Wilderness — A Meditation

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Death at a Funeral

comment by Naomi Frampton - language tutor and manager of Literacy Center - Brisbane, Qld, Australia

I hated this movie, too, but Naomi explained to me why I hated it. I thought you might concur, so here goes!

I cringed through the whole thing and couldn’t wait for it to end - it was that severe. I detest that particular genre of English humour that relies on the audience sharing a set of assumptions about the proper and normal organisation of society and proper behaviour within that framework and then presumes comedy in the portrayal of the havoc caused when people behave incongruously. The inappropriate behaviour, the wreaking of havoc, comes from people of different class or nationality who fail to understand, adhere to or meet what the audience are assumed to understand to be the proper norms. In this film the wayward, middle class drug dealer who is the source of the illicit psychedelic drugs, the working class characters - the swearing Uncle Alfie and the uneducated, slightly stupid lad who is completely unaware of the deficiencies that make him an inappropriate match for the more educated girl from a wealthier family that he is pursuing – and, of course, the gay, midget American, are the sources of mayhem. ‘Nice society’, in the form of upper middle class English guests at a funeral, becomes the backdrop against which these characters, and all that they represent, are ridiculed. In a more sinister reading the audience is being alerted, however unconsciously, to the inherent dangers of admitting these representatives of the abnormal into decent society. What I really resent about this particular style of ‘humour’ is the failure to question, in fact the requirement that I, as a member of the audience, share, the view that these particular characters are the proper subject of ridicule. It is this requirement of allegiance to a particular set of class/race norms that, I think,  is the major point of differentiation between this and other types of English ‘mayhem comedy’ such as Fawlty Towers. In Fawlty Towers the comedy lies in the riotous situations caused by actions, reactions and miscommunications between the neurotic Basil Fawlty, his sidekick, the silly Spanish waiter, Manuel, with his poor command of English, Basil’s wife, the class-conscious Mrs Fawlty, and the other workers and permanent guests of the typical English seaside hotel in which it is set. While the exaggerated characters are clearly based on stereotypical characteristics linked mainly to class and cultural norms, all are equally ridiculous – the audience is not presumed to be in alliance with a particular set of norms against which particular characters are selected for ridicule.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a few words on Thanksgiving:

Since Thanksgiving is up and coming in America, I thought you might enjoy this discussion about the words we use to talk about family and family members. Walker caught my interest this morning. Hopefully, you, too, will find her provocative.

Relatively speaking, a paucity of words
A look at some lexical gaps in our vocabulary of kinship.
By Ruth Walker

from the November 16, 2007 edition Christian Science Monitor

"Ma-ma" or "Da-da" is often the first word a child speaks.

But once the child grows up to be a full-service speaker of English, he or she may notice that not all relationships are as easy to identify as "Mommy" and "Daddy."

There are some gaps in our vocabulary of relationships – instances where we don't have a really satisfying term to connect A to B.

"Lexical gaps" is a term for these missing words, or rather for the spaces in the language that their absence leaves unfilled.

One such gap is the need for a better term than "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" for those occasions when the "friends" in question are no longer otherwise referred to as "boys" or "girls."

A good term for adult offspring is another lexical gap. Parents commonly speak of their sons and daughters as "our children" when they are indeed children. But once they're grown, they don't refer to them as "our adults." Instead, we get absurdities such as, "She has named her three children as executors of her estate."

I ran across another one of these the other day while reviewing a commentary proposing, in effect, a new guest-worker program for immigrants to the United States. Once their immigration status was clarified and they were out of the shadows, the piece said, they would be free to make family visits across the borders. But to say, "Families would be able to visit one another," sounded too much like, "The Smiths would be able to visit the Browns."

What we really needed was a way to describe José going back to the village to see Maria and the kids, or maybe José and Maria and the kids going back home to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I ended up concluding that "relatives" was probably the best option. But it's not a very richly emotive word, is it? Compare and contrast the phrases "family visit" and "visiting relatives." Which has the warmer vibe?

English has plenty of old-fashioned synonyms for family, especially in the broader sense: clan, tribe, even "people," as in, "Their people came over from Ireland during the 19th century."

"Kin" is wonderfully concise but sounds backwoodsy to modern ears; it lives on largely in the idiom "next of kin" – a phrase that doesn't have a lot of happy associations.

"Kith and kin" is another term that doesn't get much use today. "Kith," rooted in the idea of something or someplace that is known, first meant the country someone knows, and later came to mean one's circle of acquaintance.

So "kith and kin" is another way of saying "friends and family." (I don't mean to write a kith-and-tell piece here.)

The trouble with all these older terms is that they refer to groups. Perhaps as a reflection of our individualistic (atomized?) society, collective nouns seem to be giving way to expressions that signal the presence of the individuals within the group. Thus "I have family in that part of the country" becomes "I have family members there." As an alternative to "relative," Visual Thesaurus offers "kinsperson," a word our forebears knew not.

"Relations" is another possibility here, but it sounds a little quaint, and like "troops," is one of those plurals that don't really have a singular, except in the idiom "to be treated like a poor relation."

To anyone who grew up within the sound of an adult voice reading aloud from the "Winnie-the-Pooh" books, "relations" calls up associations with "Rabbit's relations."

Maybe "relative" is the best we can do here. Maybe the quest for a single word that is equal-opportunity, common-gender, and indisputably singular or plural and also packs some punch is just foolish.

After all, families are not about individuals; they're about groups. And in the up-close and personal circle of the family, gender naturally plays a different role than in the more public spheres of citizenship or employment, for instance. A voter is a voter, but your mother is not your father.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Ok, so birthdays come and birthdays go and the 67th has disappeared into the background and I'm well on my way to preparing for the 68th.

Amazing, huh? If someone had told me twenty years ago that I would be so happily situated, so satisfied with my life today, I would have seriously scoffed. When one is 47 menopause looms, wrinkles are just starting to metamorphose the areas around the eyes, and life looks a tad scarey.

I think that's because most American 47 year old women are really really busy. They have children in the nest or just taking wing on their way out to college or the military or on some sort of job training adventure. Most have a full time job that competes with home life for energy and if they are still in a marital relationship, they have the responsibility to be a decent partner. All of that activity either has to leave one comotose by the end of the day or celebratory that all the requirements of that day have been met as one plans out the agenda for the next twenty-four hours.

Not much time left to consider life twenty years hence. So, let me assure you that this particular example of what the Ausralians refer to as the 'oldies' is full of relaxed early mornings, lots of good books to read, tracks to trek, movies to see, columns to write, manuscripts to complete, and oh yes, I receive my MA in Writing, Editing, and Publishing from the University of Queensland on 17 December. Hooray for retirement, a modicum of wisdom, and lots of time and space in which to enjoy it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day - A three day week end


And how many of you intend to go to your local cemetary tomorrow to put wreaths or flowers on a soldier's grave?

Yeah, I know. America surely isn't Australia where dead soldiers are the primary focus of all national holidays. These folks take their veterans very, very seriously, more seriously than Americans do.

As much as I disaprove of the USA's involvement in the middle east, I still have the greatest respect for the young Americans who have paid the price for us all by keeping their word and showing up in Iraq and Afganistan when their government told them they must.

Just thought I'd check in with ya'll and see how you felt about these young folks who so much need us to change the direction of our country so that they can come home again. I understand from a recent Yahoo article that one of four homeless persons in the USA is a vet. Gives pause for thought, doesn't it?

It's a rainy day down under. Actually, it's been a rainy day most days for the past two weeks. No complaints. We are in serious drought conditions. The land sops up the water and finally our sub tropical forests are beginning to look a tad healthy again. All this rain kept me from my planned birthday excursion, a 12 kilometer trek in Warrumbungle National Park down in New South Wales. We put off our trip south until after we come back from America in March. Summer school holidays begin here in about a week. All national parks will be a tad overburdened with vactioning families until the kiddies go back to school. I look forward to being out of the city and back in the 'natural' world then.

Be well...write again soon.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Which Lord of the Rings Character Are You?

Howdy..October 1..Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!!

In case you love to take web based tests which tell you absolutely nothing but are fun, nonetheless, go to the bottom of this page to see what Lord of the Rings character I test out to be and then take the test yourself. It's fun - go ahead and try it!!

I love the fact that my character has been chosen by only 3 % of those taking the test..As you all know, I love to be unique and different. I am told all the time by my Australian counterparts that 'Everybody does this or thinks that' Honestly, who cares what the majority chooses. I be me!! And that ought to be enough. Arrogance? No! Just a little admission that I love NOT being like everyone else.

So, happy October to you all. I have missed spending time with you. But I am back and ready to boogey..;)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Here I am, once again, trying to write something of value. I have just begun Zora Neal Hurston's" Their Eyes Were watching God" and I realize how inadequate my own writing is. My ability to catch a phrase, to use a metaphor, is quiescent. It seldom breaks the surface of my consciousness. Metaphors that I love to read never occur to me. I suppose they wouldn't be so striking if I had already thought of them. Still, Hurston's ability to frame a mood is exquisite. Her words make me pause to dip into their thickness, into their warmth or coolness depending on the mood of each. It is a wonderment to me that any mind can produce such beauty, such exact truth about the condition of the human mind.

Let me offer you one of her metaphoric personifications from page 1. "The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky." How many times have you looked at the early evening sky and seen this precisely? Have you ever thought of describing it in such a way? And what does this description portend for the hero of this story? Immediately, Hurston catches our attention, makes us wonder.

Oh, I know, it's just my English teacher self - - pontificating. But I feel like I have discovered a pearl surrounded by the ugly, grey, slimy body of an oyster or dug an opal from the trackless wastes of western Queensland, buried in the red soil with the dead salt bush and spinifex grasses hiding it from sight.

I wanted to share with you all that not since Michael Ondaatje's "English Patient" have I found in the literature of the 20th century such jewels. If you haven't gone on safari into the wilds of Hurston, you may wish to take the time to accompany me on my journey.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

La Mome (La Vie en Rose)

La Vie En Rose, the bio pic of the life of Edith Piaff, is one of the most moving motion pictures I have seen in the last few years. Tears began to trickle onto my cheeks early on in the film and by the end, I was sniffing, snorting and generally wishing I had a tissue. However, it was not that kind of tear jerker so often made by ATT advertisements.

Some felt that the film was 'needlessly melodramatic', but I disagree. The disjointed nature of the scenes, the darkness of the film, the shadows, mirrored the tragic underpinnings of Edith's extraordinary voice.

Makes one wonder why some who are given such gifts are also loaded with so much baggage. For them jumping the hurdles of life is hardly possible. Struggle may cause us to thrive, but some of us would not have managed to survive such trauma. The truth, if this film represents fairly the truths of the singer's life, are beyond the ken of most fiction authors.

I do recommend this film. The music is breath taking.

Monday, September 03, 2007

sprunging spring

Tis true..Spring has entered the southern hemisphere..

These Aussie blokes and blokettes figure the seasons from the first of the waiting around for the equinox or the solstices..ya know..

And so..even though we are droughted..truely we are..I have planted 100..spell that one hundred corn flowers..lovely future blossoms that I raised from scratch..well from seed..

Actually, sweet Em watered them weekly per my instructions whilst I was visiting round the globe in midwinter..and so they were all ready to be transplanted this morning.

How joyful it is to imagine colour in the garden.

And how will we water these sweet creatures?

We have two thousand litre rain tanks gathering dew from the roof of the house..and when it rains..they really gather!!

And so there will be enough water to keep the blossoms strong and lovely..

Makes my heart sing to have flowers in warm damp soil...

Just thought I'd let you know..

Oh..and in case you didn't realize it..a pair of lorikeets were bathing exuberantly in the back rain gutter this morning..splashing all over the pool deck..enjoying the cool.

We are fortunate indeed!

Hope the same is true for you northern hemisphere folks, some of whom will be celebrating Labour Day tomorrow..

happy holiday!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

oh..the right side

Yep! I know I have covered this topic before, but today is Friday in Oz..the first day of the second week of our return down under.

And, I toddled out to the Commodore, inserted the key in the ignition, buckled up, looked behind first, and drove!

Some folks are far more intrepid than I am, but it did take courage to put myself back in dangers way. Initially, no problems except for cars parked on both sides of Agars Street with oncoming traffic leaving very little space for my car. No scrapped sides! Relief!!

Reaching the traffic circles..better known as round-abouts wasn't too difficult only because they weren't very busy..just busy enough to remind me the direction of the flow of traffic.

Managed to make mostly left turns(nordamerkia right turns) except for one rather easy glide into a side street. Parking was uneventful. I do use my rear view mirrors here..

And..after a flat white..Aussie only coffee..I managed to make it home..but..I assure you the first time out again was harrowing..but successful..

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Yep..logic simply isn't what it used to be.

Just finished up one more latest obsession..a really hard one..100% correct..makes me day.. it's time to actually accomplish something. So, I'm off to clean up my intuition and the back veranda.

Hope your day is fulfilling..especially those of you who are looking forward to just one more week before starting back to work..

happy days..

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

weight loss

And just what middle class woman isn't dealing with this process? espcially those of us over 60..or is it over 50? hell, it's most of us.

I just thought I'd let you know that the subject has raised its ugly fatty head in my world big time, yet again.

And that my agenda these days is to lose 15 kilograms..that translates into just over 30 pounds amerikan.

For whatever it's worth, exercise is the key..and I am one sedentary traveller. Weight machines outside my office door call me, but only in a whisper! Time to make the dam things roar with intentions.

Happy Wednesday..may there be minus pounds/kilos on your scales if you have been profligate as I have..


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


A transcontenental lifestyle manifests a variety of new considerations about how the world works.

There are certain mind sets that derive almost entirely from living in one hemisphere. Some take a while to reset, the process contributing to a sort of psychological jet lag.. not the physical sort where one is tired at 4:30 in the afternoon..although that did happen yesterday. I was exhausted, simply couldn't keep my eyes open after 7:30 in the evening. I so wanted to stay up and watch a tv interview with this year's Young Australian of the Year which aired at 9:35. As you might imagine, I was snoring peacefully by 7:45 and didn't wake up til my bladder threatened at 6:30 this morning.

It is the end of August all round the globe as I am sure you are aware. The meaning of such a date changes with the distance north or south from the great circle that one finds herself. In my evergreeen fig tree wilderness, the end of August translates into cool spring mornings with 25 C (77 F). temperatures in the afternoon. Puffy clouds circle the edges of my world and baby blue skies provide a signature backdrop. In my previous home, August meant the onset of the Santa Ana, temperatures in the afternoon hovering around 40 C (104 F). Whist here spring is budding forth with birdsong and new growth on the tendrils of all the potted plants, in California the dry heat of summer creates the autumn 'bush fire' possibilities. What a difference!

I am not only having to translate fahrenheit to celsius but inches and feet to millimetres and metres. As a number person I have myself figuring constantly. It is the stuff that occupies my mind when I dare to drive a car..that is, when I'm not reminding myself that a left hand turn in Oz is really a right hand turn in North Amerika. That wide swatch of the Aussie right hand turn is something to behold when one rumbles through an intersection the first time after returning to the southern matter who is driving..but especially if that wide swatch takes place in one of the football sized five way intersections here in Brisbane.

And then there is the confusion about which side of the road is the 'wrong' side. One might assume the issue is simply one of driving, but walkers must also be alert. I have lost count of the number of times that my default traffic direction checker has sent me off to cross a busy street in the midst of oncoming traffic because I looked the wrong way before stepping off the sidewalk into the roadway. Fortunately, at the beginning Graham stood beside me and with long arms rescued me from collision.

There are other issues of course. Social niceities have different requirements. I am an inveterate question asker. The Aussies tend to wait for some one to offer information. In a most amerikan manner, I barge in, intoduce myself to absolute strangers and begin to ask for whatever information will satisfy my curiosity. The Aussie apologizes for my behaviour and sneaks away to read a book or otherwise disengage himself from my over the top behaviour.

"Oh well!" says my friend the English teacher. Sometimes the differences enhance the relationship.

Happy Tuesday to all northerners..looks like a grand day.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Home again, home again..jigity jig

Greetings from a most beautiful, clear, celebratory Monday...

It is so good to be home again. I apologize for the lapse in my attention to each of you in this past few weeks. Travel made it difficult to focus on writing. I know it ought to enhance the words that pour forth in celebration of the beauty of this planet on which we live, but somehow enjoying that beauty, being immersed in its colour, interacting with the folks who people its cities and towns, communing with the critters who call various coners home just overtook my energy.

The sun rose early over the fig tree wilderness that surrounds my office windows this morning. Warm covers released me into the dark morning around 3:45 a.m...jet lagging will soon be a memory, but somehow it still commands my attention in before-dawn Brisbane.

We are formulating a two year plan..during which we are preparing to leave Oz for a while to reside in Nordamerika to build a small house on the prarie near the Canadian border. Dual citizenship would enhance our ability to travel back and forth. Enjoying the eastern Sierra in the late summer, the Dakota plains in the early summer, and finding a spanish speaking home somewhere south of the Mexican border for the winters with trips back to Australia at all the pertinent times seems like the perfect retirement option for both of us.

And so..I welcome any suggestions you might have for that winter time..of course..depending on which hemisphere's winter we are considering.

Enough for this morning. The porridge is ready. Ciao.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Check out the Universe

This link will take you to Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and YOU, a lovely journey through outer/inner space.

I loved visiting and thought you might enjoy as well.

There is so much that I ought to be sharing these days. I have found a new poet, well an old poet who is new to me, one Marie Tulip, an amazing feminist from Australia whose Hut Poems make my heart sing. I will share some of her work in ensueing posts.

I am on my way to Montville where the gaffer in my life is working on a little five day movie starting tomorrow morning...more rain forest walks up high on the Great Dividing Range that runs along the entire east coast of Australia.

I hope your summer is as pleasant as our winter..45 F. last night, perfect sleeping weather.

20 C..that translates into about 68 F this afternoon. Now if only it would rain..well, not really. I would like the clear blue skies to continue until I am back home from my trek in the forests north of here.

be well..enjoy the web page..I'm sure you will!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

All the goddess' creatures love tests!

check out this website to find out which goddess resides within!!...

I have subscribed to a listserv for MBTI or Meyers-Briggs Personality type and there are so many wonderful posts that come in on a regular basis.

Actually there are so many posts that I couldn't possibly keep up with all of them. I pick and choose. Today, I chose to check out my inner goddess and despite all my Kali underpinnings, Quon Yin turned out to be my goddess of choice, the entity that resides deep within my subconscious. Based on colour of choice as well as on which automobile I would choose for my chariot through life, the goddess of empathy and compassion won the day.

Now, I know some of you understand what a goof ball I can be; how critical I am of the administrators of the world; and especially my disdain for the the current government of Amerika. However, beneath that patina of impatience and ill will towards those in power lies a compassionate soul who stands around contemplating flowers.

Meantime, life is good in Oz. Quon Yin sits on my bookcase and on my desk top..two lovely statues, one given me by my dear friend in Clareville and the other purchased here in Oz by myself. It is instructive to note that the laughing buddha, two of them, sit nearby. Humour saves the day..

Winter approaches here in Oz on 15 June, the dark of the moon with sunset at 5 pm and sunrise around 7 am..long nights snuggled into flannel sheets..may your northern hemisphere summer be as joyful as our almost wintery clear skies..

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Peter Principle

You know the theory. We will each rise to our own very personal level of incompetency – assuming that each of us lives long enough!

For some that might take a very long time. I do realise that there are some astute folks out there who really do know a lot about a lot. However, there are far more of us who have a modicum of knowledge and skill in considerably fewer areas of life. And that means that there are far more of us who will reach our pinacle of Peter Principle process.

I know that is precisely what happened to me when I volunteered my last year of teaching to take a sophomore class of youngsters whose primary goal in life was to academically do as little as possible. Oh, my pride was in full flower and I felt ever so wise in taking a class that otherwise would be assigned to a first year English teacher.

Well, let me assure you that the first year teacher would probably have been far more successful in garnering the support and attention of that class than I could have ever hoped. Those kids humbled me beyond measure. I learned my final year of teaching more about how NOT to control a group of twenty-eight 14-15 year old boys and three girls than I had learned in my whole forty years in the high school classroom.

And what I understood most clearly at the end of the semester was that the time had arrived for me to explore other ways of volunteering, other ways of giving my time, patience, and energy to my community. These youngsters were my comeuppance. And for that I thank them. We all might consider just how beneficial our teachers have been even when the lessons we have had to learn were those we hated to admit that we still hadn't mastered.

To what benefit was that new awareness – that example of the Peter Principle?

It helped me realize that my decision made three months earlier to retire was the right one. It gave me the opportunity to volunteer at a literacy center for refugee moms who had fled their war torn homelands in Sudan, Eritrea, Ethopia, and Afganistan. It gave me an unexpected reading of the gnostic gospels according to some of the other disciples for the Inland Valley Reading for the Blind.

Yeah! If we take responsibility for our lives, if we admit that it is time to move on to new endeavours, if we recognize that we really have reached the ultimate level of our own incompetence, sometimes our world turns into a new adventure.

Oh..and the spelling! It's Aussie style..these folks really are getting to me..and yes..I did write you can put the F in Red :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Critters in the Wild

A week ago Sunday, we drove about two hours south to Lamington National Park, a subtropical rain forest on the escarpment that acts as the divide between Queensland and New South Wales.

Our first day it rained. What more might one expect from the rain forest? We camped out in our room, shared all kinds of stories, took naps, played sudoku, read, and what else? ate! The meals were scrumptous and well presented. A fine Australian merlot added just the right accent to our evening meal.

Is this beginning to sound like a bad ad? Well, it was a lovely respite from life in the city.

The coup de grace of the entire three days, however, occurred on our 9 mile tramp through the beech forest of the upper elevations of the park. As we rounded a long slow uphill curve, there in the midst of one long ray of sunlight lay a meter long red bellied black snake.

Doesn't mean much to my American readers, I know, so let me add a little more information about this beautiful creature. First of all, he was as broad around as my wrist. Second of all, his haemotoxic poison would kill any one of us unless we were able to find help almost immediately...and that is hardly likely along the rain forest tracks where motorized vehicles find it very difficult to travel.

We stood about two meters away watching the sleeping snake and talking quietly about how large and lovely he was. Of course, we were both thinking, ' deadly'. By some transmission of energy, the snake slowly slipped off into the underbrush and we, we gingerly moved up the trail with silent thanks for his hospitality.

Later, on the return portion of the circuit, we were once again blessed. This time with a pair of lyre birds..the critters whose male partner has a lyre shaped filigree in the bush above the track the two were scratching among the debris of the ancient forest.

Two discoveries in one trip and that is enough to take us back later in the winter to see whom else we might encounter among the patemelons, Lamington crays, the ever present leeches along with the bromedliads, the wait-a-while vines, the stinging trees, the hoop pine, the satinwoods, and the various and sundry 89 species of eucalyptus trees .

Yeah..abundance is the right word..and thankfulness the right attitude!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

MBTI..a test of your vital functions :)

Hi ya..

Here is the web address for those of you who love self take a look at how you operate in the world. I just took the test..which is an offshoot of the Meyers/Briggs Personality Sorter..of which many of you are already aware.

Of course, this test is just one more example of my need to understand how I work in the world, how my loved onesand I fit our own patterns, how best to make a difference in the al. If that stuff is of no interest to you just now..ignore the whole thing. If, however, you are intrigued as I am about how relationships operate, this one is for you!

On the other hand..drought..drought..drought..

Does it come as a result of climate change? Not sure..the driest year in Brisbane recorded history occured in 1904..but this past year is one for the record books, too. We are down to 4 minute showers, no watering of plants with 'town water' water tanks have been installed to catch the rain off the huge tin roof of our that we can water the camellia bushes and keep them alive..

We don't wash cars anymore..which means that I noticed that the western sun this afternoon turned my car windows into reflecting glass rather than see through. I'll go out and wash the car windows before driving off tomorrow.

Australia is busily building de-salination plants for her cities..and plants to recycle waste water for us to drink..ugh!..Cotton plantations are being asked to discontinue their last! you realize just how thirsty cotton is? another ugh!!

Our lawns are brown and the birds delight in the rain gutters in which each morning there still is dew dropping drips.

be soon

Friday, May 11, 2007

Permanent residency

Happy day!

This morning Australian Immigration notified me that my application for a permanent residency visa had been approved for the next two years. I suppose that really means temporary residency. However, the process at the end of two years leads to a permanent residency visa.

I may come and go as I like and depending on the countries I visit between now and March 2009, I will or won't have to have additional health checks. Sounds like I better stay healthy though, just in case.

It is a good feeling to know that I don't have to apply or make further applications for the next two years.

Tonight is champagne and Thai food for the family who have helped me to move to this stage in my attempt to have a passport to the wider planet.

Hope all is well for each of you in the next few months. Many of you are school teachers. May this last six weeks of the school year be full of bright lights and relaxed classrooms. To the others of you who do not teach, happy May .

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Roses and the Credit Union

Greetings, all!!

I have just returned from a week in Sydney. I was assisting a friend who owns Gifts of the Goddess, a business involved in promoting and selling archetypal items associated with a variety of goddess manifestations. We spent four days selling amulets, Isis necklaces, vases, cards, calendars, incense holders, t-shirts, and various and sundry other items.

Since our product was so extensive, we drove the 13 hours on mostly two lane highways 1000 kilometres from Brisbane to Sydney. What a beautiful country the east coast of Oz turns out to be. Fortunately the only road kill we encountered were foxes, whose lovely pelts lay across the highway several times. Foxes are NOT indigenous to Australia. The government uses a virus to try and control populations because otherwise these wily European critters would quickly destroy the native fauna of New South Wales. The Brits brought in the fox early on to facilitate their desire for fox hunting. Needless to say, they forgot to consider that there are no natural predators, except for a few python, to cull this population, which quickly became overwhelming and destructive.

Now that you know all of that, let me share with you also that upon arriving home, I found that my Aussie credit union had sent me a newsletter. Upon opening the envelope I was amazed to find on the first page a lengthly article on THE ROSE, another European interloper in Australia, kind of like I am. Some of you may know that for thrirteen years I owned Natural High Health Foods in California. And so, I am always pleased to find info on new uses of herbs and plant varieties. Here was a surprise. I knew of rose hips, but I didn't know of some other uses of the rose.

First of all, the most fragrant roses grow in Bulgaria and Turkey.

Second of all, rosewater makes an excellent toner for dry skin as it is anti-inflammatory, a gentle antiseptic.

That rose hip mentioned earlier has more vitamin C than most citrus fruits and so a good cup of rosehips tea offers about 1700 mg of vitamin C. Try it; you might like it.

Rosewater soaked in cotton pads help to refresh eyes infected with conjunctivitis.

The antibacterial aspects of some roses help constrict the tiny blod capillaries that redden cheeks... easier than lazer surgery.

The Bach flower remedy, the wild rose, helps with a sense of hopelessness, anger, and anxiety.

So..there you have it..European news from the southern hemisphere. Not precisely what I expected from my credit union.

Be well!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day

Today is 25 April and in Australia this date is dedicated to the remembrance of all those who have served in the armed forces.

Somehow this day takes on a slightly different tenor than does the American Memorial Day Service.

It is the one Aussie holiday that isn't always attached to a long week end. People, very young and very old, take it seriously. This morning at one of the dawn services ( every community has one and individuals often rise just before dawn to remember if they are not in one of those communities) I listened to the roll call of those who have served along with a few thousand others as the sun rose over the Pacific.

I am strangely very proud of these Aussie soldiers/sailors for what they have contributed to their own country and often to countries around them. May their government keep them involved only in situations where they have the opportunity to serve as role models.

As the sun rose the following bugle reminded us of the fallen. You might find it a moving tribute, too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rained last night

And it didn't rain the night before.

However, if the skies of this lovely autumn Monday morning are any sign of future weather, it looks like it will be the warm, sunny variety.

Just before the rain fell, my intrepid partner hooked up the last of the pipes to connect our brand new 1000 litre rain water tanks to the spout of the gutters for the front portion of our roof. We stood on the front veranda and listened to the water pouring into our tanks! Hooray.

I share here his previous description of life in Brissy due to the drought:

We are on level 5 water restrictions.... we all use the same wet sponge to wash, (D then nukes it in the microwave) and we pray for rain so we can run around outside to have a shower.

Latest scheme is to recycle sewerage as they do in some parts of Europe ......... didn't meet with great appeal.........maybe they should have filtered it somehow first ....Hmm.

The name for the recycling scheme wasn't the greatest either... "Getting Your Own Back" hindsight wasn't the most user friendly and catchy name they could have picked..

If you wish to wash your car or the dog you need to call a Professional Dog/Car washer..... not necessarily the same person....although the guy who washed the car said he was sure his high pressure water blaster would work just as well on the dog.

Entrepreneurial individuals have already started stealing water.The Council has suggested putting locks on any outside taps around your home. I have just hooked ours up to the 240 volt electricity supply. You just need to remember to jump in the air, so as not to have any contact to ground, as you turn the tap on.

I am waiting for someone to suggest towing an Iceberg up from Antarctica .... I know it didn't work the last time because just about all of it melted before it got here; but surely they could capture a bigger one ... or bring two ..!! Gosh must I think of everything.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Been a while

Greetings, dear friends..

It's been a while since I have logged in to comment on my world.

This morning, as I filed three long fingernails, I realized that in America I only filed nails to repair breaks, cracks, and damage. Could have been a result of lots of paper work. One forgets how damaging the chemicals used in paper making can be to hands and nails. One forgets until there is little paper in one's life and nails grow longer and stronger.

Initially, I thought my nails grew in Oz due to some weird sort of humidity or maybe even the more relaxed, less stressful lifestyle of retirement. But, now, I suspect that the growth of my nails, the health of my skin and hands has more to do with simply not handling so many chemically created products.

That makes me wonder also about noses. You know as I do that our noses don't stop growing, just as our nails do not stop growing. Unlike the length of our legs or the width of our lips, the length of our noses, our cartiledge, goes on growing..sometimes even for a short time after we die.

That thought sent me into the bathroom mirror to check my nose. I rather like it these days. The symetry of my face has improved with the length of my nose. I know, some old folks have noses too long for their faces, but mine has somehow caught up with the rest of my features..and contributes to my 'ancient' look rather well.

With this commentary on physical features completed, I wish you a happy third week in April..

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Politicos.. is helping us all out again by promoting a conversation between Americans on line and their democratic party potential presidential candidates. The banner at the right gives you more info. You can, of course check out the link above.

In other areas of life, all is well. Easter week end is a big deal in Oz. Not in terms of religiousity necessarily, but in terms of holiday. Four days of camping, surfing and general family connections makes it a time when most Aussies travel to their favourite spots.

That means the city is pretty quiet. We slept til after 8 a.m. this morning because except for one 747 headed for points west there was no traffic in our environment to wake us, no garbage trucks, no cement mixers, no delivery vans racing up and down our city streets.

It is breezy and relatively cool with clear skies..not a good sign for drought ravaged south eastern Queensland. But it did rain steadily for about a half an hour yesterday. The Frangipani bordering our front veranda are thankful for that moisture.

Hope you each enjoy your spring we begin to enjoy our autumn cool.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sydney Dims Lights to Protest Emissions

Here's what happened. Tomorrow I take off the banner. But we might all want to take note!

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's largest city plunged itself into near-darkness for an hour on Saturday night when city officials, thousands of businesses and many more residents cut the lights for energy conservation.

The normally gleaming white sails of the Sydney Opera House darkened, as did the arch of the city's iconic harbor bridge, big chunks of the downtown skyline and countless homes in the city of 4 million in a gesture of concern about global warming.

"Tonight is a call to action," said Mayor Clover Moore, whose officials shut down all nonessential lights on city-owned buildings. "We all have to act to reduce out ecological footprint. We are asking people to think about what action they can take to fight global warming."

Restaurants throughout the city held candlelight-only dinners, and families gathered in public places to take part in a countdown to lights out, sending up a cheer when the lights started going out at 7:30 p.m. local time.

There was no master switch, though, and it took a few minutes for the effect to take hold as buildings went dark at slightly different times. Some floors in city skyscraper remained lit, and security and street lights, those at commercial port operations and at a sports stadium, stayed on.

While downtown was significantly darker than normal, the overall effect, as seen in television footage from overhead helicopters, was that the city's patchwork of millions of tiny lights had thinned, not disappeared.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

T shirts into Quilts..

Mornin er..G'day!

I have just come across what for me was a novel idea. I have dozens of old or unworn tshirts taking up way too much room in my second drawer. Here are a few web sites with some great ideas for making those shirts into quilts. I do wish I had thought of this when my own kids were growing up. We always had so many tshirts that nobody ever wore, but that reminded us of times past (passed).

These quilts are a fine way to use them...,,HGTV_3302_1380498,00.html

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bill Moyers gets it right again!

Please take five minutes to scan this speech from Bill Moyers given at Occidental College, Los Angeles on 7 February. It is essential that each of us consider his words and take whatever action we think appropriate in terms of his call to action.

Only 15% of the people of California register and then vote. Somehow we must convince the youngsters under our tuteledge that they have an obligation to consider the political climate and to vote in each election. And each of us must model that same behaviour for these kids.
I know several of the folks who read these meanderings are teachers. We have a giant task ahead of us unless we want the US to become a corporaracy yesterday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A teacher who remembers, too.

Pleasant reminders of times past came my way yesterday. It is pleasant to be reminded that once upon a time in a land far away there existed a classroom in which students came together to celebrate each other and their hunger for community in an American public high school.

Even more pleasant is the knowledge that this same ambiance continues in the English classroom of Ms Allison Evans.

Thanks Allison for remembering and for saying so in public.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hi ya'll..
It's been a few days since I last posted. Real life kinda took over for a bit. But, the cyberworld has me back on schedule and I have some time to share the most important local news.

Pleaase note as you read this excerpt from the Brisbane Courier-Mail that the woman who was bitten by what the authorities thiink was a Bull Shark is 59. I love old people who not only are survivors but who see themselves as viable, active, strong individuals. Hooray for the Greys of the world!

Shark attacks lone swimmer
Glenis Green
14 March 2007

"I FELT like I'd been hit by a truck . . . I knew it was something big and I knew I had to get out of there or I'd be dead. End of story."

Those were the words of Mary Jane Ryan yesterday as she lay in a bed in Bundaberg Hospital reliving the terrifying shark attack which she believes could have claimed her life.

Sporting a massive bruise to her right hand and arm and a badly gouged leg, Ms Ryan, 59, gave a graphic account of the leisurely Monday afternoon swim at Moore Park beach, just north of Bundaberg, that ended in horror.

"This has been really frightening . . . the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life. It would have killed a child or a person who was small and frail."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

two new web sites!!

Here's a neat web site on which you can take an online personality test called OCEAN...It told me that I am messy, outgoing, critical, not very reliable, and creative. You might enjoy finding out who you are according to this test.

I'm a O76-C10-E70-A6-N76 Big Five!!

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Here is another site that I found very interesting. It is a Geography test. Oh, dear, I only scored 60%..where are the Maldives and for goodness sake which of those islands are the Marshalls. I also missed Latvia. I picked Estonia instead. And for Georgia, I picked the Ukraine. I have a lot of studying to do. See how much of the globe you can name and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


On my afternoon walk on the Kolgun circuit on Mt. Cooth-tha yesterday, my mind was busily engaged so that my body could do its job and move me up the 60degree slope to the top of the hill.

When I let my mind go, there is always a surprise in store. I'm sure the same is true for you. Amazing what our minds will produce. My imagination sometimes doesn't even seem to be my own. It's rather like it belongs to some Jungian Universal Unconscious, just swarming with the disappearing bees into some place that no human seems to be able to find.

Kind of like going to see Pam's Labrynth. One simply never knows where one will end up when the process is allowed to move by itself.

Anyhow..the final part of this notation is that I discovered that consistency and balance are not part of my experience. And that's quite wonderful most of the time. I may alphabetize the spices in the pantry, but you will never be sure of my response to your story when you share it with me. And why is that? Travel has broadened my perspective and age has given me enough experiences that I just never know which aspect of self will react to whatever story you choose to share.

I like it this way. You can count on nothing but that there will be a reaction.

And so, dear friend, happy first day of fall in the southern hemisphere tomorrow. May your northern winter bring you joy and a desire for the greens of spring.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

the end in the beginning

Have just been considering the progress of my life – I know a pretty big subject and one about which you might not be in the least bit interested.

However, in terms of ontogeny following phylogeny, I think the Spanish speakers of the world have the right road map. The whole planet is simply a series of concentric circles with the individual at the center and at the apogee at the same moment. The individual is the manifestation of the universal unconscious and at the same moment the point at which consciusness is farthest from the universal. Confusing?

Well, consider that in 100 Years of Solitude, the story is told repeatedly, beginning with the individual and moving out to encompass the entire community and then the entire nation, and then the entire planet. All experience the story in the same human fashion. Isn't that what Jung was teling us with the universal unconscious? Or am I confused again?

In biological terms, the individual follows precisely the same pattern of development that the specie follows. Or is the other way round, the species follows precisely the same pattern of development that the individual within the specis follows on his /her way to maturity.

Regardless, I am really arguing about a literary form, I am arguing for a braided context, for concentric circles of meaning to replace the linear English speaking form of writing the way Americans, Brits, and Aussies do it. Here is what I'm going to tell you. Here is the story...and in case you didn't catch it the first two times, here is the point I was trying to make the entire time.

I prefer , for the moment, the Spanish tale. Here is the individual having an experience, here is her family living through that same experience, here is the community in which that family lives in the midst of the same story, and finally here is the nation, planet living out the same pattern of existence.
Somehow it just seems more biologically precise to admit as the Buddhist does that we are all part and parcel of the same experience, that we simply cannot divorce ourselves from the dilemma of the human condition. Americans have, for a very long time, pretended otherwise. Perhaps it is time to come to terms with our refusal to admit to being one and the same with Sunnis, Shias, Buddhists, Hindus, Jesus, even with born agains – heaven help us–

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

discussion with a shrink

G'day, ya'll..

How's that for a little mixing of patois?

I just finished a conversation with my shrink, a man of considerable astuteness to whom I chat for 45 minutes once every month except when he is on vacation in the northern hemisphere summer time. Have been sitting here playing another 45 minutes of SNOOD in order to organize my thoughts. Yuppers, that's right. I play a silly computer game just so I can play with a few ideas about how to express certain very important ideas. If you believe that, I have a lovely piece of the moon I might sell you next time it is full! :)

And so, having admitted to my fascination – er – obsession, let me move forward to that which I have come to really discuss with you.

'Differential Access' is a psychological term for that experience we all have had of sharing an event in a group of two or more in which each member sees the event in a different way. According to each person's need, past experience, unconscious determinant, and current state of mind; each has a unique understanding of the event in which all have participated.

I suspect you understand and wonder why in hell I'm writing about so obvious an occurrence. Well, the obvious has not been all that obvious to me nor to others. In the past, I have had a couple of people berate me with the phrase, 'It's not about you, Dottie.'

Well, guess what? It is about me. It is always about me if I am engaged in an experience. It may also be about all of you, as well. Therefore, life is about us. And the exchange we may have about how differently or similarily we perceive our experiences together creates the joy and sorrow of being alive. There are folks who are sufficiently detached from their life experiences that they don't realize that their lives are about them. I admit to not understanding how that can be. And, I am also convinced that scads of folks wander through their lives not taking responsibility for the fact that their lives are about them.

And so, fellow narcissists, I wish you a most pleasant afternoon. And to those of you who don't claim your experiences as your own, perhaps you would be willing to explain how you manage to miss out on so much that happens to you in life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

well, how in heck are ya?

It's been six days since I've shared my thoughts. And how are you on this Sunday in Amerika..hopefully a lovely day full of moisture in the skies and not too much on the ground.

Here in Oz we are in the throes of a drought – hard to imagine, I know when it rains at least weekly. It just doesn't seem to want to rain on the catchment areas – whatever that means. I know, it means the damns or the place where the folks around here decided to store their excess moisture a few years ago, like maybe 50 years ago. Weather patterns change and the rains on the plains of eastern Queensland are falling in different areas now. NO duh!!

All that aside, I want to take a moment to talk with you about my newest research into Meyers/Briggs/Temperament Sorter classifications. My friend was on line the other day while we were talking trans pacific on the phone. Her sharing was about her findings about various personality styles according to the MBTI.

If you know me at all, you probably know that I am proud to be an INFJ..according to that particular test. And as only 1.5% of the population fall into this category..among those who have taken this test, at least – I often feel lonely. You see where I'm headed? Yuppers..I haven't written lately cause I have been a tad lonely. Not lonely for Amerikans so much – although I do miss you guys, but lonely for another INFJ. Since we are so few and far between, I sometimes mope around just wishing someone who really understood me would come through my front door.

So I joined the INFJ list serve. Ugh. Now that's an interesting bunch of commentary about nothing in particular and everything in general. There is a list serve for all personality types. You might want to google your type and see what you find.

Bottom line (please excuse the cliche), I am reminded yet again that my writing style (Masters thesis) is determined by my personality type. And academics are definitely not INFJs very often. More like TJs most of the time. And my rambling, intuitive moments of typing do not impress. Not only is my writing unimpressive to 98.5% of the population, it is annoying to most. That's a pretty difficult place to find a writer who really would like to publish her thoughts. Hummmm...

Any suggestions about how to ..nah!!..I it like the majority if you want to make a living as a writer or just write for my own joy..and say..what the hell to the rest of the world!!

Be good..enjoy the rest of your week end..Monday in Oz is good..hope the same is true for Amerika.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

check out the little movie on this blog!!



Just came in from seeing Mel Gibson's latest movie, Apocalypto. Not bad!

Remember, I'm in Oz..everything comes here late unless it is released in Britain or Australia..and then we get it at the same time as the Brits. Americans like to keep us waiting.

I thought it was a good story, well photographed.. actually beautifully photographed. The Director of Photography did a superb job of making the rain forest look real and negotiatable..which is no easy task. The eclypse was superb. And the young stars were magnificent. Both the male and the female stars were beautiful, more fully developed than one would have thought possible in a 'thriller'.

The story is Mad Max 16 or something on that order. Every Mel Gibson film is Mad Max something or another. The story is always the same, this time with a slight ironic twist. The failure of civilization is the government/religious order itself. Maybe that isn't so ironic if one takes a long look at the world in which we Amerikans live these days. Certainly, our current government, given free reign would take us down the same path as the one depicted for the Mayas in this movie.

Absolute know the line..unless, of course, the gods must be crazy and come to the aide of the common folks and the common folk hero. Myths are made of these kinds of movies. They work pretty well, too. I enjoyed the unfolding.

Friday, February 02, 2007

wiki novel on line's your chance to write for Penguin!....

An online novel written and edited by the entire cyberworld..what a deligthful idea.

Check it out at this webpage and have a great time!!

I'll participate and I hope you will too..look forward to your contributions, oh creative ones!! :)

Monday, January 29, 2007

the hot and the cold of it

In the midst of a good night's Sunday rest, I awoke with one of those thoughts that one promises to follow through on the next day. Usually, I have to jot the idea down or I forget when I finally arise in the morning, but not today.

Today, I note that the world can be divided into two categories of humans . . . yeah, I know..that's a J response to any aspect of life – this division of things in order to understand them. A good P personality will immediately shrug his/her shoulders and simply ignore the rest of this blog. :)

However, consider this. Some of us run hot, stay slim no matter the circumstances, what we eat, how much we exercise. Some of us stay plump no matter how we diet, and how many times a day we run around the block.

Because I belong to the second category, I'm always trying to figure out how come. Here is my latest explanation.

It has to do with the bathtub vs. the shower choices in our lives. Here in Oz there is no bathtub, only a shower. I have urged the owner of this house to install a bathtub since I first arrived 6 years ago. If I had taken the matter into hand and gone out to find a proper tub, purchased it, I'm sure it would have been installed. However, that always seemed a bit forward on my part. And so, instead, I have taken my baths in motels, hotels, and in America when I return there twice yearly. Nonetheless, the issue of bathtubs has cluttered the back of my mind for the entire 6 years.

Those of us who are hot, who radiate heat even in the coolest of climates, simply eschew bathtub soaking. We are already way too hot to enjoy such an opportunity. Instead, we cool down in the showers of our lives. That would be the case with my intrepid Aussie partner.

However, those of us who run cold

(oh..Kookaburra just came to chatter outside my window..such an amazing array of sounds. No wonder the Butcher Bird has not wakened the fig tree wilderness yet...his nemisis is in the territory..but that's another story)

but back to bathing practices!! ..and those of us who run cold, whose toes and fingers sting with minor frostbite in temperatures near freezing...we love the bathtub soak to warm our extremities, to simply sweat out the impurities of our psyche in a bubble-bath full of good hot air.. see..simply by asking folks if they are bathtub or shower aficionados, one can tell whether new acquaintances are the kind of folks we want to snuggle up with on a cold winter's night or the partner we hope to sleep with on a humid summer's eve.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

final edits

As I work this week on what I hope is the final edit of Women Travel Memoirs: A Vehicle for Discovering the Continent Within, I am aware that the follow comments by Annie Dillard seem particularly prescient. The outcome of our creativity is not always as valuable as the effort it took to create.
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you may wish to check out this website:

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Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment. Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles, bad and good. Every year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad stack. At length he turned to the young man: “You submit this same landscape every year, and every year I put it on the bad stack. Why do you like it so much?” The young photographer said, “Because I had to climb a mountain to get it.”

A cabdriver sang his songs to me, in New York. Some we sang together. He had turned the meter off; he drove around midtown, singing. One long song he sang twice; it was the only dull one. I said, You already sang that one; let’s sing something else. And he said, “You don’t know how long it took me to get that one together.”

How many books do we read from which the writer lacked courage to tie off the umbilical cord? How many gifts do we open from which the writer neglected to remove the price tag? Is it pertinent, is it courteous, for us to learn what it cost the writer personally?

-Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life

Monday, January 22, 2007

stress, tinnitus, and family relations

Oh, dear readers...thank you for your comments!

And now onward –

Have you noticed that when stress arrives in our lives, we seem to emulate the behavior of our parents or parent whom we most are like? I do realize that emulate is a positive term and our behavior is certainly not always positive when we find ourselves under stress.

I am performing several scientific experiments at the moment:
1. I am attempting to discover what proportion of the Australian population is left handed. I think it is very high.
2. I am taking a look (a listen) at/to the tinnitus in my ears. Since I have returned to Australia, the frequency and levels of
sound produced seems less. I'm trying to figure out what differences in lifestyle, environment might produce the change.
3, I am trying to formulate a study that will allow me to check out the validity of the comment I made at the beginning
of today's blog about my family and friends stress created behavior and that of their parents or parent with whom
they most identify.

If you have any information concerning any of these three topics, please feel free to offer them at any time. I am eager to read what others think.

And, of course, I am still working on my dissertation. This ought to be the final week of my consideration of the edits proposed by my advisor on the topic of Women's Travel Memoirs. I plan to submit the final form for consideration by my committee on Monday next.

In the meantime, my ears are not full of background noise and I really don't understand why, my left handed partner is off to work in a stressful environment :), and I, I am into the editing mode.

May your day be full of sunshine and laughter!

Friday, January 19, 2007

back to the future..

Remember when the topic was abandonment?

It's back - with a vengeance!

I'm thinking that as we grow older - I mean much older - we dredge up the emotional crisis(es) of our youth. If we have dealt successfully with those early issues in some kind of therapeutic setting, we may not have to revisit them, but just in case we have NOT dealt - well, the results can be stultifying. Or at least that's how it seems to me.

In this blog I attempt to deal with lots of the stuff that drives me to distraction when I finally get the courage to mention the distraction part to those folks who live with me in my world. And today, the awful deep in the stomach overarching sensation was of being abandoned.

Now, please note that I am not abandoned. I had no rational reason to feel abandoned. But a sense of utter lonliness, of being all all alone is how I would describe how I felt. It is the primary issue with which I am having to deal as a senior - the fear of being left behind, of being unloved, of being betrayed.

No one in my real world is treating me in such a manner. I live in an environment with people who are loving, expressive, and supportive. But being left home alone is enough to stir up those old aching emotions from my childhood when I was, indeed, abandoned; when I was farmed out to relatives to live because my parents chose not to keep me at home with them.

And so, I suppose, this blog today is really an entreaty to any of you who read it to make sure that all the children over or with whom you have some responsibility are treated in the most respectful, loving manner so that when they reach 66 they don't have to deal with the unfinished business of childhood.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

media and the American people


If you follow the online news, you probably know that this past weekend there was a Media conference in Memphsis. Bill Moyers, one of the keynote speakers, contributed some ideas that caught my attention and that I want to share with you today. Here is the web page on which you can find all of his words:

However, here are the most salient lines of his speech in my estimation:

"Worrying about the loss of real news is not a romantic cliché of journalism. It has been verified by history: from the days of royal absolutism to the present, the control of information and knowledge had been the first line of defense for failed regimes facing democratic unrest."

And here is the poem from Marge Piercy with which he closes his speech.

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

From The Moon Is Always Female, by Marge Piercy
Copyright (c) 1980 by Marge Piercy

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Greetings on a lovely summer's afternoon (arvo in Aussie terms)

Having an interesting late afternoon with all kinds of emotional stuff surfacing as a result of having just had a 45 minute discussion with my shrink. You may well wonder how I manage that process since he is located in Clareville some 7500 miles northeast of where I type you this note. All things technological allow such a process to continue. Once a month we have a telephone call in which we discuss my latest angst/s and all the requisite mishaps thus created. On various and sundry occasions we actually talk a bit about the amazing success I am having at being a healthy, happy southern hemisphere camper. However, more often we slug our way through my latest dilemma.

I know, I know! When one reaches 66, dilemmas are supposed to be a thing of the past. Things are never of the past. As I grow older, the things just grow differently. No longer do I have spirals growing in my brain trying to distract me from the business at hand. Now, I have double helix forty metres long growing exponentially.

So, all you parent types, please remember that the way you treat your younguns today is a harbinger of the size, shape, and busyness of future double helix in the brain. Treat them with love, discipline, love, and more love! You'll save them scads of dollars in shrink payments in their futures.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Have been having some discussions with Australians about the American habit of tipping.

The Aussies will tell you that theirs is a kinder, wiser financial system where workers are paid a living wage to begin with. Therefore, it is not necessary to tip people who serve in restaurants, taxis, and in various and sundry other occupations.

We have friends who are about to travel for a week's vacation to NYC. They are feeling a tad paranoid about this process of carrying dollar bills around in their pockets so that they won't find themselves in a position where they don't have the proper change for a tip.

I tried to explain that one doesn't tip all the time, that 20 % of the bill in restaurants is appropriate, but that one does not have to pay the doorman in a hotel for opening the door. The bell boy who carts one's bags up to one's room deserves to be paid something for his effort. However, the household staff who make up the bed and put fresh towels in the bathroom shouldn't be left money in the bedside table. Perhaps at the end of a week's sojourn in a three or four star hotel, it would be a good idea to add a gratuity to that same bedside table before departing. But I can never remember having my room left dirty or my bed unmade because I failed to leave my change on the bedside table.

It is an interesting conundrum for people who aren't used to the system. And I'm never sure just how right I am in my tipping habits. I give the Super Shuttle driver a $5 when he drops me off from the airport, but he usually loads and unloads my bags after an international flight and they are heavy.

I'm just not sure what is right and best. I certainly don't want to be worried about carrying coins in my pocket to handle these situations. How do we help these Aussies understand our system of 'slave labour'?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bill Moyers? A Presidental candidate?

Remember a few months ago that Molly Ivins suggested that Bill Moyers, the intrepid journalist, run for the office of president of the USA?

Well, after reading her commentary, as I noted here in the blog, I jotted Moyers an encouragement to do just that.

And, lo and behold, when I arrived back in Oz from holiday travels, I found a postcard response from Moyers; A response with .75 postage on it. Some folks do have integrity. I include below his remarks:


I have been deeply touched by the thousands of people like you who wrote in response to the column by my friend, Molly Ivins. so many of you have written that I cannot possibly answer each message personally, but I have read every letter and card, sometimes twice. They humble and inspire me. I am humbled that you see in me a kindred spirit. I am inspired because you have not given up on our country and still believe leadership can make a difference. What your messages confirm is that journalism still matters; indeed, it may be all we have right now. so I am drawn to continue the work I have been doing for almost four decades now. I am energized by your generous words. Thank you for keeping the faith. I'l not forget your kindness.

Bill Moyers

Friday, January 12, 2007


Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow..and of course, there is today!

I am feeling just a tad proud of myself. I have created a chart for my exercise program AFTER I did the exercises. Well, almost!

I have stretches to do tonight while watching the evening news. Can you think of a better way to watch the talking heads share the atrocities of the day? Exercising some of the endorphins created by those long tendon tightenings will, one hopes, mitigate the horror one feels at the inhumanity of our world.

I know I should not watch that news before bedtime when it occasions nightmares, but I also feel obligated to know what the minor Bush and his opposing forces have wrought upon the world.

I also know just watching is not tantamount to actually doing something to create change. That's the next step, the one I take after I turn in my final dissertation on women's travel narratives.

In the meantime, daily exercise is designed to promote the kind of strength and healthfulness that will take my osteopathic right knee across 55 miles of the Sierra from Mineral King on the west to Whitney Portal on the east next August.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

traveling to summer

Back in the southern hemisphere for summer warmth on these ancient bones. Feels good - the glow, you know. That wonderful (ugh!) sense of being in a steam bath whenever any real exercise is contemplated. I think my brain sweats here in summery Brisbane.

But don't misunderstand me. It is good to be home, back in my office, wakened before dawn by that noisy denizen, the Kookaburra, who has his family sing-a-long just before the sun peeks over the Tasman Sea. And then while I am stretching into the growing light of dawn, along comes his cousin, the Butcherbird to cheerfully chortle the sun over that last hump of horizon. Time to brush teeth and make coffee.

Ah, and that may be the finest part of arriving back in Oz - good coffee! Not only does it taste like coffee ought to taste, but the glass in which it is served is the perfect size and weight. Kind of like eating with silverware instead of plastic on the flight south.

We were able to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on Air New Zealand on our return trip. Oh wonderments - not only did we have silverware and a table cloth, but we had three knives. I'm totally unaware of what we were supposed to do with three of them, but it was a lovely surprise to be trusted with 'weapons' once again - with which to butter my bread, to cut my salad into smaller bite sized pieces, and to saw away on my centre cut of pork. Yeah, it was a tad chewy, but tasty.