Wilderness — A Meditation

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unpacking the Suitcase: Leftovers from ...Sunrise

Eventually, one must begin the process of unpacking the suitcase.  You know the one, the brown zipper bag that slipped underneath the bed and disappeared into the dust balls, the one you moved to and fro when vacuuming up the dust mites for the first two years.

Inside that valise are stored various items one thought she left behind in the last relationship, the ones reflected in tone of voice and body language.

The 'hands on hips stance' one useferocously as a high school English teacher when Albert came in late and interrupted twenty-nine classmates as he stumbled to his seat in the front of the room, when Alex fell off his seat in the midst of one of those heart rending confessions from Patricia about her latest scoop on the school newspaper. 

Deep inside the suitcase remained “the hands on hip” move of the American school teacher and the tone of voice that said, ‘Calm  down, pay attention, be quiet, aren't you ashamed,’ all in one. That intimidation honed after forty years in the classroom does not belong in any adult-adult relationship. It particularly does not belong in a trans Pacific relationship between an Australian male whose primary school teachers were at least five degrees lower in intelligence than he. When would such a behaviour sneak out of the tightly zippered bag?

Only when the topic is of major importance and the Aussie bloke is at his most vulnerable: in discussions in front of his children about the 'red Indians' of North America.  Who are the 'red Indians'?  They are ostensibly not residents of the sub continent, India.  When discussing America, one must at some time speak of the indigenous folks of that land whilst reprimanding Australians for their history of treatment of the indigenous residents of their homeland.  And of course, this loaded topic leaves neither side of the discussion with much high ground on which to stand.

So, what's with the hands on hips?  ‘No one calls American Indians red Indians.  What a denigrating adjective. ‘ Hands on hips stance combined with laughter. 

The teacher is on, full of herself, sure she is right in her intimidation.

It doesn't take long before tempers flare as partners are embarrassed at the sniggerly laughter.  And of course, shortly thereafter appearing on one's lap top is an email with fifty references to 'red indians'. The fact that all refererences are to material written before 1910 does not mitigate the sense of antipathy.
Stuff it back in the suitcase and shove it under the bed, way under the bed.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

...Up Front and Center..

Ok, here's the deal.

Today I spent six hours looking for the right agents to whom I will send my latest version of a 'query' letter concerning the latest manifestation of my manuscript which is now titled Watarrka Sunrise: A Journey Across the Planet to Find Myself.

Smile, please, cause that's a bit of a joke.  The current working title is simply Watarrka Sunrise. I added the last phrase 'cause I figured it might be a good idea to let you know what I have spent the last five years writing about.

And just in case you wonder what a Watarrka is, let me explain.  It is the traditional owners' name for King's Canyon, a wonderment of nature located very close to the red centre of Australia, about six hours drive from Uluru, the traditional owners name for Ayers Rock. 

This stark and steep canyon is about as unexpected in its beauty as it is in its flora and fauna.  In the midst of some of the driest desert in Australia grow some of the continent's most luscious rain forest.  The whole area gives new meaning to the concept of oasis.

The canyon is a character unto itself in the last chapter of the manuscript. It is where the final tribute to international travel occurs.  It is here that the protagonist, like Mary Kingsley in Travels in West Africa and Lady Mary Montague in her letters from the early 1700s discover what in life is truly significant. 

Women travlers have a tendency to do this, you know.  They find themselves outside the confines of their kitchens and nurseries.  It is when they leave home, rather like children, fellows like Huck Finn, for instance, that they discover just how intelligent, curious, contemplative, and heroic they can be.

Now that's not to say that those who stay home don't also do some discovering.  It's simply to state clearly that for some of us, it takes a journey outside familiar territory to discover what really matters.

And if you are interested in the journey of Demi Tryon, the protagonist of Watarrka Sunrise, begin searching for the title on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or maybe on Abe.  If the title begins to cause the folks who run these web sites to notice, I'll be better able to convince a publisher that publication is a lucrative choice.

I'm going to begin sharing some of her adventures in the next few posts here.  These will be the ones that didn't make it into the book like her trip to Oaxaca or her teaching experiences in Arizona or maybe her backpack with students at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

I want you to meet this intrepid woman who travels with a backpack of anxiety as big as any mountaineer headed for Everest.  If you find her travels entertaining, you may wish to continue to get to know her as the sun rises over central Oz.

In the meantime, hope your winter or summer evening is rife with laughter and unexpected surprises. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Publishing On Line

I've just spent the last six hours looking for information about publishing my manuscript. In fact, what I sought were addresses of new agencys and publishers, ones to whom I had not yet sent a query  letter.  And, I found several.  Well, I found twenty or thirty.

In the process I cut about 150 words from the opening chapter of my manuscript in an attempt to move the pace a bit and follow all the directions about which I was reading on the pages devoted to 'how to publish your novel' by those who have.

It has been an informative afternoon.  The one  thing ( oh, yeah!  I'm using the splendid non-word) I learned though, over and over and over again is that the reason on line or e-publishing is so rampant at the moment is because so many folks are not only publishing on line but because there is an endless supply of web pages, bloggers, agents, etc.etc. trying to help us all figure out the best ways to be successful.  Advice is endless.

And so the process that I began at noon, almost six hours ago, has helped me realize that I could spend the rest of my life reading about 'how to publish' or 'how to be published' and never never actually submit my manuscript for the perusal of an agent or editor or publisher. 

So many folks are ready to help that one might be like Alice - you know the youngster, and never make it out of the maze, the rabbit hole, in time to actually offer one's creativity to anyone at all.

Just thought I'd share the frustration with you as well as some degree of thankfulness that there is someone out there who realizes the real money to be made is not in writing the novel in the first place; the real money is to be made by writing about how to make money.  But, we all knew that; didn't we? ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Minus 25 degrees - A Cold December Morning

Well, this morning dawned at -25 F which is 57 degrees fahrenheit below freezing..urgh..I think that translates to something like -20 C.  cold!! Steel skies offered no reflection off our layer of pristine snow, which was the color of used aluminium. Strange dawn - no pink - only a blurry dirty yellow at the horizon. Sun shining now, which means temps will remain close to 0 F for the duration. Unlikely I'll go out to ski - just a tad too cold..

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Solstice Gift for You :)

 Below is an article about the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type  INFJ.  For the uninitiated, these call letters stand for persons whose personality preferences include Introversion, Intuitiveness, Feeling, and Judging attributes.  If you know someone or are someone who displays this combination of personality preferences, you may find the following list of interest.  The link follows the article so that you can read it in its original form.

$14.00 Buy Now
Top 10 Things Every INFJ Wants You to Know 

10. We are planners

As with many other Judicial personality types, the INFJ enjoys structure and order. Though our intuition can cause our structure to fluctuate, we still thrive best when we can plan out the details of our situations and lives.

Sometimes, however, spontaneity can occur outside of our control. This deeply shakes us and we often respond to this loss of control with anger and frustration. Brandie, over at Little Left of Normal sums it up best when she says, "Sometimes spontaneity leaves us in a position that we cannot plan..., and we find this upsetting. Please understand that we are never upset with you, only the situation."

9. We are extremely intelligent

INFJs are introverted thinkers and extroverted feelers. Because of this, we can struggle to articulate our thoughts. While we may, in our minds, be able to answer deep meaningful questions, retain amazing amounts of data and debate with the best of them, when asked to speak aloud, we often fumble, stutter over our words and say a small fraction of what we are actually thinking. This lands us the labels of slow-witted and unintelligent.

However, when we are comfortable with a person and situation and are given plenty of time to ponder an inquiry or organize our thoughts into words, we can speak fluidly, clearly and passionately on almost any subject.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Greetings

Wishes for a warm and cozy holiday come from our snug cottage near the center of North America where we are celebrating the longest nights of the year with a glass of Baileys; a bit of Christmas cake; a teasing, Aussie style; American laughter; and reminiscences of joyful times!

cozy prairie home surrounded by frosted cottonwoods, ash, and lilac

March 5 we arrived in Flaxton this year where we found our cozy abode in good condition.  To celebrate May Day, Graham accepted the position of Town Maintenance Man – Little did we know the extent of his responsibilities, which he has cheerfully executed for the past eight months.

In that time much has changed in our little village. We are now 125 lively engaged townsfolk who have not only written Flaxton’s first Planning and Zoning Ordinance, but have also came together to improve the infrastructure of our town as well as repair the lovely Memorial Hall where two fine community celebrations have taken place.  Delicious food, a sleigh ride with Santa — Life is good, if a tad below freezing, on the prairie these days.

We have five more weeks here in the middle of North America before we hop, skip, and fly back to Australia in February. We look forward to the companionship of the Aussies, whom we have missed much in these intervening months.

We do hope that this short note finds each of you healthy, prosperous, and in best of holiday spirits whether it be summer or winter in your world. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love to all,

Dorothy and Graham

Wintery Flaxton

Monday, December 17, 2012


 The little digger purchased just so the Flaxton Handiman could reach nine feet down into the prairie to repair broken water connections for the good folks of our small town sits lonely in the snow.  The frost line for this part of North Dakota is eight feet which means it's rest time for hard working machines like this one.

Looking out our bay windows along our property line, you can see the next house, a slight turquoise trim beyond the trees.  Winter is especially scenic on these foggy days when filigree covers tree limbs and lilac shrubs.  The huge evergreens are tinted with frost glistening when the sun finally breaks through the cloud layer...Blue skies have already invaded our landscape.
And this photo is of the frozen slough, the tiny Nygaard evergreens resting their way through the snows of winter, the Ash broken but not 'boughed' in the overcast of a Sunday morning.

May your Sunday be as cozy and lovely as ours.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guns — How hoodwinked Are Armericans?

Any community that values profits from firearm's sales over the lives of its children is to put it succinctly - fucked. This issue has nothing to do with second amendment rights.  This issue is about the safety of our children.

Firearms sales in the USA create profits averaging from $2-4 billion each year.  Although firearms are made in myriad countries around the globe, the USA accounts for over 114 different  firearms manufacturers.

And the statistic that some of us will find most startling is that the ATF, a governmental oversight organization, indicates that they received reports in 2011 of 1,112,046 firearms lost or stolen within the USA.  Some states may require gun owners to register, but with this many firearms lost or stolen, no one has any idea who is carrying a weapon of mass destruction. 

Here is an article from Today's Bloomberg Press:

Guns Inc.
Why It's Getting Easier to Carry Guns in the U.S.A.

In light of the recent shooting in an Oregon mall and today’s school shooting in Connecticut, it’s worth it to look at the conditions that have made it easier to manufacture and market firearms in the U.S. Consider the following developments:

—Republican-dominated legislatures in at least four states are poised to consider allowing employees to bring guns to work.

—Smith & Wesson (SWHC) reported record sales for its most recent quarter, up 48 percent from a year earlier.

—Florida announced it will soon become the first state to have issued 1 million permits allowing people to carry concealed guns.

—An influential federal appeals court struck down an Illinois law prohibiting civilians from carrying a loaded handgun outside their home or business.

The American gun market, estimated at $2 billion to $3 billion a year, has had its ups and downs over the decades. Since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, however, firearm manufacturers and their vocal ally, the National Rifle Association, have enjoyed an extraordinary boom, based heavily on fear marketing.

The industry pitch: Obama plans to restrict, if not confiscate, your guns. This has sent hundreds of thousands of people to their Main Street gun shop or firearm website, propelled by the notion that they better buy while they can.
The twist is that while Obama occasionally murmurs about gun control, he has done nothing to make it more difficult to lawfully acquire or carry firearms. The president and his advisers fear a political backlash (and, on substance, may worry that tinkering with gun laws will not actually affect crime rates in a substantial way).

The upshot: Gun sellers and promoters of gun rights are pushing further and further in an environment of seemingly endless possibilities for their side of the perennial debate over the wisdom and significance of packing heat.

The guns-at-work laws are up for debate in Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania—all states with strong gun cultures. Seventeen states have approved similar measures since 2003, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco. The laws extend gun rights onto property controlled by private employers. That’s provoked resistance from such companies as FedEx (FDX) and Volkswagen (VOW), which fear that encouraging employees to bring their pieces to work may lead to parking-lot skirmishes.

The concealed-carry permit news from Florida illustrates that a lot of Americans like to have a gun on their belt or in their purse—for self-defense or just as a statement that they take seriously their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Florida has issued more than 993,000 active permits, representing 4.6 percent of the state’s
population of 19.1 million. Florida was among the first states in 1987 to require approval of conceal-carry license applications for any applicant who meets certain criteria (such as a clean felony-conviction record), as opposed to giving local police discretion over who may carry a gun. Today 38 states have “shall-issue” laws similar to Florida’s.

Illinois is the only state that outright bans carrying a loaded gun outside the home. But not for long. In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled on Dec. 11 that the state’s prohibition violated the Second Amendment. “One doesn’t have to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense in the 18th century could not rationally have been limited to the home,” U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote, referring to the ratification of the amendment in 1791. The Second Amendment states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a handgun in the home. Posner’s ruling is the most important extension of the 2008 high court ruling, and it will carry extra weight because Posner enjoys a national reputation for legal erudition. Depending on how Illinois state politicians respond to the Seventh Circuit ruling, it’s possible the case could end up in the Supreme Court.

Richard Feldman, a former NRA organizer and gun industry trade association executive, noted that the firearm debate has swung sharply toward expanded gun rights. In 2008, he observed, the Supreme Court “broadly defined the right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense. In my days at the NRA, that was the Holy Grail!” The Seventh Circuit expands the gun-rights frontier. Feldman, who heads an advocacy group called the Independent Firearm Owners Association, predicts that in the near future New York City’s tough municipal rules on who may own and carry a handgun will come under legal attack.
Barrett, an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, is author, most recently, of GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wattarrka National Park - The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden, situated deep within the box canyon of 
Watarrka in the red centre of Australia

pools reflect the massive red walls of the canyon where temperatures soar to  45 degree Celcius

I am working on the last chapter of my manuscript and took some time to search for photos of one of my favorite places on the planet.  These don't quite do The Garden of Eden justice, but they do offer a glimpse of soothing cool subtropical paradise in the midst of one of the most inhospitable deserts on earth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stale Bread

A couple of years ago we bought a bread machine.  Making such a purchase has a good deal in common with paying good money for an exercise machine.  The first month, the equipment sings. Everyone in the family competes to use it.  And for a bread machine that's even more true.

After all, a Nordic Trak can be only be used for one purpose - well, at least as far as I know.  But the bread machine can make jam, pancakes, cupcakes or christmas cake or just plain bread.  Lots of experimentation.

Fast forward — three years later and not only is the spify little machine lingering on the back shelf, but when it is used, the bread it makes lingers even longer on the front shelf.  As a result, I searched out recipes using stale bread.

My fav is bread pudding, a delightful taste on cold winter evenings and it is cold in my prairie world;-12 yesterday at midnight.

None of this suggests a blog topic.  What does render itself useful, however, is the fact that I've made so many bread puddings that I am these days on automatic pilot in the process.

First I pulled out all of the ingredients; put the milk on to scald, and began to combine the rest of the necessary spices.  Brown sugar 2/3 cup, eggs 3, cinnamon 2 tsp, nutmeg 1/4 tsp, and vanilla, 1 tsp. , mix for one minute, add scalded milk.

As I put the caps back on bottles, I rather unexpectedly noted that the vanilla I had just unceremoniously dumped in the mix was 'garlic juice'.  Same size bottle, same shape!

Throw it away?  Never, but this evening when the 'super sensitive taste buds' of hubby try out the treat, it will be interesting to hear the response...Just thought I'd share.

Sunny Monday

Not a very creative title to today's blog, but what the hell, the sun is in full force this morning and I'm in celebration mode.

This mid continent prairie so close to the Canadian border is usually a sun lover's paradise.  We get more sunny days in a year than our counterparts in Washington, Minnesota and Wisconsin by far.  But of late, like in the past two weeks, dark clouds have covered that which we worship so often.  That makes a morning like this one and yesterday's as well most welcome.

The temperatures are low.  Two nights ago we reached a -12 and for those of you who don't do fahrenheit that means 44 degrees below freezing. By daybreak though it was up to -8 and by noon we had reached a sultry +8.  Amazing what a difference a few degrees makes.

Both the Aussie and I love it here in winter most of the time — so long as the sun continues to warm the hot house bay windows in our lounge/living room so that the tomato plant can continue to bloom.  Yep, that's right.  We have three yellow flowers that we hope will come to fruit before it is time to vacate this land for spots 'down under' in early February.

So, I know discussions of weather are far too frequent on this blog these days, but you must remember that both of us have lived most of our lives in the lands without seasons - Queensland and Los Angeles - and are delighted at the fact that autumn really brings color to this land and winter gives us reason to celebrate our warm cozy cottage on the prairie.

Be well, celebrate the season.  and know that you are all loved entities.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Response from the Colonies

The Colonies, you wonder?  Perhaps an explanation.  In Great Britain there are decisions made by the former British colonies who now make up the British Commonwealth — some 54 nations.  These nations send athletes, for instance, to the Commonwealth Games  which began in 1930 and are currently held in one or another of the Commonwealth countries every four years.

And how do I know all of this?  I do spend some time in Australia which is part of the Commonwealth, but mostly I do use Google !

And my reference this morning comes from the fact that a phone call during breakfast came from southern Arizona where one of North Dakota's commonwealth of residents chooses to winter.  In the 2010 census the population of this northern tier state was almost 700,000.  I suspect today as a result of the Bakkan Oil Exploration that the state may be nearing 730,000.

However, in winter this population declines considerably as folks who can afford to travel head for warmer climes for the winter months which can be from November to May.  Yep, it's a long winter.

And some of those folks hungry for news of the great white windy north read everything they can on line about just what is going on in the place from which they have taken exodus.

However, what I discovered this morning is that no matter how much license I believe I am allowed in my reporting on this blog, facts are what is expected.  The questions this morning included, 'What's this about black ice on gravel roads?'

'I mentioned no gravel roads in yesterday's blog entry.'

'What's a secondary road?'

'Oh that! :) Secondary roads are all roads that are not primary roads.  :)  I mean, secondary roads are like King's Highway between Lignite and Powers Lake, not a state highway, but a good paved two lane.'

'And the temperatures?  Did they really reach below zero?'

'Yep, a couple of days ago around 6 a.m. in the darkness of December, my thermometer claims the temps dipped.'

'And the fracking wells, did they cause the power outages?'

'Well, I really don't know.  A little poetic license maybe.'

'Maybe,' deadpanned.

So, the message to the colonists, 'Don't take these entries too seriously.  I'm playing, ya know, just playing.'

Friday, December 07, 2012

Blow out your candles, Laura

Little House on the Prairie; yep it kinda felt that way this evening.  Well, not really.  We have four good walls lined with R-34 insulation and double paned windows all round along with visiting friends who chose to join us rather than sit in candle light in their own dark abode when the lights when out again.

And it wasn't cause we failed to pay the bill.  I actually paid three months in advance; we are dependent on electricity here in our prairie house.  Furnace is electric and the temps have fallen as low as -4 F one evening this past week with more minus temperatures promised for the coming week end.  

Always prepared, that's the prairie mantra; we have a propane heater hooked up and ready to use when the folks at Montana/Dakota Energy lose patience with the oil well drillers who have a habit of slicing into the power lines in all the excitement of actually reaching a trickle of oil  via their fracking chems a mile under the topsoil.

This is the second time this week that the power has failed.  Two days ago we spent four hours of daylight reading and sudoku solving because the wind was blowing at 30-45 mph through the 18 degree sunlight and I just couldn't quite make myself bundle up that well and besides there wasn't much to do out in the weather anyway.

Tonight it felt very different.  I thought of all the folks who settled this country, who lived in sod houses tunneled into hillocks with only buffalo and steer shit for heat in pot bellied stoves whose chimneys must have let in an awful leak of cold winter air, of folks whose chamber pots must have been on the verge of overflowing before they were carried out into the awful windy cold.

Summer here is mostly delightful.  Winter is death defying if one is unprepared.  We are prepared except for black ice, on secondary roads a rather constant possibility as the temps rise and fall in winter.

Still, I am cozy and happy to be here with a delightful crew and a partner with a sense of humour and an ability to fix absolutely anything.  Wouldn't make it without him.
Summer, summer, summertime - not like winter a'tall

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Holiday spirit in Nordacotah

 Christmas lights have been a tradition in our little town, but for several years darkness met the holiday skies at night.  Now santa knows where to land his sleigh, hopefully in the park below rather than on the roof!
And for those who know Flaxton, the new Memorial Hall door will come as a surprise.  Santa's shadow should not deter anyone from enjoying the lights though. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

Photo of hoarfrost two years ago.  We still have frost cycles all round but temps are rising fast!  Brekkie and then pics up close to share the filigree.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Hore Frost

December 1st brought fog to our corner of Nordamerica.  And when the temperatures drop below freezing and there is only a minimum of wind, fog means hore frost which is spelled fragile and beautiful. 

The cottonwoods, elms, and ash that shade our lanes in green summer turn into a wonderland of rich fringed patterns of white against the stark grey of the foggy skies; spectral in the most beautiful sense.
Part of me wants to reach up and shake the tiny tendrils; part of me stands in awe and admires the beauty that the cold has manifested for us to enjoy in the few hours of daylight that are left us this time of year.

Beneath is the packed slippery ice of the street pushed into rows by the tires of the vehicles that daily ply our town and above is filigree, an imaginary world of tiny perfect patterns.
It is a miracle for me who at twenty fled the northern tier of Nordamerica to escape the humidity of summer and the snows of winter.  To have returned to enjoy the effects of below freezing temperatures has been a gift to that part of myself that loves beauty — all sorts of beauty.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

You're Gonna Think me Nutso - Planning and Zoning Ordinance

Yep, probably you will, but we have worked so well together, we six amazing Flaxton residents who care very much about how our community develops and who have been willing to volunteer our time, effort, wisdom, and good humor every Monday night for the past three months plus a few Wednesday and Friday evenings thrown in for good measure, that I want to share the beginning of our document with you all - the entire cyberverse who just might be interested in how one creates a plan for a prairie community that has doubled in size in the last two years and tripled in size in the last five years.

I feel so much gratitude to the residents, to the mayor, to the children of this little town who have been welcoming to many of us who have arrived here in search of ways to make a living and join a community.  North Dakota is an extra ordinary spot on the planet. I am grateful.

And here are the first few pages of our work: Just so the rest of you know that we really really did do this deed!

Flaxton Planning and Zoning Ordinance
Unapproved by City Council
Public Copy
12 December 2012


This comprehensive plan is established by the Flaxton Planning/Zoning Commission with technical assistance from City Attorney, Benjamen Johnson.

* * *
2.6 Existing Lots of Record:
A. Any lot record existing at the effective date of this ordinance held in separate ownership different from the ownership of adjoining lots may be used for the erection of a structure conforming to the use regulations of the district in which it is located except as set forth hereafter

2.7 Residential Development:

A. No lot shall contain more than one principle residential building or  dwelling

C. No residential dwelling unit shall exceed thirty-five (35) feet in height.                                            
D. Non attached Accessory buildings shall be limited to fifteen (15) feet in  height and be located at least two (2 )feet from all lot lines.

2.9 Traffic, Safety and Alleyway
A. No material or shrubs that are an impediment to visibility more than three (3) feet above the curb level shall be created or maintained at the  intersection of any street.

 B. Property owners shall be responsible to trim overhanging tree and shrublimbs along alleyways. Except for unloading or firecall, no vehicle shall be parked  or allowed to remain parked in any alley so as to obstruct a sidewalk or alley or crosswalk or to obstruct any fire hydrant or fire fighting equipment or personnel.

2.10 Sewer and Water Regulations:
            To protect the public health, control water pollution and reduce nuisance and odor, all new developments with the City of Flaxton shall be connected to the city sewer and water system. Construction and use of privies and cesspools and use of recreation vehicle chemical toilets shall be prohibited within the zoning limits of the City of Flaxton without City Council approval and evidence of compliance with State Health regulations.

And so on and so forth!!  Happy Days

Thursday, November 29, 2012


 The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best
- and therefore never scrutinize or question
Stephen Jay Gould

a deer browsing near my clothes line
or at least I thought she was browsing

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Letters from Orion
Annielaural leFaye

A long list of associations slither through the moist summer evening while we sip a heavy merlot on the back veranda and reminisce about the early days, the days when we barely knew one another, when we were enthralled with the idea that we might become partners.

Stephen J. Gould and the Fig Tree

Stephen Jay Gould was on my mind.  And happy I was that I remembered his name.  One of the reasons it was so easy to give up my teaching gig after forty years in the classroom was that I had reached the point where in the middle of a lecture I was unable to withdraw from the depths of my memory banks, kind of like river banks full of the mud of the spring thaw, the names of authors about whom I wanted to share information in class. Gould was one of the many whose descriptions of science I wanted to share as literary masterpieces with my students.  He was no where to be found.  I had lost him in the morass of clinging starchy tapioca invading my brain.

And so in the midst of my morning musing, there was the New Yorker, the editor of Natural History Magazine, along with his evolutionary biology appetite, having morning tea in New York City's Natural History Museum, you know, the museum cafeteria with a blue whale swimming just under the ceiling.  Gould exists today only in his writings and in our memories.   His creative non-fiction science, his undisturbed logic which in a sort of unbelievable morass of slides from one part of his knowledge into another, his awareness of the complications and associations that informed his understanding of the world that which always I found alluring, the reason I still carry at least one paper book copy of his work where ever I travel just in case I find world watching a tad overbearing.  I can always  open to any page and suddenly find myself in another world, his mind.  Kind of like the movie John Malkovich.  Only  Gould’s brain is far  more intriguing and convoluted as it is, still engaging and informative. He has  entertained and transfixed for many years.  I subscribed to Natural History Magazine just so I could read his editorials and then bought the same bound in their own volumes over the years.  If you asked me whose writing I most enjoyed in all of my life, Gould along with Lewis Thomas would be in the top three. I have to admit that Stephenson and David Mitchell make  fine fourths for my bridge table of the mind. I think of them on early mornings when the fruit bats are colliding as they happily munch the tidy, tiny figs from our mammoth  Morton Bay Fig tree and the palm nuts from the front garden Cocos palms. 

Oops, another stream enters the mind. It is my duty when the sun rises this morning to rescue my new winter garden seedlings from the rain of palm nuts the bats lodge from their bundles. A less than tidy overload of green cocos nuts scramble throughout the garden, sometimes breaking the stalks of other native plants eking a living beneath the skinny, swaying palm fronds.

But, what of Stephen Jay Gould?  His words, his complex sentences that wind around ideas as varied as baseball, his favorite American past time, and typewriter keyboards as well as the color of flamingos, dance in my brain sometimes confusing me, always challenging my understanding as well as delighting my sense of how words work to convey associations between evolutionary biology, a figment of Gould's imagination, and the rest of reality.