Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wow! What a place!

Hi Everyone - this is the first time we have been able to connect because we are here with my friend David Harden at his lovely B&B The Anchor Light in Port Stephens. I thought I should take the chance to write an update to let you know we're safe and sound and enjoying our wonderful belated honeymoon.

The flight was long - 12 hours from JFK to Tahiti, then a 4 hour layover in the middle of the night, and then an 8 hour flight to Sydney from there. But the seats were fairly comfortable and the food worth waking up for! We left Christmas Day and arrived in Sydney Dec 27th at 8:45am. The service was great on Air Tahiti and we actually did sleep enough to feel almost human when we got here. We did succumb to a long afternoon nap that day but still managed to sleep through the night after a nice dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant. The seafood here is incredible as you might imagine. John Dory and Barramundi are our favorites so far.

Our three days in Sydney were great - our room looked out over the famous opera house and Sydney Harbor Bridge - both of these feature prominently in the New Year's festivities. Whoever gets our room after us will have a bird's eye view of that!! We "took a wander" through the beautiful Rocks and Darling Harbor areas a few times. We booked a tour to the Hunter Valley wine country with the guide all to ourselves because the other family had to reschedule. Mostly we relaxed and enjoyed the view, the food and the wine!

One highlight of the trip was taking a ferry over to the Taronga Zoo where some of the animals have the best views of the Sydney Harbor and skyline. Seeing their native birds, reptiles and animals - particularly the koalas who were uncharacteristically active when we were there (usually they are drugged out on the eucalyptus leaves and sleeping!!) - really lets you know you are not anywhere near home! We saw dingos, kangaroos, bilbys, wombats, tazmanian devils, meerkats, crocodiles, fabulously colored lizards and birds, some really nasty looking snakes (I had to leave quickly when we got to that area!), and many more creatures you can only find here in Australia. We took lots of pictures which we will upload to our blog at some point - maybe later today if we can squeeze it in!!

Yesterday we took a 2.5 hour train ride up the Hawkesbury River and are now here in Port Stephens. It's a small little resort area north of Sydney where David, his partner Alessandra and their families have settled. David is doing great, invites you all to visit, and says warm hellos to Cindy and Debby. We took a walk along the bay last night and will be having New Year's Eve dinner with everyone at Peppers Resort. Today we are planning a hike up the small mountain for panoramic views of the area and perhaps a swim with the bluenose dolphins that swim here. For lunch we might "chuck a few snags on the barbee" (translation: BBQ some sausages)

Tomorrow we leave for the WhitSundays for three days of a beach holiday - snorkeling on the great barrier reef and the fine white sands of the exclusive Whitehaven Beach. On January 4th we're off to New Zealand - Auckland, Marlborough Wine Country, and Queenstown. We return back on January 14th. Hope all is well with you all at home. I don't know when we'll be connected again but we wanted to at least write to give you the update so far. We love and miss you all. Happy New Year!!!!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cibus the Rooster - Part Deux

Poor Cibus. If you remember from our last episode of the news from The Independent, Cibus the rooster was evicted from his home, lost his wives, and was almost done in. There was an update in last Friday's paper, you can read the Full Story here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Late Summer Disaster

It was a hot Sunday afternoon. I had talked my neighbor into helping me put up an awning on the house to shade the back deck. We put out ladders and a scaffolding plank to work on the side of the house.

A House Wren had picked the northwest corner of our house, off the deck in the back, to build his nest two springs ago. A piece of the vinyl soffit sagged down there and made an entrance that he found attractive. He would sit on the top of the swing frame or the rail of the deck and proclaim his territory from first light. Then there was a pair. Then there was evidence of a family.

As spring turned to summer, and the baby birds could be heard, I was always afraid that they would bake in the hot roof corner. The parents flew in and out to the insistent chirping of the babies. This song often woke me. After a few weeks of chirping and activity, there would always come a day when you could see the faces of the babies peek out of the hole in the soffit, seeming to wonder where their parents went to all the time. Then, in a few hours, they would be gone. Their song would end, to be replaced by the male again sitting somewhere, proclaiming to all around that this was his territory.

Last year I did not get out the ladder and fix the sagging piece of soffit, so the wrens were back again. Now it was late July, far past time for baby birds, and I was on a ladder near the nest. I popped down the piece of soffit and the nest material fell out. I put the piece of soffit back up properly repaired and I hung a pottery birdhouse in from the beam where the soffit attached to the house.

A few minutes later, I saw the House Wren on the rail of the deck, looking at the destruction of their home. The little bird's beak was agape with the heat of the day, and all I could think of was that she was looking in horror at the catastrophe. They investigated my upgrade offering, and yesterday there were twigs in the new house.

This morning there is no wren song. Perhaps the house that I offered as an upgrade is too small. Perhaps the memory of their corner of the roof, and the nest in which they raised their family, and the destruction of the twigs and feathers scattered on the deck was just too much to bear.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

You're Already There

Reference:Christine Kane - You're Already There

I have 29.5 years in a large corporation, and I still find myself wondering from time to time when I will have a "successful career". Over the course of the last couple of years I have come to understand that the focus of my career needs to be generativity. The best thing to do is to build the people around me and the people I can reach into better people, and have faith that they will take care of what has been, to this point, my life's work.

Kokopelli invented "you're not THERE" to trick us all into believing we need to be some time else, or someone else, or some size else, or ... you get the picture. You can never should have done something. Waiting until you're THERE robs you of NOW.

There is an add on television (yes, I still watch, mindfully) that shows people in several conference rooms, considering new strategies. Each group uses, "What would the guys at the other company do?" to spur their thinking. The series of scenes goes from small company to large, and finally the large company points back to the first two person company and says, "What would the guys at THAT company do?" While you are busy admiring other people and looking to be inspired, others are looking at you and thinking, "I wish I could be THERE, where she is."

This is the story of "It's a Wonderful Life". If you can be present and realize that you ARE, and then look around you at the lives you touch, you will know that there is no THERE to get to.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

News from The Independent

The Independent is one of the very local newspapers serving our area. We thought we would share some of the really good stories. The best story to share was about the miscreant boys putting frogs in cars in the town of Ancram. It was a terrible crime wave. We saved the story, and when we find it again, we'll post it. This week's news: Cibus the rooster.

The story, on the front page, begins by describing life in rural Columbia County as idilic with, "...more encounters with cows than people..." It continues, "Somewhere along the way, things changed in the Land of Rural Charm..." and then begins to tell the story of Cibus the rooster who, "... Just over a year old, his young chicken life has been stuffed with trauma and crime... "

Please, please, please read the Full Story

be well

All the Dens Know

The Dens all know the lore. The stories are told at the Puppy Parties and Teddy Bear Picnics about how to be real. To be real, you have to be loved. Your people have to believe. They have to want to hear you.

Some bears just go on with their lives, sleeping all winter, and eating all summer. They have heard the stories and they know that being real is supposed to feel good. But, nobody knows anybody who became real. So they sit from day to day, talking with each other when they can, waiting for the picnics, not really believing. Oh, they told the stories and they said they believed, but ... really!

Sandy knew it was more than just a good story. And she knew it took more than hearing the story or telling it. She set her mind to the picture every day of being with people, her people. She thought of every detail. What the house would look like, and the table, and the bed. And with that thought very clear to her, what she had to do also became clear.

Sandy straightened the bow at her neck and blinked very hard. It was January and most of her cousins were in a deep sleep. It was that time of year. She fought through the sleep to make herself ready because the store would open soon.

Sandy had struggled to get to the top of the pile of bears that looked just like her, and the boy with the tattoos and the ring through his nose had put her at the front of the Valentines Day book display. She wished she could wash her face again, but it had taken a long time to get to the coffee shop in the store where the water was. Yesterday, she almost didn't get back in time.

Now she sat with the first stack of gift books on the table. She watched the people come in and made an effort again not to doze off. If she fell asleep now, she could not make eye contact, and she might not get someone to take her home. That was her dream. A home. People who understood.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Catharctic Moving Experiences

So here I am packing up all the rest of our earthly belongings, wondering how in just 11 short years I've accumulated so much stuff!! It's rather catharctic though - going through all of it and deciding what to keep, what to trash, what to donate/sell. There's a lot of memories in these boxes. I had a complete melt down going through old cards and letters - being a pack rat I had saved pretty much everything everyone has ever sent me. I guess I thought that I might go through them when I needed a lift, remembering all the good times I had with friends and family. The thing is though - it's only at moving time that these boxes ever get opened. And they often result in meltdowns like the one I had last night instead of a laugh and a smile - as I reopen cards and letters from my mom who died 4 years ago from Chronic Lymphocitic Leukemia, reminding me that she's no longer here to send me any....and that she won't be here for my wedding. (Hmmm, some residual grief you think?) Some of these boxes have been moved from place to place still closed with their original packing tape from decades ago.

Christine Kane would encourage me to unclutter, to "Lose the Crap." And I am trying to tackle it - I already do feel lighter from the things that I have gotten up the courage to toss but know I have lots more work to do. In addition to the blockages I've created to my energy flow by holding onto every little thing that once meant something to me, Ghent is a little town, we have a little house, with tiny closets and a damp country basement where things mold. So there's not much of an option for me but to face it head on and throw away the things I no longer all those pay stubs from every job I ever held, like letters from old boyfriends, like Christmas cards from years and years and years.

Ironically, I am also packing up our library at the same time. And coming across great books like "The Art of Imperfection" by Veronique Vienna and Erica Lennard "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, "The Celestine Prophesy" by James Redfield and a whole row of spiritual and self-help books David must have added to the collection when I wasn't looking that I didn't even know we had! So I read a few pages, repack a few boxes, throw some of the "crap" away, cry and read more pages. On my list to get and read soon is "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui" by Karen Kingston as recommended in Christine Kane's Creating Order blog. I believe that all this stuff is sucking out my energy and once I can be brave enough to clear it out of my life, I will be better able to move on.

So far, one large box marked Tag Sale, 3 overflowing garbage bags and 20 boxes ready for storage. At this rate, I may never get this all done in time to be ready for the movers on July 25th but one step at a time, little by little gaining energy by clearing the past to make way for the present.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fresh Air - The Heart of the Game

I am one of those left wing NPR listeners. I was spellbound the other day listening to this interview with Bill Resler. I wish I could coach like this. I wish our daughters could HAVE a coach like this!
Bill Resler - The Heart of the Game

Be well

You've Got to be Carefully Taught

A few weeks ago we went to the summer music theatre near our house. The show for that two week run was South Pacific. Like many other shows written in the same era, it carries a very pointed social message. South Pacific confronts bigotry with the song, You've Got to be Taught to Hate. We are born real and spiritual beings, and where does that go?

For the first five years I was in school, I attended a different school each year. I learned quickly that being real placed you on the outside of "the group" and to get inside, you had to be like "them". Of course being like them and looking like them would not have changed my status in school, because I was from the outside. I tried harder and harder to fit in and became lost to myself. It took a long time to be comfortable in me. I learned to put out there what I thought other people want to see at the cost of who I was.

Nothing seems to trigger that facade more easily for people than formal religion. We learn early the motions and rituals of religion that make us fit into a community. We take to long to understand that the purpose of that formality, and the purpose of the imposing buildings, is to transport us to a different plane of awareness, away from the everyday. We get the religion part connected with going through the motions, and we see religion as empty. We experience going through the motions only to walk back into the facade life.

My journey to real and spiritual started with the PBS special The Power of Myth as Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers juxtaposed religion, belief, and spirituality. It continued with my teacher, L. Lee Knefelkamp, at The American University, who taught me from In a Different Voice and Women's Ways of Knowing to find my voice and listen for others. I went on with Matthew Fox and learned that original sin is only one way to look at the Genesis story. I began more and more to understand that the notion of God had been socialized as being something "out there" to seek, when Jesus in nearly His final words had talked about being in God AND being in us.

Our pets and our dens surprise us when they exhibit behaviors that show us what they really are not what we think they are or hope them to be. A dead bird shows up every now and then, and do we love them any less?

reference:Being Real and Being Spiritual

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Everyone needs lots of dens. Dens are how my 3-year old nephew refers to "friends" but David and I have adopted the term even though we are adults. My nephew got the whole thing started when my sister went into her bedroom to find him sitting in the middle of her pile of stuffed animals. "Daniel, what are you doing?" she asked. He looked up and said "I'm just ditting here with my dens." In our adult(?) vernacular, dens can be sisters, lovers, pals, birds, pets, angels, stuffed animals...anything that makes you feel less alone in the world. And you need different dens for different reasons at different times. Sometimes you want the dens to talk back, sometimes you just want to hug on (a.k.a. smoosh) them. So my advice to everyone reading this blog is surround yourself with lots and lots of dens and know that you are not alone!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Getting Started

I have been commenting on Christine Kane's blog for a while, trying it out, stretching my writing muscles. Christine finally kicked me out of the nest ... well kicked is little strong.

We all seem to quote Mark Twain at the start, "When in doubt, tell the truth." The Mark Twain quote I use most often is, "I am an old man, and I have had many troubles, most of which have never happened." It's as if the association with Twain makes us good writers. I don't have an agenda, though I do have a few ideas. I don't want to be another Stephanie Klein or one of the myriad of other people writing about the day-to-day (D2D) of their lives. Stephanie has the market cornered.

Ghent Fever has become a permanent affliction. The other house My Intended owns is under contract, and soon to close. Our house in Ghent is on 4 acres, with a Westerly view of the mountains. There is a small lake on the property, shared by several adjacent owners. It is a soulful place that helps put all the stuff out there in perspective.

There is a House Wren that has taken up residence on the back deck. He starts chirping to declare his territory very early in the morning. He raised a family in the corner of the roof earlier this summer. He might be the same guy who raised a family in the same place last year. Two days ago I put out a hummingbird feeder after a hummer had come up to the large window in the living room and stared at me for while as if to say, "excuse me ... Ahheemm". I went to, got the recipe, learned I had purchased the WRONG bird feeder, and put it out anyway. 30 minutes later the tiny visitors started, and they have been pretty regular since. I know this seems like D2D, my life, blah, blah ... and my point is putting out a bird feeder, and starting a blog are both chances based on hope. You hope someone comes by to visit and finds something there that is a little nourishing.

Be well.