Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Sixth Extinction



 "Crutzen wrote up his idea in a short essay, “Geology of Mankind,” that ran in Nature.  “It seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ t the present, in many ways human-dominated geological epoch,’ he observed.  Among the many geologic-scale changes people have effected, Crutzen cited the following:

Human activity has transformed between a third and a half of the land surface of the planet.

Most of the worlds major rivers have been damned or diverted.Fertilizer plants produce more nitrogen than is fixed naturally by all terrestrial ecosystems. 

Fisheries remove more than a third of the primary production of the oceans’ coastal waters.Humans use more than half of the world’s readily accessible fresh water runoff."

Elizabeth Kolbert  The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Henry Holt and Company, New York, New York, 2014
 
* * *

http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2014/02/140218-kolbert-book-extinction-climate-science-amazon-rain-forest-wilderness/

"what's exceptional about Kolbert's writing is the combination of scientific rigor and wry humor that keeps you turning the pages.


It's about people's amazing resourcefulness and concern, about people making more and more heroic efforts to try to save pieces of the natural world—and meanwhile it continues to be under greater and greater assault.

Is there any chance that wilderness will be the preservation of the world?
In a period of rapid change, one of the few things we know how to do is to try to leave as many places alone as possible. Big places, so that if things need to move they can, so that evolution can take its course. If these things can adapt, they will—but the point would be to give as many organisms as possible a chance to make it through this moment, by leaving food webs as intact as they still are. Many people said the same thing to me: That's our best shot.

Default Position

Greetings, dear cyber visitors —


Rain falls gently this afternoon in our corner of the southern hemisphere.  The kookaburra was chortling about 4:30 this morning..an hour before dawn.  Butcherbird followed with his daybreak serenade.  Fragrances of toasted turkish slipped under my door. Twenty-something laughter filtered in from the back veranda.  Life is good.  Waking is lazy and comfy on this last Sunday in March 2014.

I am blessed with the 'good life' in the best sort of way.  This last sentence reminds me of The Great Beauty, 2014's winner of the Oscar in the foreign film category.  We cannot go home again.  No matter where we are, what we have become, we simply cannot return to what once was.  The default position is precisely where we are.

In the movie, the protagonist has moved from a simple life in which pleasure lay in the relationships he created with comrades to a more cosmopolitan existence where who one knows determines what one can accomplish on a materialistic level.

There is the suggestion that this protagonist would like to return to what once was.  The ending of the movie urges the viewer to accept the wisdom that such a move is improbable if not impossible.

I have attempted here to describe the theme and plot of the movie without giving away too much for readers who may not have seen it yet.  Yet, the theme represents a truth for me, but a truth which has manifested in a rather different manner.  My life used to be fraught with fear and distress.  My world as represented by this morning's soft daybreak  over the Pacific is calm and joyful.

I am blessed. I love the rain. The young people who inhabit my world are thoughtful, compassionate comrades. The man I love is a patient, rational, humorous being whose wisdom has helped to create this new environment.  I have no desire to return to what once was. My default is here and now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hitting in the Rough


Back to writing.  Isn't this just the truth.  Rough drafts are rough; they create the energy out of which a story materializes.  Chisel...nah!  Music — rap, death metal, symphony, folk, country-western; it matters not.  Just allow the words to manifest!!!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Australia's Best

Sunshine Beach and a tonic

Sunday pleasure..early autumn in Oz

One hundred kilometers north of Brisbane lie broad beaches, pandanus palms, and the Sunshine Beach Surf Club.  With Di Seekers  on a road trip to some of Australia's loveliest ocean fronts, I basked in warmth, sunshine, and companionship.

Good to be in the warm!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gloria Steinem Turned 80 Today

“Fifty was a shock, because it was the end of the center period of life. But once I got over that, 60 was great. Seventy was great. And I loved, I seriously loved aging. I found myself thinking things like: ‘I don’t want anything I don’t have.’ How great is that?” But, she added, “80 is about mortality, not aging. Or not just aging.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/opinion/sunday/collins-this-is-what-80-looks-like.html?emc=edit_th_20140323&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=46694092

Saturday, March 22, 2014

And Now — A Little Humor or is it Humour

This is delightful ONION...hope you enjoy

http://www.theonion.com/articles/4-copy-editors-killed-in-ongoing-ap-style-chicago%2c30806/


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Version of Australia - Far Away from the Coastline

Ilona Harker is an Australian artist, a woman of many talents.  Her jewelry and her fashion statement are iconic. Her music is toe tapping, soul rending beautiful.  Her blog, one entry of which is below corners the Australian psyche far better than most.  Enjoy this entry from March 2014.
Once again I'm driving across Australia and seeing how 'ordinary, everyday Australians' live. You know the ones who read the telegraphs, and the suns and whom Tony assures that he cares for.
I stay in their pubs and watch them and listen.
Occasionally, once the broad vowels are no longer noticeable, I am able to listen properly without
prejudice or pretentiousness.
I am the outsider, I am in Rome and I should be respectful. I try.
It's easy to dismiss the rough, callous, beer soaked culture out here. In fact 'we' (the educated lefties) often cringe at this culture and deride it.
And it's a shame. Most people who I have met have, like me, masks made from the observational snippings and scraps of their tribe.
Like how I wear my market belt doing henna or when I wear heels on stage performing. It's my different masks/costumes for what I do.
Same here. 





Their faces are more weathered and the fashion is too.
These are people who, like me, have made an uneasy peace with living on land they don't understand. However they are less protected here, there are droughts, floods and death is more honest here.
A drunk seasonal worker shows pictures of his kids to a few older women in the beer garden.
He wants to be home with them.
He isn't a fool, he is just trying to get food on the table. He won't question the government because he has never felt empowered enough to.
All his life he has been told he isn't smart enough for politics.
So he does what many do, country and city alike. He says
'What good does it do, they are all the bloody same'
Yet he feel his job is more threatened by boat people than by CSG or Monsanto.
He feels to ask for help is beneath him and he isn't a bludger so he will miss out on his kids life. He will drink to numb the loneliness and he will return a richer shell of a man.
He deserves a system to support him. His children deserve to be supported without shame or embarrassment.
His wife deserves to be supported. And they deserve to be supported by us all.
Emotionally, financially and deeply.
I watch them drinking, singing and bonded by their loneliness.
No one drinks almond milk here and so I just don't bother to ask.




Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tracks





Ah, not so warm today here in central eastern Australia...84 F instead of 94 F.  I can breathe..tis good
Lunch and afternoon tea with Lorraine in Rosalie resonated with our sharing after ten months of being apart.  The world sings when two friends so long separated come together as though they just chatted on the phone yesterday.  I am blessed to have two such loyal, witty, and clever friends here.

We saw Robyn Davidson's Tracks in between lunch and tea. Sweeping scenery, kind and wise indigenous peoples, compassionate professional photographer, and a fine young actress to play Robyn's part in the mastery of one's lonliness and the raw power of three great beasts - the camels.

I was deeply moved by Davidson's story. I recommend the movie and am grateful for Lorraine's suggestion. Australian women, indeed, are a special breed of heroine.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Farewell to LAX — A welcome grin to BNE

Good Evening, America, I love you...
You know me, I'm your native child
Across the Pacific I am headed
Dawn over Auckland will arise
and
Morning tea will be Brisbane brewed.




Monday, March 10, 2014

Delight in Differences


How boring  — a same ole, same ole world

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Powells - At the Center of Portland


Oh, my! 
web addy:  http://www.powells.com
I am enroute to Australia and had two hours to spend in downtown Portland, Oregon, where my Amtrak train left me late yesterday afternoon.  In a few hours I'll reboard the Coast Starlight and head south to California.
In the meantime, I walked in the rain over to the world's largest bookstore: Powell's Books.

These photos do NOT do the store justice. Powells is so big they have their own parking garage as part of their downtown Portland block square building.

Well, if you know me, you know I did not spend two hours in the store.  Overwhelming is the only term I can think of to describe the variety, the call of the book, the plethora of titles, the countries represented by those titles, the topics on which Powells has books, and the ages of the volumes.  One can find a title from 1879 and a title from 2014.  Of course, everything in between.  

I just wanted to buy, buy, buy.  I could have easily spent my entire March salary on books, every one of which would have been on my 'have to' read list.

My heart sings when I introduce it to such ambiance.  I am suddenly considering moving to Portland just so I can stop in Powells for an espresso and a new/old book to read whenever it suits.  I have just discovered what heaven would look like for me.  Right there in downtown, kind sprinkling rain Portland.

The next best possibility is that I can take the Amtrak train from Stanley North Dakota, fifty miles from my home to Portland where Powells is a half mile from the train station.  I could read on the way there and my way home.

And beside that, because Susanne and Bill introduced me to Jakes...I can also have a delicious seafood meal while I'm in town.  "The Cities" takes on new meaning for me...if you're from Nordacotah, you understand what that means! :)

So, what did I buy.  Three books on flying and World War II for hubby. One really apt adventure thriller mystery for him, and  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for me to take on the train in a bit.

Best of all, I didn't spend my entire salary. The whole set of books and the postage to send four of them back to the prairie cost only $37.00....several were used, you see!

Ok, so today is a wonderment and I just had to share it with you all.

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Subjective

So, too with an author attempting to write a character..what the author does not know about herself, she will be unable to delineate in her characters..think Austin and Stephenson perhaps

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Bradbury

Aye! Tis true of many an author.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Monday, March 03, 2014

Sunday, March 02, 2014

How Cold Is Cold ?

Good morning. I am here to announce that a new low welcomed us as we awoke just before daylight. -32 Fahrenheit, sixty-four degrees below the temperature at which human blood freezes, snuggled our world in silence.  A record low ambient temperature for the five years we have been living on the central north prairie of the United States gives me reason to jot you all a note.

All was quiet  in the house except for the humming of the forced (Florida purchased at a very reasonable price) air furnace providing enough heat to keep us alive and comfy.  Outside, no rumbling of oil trains  on the tracks just south of town. Diesel engines are not pleased with temperatures below 0 Fahrenheit.  Usually, there is an engine idling just beyond town that let's us know that the Burlington Northern  rail workers are busy at work.  Not today.  I'm sure only the most essential work is being completed on a day on which humans have trouble surviving let alone handling the tools of oil rigger's and fettler's professions.

As for those of us inside.  An additional layer has been added to our indoor clothing and down booties cover our feet that tread on rather cold floors.  Our little furnace will probably not turn off at all today while it attempts to keep the temperature inside the house at a toasty 63 degrees.  Our downstairs walls were last insulated in 1969 when the house was transported from a farmstead and reset in town. Although they generally keep us quite warm, it is asking a good deal of them to ward off temperatures this far below freezing.  There is a brisk breeze coming in from the west, which certainly adds to the ferocity of these low degrees.

The pick-up (ute) may well start after a brief complaint. It is gasoline powered (and unlike it's diesel cousins doesn't mind the cold so much). The lubricants in the engine are synthetic because 'real' oil doesn't appreciate cold below 0 either. However, the little motor in the automatic garage opener may not cooperate.  It has been known to fail at +5, which, of course, means I won't be heading to the grocery store 8 miles distant today.

We are rewarding ourselves that none of our water pipes froze in the night, which was assuredly colder than the 8 a.m. temperatures on our little indoor-outdoor thermometer.  The real hero, however, is the weather itself.  The wind and cold sifted into our world from almost due west. No northern breezes caressed the back of the house where all the pipes arise out of the basement.  

Yesterday I took a two mile hike out to the dump grounds in search of signs of coyote or wolf (footprints in the snow). Both of whom have been sighted this winter in our area.  I dressed warmly and stuck hand and foot warmers in the right spots.  However, not even the modified balaclava I wore to protect my cheeks from the breezy cold was enough.  I have wind burn on my face where the synthetic covering of my head gear didn't quite reach my sun glasses.  Amazing how when one's fingers and toes are warm, one can forget to protect other exposed skin.

This is all a new experience for us - this level of cold - however, it is supposed to last only a day or so and then we return to a normal -5 or so...amazing the difference 25 degrees of temperature makes. :)