Thursday, November 16, 2006

15 November 2006

Where ever has half of November gone? Amazing how quickly time passes when traveling.
We arrived at LAX on November 8 in the early morning and already have dined with some of the funniest, most clever, warmest folks in Clareville, trekked to the Sequoia, and packed our bags in readiness for our trip by train to NYC.

Folks reaction to that trip are varied. My English teacher friend, ' why would you do that?'
Her partner, 'All you will see is the back end of industrial yards from here to Chicago.'
Our mountain couple, ' Ah, what an adventure.'
Our family, ' why would you want to spend that much time sitting around?'

Ourselves: The Australian hasn't ever seen mid amerika. I know that he wouldn't be the least interested in visiting mid Oz..he's aware that's days and days of the same red sand, but he is intrigued by what we might find in mid Amerika...as I recall, there is Council Bluffs, Iowa with its Indian bluffs outside town, the southern Rockies between Albuquerque and Denver, dry river beds, and slopes of green firs frosted with light smatterings of snowfall in November as well as plowed fields in Nebraska and Iowa..although only the great sage plateau of eastern Colorado.

Whatever, it will be another adventure for the two of us together with Thanksgiving spent with my inimitable middle child in NYC, hopefully without rain but another dusting of snow would be wonderful..

It has been good to reconnect with friends in southern California. It is a wonderment that we manage to stay connected after so long an absence. Life is good now that we have a democratically controlled congress..or at least one hopes that it will make a difference. One never knows with politicos...they are so easily swayed. One can hope!

Sayanora..for now

15 November 2006

Where ever has half of November gone? Amazing how quickly time passes when traveling.
We arrived at LAX on November 8 in the early morning and already have dined with some of the funniest, most clever, warmest folks in Clareville, trekked to the Sequoia, and packed our bags in readiness for our trip by train to NYC.

Folks reaction to that trip are varied. My English teacher friend, ' why would you do that?'
Her partner, 'All you will see is the back end of industrial yards from here to Chicago.'
Our mountain couple, ' Ah, what an adventure.'
Our family, ' why would you want to spend that much time sitting around?'

Ourselves: The Australian hasn't ever seen mid amerika. I know that he wouldn't be the least interested in visiting mid Oz..he's aware that's days and days of the same red sand, but he is intrigued by what we might find in mid Amerika...as I recall, there is Council Bluffs, Iowa with its Indian bluffs outside town, the southern Rockies between Albuquerque and Denver, dry river beds, and slopes of green firs frosted with light smatterings of snowfall in November as well as plowed fields in Nebraska and Iowa..although only the great sage plateau of eastern Colorado.

Whatever, it will be another adventure for the two of us together with Thanksgiving spent with my inimitable middle child in NYC, hopefully without rain but another dusting of snow would be wonderful..

It has been good to reconnect with friends in southern California. It is a wonderment that we manage to stay connected after so long an absence. Life is good now that we have a democratically controlled congress..or at least one hopes that it will make a difference. One never knows with politicos...they are so easily swayed. One can hope!

Sayanora..for now

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

a trip to Amerika..

Greetings from sunny downtown Clareville.
Looking good the world of southern California. Last night went out to Lucille's for ribs, bought some early holiday gifts for the folks back in Oz and generally enjoyed the companionship of California friends.
Hope your world is as pleasant as ours is at this moment.
We leave for NYC via Amtrak on Wednesday. Keep the sun shining int he midwest, dear weather goddess and that will make us happy.
Love to all from the toothsum twosome, Aussie and Amerikan, traveling across this vast northern hemisphere.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

integrity in politics..the Grand Search

Can you imagine anyone saying

"I bought crystal meth from this guy, but I didn't use him"!

sure!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Too close to call

Moveon.org has been on my favorites list for the last few years. I support their attempts to communicate with legislators to bring about positive change in Washington. I hope you will join me in making phone calls to effect change. I call from Australia to America so I realize the cost of these calls..but such a small investment takes us much closer to a democracy that reflects the positions of more Americans.

I do realize this note is a tad vanilla and not up to my usual rantings..but I do want to encourage as many of us as possible to take part...

ciao..Dorothy
:


alt="Call For Change" width="150" height="200">

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Trekking in New Zealand

New Zealand Track

Clouds bolt across blue skies,
Alder trees shimmer in the wind,
Twisting, the track follows the long fiords of Te Anou.

Fern filled beech forests
-----------------escallop edges of aquamarine rivulets
------------------------------------snaking in the red
--------------------------tufted meadows.

Ridge lines of Red Beech cling to steep walls rising from the Sound.

Massive water falls skim the tops of
--------------------hanging valleys,
------- sweep over towering glacial faces, and
---- ----------------------------------plunge,
------ ---------- ------------ -----------raucous
-------- ---------- ------------ over ferocious walls

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Meadows

Meadows
Green script on brown papyrus soil
translation impossible
patterns older than human letters,
Meadows create art everywhere.

High Sierra duff
meadow of brown pine needles
softens foot fall at 10,000 feet.

Tuolumne grasses
peppered with stark blues, red, yellows, oranges;
wildflowers
floating above spring snowmelt.

Utah meadows
filtering sunlit red rock monoliths
sparse sage, salt bush, tenuous desert cement
winds sweep stunning sunsets

Is there a meadow I love best?

Potted with clear blue lakes,
Ponderosa and white pine filigree,
CottonWood Meadow
home of wandering dragons
protecting meadows everywhere.

Meadows of the mind,
relaxing, verdant moments
stepping round the hillocks of color,
unfiltered common space
in the collective unconscious
meadows of reverie.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The language of the ex pats

Being an ex pat (riot) is not as easy as some may imagine. There is the issue of language.

The folks at home expect that one will continue sounding like one sounded when one lived at home. The folks in the new country expect that one sound like - - - well, like they expect someone to sound like they imagine a homey would sound.
But as is often the case , there are many sounds (dialects) in the country of origin. And those dialects may not be pleasing to the ear of the new contriates.
For instance, I come from midwestern North America. I used to say wRash and wRashington. I gave up the 'R' when I travelled to California to earn my living. However, I did not add the 'T' to kep and slep when I moved to California and no one there seemed to mind.
However, my Australian friends object to the missing 'T'. Their response to the missing 'T' of slepT and kepT is to correct me, to tell me I sound uneducated.
I explain the dialect. I cook in a frying pan, not in a skillet. I have a crick, not a creek behind my house which has a roof that is not a ruf.
Oh, the problems of the ex pat - - - especially the one who wonders how television commentators can 'reckon' anything. And who tries but can't quite get g'day to slip off the tongue.

Pacific

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/

Pacific is the name of the vast ocean west of North and South America and east of Asia and Australia. Pacific means 'leading to or promoting peace' or 'calm and peaceful by nature'.

Seems a tad ironic if you take a look at the web site listed at the top of this entry. Amazing that almost all of the techtonic activity on the planet is located on the shores of this vast 'peaceful' caldera filled with water, fishes, mammals, and islands.

Not precisely pacific..to be sure. Except for the activity in the Carribean, this week, the thrusting shifting plates, each finding its way with force, is centered in this vast area of the globe.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Minor miracle

Had a lovely experience upon opening my hotmail account this morning! An email from a former student..a writer..a published writer..a speaker of at least two languages although somehow I am certain that he speaks dozens of dialects.

He wrote to say he had been looking for me..and thought perhaps I had been found.

Why?

Because he has published a book and he would like to send it to me.

Now I know there is a goddess wandering the universe; one who knows precisely what makes English teachers satisfied that they have done an adequate job!..(Oh..that's Aussie Tall Poppy bullshit.).she knows that some of us have done a damned good job! :)

I will go off to sleep tonight feeling like my work has been worthwhile. There is a young man out there who is proud of his work, proud enough to want to share it with his teacher.

I think, perhaps, that is what teaching is really all about.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Travel..

'To those who have a romantic view of travel or who, longing for the liberty they imagine it brings, wish that they, too, could throw off old jobs, old husbands, old responsibilities and head for wilder climes where they feel sure both life and themselves will be entirely different -- that is to say, better; who do not understand that one carries the self like a heavy old suitcase where ever one goes; who think of travel not as a line of inquiry, a satisfaction of curiosity or as a method by which to better understand the world but as an escape from banality, I have this to say.

When you are so tired, frustrated and filthy that you would like to cry but cannot because people are watching you; when your period has come and you are in pain but you must not display it; when you do not know what is going on because you cannot understand the language but you sense the atmosphere is not right; when you are operating on twenty levels at once and not sure if you are correct in any of them; when you have entered a place where the people are suspicious of you, or frightened of you, or hate you because you represent something evil to them; when you cannot make your intentions understood; . . . when you are so fed up with humanness that you would like to shoot everyone you see, including yourself; . . . when there is no one with whom to have a sensible conversation, nor is there likely to be anyone for months; when you realize how very far away from you are the places and people you understand and who understand you; when your Celtic skin, which blushes even under a weak northern sun, has been baked into pottery by sun and salt so that you have to stop yourself thinking of the cancers which surely must be forming, let along the years you are adding to your face; when the little beasts that have taken up residence in your stomach double you up in a cramp so that you have to run behind a dune even though there are people everywhere watching; and when you have so lost touch with why you are doing what you are doing that it seems you are trapped in a machine of meaninglessness in which moral values are mashed to a pulp and . . .when you have plumbed the very depths of banality, then you begin to wonder if it is worth it.'

Davidson, Robyn, Desert Places, Pegnuin Putnam Inc, New York, 1996, page 103.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Doncha just wonder if anyone actually reads this blog?

Had an interesting experience with a couple of Jehova's Witnesses today on my front veranda.

Two 20 something younguns rang my bell around 10 a.m. I was at my puter in the back of the house but trundled out to see who was at my door.

As I opened the front door..not yet the veranda door (which is louvered in the lovliest way), the young man introduced himself and in the Aussie manner asked, 'how r you taday?'

'Fine, thanks' in the American manner, and 'how are you?'

'We're doing great,' says the young lady with a smile. By now the veranda door was open and I was leaning on the other one..the one that has the latch connected to the floor.

We stood there for almost twenty minutes just chewing the spiritual rag.

The only difference between this time and a dozen other times in my life when the Jehovas have come to call is that this time I identified myself as a buddhist..with a small 'b'..

And why was this a difference? Because I immediately knew that I would be polite and not dismissive of my two door knockers. Buddhists have time for people. Buddhists are respectful of other forms of wildlife. Buddhists do not get histrionic and shame folks into wishing they had never opened the front gate.

They invited me to a church service. I suggested that my spiritual self didn't need a church.
They talked of sight seeing in Catholic churchs in France. I spoke of mosque's in Constantinople in 1717.
They talked of armaghedon. I talked of string theory (not that I understand it, but it is a theory of unifying the universe..you know the universal force..

Now, come to think about it, that's a grand idea..wouldn't it be a wonderment if their god turned out to be a myriad set of strings just bop, bop, bopping along? Yeah, I kinda like that!

Friday, August 04, 2006

http://www. BookCrossing.com

It is a fine good morning here in Oz. As is my penchant, I have spent the last hour checking out my favorite sites including my hotmail account. On a monthly basis Bookcrossing.com sends me an email there to let me know what is going on in the world of 'give-away' books. I thought it might be a good idea to let you all know, in case you don't already know, about this amazing site and the process which it promotes.

One joins for no cost. And one then empties one's bookshelves of unwanted, long ago read volumes by simply giving them away, by leaving them in places where another avid reader might pick up a volume. Restaurants, cafe's, gas stations, parks, and various and sundry other public places work well. I have sent about 25-30 books traveling in the last four years. Interestingly enough only one has been picked up and registered as having found a home.

Still, it feels good to have my bookshelves cleaned up a bit. I really don't need to keep many titles after I have read them. And since I graduated high school after 40 years of teaching in 2002, I have had far more time available to read. The joy, of course, is in reading simply for pleasure. And sharing that pleasure by giving books away is an additional joy.

I know of one history teacher who might empty almost half of his book shelves to deserving and appreciative other readers if he were to try this process. Nudge! Nudge!

In case any of you are interesting in sharing your wealth, note that the address in the title of this entry will take you to a place where you can register your intentions to be a 'sharer of reading wealth'.

Happy week end to you all...May blue skies keep you satisfied. If each of us were to write just one letter or email this week-end to an elected representative about our concerns for the state of the world, the postal service or your email provider would be kept busy; and there is just the chance that so much generated concern might change the pattern which each of us decries.

ciao

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Body effluents and love

It is 7:18 am which means around 2 pm California time..the sun has snuck out from behind the palm trees in the back garden. Therefore, the black parasol sits over my computer screen to block it's direct ray into my eyes..the opthamologist indicated that the small cataract in my left eye is in all likelihood a radiation issue..too much sun..so I am being good about blocking direct contact with that most wonderful orb hanging out there over the ocean and above my computer screen. I know..I ought to change the spot on my desk where my puter screen sits..but that entails leaning to the right rather than to the left..and ya know..I'm in Oz..leftest is bestest...:)

My throat is still full of snot..ugh! I do wish this cold would go away..cough, cough, cough..I'm beginning to feel like a perpetual snot machine..

Nothing new to report here...so just some thoughts of you come from down under..

The Rumi poem came to me in an email..I have Essential Rumi on my book shelf..on the outside where I can grab it when I feel like a little lift..you know..he was madly in love when he wrote all that poetry in the 13th century...seems to me that proves that the human condition hasn't much changed in the last 900 years..or so..angst, angst and more angst...

Jelaluddin Rumi,
translated by Coleman Barks in his book *Essential Rumi*

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

It's just the process..from high to low and then at a spark of recognition from the loved other.. the high returns..And so what is important in life?? not money, not food, not power, but the recognition by another whom we admire and love that we, too, are loveable..Isn't that really grand?..we can be aboriginal traveling across the red interior with no clothes on, no shoes, nothing but a water bottle and a spear and some kind of fire starter..and be happy because there is another entity in our space who recognizes the unique contribution we make to their world...

All the rest is simply decoration..flimsy and unimportant except as a screen behind which to hide our neediness to be accepted, loved, and cuddled...

So, I guess we may as well simply enjoy the process..even the angst part of it..

Simple stuff really makes my day..

I have been encouraged to wait until my lungs are working properly again before I resume my walk on Mt. Cooth-tha..but the wait is driving me nutso....I saw a hopper over there two days ago..He was browsing near the trail and when he heard me, hopped off across the canyon floor to a spot about 40 yards away..and stopped to look at me through the tall grasses..made my day!...the hard part of my walk..a hundred yard very, very steep uphill gives me energy to accomplish whatever tasks need doing upon my return..my heart sings as it pumps faster on that uphill..and the sweat of my brow..captured in my red bandana on my forehead..reminds me that all the gunk collected in the first part of the day has wrung itself out of me..and can be left in the wash later in the day when I dump my wet work out clothes in the wash..

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wednesday...near nightfall

On 2 August 2006, nightfall comes before 6 pm in Oz. Seems like the cloud cover has hidden the setting sun ... some kind of thievery is going on, I'm sure. Or else why would the sun want to slip away unnoticed?

This day is a rather special one in my world. My little sister, Joyce Eileen, an inveterate Leo, was born in 1946 on this day. I really don't remember. I was not living with my parents when she was born. Later, after my sister was born, they invited me back into their home, .

It was the end of a war. My father returned from France and England where he served as a supply sergeant in the American army. I remember pictures of his jeep, his motorcycle, his truck: all of which had my name imprinted on the 'bonnet'.

But, I don't remember the birth of my sister. I remember my first experience with her, though. It was in a bath tub where we were both bathing. There was a rubber mat on the bottom of the tub, and it was my job to be sure that she didn't fall over in the water. I suspect there wasn't much water in the tub. However, the reason I remember the incident with her is that she did begin to slip and my six year old self quickly tried to right her in the tub as she listed to the left.

Seems my parents were watching from outside the bathroom door. They saw me try to steady my little sis and thought for some reason that I was doing just the opposite - trying to pull her over.

So strange, adults - so very strange.

Of course, I was punished. And you know what that is like...being punished for trying to do what you believed to be right by someone who thinks that what you are doing is wrong.

That sense of injustice is what keeps the image so strong in my memory.

But, today, I realize someone else made a mistake cause my little sis is no longer part of my 'world'. She died of spinal menigitis in 1973 when she was only 28 years old. Her death can really be attributed to the doctor's over perscribing medcation for her lupus, a disease that had attacked her kidneys.

Nonetheless, I celebrate her addition to my world..I celebrate her love of her neice, my eldest child; I celebrate her beauty, her kindness, her tolerance of a world that sometimes made it very difficult for her to live.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

John Nichols supports the candidacy of Moyers

Published on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 by The Nation
Bill Moyers For President? Absolutely!
by John Nichols

. . .

Ivins wants Moyers to make a sympbolic run, with the purpose of shaking up the Democratic party, and perhaps the nation.

"It won't take much money -- file for him in a couple of early primaries and just get him into the debates," the columnist explains. "Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I'm damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who's right. I want to vote for somebody who's good and brave and who should win."

But why limit this quest?

Why ask Democratic primary voters to send a message when they can send the best man into the November competition and, if the stars align correctly, perhaps even to the White House?

With all due regard to one of the finest journalists and finest Americans I know, I respectfully disagree with Molly Ivins -- not on the merits of a Moyers candidacy, but on the potential.

I'm not suggesting that Bill Moyers -- with whom I've had the pleasure of working in recent years on media reform issues -- is a sure bet to win the Democratic nomination or the presidency in 2008. I'm not even suggesting that he would be a good bet. But the politics of 2008 are already so muddled, so quirky and so potentially volatile that I believe -- as someone who has covered my share of presidential campaigns -- that Moyers could be a contender.

Moyers would enter the 2008 race with far more practical political experience than Dwight Eisenhower had in 1952, far more national name recognition than Jimmy Carter had in 1976 and far more to offer the country than most of our recent chief executives.

Against the candidates who are lining up for the 2008 contest, Bill Moyers and his supporters would not need to make any excuses.

After all, the supposed Democratic frontrunner is a former First Lady who ran her first election campaign just six years ago. One of the leading Republican contenders is a guy whose main claim to fame is that he did a good job of running the Olympics in Salt Lake City, while another is still best known as the son of a famous football coach. And the strongest Republican prospect, John McCain, is actually more popular with Democrats than with his own partisans.

Consider the fact that a professional body builder is the governor of the largest state in the union, and that the list of serious contenders for seats in Congress and for governorships this year is packed with retired athletes, former television anchorpersons and bored millionaires, and it simply is not that big a stretch to suggest that someone with the government and private-sector experience, the national recognition and the broad respect that Bill Moyers has attained across five decades of public life could not make a serious run for the presidency.

So, Molly, I'll see your suggestion of Bill Moyers, and up the ante to suggest that Moyers really could be a contender.

John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.

© 2006 The Nation

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bill Moyers? A Presidental candidate?

Published on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 by TruthDig
Run Bill Moyers For President, Seriously
by Molly Ivins

Dear desperate Democrats:

Here’s what we do. We run Bill Moyers for president. I am serious as a stroke about this. It’s simple, cheap, and effective, and it will move the entire spectrum of political discussion in this country. Moyers is the only public figure who can take the entire discussion and shove it toward moral clarity just by being there.

The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.

Bill Moyers has been grappling with how to fit moral issues to political issues ever since he left Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and went to work for Lyndon Johnson in the teeth of the Vietnam War. Moyers worked for years in television, seriously addressing the most difficult issues of our day. He has studied all different kinds of religions and different approaches to spirituality. He’s no Holy Joe, but he is a serious man. He opens minds—he doesn’t scare people. He includes people in, not out. And he sees through the dark search for a temporary political advantage to the clear ground of the Founders. He listens and he respects others.

Do I think Bill Moyers can win the presidency? No, that seems like a very long shot to me. The nomination? No, that seems like a very long shot to me.

Then why run him? Think, imagine, if seven or eight other Democratic candidates, all beautifully coiffed and triangulated and carefully coached to say nothing that will offend anyone, stand on stage with Bill Moyers in front of cameras for a national debate … what would happen? Bill Moyers would win, would walk away with it, just because he doesn’t triangulate or calculate or trim or try to straddle the issues. Bill Moyers doesn’t have to endorse a constitutional amendment against flag burning or whatever wedge issue du jour Republicans have come up with. He is not afraid of being called “unpatriotic.” And besides, he is a wise and a kind man who knows how to talk on TV.

It won’t take much money—file for him in a couple of early primaries and just get him into the debates. Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win.

One time in the Johnson years, LBJ called on Moyers to say the blessing at a dinner. “Speak up, Bill,” Lyndon roared. “I can’t hear you.” Moyers replied, “I wasn’t speaking to you, sir.” That would be the point of a run by Moyers: He doesn’t change to whom he is speaking just because some president is yelling at him.

To let Moyers know what you think of this idea, write him at P.O. Box 309, Bernardsville, NJ 07924.

© 2006 TruthDig.com, LLC
- - - - - -
Here is my response:

26 July 2006

Dear God,

Please talk to Moyers in his dreams tonight about his running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the USA. We desperately need a little integrity on the political scene these days. A bit of intelligence might be helpful, too. Moyers has both.

Thanks, God,
Dorothy
American ex pat

cc: Bill Moyers (thought you should now I was talking to the big guy about ya)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Travel teaches toleration.

Travel teaches toleration.

-- Benjamin Disraeli

Been a while...How the heck are ya? Life back here in Oz is pretty darned marvelous..if you can stand all this effusive celebration of the return of the Amerikan..

Arrived back in Australia on the 8 am plane from Auckland after a 14 hour trip across the Pacific from San Francisco.

I promised I would never fly out of LAX again after this arrival and departure from San Francisco, but I suspect my next flight to USA will be through the more southern entry...wish it weren't so..

Traveled in a seat next to a delightful 80+ year old Canadian/New Zealander who was returning to New Zealand to celebrate her older brother's 92nd birthday. Learned so much from this woman who in 1953, after graduating Uni, spent three years backpacking and hitchhiking around the globe. She ended up in Victoria, Vancouver, Canada married to an Irishman who fled his country to live in Canada.

I suspect it is true that the real hope for the survival of man and womankind on this planet lies in the connections we form with those who were raised in cultures different than our own. The more folks I meet and know from around the globe, the more convinced I am that my own country only has a few of the answers, that others are as intelligent, humourous, and kind as the folks with whom I grew up in my hometown and sometimes those others have answers to questions and problems that I haven't even considered..and lots of those solutions are better than the ones my own experts have construed.

It's good to be home!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Saturday around Monterey

Greetings from beautiful downtown Carmel Valley..

Well, kind of..not precisely a downtown..not precisely a town except in the most strip mall kind of way.

I'm sure these folks would not like to be so identified; and there is a reason for this place to be so narrow. The Carmel Valley at this point is particularly narrow..Carmel river on one side of the valley that really is a canyon here..and hill side on the other side of the road with a few housing developments along the way and a few shops and upscale restaurants and lodges along the way. NOt much agriculture this far from the sea, but plenty of marine layer slides in from the Pacific on an early morning.

Weather in the afternoon is lovely, warm and sunny, unlike the weather along the ocean some 18 miles west of here.

So..just a moment in time to say hello to all my intrepid readers. Am enjoying my grandson! am enjoying the oak tree environs...on to the cabin at Whitney Portal some time next week..

In the meantime..hope you are enjoying a lovely Queen's birthday week end..and otherwise healthy and satisfied with existence in your corner of paradise..

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

San Jose on Sunday

Back in the U.S.A.

A long haul, the sleepy sojourn across the Pacific, but Air New Zealand brought me home once again. Home - strange word, isn't it? Am currently staying with my son in San Jose and will travel to southern California for a turn around trip on Wednesday. I no longer have an American home.

Just read an article in Salon.com on "Mockingbird: the story of Harper Lee". Great article. Isn't it amazing that Lee produced only that one novel - a masterpiece. I'm not sure if it made Gregory Peck or if he made the movie - thus the book. Whichever, I have been curious about Harper Lee ever since I took the time to watch Capote, one of my least favorite American authors.

But, since I am in the midst of a thesis on creative non-fiction and since the two of them, Lee and Capote, created the most famous first creative non-fiction novel, I needed to see the movie. I read the book forever ago and had absolutely no desire to go back and read it again. I would read 'To Kill a Mockingbird" again though..no worries. As soon as I finish the women of the travel world with whom I am currently spending the majority of my waking hours. One of the good parts of flying for sixteen hours across the Pacific is that time can be devoted to reading travel memoirs..a perfect way to speed on one's way.

so..World..I am aware that Americans are NOT watching the news..that as I suspected, they have no interest in discovering what havoc their government has developed as a daily diet for the rest of the world - but I do know that a southeastern American hockey team won the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals...so there!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Above Convict Lake

It was cold in the Sierra meadow. Dottie was bundled and squatting low in the bunch grass; no trees growing in this water shed. Watching the western sun slide below the high peaks of the central Sierra Nevada, she was glad it was Marcy's turn to make dinner tonight. Strolling off to find some privacy, not a hard task in this desolate region of the lovely Sierra range, she was reminded that at 10,000 feet, the thin air cooled quickly when the sun slipped below the western horizon. The huge ridge to the east, a moment ago lit with the last rays of the setting sun, glowed red with black streaks. As the shadows descended along the face of the ridge, the cliffs moved from vivid red to bleak brown to black. So quickly, she thought. The day changes with the light so quickly.

The colours of the mountains were part of the reason she backpacked here. The contrast between the vivid minerals and the greens of the forests, the grey of the sage meadows, the Irish greens of the softer lower meadows with new bunch grass growing like velvet quilts embroidered with tiny mountain flowers lasting only a couple of days before fading in the cold nights.

This cold was the reason she was determined that when they got home she was going to find a male partner to join them in their weeklong sojourns into the mountains near Bishop, in eastern California.

She loved trekking with Marcy who was the best travel partner one could imagine. She carried her own load; she was never spooked by lost trails or difficult terrain. She was a tad slow on the uphill, but a mountain goat on the descent. Dottie could never keep up with her on the way out.

They were headed for Lake Dorothy this trip. Tomorrow, they would snake up the trail along the western face of the valley to the hanging lake on slippery slabs of granite. Dottie hated slick granite. Two steps forward, one step back as the slag slipped down the hill, disturbed by the hikers' boots.

She wandered along the meandering stream that moved through the valley and headed back to the camp where Marcy was boiling water for their soup. They would have tea, soup, a trail mix bar, an aspirin, and head off to bed.

"Marsce, what do you think about getting some guys to join us next trip?", she suggested as she sat on the downed log to reach for her Sierra cup full of warm soup.

"Ya, know, we have tried. I asked Tony to join us. You asked Paul. These guys just don't seem to want to go the places we go, Dottie."

"They just don't want to move at our speed."

"Yeah, I suppose. Seems like we are just not in the same groove as they are. If we don't climb, our destination is not hard enough for most of em, is it?"

"You don't like me as a hiking partner?"

Marcy and Dottie had been taking at least one trip a year into the Sierra for the past five years. They had covered a good deal of the John Muir Trail, Evolution Valley, Mt. Whitney, Golden Trout Wilderness, Yosemite high lands, Devil's Post Pile, Red's Meadow, Desolation Wilderness, and Piute Pass. In snow and in dry years they had enjoyed Bishop Pass and the upper reaches of the Kearn. They had taken their time,

They left their hubbies at home for a variety of reasons and just headed out on their own, keeping their own pace, enjoying the butterflies, the birds that greeted them at dawn and sunset around campsites each day. Marcy always brought her fly fishing rod in its aluminium rolled canister, and so their dinner soup was often complimented by a fine Sierra brown trout or two.

Life was good, but as is often the case, they both liked the idea of some male conversation and companionship in this pristine wilderness.

"Ya, know, Marsce, I'm gonna put an ad on a website to see if we can score some male company on our next trip."

"Yeah, sure! I can just see it now. You be careful. No way to know about folks you meet on the web. I've heard some stories."

"There has to be a way. I'll check out some of the backpacking message boards."

They finished their soup, poured the hot pumped water onto their teabags, and waited for the aluminium cups to cool off so they could sip their camomile.

"Cold tonight, " Dottie said as she clapped her gloved hands. "Glad there's so little breeze. You gonna sleep in the tent or in your bivvy?"

The bivvy bag was new, a cocoon inside of which Marcy stuffed her mummy bag and her boots before she crawled in, zipped up and snuggled with her down jacket pillow off to sleep until the stars of the late August Perseids began to fall through the pristine Sierra night sky.

Dottie finished her tea, rinsed out her cup with a slosh of water, rummaged through her backpack stuff bag, pulled out her toothbrush and a tiny travel toothpaste, turned around, brushed her teeth, spit into the darkness away from the flashlight that was their only light until the stars came out in full force. No moonlight tonight. They had arranged their trip to avoid the moon. The shooting stars of the Perseids would be in full bloom this night with no competing moonlight to drown out their brilliance.

Cleaning up camp is a big deal in the Sierra. "Think we will have any visitors tonight? " Dottie asked as she stuffed all the food they were carrying and all of her cosmetics inside one of the two bear canisters they brought along. Five pounds of canister was an inconvenience, but not so great an inconvenience as losing all their food to a rummaging bear in the middle of the night.

She tightened the round canister top and rolled it over to a depression in the meadow about 20 yards from her tent. She picked up Marcy's now full canister and did the same. There the two black drums sat by themselves, hopefully to lie undisturbed til dawn.

Marcy said, "Yeah, I'm gonna sleep in my bivvy. I don't want to miss a single asteroid."

"Ok,d. Call me when things get busy. I'll come outside and watch for a while. Dottie bends down, unties her hiking boots, steps out of them gingerly over the zipper opening of her two-man tent, turns around once inside to pick up her boots, banging the bottoms together outside to knock off any excess meadow soil. Bending down, she tucks herself into the tiny space, strips to her long johns and sports bra, and slides into her big blue mummy bag. Tucking her down-jacket bunched up beneath her head, she rolls until all of her is on the air mattress beneath. Snug, she closes her eyes and gives her muscles some needed attention. Her lower back groans after a ten-mile day of uphill with a 35-pound pack. Her knees seem ok. They will complain later, she figures. Her shoulders are a tad tender.

The altitude means dry air. Far better than rain. Even though there will be no rain tonight, hopefully, she has covered her backpack, which she left standing outside her tent with a huge heavy-duty plastic trash bag to keep the dew from soaking the entire pack.

As she snuggles into her comfy space, she hears the recorder. Marcy has brought the black plastic flute with her. A lovely, lonely sound, the recorder echoes in the valley. Tears wet Dottie's eyes. Oh, how she wishes there were someone she loved here to snuggle with on this lovely cold mountain night.

As Marcy brings the tune to an end with Taps, Dottie begins a solo clapping. "Thanks, Marcy, delightful addition. " A deep sigh escapes. "You re the bestest. You think of everything."

"Night, Dottie. Sleep well. I'll call you when I see the first of the Perseids."

Already dozing, Dottie mumbles." sure, thanks." As she slides into a deep sleep, her last thoughts are, "I'm gonna find a guy to enjoy this with me."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

800 pages and counting

I haven't forgotten you all, just been a tad busy with the real world..of which, of course, you are an integral part.

Traveling to the subtropical rain forest of Lamington National Park for three days took up most of last week. Lovely clear weather kept tracks dry as we hiked to the headwaters of the Coomera River. WE crossed the creek.. that eventually is the River at Nerang.. five or six times on stepping stones..enjoyed the leechless afternoon and ended up walking about 18 kilometers.

Absolutely lovely! We were the only residents of the tent cabins at Binna Burra which means that we alone were the entertainment for the Brush Turkeys, the BrushTailed Possum, and the little grey and white field mouse who came to visit.

Loved the morning Whip Bird and his/her mate..one of my favorite indigenous songsters..

Today I have begun work on my book!! better known as Das Book..although the only German word in it will be kindgergarten with maybe one or two gemutlichkites thrown in for good measure.

I have discovered that my journals, notes, and emails for the past four years have produced more than a thousand pages of 10 point Geneva. And here you thought I only 'talked' too much! :)

I'm a tad surprised that I'm not a carpal tunnel syndrome sufferer with all these words raptly keyboarded onto my computer screen!

I will share some of the better moments I manage to cull from the dross...

Hope you are all well..Autumn in Oz is absolutely amazing..the midges and I send you greetings..theirs are dripping with just a smigeon of blood taken from my forearm..My greetings, however, are not tainted!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The look-out on a holiday Saturday

Mt. Cooth-tha Kiosk

I treat myself to lunch while Graham goes to boy afternoon with Jacko. As I drive through the huge city park, indecision about whether to walk or eat and write first culminates with eating (always wins)! Good coffee - hot and tasty.

Star sapphire shimmers in my coffee spoon as the Queensland sun reflects near midday.
Maybe salad means I can enjoy dessert? Always thinking of sweets.
Spicy taste warms the roof of my mouth - bye bye bacteria.

Baby blue skies slip into air pollution over Mt. Gravatt
Puffs - more lenticular but low - cast a few shadows over Fig Tree Pocket. They're probably watering again in violation of restrictions. "That suburb has the highest water usage in the city despite pleas for conservation," says she who waters her front garden every morning before seven, unless, of course, she awakens after seven, and then she clandestinely waters after seven.

Everything is so public in Oz

Only AWB (Australian Wheat Board scandal) is a secret. Way too much power is at stake. How do those guys keep a straight face under public pressure? Maybe all politicians are good liars.

Something sits on West End side of St. Lucia reach of the River like a barge or dredge, even though they no longer dredge. Ah there it goes, maybe just the ferry or the RiverCat at the West End station.

Europeans in front of me light up . Ugh! Germans, in this case or that is my guess. That's the language they are speaking.

Air smells like it looks over Mt. Gravatt.

A table opens up to the left - lovely view now - no more smoke.

I notice off to the right - Archer field, the low swamp of heat with dried grass - no watering - no rain - surrounded with a necklace of flat topped white light industrial buildings.

To the left - CBD (central business district) - framed by two nut palms - healthy palm frond margins between varied high-rise roofs and the light moisture filled sky.

Morton Island sand traps create a perspective, depth to the horizon.

Suncorp stadium - flat topped- screaming red highlights beside the XXXX brewery of yellow brick bring my attention to the fig tree wilderness of Paddington just slightly in the foreground.

Toowong's Blue Glass Tower in its own shadow is dark - almost black - in the noon vista.

German to the right - Slavic English to the left and girlish Aussie laughter mixed with Italian behind. Maybe tourists - maybe European Australians.

The tall blonds fore and aft in mid calf baggy shorts and sports shoes ground the scene - keeping it attached to the Australian terra firma.

No more Kookaburras - Wires have been run along the eves of the red tiled roof of the restaurant. Those skilled hunters will have to perch elsewhere as they watch for easy pickings.

And why am I here? To be with people. To be part of Queensland. To no longer hermit myself. To push my limits slightly. To pay attention to detail. To notice tourists posing before the semi circular black iron fence to have memories of their trip to Brissy captured.

South a bit east is the long ridgeline of the New South Wales border - Lamington, Girraween parks. Sub tropical rain forests, highland gum tree forests, roo land, paddymelon grazing heaven - Monday's destination.

Time to go walk in my won gum tree paradise - Kolgun - I am on my way!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

whose truth?

Opinion is a flitting thing, / But truth, outlasts the Sun — / If then we cannot own them both — / Possess the oldest one —
— Emily Dickinson

Sunday, April 23, 2006

leeches

Australians who travel to Papua New Guinea, the huge island just north of Queensland in Australia, make it is clear that the only way to survive in that equatorial rain forest is NOT to go alone. The communal give and take of New Guinea called 'one tok', so at odds with western capitalism, provides the highland peoples and their Australian tourists the only possibility of survival in the jungle wilderness. However, unlike the indigenous communal world of PNG, chance and luck may be the forces that push Australians and other westerners to share their spaces and commercial goods at home. Perhaps our sharing has more to do with our intentions, the strength of which tends to manifest others to help us create our world.

In my case, for instance, it is Lorraine whom I intended to meet. Now, don't misunderstand. I didn't mean to meet Lorraine specifically. I enrolled in a graduate program at The University of Queensland with the intention of meeting folks who love what I love, whose perception of the world has some similarities to my own. Like Sarah Turnbull in Almost French, my main friends here in Oz, my first friends, are ex pats. However, in most cases, I make the choices. Not so in the case of Lorraine. She is the outgoing person who choses to walk out of class with fellow students like me; it is she who strikes up conversations. I remember the warm winter evening when first we met in the early darkness at the adjournment of class.

Almost a year later, here we are in the midst of writing, both of us sitting at our own computer on a sunny Australian autumn afternoon in Ipswich, a bush suburb of Brisbane, in the midst of a library garden with perfect air conditioning as we quietly attempt to share our recent journey, to conjure a mood, an interest, in you, dear reader.





But let me explain the relationship between my meeting with Lorraine and the topic of this essay about leeches, the least inviting critters on the planet, more horrifying than roaches, white ants, poisonous spiders, or marsupial marauders. Yes, let us begin with leeches, who frequently occur in travel memoirs about the bush or the 'outback'. The bloodsuckers of the world are the poster children of adventure literature, movies, novels, and horror dramas. You may well wonder if Lorraine brought leeches to class.

No, my first encounter with the spineless critters came as I walked the highlands of Lamington National Park in southern Queensland with the Aussie who is now my partner, but then is simply my Australian friend. We had walked about six kilometres from the lodge at Bina Burra, where we were celebrating New Years, on a sunny summers day. For most of our journey I had been sweating. However, by this time we reach an altitude in the rain forests on the border between New South Wales and Queensland where the cloud cover brings cooling breezes. The view from a sawed in half log bench built into the hillside of the trail is so lovely that I have to stop. I sit down to enjoy, lean back against the hillside and take in the vista. I'm not tired, just wallowing in the strange loveliness of this new place.

From this bench one can see across the rolling grey-green gum tree ridgelines to the Pacific just south of the metropolis of The Gold Coast. All the high rises of that modern conclave are not within my purview. The scene is framed by amazing blues: sky softening through low lying coastal cloud cover meets the blues of the Tasman sea softly front lit by the afternoon sun off to the west behind the rain forest canopy.

Graham, who is a few meters in front of me, realizes I am not behind him and turns to see if I have once again slipped in the mud. I'm not using walking sticks yet and having just two points on often leaves me slipping and sliding on the slick rain forest paths. The absence of cartilage in my right knee from an accident in the Sierras of California years earlier weakens my strength in my right leg and therefore leaves me somewhat off balance.

He turns, glances at me sitting, and insists, 'Stand up," in his unremarkable Aussie twang. Looking in his direction, I do as I am told, unaware of why he would want me on my feet, a bit perplexed.

He strides back to me, turns me around, and plucks two black pencil lead wiggling fellows off my shoulders. Overhanging the lovely bench had been fronds of rain forest palms. And dangling from the greenery were several black devils, two of which were just waiting for some unsuspecting tourist to stop. Dinner for a month.

They don't have to eat very often, these wiggling black beasts. They may be only three centimetres long as they begin their attack, but they have the ability to attach and grow to nine centimetres becoming full on human blood syringes. Their only redeeming grace is that they not only insert an anticoagulant in one's blood stream but also an anaesthesia to keep one from feeling their attachment.

Ugh! Thanks Graham for rescuing me from the wiggles.

We walk on. Every muscle winces for the rest of the afternoon. I find myself less impressed with the scenery across the ridgelines and far more involved in checking out who is dangling from which plants near the track. Stay-a-while vines that previously had been an attraction turn into possible homes for wiggling interlopers looking for a hitch hike on my forearms. Low lying ground clover becomes a hiding place for tiny Draculas.

Watching carefully, we manage to surprise a venomous Red-bellied Black Snake resting in the mottled sunshine of the trail covered with low growing vines. Obviously, not very many people had trod this track in a while or so I think. Graham assures me that one really can't tell. The rain forest has the ability to quickly recover from whatever human interference comes to it. We wait patiently as the black fellow with a red belly continues his morning nap. Finally, from a safe distance we toss a few rocks just past his spot on the trail to alert him to our presence. Eventually he slithers on to another spot to sun in the autumn afternoon.

Now there was even more for me to see. Poisonous snakes, daughters of Dracula, my imagination creates anxiety levels reaching the point where it is impossible to notice much of anything. My heart is beating so fast; my breath is so short that just moving forward becomes an issue of concentration.

However, for the next few hours we encounter only whip bird songs and brush turkey meanderings. I begin to relax. We reached the Southern Ramparts, a high spot on the Lamington Track where we can look south over the caldera of Mt. Warning across the state border into New South Wales. After the last volcanic eruption of a mountain higher at one time than Everest, all that is left is a plug, albeit, a plug seen by Captain Cook when he sailed the east coast of Australia in 17….. The valley surrounding the plug is an amazing array of farmlands, sugar cane plantations, and gum tree forests through which the Clarence and Tweed Rivers wend their way. Rosella, King Parrots, lauralkeets and a variety of other daytime high flyers distract me from any discomfort I may feel from our 10-kilometer trek to the Border Track.

I am hungry as is Graham, who from his pack digs out plastic food containers prepared by the Binna Burra Lodge that morning. We sip on cardboard/aluminium drink containers through those tiny little plastic straws and munch dried fruits and nuts, fruit bread, a bun, ham, cheese, and left overs from the previous nights roast. As I am particularly enjoying my chocolate candies and gelatine worms, the real thing catches my eye. Up my white socks, a brigade of three centimetre long black pencil leads wiggle towards my calves. Not one, not two, but four of the little black devils are on the attack. Yikes. Stamp, stamp, stamp to no avail. These guys have their hooks in my wick dry wool socks and are somersaulting up my ankle towards my calf. They, too, are in search of dessert.

Graham stands there and laughs as I try to intercede in the journey of the critters. I stop for a second to see if there are others attacking his boots. No. He has slathered Deet on his boot tops to dissuade the marchers from entering sacred territory.

I had chosen to avoid the poisonous stuff. No more. As I entreat him to find the bottle of Deet in his daypack, he once more digs into the bottom of the pack, brings out the precious Deet and promptly sprays the interlopers. They shrivel: I laugh. You betcha, American to the core, I delight in their death throes. Die you little bloodsuckers. None of my blood for you today.

Eating loses its interest. I pack up my daypack, sling it on my back after carefully checking to see if it has any free loaders attached and start back down the trail. I really don't know where I am going. I only know I am leaving leech heaven to the leeches. I am heading back to my home away from home, my room at the lodge where there will be a shower and a mirror in which I can investigate every inch of my body to be sure there are no more native critters hitching a ride.

Graham just smiles, finishes his lunch, packs up his goods, and with his long Australian striding legs catches up with me in no time. He chuckles out loud as he catches up with me walking forward but looking down at my boots screaming expletives at the tiny leeches trying to crawl up the back last of my boots headed for my calves. He asks me to stop while he sprays Deet along the tops of the back of my boots and socks. You know, I will never go to the rain forest with socks folded down again. From now on knee socks, thick heavy-duty knee socks, are the attire of the day. Actually, only in autumn do the moist showers of late summer grow black pencil leads along the stems of all the lovely deep green growth of Lamington National Park.

As for working together as a community, sharing all we own with each other. I didn't offer my chocolate candies to the man who saved me from the leeches, but only because I had already stuffed myself full before I realized I was under attack. Next time, I will offer to share. After all, whom else do you know who will pinch a tick out of your shoulder and wash your socks after leeches burrow through the eyeholes in your boots to attack the top of your foot. The hungry little bloodsuckers were squashed to death by the tight laces as they engorge themselves and grew too large for the space they invaded. What's mine is his, especially on the track in a rain forest.

And Lorraine, yes, what's mine is hers. She is the one who gives me the time, the support, and the reason to share these journeys. She is the editor, friend, fellow traveller with whom I feel comfortable sharing these tales of a northern hemisphere dweller in southern hemisphere wilderness. It is she for whom I write. It is our relationship, our friendship that encourages my art.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

fear

Fear is one of those overwhelming experiences beyond our ability to control sometimes. No, fear can be controlled by some of us some of the time. I am aware that my own fear these days is reduced to an encompassing sense of anxiety that emanates from my body as muscle contractions in my chest, tears, and a need for deep penetrating screams. Most often fear in my life these days results in a phone call, a panting, breathy "I hate you, I hate you because you make me feel this way". My fear is invested with an absolute desire not to take responsibility for how I feel.

The Buddhists tell us that it is not what happens to us but how we choose to react to that happenstance that makes the difference in our lives. And fear, fear of loss, fear of being made a fool, fear of having to share affection, attention and relationship existing between me and my partner sends me into paroxysms of deeply felt anger, fear!

The only good thing about my fear these days is that I don't keep it inside. I don't punish myself with a hidden garden variety growing deep within my soul. Rather, I savage the world with my feelings, pretending only for a moment that what I m experiencing is anger. I admit far more quickly than at any other time in my life that it is not anger, but deeply felt, overwhelming fear that has inveigled it's way into my psyche and is destroying my equanimity.

And to be perfectly honest, that same fear has not risen much of late and when it has, the sensation has been short lived. No screaming, no contorted muscularity, no hair pulling and voice box constricture.

These days I am beginning to trust and that trust is the antagonist to the fear. If I trust, if my world feels safe, if I have a place to discuss my fear before it overwhelms me, I am able to have some control over it. I can move on, understand what the loss is that sends me into this fear.

The best example I can offer you of this sensation would be a Thanksgiving bout with that massive contortion that overwhelmed me. Here I was in Australia for my first Thanksgiving..and my last! I really fantasized that it could in some way be the experience I have had for years with my own family. It wasn't; it couldn't be. It was far too great an ask of these Aussies, these independent, lackadaisical holidaymakers. It wasn't even a holiday for them. What is a Thursday in Oz? Just another work/school day, certainly not the holiday of the year when all the emotional baggage of families comes together to create an emotional intensity that only the tryptophan in the turkey could possibly deflate.

There were two turkeys that Thanksgiving. The first one at a cost of some $49 we inadvertently left under the black plastic cover in the spring sunshine as we unloaded the groceries from the Ute. A day later when we discovered our lapse, because as you might imagine, there was a stench reaching round the neighborhood. The turkey went into the trash. The second bird at the same price did make it to the refrigerator along with the whole pumpkin and the English 'bangers' instead of my Jimmy Dean sausage for stuffing.

I had never made pumpkin pie from scratch. It worked quite well. I have to admit that I didn't make the crust. Shortbread crust frozen from the supermarket served me well.

The turkey wasn't too dry; the mashed potatoes were tasty if lumpy. The stuffing was gross, missing the texture and spicy taste of American ready-made sausage. The pumpkin pie was a winner, and the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes garnered only a few brilliant laughs. Certainly they were left on the side of the plate, not eaten. The sweet potato mash was ok with my diners, though.

So where was the fear? It came earlier in the day when my partner inquired if I had to remain home to watch the turkey. I admitted that I did. It needed to be basted about every twenty minutes. He then changed clothes, put on his best shorts and cotton shirt in order to go out to see some of the production fellows from whom he purchased goods for his work.

I realized I was being left alone. On Thanksgiving, I was being left alone. The one day when family were always about, when the day started with Eggs Benedict and champagne and ended with pumpkin pie and whipped cream and a good movie on TV, a day when football games, parades, and twenty-four hours of Twilight Zone backgrounded, here I was in the huge Queenslander alone, basting my turkey.

What was my fear? That I had made a huge mistake, that I could never be part of this society, that these Aussies could never understand or honour my needs for ritual, that I was a dupe, that no one really wanted me here, that once again I was being rejected for simply being who I am. Yup, all the old morass of misunderstandings overwhelmed me. I couldn't tell my Australian family. I was sure they wouldn't understand.

I'm not sure I have ever told them about that experience, at least not the way I have just written it down. It wasn't the first nor the last bout with fear that I have experienced in the four years of travel to and from Australia, but it is a good example of the depths to which I can go when fear of being misunderstood, of feeling the fool, of feeling inadequate, of feeling rejection can take me.

One might think that by the time a human being reaches 65, this sense of fallibility would have been overcome. Not so, my dear reader, not so.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

muscles and names

What to do with grandmothers over the age of 65 who refuse to act as though they are grandmothers? I suppose that if I were to really check I would find that I act precisely like most American grandmothers do.
And yet, I feel a whole lot more like Marcy, the Sierra and Rockies peak bagger than I do like Paula Anderson, the lover of cats and grandchildren.

It took me all of 45 seconds to recall Paula's name, not an unusual state of affairs for my mind. If one is so confused as to not be able to remember names of folks one has known and appreciated for forty years, how does one travel in foreign countries? What kind of strange altered state of consciousness evolves to allow one to find one's way? Not that I have ever been very good at finding my way. Rather, I am almost always lost; one of the reasons I am so enthralled with the tall Aussie dude who always knows his way except, of course, when he is lost which does happen every now and again.

Mostly he is right on. He knows his way around the physical world. He not only knows where to walk; he knows how to wave a magical saw or plumbers tape to lure the physical world to respond to his wishes. He knows all the technical crap that I just don't have the time nor the inclination to learn.

Not to mention that I also don't have the physical prowess to make the physical world kneel to my command. I often forget just how powerful muscles are and why they are essential to make the world work.
Sometimes it is more than a bottle I need opened. Sometimes it is a refrigerator I need moved or a mattress flipped over or even a plant dug up and moved in the front garden.

Who can do that? The Australian not only can; he actually does those tasks that I find difficult, and he does them with a suggestion that they are really just trifling nuisances rather than major impediments to the functioning of the world.

I remember the day that my computer needed a connection to the 'nether' world of the net. The Aussie bloke went into his magical storeroom, exited with blue cable, attached that cable to the lines in his computer room on the other side of the house and ran cable along the ceilings of the downstairs rooms, drilled a hole in my floor, asked me exactly where I thought I wanted my computer to sit, and hooked the whole thing up to my happy lil Mac.
Without his prowess, I would be sitting on the floor besides his desk typing away on my laptop.

Could that be why he moved with such alacrity to install the cables to my office? Does he prefer his privacy? No, not my Aussie bloke. Not much!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Why travel?

Here I am in Brisbane on the Saturday before Easter, in the midst of the second full moon of 2006. Once more I am faced with the question of why I find myself so comfortably situated on this 80 year old couch in the lounge room of the 100 year old Queenslander.

If it had not been comfortable, would I have stayed? Would I have returned all those times from my trips back to North America to prove to Australian Immigration, DIMA herself (how could this department be anything but a woman, supervised by the fullest bodied woman in the Australian Parliament, Amanda Vanstone) that I really was/am only a visitor?

As one reads the journals and narratives of other women who travel the globe, it becomes obvious that in our travels, at least in the 21st century, most of us are searching for our identity.

Oh, I suspect we really know who we are. What we seek is what we have the potential to become. Parts of us have remained undeveloped in the culture of our origin where we have wisely chosen to 'tow the line' to become the person our families, our communities needed or expected us to be.

By travelling, each of us has found that there are other ways to be, other persons to become. Jean Houston is the first person I recall having used the term 'polyphrenic'. She explains it as the multiple personalities inherent in any being, each of which comes to the fore when needed to cope with the varied roles we must play in modern western society.

When I search carefully into who I have been and who I am since arriving in Australia, it is sometimes difficult to discover the nuances and subtleties of the change into my new self. I realize that I am too close. Reflection requires time. We may not see if we are too engrossed in the process of being right now.

I do realize that growing older creates a change. Maturity has its disadvantages as well as its opportunities to move beyond that soma to which we all grow accustomed, where we walk like one blindfolded, with ear muffs to keep out the scratchy noises of the old recordings, where we allow our bodies to dictate who we are. Some of us even forget how it feels to reach out and gather into our palms the soil of our gardens or taste Witchetty grubs who love their deep tunnels in undisturbed soil. We become so accustomed to the fragrance of Frangipani or the miraculous colours of Australian Wattle as it blooms ever so yellow in the dark shrubbery of the gum tree forest that we forget to take a few moments to savour what is offered.

I still shrilly whinge at the sharpness of the ancient Australian rocks in the quarry through which I walk on my daily sojourn on Mt. Cooth-tha, the wilderness park located in the middle of the western Brisbane suburbs. These are not my Sierra nor my San Gabriel foothill wild lands where I wandered for the previous forty years. I fail to acknowledge the joy of discovering the contrast of granite, marble, limestone and sandstone strewn before me in a lovely pattern down the hillside.

Why did I leave those places, those wonderful earthquake prone east-west ranging mountains of southern California? Do I feel negatively about my home of the last half of my life? No.

Rather, I am curious about how this new land gives me an opportunity to be another myself in its midst.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

sleepless in Brissy

I woke up at 3:11a.m. Actually I woke up at 1:09; you think I'm a numbers person? You have no idea.

Anyhow, there I lay with my right knee in spasms that a variety of bed positions failed to remedy. Up for an ibprophin to stem the tide of continued pain so I could go to sleep. By then I was more than wide-awake and lying in bed, my mind began its process.

Perhaps if I had a tape recorder I could talk my way through the thought process and return to slumber. You know as well as I do that wouldn't make any difference. The words spoken simply do not have the same effect as the words thought. They lose their magic in the maze of vocal chords. The journey is never satisfactorily completed. Like some fantasy journey, spoken reality simply doesn't do justice to imagination.

And so here I sit at my computer abiding by the admonition of our speaker in class tonight. "Write daily, write regularly. Make it a process like a business. Commit a specific amount of time each day to the process." Yes, commit is the right word. I think someone ought to commit me! I just haven't found a favorite institution.

With that introduction, about what was my mind churning this morning? I'm not sure I remember where I started, but I know where I ended just before coming out here to light my candle to keep the mosquitoes and little black midges narcotised.

It was Stephen Jay Gould who was on my mind. And happy I was that I remembered his name. One of the reasons it was so easy to give up my teaching gig after forty years in the classroom was that I had reached the point where in the middle of a lecture I was unable to withdraw from the depths of my memory banks, kind of like river banks full of the mud of the spring thaw, the names of authors about whom I wanted to share information in class.

And so in the midst of my morning musing, there was the New Yorker, the editor of Natural History Magazine, along with his evolutionary biology appetite, having morning tea in New York City's Natural History Museum, you know, the museum cafeteria with a blue whale swimming just under the ceiling. He exists today only in his writings and in our memories. His creative non-fiction entertained and transfixed me for so many years. I subscribed to Natural History Magazine just so I could read his editorials and then bought the same bound in their own volumes over the years. If you asked me whose writing I most enjoyed in all of my life, Gould along with Lewis Thomas would be in the top three. I think of them on early mornings when the fruit bats are colliding as they happily munch the tidy, tiny figs from our mammoth fig tree and the palm nuts from the front garden Cocos palms.

Oops, another stream enters the mind. It is my duty when the sun rises this morning to rescue my new winter garden seedlings from the rain of palm nuts the bats miss in their munchings.

But, what of Stephen Jay Gould? His words, his complex sentences that wind around ideas as varied as baseball, his favorite American past time, and typewriter keyboards s well as the colour of flamingos, dance in my brain sometimes confusing me, always challenging my understanding as well as delighting my sense of how words work to convey associations between evolutionary biology, a figment of Gould's imagination, and the rest of reality.

Today in class, that would be Issues in Contemporary Publishing, I made my presentation on twenty-first century women travel writers. It is a subject about which I know practically nothing and a great deal all at the same time. It is interesting here to note that I am not the only one who was going to write on this subject. There were three of us who wanted to present on this topic. Australia one more time proves its claim to be the home of international citizenship, not withstanding the position of the current government on the topic. Australians travel to other continents with a degree of comfort that doesn't seem to exist for many other folks.

Qantas may have convinced Aussies that Australia is home, but the number of Australian ex pats suggests that Australia is only one of their homes.

It just doesn't occur to Aussies to be insular. They have no trouble showing up to parties thrown by the rest of the world. Nor do these left-handed, lateral thinkers have trouble with the practical. They mostly just do the job. They create vaccines for cervical cancer. They re establish the flight control center in the tower at Baghdad airport after the Americans bombed it out of commission. They quietly rebuild homes after hurricanes destroy them in Queensland.
They keep geckos behind picture frames, one of which is chattering away near the ceiling. Guess he is suggesting I head back to bed. Catch you das morgan.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

American in Oz: How far is far enough: the globe really is round

Friday, April 07, 2006

How far is far enough: the globe really is round

How far is far enough when one is running away?

All the way back home, I suppose, because no matter which way you run, even if you zig zag, eventually you end up pretty darn close to where you started your trek.

I have been running since I was in elementary school. Actually, I didn't start this tour of the globe, my parents did. When I was one, they farmed me out to a 'paid' mom, a wonderful surrogate grandmother by the name of Ada Petit. She was a little woman, a little woman with a big heart.

When the war was over and my almost baby sister was about to be born, I was allowed to return to my family, but not for long. I was in second semester kindergarten then.

By the time I was seven and in second grade, off I was sent again; this time to live with my aunt and uncle. I remember plotting against that move. My relatives were kind and generous, but I just couldn't quite deal with being 'sent away'.

It took a little work, but by the time I was eight, I was back with my parents

By the time I was seventeen and graduating from high school, I had a change of mind. Already I had been separated from my parents on a couple of other occasions and family travel included a diagonal move across the country from Michigan to Arizona, the romantic desert that wrapped it's Saguaro cactus arms around me, refusing to let me leave forever. I spent sixth and seventh grade there.

After college graduation in Michigan, Arizona was the location of my first teaching assignment!
And then came California.
Canada, England, Spain, Italy, Greece, Mexico, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile
And now, of course, there is Australia.

And from here, I do the ex pat dance for a while. No matter how hard I try to stay away, I return regularly to revel in the midst of 'too much'...too many possibilities are the bain of my existence.

Maturity allows us to come to some decisions about what is good and what is evil. I know evil these days when I see it.
Evil is that consumer temptation that one can find, for instance, in the toothpaste aisle of your local super market. All those brands!!..all those possibilities...oh yeah..until you check out the ingredients and discover that they are all the same!! Yup..that's the America I return to...I wallow in the corruption of spirit that comes from wandering my favorite 'super store'..
marveling at all these possibilities..

And when I can no longer deal with the stress of 'making up my mind', I flee..back to my world where there are actually only two shelves of toothpaste, each shelf only one meter long, in my local market..not very super...but very comfortable.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

quiet time

I have just completed Sarah MacDonald's chapter on ten days of silent meditation in her 2002 travel memoir, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure. You may well wonder why I am reading the travel memoirs of a youthful Australian journo. You see, I am in the midst of researching 21st century women's travel memoirs and since I am in Australia, I thought it a brilliant idea to read a few Australian commentaries. Holy Cow is my first.

You might notice that earlier in these blogs I mentioned Jamaica Kincaid's Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas.

The two books have very little in common. Except for the moments of reflective meditation and near death experiences that move both authors to come to an understanding of precisely what is important in their lives, the stories are told from very different perspectives.

However, both books linger in my own imagination. As I trotted out to the front garden on this cloudy, relatively cool April morning to try and rescue a few of the plantings that survived my three month's absence while I was travelling, I found myself pulling that which I classify as weeds..the native green stuff that I didn't plant.

Somewhere in between trips to the burlap basket in the side garden where we store all our green waste awaiting a pick up truck once a month, I realized how relaxed, how apt to hum my favorite tune, I was.

I am sure my tendency to hum was a direct result of MacDonald's reference to all the oldies that filled her mind during her ten days of silence at the meditation center in northern India.

I am also sure that I would find it impossible to spend ten days in silence. But, I experience some of the same effect comes from spending a few morning hours tidying up my garden in relative silence. The Butcher Bird kept me company. A couple of Noisy Minors were having a convo on the powerlines down the street. Several lizards scooted from beneath shrubs and a few ants climbed my shin in search of whatever aphids they could find living there.

My mood, as it always is in the garden, was celebratory, quietly so. My sense of well being, of compassion, of being in themidst of a generative scene overtook me once again. Gardens are good for some of us..not walking in them, but tending them. Having garden soil underneath fingernails is good for the psyche. A bit of perspiration mingled with the tiny earth clods makes one feel as though a good deed has been done, for garden and for self.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

driver's license in Oz

It was dark when police were flagged down in Australia's Northern Territory earlier this week by a couple in a parked car who said they needed directions to Ayers Rock. (You must have seen photos of Ayers Rock; it's reddish monolith that rises 1,115 feet from the Outback and ranks right up there with the Sydney Opera House, the kangaroo, and the
koala as Australia's most famous symbols. It's so huge that the road around the perimeter is almost 6.5 miles long .) On the surface, the request wasn't particularly unusual, even though it came at night and after the peak summer tourist season.

After all, Ayers Rock is in a wilderness area almost 300 miles from the nearest city, and one doesn't want to become lost or stranded there. Still, the cops almost immediately became suspicious, and as a result the driver is due in court May 18. So why is he in trouble? Well, for one thing because at the time he was parked only 100 yards from the imposing mound and his headlights were shining on it. As you might guess, he failed a breathalyzer test. He also couldn't produce a driver's license.
30 March 2006 Christian Science Monitor on-line

What the Monitor reporter failed to acknowledge is that in Oz drivers do not have to carry their driver's licences. If stopped by police, the driver has 24 hours to show up to the local police station with license in hand. In other words, at no time in Oz do citizens have to carry their identification with them.

Sounds like an open society to me. There is trouble afoot in Oz though. Current govt. officials are trying to get legislation passed that would foce citizens to carry identity cards. Somehow, it seems to me that's not an idea Aussies will take in good humour.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Jamaica Kincaid writes Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya

Check this out:

Jamaica Kincaid, the woman born in Antigua, a Carribean Island, writes about Nepal!

I found the book fascinating. Here we have this amazing woman who has written for The New Yorker, who loves gardening..but where? In Vermont? writing about a seed collecting twenty day tour of the Himalayas. What IS she doing there?

I know, I know...there is no rhyme nor reason for the choices we made in terms of where we go and what we do with our lives when a challenge is issued, especially if that challenge involves some aspect of our lives that we hold dear.

That is the case with this little book. Simply written and at the same time full, jam packed full, of those epiphanies that can only come when we leave our comfort zone and stretch our psyches to do the impossible, when we decide that an adventure is just what the doctor ordered..not that Kincaid had a doctor suggest that she needed to stretch. Her own internal psyche seems to have urged her forward.

And with whom besides Nepalese does she come in contact? You guessed it. The Maoist guerillas of Nepal not only manage to squeeze some extra cash out of the small party of 'seed collectors' with whom Kincaid is travelling, but later they set up an all day 'class' conducted in Nepali for these intrepid travellers.

It's a good read if you love women's stories about the wilderness; a better read if you enjoy reading about mature women stretching their muscles as well as their courage in search of growth..not just the botanical sorts of growth, but also the interior epiphanies that make maturity the best part of life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

no worries

In my uni class there is an on line discussion board on which a fellow student has recently posted a topic that has been nagging me all day. I read the post and the subsequent responses rather early this morning and ever since the material has popped up at unexpected moments.

As I am off to bed in a few minutes; I thought I would disentangle myself from this nagging by responding here.

In a most fetching way the young man, my fellow student, wrote about clichés...and their import or lack thereof.

I wanted to comment on the discussion board but my American self shied away from joining in the repartee.

As I remember, most of the cliché's he used were as American as they were Australian, a fact that I found unusual. There are so many strong, native clichés present in the Aussie patois.

"Since I was slow off the mark on the other forums (tired cliche!), I figured I would jump the gun (another!) and make my mark (going for a record) on this virgin landscape (four in one sentence).

Birds of a feather (a fifth) as they say, flock together. So let's all be peas in a pod (gasp) and see where the road may take us (please stop)."

I am reminded that Australians have a few well-worn clichés that I hear every day. A total stranger will ask, "How are ya"? before any and every conversation, for instance. They actually wait a second or two for a response unlike northern hemisphere users of the question. Or, upon closing a phone conversation, 'bye love' is the frequent rejoinder as one is about to hang up the phone.

They really do eat 'bangers and mash' and they 'take a whiz'. They would never 'root' for the home team, but they love that Americans do. And most of all, no matter how small the favor or how large the effort on my behalf, when I earnestly say thank you, they respond, 'no worries' as though they truly mean it.

I have repeatedly tried to remember to respond with the same cliché when I am thanked, but somehow 'yer welcome' just slides out of my mouth before I can catch the phrase and replace it with its Aussie alternative.

I might add that 'ta' means thank you, 'cuppa' is something you drink, a' hotel' is a bar, 'arvo' is the afternoon, and 'togs' are swimming suits. I'm not sure if any of these fall into the category of cliche` or not..but they sure confused me when I first arrived.

Goanna toenails

Goannas are Australia's largest lizards. They have tough, loose skin protected by an armour of small, bead-like scales. The limbs are powerful and equipped with large curved claws. They have long necks, narrow heads and very sharp recurved teeth. The claws and teeth, along with the muscular tail, combine as formidable defensive weapons.

Goannas are predators abd scavengers. They consume carrion and hunt lizards, birds and mammals, raid birds'nests and excavate the eggs of turtles. Goannas walk with a characteristic unhurried swaying gait. Their long, slender, deeply forked tongues are protruded constantly as they explore burrows and hollows. Australia is the stronghold of goannas, the 25 species here represent about 3/4 of the total number worldwide. Two species occur in the Greater Brisbane Region.
(Wildlife of Greater Brisbane, 1995, p 179)

Well, folks, at lunch yesterday at the kiosk on Mt. Coot-tha, while I was munching my Vietnamese salad along with my flat white coffee, folks were jumping out of their seats, moving aside for the one man parade of goanna!

I looked beneath my chair at the clicking toenails on all four very strong feet of a Lace Monitor goanna, lifted my own feet and watched him saunter through our area.

Look him up on line here.
http://www.animalpicturesarchive.com/view.php?tid=3&did=62227
or here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lace_goanna

He is quite an impressive fellow!

Anyhow..as folks scurried out of his path, I decided the wiser choice was to simply sit there and let him walk under and beyond me since he was directly below me when I noticed his swaying gait. His tongue..ever so long...and the size of his body were impressive..He was obviously looking for some scraps from the outdoor cafe at which we were having lunch, but after traversing the marble floor and finding none, he moved into the bush near the edges of the outdoor dining area.

Suddenly, dozens of folks turned up with cameras ready. They had obviously stayed back afraid of encountering him too closely. Sorry..too late, he blended immediately into the undergrowth.

And I, I sat there and gazed out from the highest point in Brisbane to view the Brisbane River snaking through the suburbs off to the east and felt graced with the presence of such amazing, huge, and well toothed wild life.

This is the third rather large reptile I have seen since arriving in Brisbane five years ago. The first was a magnificent Bearded Dragon in the front garden.

See him here on line: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/atoz/azdragon.html

I mention these two critters in the same breath because they are about the same size, a yard long including tail, and both walk. I mean they dont' slither like some reptiles. They royally saunter across their territory in control of their environment. Wizards of Oz in the most positive sense.

It is a wonderment that they exist in the same world that I do. I am blessed by the reptile goddess or is it god?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

back to books

What a joy it is to go out and buy new bookcases in anticipation of an influx of titles!

Some folks would get the same rush from buying a whole new wardrobe or a week's worth of shoes, but not me!
Books make my heart sing. Well, not quite in tune as my friends know as some folks. My ability to stay on key is enough to send folks off looking for a que of frogs right after a rain storm. Their noisy squaking might be preferable. And yet, my new bookcases waiting for the thirty-five new titles I recently purchased new and used from Amazon and their used book sources will soon be arriving after their long journey across the big blue pond.

You may wonder why I purchase in the US instead of here in Oz. The entire population of Australia is less than the population of California. That means that mass production, er printings, simply do not happen here. In the 2003-2004 book year 80 million books were sold in all of Australia. In 2004-2005 the number of book sold in the USA was diminished by 44 million. (note the previous blog entry). So, you can see that each book is bound to cost more. More than twice as much actually. I pay $36 A for a paperback that would cost me $12USD in California. And so, even with the postage costs, my purchase of books from the USA are a considerable savings.

You may also wonder what titles I am purchasing for my future reading. I am currently engaged in research for a Master's thesis in Writing, Editing, and Publishing on 21st century women's travel memoirs. If you have any titles you want me to include in my research, be sure to let me know.

I am particularly interested in the process of epiphany or psycho-autobiography in these memoirs. In other words how do we come to know ourselves better if we travel? I'm sure we do discover all kinds of strengths, prejudices, and joys when in travel mode. You may wish to share a few of those here on the blog as well. It would be a wonderment to have a few folks share. These personal anecdotes do tend not only to entertain, but also to induce self reflection on the part of readers.

In the meantime, hope your midweek brings smiles and tiny paroxyms of joy..

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Books..Books..Books

May 24, 2005 the O'Reilly radar at

http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2005/05/number_of_books.html

reported that "The Salt Lake Tribune reports 'According to a report issued by the Book Industry Study Group, the number of books sold dropped by nearly 44 million from 2003 to 2004, while the number of books published per year approaches 175,000. 'Higher prices enabled net revenues to increase 2.8 percent, to $28.6 billion, but also drove many readers, especially students, to buy used books...' After 2005, markets are expected to be flat with the exception of religious books." '

That means approximately 3365 books a week are published. I believe those figures are just for the United States because I have figures from other sources that indicate that in 2003 Great Britain alone published in excess of 125,000 books a year.

Nonetheless, don't those numbers just boggle the mind?

Which ones do you manage to read and when do you make time to read? If you turn off the tv set in your house or if you are one of those multi taskers who can watch Monday night foot-base-basketball and read at the same time, you might even be able to read a book a week. However, that would only be 52 books a year.

How do you choose? Whose recommendation do you trust? And to whom do you talk about the reading you are doing?

Right now, I find myself in the enviable position of working on a Masters degree, which means that I have REASON and PERMISSION to read. And I promise you, I take advantage of this opportunity to read to my heart's content any and all the time I choose.

Why do I express my reading habits in quite that way? Because, dear friends, I am one of those folks who have been punished for reading too much. As a kid, my mom used to hide books from me. Oh, all right. The one she hid was Forever Amber by Margaret Mitchell. Mom was sure that it was a filthy romantic novel that a 7th grader should not be reading.

You may be sure I found the hiding place. It took me almost three weeks to figure out where she put Amber, but I promise you, find it I did..and then because it was summer time in Michigan, I rose at 4:30 each morning to steal under the covers to read until my mom rose at 6 a.m. I read the rest of Amber in the next week.

Probably that title changed my life. You know, that isn't entirely true. There have been myriad titles that have changed my life. Ursula leGuinn with her Wizard of Earth Sea series, Zane Gray with his romantic westerns, Tolkein and Frodo, Coleman Barks' Essential Rumi, even the Psalms changed my life..and I'm a confirmed atheist.

What I don't understand is how people manage not to read? You might want to list your favorites here and maybe others will find them to be their favorites, too.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

write, write, write

The advice we who wish to write are given is always the same - write, write, write. Every day make a time to write.

This blog serves the purpose of providing me with a responsibility to write every day. And, so, I am able to follow the directions of those who write for a living. I have a place to publish on a regular basis.

Some wonder about blogging in terms of just how public one's writing becomes when published on line even if that publication reaches only a very few folks. I have been wondering about this public part of me, of late. I self describe as an 'introvert' on the Kiersey-Bates Personality sorter. I know for sure that I re-energize by myself, alone, in my private space and that I need to be in that private space a good portion of every day .

In order to have that space, I have managed to create with the help of my Australian partner, a graham of all trades, a lovely office in the back corner of our home, a space full of windows that looks out over a private fig tree wilderness, a space I share with fig birds, butcher birds, noisy minors, storm birds, kookaburras, and a tawny frogmouth or two. At night the bats and the possum take over, but in the daytime when I sit here typing I am surrounded by peaceful greenery and blue skies ..except, of course, on days like today, when the cloud cover allows no blue to leak through.

The grey and white clouds, however, simply enhance the depth of greenery surrounding my space.

And yet, in the midst of the perfect harmony of the natural world of our little corner of Queensland, I am full of anxiety.

I'm not sure if these feelings begin in my childhood of 60 years ago with my being abandoned by my parents or if this unease stems from a sense of homelessness. For sure, I know that home is in the heart and mind, not in the physical space that one fills in a physical sense.

When I am comfortable, satisfied with my life, home is where ever I happen to be at the moment. That may be in a movie theatre while I am engrossed in the pretend lives of film strs who are engrosed in being someone other than themselves.

That may be in the midst of a walk on Mt. Coot-tha, another green space that lifts my spirits. When I finally hit the top of the hill in my almost daily woalks, I am home! The kilometre + walk downhill and back to the parking lot is almost always a satisfied saunter during which I feel comfortable, at home, ready to face the challenges of the day.

But in the midst of my choosing to be alone, I can also manifest the most horrible anxiety about not having a place, about missing my country whose international and national policies I decry. It isn't the government I miss. It is the warmth of the smile from a friend, the comfort of being called by name, the joy of being recognized as a fellow citizen in a comfort zone.

I suppose the conclusion of this commentary circles around the fact that like the turtle, we carry our homes on our backs, in the back of our brain in some mass of grey matter where we feel complete and satisfied. And one would think that a person of my age and experience would have, by now, managed to manifest that sense of satisfaction no matter where my body rests. One would think that!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

on line stores

A good friend is in the process of setting up an on-line retail outlet through e-bay.

I believe she intends to sell vitamins and other health related items to women over 50 years of age..that means folks like me and like a few of you.

Now, I contend that women over a certain age...in the midst of menopause and post menapause.. do have some special needs and this may be a perfect opportunity to meet some of those needs and make a buck at the same time.

However, when it comes to healthfulness, it seems to me that women over 50 often have been relegated to the dreary suburbs of eroticia. That is to say, that far too many of us believe that our sex lives have come to closure along with our menses.

Guess what, ladies! Such a generalization is a misconception, a fact that many of you already know.

And so, it seems to me that my friend really ought to include lovely slightly larger sized sexy lingerie in her on-line healthful boutique. She also might want to stock a variety of erotic devices that we women over 50 might find useful.

And, of course, I have alerted her to the fact that China is the fastest growing on-line population in the world. Over a million and a half computer users today. And with a billion folks in that population, just think what a market an on-line health store which stocks products for women over 50 might serve.

I love this cyber world. I love the number of us who manage to keep in contact with one another despite the earthly distances between us by living in a world where ideas travel between us over 7500 planetary miles in less than two seconds. I also love the fact that so many of us are living to celebrate our humanity long after our active 'work' lives have been replaced with volunteerism and active political consciousness and healthful living unencumbered with the stresses of our previous professions.