Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time Flies

Where ever does time go? It is Thursday in Oz. The date at the top of the previous post is Monday - boxing day in Australia and all the other British colonies.

Of course, it's entirely unimportant where time slips away unless one needs a lost element. Then, it's helpful to know precisely where the past now resides so one can go and find what is needed.

Silly, I know. What is really on my mind is an email I just received from a dear friend who wrote to share with me that her mother, age 94, died on Christmas Eve. A difficult time to say good-bye if one is Christian and my friend is.

To add to the emotional load of the holiday, her husband died on the first day of Kwanzaa, boxing day in Oz and all the other British colonies.

To lose one's mother and one's partner of more than 40 years in three days of what is usually festivities strikes me as an emotional load that would be very difficult to bear or is it bare? I mean, one's emotions are raw leaving one with a minimum of psychological cover behind which to hide. And then there is the whole expectation of community to manage one's self in an appropriate way—to bear up, if you will.

My temptation under these circumstances would be to tell everyone to go away. I'd want to take a long walk in the wilderness, to be left alone with beauty to remember whatever comes to mind about my life with the two loved ones who have departed this plane. I'm not sure my friend has that option, but certainly that is what I wish for her.

The greatest loss I recall in my life was the death of my sister on 4 December 1973. The funeral services took place in the midst of a Michigan winter storm—vicious wind swirling a silent snow through the night air. I walked out of the service, unable to cope with the Christian nonsense, and bundled my core with heavy wool scarves, hat, and coat and walked into that wind, tears streaming down my face - furious with my little sis for abandoning us, for abandoning me. The storm was my helpmate. It gave me something against which to rail, a barrier to penetrate with all the energy I possessed.

I suppose that's the gist of the issue, isn't it. Death leaves us with so little against which to push. It's final. I hate it when a battle is entirely finished and there is nothing in hand to prove that I have tried my utmost to solve the issue or win the day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Restoration/Renovations


Whatever you call this fix-it up phase of our lives, we're busy at it. Two new ceilings - one on the back veranda and one on the front. Paint, paint, paint. The house needs a new or seven new coats to freshen up the overall ambiance and we're fast at it. Back veranda is entirely repainted, even the railings which are buggars..if you know what I mean.

As soon as the Aussie spray-paints the front veranda ceiling and the surrounds, I'll do the koala green front of the house and the Stradbrook mustard beams and the red veranda railings.

In the meantime, staining all the veranda doors and there are (let's see) there are fifteen of those, has been my job. Tomorrow the stain will be dry and it will be time to apply the final coat of clear to keep all that work safe from critturs of which we have many in our subtropical paradise..and it is subtropical today.

Which reminds me, did you read about the lemon sized hailstones that covered the north end of Melbourne yesterday...a midsummer storm complete with tornado. Although the tunnel shaped cloud did not touch down, it was entirely visible in pictures I saw.

So far this has not been a summer to remember although it was the driest November on record in Queensland and the coolest Australian December in 48 years.

Why all this info on weather? Don't have much else to share with you and realized I have been out of contact for a few days - you know..holiday responsibilities like drinking wine and filling my plate with Christmas prawns on Di's back veranda for Christmas Eve lunch and then travelling 100 miles west to Toowoomba to have Christmas lunch with my sister and brother-in-law...lovely..Above are the three of us. Somehow we managed to let the Aussie take pictures instead of being in them..he's good at that: ;)

So to you all, may the holidays be full of laughter and good will; may your sleep be filled with dreams of the best kind of future; may you prosper in friendships and love; may you relax and releases stress to the cosmos that deals with it infinitely better than we do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

In this holiday season that is often full of emotional crisis I offer you the advice of Sogyal Rinpoche, who instructs us in one way to awaken love and compassion:

Loving kindness: unsealing the spring.

When we believe that we don’t have enough love in us, there is a method for discovering and invoking it. Go back in your mind and recreate, almost visualize, a love that someone gave you that really moved you, perhaps in your childhood. Traditionally, you are taught to think of your mother and her lifelong devotion to you, but if you find that problematic, you could think of your grandmother or grandfather, or anyone who had been deeply kind to you in our life. Remember a particular instance when they really showed you love, and you felt their love vividly.

Now let that feeling arise again in your heart, and infuse you with gratitude. As you do so, your love will go out naturally to that person who evoked it. You will remember then that even through you may not always feel that you have been loved enough, you were loved genuinely once. Knowing that now will make you feel again that you are, as that person made you feel then, worthy of love and really lovable.

And here is a ten year old memory of just such a moment remembered during this holiday season I spend away from family here in Oz.

As I harken back to my childhood, there was only one person who treated me with that love, my Aunt Dorothy. There was one instance in particular that I could resurrect from my young childhood, but only one.

However, far more recently there was a person and a moment which seemed crystal clear, a moment when I was overwhelmed with the sense of being loved and of loving.

That moment occurred on my backpack with my Aussie, the late afternoon after you climbed the ridge line in search of the trail to Baxter Pass. I recall the enormous anxiety I felt about your safety, but more importantly, I remember your expression of concern to me in terms of a little incident..my handling a hot pot..as we were cooking our dinner. It was a fleeting moment, but somehow immensely important to my sense of feeling loved by you, of feeling valued and valuable.

As I recreated that moment just now, I once again feel the sense of being a lovable and loved entity. I simply wanted to thank you, not only for that moment, but for many others which culminated somehow in that instant.

Solstice

Good morning on the longest daylight of the southern hemisphere...

I wish all of you northerners a most intriguing shortest daylight of the year. To most Americans that wish comes for the morrow since we are, after all, a day ahead of you or more accurately eighteen hours ahead of California, Oregon, Washington, Las Vegas, and Arizona. Strange that one city somehow ranks with entire states :)

Slept in today. Seemed appropriate since it won't be dark here til quite late. My walk on Mt. Cooth-tha can wait til almost 7 tonight and I'll still have enough daylight to trip the fantastic rather than trip over the closest outcropping in the quarry through which my path moves downhill.

Please remember that this day is one the CHURCH stole from the pagans in an effort to make a buck. Seems Christ was born in the spring, but you go ahead and put him in a winter manger - why not! and hope for higher than normal temperatures so the little image doesn't freeze his tush.

Whatever it is you celebrate this time of year, I wish you a joyful holiday. We'll be at the beach enjoying some banana prawns while you munch on heavier fare. We'll be thinking of the rest of summer ahead of us while on holiday as you contemplate new winter booties and neck scarves to keep you warm..

A crispy merrimus to all...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Robert McCrum on Books

Don't miss this Guardian commentator. His column: Fifty things I've learned about the literary life is worth the time. Delightful.

My favourite item:
45. Writing can't be taught; better reading can.

All the teachers I know will probably echo this item. Happy week before Christmas to one and all. Cool with white puffys and a breeze from blue skies in the great green south

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Small but Very Important Holiday Story

The Silence of the Stars

"When Laurens van der Post one night
In the Kalihari Desert told the Bushmen
He couldn't hear the stars
Singing, they didn't believe him. They looked at him,
Half-smiling. They examined his face
To see whether he was joking
Or deceiving them. Then two of those small men
Who plant nothing, who have almost
Nothing to hunt, who live
On almost nothing, and with no one
But themselves, led him away
From the crackling thorn-scrub fire
And stood with him under the night sky
And listened. One of them whispered,
Do you not hear them now?
And van der Post listened, not wanting
To disbelieve, but had to answer,
No. They walked him slowly
Like a sick man to the small dim
Circle of firelight and told him
They were terribly sorry,
And he felt even sorrier
For himself and blamed his ancestors
For their strange loss of hearing,
Which was his loss now. On some clear nights
When nearby houses have turned off their televisions,
When the traffic dwindles, when through streets
Are between sirens and the jets overhead
Are between crossings, when the wind
Is hanging fire in the fir trees,
And the long-eared owl in the neighboring grove
Between calls is regarding his own darkness,
I look at the stars again as I first did
To school myself in the names of constellations
And remember my first sense of their terrible distance,
I can still hear what I thought
At the edge of silence where the inside jokes
Of my heartbeat, my arterial traffic,
The C above high C of my inner ear, myself
Tunelessly humming, but now I know what they are:
My fair share of the music of the spheres
And clusters of ripening stars,
Of the songs from the throats of the old gods
Still tending even tone-deaf creatures
Through their exiles in the desert."

~ David Wagoner ~

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are Corps really People?

If you are as disgusted with the Citizens United case (making corporations people) as I am, Bernie Sanders has a petition to amend the Constitution overturning that case. Here's a link to the petition if you're interested:
http://sanders.senate.gov/petition/?uid=f1c2660f-54b9-4193-86a4-ec2c39342c6c

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sounds

'The tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells. . .' Poe had a penchant for creating mood. In The Bells he provides a word sonata that recreates the various pitches and tones of sled bells, wedding bells, fire bells, and finally the death knell. The poem resonates in my mind whenever I think of the effect of sound on my life.


Sitting here in my castle keep, the back veranda of my hillside inner suburb colonial home, there are a variety of sounds that capture my attention. The children at play around their back yard pool three houses down the block, the grinding gears of the puddy-puddy cement mixer on its way to a renovation site up the hill, far away the air brakes of the city commuter train coming to a stop at Milton station, and just now the chortle of the Butcher Bird hunting for his breakfast lizard.


Behind all these sounds, nattering away inside my right ear is the tinnitus of my old age humming away like a high tension wire expressing it's turbid electricity. Only this electricity is inside my inner ear, keeping me aware that I indeed have a private song that no one else in the world shares. Oh, others may suffer the effects of tinnitus, but each of us has a particular brand.


In reality some sounds in daily life have a much greater impact than others. We each hear what matters even if the 'matter' is one of distaste rather than of delight.


One that currently grabs my attention is the high-pitched whine of the crosscut saw emanating from the front veranda where my husband renovates. Behind that whine is another, softer only because it comes from the building site down the block. Unexpectedly, every now and again, the scream signalling the contact between blade and Australian hard wood disturbs my concentration. The loud whine reminds me of Out. . . Out, a poem by Robert Frost about a young boy who loses his hand to a 'hungry' cross cut saw on a winter's morning


Closer, a mud wasp settles into the corner of my office windowsill looking for a cranny in which to build her nest and interrupts my reverie.


I shoo both of them away, the mechanical whine and the resonating soft whiz of the insect wings hoovering in search of a home to procreate. Both give my day form; frame it, if you will; one with the skills of a master craftsman, tall, strong, determined, patient and the other small, the size of my fingernail with diaphanous wings whirring to make the small but decipherable interruption of the air around her body, looking for a space into which her perfect self can safeguard the next generation. If I didn't know better, I'd think both were creations of a goddess.


All of this discussion reminds me of the short essay The Lives of a Cell from the book with the same title by Lewis Thomas in which he compares the planet itself to a living, procreating cell. The circuitry of the brain brings such unexpected connections.

But the sound that resets my circadian rhythm each day is the sound of my husband as he returns from his 5 a.m. bike ride along the Brisbane River cycle trail to Kangaroo Point where he climbs the wickedly steep stairs up the Cliff face from River Level to the park in front of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church. There is something holy, something spiritual, about a 63-year-old man who chooses to rise from his bed early on a summer's morning to cycle along the River in order to stay healthy.


And the sound of his return along with the knowledge that he has completed one more circuit through the earliest morning city traffic through the tunnel under Coronation Drive, a six lane thoroughfare along the River, along Railroad Terrace to the tunnel under Milton Road, the second entrance to the city proper, along Baroona Road and the massive five way intersection with Hague Road, up the steep hill the puddy-puddy will follow later in the day.


Our back door has an electronic lock with a keypad, an ironic addition, since the door itself is made of green steel rectangles plenty wide enough for a slender arm to reach through to press the switch on the inside to release the locking mechanism. Nonetheless, we dutifully play the keypad with appropriate numbers in order to open the door and bring groceries and bicycles into and to take trash bags and gardening tools out of.


As I lay in my bed, almost awake in the early morning, the slight electronic ring of the keyboard and the releasing sound of the chime slice through the quiet morning and alert me to his return. Stretching, I swing my legs out from the edge of the bed, slip into my clogs and move to gather my morning hug and kiss from the fellow who makes my day buzz with a sense of serenity and excitement all at the same time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

HELP..

Yep, time has come. I've sent the manuscript out a few times ( call that Aussie understatement) I'm not very good at understatement as many of you already know. I'm the 'F' personality type, the one that emotes all over the floor at the slightest scratch to my ego. Yeah, some of you already know.

So..anyhow, I've taken what for me is a pretty big step. I googled Wilderness Publications and pretty much found 'nada'!

And why am I so busy looking for wilderness sites?

I want to find a publisher or an agent who loves wilderness, loves mountain adventure, thinks that slopping through snow after the biggest snow fall in thirty years in the eastern Sierra in December is thoroughly 'fun' and wants to read about it.

New York City agents generally are NOT those folks. I fantasize that their size 3 shoes with 6 inches heels just wouldn't cut the five foot of snow through which we slipped and slid last Christmas.

Hell, I still have a frost bite scar on my left cheek just below my eye.

You're right.

The Aussie had to insist I get up after I fell the twentieth time. I just wanted to lie there and go to sleep. (in the middle of the lunar eclipse) I am convinced, by the way, that death by freezing is absolutely the best way to go. Just get tired enough and it's a done deal.

Anyhow..off topic again..story of my life.

So, I'm sending out emails to those who publish wilderness, adventure literature of any kind and asking them to recommend publishers/agents who love this sort of FICTION. You just know I can't tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is essential to label my stories FICTION -

I remember that the USA is populated by a corp of legal beavers..and who knows who might be offended by truth or by lack thereof.

So..enough for this day. Love you all..looking forward to some answers to my QUERY...

Who love wilderness fiction?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Farmers and Occupy Wall Street

Put the Fat Cats on a Diet: Stop Buying Tainted Food From Billion Dollar Corporations

It’s time for the Great Boycott of Big Food Inc.

by Ronnie Cummins, a veteran activist, author, and organizer. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica. http://www.organicconsumers.org; http://www.viaorganica.org

Check it out. Click on the title to today's blog. Having lived even a short time in North Dakota, the oat and wheat capital of Nordamerica, I can attest that Cummins has a valid point.

“I have not spoken to one farmer who doesn’t understand the message of Occupy Wall Street, the message that so many people keep saying is nebulous. It’s very clear. Because of business and corporate participation in agriculture, farmers are losing their livelihoods… And if it goes on like this, all we’re going to have to eat in this country is unregulated, imported, genetically modified produce. That’s not a healthy food system.” Jim Gerritsen, a Maine organic farmer.

“A Farmer Speaks to Wall Street,” The New York Times, December 5, 2011



Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Sheltering Sky

Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky is one of my favorite African novels - descriptions of North Africa that compare well to those in Ondaatje's The English Patient. Both have commentary on the social milieu similar to Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope about the other end of the continent, South Africa.

Here is a quote by William S Burroughs that could well be the prologue to all three novels.

“Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.” —William S. Burroughs

Don't you just know that Burroughs is absolutely correct in every instance!

Occupy Wall Street is on this road; they just haven't reached the junction where the ultimate decision has to be made, but they will reach that point and America will be better off as a result.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Home Alone

Always a psychological event for me - I'm home alone! That's supposed to be the mantra of the very young; but I must admit that the older I grow the more I realize I have in common with the young. Who would've thot it?

Raining in this corner of Oz and it's a tad cold for summer..mid 70s F. Queenslanders are not particularly happy about this turn of events..the coldest December days on record..but for those of us who wintered in Nordacotah, it's pretty damned comfy. Just rug up with a good book and a bottle of wine and all's well.

The good book today is Midnight Across the Equator: A Wilderness Tale, a transpacific love story full of wilderness, ex pat adventure, stunning central Oz, Great Barrier Reef, and Tasmanian wilderness as well as the most beautiful corner of America - The Sierra Nevada of California.

Doing the spelling and punctuation check today. Details - yep details.

be well...catch you on the morrow..and if it's cool or raining in your world..stay dry and do a couple sets of jumping jacks..works wonders :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mornin

Ah, 7:30 Brisbane time: 1:30 California time and I'm a happy camper.

First cuppa of the day reveals that it is -12F in my prairie house's corner of North Dakota this morning.

Brekkie of oatmeal and rubbarb enjoyed on the back veranda in temps about 74 F. surrounded by bird song - the Magpies are attacking the Fig Bird nests this morning in the huge forest surrounding my back garden - that I am pleased to be enjoying summer over winter for the time being.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Night Time - I'm Crabby

I just don't do night time well.

By the way did you realize that the Aussies spell it nighttime...how awkward is that?

And double by the way, it's time for me to go to bed. I'm hungry and I'll eat if I stay up any longer or worse yet, I'll have another glass of the grape. Neither of which is a good idea tonight.

Double urgh! All is well; I'm just tired. Worked all day on Midnight Across the Equator: A Wilderness Tale.

Now if I could just find a publisher. I do have five wonderful Aussie women, members of a book group, who have volunteered to read it for me. How lucky is that? I just got back from Office Works where the six copies are being printed..single spaced double paged to save money..still costs $12 each. Still, it's worth the cost and effort to have some feed back from disinterested readers.

Be well..I'm on my way to bed.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

National Geographic Photo Contest

Stunning photos for your enjoyment. Varied photos to spark your interest on this lovely Sunday morning. Try em; I'm betting you will enjoy.

You can click on the title to today's blog entry or copy and paste the addy below.

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/11/national-geographic-photo-contest-2011/100187/

Hope your day is full and delightful.

Catch you laters....oh, and can't find the Australian report of Israel bombing Iran nuclear facility in any other news source. One wonders about the accuracy of Rupert Murdoch's news outlets.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Israel Bombs Iran ??? Maybe..take a look...

The Australian quotes their reporter based in Israel to note the following:

Update, December 2, While this story has not been caught by any of the major wires, The Australian’s Jerusalem correspondent Sheera Frankel reports something quite disturbing: “All eyes on Israel after second Iranian blast. CLOUDS of smoke billowed above the city of Isfahan – evidence that the latest strike against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program had hit its target.” (Source: ZeroHedge.com)

Click on the title to today's blog for more info.

I surely hope that it is not true. China threatens WWIII in support of her primary oil supplier.
trouble in paradise, I guess!!