falls to his knees in sorrow having found the graves of his family.  He cries out “Why!” as he looks toward the sky.  Slowly he lowers his head and as he does so notices a statue that has been in his yard forever.  There imbedded in the statue is a huge gem.  In fact it is the most precious gem in the world.  But, it now means nothing as those thing that were really the most precious gems are gone.  Look around your “backyard” before you go off in search of things that can be found there.

After returning to the YHA with both my bikes we had dinner.  While Mark was entertaining a group of kids from Cornwall I placed a call to Claudia to catch up on events of the last three days.  Her laughter is intoxicating, and she is always able to put a positive view on things.  Our SKYPE call just ended when Mark returned with a picture of the group he had been telling a story to.  I tracked down my daughter who was returning to Phoenix from Las Vegas then let my son, via Facebook; know that we had arrived safely.  It had been a long somewhat stressful day time for bed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

England 2011 Part 2

Monday, May 16, 2011, 12:48:29 PM

Delta Airlines Flight 1546, 37,000 ft., currently over Oklahoma

On the way!  Left Phoenix at 11:00 am and currently almost two hours into the flight to Atlanta.  So far so good as they say.   Texted Son, Daughter and Claudia prior to taking off from Sky harbor.   Had a very nice cab driver take us to the airport which reduced my worries about getting to the plane on time.  Getting to the airport is always an anxious event for me.   There is always this fear of missing the plane do to some unforeseen event on the Phoenix streets or highways.   So until I’m in the terminal at the gate my nerves are a jangle.  It does not matter whether or not it is a local flight or international I want to be at the airport long, very long, before it takes off.

My son was to take us to the airport, but after some discussion we decided that it would be better if I drove my can to Marks and take a cab from there.  Of course that puts me back in control of getting to Marks house on time.   Having spent close to five years running around Phoenix to every ER doing evaluations makes me think that I can get places quicker the other.   Reality is that it’s probably not a true thought, but it gives me the illusion of control.  So many times, in my therapy practice, I talk with clients about the illusion of control most have.   Long ago it became quite clear to me that letting go of attempting to control events around me make life easier.  However, there are times that slipping back into that mode causes me much distress.

Controlling the environment, circumstances, and people in one’s life is pretty much an illusion.   One can attempt to cover all the bases yet the universe may have a different idea which is called getting thrown a curve ball.  Health issues, relationship changes, Divorce, Termination from a job, car breaking down etc… are all curve balls.  Life was going along fine and sometimes something happens to make it even better them BAM!   Everything changed in the blink of an eye leaving a mixed bag of unpleasant feelings.  Like the rollercoaster up you go feeling great, happy, and hopeful then down you go depressed, sad and hurt, but you’re not done yet because HOPE jumps in to save the day.  Up you go again only to realize there is no hope.

My world was rocked and I’m left with hope but nothing more.  The only thing I could have done differently was hide in my house not coming out unless I had to go somewhere of need.  Kept to myself and not experience any of the wonder that was available for a short time.  I could have attempted to control the situation so I could mold it into what I wanted it to be.  This would have led to my attempting to manipulate to get my ends met, but not anyone else’s.  I use to do that and found it wanting and still not in control.  When I was a therapist I use to do an exercise with parents of Teens, and couples in relationships to help them understand that attempting to control rather than working together to reach a join resolution is not productive.  But, one person can’t do that all involved need to be on board.  It also helped them understand that sometimes you have to let go, move on, and be content with what was that can longer be.  Sad, depressed, numb, and hurt are companions for a while leaving me thinking that I’ll never do this again.

But, someday I’ll be taken by surprise fine I opened myself up for this to happen again.  Yet maybe, just maybe this time it will be different.  Darn hope.

6:12:21 PM

We have left Atlanta heading to London.  My seat mate is a professor of Art History in Kentucky who is heading to England to do research.  Mark is across the aisle trying to stay awake until we are served our dinner.   A few moments after sitting down the stewardess approached my set and asked if I were Mr. Cooke.  My heart immediately began to pound surely bad news was to follow my acknowledgement.  But it turned out to be a quite simple question of did I order a special meal which I had.  I can’t wait to see what my non-dairy vegetarian meal tastes like.   I had a nice pasta salad at the Atlanta airport so we’ll see how this goes.  So far I’m sticking to eating healthier than ever before and certainly have more energy.

Dinner was fruit, Green salad, Vegetable medley, 9 grain bread, water, and Promise spread.   Only thing I’m not sure of is the Promise spread other than that I think I did good.  I’ll have to check about the Promise spread.

11:04:29 PM
That’s’ it until tomorrow.  Good night, Gods speed, and Peace. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

England 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011, 4:48:51 PM

Barns and Noble Glendale AZ

So on Monday I’ll be heading back to England.  Well maybe not just England, maybe Austria and France again, maybe Ireland and Scotland?  Lots of Maybe’s but that the story of my life.   Since June my world has been a roller coaster ride.   Today as I sit here writing I’m not a happy camper and am filled with fear about what the future has in store.  I’m not focused, definitely distracted and stuck.  So I met with my therapist today where after shedding some tears, sharing a few laughs we came to the conclusion this is not a new place for me.  I’ve sat in her office with the same story only different charters at the time, boy talk about not getting your process.

However, I do get it that the trick is to overcome the fear of changing it.  I had to laugh as she described me as putting on the John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood facade of being in control of the situation hiding the timid, shy, and scared not in control person.   We laughed as she rolled her eyes and asked “How many times have we been here.”  So she sent me off to England for yet another spiritual quest.  Indeed each trip has been a kind of spiritual awakening to heal the hurts, boost self-confidence, and connect with what messages I’ve been missing that God has been sending.  We had a really good laugh as she pointed out that God has put messages right in front of my face, but fear has kept me from reacting as I’ve really wanted to.

So on Monday I’ll climb on the jet, with my friend Mark, and head off with the sinking feeling in my stomach that I should stay here.  My head telling me that if by staying the day will be saved, all will be well, and everyone will live happily ever after.   I’ll find a way to protect my kids from being hurt, or going down the wrong road.  I’ll be able to fix my sisters pain from losing her husband and best friend.  And, going back to the movie theme that after the trials and tribulations all problems are solved, and the hero rides off into the sunset with the heroine.   Honestly this may happen somewhere, but it has not happened for me.

The problems don’t magically disappear, and the heroine rides off into the sunset with someone else.  Mostly because I’ve waited for some sign or message that will tell me it’s O.K. to express my feelings.  The message never comes I never express which equals no Hollywood ending.  So I’ll go with my head, not to be confused with intuition, creating fantasy of what will happen while I’m gone.  Because you do know I have a crystal ball which will tell me the future, yeah right.