Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Salvation Creek

Clear skies shimmer outside my office windows this early morning. Didn't go for my forest walk this morning. Gonna write the last entry of the year instead. Like there is a one or the other option in my busy life. NOT!

Just finished reading a memoir by Susan Duncan entitled Salvation Creek. Very disconcerting to meet a character in someone else's manuscript who mirrors a character in my own work.

Which leads me to tell you that our little manuscript is currently being considered by two small publishers, one in USA and the other in Scotland. Cross your fingers for us. It would be grand to see our manuscript inside a brilliant 'bush' cover sitting on a book shelf in Borders or Avid Reader or advertised on Amazon. We have also sent off a proposal to an agent here in Brizzie, hoping that she would like to represent us with some of the BIG publishing houses here in Oz.

And so..I wish you a delightful New Year's Eve..tomorrow for those of you in the USA, but tonight will be full of bubbly here in Oz. Pay for a taxi..don't drive, but do enjoy..love to all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5:30 a.m.

Yep; the New Year is still a couple of days off, but we've begun our resolution just a tad early.

For the last two days - and one day four days ago - we struggled out of bed at 5:30 in the morning, just before the Kookaburra laughed his silly head off, slurped a huge glass of water, changed into runners, shorts, and a t-top, wrapped a rag around the forehead to soak up the sweat, grabbed my two trekking poles, and headed off for the Kolgun.

The first day, my sunnies from America fogged up so badly that I couldn't see the rocks littering the path. But, the second day, my regular dark glasses tied onto my head so they wouldn't slip down my sweaty nose fared a bit better. I wore a hat the first day; the the gum tree forest was enough to keep the sun off my cheek and shoulders.

In Oz, it is unwise for oldies to wander around in the sunshine. Skin cancer aided by the southern hemisphere sun is rampant.

But, it feels good to have exercised and then to come home for a cool shower, and slip into a spaghetti top, short shorts, and wander barefoot around the pine floors of our colonial. It is warm, warmer than I like, but if there should be a breeze, our open windows usher it into my office on the third story above the newly red leafed mango tree. It may not cool me down, but it will evaporate a little of the glowing on my nose and forehead.

Welcome to summer! Forecasters are predicting scorch! which probably means afternoon thunder and lightening showers like the one that caused us to turn off the tv set and all the computers last night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chrissie

Twas the afternoon before Christmas and all through the house smells of turkey float
Five salads include a homemade FIVE BEAN fill the refrigerator as large as a boat
Presents are wrapped and piled on the back verandah table
Pretty and packed for those who are tomorrow able

Chrissie lunch will serve all three children, dad and partner and two others
Lonesome folks with no family with whom to celebrate their druthers.
A lad from Tanganyika and a lass from the planet- too many homes to list
Have come to join us because we insist.

Rain is predicted; winds clear the flies from the kitchen smelling of good food
Hopefully as always in this paradise the water will fall before the dawn interlude
to smooth the route of Santa to children on the east coast of Oz
just cause!

Wishes from down under to all you dear ones in the northern hemisphere
We promise to let you know if skies will be clear.
On our third longest day of the year
We send happiest Christmas cheer!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday

Whew..we've been home for two weeks. Where does the time go? I know, we all wonder!

Supposed to rain last night. Storm passed us by but left dark skies this late morning. Should be cooler. Not sure if the lack of warmth will slow down the midges that use my blood to feed their eggs in some small corner of the greenery next to the house. Actually, I am told the little buggers better known as 'no see-ums' fly three kilometres from the Brisbane River in through my office windows to suck my blood.

I really wouldn't mind if they would just stop with the injections of itchy stuff. Urgh!

Had a traditional Aussie BBQ last night with friends over in Wooloowin (how do you like that for a burb name?) There were three kinds of meat, snags (sausages), lamb chops, and risoles (lamb burgers mixed with cheese). And a salad. yummy!

But whilst I was feasting, I was being feasted upon, even though Wooloowin is a tad farther from the River than my office. Double Urgh!

Hope all is well this week end before Christmas. May your two weeks off be joyful and full of laughter - the good kind -

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Assholes

Yup! New topic for the morning. Those obnoxious folks who manage to slip through the filters we all set up to protect ourselves from assault (emotional, verbal, or physical) are to be avoided at all costs.

Just came in from my INFJ list serve on a different network. Topic of the morning was why folks determine to reach out and ruin even a moment of someone else's life.

The answer - they simply do not have the inherent or learned tools to be aware of their own garbage and so storm through life spewing same evil smelling detrius in the direction of the rest of us.

Most of the time I manage to miss these folks. There seem to be fewer of them in my life here in Oz. Aussies may whimper, but they seldom whinge, if you get my drift. As a result there is a whole lot less evil floating in the air.

Another good day in paradise. Hope the same is true in your world. Time to go oil the teak veranda furniture. It's been sitting all by its lonesome on the front and back verandas through the last three weeks of electrical storms and seems to have picked up more than a little life form of its own. First one must clean off the mold and then add some life giving teak oil to spruce up the rain forest wood.

be well - ctch you laters

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kookaburra

I meant to mention yesterday that the klan of kookaburras arrived around seven yesterday morning to welcome us back from the northern hemisphere. What a chortling chorus they created in the back gardens of our block.

Oh, I know. The birds didn't know we were back. Anthropormorphism, delightfully so.

As always a weather report - bluest skies with scattered puffy whites. Everything is so sparkley, scrubbed by three weeks of rain. I understand many homes in our neighborhood lost their roofs in storms two weeks ago, but looking out over the valley surrounding us, I can see no topless houses. I suspect work was begun immediately to protect contents.

Today is one of those firsts this trip. A walk down to Rosalie and a bus ride into the city for lunch at the Hari Krishna abode, Govindas, with friends. Vegetarian food seldom tastes as good as when it com from a Krishna kitchen - something about he spirituality and the clarified butter used in all recipes. A walk home would take care of the extra calories, only about two miles.

So, happy Wednesday to those of you in our corner of the world..and delightful Tuesday to the rest of the planet.

BTW, did you notice the live feed that I added yesterday? Keeping track is kinda fun.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sunrise

Ah, sunrise! Not so rosy as an eastern Sierra morning, but soft blue skies suggest warm temps later today.

4 a.m. seems a good time to slide out from beneath the sheets, turn off the fan that keeps mossies at bay during the night in this land without window or door screens, and head for the kitchen and the jug to boil water for my first cuppa of the day.

Angst swirled round my office yesterday afternoon - something to do with a dearth of responsibilities. Time to start the next short story.

And so with spring sprunging full of colour - Poinsianna trees in full flower, hibiscus orangeing up the lawns, rosemary in bloom, frangipanni glowing with fragrance on the front veranda - I guess I can manage one more day in paradise.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Shopping

Monday morning 5:30 a.m.

Ah, it's good to wake early - after three months waltzing into winter, this spring time waking ritual feels energizing despite the high humidity and warm temps of the southern hemisphere.

Found this addy in my email during my dawn raid on the internet. Try it: you'll enjoy. just a lovely smile.


http://producten.hema.nl/

As I was sitting in my Brisbane office lookng out over the valley to th next ridgeline in my neighborhood, three very noisy Cockatoos skimming the skies below the cloud cover reminded me that there are all kinds of wake up calls on the planet.

Right now the southern accented Aussie crows are chatting in the local gum trees.

Ah, it is good to be home - time to unpack - jet lag over for the moment, I can organize myself once again.

Happy December, all

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Home

Home Again, home again: jiggidy jig

We are back in Oz! A good couple of flights! Central California freeways ought to be as clear of trafffic as the Tasman Sea between Auckland and Brisbane. It took us as long to drive from Carmel Valley, California, to San Francisco International Airport as it did to fly 2340 kilometers from Auckland, New Zealand to Brisbane, Australia.

However, Main Events, the shuttle through the megapolis of San Francisco and environs, employs an astute driver who made the trip entertaining with a constant patter for the entire 3 hours. No complaints.

We reached the airport with time to spare in the United Lounge where we munched carrot and celery sticks; Is that traditional American airport fare?

Temps here in Queensland summertime hover just below 90 F with plenty of huge puffy white clouds dotting the skies - You know that means we who had spent the previous month at 8000 feet in the wintery eastern Sierra of California have some acclimatizing to do.

As soon as jet lag subsides, I'll share just how we intend to do that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Carmel Valley

We arrived last night on the west coast..the right coast..an 8 hour drive across the breadth of California from Death Valley to Monterey. Wonderments along the way..smoky central valley, rainy highway 46 and a warm welcome from our grandson in the oak tree wilderness of the coast range. What could be better.

There has been a long and wonderful sojourn in the USA, a month in Nordakotah where along with twenty Cuban-Americans we joined a small town on the prairie, put a new metal deck roof on our little house on Stoney Run, a month in the mountains of central California where repairs on the outhouse and the indoor bathroom made a major difference in the ambiance of no running water life.

And here we are with one week to spend with family before flying back to Oz, the wonderland of summer rainstorms and midges interspersed with the companionship of good friends.

It has been a joyful reunion with American friends, a most bounteous election, with smiles and celebrations all round.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Snow

Greetings from snowy Nordacotah!

We woke this morning to white, silent, lovely, four inches of snow cover, a fitting environment in which to pack our bagsbefore we drive south to Arizona where we will visit with family.

I know it has been a while since I have written. We have been cleaning and re-roofing our little house on Stoney Run so it can snuggle safely in this winter on the northern tier of amerika.

Weather has been perfect with only two days of rain and one of unbelievably high winds. The rest of the month has been perfect – autumn weather with one killing frost to turn leaves golden, red, and orange. Pheasants have been wandering in and out of the paddock, a bull moose trotted through the south pasture, and wild turkeys feasted on the pine cones in the front yard. Perfect in every view.

And so, tomorrow we head south with plans to return in May for the next installment of house renovating. The basement needs a new floor before we install the geothermal heating and cooling lines 120 feet in several directions from the house.

In the midst of three weeks of roofing and scrubbing out the remains of raccoon invasion, we also dreamed of structural changes needed. The stairway to the second story, our future bedroom, needs to be moved so that it will be far less steep. A huge bay window will be installed in the north end of the house so that we have a view of the lovely prairie and the northern lights as they play in the winter skies when we decide to be here year round.

A huge veranda needs to be added to the north end of the house and a new entry to the front door needs to be added. All in all, it is a lifetime of work, joyously keeping us productive in a small community far from the maddening crowd.

Catch you all in the southern environs very soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dinner

No packing going on today. Instead there is this constant round of saying good-bye. What do our friends know that I don't? What precisely is it that they expect? They have never before invited us out to sup ad naseum before we fled north.

I really do love the attention! You know I do. And the food has been delicious and the conversation invigorating.

It is pleasant to have Australians indicate that we will be missed.

Tomorrow I pack

Friday we fly.

Friday fifteen minutes before we leave Brisbane, we arrive in San Fran.

Not bad for old folks! :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spring

So, lovely day in Oz..spring sprungs only a week from today! That means mosquitoes begin to hatch and midges start their hunting season!

So, we fly shortly therafter – headed to points north. WE need to be in USA in time for elections. Don't want to miss my chance to say yes to CHANGE.

Am already missing the OLYMPICS and it isn't even time to turn on the evening news. The field and track events simply made my day..amazing Australian hurdler with so much energy she could package it and make a million. A celebratory Jamican field and track team to make my heart sing.

And finally a Kenyan running 26 miles in 2 hours and 6 minutes simply astounded.

It was good for mind and soul..mostly for soul..seeing the world compete and win and lose with tears and smiles instead of bullets. I love the GAMES..

Be well, my friends..see you soon

Friday, August 22, 2008

Long Time No See

Cliche' Where does the time go?

No matter, I'm back for a short while.

Sent the manuscript of Two in the Bush off to Random House four days ago!

And, yes, I will use that fact as an excuse for having been absent for so long. Time consuming, that's what writing a book is all about. Another cliche'..the devil is in the detail..so much to do to ready a book proposal.

Do think positively about this enterprise..for we want to publish not only in Oz, but also in America and Great Britain.

It is a good tale, told not by one but by two idiots!! only so identified because we both believe thoroughly in the viability of this project.

There are universal elements, complexities, and laughter all rolled into one volume.

Now, the waiting game!

hope all is well in all of your worlds..will write more on the morrow..
Life is pleasant here in Oz..blue skies, spring is sprunging – my garden has native blooms! Little happy dance!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Whitney Portal

We're now in Lone Pine and quickly becoming regulars at the espresso bar here. Its kinda fun.

And I should tell you about Joes cameo appereance as a firefighter yesterday (don't worry, it had nothing to do with the cabin, thank god!). It really is a good story. So yesterday we decided to hike up to Lone Pine lake to work ourselves into shape for hiking the Meysan trail later this week. Needless to say it was beautiful and the perfect day for it: lots of sun with some clouds rolling in in the afternoon to cool us off a bit.

Once we got back down to the store we couldn't resist the temptation of getting some french fries and a beer to top off the afternoon. It really was lovely. Just as we were leaving to walk back down to the cabin, we saw Doug and the campground host looking a little alarmed in a station wagon as they almost ran us over saying they were sorry, but there was a fire burning down the canyon!

Of course the first thing I thought of was, oh shit, our cabin is on fire! Maybe I forgot to turn off the iron. Oh yeah, there is no iron. The toaster? No, no toaster. Not likely the cabin would be on fire. Nonetheless we decided to walk down the road to see if we could see anything, because a fire in the canyon with only one way down is a little alarming!

Soooo, as we got about halfway down to the campground, there was a billow of smoke rising through the trees coming from near the stream, right where there was a forest access road (closed to vehicles) turning off to the right. Joe and I stopped and decided that we would walk over there to see if Doug and them needed any assistance, although, let's face it, after a beer and too many french fries at altitude, one couldn't possibly be of much assistance in fighting a forest fire.

About 200 feet up the road, as we were following the smoke, we all of a sudden saw flames. They appeared to be coming from a man-made fire ring which had been absurdly built right at the base of a tree in a huge bed of pine needles. As we got closer, we noticed that the fire had spread to burn up the roots of two over-turned dead trees and was still going. The next thing we noticed was that we were the only ones there! The carload of people who were supposed to be fighting or trying to find the fire were nowhere to be seen!

It was a bit surreal and scary as we realized that we were going to have to be the ones to put the fire out. Without even hesitating Joe ran over to the flames and dumped the remains of his water bottle on the heart of the fire (it really wasn't THAT big), and ran for the stream to refill it. I dumped the rest of what was in my camelback on the flames and then decided that one of us had better go for help. Just as I was aboutto start running back up to the store, Doug burst through the underbrush having just crossed the stream with a wild look in his eyes, and shouted, "How did this thing get started?!" We didn't know and I asked him if I should go for help. He told me to run back up to the store and tell them where the fire was. I left Joe and Doug with our water bottle and camelback and started running.

Halfway up to the store, I hitched a ride (right as I was starting to feel the french fries and beer sloshing angrily in my belly) and the nice guy drove me right to the fire truck that he had seen pass him a minute ago. I mean really, these fire people are a bunch of idiots if they had just driven past the smoke and not seen it!

When I finally got to the fire truck that was parked at the Whitney trailhead parking lot to tell them they could get closer to it from the access road, they thought I was crazy (who is this crazy girl who is panting and acting like the forest is on fire?!). Then I told them that Doug had sent me and that changed everything. All of a sudden, my info had some sort of validity (assholes!).

Once I got back to the scene of the arson (it was clearly arson, and not a lightning strike), Joe and Doug had already put the fire out, but the fire trucks were just starting to arrive, and I could hear the sound of the helicopter hovering above. It was really surreal. Joe was covered in dirt and looked like he had just gotten out of combat, and Doug was standing at the side of the road looking pissed off. He was clearly annoyed at the delay of the fire department in responding to the fire... and I must say, its a good thing that the fire was small because I cant imagine what wouldve happened if Joe and I had stumbled upon a serious out of control blaze. It was an adrenaline rush, to say the least.

So Joe saved the day, and we have a great fire fighting story to tell. For the life of me, I still cant figure out who in their crazy fucked up head would start a fire there. I mean, it wasn't in a spot where someone was hanging out roasting marshmallows, and just didn't put their fire out all the way. It was in a weird place under a low-hanging tree where it wouldve been very difficult to sit and appreciate a campfire. Someone was clearly trying to burn up the forest, in my opinion. This is the stuff of CSI or John Grisham. I don't like it though.

Alrighty mamacita. I've exhausted my email writing for today.

smooches,

sarah

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LIVING WILL


I,__________________, being of sound mind and body, do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means. Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it, or lawyers/doctors interested in simply running up the bills. If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:

Glass of wine
Chocolate
Margarita
Sex
Chocolate
Mexican fooThai food
Sex
Ginger
Chocolate
Licorice
Chocolate
Furit bread
Sex
Ice cream
Cup of tea
Chocolate
Chocolate
Sex
Chocolate

It should be presumed that I won't ever get better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes, let the 'fat lady sing,' and call it a day!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Playfulness

Today, you may not want my conversation about playfulness near you. The flu, phlegm, and snotty nose that accompany my thoughts are anything but playful even though the sun shining through my window gives my body reason to celebrate. Since I do feel a tad better, we may as well begin this dissertation.

Oops, the phone just rang, another reason to postpone writing. So far this morning I have won four games of solitaire (Australian Patience), 4 of 8 games of snood, and lost one attempt at extreme sodoku. Not bad.

I am thinking seriously about going to Woollies in search of a new box of tissues. I've finished three boxes in the past two days. To curtail the spread of vermin to other users here in the house, we also need anti-bacterial wipes for the handset after I say 'hello' with a cheery croak.
Whew, I just had another opportunity to avoid this topic altogether. My partner is driving hhis nurse daughter to the Brisbane Women's to work. I was invited to join them – a lovely thought – 'Let's get Dorothy out of the house – the sunshine might do her some good!'

I declined. After all, I am a dedicated author – besides they both would have hated me by the time we reached the hospital drop-off as I sneezed virus into the car after repeatedly smothering my lungs' plea for relief. I am beginning to take official responsibility for these nasty little invaders coursing through my bronchiales.

I never get sick. I mean, never! Either my immune system is growing old and feeble – unlikely – or there are invaders here in Oz that are very different form the same fellows in the USA. I have had a cold with infection of bronchiales twice in the seven years I've been hanging around here. Urgh! Death to virus in my sinus!!

I am taking all the requisite formulas that come off the shelves of health food stores on line; Wellness is an important aide, and Boiron, of course, as well as way too many propolis from Kiwiland. I'm beginning to think all this pill popping is to no avail, but it could be worse. I could be bedridden, moaning and whinging, immobilized by a concoction of virus invaders that keep me from leaving my warm, cuddly, flannel sheets.

But all of that aside, I am prevailing on my self to remain here at my keyboard and write this damn thing: to allow my stuffed up self to seriously – yeah right – seriously consider what is playful and what I most enjoy in playfulness with my partner.

I can finish this piece by midafternoon and head over to Mt. Cooth-tha for a walk. There I can clear my lungs and spit to my heart's content and no one notices. I can empty my head and bronchiales of all the amazing white sputim my body is producing in its internecine warfare.

Yeah – so what makes me laugh? What makes me happy with my partner? What makes me feel playful? Since, that's the real topic, let's leave this illness behind and pretend to be well – cause even though I'm sick – 'well' is my mantra. Acclimatise to the culture and just 'get on with it.'

You do know that I am popping pills in between paragraphs, don't you? Get the picture – three lines and a propolis between the teeth – can't swallow the little hexagonal goodies – have to squash them first – obsessively squash them.

Ok – back to playfulness...not with pills but with men who really are pills _ you understand the American vernacular? And if my fingers don't wear out – I mean grow weary before I get to the topic at hand, I will actually write about playfulness – eventually, of course.

So – playful with my partner.

Starts with a pat on the ass. Oh, I do love his larger than life hands – huge hands, almost twice the size of my own. I love to have him pat me on the butt with just a shadow of a squeeze. I know it's there, but it doesn't quite manifest. You know the feeling?

That makes me happy, makes my body sing. Makes me know that sometime later in the day – cause he really is a night-time lover, we will have a little intimate connection – only it really never is little. Mostly, it is one of those amazing, life threatening grapples with passion.

I have waited my whole life to have sex that left me feeling fulfilled and exhausted and celebratory all at the same time. Now, I know a lot of folks who say that having a good sex life isn't what is most important in a relationship. Having a sharing, trusting, safe relationship is what is most important. Those folks may be right.

However, I suspect that for me, sexual playfulness provides the physical interlude that creates a psychological space where we can tolerate all the other stuff that often gets in the way.

My snotty nose and frequent low decibel farts, his belly button on the outside of his shirt – I used to care about what men wore. I thought a fellow's socks told a great deal about him. And then I discovered this tall lanky Aussie dude at LAX one June morning in 2000 who was dressed in faded levis, a plaid shirt and carrying a pink bag. His hair was ruffley from twelve hours in economy across the Pacific. The leathery skin on the back of his neck reminded me of pug dogs, his grey eyes were tired, and his hands – Yes, that is the subject on which I have come to talk to you.

His hands are the center of playfulness for us. And my hands too. But I'll get to that later.

After we left the airport and headed for the Sierra Nevada, we stopped in a huge empty parking lot of a suburban supermarket into which eventually we would go shopping, and I made my first 'safe call'. Whilst I was dialling my mobile still sitting behind the steering wheel, he stretched out on the bench seat and put his head in my lap. He placed his huge, strong, wide thumbed hand on my knee.

Ah, playfulness? Yes, it was a ploy. How did he know that just his touch would have such an enormous effect. To what school did this bloke go that he knew?

I stumbled through the phone call indicating that I was safe, that I would call on the morrow to report again. But, safe I was not. My entire body resonated to that hand. What promises it held. Thumbs are under rated even in the best reports given of them, but that is also another story.

I hung up and we sashayed into the almost empty store. Please imagine in your mind's eye a brand-new, wide-aisled, American supermarket where colourful eye-catching merchandising prevails, where product is perfectly stacked with all labels pointing in just the right direction at the best possible level to catch your attention.

Here we were, two virtual strangers, about to embark on our first shopping extravaganza together. I had no idea what foods he preferred and he knew nothing of my tastes – well, that, too, is another story

First I skipped – in my blue, spaghetti strapped sundress and Mary Janes; I skipped down aisles. When he caught up with me, I stumbled, and laughing he provided my balance as we celebrated what seemed to be displayed just for us. Seemed like a quarter-mile of cereals, a whole back wall of cheeses, all of which looked very much like American orange, a chemical product with very little milk from which it ought to have originated. We checked out the frozen food aisle to see if either of us would fit in the chest freezers. We swooned over the wine shelves – five rows deep and forty yards long. And we squeezed the chip packages to see if they were really fresh. Carefully, we avoided squeezing the white bread, knowing that we might end up having to buy what we destroyed.

I rode on the front of the super market cart; he pushed and twirled me in a lovely dance. We laughed until one of the clerks stopped by to see what was happening in their otherwise staid warehouse of goodies.

We stopped and kissed. Oh what a lovely kiss – not passionate, but a playful brushing – new smells of each other added to the connection. Giggling, we gossiped with the check-out clerk and walked out of the market hand in hand while his huge other hand pushed the cart to the car.

The rest of our trip to the cabin was quiet, uneventful. Along the four-hour drive through the desert, he fell asleep on my lap and I drove with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on his soft grey curls.

When I think of that time again, I know why I fell in love with him. The playfulness of coming to know one another is the most persuasive aphrodesiac.

What do we need to continue that process? We need to agree that there is so much more to know and we need to playfully continue the process, but that is so much easier written than acted upon. Sometimes, it seems that there is nothing new to discover – hardly a possibility – for we are complex humans who have lived sixty years or more and have adventures, stories, and secrets that we have not yet begun to share. We must reinvigorate ourselves to include discovery – playful, trusting discovery.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oops..three weeks later – where does the time go?

Okd, a report, time took me to Melbourne the day after I posted last. Three days visiting the cultural capital of Australia meant good food, cold weather and rain. As for culture, it's kinda like looking out the window at a small NYC. Every one is 'rugged up' in black. Tattoos appear on a variety of arms, ankles, and necks. The trams work in a timely manner and the taxi drivers are polite and accurate.

We spent the time with my partners sister and brother-in-law, ate good food on Melbourne's South Bank, and laughed through it all. It was so good to visit family including my partner's mom who celebrated her 89th birthday while we were there.

And since then, it's all about recovery and writing. I have some posts to offer up to you in terms of my latest attempts at memoir. I will promise again that they will be forthcoming. Maybe this time I will follow through.

Winter is a jolly fine time in Brisbane. Sunshine by 9 a.m...we are quickly moving to the long side of the winter equinox with dawn birds singing just a tad earlier each morning – not that their song influences our leaving the warm flannel sheets into which we have tucked ourselves the cold night before.

Life is good.

Finally, below please find the link to my favourite news reporter – Bill Moyers; it's a short piece on oil and Iraq..doesn't tell you much you didn't already know, but for goddess sake, it seems that if a news reporter can give us these quotes, Kucinich's attempt at impeachment ought to deserve some real action by Congress.

Here in Oz, I'm counting down the days til Bush & Co exit Washington. Am hoping they pack up all the neocons and drop them in the garbage bag with the rest of their trash on their way out of town.

luv to you all...annielaural


It Was Oil, All Along
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/06/28/9953/

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good Sunday morning! Blue sies sprinkled with puffy whites.

The good witch did battle with the rain showers and survived. But, she took a long and winding path back to the internet. Good to have finally arrived.

It is not quite 7 a.m. here in Oz; another fine winter day as we zoom towards the winter solstice! Dark by 5 p.m....light comes around 6:45 a.m. which, of course, means we sleep more.

trimmed the shrubs outside my office window and note today tht the little Queenslander houses on the opposite ridge line are clearly outlined against the morning skyline. I can see a wide swath of the hollow before me.. even the larger vehicles traelling along Baroona Road at the bottom of the valley.

I'll be back with news tomorrow. WE are off to brekkie in a few. Happy week end to all!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Annerley Literacy Center: United Nations

Mary, a puckish Sudanese 26-year-old mother of 4 was a woman who before coming to Australia had never been to school, never learned an alphabet, a woman full of energy and patience, a woman who seemed to trust her world way beyond reason.

Ruth, her two year old, came to the literacy centre with her mom on Mondays. Nama, her four-year-old son came the rest of the week, but on Mondays he went to a preschool where he learned to speak English better than his mom.
* * *

On Monday when I arrived ten minutes late at the Annerley Literacy Centre, George, the coordinator, asked me to teach two groups, one of which included Mary who had never learned her alphabet in the Sudan where schools were not available to women, just to children of women. Two others were Masa, a young Sudanese man who had been in Australia for only one week, and Mammoud an Ethiopian whose smile and English were much better than Mary’s, and whose patience was a constructive addition to our lesson.

And then, of course, there were the usual mix of Korean students who came to the centre in order to practice English conversation, the intermediate group who had not paid quite enough attention in elementary and secondary school or who were shy and unwilling to make errors in front of each other. They had been in Australia only a short time.

There was also Lucy, the basketball player whose fingers went numb, who came to Australia from Yugoslavia, but who wasn’t willing to mention Bosnia, Serbia, or any other small enclave of her past. Her smile, her tall athleticism contrasted with Mary, whose small dark face absolutely lit up in the midst of class.

Why is Mary’s story and that of Masa and Mammoud, and Lucy important? Because they bring grace, balance, and good will with them from the impossible situations which they fled as they arrived in Brisbane where life seemed a tad safer.

Safer, that is, as long as the Howard government didn't have a say in the matter, civilized as long as the Family Court of Southern Australia stopped a ruthless federal government minister who insisted that children be placed in detention for the crimes of their parents.

We don’t talk much about politics at the literacy centre; it seems more important to focus on the positive nature of the world. We have talked about Bush tucker, the indigenous array of foodstuffs available in their strange new home down under.

We also talked about travel, how far we flew, from where, who flew the farthest, and what stops were made in our long journey to this place that offered a reprieve from our former death sentences.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. My American political background certainly didn't threaten me even though it was possible that my stress around the political climate in the USA may have shortened my life. I left the USA in part because of the degree to which I objected to the policies of my government. I was overwhelmed with a sense of impotency, anger and frustration at their intervention in world politics; at their concentration on murder and mayhem while they also decreed negotiation with other state governments was an impossible consideration.

However, this little treatise is offered in an attempt to inform you of the immense change in the people who came to Australia to escape the very real death sentence of their more totalitarian governments.

Was it possible that Mary could ever tell me, even when she finally had the English words, about her experience in her homeland, the experiences which caused her husband to bring their brood to Australia to escape a certain death in the country of their birth.

Let me begin at the beginning. In March 2002 Michelle invited me to join the volunteers at the Annerley Literacy Centre. Walking in the door, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the need as well as by the lack of organization.

I didn’t pretend to have any ideas about how to organize the classes or the students. However, I knew that if I were going to teach, even on a volunteer basis, I would need to organize myself and my students in some fashion.

Most of all what I didn’t understand at that time was that the refugees and migrants were people who needed more than English skills. They had been through war, attempted annihilation, and the loss of any property they might once have accumulated.

Unlike my own travel agenda, their journey wasn't a holiday. Their arrival in Australia and eventually in Brisbane was a real life game of ‘survival’. Just arriving with their physical selves in tact made each of them a winner. But now, not only did they need to learn English, they needed to learn a whole new culture and the appropriate ways in which to earn a living, to go to school, to cross the street, to buy their food, to dress, to wash, to laugh at Australian jokes. Not only did the adults need to make the crossing themselves, but they needed to model the best possible way for their children to adapt and to keep the sacred practices of their own culture in tact. The pride of being from the Sudan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eratria, or Yugoslavia also had to continue.

Mankind has always been on the move, has always attempted to established herself in new and alien locals, but somehow this journey from hauling water two kilometres in a jug on one’s head to turning a faucet seemed a very long way.

And so we volunteer tutors had not only to teach a new language to people’s whose native tongue we did not understand, but we had the added responsibility of introducing these avid learners to our high tech culture and all that was expected of them here.

And, did Mary survive? You betcha! With a determined mind and a concentrated smile, she read English, not always understanding each of the words she translated onto paper, but she learned her ABCs in written form and read the clock face accurately. She cooked Australian style by boiling potatoes, lamb, and vegetables on the gas stove. She roasted chicken in the oven. She made banana and peanut butter sandwiches on white bread for her children’s lunches, and she walked with Ruth in her perambulator to the literacy centre each week day morning to learn new English words, to drink her morning tea with two tsp's of sugar. And then she walked home to watch the Simpson's at 6 p.m. with her second and third grade children. Furthermore, today she will tell you all of this in perfectly formed English sentences and a bright smile.

She took what the volunteers at the centre offered and in the face of incredible odds she modelled these new behaviours for her children. She provided for all who have worked with her a sense of accomplishment that only her success could offer. Thank you, Mary.

On Thursday there was an addendum to the story of Mary. I was called to come to the literacy centre at 10 because two of the teachers could unexpectedly not attend. I didn’t know with which group I would be working and after I arrived, taking with me materials for all levels, I was placed with the advanced students, which meant the group would include only one refugee, an Iraqi woman who had lived several years in Egypt. The rest of the students were Korean and Japanese. We had a lovely class, introducing ourselves in conversation.
The students were answering questions about being either an A or a B type personality when Nama, Mary’s four year old son, came to play with his sister Ruth near our table. As I asked Nama about his pre-school session, he took my hand and looked carefully at my watch. I suggested that taking it off was easy. He turned my wrist over, figured out how to undo the catch, and stood there with it in his hand. After telling me the time, he put it back on my wrist and buckled it up.

Kook, a 24-year-old Korean student reached out to talk and play with Masa. I was always amazed at the interest the Koreans had in the Sudanese. They often come to homework club in the afternoon to act as tutors for the school aged children. They were kind and playful and never standoffish or judgmental.

Perhaps this is the greatest gift the centre has to offer Australia and the refugees and the student learners; young people from many countries come together to join a celebration.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Heron Dance

My Heron Dance Newsletter arrived this morning. The mornings when I open it and find Rod's amazing water colours, I always wish I had told you all about this site and so I am including the following excerpt. If you enjoy, you may wish to subscribe for free at the following address:

http://www.herondance.org/Join-A-Pause-For-Beauty-W45C53.aspx

Dear Heron Dancers,

Monarchs are just starting to flutter through our lives, between our houses, our office buildings, through our parks and farms. They are arriving because the first milkweed plants are just starting to emerge from the ground.

Milkweed plants can grow two or three inches in their first day above ground. Monarch butterflies time their migration so that they arrive just on time—often that same first milkweed day. They lay their eggs and die shortly after arriving in milkweed country.

Monarch larvae extract poisons from milkweed—poisons they use to discourage predators such as birds. The Monarch’s bright colors thus warn predators of an unsavory and perhaps unhealthy experience. The toxins include a heart poison. Two other butterflies—the Queen and the Viceroy—mimic the Monarch’s colors in order to accomplish the same result, although they are not poisonous to birds.

Monarchs usually mate in large colonies. The male sprinkles the female with pheromones and forces her to the ground. They wrestle for several minutes as he gets into position. When the female folds her wings in submission, he grabs her and takes off for the tops of trees where they will remain together for several hours. The male may mate three times before dying. Groundbreaking butterfly researcher Mariam Rothschild described the Monarch as a “prime example of nature’s male chauvinist pig.” On the other hand, she also wrote:

“Butterflies add another dimension to the garden, for they are like dream flowers—childhood dreams—which have broken loose from their stalks and escaped into the sunshine. Air and angels...”

Male monarchs require lots of water to reproduce and can be seen drinking dew from plants in the early morning. Their spermatophore are 90 percent water and can equal 10 percent of the male’s weight. The bigger and wetter the spermatophore of the male, the longer the female will delay before mating with another male.

Monarchs also help plants reproduce. They depend on nectar for food, and in the process are important pollinators.

In celebration of the Great Dance of Life,


Roderick W. MacIver

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tasmania: A Childhood Memory

Beneath the high ceiling of the downstairs apartment in Battery Point, she sat quietly on their last morning in Hobart and meandered through memories of the past week. This had been their second flight to Tasmania. Two years ago they had flown into north-western Tassie to Cradle Mountain where they spent two days trekking through the button grass wilderness. Late autumn 2008 they had returned, this time to Hobart for a celebration of his 60th birthday.

After the two and a half hours flight from Brisbane, they landed eighteen kilometres north of this island capitol city and wrapped themselves in jumpers and rain gear.

Dick and Tricia, friends from years of film making who now lived in Hobart, materialized about ten minutes later as the Brisbane tourists awaited their luggage.

As always she was a bit trepidacious about meeting these two people who were always coiffed perfectly, whose soft earth tones coordinated with the streaks of blond in lovely beige slightly poofed hair. The first comment from these folks who wore the right shoes and light woollen slacks was, 'Dorothy, here you are, our backpacker!'

Immediately taking minor offence at being so identified, she glanced down at her clunky hiking boots. They were simply too heavy to smash into a suitcase.

All of the Australian's friends, even the artistic ones, had Tourettes. Whatever they were thinking they said.

And at the same time they were obviously delighted at the arrival of friends. Kisses all round with compliments on Graham's new titanium glasses and small talk about all the tourist possibilities filled the few moments until the baggage stumbled off the conveyor belt. She had not seen him for at least a year and she instantly noted changes in his appearance

'That's mine. The one with the maple leaf tag. I travel most times as a Canadian,' Dorothy bragged. 'Safer that way.'

'Oh yes,' replied dick. 'Canadians are still well loved.'

Here they were with millionaires , riding in a tiny Honda about to embark on their maiden voyage to Hobart. Good on em.

Not only were Dick and Tricia accommodating, they were generous, far more generous than she expected. From the back seat of their little Honda the tour commenced of the brick and sandstone city on the Pictin River. Arranged around the long inlet, the city stood on the south shore protected from the cold westerlies storming in from the Antarctic Ocean by Mt. Wellington, a massive ridgeline running the entire north south border of the city.

As they exited the airport where Tasmanian police were busily giving tickets to airport drivers who had exceeded the 40kph speed limit around the new construction. All four shook their heads and continued on at a very slow pace.

Reaching the highway, the Honda flashed along at 100 kph towards Hobart. Very green gumtree forests covered the lower vales near the highway while ridgelines showed the effects of the timber industry in what was once a temperate rain forest.

She had expected to see some of the tall trees of the western side of Tasmania, the ones through which they had driven on their trip to Cradle Mountain. No. land clearing had been going on here in the east for the past 200 years. Whatever was left in terms of forestation was fortunate indeed and probably very young.

The city across the inlet sat like a jewel with a surprise. In the middle of the bay docked on the south side was a huge red vessel. The Arctic Voyager, an icebreaker, became her focal point. Whenever she saw it, she knew she was headed to her home away from home. Later an American battleship, overwhelmed in size by the Artic Voyager docked nearby. Imagine! An Australian environmental research vessel bigger than an American battleship.

Soon it became obvious that the city streets were arranged as a series of one-way grids. Unlike Brisbane, Hobart seemed to have been settled by military personnel who had a sense of order. Not all streets fit the grid, but generally they rotated around a wheel with Salamanca Square, dockside at the centre of radiating spokes. It would be difficult to lose oneself in Hobart.

They drove past the Arctic Voyager and up the hill to Battery Point, the spot from which the early military commanders built gun defences to protect the colony from what was feared might be marauding invaders – the Spanish and the French. However, neither committed the folly of attacking, which seemed well for the British since by all accounts those shore batteries could not have defended the city. She supposed, as in modern times, it was not the defensive nature of the guns, but the imagination of the residents that allowed them to feel safe.

As they drove past the wide streets of Salamanca Square, Dick pointed out 'the best noodle shop in town, the finest fresh vegetables and fruit shops, and finally, the best deli, 'The Worst House', all located near their vacation abode.

They parked their little conveyance on the narrow alleyway of Humbolt Street and in a light sprinkling of rain walked to the Bakery where they would eat three of the five mornings we were on vacation. As always, the smell of yeast rising, of warm sour dough accentuated her appetite.

They sat in ice cream parlour chairs at round black tables and enjoyed a superb cuppa. A flat white was not hard to make, but an excellent flat white – piquant, sharply awakening taste buds, was not easily found. This cafe bakery never failed them.

'Flat white in a mug?"

' Sorry we have only cups' rather smugly.

'Ok, then, a flat white in a cup, please,' echoed three times. Taste buds titillated by the fragrances resonating from the old brick walls of the 1830s building stimulated appetites.

'I'll have the rabbit, mushroom, tart with the Greek cheese and hazelnuts,' said she.

'And I will have the scrambled eggs with the Tasmanian salmon crust,' said Trish. 'Please don't make the salmon hot. I prefer it at room temperature.'

Food was the delight of her life. Good food accented any situation. It formed the plate from, which she tasted new territory. Hobart currently seemed the culinary delight of all of Australia thanks to the little bakery and to the amazing food at Stanwell House, home of Tricia and Dick.

After their light lunch, they were dropped off at the lovely space that would be their home for the next five days. The old house, a half block from the bay, less than a kilometre from where the Artic Explorer was docked, only a block away from the Bakery, had recently been sold. As seemed to be true throughout Hobart, the garden flourished with blossoms still budding even though they were far into autumn. The daily rain showers probably had something to do with the health of all that greenery.

They had a large veranda looking out towards the bay. They entered into a hallway on the left side of which was the lounge/kitchen, the right side of which was a huge bedroom complete with queen sized comforter-covered bed and almost floor to ceiling windows. The bathroom with washer, dryer, bathtub and shower, was located at the end of the hall.

This entire scenario sounded almost too perfect. And so it was until their last night on this southern most island state of Australia when it was necessary for Graham and Dick to complete business concerning their long years of coordinating lights and cameras to produce some of the most effective commercials screened on Australian television. Dorothy was invited to join the former business partners that evening. Although Tricia was out at Spanish lessons that late afternoon, Dorothy could have gone along and entertained herself with a good story while the two men talked.

However, she preferred to spend that last afternoon in the art shops of Salamanca Square, shops she had not had the time to investigate earlier in the week.

'If you drop me off at the Square, I'll window shop and then pick up some Vietnamese take away for dinner. I'll meet you here in the apartment when you're finished. I suspect I'll be home before you. Would you mind if I took the key?'

'Of course not. Here you go.' Graham finagled the house key off the car key ring, handed it to her, bent to give her a kiss and opened the front door as they headed off to the car.

'You sure you don't want to come along?' he queried as he unlocked the car.

'No, I've wanted to look around those shops. This is a fine opportunity. I'll see you here in a couple of hours.'

And so they drove off around Arthur's Circle to Salamanca Square, where she kissed her driver and stepped onto the cobblestones.

Graham drove off as she wandered across the street to decide which shop to visit first. The glassware caught her attention, brilliantly colourful in the late afternoon greyness. It was 4:30 and in so southern a climate, the sun was reaching for the western horizon behind the huge precipice of Mt. Wellington.

She loved jewellery. She had very little, but she loved to window shop. These pieces were larger than life. Huge silver squares connected to make a most unusual chain upon which rested a brilliant blue/glass square bead. It would take someone with a rare personality to wear them.

In another corner were brilliant red/blue woolen sweaters, avant-garde, unusual, made for only the very slender, but beautifully crafted with buttons to set off their angular cut. It was hard to call them jumpers; they were fashion pieces made for only the most dramatic women to wear.

The next shop was rife with wood; bowls, cutting boards, placemats, knives, and leather belts and more woven goods, woollen scarves resplendent in designer colours and shapes and berets to keep one warm in the far south.

Rather suddenly, she was awakened from her artistic window shopping. It was always an unexpected surprise to find that Australians really do go home for afternoon tea, that their marketing gene was not as strong as that of Americans who would never close the doors of a shop if there were a shopper present.

Politely, window shades were drawn and keys jangled mildly in the shop owner's hands. Time for her to exit. Much sooner than she expected. There were still had two hours before the Australian would return from his meeting.

Nonetheless, she exited and headed for the market to purchase milk for morning tea, some island cheese and winter pears for their dessert on her way to the Vietnamese Noodle shop where she debated on their order.

Finally, she decided on green curry and vegetarian rice paper rolls.

Valhalla Ice Cream from King Island was also on sale.

'Do you have these flavours in bulk?'

'We have cones, and paper cups. We have no tops for the cups.'

'That's ok. Please, may I have a double dip of mango and a double dip of macadamia nut in the cups?'

Placing the ice cream gingerly in the corners of her plastic bag, she began the kilometre walk up hill to their apartment. The sun was low on the horizon, well below Mt. Wellington. Cool air from the bay surrounded her as she climbed the steps up from the square to the high ground of Battery Point.

Arriving home, she put the ice cream in the little freezer and the noodles into the apartment refrigerator. She sat down on the lounge, took out her pencil and her sodoku while she waited for Graham's arrival.

As she finished a puzzle, she looked out the huge windows eastward toward the bay. Darkness had settled quietly all round. Unbidden, a great angst caught her breath and carried it away. Nervous tension replaced her relaxed demeanour. Nervous, she set down her pencil and book and began to pace the room, moving out into the hallway. Opening the door, she paced out to the veranda. Tears began to form. Shaking, she re-entered the hallway, closed the door and found herself sobbing.

Her mind echoed. 'You know where he is. He will be here shortly. He loves you. Stop this. Calm down.'

And as the words moved through her consciousness, her muscles trembled, the tears flowed, and short sharp cries of pain reverberated across the apartment. 'Oh, no. I can't do this. I can't stand to feel this way. Help me. Oh, help me.'

She sat upon the queen sized bed, threw herself onto the pillows, rolled over and slid to the ground, sitting with her back against the bed crying uncontrollably.

There was a knock. In some part of her consciousness, she had heard him walk cross the cement veranda. She had to go to the door. There was no way for him to get in unless she unlocked the door. And so trembling, wiping her nose with her fist, she ran to the door, undid the lock, opened the door, and apologizing, ran back into the bedroom.

Still crying, she rolled onto the bed, facing the wall. Curling up into the smallest ball possible, she tried to calm herself.

Several minutes later, her tears drying, her sobbing diminished, she blew her nose and walked into the lounge room where Graham was sitting alone staring off into space.

'I am sorry. I had an anxiety attack. It is not your fault. I thought I could handle myself. I am sorry.'

'You have no idea how hard this is for me. I can't go anywhere. I cannot leave you alone. I never know what I will come home to find.'

'I apologize. It is not your fault. Abandonment overwhelmed me. I was so utterly alone. I couldn't stand it. I don't know what to do.'

And there they were; their birthday celebration ending in anguish, anxiety. Once more, she had lost control.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cold Westerlies and clear skies

Winter has arrived a month early.

9 degrees celcius last night – snuggly sleeping keeps us warm. We still haven't closed the veranda doors – Winds from the west swept the final leaves from the Frangipani trees at the end of the veranda.

Before bedtime thunder and lightening provided a light and music show that we haven't heard for quite some time. Cold air off the continent meeting warm moist Pacific Ocean air creates energy..opposites attract!

I have been missing for days. Our trip to Tasmania for six days is one of the reasons. While in Hobart, the brick and sandstone capitol of Australia, other American visitors arrived – 9000 sailors from an American battleship touring the Pacific.

Twas pleasant to hear my own patois for a bit in the squares and shopping center of Hobart.

We also travelled south to the most southern town in Australia – no match for Ushuiaia in Patagonia, Argentina, but also a forested, a green spot on the land map. We looked at a house for sale in Cygnet south of Hobart. Located on an ocean inlet with yachts in the harbour and green lawns backed up with forested ridge lines, we enjoyed black swans preening on the quiet ocean waters.

We stayed in Battery Point at a charming 1830s vacation apartment provided to us by friends of Graham with whom he has worked for years. The Battery Point bakery has flat whites and scrambled eggs w/Tasmanian salmon to satisfy the most discerning palate.

We also travelled north to Freycinet National Park – the subject of the second web page below.

I am including a couple of web pages to entice you to southern Oz on your next visit across the Pacific. It is truly a lovely parcel, I promise!

http://www.batterypoint.net/panos.htm

http://www.redbubble.com/search/freycinet

Monday, May 05, 2008

Crazy Mixed up Personality Types

Ok, so now if you have listened to the southern hemisphere choir, you might enjoy a little giggle at this web site with slightly slanted info on the MBTI, The Meyers Briggs Temperment Sorter. Click on the title of this entry or use the addy below.

I thought it very funny. A great way to begin my Monday morning in the midst of that same birdsong you may have listened to. By the way, had new music yesterday..Currowong came to munch on the figs in the big tree in the back garden. The regulars really resented the entry of a new species and the racket was kinda like a death metal concert. No one was tossed into the audience though – without a doubt, the Butcher Birds tried.

Tomorrow we join the birds in flight. Headed down to Hobart in Tasmania for a week to celebrate Graham's 60th birthday – Hooray for the Boy Toy. He has almost made it to adult hood.

It's gonna be cold and rainy – just the weather he most enjoys.

I'll post pics and story upon our return.

Be well!


http://www.xeromag.com/fun/personality.html

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Australian bird songs

Hi there..

Below are some web pages that contain a little info and a picture of each of several Australian native birds.

If you press the little green buttons you can actually hear them singing.

These are the sounds that surround me during the early morning when I sit down to talk with you.

Their songs are so different from those of their northern hemisphere neighbors that I thought those of you who have never been here might delight in hearing them and those of you who have travelled to Oz might fondly remember.


http://home.iprimus.com.au/punkclown/Punkclown/Whipbird.htm

http://home.iprimus.com.au/punkclown/PunkClown/Bellbird.htm

http://home.iprimus.com.au/punkclown/Punkclown/Kooka.htm

http://home.iprimus.com.au/punkclown/Punkclown/Butcherbird.htm

http://home.iprimus.com.au/punkclown/Punkclown/Magpie.htm

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Meme

Morning..Welcome to my little corner of the web on the day after Anzac Day.

Gosh, but all I want to do is celebrate. Yesterday was the day of days in Oz. Everyone or at least it seemed like everyone had become an historian remembering World War !, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, and/or Iraq and Afghanistan. These people take the remembrance thing a tad too far and my leaky margins just gobbled up all the angst and pain that was evident in their remembering.

So, today the sun shines in a clear blue sky; the temps are about to rise to the 80s F. and we are off to an Hungarian Barbecue at a friend's house.

However, I wanted to share with all my English teacher friends one of the neatest set of possible writing assignments – the kind you give the kids to fill the first ten minutes of class to keep them busy while you are taking care of the roll and various and sundry other tasks.

I didn't know what a Meme was – – had to look it up on the web. and the link that you will reach by clicking on the title of this blog entry will take you to a site with scads of simple, fun writing assignments related to memes. Just follow the links.

And in case you want an example, try out this example meme:

1. Go to www.flickr.com
2. Type in your answers to the questions below in the "search" box.
3. View only the first page of each response.
4. Copy the paste two photos of your chosing.

First name?
First word of your elementary school's name?
Favorite color?
Pet peeve?
Dream vacation?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you most love in life?
One word to describe you?

Thanks to Kenneth who sent it on to a lot of us on the INFJ web list.

Happy Friday in nordamerika...happy Saturday here in Oz..

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Questions for the Australian Tourist Board

This series of questions has been around for quite a while. A friend emailed them to me this morning and I thought you all might enjoy reading them, too.



These were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a sense of humour

__________________________________________________

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia ? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? ( UK ).

A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

__________________________________________________

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)

A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

__________________________________________________

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)

A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.

__________________________________________________

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)

A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe .
Aus-tra-lia is that big island in t he middle of the Pacific which does not
... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

__________________________________________________

Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA)

A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

_________________________________________________

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia ? (UK)

A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

__________________________________________________

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)

A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is ...
oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

____________________________ ______________________

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)

A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers.
Milk is illegal .

__________________________________________________

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can Dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)

A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from.
All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

__________________________________________________

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia , but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)

A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them.
You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

__________________________________________________

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia ? (USA)

A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

__________________________________________________

Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)

A: Yes, gay night clubs.

__________________________________________________

Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the Girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross*. Can you help? (USA)

A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour..

__________________________________________________

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)

A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first !

Monday, April 21, 2008

Frustration Reigns under blue southern skies

Well, that's not really true. The skies were blue when I rose this morning; at the moment the west is full of fluffy whites.

I am working on chapter 6 of Das Book – too long – too disconnected. Urgh! and I'm tired of sitting here at my desk trying to shorten, edit, and bring to life ole Brizzie.

I think I need to go sit under the Pandamus Palms around the South Bank pool. That might inspire some vitality in this document.

So, you see. Writing is not always easy. Writing is often magnificently frustrating.

And so here I am.

and so I up loaded a photo of myself in Wyoming to remind myself that there were days of vacation mode.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday – Overcast Saturday

My connection to the internet is problematic this morning – not sure if it is my machine or the cyber world interfering. After all, it is an overcast Saturday morning and what are millions of Australians doing if they cannot surf or serve as tasty tidbits for sharks along the east coat of this land?

Just had an email from a friend who is undergoing various treatments for cancer. She, too, has a blog on this site. If you would like to smile, laugh, and enjoy the throes of life with cancer-treatment, just click on the title of today's blog. It will take you to Janell's blog

In the meantime, work on "Two in the Bush: a memoir of love and life in Australia" is well underway. What else can one work on in the midst of the blocked sun, cloud filled skies of southern Queensland.

Be well, my friends. Catch you soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Animal Imagery Poem

I know, I know..I missed a day or two. Sat here right in front of the computer and asked myself if I had something to say. Of course, I did, but not the energy to actually type it out.

Some claim that after an extended period of time in right hemisphere – imagery – one has to re-orient back into 'real life'. Guess that will be my excuse.

Nonetheless, here I am on Christina's birthday full of energy. Blue skies and birdsong do that to me.

Here is the poem I offered to the Saturday Performance at the Animal Imagery workshop. Hope it isn't too esoteric.

Bornhoffen Imagery

Arrival –
Cicada and tiny frogs out-sing my tinnitus

Rivulets of autumn rain plow a bare crusted river path.

Ah – I, too, am here in hopes of being laid bare
stripping the conscious layer from the mandarin of my mind,
exposing sweet segments to digest.

Nguntjerri's sage brought me dugong
An old woman grazing on Morton Bay sea grass

While others appropriated
my southern accented Australian crow
and intrepid Wedge Tail Eagle.

Did Windwalker release the cleansing gusts
to whip through our dreams?

Animal Imagery provided a cozy warmth
on a wind swept night –
until the wind, exhausted,
abandoned her pursuit.

In this place, one must clear a lawn
from which to view the hearty life force of a
forested, be-vined, unconscious haven.

Listening with new ears,
Indigenous rhythms meld into
Unconscious spaces in the unfolding psyche

A celebration of new beginnings.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Festival of the Animals

Greetings from a sunny southern hemisphere Sunday evening,

I have just returned from a week end workshop in Animal Imagery. Jungian in concept, this workshop has opened my mind. It has changed my path. In the space of one evening, one day and one morning of workshops, I have come to understand my world in a brand new way.

Do I sound enthusiastic? You betcha!

There is a link at the top of this blog entry. Just click on the title of this blog entry. I urge you to look at it.

Not only have I changed my focus from abstract concepts, I have moved quickly to a place where I want to work mainly in concrete physical feelings about my life issues. I want to report how my muscles and viscera feel when engaged in life experiences. I want to discuss dreams not as metaphorical patterns (oh, how my mind loves them) but from the point of view of just how my muscles feel when they are confronted with dream images that accompany my sleep at night.



This is a paradigm change in my life. I will report the effects in future blog entries.

Oh, and as an added plus, an amazing wonderment, I was privileged to receive an energy invocation from an Aboriginal medicine man, Nguntjeerie. On his work I will also report, but as of this writing, there has been a change in my experience of the osteoartharitis in my right knee. Too soon to tell if there is a cause and effect process.

We'll see. But no matter whether I am healed in some way, I am feeling satisfied, comfortable, inclined to good health at the moment. May it continue! Let the games begin.

Happy Sunday to you all!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vicissitudes

Back again to the same ole, same ole

One just never knows what will work unless/until the risk is taken and the deed is done.

The workshop was a wonderment. Claire Scobie's Last Seen in Lhasa is worth your time. Her presentation was certainly worth mine.

I feel energised by the opportunity to work with her and with the other workshop participants on a rainy afternoon.

I met another ex pat – of the most unusual sort – an European born in Japan, raised in China, married to another European from an entirely different culture.

We will have coffee another day next week.

The manuscript has been edited one more time with lots more work to do.

The book proposal is the next step and mailing it out to publishers the next step.

My friends in Amerika are being supported by their community! Hooray for those who inspire truth telling and freedom of the Press – may they win the day!

love to all..

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Happy Saturday

Sunny wakening on a morning when we expected rain. All work has been canceled due to weather conditions that have not eventuated. Same ole, same ole.

Which weather forecaster do you trust?

Me, I trust the guy who twenty years ago predicted that this year would be one of the rainiest in Brisbane's summer season. Not only was he correct in his predictions, he figured it out long before global warming and other planetary issues arrived to cloud our understanding. Really strange, isn't it?

So, today is a work day. I head off to a Master's workshop on Travel Memoir Writing tomorrow. Today I have to read my book and make all the necessary changes so that it is in the best possible condition for critique.

Publishers beware. We are on the prowl.

Be well, my friends. Life is good. Hope the same is true for you and all appropriate legislation continues to move along quickly and effectively.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Recovery

No telling what will make a difference - always amazing what information can be useful - the primary reason for keeping one's eyes and ears open ALL the time.

Went to a CG Jung Society of Queensland meeting last night. Speaker was presenting her trip to Egypt and the association that trip had to her recovery from 'trauma' suffered about five years ago. Isis and Osirus were the mythological focus of her presentation.

First of all, it was interesting to see how Aussies deal with those who are unprepared. I was acutely aware that if I had been making the presentation, I would have done a trial run with the technology that I needed to use.

Not so here!

My impatience had to be showing on my face and finally in my hands as I led the clapping at the end of the presentation, almost cutting short the entire room. Damn Amerikans - I am one of the pushy bunch, to be sure.

But, I also want to write to the speaker because she gave me so much fodder to chew cud-like all of last night and well into the morning.

She also offered me enough information to cure my malisse for the moment.

Today, it is work on the book. Today, it is lunch in the city with women friends.

Today is preparing for Sunday's workshop on writing Travel Memoir.

Today the sun shiens, the clouds billow in the blue skies, and I am feeling fit and able to cope with life.

What a roller coaster I chose to ride on.

Hopefully, all of you are better prepared to face the contingencies of your lives than I have been lately. Hopefully, this day dawns with a smile on its face and ends in relaxation and a sene of equilibrium.

Here in Oz, it's Friday..and I promise you a lovely one at that.

Ciao

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The interior

No, not the Red Centre of Oz. Nope, not the mid-western USA. Not the molten ball thousands of miles under the granite outcroppings of California's Sierra Nevada.

My own interior has churned itself into an emotional basket case these past three days. I write here in an attempt to escape the monologue that beckons me to slid deeper into the quick sand of my own emotions.

You know how anxiety feels? Most of us have had that experience once or twice in our lives and I suspect we each express that out of control moment a bit differently. My guts cramp, my eyes tear, my nose runs, my mind begins to close around whatever image or thoughts have taken it captive.

So, I'm gonna go walk in the wilderness. Often the adrenalin dissipates with physical activity. The birds remind me that my only real purpose in being here is to be here..and then of course, I realize that I have already completed the reproductive imperative and that really there is only one other reason to continue and that is to assure that the next generations grow to maturity and continue the line.

Now, that makes me smile!

Catch ya laters...

Monday, March 31, 2008

What makes life worthwhile or why climb out of bed in the morning?

What makes my heart sing these days? A new opportunity, random acts of kindness, smiles, birdsong (NOT a hundred lorikeets), golden orb spider webs, spring blossoms, the first cool night of autumn, an unexpected turn of good luck, a visit from one of my children, playing Darth Vader with my 4 yr. old grandson, sunrise, rain on the roof at dawn, seeing a barefoot pedestrian in the CBD; You know..the list is endless. Every day is such an amazing opportunity and I know there are maybe only 20 years more of them to enjoy..so each one seems absolutely amazing.

My ultimate goal at this point is to keep my mind working in an acceptable manner..My mom died with senile dementia.. her loss of personality was a loss to all of us..her brain had turned into a jellyfish minus the tendrils..I want to live the rest of my life with more cognition that she had at the end.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rainy Day People

Woke this Friday morning to rain on the tin roof! Resounding rain. That was at 3 a.m. according to my little red digital clock face. That sound was a good reason to roll over and slip back into blissful sleep. The next thing I remember waa 6:45 and the Aussie sitting up. Mumbling a good morning, I once again rolled over realizing that I probably wouldn't be able to go back to sleep but loving the warm covers, the soft air created by all that moisture, and finally stretched into wakefulness.

Coffee first, you know! And then reading email, sorting through the news of the day, and enjoying brekkie on the back veranda with the fellow who makes the best oatmeal in the world.

And here I am dressed, coiffed, and about to begin my day. Rain has stopped, clouds have lifted a bit, but no blue skies to be seen out of my office windows looking over the hollow, valley, to the north. I think it's gonna be one of those amazing relaxed days, cool and energetic, but relaxing.

I hope your day has begun with as much pleasure as has mine!! Be well

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Advoidance

Avoidance is a characteristic that drives me nuts - especially when I find myself deeply involved in the process.

Today is one of those days when it's easier to do nothing whatsoever rather than tackle the real jobs that need doing. The teak veranda furniture needs oiling, the washing needs to come down from the line, ironing needs to be done, the dish washer needs unloading, and several books need reading. My taxes need to be finished (I filed an extension since I knew I wouldn't have them ready in time) and my banking needs to be completed.

And what have I spent my entire day doing insted of these household tasks?

Well, I went shopping for Graham's birthday presents - his birthday is tomorrow.
I think that's all I have done today except soduku with which I am well and properly bored.

I did NOT exercise. I did not fix breakfast. I did not fix lunch. I substituted dark chocolate covered licorice for both meals and my tummy is complaining justifiably.

I am missing my youngest child who spent a week with me here in Brisbane and flew off to Japan yesterday morning. One ought to mourn one day, but two is a bit extensive in the mourning department.

I loved having him and his lovely Japanese partner here in the house. I loved the energy of having my child in my space. I loved long talks on the front veranda in the morning and longer talks on the back veranda in the evenings.

I miss my family. I will recover and do my tasks including working on Das Book sometime on Friday. You see, I find multiple excuses for putting it all off for the time being.

Just thought I'd share. Happy Thursday to you all..or Wednesday if that is your tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Front Garden

Oh yeah..the front garden. Haven't ventured out there today cause yesterday I did one of my fancy back flips into the duff! My left elbow took the blow rather gracefully managing to miss all the rocks and various roots that I had just carefully trimmed.

How did I fall this time? Only the goddess knows, but the best part of the whole athletic adventure is that I broke nothing this time, just bruised my elbow, a bruise from which I will soon recover.

The garden looks good..minus various and sundry vines that had taken over whilst we were sojourning in nordamerika.

On Thursday I'll head to Neilson's Native Nursery to buy some new natives to brighten up the edges of the shrubbery. Those that I had put into the ground just before leaving Oz in December have done well. One died and seven or eight thrived. Hooray for natives. More on the way.

Matt arrives tomorrow for two weeks in Australia. I am so looking forward to our early morning meeting at Brisbane International. It is good to have one's son in the house.

So, I will try and write tomorrow..but if I fail, you will know why.

be well..have a fine week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Feeling like an outlander

Yesterday in celebration of International Woman's Day, I performed my obeisance to the status of women in Australia.

Twasn't a very comfy position to find myself in. Suddenly, I felt the entire cloak of invisibility fall from my shoulders and was reminded that I am indeed an Amerikan, not an Australian. Not that I have ever pretended to be an Australian. Not even that I might want to become Australian. I just felt completely like I was an outsider, one who neither understood nor was accepted in the society of this down under continent.

As always, such an occurrence happened in the company of academics, well, really in the company of one academic, and probably an MBTI 'T' academic. That is, to this man compassion is non-existent.

"Aussies love American language, the vigour with which the words are uttered. Butt instead of bum. How much more expressive that word is."

And just how does one handle such a remark? I'm not the quickest kid on the block; I'm unlikely to win any wit race. Better to allow the whole sarcasm to just linger until it dies from a lack of response. I do a great turtle. I just don't manage to reach the finish line. I leave instead. Which is precisely what I did. The first one to exit the celebration. The first to wander home where I can continue to pretend that my language is quite similar to that of the people with whom I converse on a regular basis. Well, most of the time.

I must admit before I finish here that I did my own share of criticism or, as I would describe it, commentary on the morass that is Australian education. And that may well have set me up for what followed.

And so, this morning I am reminded that I am an outlander who is a visitor to this lovely paradise, not a native, not a voter, not an intellect whose thoughts are worthy of consideration.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

International Woman's Day

Because this week end includes International Woman's Day and because I will be celebrating this event in the company of some unique Aussie blokettes, I wanted to share the biography I wrote recently about one Australian feminist whom you really ought to know.

Who Came Before -

A Midwife to the Australian Goddess Community:

thea Gaia

The midwife of the Australian goddess community is thea Gaia, living in Canberra with Gaia herself, a larger than life ceramic statue who stands in the garden holding earth's energy. Meanwhile, thea holds the feminine space in the capitol of Australian goddess circles. Ordained as Queensland's first female Congregational minister in 1959, thea gave twenty years of her professional life to the Christian women of Australia representing them in four global Christian women's conferences in the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong.

In 1979, while ministering with the women of South Australia in Adelaide, thea resigned her membership in the Congregational community because she questioned "the impact of religious systems on one's spirituality".

Thus began thea's own search for and modelling of goddess spirituality. "When asked about my spirituality today, it is enough to say I am Woman." Indeed, thea has spent the entirety of her career as a planetary citizen promoting the concept that 'Interaction is essential" and that being woman is a spiritual celebration.

On her subsequent journeys, thea has proclaimed that a goddess community excels "in witnessing the feelings of her participants, in supporting those feelings and at the same time empowering women to take their place in society". Thea is a human being with the particularity of woman. "Because I am particularly a woman, I want to live out that particularity to the fullest in such a way that connects with the particularity of other women."

Since 1979 when thea left the religious community to follow the labyrinth leading to her spirituality, she has helped to create community across the nation, indeed across the globe, where women can move through their journey with feminine support.

Aware of the synchronicity created by Gaia in her life, thea contends, "We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before." In 1982 she changed her name from Dorothy, gift of god, to Thea Rainbow, asserting she was not the gift of god, but the goddess herself. Finally, in 1994 she took the name thea Gaia, the goddess energy of earth.

In 1981 the Rainbow Circle was one of the first women's communities initiated by thea and other feminist Australians. Woman's Spirit Rising, a Canberra goddess community, created the first Womandala in which the complexities and beauty of the female was celebrated.

Women in Labour and Women in Education conferences as well as the Teaching the Light Conference in 1993 invited thea to keynote the proceedings. Myriad mental health and spiritual heritage courses raising goddess consciousness were co-taught by thea for the University systems in Australia.
Thea, the maven of the goddess, was responsible for the creation of Gaia's Woman's Space in 1992 where she contributed the concept of a woman's connective rather than a woman's collective. In 1994 the first Woman's Spirituality Conference in Australia honoured the individuality of members and in its rituals, centred around women's cycles. Thea asserted that, "I'm true to life. I am true to my life; I acknowledge that my life comes in a woman's form. I undertake to lead a life with a woman's wisdom to create spiritual paths, to affirm women, to use female symbols."

Each transition in a woman's life needs to be recognized and celebrated in symbolic ritual, ritual drumming, ritual dancing, and in Australia with southern hemisphere ritual recognitions. The Becoming Female gathering burst previous boundaries as those involved used rituals around women's cycles to mark the transitions of women in Australia. Thea was instrumental in the foundation of Sisters of Gaia in 1997 of which groups exist today in Coffs Harbour, Melbourne, and Canberra. Thea's presentation at the first goddess conference in Melbourne using dance, art, and monologue, presented a woman's journey as passage through the labyrinth.

Thea's networking is the avenue through which synchronicity begins to play a role in women's groups doing the work for the future as she urges women to remember where we come from as the process of reactivating the journey. Finally, thea reminds us, 'Life is an awesome experience; let us promote that sense of awe". Thea's involvement in goddess spirituality reminds us that the experiential is as valuable as the intellectual, that "interaction is essential as we learn to be our own authority."

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Delicious autumn morning

Rising early has certain disadvantages, you know. This morning, the Butcher Bird was in full voice just after dawn; well, just before dawn which officially doesn't occur until almost 6 a.m. I was well awake when he began his serenade, snuggled deep into covers on a cool autumn morning.

As my Aussie partner awoke, he rolled over to note that I had had a restless night. "Was your knee bothering you," he asked?

"Oh, no," I smiled. "I dreampt that I was learning how to play football. Went on and on and on."

We laughed softly at the idea of a 67 year old learning new tricks and I realized that I had been quite actively blocking - you know,pushing one of those 'blocking devices' down the grass.

Dreams are forever opening new vantage points into the psyche, but I'm gonna have to do some work on deciphering this one.

So, I'm off to town for a haircut. Catch you laters!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spider bait

Yuppers! That's me: spider bait.

Whilst (don'tcha just love that word?) we were travelling for two and a half months in the northern hemisphere, the rains came to south eastern Queensland - scads and scads of rain. The damns were at only 17% capacity when we left. Upon our return they had reached a high of 40%. That's a lot of water falling from the skies.

And what does that water have to do with spiders? Do you recall the nursery rhyme - tinsy einsy spider crawls up the water spout?

Not only did the rains come, but the greenery in my front garden overwhelmed the space I had allotted it. The vines grew up and over the lovely yellow picket fence and bagan to overwhelm the sidewalks. Even the lovely Frangipani in the side garden took wing and left little space under which folks could walk past (passed) our house.

My immediate job was to rescue the fence before the vines pulled it down...and so wade into the morass of green I did, but as always without thinking carefully about the process first.

In my black running shorts, my tivas, my hat to protect me from the sun and my sunnies to protect my eyes from the development of further catarracts. My face and eyes protected, I gave little heed to the needs of my ankles, knees,thighs, elbows all of which acted kind of like the 'water spout'..a place for the tenents of my garden to escape.

Spider food! Those damned Aussie spiders are spiteful! And they attacked. Along with the stinging ants whose bites really do hurt. I found red welts covering my legs and arms (actually, I had trouble finding my legs and arms. All I could see were the red welts) when I came in to shower after my bout with the kudzu..or whatever the name of the Aussie cousin to the South American fast growing vine.

As I sit here typing, I am itchy! Scratching has become my favourite activity - especially the itchy welts on which I sit. Go ahead laugh as you see my friends and family squirm as I sit at the supper table contstantly scratching. That's one way to eat less and it works for the others at table as well. They can think of a whole lot of other activities that would be more interesting than watching me scratch.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dead Hard Drives

g'day from sunny downtown Brisbane..

We have had no rain since our return to the east coast of Australia but whilst we were travelling in the northern hemisphere the area dams increased their storage of water from 17% to 40%. And the century old Queensland Colonial in which we live smelled like it had rained just that much - musty is the word.

It feels good to allow the whole place to air out. All windows open, baking soda sprinkled in all the trash baskets and in the refrigerator. Sunshine,glorious sunshine does the rest.

Summer really seems to have passed. Temps are comfortably cool. Night time sleeping is enhanced not only by jet lag, but also by breezes through the open veranda doors.

As for the only complaint I might have about my return - My Apple G-5..the one with the double processor, faster than a speeding bullet on the web..Yeah, that one! Crashed the second day we were home.

It currently sits in the Apple Emergency Room and hopefully with the help of technicians will live to dance across cyber space once again sometime in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, my prayers to the cyber goddess plead for recovery of most if not all of the information on the old hard drive! Two in the Bush, the amazing story of two outlanders arriving in Australia to partner a couple of down under blokes, was backed up on dvd discs, but the notes to support the story were not. Journals covering the past seven years were not.

You have my permission to pray to whatever power seems to you most likely to help in recovery not only of the mighty G-5 but also of the contents of that Hard Disc.

Happy Wednesday from Oz..

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig! * * * * Back in the saddle again!

Too many well-worn phrases for you?

Yeah, I know.

I sit here in my comfy office chair, pillow tucked behind my back, computer humming in a friendly manner beside me, huge screen blocking my only view of lovely downtown Brisbane. And I write again after a three month vacation.

Well, that's not quite true. We fled the humid warmth of central east coast Oz for the colder environs of west coast Nordamerika on 27 December 2007. We returned to Kookaburra and Butcher Bird songsters this past Friday, 29 February 2008.

And a fine time was had by all. Not only did we enjoy ourselves in the wintry Sierra Nevada and in the beautiful northern Rockies of Montana as well as in the mid coast Monterey Peninsula, but there are stories to tell a plenty in the next few days of the adventures of Mo and Jeff, traveling duo from Down Under.

It is good to be home again, to snuggle into the soft sheepskin cover of our Brisbane mattress. To be awakened early by body clocks that believe an Australian 3 a.m. is really 9 a.m. west coast American time. To drink our first flat whites the very day we return to Brisbane.

Taste is a strong motivator, urging us to fly the 15 hours south west to reach the east coast of Australia where we could once again enjoy the coffee that we tried unsuccessfully many times to replicate in North America.

And so, coffee in hand, there are many tales to tell, many adventures to relate in the next few days. And of course, many friends to thank for making our winter sojourn such a joy.

Thank you all!

Ensuing posts will fill in details of Siskiyou Pass, of learning to cross country ski, of crop dusters hovering over lost roads in the southern great valley of California, of grandsons, children, friendhip, rain, snow, and quiet meanderings along the way.

It is good to be home again. It is good to think of ways to tell the story of endless seasons, of family, of friends, of the joys of being alive.