Wilderness — A Meditation

Sunday, October 31, 2010


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


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 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


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


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!


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.