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Taller Dog: News & Muse

Travel Documentaries

Recklinghausen, Germany - Fringe Life June 5th, 2008 This is the quietist city I have ever been in. Last night, 'round midnight, there was not a sound. No cars, no voices, human nor animal, not even a night bird. This morning, sitting in the garden, there are a few cars and it's mating season. I guess all those birds sleep at night. The garden is full of colors, and the prettiest of all to me is the huge white rosebush, standing at least eight feet tall. It's a heartrending reminder of last week. Was it last week? When I was in Toronto, Canada, celebrating my grandfather's long and successful life with family and longtime friends. Today I am in Recklinghausen, Germany. Yesterday was Croydon, in South London. Next is home to Austin, in just over a week from now. I'll see the white rose I left hanging to dry by the mirror, one from the bunch sitting by Grandpere's ashes. Today is peaceful for the first time in weeks. It will get crazy in about six hours, and it won't stop until I have gone to pick up my dog, Pawleen, and we come home to spend a day together. I look forward to being home for three weeks before my next trip. At home will be peaceful at night, at least. The sound of the cicadas and frogs will be brilliant. That is the silence of the country. Not quite as full as the huge sounds of silence in the rain forests of Costa Rica at night, but no complaints will be coming out of me. I'm not at home, now, I remember, as the sound of Irish whistles carry through the air to me. It's yet another Fringe Festival! The festivities and performances have started a few blocks away and all over town. There is news, lots of it. So much, I haven't even sent you part two of last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, nor written part three. Who knows if I will at this point in time? I think I'll start from the future and go backwards. I often think that way, and have been called crazy as a loon more than once. On May 16, when I get back home to Austin, I will become an official "Austin Lounge Lizard." Some of you know I have subbed for their different fiddle/mandolin players in the past. This time I'm stickin' around to become an actual band member. Our first gig will be in Marble Falls, TX, at Lorraine's, on June 21. We'll be up in Ann Arbor in July. There's many more. I have started posting those gigs as well as any other public gigs I'll be doing at Darcie Deaville hasn't gone away, nor her evil twin fiddle sister, alter ego, Marcie Mercy. Between the play, "Woody Sez" and my health saga of the last three years, my new CD, "Livin' on the Lucky Side" hasn't even been properly released! I look forward to finishing projects I started a long time ago, from the comfort of HOME. Well, now it's Monday again, June 9th. Yesterday we had an actual day off. The people we are staying with here in Recklinghausen are not only gracious; they're festive and generous. Good cooks, too. They lent us their bicycles, took us to a beautiful swimming pool, really a park with several pools. One had the biggest high diving board I have ever seen. It was a creative structure starting with a low, normal pair of diving boards, and you could weave your way up to five or six higher ones. I watched a man, I guessed his age to be 70, in good shape, stand at the edge of the highest one, get his bearings, and dive off. In spite of his reasonably good form at the top, by the time he hit the water, five seconds later, he had a little bit of a back flop (as opposed to a belly flop) goin' on there. Helen and I winced for him. Of course the little kids just ran up to the top and jumped off, without a second thought, other than to hold their noses. I, on the other hand, stuck to a regular dive, as quickly as possible. The water was just a liiiittle cold for my bones. I kept moving. Then we hit the Fringe festival for the evening. We saw three theatre pieces, had a late dinner, and hit the sack. Today, we will go to our theatre a little early, and brush up our blocking. This stage is smaller than ideal. With one wrong placement of a stool it can screw up things later on. We have a running inside joke about stool moves. And our theatre? It's not. It is a "venue," but it's actually a bank. "Sparkasse Vest." But they have set it up quite well, with a portable stage and lighting, and we have mostly been sold out. Now might be a good time to stop, and send good wishes to all of you. I'm enjoying the sunshine and the garden, and I want to tell you the story of "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." After the phone rang, (for those of you who read those emails), and before Croydon. Remember I said I would start from the future and go backwards? Hopefully I'll get to part three and two of Edinburgh by the end. One more thing: Those of you, who wrote back to me, thank you so much. You are special to me. For those of you who felt like you were raising the average age up... here's a tidbit for you... there happens to be at least one 89 year old who reads the Taller Dog news. And I'm not talking about Pawleen -- she's not there yet in human/dog years!

Darcie Deaville - Recklinghausen, Germany - Fringe Life (Jun 9, 2008)

Edinburgh The City With Many Stories- I happened to turn on the history channel the night I was packing for my trip to NY and Edinburgh, where I saw documentary on a city that caught my interest. There were many levels of vertical stories, where people lived, and died. It turned out to be Edinburgh, a city I was about to learn a whole lot about. From the 12th century, people were living in this city in Scotland surrounded by farmland. They believe in keeping their farmland as large and as fertile as possible, so urban sprawl isn't the same as here in this country. Edinburgh was the first city in history to have a skyscraper. In fact, they just kept on building on top of home after home. Flats? Apartments? Caves. The poorest people lived on the bottom. There was no sunlight. They had a door to go outside, and walk uphill to town in seven inches of human waste sludge. There was no drinking water for anyone. The rich people could afford to drink ale. The poor man's drink was port. The plague got many of them in the end. The people who appeared to stay healthy would just shove all the dead bodies in a living area, and a few living ones who were thought to be sick, start the fire and close it up. Eventually they cut the tops off all the buildings and started building the city over. Nowadays, you walk along High Street, The Royal Mile, and see tiny streets going down, all called Closes. Mary King's Close is the most famous. Every five or ten feet there's another Close. Some of them have locked gates, and some of them have been brought back into use; only to a certain level, of course. Ghost stories are everywhere. And the stories of the lake of waste where they threw in the witches. If a woman was thought possibly to be a witch, they would tie her right thumb to her left big toe, and vice versa. Then they'd toss her into the lake. If she floated back up, alive, she was a witch, so they would take her out and hang her or burn her at the stake. If she didn't surface, oh well, "sorry for the inconvenience to the family", she wasn't a witch after all. Back then, the women all wore quite billowy dresses and undergarments, which would add to natural buoyancy. When they drained and cleaned up this lake, which was down at the bottom of the city, where gravity did it's job, they apparently found $10,000 skeletons. This place now, below the magnificent palace, is a beautiful garden next to an art gallery. An Andy Warhol Exhibit was there when I went in. My last memory of that will always be the re-enactment of a straw haired woman in an apron with a bucket, sticking her head out the window of a cave, shouting "GUARDIE LOO!!!" and immediately throwing the family waste out the window onto the street.

Darcie Deaville - Edinburgh part 1 (Sep 10, 2007)

THE LOCALS OF EDINBURGH Whether I travel for work or vacation, I like to feel what it feels like to live there. If I'm staying in a hotel, I long to sneak a peek at what kind of home the average poor and middle class people live in. What do they eat for dinner? How early do they get up for work? How long is their work day? What do they do for fun? What kind of bed do they sleep in? Anywhere in the UK, the lifestyle doesn't seem too different from here in the US or Canada. The main language is English, and it's it's not a third world country. And as much as they embrace American music and movies, they have their own culture to be proud of and to love and consume (unlike some other parts of the world eat up American products). The people are so genuinely NICE! It's not a naivety, although it almost feels like it. They have a good, honest outlook on life with respect for others. Without a certain jadedness I've come to expect. What a refreshing way to communicate on a regular basis. They have very good tea. And eggs fresh out of the chicken into the corner grocery. Cheeeese.... Single malt scotch. Ale. Haggis? Yes, I tried it. Twice. I liked it better the first time. I think it was the smaller dose with the side of potatoes. Their 10 pence coins are easily mistaken for quarters (and these days are worth about the same).That's an issue right now for Americans and Canadians. A lunch that costs £7 is what we might pay here, if it were $7. But with the dollar what it is these days on the world market, it turns into a $15 lunch. That puts hotel rooms at $300-$400 a night. So, if you live and work in the UK, it's not really a different cost of living. But visiting is another story. I took some tours. The bus tour out to the boat tour of the "Firth of Forth" was £15. Comparable to a three hour similar excursion here, $15 was appropriate. In fact, for me, it cost over $30. Now, was I going to let that hold me back? NO! Because, who knows if and when I would ever be back to see and learn something about this place again? THE DOGS OF EDINBURGH There doesn't seem to be a leash law (at least enforced) in the city. Along with all the people walking on the sidewalks, there were dogs moving along, unattended by a human, hugging the buildings, knowing enough about survival to stay away from the cars that were obviously driving on the wrong side of the road.. These dogs had places to go, dogs to see. It wasn't a stretch to see them with a briefcase trotting along Wall St. (OK, it wasn't a stretch for me). I never saw one dogfight or a dog/human altercation. Of the 200 or so dogs I saw, four were on leashes. The whole month I was there I saw one pile of dog poop where it should have been cleaned up. The dog must have forgotten his pooper scooper that day. THE CATS OF EDINBURGH Cats are cats. They seem to have it together wherever they live. I didn't see them behind restaurant dumpers scavenging. Mostly they lurked and lounged in neighborhood yards full of flowers. And birds.

Darcie Deaville - Edinburgh part 2 (Sep 25, 2007)