Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cleaning and trekking in the rain!

Midweek American style - temps in the valley hover around 40C 100F and we sail on by to the highlands where 28C or 80F keeps us happy among the white pines and ponderosa.

Family arrives next week. Cabin is clean, new sheets on the beds, good food in the fridge; happiness pervades the world.

American ceremony at Wedding Rock with bush dinner afterwards for 20 long time friends and five of their children coming up.

All the world seems to be fitting neatly into the puzzle of my psyche.

I miss my Aussie blokes and blokettes! Wish you could all be with us.

I look forward to our Nordacotah neighbors with whom we will soon be at the dinner table.

Life is a celebration at the moment - shared with the awesome Aussie bloke who is becoming more American with each day - NO, just joking! He still talks without using his lips, entertains all with his crooked humour, and fixes everythiing within sight.

We all love him: I swear he is the gift I have brought to the Amerikans. He is certainly my gift when he returns from his early morning trek to the mountain canyons above the cabin. We share our Aussie brew and talk of the local critturs he has encountered - the junior very black bear with the brown nose, the ravens who keep him company as he enters the rocky uplands.

Hope the world works for each of you as well...

love..

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Three for the price of One

A note from the mountain.

Rains have energized the afternoons with lightening and thunder. left the air moist and cool for sleeping; I am happy to be home again in Norte America.

No scales to check the progress of my diet, no television to warn me of the terror around the globe, no street lights to drown out the multitude of stars; just the humming of my Aussie bloke as he fixes the lock on the back outhouse door, makes new screens for our bedroom windows, and repairs the hinges on the front door.

I actually cooked our dinner two nights running. I never cook. Pasta plus pesto was delicious; lots of veges, a glass of cabernet for me and a sip of Baileys for the down under fella.

We have a wedding celebration coming up soon – over on wedding rock with about thirty friends – and even that looks like a comfortable assemblage as the Portal Store will cater.

Life is good; just thot I’d share with you all just how good the simple pleasures can be.

Yawns from across the room, time to slip beneath the covers.

Night all!

*******************************************************

Just discovered:

I live like a ventriloquist’s dummy in a closed tight suitcase – darkness surrounds my ideas that are mangled by the emotional heat of my fears –

There I lie twisted and tweaked into odd shapes waiting for the OTHER to release me from the confines, to take me out, to put me on and express in his words just how the world really works.

Sigh!

************************************************

Words - I trust them if only I can locate the correct ones – those that reach inside, deep into the psyche to translate a misunderstanding into a new communion between me and the other, between me and the Australian.

The search can be excruciating because with age comes a loss of immediate access to one’s entire vocabulary – and as well an expansion of the variety inherent in that vocabulary.

Words destroy miserably when uttered unintentionally – without thoughtfulness.

But sometimes, still, words heal - often when intuition and honesty (and memory) prevail.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Three Days in America - face lifts and beige

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig~

I forgot. I always forget. Americans are so caught with first impressions, so dressed to impress, so fashionable. The French think they have the corner on that market - what the French have a corner on is the ability to look chic under all circumsances - smells aside, they do that well.

Americans - well every man, woman, child of them knows what is fashionable at any given point - the national religion - looking current. From nose lifts to eyebrow tucks to beige and black coordinates, they clone the current.

I forgot. I actually came home with a peach coloured shirt and blue shorts. Heaven forbid - Pat Boone - yeah, some of you remember him, I know. I am accused of dressing in the 70s - I accept my 50s leanings, but the empty headed poofed 70s - what a disappointment I must be to my gurls who have not forgotten what it means to have a mother with costumes -

Well, I don't have those any more - just peach shirts and blue - bright sunny blue - shorts for warm summer days.

In the meantime, my Aussie rescues us all with his blue and black plaid Scots shirt and his blue and grey stripped tie at the waist long pants! Love the Aussies. They really just can't be bothered.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

24 Hours Later - Thanks to Air New Zealand

Monday morning at 10 we hurried through post rush hour traffic along the inner city Bypass. Annie, our astute driver, missed almost all the traffic and delivered us to the International Terminal with two hours to spare.

Checked in to Air New Zealand, the best little airline in all the world, and went shopping for my grandson, daughter and son-in-law -- just little tidbits for our arrival.

24 hours later in real time, but only 5 hours later in earth time, we arrived in Carmel Valley to huge hugs from the youngest member of our family. Most important on our agenda - feeding the captive snake with live fishes - oh my! and playing hide-and-go-seek in the park before bedtime.

Life is good. Hope the same is true for you.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Traveling with the Wizard

We're off!

Tomorrow we fly. I love the northward bound flight. We arrive two hours after we left – Joyful jetlag on that leg of our journey.

If there is no post for the next few days (and there won't be) think of us luxuriating in New Zealand hospitality as we zoom northward across the biggest blue pond on the planet.

San Fran, my fav city by the bay awaits us with cool weather and warm smiles.

Be well, friends. Talk with you soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bad Knees – Try these

Exercises to strengthen the quads - results = stronger knees

Especially for those of us with osteoarthritis issues

Quadriceps refers to a four-part muscle that exists at the front of the thigh and the front of the shinbone, below the knee. Three exercises pertaining to it are described below.

Quadriceps strengthening contractions

* sit on a chair and extend legs
* heels must touch floor and knees must be straight
* tighten the thigh muscles and retain the state for a count of 10
* loosen the thigh muscles and retain the state for a count of 3
* perform 10 repetitions to complete 1 set
* perform 2 or 3 sets, many times in a day

Quadriceps strengthening leg lifts

* lie with the back on the floor
* bend the left knee at an angle of ninety degrees with the foot flat on the floor
* straighten the right leg and move it upwards till it reaches the height of the left knee
* retain the position of both the legs for a count of 3
* lower the right leg
* this procedure is to be repeated 10 times
* switch the legs
* increase upto 10 repetitions after some weeks

Quadriceps strengthening knee dips

* stand with the knees a little bent
* the toes and kneecaps must point straight ahead
* lift one leg and balance on the other
* move down and up by a few inches only
* the knees must point straight forward and not inward
* the body should be vertical and not turned to any side
* perform 10 dips for each leg
* if knees experience pain, decrease the number of dips

Monday, July 06, 2009

Brisbane - Why would one live anywhere else?

Brisbane is the country mouse finding itself rather suddenly faced with the dilemmas of city life. Overnight or if you wish, since the new millennium, the sleepy village on Morton Bay where farmers congregated for the ECCA once a year to show off their produce and celebrate good harvests has suddenly found itself with towering skyscrapers, 9 bridges across the river, and an international airport.

I swore I would never live in a river runs through it city. Portland and Eugene, Oregon, Pittsburgh and New York, traffic snarls, industrial high rises blighting the banks of waterways and overall frustration remind me of the ugliness that human beings are capable of producing on some of the important estuaries of the world.

And if I were to look carefully at the mouth of the Brisbane River, I might shake my head in agreement with my former self and move to
Boonah as soon as possible. However, I have to admit that this estuary metropolis has not only grown out of its ill fitting pants whose hems were hovering close to mid calf to find itself with one of the most pleasant river frontages of any city in the world.

The charm of the sleepy village still hugs the higher hills around the river with filigree 1900 Colonial homes in all the colours of that earlier century. Property has become so valuable here in Brisbane that the derelicts are being refurbished and the dingy wood houses on stilts have transformed the country bumpkin into the only capital city in Australia that has a unique, signature architecture. The central business district blends lovely parks like Anzac and Post Office Square with the filigree of the backpacker hotel and the Creative Art Center. The Toll House has been saved along the River and a beautiful walkway cum bike-trail follows the banks of the Brisbane River for several kilometres from Kangaroo Point to Toowong.

One of the joys of living in Brisbane is driving along the ridge lines, where the early roads have turned into modern but winding highways lined with huge protected Morton Bay Fig or native Poinciana trees covered in spring with umbrellas of red blossoms while traffic circles surround ancient Strangler Fig shading Federation pre 1920 wood homes.

Of all the cities in Australia only in Brisbane has the architecture defined the city. The Queenslander, a residential architecture of the pre-1940s with its high stairs in the middle of the front veranda and its slat covered bottom front fa├žade, fills miles and miles of colourful city residential streets.

And the commercial buildings? Where else in Australia do almost all shops have wide awnings to protect shoppers from sun and rain? My friend responded to my suggestion that we buy an umbrella by reminding me that we had no need. If it rains, we just duck under one of the frequent awnings and wait out the shower which is bound in Queensland to last only a few moments before Camelot's sunshine takes over again.

I am certain that I had lived in Brisbane for almost six months before we even had a rainstorm during day light hours. I had become certain that this city has been misnamed. Surely this beautiful sub tropical paradise must be Camelot. '. . .it never rains til after sundown.'

And in all this lovely southern hemisphere ambiance, in a city entirely its very own self, what else will you find? You will find small residential suburbs within the larger city. Too numerous to recount, little shopping areas like my own Rosalie village provide community centres complete with restaurant, deli, baker and butcher shops as well as dentists and the office of the local doctor. The bottle shop, the optometrist, the ice cream and gelato shops, the local hair dresser and barber shop along with the always present real estate agent add character and colour along with the sushi bar and fish market.

All are located only a block from my lovely Queenslander Colonial on a quiet suburban street only three kilometres from the CBD.

Why would one live anywhere else?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Jersey Peaches in a 1949 Hudson

Dementia must be on my doorstep. Far too often these days I find myself recollecting the 'good ole days'. As I enjoy my afternoon tea, ancient memories filter just behind my mind's eye.

A huge black 1949 Hudson slides into first gear and smoothly slips onto the roadway of a journey I took as a nine year old with my grandmother Hook and three of her sons, my uncles.

Five of us fit comfortably into the divan size bench seats. I sat in the middle of the back, which was so unlike the tiny rear seats of cars today. Those back seats were almost long enough for a six-footer to stretch out. There was plenty of room for my ten year old self to perch my feet on the hump that ran through the middle of the floor and still have room to wiggle as we drove from Detroit to Philadelphia the summer of 1949. Six hundred miles along the Ohio and then the Pennsylvania turnpike, the first two major highways built in America, the precursors of the Interstate system built in the succeeding ten years by the Eisenhower administration.

We were headed to the home of my Uncle Jack and Aunt Delores who lived in northern Jersey where Delores has grown up. Jack, my grandmother's youngest son, met her when they were both served in the Navy.

Interestingly, I don't remember any details of the family visit. I don't remember much about the Pennsylvania mountains. But, I do remember 'the peach', a furry deep red in some spots tinged slightly with the palest orange.

We bought a bag freshly picked from the trees at a road side stand soon after we left the turnpike. Driving along, we each slurped through one of the warm, pungent fruits. Mine was huge, sweet, and juicy; very, very juicy.

Do you know how it feels to use a tissue, a Kleenex, to wipe your face after you have just eaten a peach? As I share this memory, I can feel the minute hairs of the peach prickle my chin, lips and cheeks. Memories are magnificent when they are multi-sensational.

Peaches can be like lemons or ripe oranges with tastes that linger forever in tiny splotches caught between teeth, but the stickery little points of fuzz that covered my lips, my tongue, my cheeks for ever so long are what I really remember.

That sensation went on for hours, first on my chin, then on my fingertips, and finally on the palms of my hands as I waited for a gas station where I splashed cold water all over my face and hands to cleanse away the tiniest irritation.

I no longer have the flavour of the peach in my recollection, but that sticky sensation lasts in the back of my brain warning me to never, never again wipe my face with a tissue.