Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Glorious Southern California Hospitality

The Maccecas -

The ultimate in southern California hospitality has been offered us in the home of dear friends. We've dried out, gone to see the zoo, supped in Old Town, and are now enjoying holidays with the children of one of California's most generous and kind families.

Tomorrow the gurls head north to LAX with hopes of making their flight into NYC. The Aussie and I will head back to Lone Pine to duel with snow and sun in an effort to rescue our belongings from the deep snows of the Portal at Whitney.

May you all have the most delicious of New Years Celebrations..

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Parallel 88

Thanksgiving dinner was a delight at Parallel 88. Ben and Sarah, Graham and Dorothy supped on organic wine, superb dressing, succulent turkey, tasty mashed potatoes in the midst of a lovely family setting.

Zion National Park is dusted, white upon red monoliths under blue skies.

Only problem, I managed to sprain my other ankle by slipping on the ice..so instead of enjoying the lovely great outdoors, I'm propped next to a trash can full of ice and lots of pillows upon which to stash my ankle when it's not in the water...

So, trip to the cabin is set back a few days. We'll head north to visit Matt and Tina first and then come back to climb the snow covered road.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Pudding

Only the Irish could convince me to actually attempt a Christmas pudding..and so I must give credit to Desmond, the Irishman on an INFJ listserve to which I belong. He posted his fav pudding recipe with strict instructions about making one's own bread crumbs.


I succumbed! On the stove for the past hour and for another two are several small Christmas puddings complete with brandy and Guinness substitute, full of fruit, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg et al.


If it all comes out as a delicious treat, I'll post again to let you know. If it all comes out as a delicious treat we have Agnes Lind to thank. It was her culinary tools - the ones she left behind twenty years ago when she moved out of the house - that were used to good effect. Rubber spatulas, wooden spoons, huge enamel bowls, a Sunbeam mix master, a Sunbeam blender, measuring cups and spoons - the whole nine yards tumbled out of drawers and were useful in combining ingredients, in preparing a sumptuous dessert for the holidays.


We are, indeed, fortunate folks to have rescued this little prairie house from the raccoons who had use of it for far too long. Time to titillate human taste buds for a bit.


Happy third week in November to you all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Day After the Birthday Celebration

No hangover!

But we did head north to Estevan in Canada for Vietnamese. Delicious - not as delicious as the Vietnamese in Brisbane, but tasty, clean, fat free Asian food served with a smile and a cup of Jasmine tea. Rice paper spring rolls - my fav.

Then we did the slip and slide across icy city streets - had to put the little ute in four wheel drive to get through one intersection. We're still novices at this black ice travel, to be sure.

The Aussie had a harrowing experience with similar black ice the day before as he approached the morraine on the way to Powells Lake. A series of massive SSSSS with no oncoming vehicles got his attention. Glad my sprained ankle kept me home propped up. My screams would have added nothing to the experience - of this we are both certain.

Life is good! A blood pressure cuff and machine arrived in the mail today. I did well! 115/75, a slightly better reading than the 124/40 on election day when I attempted to give blood at the Red Cross Drive here in Flaxton.

We depart for places south in 9 days..looking forward.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

- - - - - - - - Fear of the Unknown - - - - -

New York Times

The Opinion Pages

Editorial


Justice Stevens on ‘Invidious Prejudice’

Published: November 9, 2010


A great deal of what public figures have said about the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan has been aimed at playing off fear and intolerance for political gain. Former Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court, on the other hand, delivered one of the sanest and most instructive arguments for tolerance that we have heard in a long time.


Justice Stevens, who retired at the end of the court’s last term, served for two and a half years as an intelligence officer in Pearl Harbor during World War II. In a speech on Thursday in Washington, he confessed his initial negative reaction decades later at seeing dozens of Japanese tourists visiting the U.S.S. Arizona memorial.


“Those people don’t really belong here,” he recalled thinking about the Japanese tourists. “We won the war. They lost it. We shouldn’t allow them to celebrate their attack on Pearl Harbor even if it was one of their greatest victories.”


But then Justice Stevens said that he recognized his mistake in “drawing inferences” about the group of tourists that might not apply to any of them. “The Japanese tourists were not responsible for what some of their countrymen did decades ago,” he said, just as “the Muslims planning to build the mosque are not responsible for what an entirely different group of Muslims did on 9/11.”


Many Muslims who pray in New York City mosques, he added, “may well have come to America to escape the intolerance of radicals like those who dominate the Taliban.” Descendants of pilgrims “who came to America in the 17th century to escape religious persecutions” and helped establish our democracy should get that, he said.


Justice Stevens ended with a powerful message that participants in the debate over the mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan should heed: “Ignorance — that is to say, fear of the unknown — is the source of most invidious prejudice.”

**********

I am reminded of a story told by my Aussie bloke about a conversation he had with a North Vietnamese colonel twenty years after the war in Vietnam had ended. The two were seated in a hotel bar in Ho Chi Min City. There was an interpreter who joined the two men.

He asked the colonel, 'Why are the Vietnamese so welcoming to Australians? If you had invaded my country, I'm not so sure I would welcome Vietnamese visitors there.'

The colonel was quiet for a moment and then turned to say, 'But we won.'

Monday, November 08, 2010

Life at 70

My first birthday card arrived today..thanks Becca!! On the front was a gigantic blue 70.

Couldn't figure out why my dear friend would make such an error.

This couldn't possibly be my 70th birthday. She must have purchased it to send to someone else who died just in the nick of time and so she was recycling it for me as a joke!


No joke.


My dearest partner, Graham, took a look, smiled and said..'ah ha..now you have to admit just how long you've been hangun round. '


Caught! Dearly caught..It's a long time to flutter hither and yon. Many snows have passed since that birthing back in Flint, Michigan. Lots has changed. But, finally what counts is that I've done a good deed or five here and there, smoked a joint or three, driven into lots of snowy ditches, made love to a couple of amazing men, and today am cozy and creative in our little prairie house looking forward to our upcoming trip to the Sierra.


love you all..


Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Geographical Center of North America

Rugby, North Dakota!

In the midst of writing a short story about my first visit to North Dakota, where I currently reside, I wondered how close my house was to the center of North America. 144 miles north-west of Rugby sits my little prairie cottage. Now that's pretty darn close.

What a wonderment to discover that finally at almost age 70, I'm rather like a top swirling on it's tip, almost dead center in the middle of Norte America...love it..and thought you might enjoy knowing what I now know..that your friend and blogger has finally found a modicum of balance in her life :)

I wonder if this fact will have any impact on my political balance? Probably not!! Staunch progressive here!!

Physical geography


The vast majority of North America is on the North American Plate. Parts of California and western Mexico form the partial edge of the Pacific Plate, with the two plates meeting along the San Andreas fault. The southernmost portion of the continent and much of the West Indies lie on the Caribbean Plate, whereas the Juan de Fuca and Cocos plates border the North American Plate on its western frontier.

The continent can be divided into four great regions (each of which contains many subregions): the Great Plains stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Arctic; the geologically young, mountainous west, including the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, California and Alaska; the raised but relatively flat plateau of the Canadian Shield in the northeast; and the varied eastern region, which includes the Appalachian Mountains, the coastal plain along the Atlantic seaboard, and the Florida peninsula. Mexico, with its long plateaus and cordilleras, falls largely in the western region, although the eastern coastal plain does extend south along the Gulf.

The western mountains are split in the middle and into the main range of the Rockies and the coast ranges in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia with the Great Basin—a lower area containing smaller ranges and low-lying deserts—in between. The highest peak is Denali in Alaska.

The United States Geographical Survey states that the geographic center of North America is "6 miles west of Balta, Pierce County, North Dakota" at approximately 48°10′N 100°10′W / 48.167°N 100.167°W / 48.167; -100.167, approximately 15 miles (25 km) from Rugby, North Dakota. The USGS further states that “No marked or monumented point has been established by any government agency as the geographic center of either the 50 States, the conterminous United States, or the North American continent.” Nonetheless, there is a 15-foot (4.5 m) field stone obelisk in Rugby claiming to mark the center.

Wikipedia...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Nancy Pelosi - Hooray for my favourite legislator

'Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has tweeted that she will run to lead Democrats in the House of Representatives.'

Washington Post (Breaking News) Friday 5 November 2010
(click on the title to this blog post for the full Washington Post story)

I love this woman, love what she stands for, love her willingness to model the best possible leadership for young men and women around the nation.

May her fellow Dems choose her to do the job! We'll all be better for their making such a choice

Amazing woman!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Day After - election results

Oh, I know we could agonize over many of the decisions that seem to have been made by those Americans who cared enough to vote. (Why, oh why, isn't it a legal requirement for everyone to vote?)

In my home state, North Dakota, the republican candidates won every contest which they entered. That's why I love California. Even though the dipsy doodle house of representatives republican candidate for my home town there won again (I think he's gonna be in office til they carry him out in a coffin), most of the state voted my political conscience. They didn't allow big oil to win the day. They voted for JERRY..hooray..the man ran a brilliant campaign, which, of course, means he drew a brilliant selection of folks around him. I personally want to thank whoever was in charge of JERRY's Facebook page..kudos, for sure.

Barbara is still the second senator from California..hooray for the gurls with the dark curls..blonds may have more fun, but they are also sometimes just not up to the really hard chores required of senators...ya know what I mean..and those blonds are male as well as female.

So, last night I fell off to sleep a very unhappy voter...the projections were abysmal.

This morning, I awoke with slightly more perspective. Dreams and a empathetic Australian husband will do that to you.

Since we lost the election here in Nordacotah, we went out and bought the wood to build a new passageway from the house to the garage so we can park the ute there instead of in the snow in January when it is really really cold on the great northern plains.

So, be well..have hope that the naysayers in the world who hate helping their fellow humans with health care and jobs have only a modicum of impact on the great American experiment..stop buying from the corporations who supported the candidates you oppose cause then those corps will have less money next time with which to support those candidates..and be happy..

Remember it's how we react to setbacks in life that determines who we are, not the setbacks themselves. React well, my friends..and know that you are loved entities. :)

Monday, November 01, 2010

6 a.m.

Crystal clear at 6 a.m. this morning after two days of almost perfect foggy dew.

Woke up to the crescent moon staring me in the face through the window - brilliant!

Downloaded a new operating system on my laptop last night and just couldn't wait to get up to play with the web to see how well it operated.

Perfectly - crystal, like the atmosphere surrounding us here on the prairie.

I can use Hotmail again and can access the real time counter on this blog. Hopefully facebook will also work better. I think the old OS on this machine was new six years ago; a lifetime on the internet.

So, it's dark for another hour or so here in Nordacotah..the sunrise ought to be delightful. The school bus with its flashing lights ought to pass on our street in about fifteen minutes..it is so strange to think of living in a house where the chillins are up and ready to go to school in the dark..my own experience back in the day, but that day is more than 50 years ago..oh my

Tomorrow is a birthday celebration for two of my favourite folks in the world..so in advance, Happy Day to Marcia and Sarah...I love you both!!

Catch you in the sunlight..may laughter and warm hugs follow you all the hours of your celebration

Sunday, October 31, 2010

THE RALLY TO RESTORE

Three hours this morning the computer sang with the music of sanity! Jusuf and Jabar, Crowe and Kid Rock, rhythm and blues, rapping troops, a troop quartet with the American anthem, silly Cobert, and a philosophical Stewart filled our prairie house with laughter and tears.

I love it when Americans come together to harmonize! I love it when the Aussie sees that we aren't all political muleskinners unwilling to consider the points of view of the 'other' side.

While I smiled through the brekkie dishes, made a loaf of bread, did the laundry, changed the sheets on the bed, and generally approved..even of Ozzie..can you believe I approved of the neanderthal.. The Washington Mall vibrated with the enthusiasm that can only come through the common cosideration of a hundred thousand folks.

I live in a state that only has four times more folks than were in this Washington celebration today. I like living in this quiet, foggy place. And, I love what folks gave to Stewart today - their support in creating a different view of who many Americans choose to be.

Hope you saw the whole shindig. If not, hope you will access it on line or on Comedy Central - worth your time..

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunshine

How does one describe the sun as it breaks through the autumnal low lying clouds to warm the windows after an early season snowstorm? A million writers have described the sense of well being that comes with those miraculous rays.

Today, I watched as the sun lit the deep red geranium blosssoms standing quietly just inside the window seat, their contageous smile inviting the slender sunflower stems planted a week ago to reach for that same warmth.

Outside the lilac bushes, whose leaves are still crackly dark green but attached to their branches, cast shadows upon the otherwise sparkling snow.

The fir tree stands tall after lashing itself firmly to the ground as the wind whipped it ceaselessly for the past two days; its green self stalwart sucking up the nutrients offered by the glorious orb hanging like a solstice decoration off to the south-east.

Joy - a soft influence this time of year - permeates the room. On the other side of the window are the contrasts between the white snow, the suddenly baby blue skies, and the deep golden reeds surrounding the grey frozen pond. Beyond lie the yellow stubble of a harvested oat field.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Full Moon on Stoney Run

On the prairie the full moon is harbinger of change. Above is a photo of the moon over our lovely slough better known as Stoney Run. Graham took it with his digital from the front porch a few days ago.

The weather cooperated perfectly! Predictions for snow flurries manifested about 9 a.m. First time since childhood that I watched white rain turn into snow as I made the bed this morning.

Ah, if you computed that information properly, you might wonder what time we exited the warm covers. :) Late - When I bopped into the kitchen to turn on the espresso machine, the clock over the stove read 8:18.

Wandering through the southwest wind to the post office required several layers including my heavy duty down jacket, big enough to hide three small children in the sleeves alone, and my Nordacotah wind jacket. Snow men had nothing on me in terms of girth as I ventured out.

No mail worth the journey - just adverts - but the trek across town was invigorating.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Letter from 2000

Dearest Graham,

The moments mount and change - these rare intimate exchanges with the natural world, these life shattering, shape shifting epiphanies press out to turn a corner on life. They keep occurring.

You may think me strange, but I suspect you understand.

I am sitting in the shade on the rock seats of one of the remaining walls of the nave of Glastonbury Cathedral, destroyed by Henry VIII.

In front of me is the burial site of Arthur - King of all Britons.

Above me are the clouds of a blue British sky

The grasses and subtle English daisys growing within remind me that what Henry really did was turn this temple of God into a temple of the Goddess. It has become a woman's place, no longer cold, baren, foreboding; no longer filled with mercerary, over hungry humans who paid with their lives to be included in the Christian model.

The Cathedral is now the celebration of late summer; warm, inviting with life vibrating through the flowers adorning every tower. This holy place is ready to begin the fall celebration of colour before the winter rains come once again.

All are returned to the cycle

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Domestic - took til age 70 (almost) for me to try out 'domestic'.

The prairie will do that to ya. Autumn has been miraculous. This morning is more of the same. Temps threaten to break 65F (20C - not sure why I continue to translate, very few Aussies stop by these days), the sun streams through our north east facing windows, and all is well in our world.

The mayor is coming to dinner tonight. I am baking a blueberry pie in celebration thereof. First one ever. There have been a number of firsts in the kitchen lately. I made my first espresso on our 1995 vintage commercial espresso machine this week. I mixed up a batch of ginger cookies to go with the coffee..never before! I used the slow cooker better known as a crockpot (usually a term to describe my ideas about the industrialization of the prairie - or is that crackpot) at least once a week. I painted the entire garage except for the line between the grey-blue face and the merlot trim (got the Aussie with a steadier hand to draw the line).

All the while my mind is busier than usual contemplating BHP Billiton (a South African conglomerate who holds the environement in contempt) trying a hostile take over of Potash Canada five miles across the border. One might argue that is a problem for the Canadians to deal with. Nope! The drill holes may be in Canada six miles north of us, but the plant will be here in Burke County seven miles down the highway.

You see, domestication takes on new meaning when it involves protecting the environment as well as establishing a home in a new land. Guess life really never changes. Robin Hood and Jack on his beanstalk - We're all charged with having a positive impact when the giants/warlords come to town.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cold Last Night, Cold the Night Before

Cold! Is 26F (-1C) cold? You bet!! Skittering across the kitchen floor this morning to check the indoor/outdoor themometer, my toes knew the temps had fallen precipitiously.

The only sign of the change in temperature outside, however, was the frost on the front windshield of the 'ute' (pick-up).

Inside was a different story. We turn the thermostat on the furnace to 'off' when we go to bed, but what that really means is that the thermostate clicks into action with the temps inside the house reach 50F. For the house to cool that much, outside had to be pretty darn cool.

So, here I sit without my gold rings - they collect cold and make my fingers tingle. I have my little possum/wool beanie on my head and my warm fluffy turtleneck jacket round my shouders. My toes are still cold. Gonna have to put on my down booties pretty soon or go for a long walk to warm up the extremities from inside-out.

What will we do when the harvested prairie becomes a winter wonderland?

Yesterday weheaded for the 'big smoke' and bought cross country ski boots to go with our cross country skiis. When the snow falls, we'll practice on the flatlands and then throw em into the back of the pick-up (ute) and head south to Zion National Park to join family for Thanksgiving.

Pack up again after the celebratory week end and head for points west - Whitney Portal - to wait for mountain snow on which we can practice as well as entertain visitors from Oz as well as those from southern and middle California.

Life's Good - a great brand name!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ginger Cookies and Garage Doors

Today's the day - maybe the last of the 70F (20C) days before the cool sets in. Prediction for tomorrow is 56F high.

Can't paint the trim on the garage til the Aussie bloke paints the champhers on the back of the house..you know, the ones surrounding the new windows. Have to be sure there is enough paint for that job cause crawling up onto the snow covered roof top is NOT a good idea. Besides, paint needs certain temperatures to set properly.

As a result, I will scrape and paint the white part of the garage door and await further developments.

And, I will make a batch of Ginger Cookies to fuel our determination not to forget Oz and the Buderim Factory and tantalyzing Bundaburg Ginger Beer - the best on the planet.

A few days ago I made Anzacs - they were good but not so good as the ones we buy at the Rosalie Store next to the Deli. Those can't be beat. I'll have to steal the recipe to bring back with us next time. Probably wouldn't cook as well anyway - American ovens are too large! :)

So, with cookie dough on my knuckles and paint on my elbows, I wish you a most amazing Friday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gardens

Red Room, a writers web site, asked members to blog this week on 'gardens'.

For the past three hours I've been painting the garage - repeititious task that it is, I enjoy the opportunity to let my mind wander whilst in the midst - not so far as to knock the paint off the ladder (I've done that once or twice.)

Suddenly, it occurred to me that I live in one of the largest gardens on the planet - must be 500 miles square at least if one includes the Canadian component. I think that makes it a 25,000 square mile garden - a bread basket that is capable of feeding the planet while at the same time (because it sits atop the Bakken Oil Shale Fields) fueling at least the needs of the Americas.

How enormously productive is this land! Dark black soil mixed with deep grey clay that sticks to your boot bottoms is somehow left over from the glacial period that scoured so much of North America at some earlier period in our history.

The tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beets, corn, parsley, spinich, carrots that have been grown in this land feed the local people. The beef that graze the harvested oat fields have no 'mad cows' , no e-coli cause they are grass fed.

We fortunate few live in a land that leads the nation in parking spaces, where there are not enough folks to do the work that needs doing; where the only real problem is finding housing for the winter because once upon a time folks used to leave this bountiful country for cities throughout the continent and their homes fell into the hands of the local raccoons - I wonder if folks realize what they have left behind?
I know the raccoons are appreciative - until that is, folks like the Aussie and I kick em out.
We're blessed to be here. Hope you feel the same way about your home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paint, paint while the sun shines

Temperatures are dropping, at least for the day. Almost noon and the temp in the sunshine is only 55, not bad for an October day in the harvested north prairie of america.

Yesterday all outside work came to a halt with rain predicted. Only 40 drops actually hit the ground. Had to hand water the petunias and the parsley that I left out.

No worries, but I still have the grey part of the garage to paint. Gonna roller blade across the blank white walls rather than brush so I ought to be able to finish up before cooler weather descends from the Gulf of Alaska.

The 8 foot wide/5 foot high windows arrive this afternoon. Pics to follow of the installation. Ought to be amazing. The Aussie has installed a winch up the stairs to pull the windows to the second level. Hopefully his plan works well. Most do.

Gonna quit for now. Have to take off the gold rings that hug cold air to my digits.

Be well, you southerners. Catch you after I've washed the paint off my elbows.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Vulnerability

Yep, that's me, Ms Vulnerable — stop laughing!

Geese, you guys don't give me a chance. How come no one knows me the way I knows me?

Silly question. No one else has had to put up with 70 years of emotional trauma and unequivocal certainty the way I have had to. Now, I'm not suggesting that ya'll have not had these experiences. I'm just saying that my version is unique just as your's is unique.

I do superwoman really well. Mild mannered, well coiffed, a bit pudgy, smiling except when thinking about whatever is seriously commanding my attention; soft spoken, well behaved and then suddenly this massively self centered, wise, outspoken, loud, extremist steps out of the phone booth (probably the bathroom) and takes over the whole damn room.

'What about me?' No, that's my friend Linda's mantra.

My superpersona doesn't bother to ask. She simply takes over and manufactures a mix of hybrid mayhem unseen since the last time she felt compelled to solve the problems of her little pond in the middle of the great big morass.

My editor says I have to be vulnerable. What kind of nonsense is that? I'd never let you know that I even cry when you tell me, 'no.' Ok, so when's the last time you dared.

I know, I know ‚— I'm the Queen and you'd better not forget it. There is one version of the story and it's mine. Yours doesn't count. How ever am I supposed to be a writer of unique experiences if I have to tell the stories from someone else's point of view?

I am confused. I want to be published. My editor says I can't get published unless I'm vulnerable. I'm not.

Oh, I have tears, but you'll never see em. Unless we are watching some kind of ATT commercial about little kittens in the middle of busy highways and small children running out to rescue them from oncoming traffic. But that's not real.

I never cry when it's real. At least I don't ever cry when it's real in front of anyone else. What would they think — the Queen with runny eyeliner? You've got to be kidding.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Thursday sunshine on white paint

Have you ever painted a pale pale blue latex paint onto a brilliant white oil primer in the sunshine?

I just did. You can ask my eyes what they think of this silly decision

The white part of the front of the garage is finished.

The Merlot trim awaits my brush which will NOT be working out there today. It's actually warmer here today than Weatherunderground says it is in Brisbane - how's that for a turnaround?

82 F = 28C, clear skies and the wasps are looking for a new spot on which to rebuild. One found the knuckle on my middle finger, left hand as a landing spot and then most unceremoniously left his stinger behind! What's that all about? Come on universe!! I didn't kill the wasp's nest - G-man did , course I asked him to and a fine job he did!!

Time to write short stories about windows, little gurls at the city council meeting, a fellow who washes trucks before they can travel north across the border - Canada does not approve of Amerikan road dust!!

be well..

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wednesday Windows

Ah, sure!

Disappointment!!

Called the Pella distributer in my closest big town to see what time our 8 foot x 5 foot windows would be delivered today.

Fancy that!

Delivery date has changed - hopefully the weather goddess will hold us in the palm of her precious hands and keep the rain from pelting the upstairs until 12 October - a week hence.

The open space awaits the glass - the night sky gleams star filled through the opening - the sun rising in the east brushes tentacles over the newly laid bedroom floor sweeping highlights to and fro, and I, loving the sense of indoor/outdoor look forward to the peak of the gable filled with double paned window glass to dispell the 32 degrees of fahrenheit lurking in the early morning.

In the meantime, hope your weather and windows serve you well!!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Window on the Prairie

Weather has been delightful - 20C (68F) in the afternoon, 5C (40F) just before dawn. Sunny skies prevail. Couldn't ask for better weather for this cutting holes in the walls of the second story of our tidy little prairie house..

Photos —>

I am so aware of my lack of courage as I watch the Aussie cut and paste, saw and nail, organize, destroy, and rebuild what will be on Wednesday ( when the new windows arrive from Minot) a most beautiful addition to our home. I admit that physical power has as much to do with G-man's success as his brilliant mind, which makes it difficult to imagine a lesser person taking on this task.

I assure you we sleep well at night if for no other reason the fact that we are physically fatigued.

p.s. click on the title to this entry to go to Pella window possibilities. Ours will be very similar to the very first picture on the left.

Joy comes from creating beauty! I am blessed at the opportunity to supervise (yeah, right) this artistic addition to the house the raccoons once owned.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Red Roaster Coffee Company

Good morning Red Roaster fans,

We have discovered the best cuppa in North Dakota and it is right here in the central north country. Delicious coffee every time we stop in..and we always take a pound home for our little stove top espresso machine.

If you haven't discovered this scrumptous cuppa yet, stop in and try a taste. Friendly service, excellent blends, and good convo - all mixed up to make a trip to Minot a treat!

You can order on line..and find their web page by clicking on the title to this blog entry.

Happy caffeine high!!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Cultural Schizophrenia?

Long convo with my good friend and editing guru Stephanie yesterday from which a dilemma arose. Thought I'd discuss it with ya'll.

The initial statement in this entry is illustrative of the issue which concerns me. If I mix metaphors, i.e. dialects of English, does that choice have a negative effect on readers? Of course, the real issue is far more substantive. The discussion is really about whether I have become planetary - that is, do I today represent an amalgam of cultures after living in two hemispheres or are my language choices an affectation causing reader discomfort?

Am I an American who happens to live and write about my experience in Australia or am I an Australian permanent resident who happens to visit America seasonally? I know, I know. I'm both, but my friends, acquaintances, and readers in both cultures may wish me to acknowledge where my loyalty lies and that means which dialect is default.

In DAS BOOK, which is currently entitled Searching for Authenticity - A Journey to Australia Times Two, on occasion I revert to some Australian vernacular causing an American reader some mild concern. After all, who is the author - American or ex pat?

Thus is the fate of those of us who refuse to live our lives and consult our sensitivities in more than one culture. We offend even as we attempt to satisfy our social contacts on both continents. No one would mind if an American in France were to sometimes relinquish her native tongue to add a French phrase here and there, but if one is travelling in another English speaking culture, it seems necessary to remain loyal to ones birth tongue. Urgh!!

Sounds a bit like my mother being outraged with my behaviour after I moved to California from Michigan years ago. I gave up the 'r' in warsh for the more west coast 'wash' and said out loud that I preferred the mountains and desert of the west coast to the swamplands and industrial mayhem of Michigan. Mother thought me a deserter; death by firing squad at dawn.

So, this being an author requires me to decide if , to satisfy an American audience, I must also give up my favourite Aussieisms — cuppa, convo, and demountable — in order to satisfy my American readers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Windows open all night long!

Can you believe it? After a killing frost less than a week ago, we slept last night with the windows open here on the prairie - we didn't even use the bulky 'doona' atop the bed.

I sit here in my bathrobe with my first cuppa close by enjoying the morning sun as it dabbles with building shadows across the room.

We installed a bird feeder full of seeds just outside the lounge room window and wait impatiently for the first winged crittur to find it. The Canada geese honk happily on the slough, the leaves on all our poplar trees , having turned a brilliant yellow, are falling one at a time to the ground.

You are probably tired of reading about the weather on the prairie. I'll try to find something new to share - but let me assure you that life is good - beyond our expectations good!

Hope the same sense of security and comfort and beauty inspire you this morning.

29C - swans are enjoying the slough

Two huge white birds (Swans), Canada geese, and a hundred ducks dot the surface of the slough that backs up to our back garden.

Freight trains chew chew chew chew past on the other side of town after the engineer blasts his warning that the road will be closed for ten minutes while the Canadian railroad cars swiftly head east to Chicago.

Took a mile walk north of town this evening. Gartner snakes lurking in the grass along the road, grass hoppers happy with leg brushing. The sun hot and direct in the western sky kept me company and continues high in the sky even at 7 p.m.

The morning of our killing frost is long forgotten in the midst of this Indian summer weather.

Life on the prairie is relaxed, quiet mostly (in between trains transiting the prairie), and friendly. Several townsfolk stopped to talk while I sifted, weeded, and prepared the rich prairie soil for tulip, iris, and narcissis bulbs that will bloom next March/April.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Afternoon Tea

It's a tad late, really, for afternoon tea - 6:30 p.m.

However, work has come to a close for this day and the computer is on, my Rooibos Tea is warm and inviting beside me. The Aussie has his last coffee of the day accompanied by a slice of warm home made whole wheat-sunflowerseed-raisin bread slathered with fig jam, the sun is hovering in the southwestern sky and all is well in the world.

I do hope your world is as peaceful and beautiful as ours, also as productive.

It was discovered two days ago that the resident raccoons had nested throughout the area between the upstairs floor and the downstairs ceiling, chewing on cross beams, packing the insulation into nest sized areas whilst treading regularly between their chosen sites and the out-of-doors.

As a result, yesterday the upstairs floor was taken up..both of them..two layers.., the old insulation was removed, and today new insulation was placed and the first of two floors renailed onto the remaining studs.

Soon the 40 sq. feet of windows will arrive and be installed. The renovations are moving along nicely.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Everyday Hero

Good cause, this triathlon running!

The Aussie and I are very proud of our adult children who contribute so much to our world and to the cultures in which they exist. Beautiful youth is made more handsome by their willingness to work on behalf of the world which has given each of them so very much.

You can access Everyday Hero web page to read more or contribute by clicking on the title to this blog entry.

Happy Wednesday to all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The 'kid' from Carmel Valley Scores a Win

Hooray for my eldest - the tall, slim, fit young woman whose exploits make my heart sing.

She reached the top of Mt. Whitney ( 14,495 feet) on Sunday and posed for some well deserved photos before heading on down to Whitney Portal.

Congrats to her effort and her ability to set a goal and complete it with grace, stamina, and courage.

love you, dearest child!

(click on the title to this blog entry for a real time photo of Mt. Whitney)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Is George Cadbury?

Whoever he is, this morning his name came up on my Yahoo page as a birthday boy. As a result G-man and I did a little research. Wonderments.

We found out that George was the son of John Cadbury who founded the Cadbury Chocolate empire purchased by Kraft earlier this year. Urgh.

But what we also found out was that Cadbury nowadays uses transfats in their chocolate and using a bit of tricky skull duggery they round down the amount on the label to '0' percent! Triple urgh!!! (info thanks to Wikipedia.)

So, we went in search of a chocolate company who didn't use the ole 'transfat' hydrogenated stuff and what did we find? Godiva chocolate!!

And what did we buy? Dark chocolate cocoa and dark chocolate bars! Yep, we're addicted and we might as well eat cocoa butter rather than hydrogenated palm oil. Want to join us?

(if you want to read the wiki article, click on the title to this post)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kevin is out and about - Hooray for Oz

ABC - Australia's national broadcaster reports:


Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has returned to the world stage, starting with a visit to Washington where he has met senior officials in the Obama administration.

Sworn in as minister just days ago, it is his first official overseas trip since he was removed as prime minister.

Mr Rudd kicked off his official duties by winning a promise from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to visit Australia in early November.

"Thank you very much for making me feel so welcome here at the state department," he said to Ms Clinton at a press conference. "I feel very much as if I am here among old friends."

Ms Clinton said she was "delighted" to see him again.

"Let me warmly welcome a friend and colleague back to the state department in his new capacity as Foreign Minister," she said.

Ms Clinton describes the US-Australia relationship as "long and deep", while Mr Rudd says it is a relationship Australia takes "deeply seriously".

Mr Rudd's return to the world stage after his removal as prime minister was always going to be closely watched and on his first official overseas visit, he snared a promise from Ms Clinton to visit Australia in November for the US-Australia Ministerial meeting.

"We're a very hospitable people and we believe you can do some serious work and have a good time at the same time," he said.

The US is trying to deepen its engagement in the Asia-Pacific region - encouraged, Ms Clinton says, by Mr Rudd.

"Australia, when Kevin was prime minister, now as Foreign Minister, was very supportive of that effort," she said.

"So I will be attending the East Asia summit to be held at the end of October in Hanoi.

"Because of the growth in Asia and the many issues that are now having to be confronted by the nations there, we need a different architecture," she said.

"In addition to deepening our commitment to ASEAN, we began the process of exploring the opportunity for the United States to join the East Asia Summit. Australia... was very supportive of that effort.

"This will be my first trip as secretary of state because I had to cancel my prior trip due to the earthquake in Haiti, and I am so looking forward to returning to a country that I admire so greatly."

No high level meeting between Australia and the US would be complete with a discussion about Afghanistan.

Mr Rudd has told Ms Clinton that Australia's support for the war in Afghanistan remains "strong and robust".

"This is not an easy conflict, it is a hard conflict. But we are resolved to stay the course with our friends and allies in the United States and we'll maintain a very close dialogue with the administration on the future shape of our engagement there," he said.

Mr Rudd will soon head to New York for the UN General Assembly, another spot on the world stage he last visited as prime minister.

(click on the title to this post to go directly to the article on abc.net.au)

Friday, September 17, 2010

No more Carcinoma

Two hundred miles, two hundred miles = 400 miles round trip; a long way to go for medical treatment!

Just before I flew north from Australia, my GP diagnosed a basal cell carcinoma growing on the right side of my nose just below the corner of my right eye. No time to see a surgeon in Oz.

Yesterday, with the help of the Crosby Clinic nurse here in my neighbourhood, I met the surgeon who removed the red devil and sewed my face back together.

No biggie!

The larger than life part of the story is that in order to see a surgeon trained to do this work before 1 December I had to travel 200 miles to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. The doctors in my immediate area are 40 miles distant and untrained to do this work. The dermatologists in Minot, 80 miles distant, had no appointments until 1 December. I think that means there are simply not enough doctors trained in dealing with carcinomas in this region of the country.

Taking that into consideration, it seems to me that the 'outback' of America is in dire need of physicians trained to deal with the most common sorts of medical problems facing the residents. More places must be funded at medical schools across the country to accommodate the training of medical professionals; those professionals, it seems to me, ought to repay their financial debts for their medical training by spending the first five years of their professional life in the 'outback'..whether that means 'outback' urban areas or 'outback' rural areas.

We all deserve to have well trained medical professionals available to us so that America can regain her position in the world as a healthy culture...dont'cha think?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September

Memories are made of this:
evocative feelings (sometimes created by unexpected events)

Well, they are supposed to be.

However, nine years after 9/11 I find myself safely, comfortably, happily dwelling on the golden plains of north central North America. From here it is impossible to recall the exploding urban environment of that date so long ago.

This land in which I currently reside has so few people that newspaper adds for job opportunities wait for months to be filled. This is the land that produces food for a nation, actually food for the planet. This is the land that produces enough oil from deep within the earth that drilling in the Gulf is unnecessary. This is the land where folks do carry guns in order to hunt for the meat that will feed the family for the winter - elk, moose, and deer wander among the stubble left behind after the harvest. This is the land where fresh beets and new potatoes just dug from the garden will sit upon our table this night.

Why have so many fled this fine land to live in the troubled and unemployed cities of our continent? Damned if I know. Devilish hard to figure out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Blue skies permeate the morning - huge sun fills the house with warmth - for a little while..

Fast moving weather swirls past my lounge room windows, faster than anything I can remember passing my office windows in the fig tree wilderness of Brisbane. Beneath the clouds intersperse swathes of blue skies backdroping the green filigree of trees dancing in the breeze.

I am reminded of my mother's frustration with me for choosing loyalty to California rather than to my birthplace, Michigan. It always irritated her that I left, but even more she was irritatated that I preferred some other climate, some other cultural ambiance.

Her own loyalty was promised to the industrial city that Detroit and Flint had become as well as to the change in seasons of her home. She had travelled outside her state, but it was always with a breath of relief that she returned.

Although as I grow old, I look more and more like my mother and my laughter is a sound bite taken directly from her vocal chords, the similarity seems to be mostly physical; my loyalty to any one place is far less developed than hers.

I have lived for long periods of my life in Michigan, Arizona, California, Oregon, South Dakota, Queensland, and now North Dakota, I feel no particular call to be loyal to any— well, except for the dramatic sun filled, snow covered Sierra Nevada of central California.

I intended to write this entry dismissing my need to have a special place on the planet. I thought I was one of those persons who just settles into whatever weather pattern or cultural milieu in which she found herself.

But, that is not true. I am loyal and most comfortable in one geography — the backbone of the western edge of the north american continent. That is where my heart sings; where no depth of snow is too deep, where no thunderstorm is too violent, where no predator is too dangerous; those mighty granite slopes bring peace and joy to my life.

Here on the prairie, it is the companionship of my longest known friend who creates that same sense of comfort, who gives me pause for hilarity and joy.

What a fortunate 'oldie' I am to be so blessed in the last third of my lifetime!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nordacotah Bluster

It's a stormy day here on the northern tier of the USA — not so wet, but blustery - big winds and entirely overcast skies. No vitamin D produced on my skin today. All the lights I bought at Menards last year are full sunlight bulbs, but they do us no good these days since we have no electricity..ho hum...

The state electricity inspector won't be in Flaxton til Monday or Tuesday of next week..makes it two weeks with no power except for 'Owen' the Briggs and Stratton generator pumping power into the house from outside. Actually, he's sitting on the covered bed of Tina's UTE parked outside the back door.

The G-man is superb in all ways. He not only fixed the osmosis machine this morning — it had a small leak, but he also, brought me a pair of down slippers and even put them on my feet so my toses wouldn't be cold. How's that for service?

We are smiling in our 60 degree home no matter that the weather storms around us. The question is will we still be smiling when the temps drop to '0' or lower and we've lived two weeks with no sun?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sunshine on the Prairie - Reason for celebration

Cool this morning inside the little house on the prairie.

Good reason to stay abed a bit later - at least until the sun broke the horizon.

Ridiculous for me to clamber out of bed at 6 a.m., search for my slippers, grab my fleece robe and tip toe over to the couch with Ray/Vac lantern in hand to copy numbers onto a soduku puzzle. Had to hide my light (not beneath a bushel basket, but behind the barrier created by my upended lap desk) so as not to awaken the deep breathing Australian.

Around 7 a.m. the sun delighted the skies with brilliant hues directed into the eyes I was trying to protect, woke him, and I shed robe and slippers to crawl back into the warm nest for an hour or so. My toeses were pleased at the decision and warmed rather more quickly than usual.

There may be one or two perks to enduring the missing electricity that would have othewise powered the furnace to bring the temps in the room up from 45 degrees to a warmer 60.

Happy Wednesday to all the northern readers..and Thursday to those in Oz.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Government for Australia — FINALLY

Whew! And now the real fun begins.

How ever will the Labour Party manage so many prima donnas..or is that prima dons?

Gonna be a sideshow a minute for the duration of this government.

But happy I am that Kevin is about to be welcomed back into the echelons of power in Australia. His abilities are the ones I most admire. Watching him brush back his blond fringe just feels like old home week.

Been a long time, Kevy! I will not be comfortable about the government til you are re-instated as a senior official in what could be a political golden age —predicated on the power of the independents and the greens some honest to goodness diplomatic decisions are going to have to be actualized.

Watching carefully, ya'll, from far away on the American prairie, but happy as a cuckoo whose found a nest into which to deposit the eggs of my expectations!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rain Rain, Go Away!

In the past, it has been Memorial Day that has been full of rain, not Labor Day. But, in the past, these were holidays spent in Michigan or California. This Labor Day we celebrate five miles from the Canadian border which makes it even stranger that our weather harkens from the east and the Gulf of Mexico. I am accustomed in my short sojourn in North Dakota to have weather slither down from the Gulf of Alaska.

It strange to realize that living in the middle of North America one is so influenced by what happens in the ocean waters; reminds me that there is really no independence, there is no safe place, there is no hideaway from being a planetary citizen. We are inter-dependent in all ways with those who live on other cotinents, time frames, culturally diverse settlements thousands of miles hence.

It so often feels to me like Americans lose track of their dependence and commonality with those who live in other cultures, on other continents. Perhaps my perceptions have been coloured by my own travels, but returning to the prairie where we now call our little house home and interacting with the folks who were born and raised here, I am often called to recognize that some of these residents have taken advantage of vacation time to travel across the globe while others have seldom left the county ( not country) but county of their birth. Like an ingrown toenail, these folks find pain a daily reminder of what they no longer experience, a sense of tolerance and compassion for others who have similar problems to solve and similar fiscal issues with which to contend.

Today, on the other hand, once again I feel a contentment with our chosen prairie town, a thankfulness that the farmers and oil field workers who surround us have provided the wherewithal to keep our economy moving, our children fed, and our automobiles fueled.

I am never sure that returning to America will be comfortable. Today it is!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sleeping with the Angels

Yep, my favourite angel was snuggled into his side of our queen size last night, snoring gently away this early morning after a good night's rest.

Woke to overcast skies - damn - was going to trim the weeds, grass, and upstart trees around the garage in preparation for new paint tomorrow. Drizzle will keep me indoors instead. Not a negative change in plans - I've emails and letters to write so the folks back home know they are loved and missed.

Brekkie at the Nygaard farm - oatmeal, flax seed, yogurt, and sultanas - perfect Sunday breakfast with friends. An internet connection together with electricity to boot makes all the difference in our Sunday celebrations. My silver laptop is plugged in, booted up, and functioning perfectly.

Unlike our PC which bottomed out on Friday night - monitor developed long lines of colour, motherboard followed shortly after. As a result, we toddled off to Minot and Best Buy on Saturday to buy a new Asis computer and LG LED monitor - As soon as the electricity is connected, we'll be back to streaming video instead of a TV set and I won't have to hike out to farmland to jot you all a note.

Life is certainly NOT boring on the prairie - good friends and community make it all work, however. Thank the goddess for the little town into which we have fallen.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Friday Evening and the sun refuses to set

Seems so strange to be wandering around the garden at 9 p.m. with the sun not yet over the horizon.

Wasps are beginning a new nest after we decimated their previous nest three days ago. Insects rule - no doubt. Saw two little yellow and black behinds weaving a new paper wasp house in the bushes near the front door. Makes me smile to know just how inventive and determined they are.

Today was a delivery, shopping, and doctor's appt. day only the doctor is a nurse practioner and she was busy. My needs were tended to by the nurse - she worked miracles. I will have an appointment made with the dermatologist and be off to the big town 80 miles away sometime late next week. I left Oz with a basal cell carcinoma, not serious, but needing removal - on the corner of my nose just below my right eye.

Still no electric power except with our little generator which enables me to type this note on a Friday evening so we had dinner at the farm - delicious parmasan breaded chicken, fresh peas and asparagus along with a decent white wine. Yummy and I can still type

I hope to sleep with the angels tonight.

A Few Glitches

Guess boring would be the situation if not for a few glitches here and there. We face a couple that give cause for concern.

First deals with Immigration typos that require reams of paper to rectify. We're in process. No trips to Canada for yummy Vietnamese til a green card is returned. We must remain within the confines of US borders until the requisite card is in hand.

The second has to do with bureaucratic dilemmas in the power industry of Dacotah. We checked with our local electricity provider about regulations concerning rewiring our home and were given the go-ahead to proceed. A noon raid by a local electricity company employee put an end to that process. Looks like we will be without power for the ensueing two weeks - a circumstance that causes us no problem in the mountains but one that creates an entirely different reaction here on the prairie.

Updates to follow when they occur.

In the meantime, work with a local committee to complete a new look for the local municipal hall took most of the morning yesterday - rake and shovel in hand, I felt very proud of the final product - pics to follow.

Hope all is well in your world and that we find enough electricity to stay on line for the next two weeks. Should I not, I'm sure you will understand.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

WE IS HOME

Computer connection is good. I type these words on my trusty mac laptop whilst sitting on my sweet bear couch in my very own lounge room situated right here in Flaxton.

This be our home; not his home, not my cabin, but our own little cottage rescued from the rakkoon klan.

Rod Stewart melodies fill the room from Pandora; we've just discovered that we can access Mad Men on line, Foyle's War episodes accompanied us on dvds from Oz, Weather Underground alerts us to the most immediate changes in our outside ambiance; our neighbours needs have been met. We sprayed the wasp nest located very near our front door last night while the busy critturs were slowing down due to cool night temps. Neighbour Annie needs no longer be concerned about wasp stings to her young children.

The once water inundated basement has a new drain connected to the city sewer system, a new circuit breaker board is waiting to be installed; the furnace works! And hooray, G-man turned it on this morning when he saw me wringing my hands - rings make my fingers cold when temps drop.

Neighbours coming for stuffed zucchini dinner on Tuesday night; last night we enjoyed prairie raised chicken and new potatoes fresh from the black Dacotah soil out at the Nygaard farm; time to reciprocate and once again enjoy the humour and comraderie of small town nordamerica.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

FLAXTON

Prairie Home - sunshine and a lovely sky blue peacefulness resonates throughout the house.

All kinds of issues upon our arrival will be solved in due time. The G-man has the skills to tackle almost any problem created by too much rain or too much wind.

We had been told that the basement had had 8 inches of water flow in from the ground water table but it looks more like 24 altogether wetted the goodies stored downstairs - including a bunch of canned goods that we had put below the frost level so they didn't freeze.

Tools, lots of power tools were inundated; the water heater's innards were destroyed, but somehow the Aussie bloke has made it all right. We will have to buy more tools tomorrow to replace those soaked, but tonight he is in the midst of taking a HOT shower before we head out for WallEye at the local dinner house six miles down the road.

It's been a long journey this time with opportunities to spend time with some loved entities. From the desert mountains of southern California to the massive forests of northern Arizona's San Francisco Peaks and finally arriving to the warm welcome of Bismarck where we supped on some superb northern prairie food - yummy beets, tantalyzing beef, and yummy walleye..along with some great California wines..couldn't be better..

So, stories to come about the wasps' nest in the nearby lilac bushes, one hundred wild cats in town, a new car wash, and the raccoons are back!

be well...we are happy to be home..

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We're HERE!

Leavin on the next plane; don't know when I'll be back agaiin!



Well, actually, we've arrived on the last plane..and we do know when we intend to head back south - sometime in May 2011. I was angsting about whether the G-man would make it through immigration - no worries -



This day we retreat occasionally into jetlag heaven - otherwise known as naptime - before we head further east to Arizona where we will visit with my middle child and thenhead north to the prairie.



Great sadness as we departed New Zealand...I watched out the window as we cleared the island and I realized it was all blue pacific for another 11 hours - A good tail wind made the trip only 10 and a half hours during which Jonesses and An Education played on my individual tv screen - both commentary on the real world that offers a pause for thought.



Arriving over the North American continent at Los Angeles, I once again took a long look out the window as we circled and landed from the east. Dozens of baseball diamonds - only in America. I knew we were in LA when the cement rivers with merely a trickle mid-stream followed the ribbons of freeway from mountainous horizon to mountainous horizon.



Home; we are in our northern home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Message to the Great Circle

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go!

Not really — the bags are packed, but I'm never really ready.

Was jotting an email to an Aussie friend yesterday when I realized that the ones I love in the 'down under' fill a space in my psyche that cannot be filled by anyone but those who live here. Even though I am about to travel to the ' up over' better known as the northern prairie and anticipate reunion with some of the most important folks in my life, it is paramount to understand that the two groups of people do not occupy the same space in my inner realm.

Kind of like being the Queen of Hearts - yep, I aspire to such generalized metaphorical nonsense.

In my court there are many alliances, all of which are essential to the healthy functioning of my royal psyche. None can be eliminated. All are essential.

I do realize just how narcissistic this whole description is, but that changes the truth of it not a whit.

My Australian connections supply me with a sense of being competent, quietly (yeah, right, whoever describes a traveling American as quiet) able to drive on the left hand side of the road, to accept that I am an individual unlike most who inhabit this territory. They accept my foibles and gift me with their model of decorum. They seldom act out, make waves, or congratulate anyone on the basic niceties expressed within their hearing. Compliments are not the order of the day; here behaviour speaks much louder than words.

They protect me from my most abrasive American foibles and laugh with delight when I slip into the old patterns of just being 'way too out there.' They tolerate my problem solving techniques — just ask the man! "Excuse me, Sir, (oops - a non word in Oz) but why is it that you are barefoot in the middle of the central business district?"

No Ozite would ever ask. Most Americans would be driven by curiosity to check out the real reason for such a bizzare lack of protection for the feet.

I will miss these polite but straight shooting ( no guns generally in Oz) friends who have made life here possible for me.

On the other hand, I am about to land on my own feet in nordamerika where folks say what they mean more often than they act out their intentions. I must be careful with this generalization. My friends in Nordacotah have been more generous than any outlander has a right to expect. They have given freely of their time, gasoline, knowledge, scones, and sunflowers than anyone else on the planet.

And then, there is my Los Angeles connection who is willing not only to drive in the middle of a summer afternoon all the way to LAX to pick us up, but also to drive us across the California and Arizona desert to Flagstaff. The generosity of spirit astounds me. The welcome spirit of America reminds me of how powerful it is to be a land of plenty. If one has enough, it is acceptable to share that enough with those one loves and often with strangers as well.

Those I love in America are most apt to tell me about my foibles rather to than to simply endure them, but those foibles are of a very different sort than the ones I might commit in the southern hemisphere.

In America, I tend to step on the toes of folks in power, sometimes of folks who are powerless. Both deeds are unacceptable. To spend too much time talking of self is common, but nonetheless unacceptable. Americans will remind me. For this, I am grateful.

I'm blessed to have two worlds in which to live and love. They are different to be sure, but both provide a background and support system that gives me reason to celebrate.

About to cross the divide — Message to the Great Circle 'Crossing over, please bless our passage.'

Friday, August 13, 2010

Packing

Isn't packing a bother? Especially packing for a ten month sojourn....three seasons, northern and southern hemisphere?

I do hate being cold but even more dislike glowing in the midst of summer humidity...what to take to avoid both and keep within the baggage weight limits of modern air travel —

I've emptied closets, packed away all the stuff that is staying here; filled the bags with moth repellent, and tucked them safely into closets where they will guard their contents for the duration.

But, still lying on the bed in the guest room are the items I may and those that I may not include in my travel bag - which has wheels, but at the same time is going to have to accommodate the weight of at least one nail gun so that Aussie can fit new windows into the upstairs bedroom and fashion a new set of stairs to the second floor. I suppose there will be other essential equipment that will need to find a corner in my luggage as well..

A couple pair of shorts - its warm in Nordamerika in August, a tank top or three, a long sleeved shirt to ward off the sunshine, my trekking hat and poles, a sturdy pair of shoes and my sandals to show off my new toenail polish. One pair of long pants for evening, a skirt and matching top in case dress up is required, propolis toothpaste and calendula cream - Oh I know, they produce the same stuff in the northern hemisphere :)

It's all sitting there just waiting for me to fold it again, to tuck the scanty panties into the corners, the warm winter socks into the other corners and the summer nighties on top with the cashmere sweater and silk long sleeved blouse that go everywhere with me.

I just recharged my American mobile ( ah er cell) phone and my camera. They'll fit into my computer bag which fortunately every airline allows me to carry transpacifically.

Decisions, decision, decisions !

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moroni in Brisbane

It's EKKA day here in Queensland and our regular Merlo coffee shop is closed.

Who would've thunk it?

So, instead we drove across the city to Kangaroo Point and had a cuppa at the cliffs coffee house across the river from downtown. Lovely view, harrowing breezes from off the river. The coffee house offers blankets to keep warm! Loved it..soft and snuggly while I enjoyed my coffee

And to make matters more interesting, we had a discussion of the Mormon Temple that is located across the road from the coffee shop - also looking out over the River to lovely downtown Brissie and the Botanical Gardens that frame the view in greenery.

Atop the temple is Moroni - the gilded angel who is supposed to have been dressed all in white when he appeared to Joseph Smith back in 1823.

Guarding the faithful, the stalwart angel graces the top of the temple nonetheless. And it occurred to me that most Aussies have no idea who he is or why he's up there in the blistering heat of summer and the bone chilling westerlies of winter.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A High School Valedictorian Speaks Out

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

Click on the title of this post to find the full content of Erica Goldson's Valedictory Speech. She's right on!

Whose to blame? Not important.

Who can change the environment, rules, and expectations? You and me!

Take heart, there are kids and parents out there who want more than rote, who prefer children to be thoughtful and creative, curious and wrong sometimes, who think the process is more important than the outcome - scores on national and state tests.

It's been eight years since I spent time in a classroom as a high school English teacher. The situation hasn't much changed in that time although there have always been advocates of 'thinking', of individualized creativity, people who work quietly in the background to create spaces inside of which teens can investigate and learn rather than 'follow directions'.

I celebrate Erica's speaking out. I don't much appreciate Mencken, but I do applaud his observation. Hopefully with the school year about to begin once more, teachers around the USA will take a look at what a Valedictorian has to say.

And hopefully, Australia and her present Prime Minister will take note and discontinue the waste of funds being expended on 'national testing'. URGH>>>>>

Friday, August 06, 2010

Two Weeks to Touchdown in America

It's Friday in Oz — two weeks to American touchdown!

Well, actually, it's two weeks and a day, but we lose a day when we travel east, so in fact, it's two weeks.

Gonna be hard to leave the winter sunshine, the excellent election television humour - Aussie's never take much seriously! and the good companionship of the southern hemisphere.

But somehow we'll manage. After all, we have the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff late summer, a quick jaunt through an August Phoenix, and an Indian Summer in North Dakota. What more could we ask?

With a little luck, the companionships we've established here might fly north for a visit. We do hope so.

In the meantime, I'll be snuggling into my warm winter covers tonight and waking in the morning to cold floors and kookaburra chatter — experiences we won't have for the year we are in the north.

And on 20 August, we board Air New Zealand for the trip of the year!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kevin - The Ex Prime Minister of Australia

It's not often I have something positive to write about a politico, but an extra-ordinary interview took place last night on ABC radio here in Australia.

Click on the title of this entry to go to the ABC page where you can listen to the interview.

Some background for you outlanders. Three months ago, the current Prime Minister was replaced by a new Labor Prime Minister. In other words, Kevin Rudd, was tossed in a midnight dumpster.

The new Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, called an election a month later, an election campaign in the middle of which we find ourselves at the moment.

Now to add to the drama, Kevin Rudd, who is contesting his seat to represent his electorate here in Brisbane, this week, went in for emergency gall bladder surgery.

He is now out of hospital and the interview to which I refer is his first upon recovery.

This is a man with principles, a man with integrity, a man with a purpose, a leader who believes firmly in all he has accomplished for the people of Australia.

If I had a vote, I'd cast it in his direction.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Balmy Winter's Day

Ok, so I know it's a weather post, but, guys, the temperature hovers at 23 C...that's spring luscious - rained two days ago and misted mightly this early a.m...so gardening was perfect! Soil clumped on the little garden hoe, roots loosened magically, the rake broke the clods and all the beds are ready for seedlings!!

Only it's mid-winter!...In Oz, winter begins 1 June and ends 1 September..Today is almost 1 August. This place is paradise - no other description suits.

Foggy this morning as all warm winter mornings are - airport in Brisbane and Sydney, 900 kilometres south, were closed - no struggling jet engines overhead!! ...

love it, love Oz, looking forward to the morrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Half Knee Replacement - 2 Months Later

Last February, I commented on this year's initial appointment with the orthopedic surgeon.

Here it is the end of July, two and a half months since my half knee surgery, and I thought I might revisit the topic.

Success?

I'd say 100%. I walk where ever I wish when ever with no pain in my knee. I climb stairs and enjoy the considerable inclines of the Kolgan Track at Mt. Cooth-tha with a little shortness of breath but with no physical discomfort.

However, I re-iterate, this surgery was 'half-knee' and the recovery period is much shorter than that required for full knee replacement.

The physio warned me that gardening and skiing were now off limits.

You know I am a rule bender who hates being caught, and so have to admit that I look for ways to 'do it my way' that keep the rule makers from discovering that I have flaunted their edicts.

I spent all day yesterday in the garden. It is looking absolutely groomed, weeded, mulched and trimmed — it should survive our ten months away and I'm proud of myself — no pain.

I visit a physio therapist twice monthly. The exercises she prescribes, if practiced religiously and daily, ought to take me successfully onto the cross-country ski runs at Izaak Walton, Montana, in mid January. Even though I have been forbidden skiing, the physio knows I intend to cross country to my hearts content if the snow is sufficient.

Her exercises require that I reach a 135 degree bend of my knee and a flat back of my knee on a hard surface. I am still not there. I have 125 degree bend and I'm 4 degrees off flat.

These are my challenges – there is pain associated with accomplishing these final degrees in both directions. The pain is NOT about walking or climbing or descending. The pain is about stretching.

After 8 years of not bending my knee very far, the tendons and ligaments of my right leg have a mind of their own - mostly shortened. My muscles need strengthening. I'm working on em, gritting my teeth into the pain and softly encouraging tissue to release and grow stronger.

I'm sure I'll reach my goals.

In other words, life is good! I know that's a television commercial, but damn, it's also the truth.

I just love the idea of keeping on, of setting goals, reaching them and setting new ones - all with a new half knee that keeps me from limping and most of all has established that I may never loose my balance again. Wouldn't that be a wonderment?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fairy Wrens - male variety

The picture above is of a male Fairy Wren — about the size of the palm of my hand — this fellow was flitting to and fro along the track less travelled by my Scots companion and me yesterday. What a joy to catch the streak of red across the deep blue Queensland bush sky.

Other photos show the colour of the Australian outback in mid winter after the unusual proliferation of autumn rain.

Sitting in the residue of an ancient homestead deep in the Flinders Mountain back country, we enjoyed a cuppa and chocolate mudcake muffins in honour of my 70th unbirthday celebration.

I will be sad to leave the southern hemisphere — there is joy in 'them thar hills'.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sierra Nevada

Am missing my home above Owens Valley.

This sunrise was taken by my eldest, Christina, on Monday early from her perch at Lone Pine Lake.

Amazing, isn't it, to know that daylight is close, that the last three miles hiked in darkness will be outclassed by sunlight on my shoulder.

I love Christina, loved that she stopped to take this photo, love that she has been in MY mountains. Guess, they're her mountains, too! :)

Sigh! I'm jealous

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trans Cultural Traditions: The World is SO small

I've been looking for some time for a version of this lovely Scots' song from which I stole my avatar.

And here it is — The former Soviet Red Army Choir singing a lilting Scots ballad about a heroine who forgot to keep her word..oh my!

Hope you enjoy. I listened to many versions before choosing this one - definitely a fav...

"Annie Laurie" (Scottish Song) - Sung by Former Soviet Red Army Choir

Friday, July 16, 2010

Time Capsule

Somebody's stolen weeks of my life. I've been looking everywhere. Can't find em..Two weeks gone..well ten days at least!

How could it be so long since last I posted? Just can't figure it out.

Lovely winter afternoon, deepest blue skies, westerlies on parade, life is presently delightful - that is, until I realize I had failed to communicate for so long.

Distractions these days include writing, writing, writing, and sending short stories, travel stories, and articles off to magazines. Amazes me how long it actually takes to personalize each submission. The story changes every time I send it out. No two the same.

So, a month to go before my last appt. with the surgeon who gave me a new half-knee and then we fly north following the birds to warmer climes - sounds strange doesn't it. We northern hemisphere folks just don't realize that there are other ways to be in the world. :)

Catch you laters....I have a story to write about a seven year old - a young girl who forced a school to find her parents.

hugs

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Python joins traffic jam

RUSSIANS stuck in a traffic jam watched in astonishment as a two-metre-long python slithered into a neighbouring car.

The snake had apparently escaped from the home of its owner in Samara, a southern city on the Volga, when it joined the traffic yesterday

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

Looks like the big snakes are omni-continental.

Do you remember the tale I told of the twelve foot long carpet python stretching across a suburban road?

My second year in Queensland - I was headed home from my walk in the Mt. Cooth-tha Wilderness Park when what to my wondering eyes should appear? Yep, a sea green/deep blue Persian carpet of snake sunning on the black bitumen road ahead.

First bewilderment, second amazement, third adrenalin -

Stunning crittur! The goddess gift is one I shall always hold dear!

My only choice was to run over the artistically designed snake who stretched from one side of the road to the fern fronds on the other or wait - You know what transpired - a glorious patience ensued as the king of the road slowly undulated to the creek side of the pavement.

Life is full of gifts. I am sure the Russian commuters will agree.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Monster Croc Eats Bull Shark in Kakadu

Kakadu National Park - Northern Territory - Australia
Nadja Hainke
Northern Territory News
23-6-2010

This 16 foot crocodile has just proven who's the king of the swamp as he made mince meat of a bull shark at Kakadu National Park.

A bunch of tourists looked on in shock when they saw the croc chomping on the shark at the upper flood plains of the south Alligator River.

But tour guide Dean Cameron, 34, believed the shark would have been at least 10 foot long and 132 pounds. The croc would have taken the shark at night.

But it was not the first time a crocodile has been witnessed feasting on a shark. Maxine Rawson-Rodriquez was on a Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River - about 60 miles south of Darwin - when the tourist boat came across another crocodile eating a shark on 24 March.

Mr. Cameron, who has been a tour guide for two years and a park reabnger for several more, said he would come across such a spectacle once a year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Australia has her first female Prime Minister

Click on the title to today's entry to read a blog entry by Andrew Bolt about Kevin Rudd's fall from favor with the Labor Party of Australia.

It felt very strange to wake yesterday morning to discover that at 9 a.m. Canberra time, we might have a change in leadership. An alien concept to Americans except in the case of assassination of our President.

130 parliamentary party members were about to make a decision for 22 million Australians.

Personally, I appreciate Kevin's attempt to change the Australian balance of wealth. He is an intelligent, capable man whose primary concern has not been for himself, but for the working class peoples of the country he was elected to lead.

Irony reigns as billionaire mining magnates coerced their employees to join them as they invested half a million dollars on emotive television advertisements in support of not taxing mining companies. Their purpose - to topple a prime minister who was working diligently, if not effectively, to give the working class citizens of his country some part of the massive wealth which the billionaires were digging from the soil and selling off to Japan and China.

So, I will miss the blond boy -

We'll see how his red-headed Welsh born second in command does now that she has the mantle of power on her shoulders.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unicompartmental Knee Replacement

Saw the Wizard today and his hefty physios this afternoon -

Yep, I've done well..Six weeks after surgery, I have 115 degrees of knee extension and only four more degrees to go to get the back of my knee flat on the ground when extended...That's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good!

Walked home from downtown on Monday - not a good idea as there is a rather steep hill in the middle of the almost three mile walk, but I had been sitting in the movie theater watching Pirates of Penzance ah er Prince of Persia. Hard to find a more boring script although Jake was buff enough! He just sounded stupid!!

I have permission to drive the car! Hooray!! and am encouraged to spend more time on my bicycle. Currently, I only ride about ten minutes a day - gonna up it slowly to at least 30 min...good for the muscles that support my knee.

January - Watch out you Grizzlies in Glacier - Graham and I are coming to cross country ski at Isakk Walton.!

The goddess knows, I am one happy camper

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Magnificient Sunday

Autumn has to be the absolute best season in mid-continent east coast Australia.

Even the birds cooperate. Was talking on the phone to a friend in America this morning - sitting in the back garden surrounded by sunshine when a Kookaburra couple stopped for a visit. Such Aries birds - they absolutely had to join in the conversation with a three minute laughing cackle heard for a kilometer round. Which, of course, means my American friend was part of the friendly greeting.

Love this place. Difficult to think of leaving in order to spend some time in that other part of the planet that I love so thoroughly.

I have work to do on DAS BOOK...which has metamorphosed from 35 long chapters to 45 short ones. Today my job is to take out every adverb, preposition, cluttering term, unnecessary phrase, incident that does not contribute to the final outcome of the book. It's hard work - losing those darlings, but necessary. Yesterday took a total of 300 words out of the combined first three chapters - adds up to one whole page - (very,magnificently,birds nest descriptors). I'll save em all up and make a poem entitled - Omitted -

Happy weekend....to all and to all a fine day

Magnificient Sunday

Friday, June 18, 2010

Been a While

Yes, it's been a while since I last posted anything about life in Oz. Probably cause there's not a lot to tell.

It is my penchant to go insular when healing - and the past five and a half weeks have been all about just that. The wound created by the insertion of two stainless steal apparatus on the inside of my right knee has healed.

Continuing is the work of re-enforcing the soft tissue around the new bionic appliance. Stretch, stretch, stretch..and limit swelling, strengthening muscles that need to learn to move in a new way - no more limp due to distressed knee joint. My whole right side has had to learn how to manage being balanced for the first time in 30 years.

The injury that eventuated in arthritis on the inside half of my right knee happened in 1979. Better known as the Olancha incident! :)

So, strength is growing,flexibility is increasing and soon I won't have any excuses for staying alone at home with my books and writing.

So, tickets to USA have been purchased. My last appointment with my surgeon is 17 August. We fly on 20 August and of course arrive in nordamerika the day we leave Brisbane. I could do with a day gained.

Our plan is to go directly to Nordacotah where the prairie house awaits continued rehabilitation of its own. :) New windows on the north east end of the house will open our view to the entire prairie..hooray for views from the flats to the flat lands.

In the meantime, we have had rain here in Oz for the first time since the beginning of the month. Autumn showers are good for the garden. Pointesettas and camilleas are in bloom. South African shrubs have created a carpet of white all along the front fence.

Life is good!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Surfing Crocs

Went to the beach yesterday!

Yikes, crocs!

At least we knew there were no sharks close by :)

Just joking..these big fellow, some 15-30 feet long live mostly in Australian's northern estuaries. However, they really do use ocean currents and surf to travel from their estuary homes as far north as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia where they bred and then return home to the comfort of their river banks.

Click on the title to this blog entry to get to the research data.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Helen Thomas

Well, truth is often uttered by those too young or those too old!

A lifetime of covering the administrations of government in the USA have given Helen Thomas a unique perspective. This time she has uttered what 3/4 of the world's population who pay any attention to the Middle East may be thinking but refusing to say in public.

Of course, she should have kept it to herself or at the very least mitigated the vitriol of her comment, but she certainly expressed the frustration the world community is having with an Israel that refuses to note that they are caught in the endless repetition of 'abuse creates abuse' which anyone with any knowledge of psychology understands.

I applaud an old woman who spoke candidly and I suspect it really is time for her to retire.

Click the title of this entry to go to the the Washington Post article on the event.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

John Wooden

Integrity! That's how one spells John Wooden.

A man with a conscience, a superb mentor, the best kind of teacher; a man who modeled what he expected his students to be, not just to learn, but what he hoped they would become.

He didn't try to do a make-over of any particular player. Instead, he gave those ten years of basketball players an outline, a structure on which to formulate their own life experiences. He gave them a hook on which to hang their jerseys.

He worked with the best and if you look at the young men who came under his tutelege, you'll see that the vast majority grabbed hold of the lesson Wooden offered and became not just national class athletes, but contributors to society in many other even more meaningful ways.

99! Wooden was 99 when he gave it all up. A century of being the best he could possibly be while at the same time honoring the best in others created a legend well worth remembering.

I feel blessed that I was an avid UCLA fan while Wooden was coach. His example supported vast numbers of people outside his personal venue via his actions and reactions in interviews about as well as during televised games. Watching the Bruins, watching Wooden model the best sportsmanlike behavior gave millions the opportunity to take on some of his characteristics.

I suspect many a high school or college b'ball coach who knew Wooden adopted his attitude towards players, the game, and life in general. After all, it was obvious that he must be right; games were won based on an attitude of respect and fair play, effort and integrity.

I haven't thought of John for a long time. Seeing the headline in the Los Angeles Times this morning reminds me, though, that I will still miss his presence.

God rest!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

HOUSE - is blogging simply a community effort

I was about to share the process of healing after my first attempt at becoming a bionic person.

However, on Sunday evening we watched HOUSE. There she was, a patient with an undiagnosible ailment; and what was she doing? Checking in with her blog respondents about whether to use pig gut or plastic in a surgical procedure.

Hummm..wisdom prevailed and I didn't ask any of you whether I ought to go off all my meds after an allergic reaction created a rash from nose to knee. I just quit the meds - called the doctor the next day to ask about the wisdom of my decision.

His response - Do as you like. Whew!

No more blood thinners, no more narcotic pain relief, no more anti-inflamatory, no more analgesic.

You can guess the results - lots of discomfort -not in the replaced knee, but in my upper leg and lower back. They must toss bodies to and fro on the surgical table to get at the necessary bits, cause I do have some strained tendons and muscles.

After two sleepless nights, I reniged - Yep, I'm back on the analgesics - Paracetamol is good stuff and doesn't seem to cause the rash.

And - ice is good! after each exercise session designed to move the soft parts of my knee to allow the bionic parts to operate, I ice!!

So, please forgive any spelling and typo errors - I'm on my little laptop tablet. no spell check handy..the screen is small.

After all this effort, I'm resolved: we're headed for Whitney as soon as we get to America - pain free, I hope

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Samoans Rock

They climb trees pretty damn well, too.

Five handsome Samoan lads, one beautiful Soman gal, and Mr. Moli, their headman, have just provided a little light to our back veranda by cutting a huge limb (about seventy feet off the ground) from our neighbour's Morton Bay Fig - of course, said limb was overhanging our back garden and impeding the growth of our full bodied Macadamia tree that was edging closer and closer to the back deck of the house in search of light.

So, Macadamia has been trimmed back to harvestable size, light streams into the wintery garden, and the sounds of Samoan and buzz saws will soon be a vestige of the past.

Love these guys, love their energy, love their skill.

A lovely autumn Saturday in Brizzie town

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'd Write More If My Knee Didn't Hurt

Ok, so while I was whinging over here in my southern corner of the universe trying to find a comfy spot to sit while typing this post on my desktop computer and at the same time trying to keep my right knee above my heart (go on, you try it..and don't laugh!! :), I found the online info on the surgery used on my knee last Tuesday morning so jazzy that I decided to go ahead and write anyhow. (Distraction - pain relief is all about distraction.)

Really, it's all about ME! Yep! I'm not sick, I'm rehabilitating! And there's a difference, I promise you. The pain at this point is about using ligaments, tendons, and muscles that were manhandled on the surgical table a week ago. I'm certain neither my knee nor my thigh, nor my hips were ever really meant to move in the directions the surgeons managed during that 2 1/2 hour process. (Unicompartmental surgery is more complex than the whole knee replacement; thus the longer time on the table.)

Fortunately, I had a great anaesthetist looking after my welfare and so know absolutely nothing about it - until afterwards when the nerve blocks were removed and my usually strong (if unbalanced) right leg decided to let me know just how abused it felt.

In fact, the pain is breathable and endurable. I have Tramadol at night and analgesic pain relief during the daytime. I could use the Tramadol during daytime too, but it's way too pleasant - better to avoid the addiction.

So, only half of my right knee has been replaced which means the surgeon only cut 25% of the bone that a full Monty would require.

You do realize that means I have about 25% of the pain and recovery issues as well. Hooray for a healthy right side of my right knee.

In 1979 while backpacking in the Sierra (Mt. Olancha) my right knee gave way, the meniscus tore. No arthroscopy back then. I knew I would have to wait. I had no idea just how long that wait would be.

Finally, in 2005 the last of the left half of the meniscus in my right knee gave way - bone on bone for the past 4 1/2 years -no more treks in the mountains and lots of incidents of falling over on busy city streets while walking in conversation with friends and family (Oaxaca, Mexico and Park Road, Brisbane are favourite examples)

However, the most amazing aspect of my situation is that although for the past 22 years, half knee (unicompartimental) replacements have been available in the UK, Australia, Europe, and Asia - they have only been available in the USA for the last two years (and then performed only by a very small number of specialized surgeons in very limited circumstances).

So how lucky do you think I am to be an American living in Australia? Here is my surgeon, Peter Meyers, an old pro at this game, a surgeon who volunteers as team doctor for the Queensland Reds (Rugby Union Footie Team) and smiles delightedly at old women like me who come in and claim, 'New half knee, please. I'm missing my mountains.'

Peter warned that I probably won't be able to trek 15 miles a day anymore - but I never did, so who cares. If I can put in a solid 8 miles a day in my beloved Sierra, trek in Nepal with the upwardly mobile old folks looking for adventure tour groups, who cares.

Prognosis is that I have just extended my healthy life style for an additional two years, that I will be able to exercise pain free to enable me to get my weight back down to a healthy 160 pounds, and that recovery will be relatively short.

I could flash my ex-rays so you can see what my knee now looks like, but the visuals and explanations on line give a more vivid summary. Here's the addy: http://www.biomet.com/patients/oxford.cfm

I'll keep you updated on my new bionic circumstance. Life is Good and I'm not referring to air conditioners or kitchen appliances.