Monday, March 29, 2010

Falling Over

Yep - Yesterday, I took my first bicycle ride in a year.

Bit trepedicious at the start - shaky on the downhill, pulled too hard on the handbrakes, not sure how I'd handle stopping and climbing off.

Eventually, all felt balanced - didn't take any risks at intersections. Crossed on foot!

Was doing damned well until I came to a family walking in front of me across the entire pathway. I reached down to ring my bike-bell to let them know I was behind them, lost my balance and went flying!! Conked my head on the handle bars - bike helmet took care of that. Smashed my thigh into the rest of the handle bars - small bruise, and met a lovely Maori mom who came to my rescue, helped me up, expressed concern on my behalf, and sent me with a smile on my way.

Will try again soon, but not this morning - rain, lovely rain will keep me indoors for the day!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writers Groups


Yeah, so I have just finished a short story about dishonesty
- my variety of dishonesty.

Today I get to share it with my writers group...fear and trepidation reign!

I love the two women whose writing I critique and who critique my own, but each time we meet I am reminded that writing is my quiet inner self reaching out to its public! No hiding behind a screen of make up or a new hairdo or some brand new op-shop outfit. The words are on the page! Can't be quickly changed or erased or deleted before anyone reads em.

This writing is therapeutic for lots of reasons, the best of which happens when the author lets fly. When the kite of words lifts above the earth and soars in the breeze - free, but always with the chance that it may not only drift to earth, but plummet suddenly dragging the string attached to my ego through the mud.

So, below I have included the first page of this story - just in case you want to know what kind of 'dishonesty' haunts my psyche.

love you....

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

SHOPLIFTING
It had been a year since the couple shopped in Lone Pine, a small community snuggled below the eastern escarpment of the California Sierra. They had planned to spend a month at their mountain cabin only to find that the bathroom needed some immediate repair.

'You want me to grocery shop while you pick up the plumbing?'

'No. Let's do both together.'

'You don't want me to forget the Baileys?'

'Right,' he grinned.

They entered the hardware store that often functioned as home appliance and camping equipment center, lumber shed, and sundry five-and-dime store as well as the repository of ice, batteries and various accoutrements of household repairs. The aisles resembled some underground critter tunnels, packed from ceiling to floor with goodies of which only the clerks knew the whereabouts.

Standing in the midst of the plumbing aisle, Gena whispered very softly, 'David, Sam is not at the counter. Did you notice? That's a fellow I've never seen before.'

David looked back over his shoulder at the check out corner. With Aussie irony, he chuckled, 'Maybe you got him fired.'

She punched his shoulder – always her reaction when she had no words to respond.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Around the World - who cares how long it takes!

Blogging has to be the best way known to manunkind and women, too, to keep in touch. 'Phone home' is archaic when the internet allows us to photograph and post, experience and journal where ever we choose to wander.

If you click on the title to this post, you'll go to a blog that ought to keep us all engaged for quite some time. Anita and her ' previously unknown' Aussie counterpart are about to head through Thailand to parts north,south, east, and west in an attempt to drive around the globe.

For all of us fueled by wanderlust, this journey will be worth the moment it takes to click on their site.

First entry is about the vehicles and the folks travelling.

Enjoy. I know I shall. Pics to the side captured from the blog to entice you farther along this unknown trail.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tips for Growing Brains, Behaviors and Ideas!

Brains, brains, brains = creativity!!
Came across an article by M.A. Greenstein on the PositScience website today that I thought you all might find interesting. Below is the crux of the information. If you click on the title to this blog entry, you will go to the site where the entire article is located.

It seems to me that this information forms the best argument set out so far for governments NOT placing curbs on what can be read, accessed on the net. To do so limits the creativity of the populace thereby limiting the financial success of the nation.


"My take home message: Before you jump into a novel brain/mind stimulation practice, consider the simple facts and ideas to which a global community of creative agents (and as I am learning, recovering brain injured) can agree:

1. Fresh and unusual ideas grow wild like weeds; look for any crack in the sidewalk of your brain-mind; that is where you’re likely to find growth.
2. Cherish the BIG freedom to be curious, to look up, down, all around.
3. Novel ideas emerge when we are immersed, fully attentive, “in love” or in the “flow” with what we’re doing; inspiration matters.
4. Learn to navigate feelings of uncertainty with confidence and with assistance from wise others – colleague, coach or friend. Mine those feelings for new maps, new landscapes to explore, new experiences to adapt, embed and grow your brain!
5. Be willing to think “different.” Risk breaking cultural, grammatical or logical rules (like Apple, Inc. does), to “diverge” and take alternate routes to solve a problem. Dare to stand with artists, scientists, designers and entrepreneurs — those remarkable creative agents who challenge the status quo because they feel compelled to “want to know.”

As I intimated above, I am currently gathering insights from recovered brain injured professionals who reveal the powerful role personal acts of creativity play healing from brain trauma. I hope to share some of those thoughts in a future blog."



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lovely Autumn morning

Ah sunshine!

Birdsong mixes with angle grinders: storm bird sighs and hammers, butcher bird chortle highlights diesel generators.

How long will building be part of our 7 a.m. life? Too long.

We've almost given up - be sure to note the 'almost'. In August, before the destructionists begin the end of two houses across the street in preparation for the building of a new four story house complete with tennis court and then the next house is razed to be replaced with a steel, glass, and concrete abomination, we will vacate the premises - leave for America and points east for at least a year.

When we return, hopefully, our neighbourhood will once again be the peaceful inner city suburb that it has been for the past hundred years. Only this time, neighbours will park underneath their homes in four vehicle parking garages and we'll have the patter of tennis balls on concrete to augment the kookaburra chuckle in the early morning.

I seem to be complaining, but I am a realist and I do enjoy the idea of the new Clem7 tunnel under the Brisbane River that bypasses 24 traffic lights to take traffic from the north to the south side of the city in one fell swoop (may there be no falls). Like many others, though, I do wish that same regeneration of old structures had not invaded my private neighbourhood. Fortunately we were absent when one of those structures filled with abestos was removed from the property. We are all better off without that two apartment complex and we will be better off without the blond brick ediface to be replaced with a tennis court. I would simply prefer NOT to be here during the renovations.

Enough complaints..

Happy Thursday to all..

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dogs and Chocolate - Sisters and Community

An email exchange -

You won’t believe what happened after you left…. Carita and I were out on the deck for just a few minutes, and the dog stole [and ate!] the entire remainder of the cake….. a true sister in chocoholic-dom! There are some afternoons when just a sliver of cake will not cut it, and so Janet took her courage in hand and put her nose to the grindstone [well plate really] and went for it! Before we came back into the room she had 3 distinct piles of crumbs and cake debris on the floor which we left her to clean up since there’s no point in spoiling a gurl’s cake session when she has need.

Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon with conversation aplenty and love shared. You are very special to both Carita and myself!


* * *

My dear Faresister and Seeker sisters....

You have to give her credit, Janet is a focused animal! Can't you just imagine what was going on in her mind - 'patience, have a little patience. They'll leave and I'll have the entire cake to myself.'

She certainly didn't stray far from her goal, did she? Love her, love her quiet determination. I, too, loved the cake. Janet and I are of like mind concerning those flavors. Yummy.

I enjoyed, too..thank you for including me. The two of you are so like little sisters to me - I don't think any subject is off limits, too much, too deep, or too silly for us to share. Thank you for that.

It is the two of you along with other Aussie and British women to whom you have introduced me as well as a few of other females on the planet I have managed to find on my own that make Brisbane a deeply resonating home.

I do love the Aussie bloke, but as is always the case, one person does not a community make. It takes scads of similarly minded folks (women) to cross each others palms with the gold of shared stories to turn a home into a community.

I am so at peace in this place this morning. Thank you for adding to that sensation of soul settling.

Hope this morning is full on - laughter and a sense of accomplishment in the work place..

love you,

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Memory of an Intrepid Campaigner for Political Reform

Dan Weeks pays his respect for Granny D - who at 90 walked across America in an attempt to highlight the nation's need for Campaign Reform:

It was these stirring themes, expressed in the rise-and-fall tones I associate with great orators of old, that planted in me the seed of political activism when I first heard Granny D speak ten years ago. I was a junior in high school in the small corner of southern New Hampshire we both call home. Having recently completed her cross-country jaunt for a peculiar cause known as campaign finance reform, she spoke with an irresistible fervor about returning government the people and having fun in the process. As it turned out, her peculiar cause would come to be my own consuming passion in the ten years since -- and for that, I owe her my deepest thanks. By her words and example, she gave a kind of moral-political direction to my life that few at that age find.

Now that she's hung up her hat for the final time, I'm reminded of remarks she gave at the end of her other long journey a decade ago. Arriving in Washington by foot after 3,200 miles, she invoked the "brave spirits" of Arlington cemetery in stirring remarks delivered on the Capitol steps: "Did you give your lives for a government where we might stand together as free and equal citizens, or did you give your lives so that laws might be sold to the highest bidder, turning this temple of our Fair Republic into a bawdy house where anything and everything is done for a price?"

For her part, the answer is clear: Granny D gave her life for a government where We the People stand together as free and equal citizens, untrammeled by special interests. Let us give her our patriotic salute by completing the unfinished task of returning government to the people through campaign finance reform.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I do: I care about the Sierra

Where do I want my ashes splashed?
Whitney Portal!

Where do I want to spend the last few hours of my life?
Whitney Portal!

Where do I dream of when the world is way too much for me?
Whitney Portal!

Where is my heart when it's not in Australia?
Whitney Portal!

How could anyone who has never awakened to ravens and golden mantled ground squirrels and woodpeckers and snow flowers and a golden cliff outside the bedroom window suggest that 'no one cares about the Sierra'?
*******************************

Click on the title to this post to go to the Whitney web cam....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Agents' Agent

Yep, I've been a tad lax these days with the ole blog. It isn't cause I have forgotten you all. Indeed you are way too often on my mind when I ought to be concentrating on real life - making right turns in busy city intersections!! Americans, please know that's a harrowing experience in a right hand drive auto!! :)

However, I have been writing. I've also been discussing DAS BOOK with an American editor. That trans-pacific conversation produced another short story - part of which I will post here.

Those of you who know me well, know that this story was filled with far more emotional excess than the story claims. I was destroyed by the editor's inability to identify with any aspect of what I was attempting. Can't think of too many other times in my life when I felt as misunderstood. Funny that. :(

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

Nueva had asked for help from friends in the US who were professional writers before. However, it had taken her over a year to broach the topic. Originally, she had enthusiastically proclaimed that by herself she could sell the manuscript she had written with Elizabeth.

Six weeks after those successful authors suggested she contact Brad, frustrated but willing to finally opt for an intermediary between literary agent and her manuscript, she sent the Prologue, Chapter 1 and the book proposal for Kookaburra Serenade. She knew this first forty-minute phone conversation with the retired university professor and agent's agent in the USA would provide constructive criticism.

After the requisite pleasantries, Brad suggested, 'I suppose we ought to start with the bad news.'

'Ok. Let's hear it.'

'My first comment is that no one cares about walking in the Sierra? Nobody. It's boring, walking in the Sierra.'

'Pardon me?'

'I thought this was going to be a book about culture shock, about Australia. You need to start in Australia, hit the ground running. Look at Eat Pray Love. Gilbert starts in Rome. That's what the reader expects, a travel book on three continents.'

'Yes, tell me more.' Nueva squirmed in her seat as she gripped her pen a tad tighter and tucked her feet into the cushions of the overstuffed office chair.

'You and Elizabeth met in a Masters degree program. Is that right? A program in writing? Well, I don't know about programs in Australia, but here in America. . . '

'Ah, stop there. I don't want to talk about my Masters program. Let's talk about the book.'

'I'm not sure I can without making reference to your college experience .'

'Try. I don't want to discuss my Masters degree.' Her directive self surfaced faster than she had anticipated. Another American telling the colonials how it worked, why they ought to follow America. She shook her head silently.

'Well, I expected culture shock. I expected a story about arriving in Australia. I didn't expect a long walk in a place I don't care about. Who cares about the Sierra?

* * *

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Death at an Unruly Age

From health to death. Guess that's sometimes just how the worm turns. Excuse the cliche. Just seems to fit.

Have been working on an essay about my mother's death back in 2004. Amazing that it takes 6 years to be able to write.

They were packed -- those days.

In order to unload the baggage, it is sometimes necessary to sort through the contents of the luggage, to permit oneself to admit to all the foibles tucked into corners.

Here is the first page of fourteen:

February 4, 2004

The trans-pacific phone call came late in the afternoon.

'Phone for you, the nurse at your mom's convalescent hospital.'

'I'm out. Tell her I'm not here. Take a message,' I insisted, edging out of the room.

'Here ya go.'

'Hello. Yep, she's my mom. How long did you say? Aye! It'll take me at least 24 hours. Not sure if I can get a flight tonight. I'll call. Thanks.'

Returning the receiver to the desk, I walked into the lounge room. 'Greg, Janie has pneumonia. The nurse says she has maybe three days left.' Staring off into nothing, I added, 'I'm going for a walk.'

Grabbing my sun hat and water bottle, I headed out in the February sunshine for Mt. Coot-tha, to the butcherbird, the hills, the harsh stone climb to the top. How could she be dying? Janie might loose her mind, but she'd never loose her body. She's too strong. Even in her stocking feet the last time I saw her a month ago, she was toddling around the halls making jokes, grunting obscenities at fellow patients, sitting quietly waiting for her already been chewed supper. She can't die. If she goes, I have to be matriarch. I'm not ready. She'll be ok. Besides she doesn't even know who I am. She won't miss me. I'm not going. Hell, I just got here. I don't wanna fly back to California.

Walking faster, my mind fashioned a dozen reasons not to return. My brother could take care of it. After all, it was his turn. He'll be there. That'll make her happy.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How Can Anyone Object to a Change in USA health care programs?

You don't have to be the brightest light in the darkness to understand the chart above? Isn't it obvious that nine countries in what is commonly referred to as the 'western world' have longer life expectancies than the USA for their citizens and all at a fraction of the price?

SWITZERLAND, CANADA, AUSTRIA, FRANCE, AUSTRALIA, SWEDEN, SPAIN, FINLAND, NEW ZEALAND, PORTUGAL and SOUTH KOREA spend less then Americans are forced to pay and the product they get in return for their dollars includes a higher quality of a longer life than American citizens can expect.

What kind of a dolt does one have to be to object to trying something new, trying anything new in the face of the current investment that produces such a mediocre outcome?

I'm appalled by silly Tea Party activists with their signs 'Hands off my health care'.

Actually, I have no problem with their opting out of any new program. 'Let them eat cake,' say I. My children and my grandchildren, however, deserve a life expectancy at least as long as my own.

More taxes a problem? The USA has lowest personal income taxes in the 'western world', what are folks objecting to?

I know that you know if you are reading these words that the real issue is not about MY taxes.

The issue is that corporate America spends billions of dollars attempting to influence citizens who refuse to think for themselves in an effort convince them to vote for fiscal and health related programs that benefit the corporations, no matter the cost to the individual American. URGH!!