Wilderness — A Meditation

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.