Wilderness — A Meditation

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Ok, let's take a little break from my writing and focus on words.  I found myself in the midst of ambedo yesterday as I looked through my bay windows at the swirling snow blown by thirty-five mph winds through the fir trees on the other side of the front garden.  Couldn't take my eyes off the maelstrom. Thankful, I was to have walls and a roof inside of which to watch the weather devils.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mouse in the House


That night I tucked my flashlight under my pillow.  There had been mouse scat on the floor of the tent that morning.  And when we heard the rattling of spoons against cups this time, we flashed a light that showed not only a small furry mouse on the table top, but a brush tailed possum ready to climb up the table legs to have his go at the goodies he assumed were there.  The bright lights of the neon tube made him very uncomfortable as he scurried under the tent flap.  The mouse, however, seemed no less comfortable in the light.

We covered the food box with the table to discourage the local fauna from raiding our pantry.  It worked.  They didn't stop their raid; they just couldn't reach the apple they had started to munch earlier.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dementia and Peach Fuzz

Dementia must be on my doorstep. Far too often these days I find myself recollecting the 'good ole days'. As I enjoy my afternoon tea, ancient memories flit just behind my mind's eye.

A huge black 1949 Hudson slides into first gear and smoothly slips onto the roadway of a journey I took as a nine year old with my grandmother Hook and three of her sons, my uncles.

Five of us fit comfortably into the divan size bench seats. I sat in the middle of the back, which was so unlike the tiny rear seats of cars today. Those back seats were almost long enough for a six-footer to stretch out. There was plenty of room for my nine year old self to perch my feet on the hump that ran through the middle of the floor and still  have room to wiggle as we drove from Detroit to Philadelphia the summer of 1949. Threehundred miles along the Ohio Turnpike and many more in Pennsylvania, the first two major highways built in America, the precursors of the Interstate system built in the succeeding ten years by the Eisenhower administration.

We were headed to the home of my Uncle Jack and Aunt Delores who lived in northern Jersey where Delores has grown up. Jack, my grandmother's youngest son, met his wife when they both served in the Navy.

Interestingly, I don't remember any details of the family visit. I don't remember much about the Pennsylvania mountains. But, I do remember 'the peach', a furry deep red in some spots tinged slightly with the palest orange.

We bought a bag freshly picked from the trees at a road-side stand soon after we left the turnpike. Driving along, we each slurped through one of the warm, pungent fruits. Mine was huge and sweet; juicy, very, very juicy.

Do you know how it feels to use a tissue, a Kleenex, to wipe your face after you have just eaten a peach? As I share this memory, I can feel the minute hairs of the peach prickle my chin, lips and cheeks. Memories are magnificent when they are multi-sensational.

Peaches can be like lemons or ripe oranges with tastes that linger forever in tiny splotches caught between teeth, but the stickery little points of fuzz that covered my lips, my tongue, my cheeks for ever so long after wiping with the tissue are what I remember most vividly.

That sensation went on for hours, first on my chin, then on my fingertips, and finally on the palms of my hands as I waited for my uncle to stop at a gas station where I splashed cold water all over my face and hands to cleanse away the tiniest irritation.

I no longer have the flavour of the peach in my recollection, but that prickle sticks in the back of my brain warning me to never, never again wipe my face with a tissue after eating peach fuzz.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Morning in the Southern Hemisphere


Sometime just before seven I lay there wondering, 'can I make myself comfortable in this strange land?' I awake to birds Silver Crested Doohickies and Major Somebody Parrots screaming in the front, back, on top of, and hopefully not below the house.  Butcherbird tries out his brilliant cry, but is drowned out by the cacophony of larger noisier denizens of the Fig Universe.

Who is she, this woman who walked off the 747 into the Sydney Airport Terminal with her carry on luggage and her huge purse full of all that will keep her for the next three months in a new world?  Even now, seven days later, as she muses in the now quiet Queenslander, she cannot answer that question.

Sitting here on the back veranda listening to the tinkling bells of the frog wind chime purchased from a small Japanese tea shop in the northern hemisphere, she wonders how the young girl in the old woman's body, will survive? She wiggles her psychic toes. Do they fit into these Australian R.M. Williams? How many kilometres must she walk before the leather fits her soul?

The breeze sliding through the louvers of the veranda makes music to which the silvery-green, shimmering leaves of the Fig tree dance.  Like the Sequoia in her world in the north, this giant of the Brisbane savannah has small leaves and small fruits from which a healthy environment grows with a vigour of its own.  Will she be as fortunate?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Heidi has been ultra successful in writing a memoir about the aftermath of an accident in which over 50 % of her body was badly burned. The story could have been devastating. However, she keeps readers engaged and rooting for the protagonist until the very end..and then applause through tears may well ensue.

One would think that suspense wouldn't exist after the first few chapters, but that is not the case. She manages to lift her game in every chapter, keeping this reader engaged to the last word. I'm deeply impressed with Heidi's story telling ability in Fancy Feet: Turning My Tragedy into Hope.

A Modern Myth: Where Yesterday and Tomorrow Collide

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Morton Bay Fig


The dance of the fig tree wilderness disturbs my contemplation. I watch from behind a mass of veranda windows as the south-westerlies turn round the coastline to come in from the north and pulsate through the giant
fifteen-story-high fig tree in my back garden. As the boughs boogie to the music of the blue heavens, bird song comes to a halt. 

When all is still once more, when the cyclonic action soothes itself and diminishes, the birds chortle in celebration and then disappear again as the huge branches begin their subsequent encore.

This tree, several hundred years old, sheltered on a small plateau before the slope falls away into Rosalie village a few hundred feet beneath us, is multi-trunked with several strong girths intertwining, braiding if you will, to produce huge tree-trunk sized branches that reach up into the skies like a bouquet in a vase two blocks in diameter.  The dancing outer branches twirl in the wind, never quite settling. 

When the gusts arrive the entire monolith moves in all its parts. Branches arrange themselves in conjunction with one another.  The filigree of green ostrich feathered green leaves allow the sunlight of noon to shimmer off  various surfaces.

The slender end branches pirouette, dance in circular forms up and down with the movement of the larger tree trunk sized branches as they move liquidly through the blue. The power inherent in the scene can have frightening qualities accompanying the lovely aesthetic of the tree moving like lace curtains at once dainty and at the same time cyclonic.

The sound, like a far off set of waves coming into shore, quiets as the winds slow. Still the shaking shimmering leaves dance in what is left of their remembered movement. Slowly the dance comes to peaceful stillness until the next gust arrives with full force to move the huge branches. They are full of the strength inherited from roots anchored deep into the earth of this Paddington hillside. Down below near the earth itself nothing moves. The stolid, rounded several trunks hold firm.

 Nothing has broken. No gust has been sufficient to pull the giant from the ground nor even to dislodge the strength of any of its branches from the mother itself.  I know sometimes this has happened.   There are dead branches like huge pythons lying beneath.  However, today no part of the tree seems ready to capitulate, to separate, to crack from the pressure, to lose it's hold on the dance.
Nothing else of similar size grows in this part of the neighborhood.  There are other trees, a macadamia, for instance, and several palms, but the trunks of each of these is less than by half the size of huge limbs of the fig.  

Finally, at a pause in the windstorm, the butcher bird calls to his mate. He knows the next wind will come and warns her to take shelter from the violent dance in the safer haven of the macadamia.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Blue Beard Room

notes for the novel: Watarrka Sunrise

I am a writer. Some part of me insists I write about my confusion, which interrupted a three day vacation in Lamington. I need to figure out how to understand what has transpired during this time in my relationship with Liam. 

I am confused, but I am also concerned that to tell Liam I am confused will leave him feeling a sense of responsibility.  That is not what I want.  What I do want is to inhabit some corner of his brain so that I can listen in on the process of his making meaning of what is not said. I want to crouch close and listen to him formulate his thoughts.  But, even then, I would not understand.  There is so much unsaid, especially in these past few days, so much silence. I just don't know how to read the blank parts.

I don't believe I have ever been so mystified by anyone.  Perhaps I have simply not cared  so  much before.

With Liam there is a vast reservoir of otherness, a space into which I am not invited, where I do not feel  welcome.  A great sadness overwhelms me when I think of him this way.  I want to understand, but I think he is pretty sure that I never can. 

He is correct that I am confused by the vast array of technical data which informs his professional self, but I also seem to be unable to understand or perhaps be trusted to understand the intimate thoughts that formulate his connection or lack of connection with me.

I often feel at home here in Australia, and almost as often I feel a stranger in his intimate, personal world.  He refuses to share with me that which moves him to act in his world.  I feel closed out, set adrift, expected to make my own way when what I want most is to understand the way he chooses to move through his personal geography not only as it affects our relationship but as it affects his relationship with others.

These words are not quite right.  I think that perhaps there was a moment in time when he was almost willing to trust, but my own sense of estrangement was so great that he withdrew because what he thought I understood, I clearly did not have the ability to grasp.  There was an unexpected wounding at that point leaving him unwilling to lower the gates a second time.  I am locked out. 

I am suspicious there exists this room in his psyche that in many relationships represents the Blue Beard story.  There are rooms that some of us refuse to open to others.  And when the locks of those rooms are jimmied, when the 'other' in a relationship steps into that space, there is such a fear of what has been seen that the relationship comes to an end.  That special space is simply too vulnerable to share with anyone else, especially a person of the opposite sex.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Faulkner on Writing

And of course, that makes me wonder immediately if I belong in the 'good writer' category.  I don't worry much about success and my writing career has absolutely nothing to do with 'getting rich'.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Advice and No Consent

One of the tough parts of volunteering happens when the chairperson of the public organization to whom you have devoted the last sixteen months of work makes the following remarks.

"Well, Planning has nothing to do with the council, does it?  I mean twenty-five pages? You need twenty-five pages? And your committee isn't involved in city government, is it? Why should we pay for twenty-five pages?"

Makes you want to hang up the phone.  The group of which she is chairperson had adopted the policies created by the Planning group thirteen months previously with a unanimous vote after we had donated many hours of service, the cost of myriad ink cartridges and reams of paper to the process.  We had researched for days and days and days to find the most complete, appropriate city ordinances from the entire nation to offer to the decision makers on this Planning body.  We organized, wrote, rewrote, presented, explained, and patiently waited for the group to make choices that would enhance the community in which we lived.

And here one of us was reduced to begging to have the Chairman unlock a door so that twentyfive pages of data could be printed out for the use of the Committee.  Why?  Because our own printer had hiccupped, called it quits, refused to print any color but bright red, the wrong color for the downloaded documents we needed for decision making tonight.

And we were being told that the City really couldn't afford nor did it need the advice of this Committee. Sigh! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Stack of Books -

Like water refreshing the greenery of life, 
books nourish the psyche, 
the soul, 
the physical self.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Brekkie in Brisbane

Moths and loriketes and bush-turkeys
     Swarm in warm colors or black and white
                   Through green fig and broad leaf palm

Cicadias fill consciousness
                  And drown out city patois

Baby blue down-under skies
       Filled with white puffs and
                  A gentle cool breeze

Breakfast on the back veranda.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Saxon's Bane

 Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Grudgion
Loved the vulnerability of the protagonist. Enjoyed the strong female characters. Took pleasure in the puns and the imagery. Enjoyed stepping into small town, rural England. Enjoyed the mythological/historical background. Descriptions like 'morning light sharp enough to cut glass' and 'he parked her words in the mental corner as'...delightful details, nasty bad guys, a great tale written by a man who obviously loves women and has had an interesting experience with horses. A page turner. I read on a didn't realize there were so many pages. They flew past.
The Author obviously knew what Mishima had in mind as well!
Dreams, memories, the sacred--they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp.
Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified;
it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous.
Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch.
How strange man is!
His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.

Yukio Mishima

One Story

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Fat Assed Wombat - One of My Favorite Critturs

Isn't S/he darling?  
But watch out for those nails - they look very very long. ;)

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Writing a Novel

"Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair falls out and the teeth decay. I' always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality.  It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system."
—Flannery O'Connor