Sunday, November 22, 2009

Travel -haitus

I’ve sent a couple of book proposals/QUERY letters to American literary agents lately on behalf of Kookaburra Serenade: Almost Parallel Tales. On the emails I sent this week, I included reference to American in Oz. Suddenly it occurred to me that I really ought to write about writing just in case one of those agents decides to check us out. Notice I use the plural, (us, we). This blog wouldn’t exist if there were no readers. Long ago I would have lost my appetite for writing to empty cyberspace.

However, these days when I am drifting off to sleep I often find myself concocting a blog entry for the next day. Readers have become an integral part of life on the prairie. I suppose that syndicated journalists feel similarly – that’s not to imply that my short and simple entries compare to the columns of daily newspapers.

Living in a tiny community (population 77) in a state with a population small enough that we have only one member in the Federal House of Representatives reminds me that any audience is better than none at all – probably the reason most of us seek publication by the traditional media.

The Burke County Tribune
, our local weekly rag, has several regular columnists, one of whom, Josh Ellis, is published only every other week. I do miss his column in the off-week. I suspect that regular readers feel the same way when they stop in here to find that I have failed to post for a particular day. Not too much hubris in that comment.

And so it seems wise to share that ‘we’ will be travelling. On Monday we fly. It is possible that there will be a week with no entries as we arrive in Oz eight days later. Long flight!

I promise that as soon as I can turn on the BIG MAC in Paddington, I will be seeking your readership once again – hopefully with scads of travel humour at the expense of the tall guy who used to carry my bags – but won’t be this trip because as you may recall from previous entires, he has the use of only one shoulder. Won’t be crying on that one!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flexibility

Amazing how flexible we humans are.

Six weeks ago I stacked at least three layers of clothing on my body before slipping into my heavy fleece parka and nylon windbreaker, thick wool beanie, earmuffs, and gloves to go out the back door when the temperatures were in the low 40sF (7C).

This morning as I dressed to head for the post office, a quarter mile saunter across town, I zipped up my light fleece jacket over my cotton turtleneck and smiled at the sunshine warming the 36F (2C) breeze that rearranged my hair, but my ears complained not a bit. I stuck my hands and the PO box keys they were jingling in the pocket of my jacket.

I have metamorphosed into a winter crittur. Soon I will head out to continue raking and trimming the lilac hedge in front of the house where I found two heavy brown pelts deep in the leaf litter the other day.

To be in conjunction with the elements is a gift, a gift of adaptation common to all the creatures of the planet. Just takes some of us a bit longer.

While working on the lilacs, it occurred to me that this adaptation is the stuff of graceful aging, of living well into ones majority with a minimum of angst. Think of the Bristlecone Pines of the White Mountains of California, the oldest continuous life on the planet. When one aspect of the plant loses its vigour, a new limb manifests ready to carry on the business of photosynthesis, ready to carry the plant into a new century.

As I raked and pruned, I realized that the lilac does the same: an ancient part dies off after birthing new limber branches to carry on the process of adaptation.

My brain must do the same if I am to be vital in the next decade of my life. The part that is having difficulty finding nouns needs to be relaxed while it creates new dendrites as a result of my learning a new language, engaging in new problem solving techniques, playing new games, interacting with new cultures, finding new patterns for my life than the ones to which I have grown accustomed. Stagnation is the killer.

I am aware that the information I seek is still stored, but the access points for that information requires my self to knock on a few more doors, to come to the room where information is stored via the roof rather than through the basement where I found the elevator door previously. It takes a bit longer.

But not if I build new stairwells through which I can access the floors of the high rise of my knowledge, of my physical brain. Like the Bristlecone Pines, it is time to send out new limbs by which the photosynthesis of creating continuing knowledge can occur.

Amazing how a walk to the post office or pruning the lilacs can change one's perspective.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Biblical Marriage

Landover Baptist Church has done it again. Mrs. Betty Bowers, a better Christian than you’ll ever be, has once more satirized the Christian Right.

With just the right tone, not too proper and totally sincere, Betty uses the Old Testament to vilify those who believe that they have the responsibility to tell the rest of us how to be in relationship.

For a good giggle and a rather well researched commentary on Old Testament marriage arrangements check out this site: http://www.youtube.com/MrsBettyBowers

If you are offended, consider the topics I might have blogged about this morning – The Australian Senator who has taken Scientology to task for slavery and illegal incarceration, for instance. You can find that story on the Brisbane Courier Mail website.

Yes, this is a left-handed reference. Scientology has a reputation for lambasting its critics on line by interfering with their ability to post. I like my blog site and prefer to avoid cyber attacks

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Line Maps - whose directions are you following?

New York Times this morning has an article on Google and other map sites.

Damn, who's mapping India, Cambodia and Vietnam, not the spots most of us visit every day, but certainly if we were to head towards the equator, spots we would love to have mapped for us ahead of time so that our Garmin, Tom Tom, or Navigator would find the right rice or noodle shop.

Geo volunteers says the NY Times!

So, next time the nasty little man or snarky woman's voice tells you 'where to go' and is wrong, you can blame the volunteer! I know, I know, usually the machine is right; but I have been taken far afield many a time by our Tom Tom that is correct 98% of the time. Guess, I'm just naturally argumentative. If there isn't a human being around to contend with, I turn to machines. Shrug! Least ways, no one's feelings are hurt :)

I remember my uber traveller friend who returned from Lithuania with stories of hiring guides in order to travel the back country. No maps, no road signs - designed to keep foreign invaders confused. No more!

Take a look at the article by clicking on today's blog title. You may be surprised.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trimming

Must be hungry.

My mind immediately did a click on turkey. (And all the trimmings).

Holiday spirit was the next connection (Trim the tree, the house, the front door)

Third was my fringe (Australian) that would be my 'bangs' (American). I had straight edged them after brushing the hair out of my eyes seven times too often. Had a trim at the local hair dressers in Lignite on Friday. Not precisely Tony and Guy, but you can tell the hairdo from the eyebrows now.

The real reason, I titled this entry Trimming lies in my work for the past several hours. I so want to find an American literary agent before heading back to the southern hemisphere in two weeks. In that pursuit, I spent from 7:30-1:30 today rewriting (trimming) and sending out a whole slew of new book proposals. Right now, the ration of rejections to invitations to send our manuscript on to an agent is 14/1.

Whenever a rejection comes into my snail or e mail box, I find another agent to whom I can send a new book proposal. As you might imagine after spending several days on this process, my book proposals are reaching new heights of perfection. Never perfect, tho. I suspect the process will undergo continuing change until we finally find someone who loves our work as much as we loved writing it and decides to accept the responsibility of helping us find a publisher.

Cross your fingers, send out your blasts, think good thoughts. And thanks ahead of time. As I've mentioned before, I'll let you know when success is ours. Probably you'll hear me in the middle of your dreams one night..check back here if you do. I do have that sort of connection!!

love to all..

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday to my nephew, Ryan

Ryan is one of those very tall, very atheletic, compassionate, fire fighter blokes. He is married to one patient woman with whom he has just birthed a lovely baby girl. Ryan has a facebook page. Sometimes, I think he has this page just so that he can share photos of his lovely little girl. He obviously loves her and doesn't mind the world knowing that fact.

His birthday is this week and I thought a gift to this exceptional young man might be to send him a recent article from the Brisbane Courier Mail about how important dads are in the lives of their chidren, like he didn't already know. Still, it helps to be assured that the so-called experts agree with one's life plans.

The title of the article is Dads Give Babies Headstart. The contents which you can read by clicking on the blog title above, indicate that kids do better in school if dad has been involved in their lives from the beginning, that girls have better mental healh when they reach adulthood if they have lived with a dad who actively participated in their rearing, that all children have better language acquisition if dads are involved in their lives from day one.

What more could any child ask?

So, happy birthday, Ryan. I am jazzed about your involvement in your daughter's life!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Only in Canada? Battle of the Blades

If you can access Canadian TV, check out the Battle of the Blades finale on Monday evening.

No lie; it has been a delightful series featuring duos of Canadian hockey players and their ice dancing Olympic prize winning partners. After reading a NY Times article on the show, I was up at midnight watching youtube re-runs of the early shows. Woke the Aussie and together we grinned through five youtube renditions of the 'competition'.

Click on the title to this blog entry for the Vancouver Sun story on Monday night's show. Click here for youtube renditions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GscWDUk3otA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAfKR3QhHoI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ffuIEilrZY

Here's the CBC website devoted to the Battle of the Blades.

http://www.cbc.ca/battle/

Check it out. I can guarantee that this is smile inducing reality TV.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A note from Anath Gurl...an ozite with info

http://www.yothuyindi.com/index.html Gurrumul Yun... http://www.yothuyindi.com/index.html

Gurrumul Yunupingu is brother to Mandawuy Yunupingu - Singer, Songwriter from Yothu Yindi - see link above..... the fabulous Oz Band which also includes Ben Hakalitz - Drums - originally from Bougainvillea Island, Ben played with the legendary PNG band Songuma before joining Yothu Yindi in 1994. Ben was the songwriter of the East Timor song and these days plays with David Bridie['Not Drowning Waving' and 'My Friend the Chocolate Cake'] and George Telek fabulous indigenous man from PNG with marvelous native chants.

Gurrumul was also featured on a recently screened episode of 'Later... With Jools Holland' a BBC show on ABC2 here in OzLand... worth a look to see if they have a streaming version...... it was fabulous.
Publish Reject

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sting and Yunupingu

Well, Sting, the old blond Brit, did a duet in Paris last night with the young blind Australian aboriginal lad, Yunupingu.

I haven't been able to find a site with the actual duet, but have located news posts about how well received the Australian has been on his first European tour. Click on the title to this blog entry to read what the Australian papers have to say.

As soon as a site is available I will post here. In the meantime, here is an addy that will let you hear Yunupingu's music solo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bawDFY8G-o4

Peter Garrett, Australia's environmental minister and former lead singer for Midnight Oil, had this to say about his Aussie counterpart: Yunupingu 'sings so deeply and sweetly about his connection to family and country, the effect is transcendental.' Quite a compliment, maybe enough to cause you to take five to listen to his performance.


And why did I notice? Cause, just before I left Oz to visit for four months in nordamerica, I purchased six cds of Aboriginal musicians in order to share the talent that lies south of the equator with my northern hemisphere friends.Yunupingu was one.

I do hope you enjoy..

Oh, and stay tuned for what I consider one of the most entertaining TV programs to go to air this season. Got up last night at 1 a.m. to watch it three times over on the computer - woke the Aussie up and we giggled together as we watched.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moose Jaw birthday

Yep! We're headed for Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada tommorrow for my birthday celebration!

170 miles north and a tad west of us is a little B&B overlooking the Moose Jaw River Valley - Wakamow Heights Bed and Breakfast. Click on the blog post title for the web page. Pics on the sideboard.

We are gonna bask in the hot tub in the Terrance Room of the home of the former owner of the brick yards of Moose Jaw - now beat that for a 69th birthday :)

After a movie, The Men Who Stare at Goats, we'll stop in Hopkins (pic on sideboard) for ribs or wings and head on back to our little birthday retreat.

Catch you all upon our return to the glorious sunshine of the northern prairie.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Yea! for Health System Reform - House vote

If you feel as good about the House of Representatives vote last night as I do, you may wish to jot your local paper a letter to the editor.

What better way to offset the work of militant Republicans who want to kill legislation to make sure that American citizens are treated as well by the medical profession and by corporate medical insurance companies as their pets have been treated for the past twenty five years?

Yep, finally Americans almost have a chance of getting the same level of service as their pets for a cost that will not force them to choose between living with a limp or mortgaging their home.

Just drag your icon to the bookmark of your local paper and jot a note to the editor telling him/her of your support for this legislation.

It will do more to support positive change than the $5 the Democrats are asking us to donate. Taking the time is not for you now - It is for your children and grandchildren for the next twenty years.

Do it! Click on your bookmark for your local paper. Write!! Hit send!!

love you all, hope you really do take action.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

5% of the world's population - 25% of the world's prisoners

Did you know that the USA with five percent of the world’s population houses twenty-five per cent of the world’s prisoners? I sure didn’t.

It seems to me that the establishment of Guantanomo was a natural progression of the American government's attitude about incarceration. Why would the government hesitate to treat foreign nationals differently than it treats its own citizens?

Although I am not assuming that American citizens incarcerated in our federal, state, and county prisons are tortured in the most common use of the term, I am certain that the American philosophy about law and order is swiftly increasing the number of young people in the ‘under class’ populated by those having graduated from prison, those finding it impossible to find viable employment after leaving prison.

As always, it is my assumption that to find the culprit, one must only look to the money, to any lucrative increase in funding. America spends over sixty billion dollars a year on incarceration?(Ah, that’s what part of the last government bail out of Wall Street bankers who will never go to prison for their misdeeds?)

Who is benefited from such expenditures?

Those who build new prisons and those who operate the ones that already exist.

You can read the entire article in the 16 November Nation (page 8) in which ten steps to decrease incarceration rates in the USA are suggested.


Nation magazine, 16 NOVEMBER 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Buffett Bets Big on Railroads’ Future

I admit it; I love Amtrak.

So, my interest in the recent acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe by Warren Buffet is not about the commercial interests of transportation in the USA. My interest concerns the silly thought that if Warren can enhance the profits of one of America's largest transporters of goods, he might take on the increasingly important issue of transporting people.

Please keep in mind that I have chosen to live in a little prairie town built by the railroads just before the turn of the last century. Actually, it is more like the building of this little town was a profitable deal for the railroads. Once the line was built, the railroads, who had been given vast blocks of land along the railroad right of way by Congress, sold off those blocks for town development.

Flaxton was one of those commuities. Today, the railroad prospers in this area of the great plains - lots of oil and scads, slight understatement, of grains to transport to Chicago and other trade corridor partners. Each midnight or 3 a.m. the fellows are out on the lines putting together huge lines of rail cars before they leave our little town and move on down the line in mile or more long entourages.

Like the few other folks in town, I have grown used to and almost look forward to the early morning clashes of combining railcars. When the engines whail as they approach the main intersection in town, I smile and somehow feel included in the process of moving goods across North America - cause, you see, many of the trains coming through our town, originate in Calgary or Edmonton in Canada and are destined for Dallas or El Paso and on south to Mexico.

We may be small, population around 60 these days, but we are a hub for this activity, alive and well here on the prairie.

However, it is not the oil and grain that interest me the most. It is the rail transportation of people that concerns me. Amtrak has been robbed regularly by every federal government in power for the past twenty years and yet, because some of us love the ride, Amtrak has prevailed.

I so much want Warren's investment to prosper and hope mightily that he will eventually consider supporting another potential money maker - people moving across the nation, not in fuel guzzling airplanes that render us all more radioactive than we were before we left the ground, hasseled by security personnel at every stop, stuffed into seats where our knees knock the back of the person in front of us, shoulders bumped by the 'trolly dollies (both male and female) along too narrow aisles high in the sky.

No, I want more Americans to sit back with a good book or their laptops and enjoy the roomy, larger than the living room lounge chair seats, the wide windows and beautiful mountains or golden prairies, as well as views of small town America as they whisk on Japanese style bullet trains from point A to point B with plenty of stops along the way.

Yep, Warren, that's what I really want you to invest in!


p.s. click on the title of this blog post to go to the NEW YORK TIMES article

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Good on ya, Ms. Obama - Spread the Practice

'Emotional' Michelle Obama announces White House mentoring program for girls

By Robin Givhan

Michelle Obama has done it again! She's out there modeling ways for all of us to make a difference in our communities. A non-novel idea finally makes it to the most public arena in the land. The Congress has been involved in this same mentoring process for the past hundred years. It took a wise woman to move the idea on down the block a bit and center on the White House.

I love the bully pulpit that exists in the White House these days.

You may find this article interesting..hopefully.

Click on the title to this blog to go to the Washington Post article.

Happy whatever day it is in your corner of the universe!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Someone from Munster Stopped by

Humm..and the next time I hope they leave a little cheese! A fav of mine.

Was just reading how to maximize my blog impact. Pictures - well..check me out just below the list of my fav web sites and blogs...The plaids actually film well and when I wear that kind of stuff at my cabin in the mountains, I am happy - happy to be there, happy to be with whomever chooses to join me there, happy to be among the bear, deer, mountain lions, swiftly swirling streams, tall pines and firs; Just plain happy..so please take note: Happy Shot!!

Not much to report - temps almost reached 50F (10C) this afternoon. I worked on the merlot trim around the back door and then came back in to send off myriad book proposal submissions.

Time to work on a few more..and soon, very soon, I will have exhausted my list and I will actually write a blog entry worth your time; a creative piece on something no onne else may think is important, but an idea that has been simmering behind my eyes for a few days.

check back!
btw..click on the title to this blog and see a yummy sauerkraut tart with munster.