Wilderness — A Meditation

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Test Time: What's the Relationship Between These Three Quotes?

An interactive post, this one gives you the opportunity to never be wrong.  
Which of us has the correct answer? 
All of us. 
All of us. 
Travel time for me.  
Headed to Hobart, the city below Mt. Wellington in the deep south of Australia. 
Home to Mona - 
the world's deepest art museum, 
a jazz festival on International Jazz Day, 
and an autumnal paradise.  
Catch you when I return.  
Happy days.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Who Is Your Friend — REALLY?

I started reading westerns at age eight. My favorite author was Zane Gray who wrote novels like Riders of the Purple Sage.  I didn’t know what sage was, but I loved the lonely heroes who saved the girl. Those sheep herders and cattle wranglers were bigger than life. I loved the hole in the wall gang and all of their kindred.  As they rode into the sunset, my imagination carried me across Arizona open spaces. 

In the midst of these stories I forgot which younger sibling I was supposed to watch or which dishes needed washing. When old man winter frost-bit my fingertips while I hung washing on the line or carried frozen clothes inside the house, I imagined I was rescuing yearling cattle from fingers of frozen snow near Flagstaff.

Meet Demi Tryon, the heroine of Sierra Sunrise, not only a travel adventure but an adventure into a woman's psyche as she heals from childhood trauma.

available at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, Flipcart

Sunday, April 26, 2015

People Who Love to Write

So what is it about writing that makes it so great for you?

James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on writing to heal for years at the University of Texas at Austin. "When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health," Pennebaker writes. "They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function." 

Why? Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up. 

You don't have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life's most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.

From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it's official: Writers are doing something right.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Words That Absolutely Must Be Added to the English Language

Check out the link for 21 more! can even post in the comments section which one is your favorite ;)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia..the real 'down under'

Chapter 24 "Sierra Sunrise: A Travel Adventure" 

Buy it; you'll love it if you love women's adventure travel.

I Know, I Know — Three in One Day Is a Lot

But — — — We've had one of those close encounters of the First Kind this past week..and I'm convinced that we ought to share our feelings with those we love ....   in the moment  ... when we have those feelings.  Life is unpredictable.  Really, It is!!

John Muir Knows What More of US Need to Discover

 Precisely the advice Demi Tryon takes every time she disappears into California's Sierra Nevada when southern California grows too frightening. 

available at Amazon kindle, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Flipcart

Northern Territory Killer Whales - Love Australians and Their Attitude

Why include this great video? Well, I love Orcas, to be sure, and I love language. Carol and Luke's quintessential Aussie dialect is a joy. They speak the lovely lilt of Aussiespeak so naturally. Take a listen and you get a joyful look at a pod of killer whales at the same time.

Thank you, Pedestrian magazine for the article and ABC for the video. Credits at the bottom

* * *
TIL that there are Killer Whales in waters off the coast of the Northern Territory. Which, in and of itself, is pretty dang cool. But then along comes this story and amps the neat factor up to eleven.

Luke Burton, a humble bloke with a boat and a penchant for fishing, happened upon the largest pod of Orcas ever spotted in the tropical waters off Australia's northern coast. Better still, owing to it being 2015 and deep in the technological age, he had a pretty shithot camera on board with him and managed to take some fairly incredible footage.

The vision has stunned scientists, with the confirmed sighting being only the fourth time Orcas have been spotted in the region in the past two years - and more to that, the size of this pod was far larger than the previous pods of six that have been recorded.
Carol Palmer, a senior scientist at the Department of Land Resource Management, stated that the pod was likely a migratory family of animals that differs slightly in behaviour from normal Orca movement patterns.

"Potentially the ones in the Northern Territory, or the ones that we are getting across Northern Australia - because these guys probably travel from Queensland to WA I would say - is that they are sort of a genetically distinct population from the ocean-going ones."

Meanwhile, Luke explained that he saw fins in the distance while on a fishing trip and drove the boat closer to investigate.

"She was pretty exciting, it got your blood pumping a bit. A bit of adrenalin. Even when they were next to boat we couldn't really believe it. The smaller ones would've been at least two metres long and the larger ones were getting up to six or eight metres I reckon." [2 metres = 6 feet and 8 meters=24 feet]

Even better still, the footage shows a Bottlenose Dolphin frolicking with the pod at one point. Dolphins and whales being pals! Animal mates! THIS IS THE CUTEST THING EVER.

If you happen to be out and about on the waters of Northern Australia and come across a pod of Killer Whales like this one, it's incredibly important you contact Marine WildWatch on 1800 453 941 so their position can be recorded.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Home Is Where the Heart Is

plate clouds in Australia's outback

And where is that? I once thought I knew. Not very long ago, I was sailing round the world absolutely certain about my return to a homeport.

How quickly certainty changes. Reminds me of a most important lesson - today counts because tomorrow may eventuate as an entirely different creature - unlike the present moment as dinosaurs are from humans.
The world my mind concocts is full of conspiracy. Why must I always play victim in that conspiracy? How come I can’t be the heroine just once in a while?
Default: victim!
Feeling sorry for myself is hardly a celebratory way to live life. Give it up? Choose a different tune by which to dance across the oceans.

Could it happen? Sure, to someone else! How ever would I live my life if I were the heroine?

I’d start by climbing immense mountains, not by a single bound, but step by step up cliffs with plenty of exposure, sure footed as any mountain goat. 

Mt Goolman, Queensland, Australia

Earth Day

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blogs for Readers

Sunday, April 19, 2015

To Speak the Words of Those Most Often Unheard

I hope you can read this Leunig cartoon.  
The size may be an issue.

A week ago today I was gifted with a ticket to hear Leunig speak for an hour or so in front of a very friendly audience of Brisbanites here in Queensland.  What a joy to be in the presence of humility from so talented a man.  

Perhaps what struck me most was his compassion coupled with his strong sense of self and purpose — to speak for those who most often have no voice.  I left the auditorium realizing it is not only good, but wise to speak for the underdog, but it is wiser still to give the underdog a chance to develop his/her own voice.  

Interesting that Sunday spiritual practice has come to this: 

A re-dedication to service on behalf of those most often unheard. 

From one with a very commanding voice, this is an admission that too often that voice has been used selfishly on behalf of myself rather than on behalf of those who most need to be given the opportunity to speak their truth. 

The modeling of the Australian family who has taken me in will remind me regularly of the value of such work.  

Thank you, Michael.  
Thank you Annie and Emily and Graham! 
Thank you Carita, Lorraine, and Di!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sesame Street for Readers and Writers

There is no particular reason to start today's post with P.  
just eclectic. 

This second item comes from a writer friend, Matts, who offers this descriptive P definition of a few folks who populate my world.  May be part of yours as well

Just because I'm in Australia these days I include this fuzzy-wuzzy Possum. He is sitting on our veranda railing munching on a piece of toast he just stole from the late night supper table.  We humans watch as the little thief enjoys the left overs. Please note that he is far more cuddly than his North American cousins.  And more bold!

and then there are:

A paraprosdokian is a  figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, or larger discourse is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part.

Finally, for the folks in California who have allowed Nestle and the almond growers to steal all the water! If you have been following this blog for a while, you know it is impossible for me to avoid politics (try as I may).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Odd People Who Love Books

Rumi — Golding — the Lord of the Flies — and Bioluminscence

During the 40+ years I spent in high school classrooms I taught Lord of the Flies at least twenty times.  For years it was one of the required texts for Freshman English.  The scene where Simon is killed on the beach and the scene where Ralph hallucinates in the face of the pig were the two parts of the book I could never quite imagine.  I was sure that students were probably having difficulty understanding those scenes as well.  That part of the text created teachable moments because their metaphoric connections were so vivid and yet so difficult to see in the mind's eye. 

This morning while surfing the internet the bioluminescent beach in the Maldives photo caught my attention. Surely this is what Golding had in mind as he wrote Simon's scene.  Probably other photos have crossed my path of this phenomenon but this morning I harken back to those halcyon days in the classroom.  I am alone in my southern hemisphere home today and needed to share with someone.  You all are that someone! Thanks for stopping in.

 And then, wouldn't you know — once on a voyage back in time other memories are jogged by the vast world of Internet images—  

Youth, especially in terms of Lord of the Flies, male youth, brings Rumi, reading, and love into focus.  

The lad below and the sweet bird, who may not be alive, reminds me of all the young men who walked through my classroom doors, the young men in the midst of their personal effort to discover how to grow into manhood. 

Rumi understood in the 12th century what perhaps we most need to remember in the difficult social now.  

And once again let me assure you that I am ever so pleased that you stopped in to take a look. Writers are like that. What we most desire is to share our thoughts with the world, without pomp and ceremony – We do just simply want a nod of recognition that our perception of the universe is shared by another thoughtful, delighted human being. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing A Book Review —— Just Tell the World What You Liked Best (leave the worst stuff out :))

Of course, I'd love to have you read Sierra Sunrise or Hand Me Downs first — that is, before you write that review..Please click on the titles above for more information...and happy days, all~

When Politicians Choose Expediency Instead of Integrity

Youth has its limitations.

I realize that American in Oz is intended to be a literary or writer's blog.
However, there are moments in the general scheme of political life where the characters on the national scene 
cannot to separated from the literary scene.  
Marco Rubio has just become the antagonist in a hard hitting short story rumbling round my brain.

Below you will find an excerpt from a Salon article published today.

Would you want our President to be a person so involved in his own future 
as to ignore the lives and needs of the citizens he swears to serve?
I would not.

On June 11, 2013, the Russian parliament unanimously passed legislation prohibiting the dissemination of so-called gay propaganda, by which the Kremlin’s retrograde conservatives meant such heresies as the notions that gay and straight relationships are equally valuable, or that gay people enjoy any rights that the state is bound to respect. Signed into law by President Vladimir Putin later that month, the law stoked anti-gay vigilantism, with advocates reporting a spike in anti-LGBT harassment following the measure’s passage; harrowing videos of gay bashings captured the horrific climate of homophobia that both fostered the law and was exacerbated by it. Amid mounting anti-gay atrocities, record numbers of LGBT Russians sought to flee the country.

The same day that the Russian parliament declared war on gay citizens, Sen. Marco Rubio issued a headline-grabbing proclamation: The Florida Republican said he would jettison the immigration reform legislation he’d spent months helping craft if it included an amendment from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign spouses for permanent residency — a right long afforded to heterosexual citizens. Leahy had introduced the amendment once, only to withdraw it amid political pressure, before reintroducing it once again on June 11.

But Rubio, who is slated to announce his 2016 presidential bid this evening, would have none of it.

“If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill,” Rubio told Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros on her radio show. “I’m gone, I’m off it, and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I don’t think that’s going to happen, and it shouldn’t happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is.”

It was a stunning statement on a number of levels. Political memories are notoriously short, but if you’ll think back to the political climate of mid-2013, you’ll recall that Rubio was then regarded as a potentially salvific figure for his party; following the GOP’s 2012 drubbing, which featured a disastrous performance among Latinos, this son of Cuban immigrants looked poised to emerge as the face of a more inclusive party. His work on immigration reform was part of Rubio’s effort to lead a Republican rebrand, and now he was willing to throw it all away simply to strike a blow for anti-gay bigotry?

By June 2013, of course, Rubio had come to the painful realization that his immigration efforts were alienating the hardcore conservative base of his party; his early lead in polls of the 2016 GOP field was rapidly evaporating, and it would disappear by mid-summer. So perhaps the ambitious freshman senator was in search of any excuse he could find to backtrack on legislation that was anathema to the right-wing voters he’d need to placate in three years’ time. (And backtrack he eventually did.)
Ultimately, Rubio’s motives for drawing a homophobic line in the sand are known only to him, but no conceivable motive makes his conduct any less despicable. As heteronationalist thugs were brutally beating gays in the streets of Russia — and at a time when 78 countries criminalized homosexuality, with seven nations allowing death sentences for the “crime” of same-sex affection — Rubio brazenly threatened to kill immigration reform if it treated gay immigrants as full and equal human beings.

Did Rubio ever pause to think about, say, the gay Russian spouse of an American citizen, seeking a safe haven from Putin’s anti-gay nightmare? I’m inclined to think that Rubio was more concerned about the sentiments of socially conservative primary voters, but that explanation would only betray an astonishing deficit of imaginative empathy and a set of misplaced priorities.

Of course, there’s nothing in Rubio’s record that suggests his conduct was borne of anything other than sincere anti-gay convictions. A long-standing opponent of marriage equality, Rubio has also railed against gay adoption as a “social experiment” on children and joined 29 other senators in voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The only thing that distinguishes Rubio’s LGBT record from the outmoded views of others in his party is that Rubio adds a younger, non-Anglo face to the hate-fest. So while it stretches credulity to assert that politics weren’t on Rubio’s mind in this case, it’s not as if throwing gay immigrants under the bus was discordant with his history.

At any rate, the discrepancy between the treatment of gay migrant spouses and straight ones was resolved later in June 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, effectively allowing an estimated 36,000 American citizens to apply for green cards for their same-sex, foreign-born spouses. The Court’s ruling meant that Rubio could not cite the frightening specter of gay equality to derail immigration reform, and Rubio voted with 13 other Republicans to approve a comprehensive immigration overhaul, although he soon expressed regret over his involvement in the whole project.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brisbane Rain — An Australian Big Wet

Here it is..a tropical downpour..can't even hear the thunder for the sound of rain on the tin roof..the noise is overpowering.  I can remember hearing it on the phone when Graham called me from Brissy when I was in Clareville.

But to experience the massive downpour, the gutter overflowing because so much rain falls from the sky, the steep roofs dispelling the moisture, the trees filtering the flow..somehow making room..absorbing the onslaught with grace that only figs and palms can  Even the mango trees slurping up the wet.
            How can I explain what is like not to be heard inside the house for the overwhelming sounds from outside.  It is a wonderment that I wanted to share with you.
            Marcia woke to snow this morning..and we here in Oz woke to cloud cover promising the end of bush fires.  The grace of the cyclic system which reigns on earth..despite all of mankind’s attempts to change and alter it, has once again given the land masses what is needed to bring nourishment to the flora and fauna which exist outside of human nature.
            The goddess Demeter sees it all and pronounces it as good!
            I just thought I would let you know.
            You are all much on my mind..and so sharing this moment with you while the rains fall less violently and the thunder echoes over in the next several valleys seems important…

Hopefully this little note finds you all well arising from a comfy sleep…

Demi In Oz..