Wilderness — A Meditation

Thursday, February 28, 2013

31 December 2000

The end of the millennium.

On a long trek in the wilderness, a tiny black leach took advantage of my innocence.  Rescued just in the nick of time by the Aussie  amongst the primeval forests of Binna Burra.

Later  whip birds and king parrots joined us near cliffs overlooking pastoral valleys and gum tree forests stretching almost to the horizon.  Beyond them, the beaches of the gold coast in the distant cloud banks demarking the edge of the continent.

Moderate warmth and humidity replaced the intermittent showers and overcast skies.  The rain forest creates a fecundity, a reminder that life without humans is entirely possible.

Filigree pine, a reminiscent variety with thin supple branches like lithe digger pines of the San Joaquin/Sierra foothills surround us.

Red earth mixed with myriad eucalyptus leaves creates slippery trails surrounded by bottlebrush trees and stay-a-while vines.  The canopy protects us from rain drops while the whip bird entertains.

The high-pressure winds create a symphony to accompany the dancing tendrils of eucalyptus branches. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

8 January 2001

Today after happy interludes Graham biked at 5:30.   

I slept til 7:30.

Then we traveled in the light carriage to town to pick up equipment for Monday’s commercial before we  shopped at Woolies. 

Flowers, native blooms, decorate the table.  Ginger fills the pantry and the cool breeze wafts through the veranda.

We went to Lone Pine Preserve to see kangaroos, wallabys in pouch as well as out, kolas, dingos, kookaburras, wombats, imu, flying foxes all wrapped up in daytime wear.  The Tasmanian devils and fat assed wombats were sound asleep.

It has been a wonderful day concluded with a talk of state records for running the 400 and pleasure in one another’s companionship.

Marriage - A Confession to the Billions of Viewers

This article originally appeared on
By Melissa Wall
Did you see Ben Affleck’s speech accepting the Best Picture award last night? If not, he made a moving and authentic statement about marriage. Read more about it here.
The part that has people in a tizzy is this:
I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.
The criticism centers around this statement as lacking in cuteness, and focusing on the negative. It wasn’t the “right forum” for this type of declaration, it was a possible indicator that “something is wrong” in the marriage, he should have just stuck to “I love you and adore you and you’re perfect” -- basically whining that a major Hollywood star was uncomfortably honest about his relationship and said overly blunt things about marriage in one of the most public forums on the planet.
Anyone who actually agrees with the above criticism doesn’t get marriage.
A fundamental reality of human relationships is that two people are not meant to be in a single monogamous partnership for all eternity (or even until the end of their lives). Humans crave sexual novelty. We get bored. We lose interest after just two years. We find our intimacy crushed by the weight of daily routines. Marriage is a voluntary commitment that flies in the face of all scientific research and human evolution.
We enter this voluntary (some say insane, and they’re not entirely wrong) pact because we do a cost-benefit analysis and decide that the benefits of getting married (or otherwise partnering for life) outweigh the potential costs -- breakups, emotional pain, financial disarray, the list goes on. We make just about the biggest emotional leap of faith a person can make, because we think, feel, and hope that the rewards will be great.
But at no point can we ever assume that these rewards will come without putting in the work to achieve them. We’re signing up for a daily struggle -- some days it’s a small struggle, some days larger -- and a distinct set of tasks that must be completed in order to keep the whole thing from falling apart. These may range from the tiny (say “good morning” to your spouse in a cheery voice even though you wish you could shoot a nuke through the sun and return to sleep) to the sizable (find a way not to explode with rage and stomp out when your partner loses her temper and insults your mother) to the enormous (comfort your partner and assist with all the logistics after the agonizing death of his parent).
Large or small, it’s still work -- there is no way around that. And failing or refusing to do this work means the death of the relationship, maybe not today, but eventually. . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


8 January 2001

Today after happy interludes the Australian biked at 5:30.  I slept til 7:30 and then traveled via the light carriage into town to pick up equipment for Monday’s job and then shopped at Woolies after a glance at the Australian son's Cherry Charger. 

Flowers, native blooms, decorate the table.  Ginger fills the pantry and the cool breeze wafts over the veranda table top.

We went to Lone Pine Preserve to see kangaroos, wallabys in pouch as well as out, kolas to the extreme. Dingos, Imu,  Cassowary, wombats, flying fox all wrapped up in daytime wear,  Tasmanian devils asleep, womabats fast asleep and still more koalas with babies munching supper.

It has been a wonderful day concluded with a talk of running records and pleasure in one another’s companionship.

Monday, February 25, 2013

My dear friend, Bradley Campbell, second from the left, has a new band and a new CD.  To access the music from the CD, check out this website.  You can purchase as well as listen..  Enjoy....

A Point of View: In defence of obscure words

BBC New Magazine has an article that may interest all of us who enjoy 'words', who are just a tad embarrassed by those who insist on 'simple English' - a relatively new approach to business writing.  Not that I think writing ought to be obtuse, but I do shiver when an academic suggests that using 'big words' is off putting to readers.  Especially today in the world where google can give you a definition in only a moment's search time, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would consider limiting his/her expressiveness in writing in order to 'dumb down' a manuscript.

As those of you who know me will attest, I am anything but an intellectual.  My world is ruled by my heart, not by my mind.  No doubt!  However, I love words, love English, flirt with Spanish and German, and enjoy listening to Chinese and Korean.

And so, I would like to share just a para of this article.  You may find the rest at the following addy:

"We are living in a risk-averse culture - there's no doubt about that.

But the risk that people seem most reluctant taking is not a physical but a mental one: just as the concrete in children's playgrounds has been covered with rubber, so the hard truth about the effort needed for intellectual attainment is being softened by a sort of semantic padding.

Our arts and humanities education at secondary level seems particularly afflicted by falling standards - so much so that universities are now being called upon to help write new A-level syllabuses in order to cram our little chicks with knowledge that, in recent years, has come to seem unpalatable, if not indigestible - knowledge such as English vocabulary beyond that which is in common usage."

Will Self
BBC NEWS Magazine, 20 April 2012

What a Bunch of Voyeurs

The Scotswoman and I have met; we have shared our angst, and we have determined that it is appropriate to share our heart-rending. Obviously life for the ex-pat is not easy.  There are hurdles that I, who came from without and  who now lives within, could imagine. I wonder how many folks who never leave their home country would be interested in reading a book about those of us who venture to other continents? 

Hopefully there are several, maybe a hundred thousand or more.  Only that number would make this process profitable.  But then, I'm absolutely sure that making money is not what it is all about.  It is about therapy, writing therapy.  Write it down and lessen the intensity of the feeling, unless, of course, it heightens those feelings because, after all, we are dredging from places otherwise unaccounted for.

My friend Anne shared with me that although my writing is good, people do not buy books to find out about bird life.  They buy books to wallow in empathy or delight at the throes of those of us who do write.

What a bunch of voyeurs!  :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not Just Another Travel Book

A Quiet Moment with Sue Monk Kidd

. . . with these words he revealed to me a reason to write fiction: because it creates empathy.

Is it possible that the experience of empathy is really nothing more, and nothing less, than the breakthrough of an awareness that we humans share an intrinsic unity? Are we indulging in what Ralph Waldo Emerson called a “larger imbibing of the common heart?” In Emerson’s “common heart” every person’s “particular being is contained and made one with all other.” It is the place of our deep and common belonging. Albert Einstein must have been referring to this place when he said that we are part of a whole and any attempt to experience ourselves as separate is an optical delusion of consciousness. Walt Whitman, who never seemed to suffer from this optical delusion, expressed the interconnection poetically when he wrote: “I am large; I contain multitudes.” We all do.

Since then I have come to love Kafka’s words: “A book must be the ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.” In a world that often seems to lurch toward losing touch with its inherent kinship, I am glad for stories that possess such beautiful blades.

* * * 
Kidd reminds me that Sunset Over the Equator is:

Not Just another travel book
   but rather a woman travel writer's trans- cultural experience
     in search of epiphany

         - a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially 
                  through an ordinary but striking occurrence

Taking Charge in 2001

1 July 2001

“I’m taking charge. I want to do the things that make me happy. I want to be the person that I want to be, not the person everybody else wants me to be.”

Hamilton James Bruce, The Brisbane Courier-Mail,  Life Section, page 14 , July 14, 2001

Yep, I came to Australia with the same idea.  Taking charge?  Oh yeah, well, the universe has a few lessons for those of us who believe that ‘s a possibility. 

I sit on the back veranda in Brisbane, in a 100 year old Queenslander, which has undergone a little expansion, a little upgrading. Literally, having been lifted, refitted if you will, on it’s sloping hillside. 

It’s cooler up here among the hill tops of Brisbane sheltered by the fig tree, which is probably at least as old as the Queenslander itself, maybe even older. My companions are birds who flit  beneath, between, within the branches of the trees.

This winter it’s a tad different than it was last summer  On my first trip to the ‘down under’ the fruit bats had to vie for the plentiful figs.

The behemoth, the Morton Bay Fig, resembles a house of flats with day time and night time residents. The lorikeets and butcher birds, the minors, and crows are in residence during the day .The fruit bats move in at night.

On occasion when the winds are right, the tower at Brisbane Airport brings the 747 heavies over this northwestern part of the city. They severely interupt the calm exterior mirroring what could be. The mood of the feathered residents is interrupted by gigantic jet turbines stirring the air, fouling the sounds of the lovely suburb.

How ridiculous to think one can take charge.  I know, I know.  The only person one can change is the self.  Maybe earplugs?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sunrise Over the Equator - notes from 2000

January 2000

I want to write about my sense of newness and on my judgmental nature as I encounter all things Australian on this first visit.

I am immediately caught by the private nature of the people and yet by their helpful generosity.

Graeme and Dina came to the Sydney airport to help me on my way.  They made sure that I was on the right bus to the domestic terminal.  Their’s was a great kindness.

The huge man on the billboard outside the Brisbane airport, the nude man with the tiny phone book behind which hid his penis evoked delight and a view of the Australian sense of humor.

Graham’s assures me that the folks of Oz are more open than the folks of America. My need is to hold onto my sense that Americans are more open after all.  I admit to a nationalistic tendency.

Driving to Binna Burra I am suddenly convinced that strip malls exist everywhere in western culture.

I don’t understand why it is so very hard for me to accept driving in Australia.  I’ll never get the hang of turning the wrong way (the other way).

And the house –  I react immediately?

I am afraid to encounter my feelings at this point.  It is not what I anticipated and yet I understand and love the house and all it stands for, but it is not what I thought it would be.  I expected grandiosity, a dwelling in which I would feel most uncomfortable. 

Instead, I love having my own space to spread out, so to speak, where I can feel that I am not making a mess in someone else’s nest.

I love being given a task, filling in the gaps between the ancient wall boards with putty.  It makes me feel worthwhile, not just a visitor, but a contributor to the world in which I am living.

I wandered around Rosalie where I didn’t need to go.  I should go for a long walk instead and just enjoy the streets of the neighborhood.

I have never entirely comforted in and one day I am unhappy, my ego resembles a sore thumb. I pretend I do not exist.  I feel I am interfering. These are difficult moments, moments I would rather not admit.

I fear alienating him, but these are honest sensations.  I truly do not wish to change him. If I thought I could manipulate Graham, it would be awful.  I like the fact that there are nos and yesses, and yet I am wary of whether his emotional self can open to me.  Making him angry is a great sadness and also a triumph.  These are the worlds the astrology has told me not to write, not to share.

Still those words are an honest part of my journey, not only the journey to Oz, but the journey to myself.  The parts of me, which are not open, are not ready to live in a new culture. And so, it is bedtime.  I’ll save the celebration for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2013

She Waited

She waited.
            All her life she had been waiting. 
            For what?
            For the man whom she could trust?
            For the man she could manipulate into doing her bidding?
            But what happend if she found him? 
            What happened when he did as she wished?
            When he said, 'Is this how you like it?
            'Is this what you wish?
            'Is there any other way I can please you?
                        What happened then?
We all know what happened.  He was no longer a challenge.  She no longer wanted him.  She wanted someone new. She needed a man to understand, to do her bidding, to be her “man” without letting her know that he had submitted.
She did want a man who was unavailable in some very precise, some very unique, some very permanent manner.
There were moments when she was through with waiting.  When she claimed she would never wait again. And then she went to New Zealand. 

What  happened there?  She waited.  She boarded the roller coaster of emotional excess that provides sublime happiness at the height of the track – when he arrives home.

No matter how tired, when he came into her space, she was satisfied again, momentarily happy, energized, patient, able to concentrate, to be with herself in the space which he also occupied.

In the meantime, when he was off earning his living, feeling distressed at the length of time it took novices to do the work that professionals would have done in a short span of effort, what happened to her then?

She despaired, waited, filled her time with tasks that seemed meaningless.  Only the garden ha meaning because it grew and changed with her efforts. She had some sort of control over that space,  but could never bend it to her will.

Damn, there she was again, waiting.  Waiting for it to bloom, to seed, to grow, to blossom into the beauty that she knew was its potential.

She had a need to be in relationship. Yet, she found herself in relationship with a man who was absolutely unavailable in so many ways.  She could not easily talk of her feelings with him.  He didn’t make himself available for that. if she waxed too rapidly or too enthusiastically as he drifted off to sleep in the evening, there was the question, “Are you going to go on like that all night?”

At breakfast in the morning they talked, but even that talk is limited to the factual, the rational, the political, not the personal.  There she was almost always satisfied, happy with the place she had chosen. However, the emotions of which she is so full were not expressed.

When Paul called  with his fear of the future, his inability to make a decision about the future, she is pleased that he chose to call , but at the same time, panic rose in her gut as she realized the emotional morass which existed there...and she intuitively backed away with her voice.

It is diffiucult for her now because neither man represents her most cherished need, to find a like minded partner who is mostly rational, physical, and caring. 

Oh, how we work.  There was no further story to tell.  It was always the same.  She needed to be in the world but  needed to stop expecting it to meet her imaginary requirements. She needed to enjoy what exists. There is no perfection.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Little cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers.  Don't cry
-the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh leaning back in my arms
for life's not a a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
  e.e. cummings

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sunrise Over the Pacific - the backstory

An auspicious day with which to begin the third stage of my life!

Waking in the morning a mile closer to the sun - Monster, my life is in so many ways in your hand.

I retired officially and completely from teaching on 31 January 2002.  I traveled south to the Mayans and their ancient civilizations as interpreted by the youth of the Americas - Marco and Sarah.

There I discovered tht I have a tendency to expect the 'best'; the 'goodness' of people and the best part of the bestness is that they deliver.

There are many thoughts to share.

To begin - there is the coincidence of having brought this little book which I didn't realize was devoted to Shinoda-Bolen - the Jungian archetype lady. I must reread to discover which archetype or set of archetypes I am just now imploring for direction.

Even here in the midst of ancient civilizations my communications needs are met by the generous thoughtfulness of Marco who brought his lap top home so I could check my mail.

And this morning I am given the respite of a few hours to myself to reflect in my journal about the meaning of these two days.  Surely, rising at 3 a.m. to travel into a new beginning sets the stage.

Certainly, leaving  a new culture to travel to an old civilization, perhaps the most advanced in some aspects on the planet, whether Mayan or Catholic. And what of me? What is my spiritual journey, my secular path, my endowment to myself, my passion? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Am Fortunate

Time for a little musing.  We've been in the great green south for two weeks as of yesterday.  Jet lag no longer organizes my days. Birdsong is constant.  As I type lorikeets worry the fruits of the trees in my neighborhood and quarrel with one another constantly. 

Yesterday a silver crested cockatoo sprang into action, swooping into the top limbs of the Morton Bay Fig in our back garden.  Everyone else vacated to nearby treetops to await his departure.  He squawked as only a cockatoo can squawk, alerting the entire universe to his arrival and then swooped away to the northeast. 

Rain has covered us like a warm doona (quilt) for the past two days.  What a delightful if dreary excuse for not weeding the garden.  Instead I finished A Turn of Mind and wrote a GoodBooks review which I sent off to everyone who knows me on that site.

Today I downloaded samuri-soduku.  Happiness is a puzzle!  And I spoke on line to a woman I would love to edit my manuscript.  She says probably no, but she has others who might consider.  Others do not have her presence.  Of this I am certain; nor do they have her ageless wisdom.  Why do I assume this about a person who lives half way round the world, a woman I have never met?  Because she has character.  And my experience with women of character is that they will understand what I am all about and what I aim to accomplish with my writing.

And so, this is NOT an exciting entry, but few of mine are.  Excitement for the seventy-two year old comes in different ways than it does with younger humans.  A thirty minute video of the earth taken from outer space thrills me, brings me to tears as I consider what we are doing to the great mother.

Children playing in a pool for a birthday party two houses down; the nerve rattling screams of joy make my heart sing.  I often forget that such energy fills the lives of some adults on a regular basis.

A television station that celebrates pregnancy by encouraging news readers to remain on staff and before the camera gives me hope. 

Life is one long celebration; I am a fortunate one!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't you agree?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happiness Is a Window View

No, I haven't been on an airplane since 5 February.  This window view offers 180 degrees of Queensland suburb and almost more sky than my prairie view in Nordacotah.  The line between land and cloud covered upper limits is a tumbling tree line.  Green provides the bottom frame. 

Happiness ensues as I watch swifts, crows, magpies, fig birds, and in the evenings Tawny Frog Mouths slip from branch to branch or sweep across the darkening sky above the hillside horizon to the north.  There, ancient Queenslander homes have been adopted by entrepreneurs and turned into antique boutiques, curry shops, and fashionable undie providers as well as coffee shops and neighbourhood groceries.

In my absence this lovely space was turned into a bedroom - ambiance lost upon its inhabitant.  Once again, the space sizzles with Australian colour, the dust balls have been collected, and the day bed cluttered with comfy pillows of varied colours.  My desk once again allows me to sit at the window out of which I am a queen. 

Huge storms one after the other file in from the Pacific buiding cumulus conventions.  Magpies and crows quarrel over the nest of the smaller birds. At night Flying Foxes hover with huge wings along the fruit trees that fill my right handed windows.  In the afternoon, my neighbours play with their youngsters in the back yard pool; the young adults two houses down party on their back veranda. The gasoline driven leaf blowers arrive to interrupt my serene world on Monday morning and I monitor the trash pick up on Tuesday early.

I love being home.  I know we all have a sense of what kind of space fulfills.  To each of us that sense is unique.  This is my space; the one I dream of when far from Oz.  This space is the one I love returning to for a short respite at least once a year.  It is here that I feel most comfortable, most creative.  Welcome to my home.  Pics later.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Early Morning Kookaburra Chatter

4:30 a.m. Friday Ides of February

Quiet except for the raucous chatter of a Kookaburra warning the fruit bats in the back garden.

Startled, I realized competition even in the early hours of morning can be disconcerting to the gamer concentrating on the perfect shot.

Why ever am I awake at this hour?  Dawn is still fifteen minutes away. 
Why is the bird awake at this hour? 

His morning slumber may have been interrupted by the nagging quarreling of the winged mammals feeding on tiny orange fruits.

I, too, quieted my  tummy with a handful of smoked almonds when I awoke.
No wonder the bird life are asserting their right to be at the top of the food chain - 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day in Oz

One of my favorite memories of teaching high school kidlets is Valentine's Day.  You'd think that sixteen year olds would have given up the desire to give silly cards away to their classmates.  One expects elementary school youngsters to enjoy the process, but teen agers?

One's expectations might be plain wrong.  I recall with delight the laughter and joy as creativity reigned.  No longer were the shared missives punched out of a paper full of designs and clumsily signed on the back.  Teen sharing often illustrated the irony and pun making attributes of students.  They were the sort of art that no one took for granted and stuffed away until Mom cleaned the bedroom and tossed.  These works of art ended up next to the mirror or propped up on dresser tops as remembrances of friendship present and past. One of these art works graces my bathroom wall — a delightful melody of color matted in white with a purple frame.

And so it is, that Valentine's Day has arrived in Australia and we two will celebrate with a movie and afternoon tea in one of our local outdoor cafes.  It is good to be old these days.  All body parts work marginally well, our brains have not yet deteriorated into mush, and our enjoyment of a piece of film will give us conversation well into the evening.  Our love has matured a bit; but still the first sight of the man in my life brings a smile to my eyes and our shared first coffee each morning is still an invitation for our first kiss of the day. 

I read the other day that many of us, according to some academic's study, grow happier with life as we grow older.  I am here to assure that researcher that s/he is correct.  I love that the planet is my home, not simply some portion thereof.  I love that I can flee winter to enjoy an extended summer.  I love the man with whom I share my life.  We are wealthy in spirit and that counts the most.  We must be sure our bodies keep up—all knees, shoulder, hips, and elbows continue to twist and shift; all organs continue to cleanse, filter, and move properly, and we will be celebrating Valentine's Day for quite some time to come.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Paddington - Not a Bear

It's too warm in this place for bear.  But the Australian's penchant for modeling their language and place names after the 'motherland' - ohh..that sounds a bit German - let's try after their whinging British progenitors, provides the suburb of my second home a British title.

And glad we are to be here in the warm.  Two weeks ago when we drove away from Nordacotah, the temperatures were hovering in the minus teens.  Here, for those of you who use fahrenheit, the temperatures average 80+ or —.  Today I prefer the glow which is a constant reminder of humidity over the dry cold of the central North American prairie.

This morning I plotted sodoku numbers distracted by my  attempt to count the various syllables of the Butcher Bird song.  His/her repertoire is considerable.  The pair who call our back garden home were busy conversing about a variety of subjects in the cool early morning.  Their song is boisterous and engaging.  One almost wants to join in, to add an aside here or there, to question the conclusions which the two have obviously come to before they fly off in search of a huntsman or golden orbed spider hidden away in the branches of the Morton Bay Fig apartment house that filters the blue skies for a quarter of a block in our vicinity.

It is good to be home, to be so distracted, to rise at 4:30 a.m. to share in the sounds of a million strong city waking on the eastern coast of Oz, to bask in abundance, to fight off the little black midges and the mosquitoes who wish to dine on my elbows. 

This is the land, the culture, the haven about which I have written so many times.  Watarrka  Sunrise is my story of coming to terms with the expectations of this culture, of acceeding to Nathaniel West's cry, 'Go West, Young Woman, Go West.'

Kookaburra just entered the scene.  Today is a prize winner.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Little Bathroom music, Please

The Aussie bloke has done it again - created a space for folks that is comfy, safe, efficient, and stylish.  This time the local folks took notice.

Actually, every time he has cleaned up or managed spaces in town, they notice and comment.  But this time, a reporter from the local rag came to take pictures and put him on the second page of the weekly.