Wilderness — A Meditation

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grand Baby

Lucia Jo with her dad
He looks a tad tired
She looks bright and alert
Guess who sets the sleep schedule
Love our new grandchild
born on 7 November
Gives holidays new joy
I love you little one!!
and dad, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Afternoon on the Prairie

Greetings from an afternoon on the prairie. Along with at least a thousand Canada and Snow geese and one bald eagle.

Today, I am in good spirits..sun shine does that to matter the temperatures outside.  I'm looking forward to a trip to the big city in a week or so to sup in Nordacotah's only fine cuisine , The Perogue.  We will catch a couple of movies whilst in Bismarck, the state capital, only 180 miles south east of us here in Frackelton, but we'll stay in a pleasant motel and hopefully not have to drive in the snow for a couple of days.

I hope I did not make you think all was unwell here.  My angst comes and goes.  Sometimes I suffer misery at the thought of folks who have no courage, who refuse to break free from the mold that has been growing in their brains for the past 30 years, who cannot step into the 21st century no matter how hard one attempts to pry them loose from the squalor of the past.  Manley thinks me out of my mind and way too arrogant.  I just fume and rant to him because I do realize it does no good to do the same with them.  But slowly they awaken and even stay alert for a few moments before they snooze in front of the football and hockey games on television.  

I'm so damned pro-active that it often seems like I'm swimming in the proverbial maple syrup from this parallel in the northern part of the globe.  Manley is generally loved and I am generally avoided.  Those with ideas that approximate my own remain friends, but they, too, grow weary of my desire to save this town from driving me mad..:) Surely I am making it worse than it is.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Remembrances of Things Past

I have been missing in action.  
Thursday, 20 November, was a travel day.  From Flagstaff to Phoenix to Denver to Minot took well over eight hours. Going from 64 degrees in Phoenix to 32 in Minot is always a wake up call.  

My bags tumbled off the airport carousel at 11:15 on Thursday night. I pulled my hat down over ears, zipped my down jacket to chin and braved the North Dakota wind to load my bags aboard my sweet black and white chariot that carried me to a warm Minot Quality Inn bed.  

Sleep came after a warm greeting from my dearest partner. In the morning with no traffic on Broadway, we slipped out of town and headed the eighty miles to Frackelton in northwestern North Dakota. Home is a welcome retreat.  This entire day I have basked in a brilliant dawn soon overwhelmed with prairie cloud cover. 

Just being here feels comfy - returning to routine has its perks!

And then I discovered that today is J.F.K Day..and so I offer you his wise commentary on education: my own first love...and wish you remembrances of all that was Camelot once in our world when Kennedy reigned in Washington.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Poor of the Planet

Obviously, Berger's statement is not true of every country on the planet. As well, Berger may be incorrect as to the prevalence of this attitude over the ages.  Today, the poor may elicit more concern in many parts of the globe than they have before.  However, the politics of the current government of the USA suggests that in this place,  a land of plenty, Berger is correct in many instances, a very sad set of circumstances, to say the least.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kindness - A Poetic Look at a Generative Behavior


          Naomi Shihab Nye: 


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend."

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Her experience of both cultural difference and different cultures has influenced much of her work. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Indian Myna

This handsome fella speaks...and very clearly..

I am not a bird watcher.  However, I am a bird enjoyer.  I keep bird feeders outside my living room window to attract any number of fascinating sparrows and gold finches. The children of the neighborhood stop over for a cookie and a glass of milk and the use of my binoculars so  they can see really up close the beauties who stop in for a seed or seventeen.

One day as I walked out across the slough on my daily round of exercise, I noted a bald eagle perched above me in a gigantic ash tree.  I stopped to see what s/he would do.  Ah, the attention of the huge white headed bird was on the flock of Canada geese that were gathering to head southwest to the Columbia River basin from our corner of North Dakota. As they took wing, s/he followed not far behind.  Some poor slacker would be dinner that evening, I suspect.  However, Canada geese are large birds too...and one wonders.

I often winter mid-continent in Australia.  There it is the Butcher Bird, the Kookaburra, and the Fig Bird who catch my attention.

The eyes have it..Australian Fig Bird

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who Really Elected All Those Republicans

Who spent a billion dollars to make sure that they wouldn't have to pay another billion in taxes in the next two years? 
The "people" people?  
Probably not.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Am What I Choose to Become

In 2004 John and Julie Gottman published a study on relationships in which he contended that there are two simple aspects of relationship that can be seen and evaluated by an outsider that will indicate the probable success of  that relationship.  His study include not only marriage relationships but any relationship that one may intend to value long term.  He used the term 'masters' to refer to successful partners in relationship and the term 'destroyers' to refer to unsuccessful partners. 
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building a culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”
“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him/her for what s/he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting and expressing appreciation.”
"People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner's ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.
Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship."

Relationship Matters: Marriage Tips by Dr. John Gottman by Susie Itzstein March 2004

The characters in Dorothy Shamah's short stories Hand Me Downs are in the throes of becoming masters, although like all of us, on occasion they imitate the destroyers of Gottman's studies. They are, after all humans, humans growing into "the persons they choose to become".  April and Sy, Chris and Nueva, Tamara and Manley, each in his/her own way is attempting to formulate a long term resonate, loving partnership.  You may find it interesting to discover whether you think, based on Gottman's precepts, these characters have even the slightest chance. 
Available on Amazon kindle, Barnes & Nobel Nook, Kobo, and

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Feminism Takes on Many Faces As It Improves the Financial Lives of Women in Bollywood

Here we are, once again, taking a look at cultural bias as it affects women in a variety of cultures in the world.  I suspect Americans wouldn't give a moment's thought to the sex of make-up artists on the set of movies in various countries.  However, sexism reigns in some unexpected places and as always it has to do with money, paychecks, and who deserves to be included in the financial success of any endeavor.  
An interesting article in today's Aljazeera.  Link is below.

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Opened A Book

Are you one of my tribe?  Can you lose yourself in the busiest parts of life just by opening a book? Do you carry at least one book in your car, on the bus, in your purse,  backpack, or computer bag no matter where you go?

If so, you understand the process of time travel, of moving from one reality into another so quickly and simply that you cannot stop yourself.

It is this sort of a book that engages me.  I mean, it is a book whose story is engrossing to the point that I am mesmerized, transformed, carried away by that I love most.  And there is no one genre that does that for me.  I love Neuromancer, I have been lost in GoldFinch. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a story of a Mumbai undercity, transported me. Number 9 Dream left me breathless, sometimes confused, always in the midst of a city I have never visited in real life. I couldn't put Reamde down, all 900 plus pages of that story carried me across the Pacific as Cryptomicon carried me through the ages.  Psalms and Rumi delight my imagination, capture my sense of what is right and wrong and convince me that words are often what matter most in life - for the have the power of creation.

I do hope you feel the same... for, if you do, we are of a kind!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Couples: On the Road Again — Trekking — Prairie Snow Storms — Tasmania

Available at Amazon kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords,com,

April and Bert
Tamara and Manley
Chris and Nueva
What do they have in common?
They struggle with romance, relationship, and survival in some of the planets most unforgiving locations.  Whether it is a Montana snowstorm or the peaks of Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, these romantic couples face disaster with a modicum of fear and a major dose of acumen.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Queensland's Great Dividing Range shadows behind The Flinders Corridor Range west of Brisbane.
A great spot for trekking in the spring or autumn when temperatures are more moderate.  A well watered landscape which includes Mt. Goolman and Ivory's Rock — home to my good 'bush' dwelling friends.

On my birthday in 2011 we took a long walk through the green, across abandoned properties, dry stream beds, luxuriant eucalypt forests...

“And what did you do before you came to Australia to live with James?” I asked.
Laura poured our tea after swirling the teapot round-about a couple of times on the tiny dessert table. “I worked as a wholesale buyer for a large health food corporation based in Edinburgh.”
“I don’t believe it. I owned a health food store for thirteen years before coming to Australia. Can you believe it?” I asked.
Laura looked a bit confused. “I thought you said you were a high school English teacher?”
“Well, yes, I was. Busy women, we Americans, running away from the throes of our childhood. We are determined to keep the interior doubts at bay, you know.” I poured two teaspoons of sugar into a Lady Grey.
As our conversation continued, we learned that both of us revitalized in wilderness. Gardens were important. Animals were essential. We saw beauty in the places in which we lived; we delighted in our observation of the spiritual aspects of nature; we took sustenance from a wild flower, saw harmony in the grey green aspect of southern Queensland.
“And loneliness, Laura? Are you ever lonely?” I asked as I finished off a double white- chocolate tart.”

Sierra Sunrise: A Travel Adventure  
Available at Amazon kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook,, and

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Republicans? Democrats? Why both parties fail America

Take a moment to consider what Jim Sleeper has to say in this excellent article.
I consider it a call to action to each of us who feel under represented by the governing bodies of our time. Well worth the moments it takes to read. I am eager for the responses of all.

Money —Politics—Education—Ignorance

Need we say more?  
just don't ask me about the cost of a hip replacement.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Ah, yeah!  My friend Stephanie Macceca and I lesson planning back in the day.  

Every afternoon, or almost every afternoon there were those sessions where we talked through what worked and what didn't.  What disaster we had to reconsider, correct, hide, wish hadn't happened at all...
those were the days, my friend...and I really did think 
they'd never end...
and indeed they have not for Stephanie, 
who is today the world's best high school librarian.  

It is with joy that I recall our Meyers-Briggs conversations about how best to help teens learn to problem solve using every trick in the teacher's book, to convince them that intuition, logic, rational considerations worked together to create the best possible outcomes.

And on a Tuesday afternoon, I clink my champagne glass with the imaginary one she is holding miles and miles and miles away and congratulate her on success – amazing overwhelming success. 
Love you, lass!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Australia Outlanders Most Often Miss

Moths and ketes and turkeys
Swarm in warm colors
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.

Available, Amazon kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Ten Commandments for Teachers ( that means all of us :)

Bertrand Russell — Such an important list. Take a look. I need to remember each of these items as I deal with the political circumstances of life especially, but also in my dealings with family and friends.

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal / Political outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

A Liberal Decalogue: Bertrand Russell’s 10 Commandments of Teaching


British philosopher, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell endures as one of the most intellectually diverse and influential thinkers in modern history. . . From the third volume of The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1944-1969 comes this remarkable micro-manifesto, entitled A Liberal Decalogue — a vision for responsibilities of a teacher, in which Russell touches on a number of recurring themes from pickings past — the purpose of education, the value of uncertainty, the importance of critical thinking, the gift of intelligent criticism, and more.