Category Archives: opinion

Musings; Birds, Relaxation, Impending Danger

It’s a quiet day here on John”s Island, on my back porch office. This morning was a lazy one, filled with reflection. It’s possible to be grateful, content, meditative, fearful and angry within just a couple of hours.

 Back porch office, Casa de Updike, Johns's Island

Back porch office, Casa de Updike, Johns’s Island

The birds are apparently not hungry. I hear them calling to one another in the woods. It’s a language I don’t understand, but wish I did, a melodic cacophony. Walking through a mall in Beijing comes to mind. Probably they will come down soon for lunch. Peanuts and sunflower seeds every day free for the taking, first come- first served. image

Brash handsome  jays calling, jeer, jeer jeer, graceful doves, cardinals, (love to watch the mom feed her loud, demanding babies), woodpeckers: a downey woodpecker and what looks to be an endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, which will both soon be gone due to developers denuding the surrounding forest, a pileated woodpecker, yik-yik-yik,  that was the inspiration for the infamous Woody the Woodpecker, juncos, and other unidentified chirpy sparrows, loud barking crows…  and then, a large predator swooped into the forest. Too much in the shade of other trees for me to see what it was with my binocs, but the crows knew. They gathered together screaming and flapping like regiments in battle,  and forced it back, and off. 

We should be able to do the same to the Tea Party that threatens our way of life in America, just as  the Taliban are in the Middle East. Think about it, & check out the similarities at Politburo of Teabilly Mockery.

*open carry of military weapons, despises and wants to topple the US Government , supports the death penalty, opposes women’s rights, anti-abortion, wants to teach religion in schools, integrate religion and state,  no respect for law, authority, or the president, views homosexuality as evil. Scary.  

Casual Guns

Casual Guns

 

I  can’t imagine the bird scene in the jungle or even the town that is built on the Amazon River in the jungle,  but in seven weeks I will be there. First a few days in Bogota, then fly to Leticia, Amazonas. Can it be anything like I imagine it? image

Walking through the Amazon forest en route to an indigenous village, paper and pencils, maybe a portable CD player, teaching them  our language-learning theirs.  It makes the dreaded yellow fever vaccine, and the mosquitos worth it. 

I spent Sunday with my daughter and her boyfriend at a lake home she is going to buy. In the back is a 12X20′ cookhouse that I’ll turn into my studio. It won’t be the first house I’ve transformed, but probably the last. It will allow me freedom: to be with my family and friends, write, travel, kayak; what else could a nomadic gramma ask for? Lucky me.  

Relaxing with Anna.

Relaxing with Anna.

Dock, Goat Island.

Dock, Goat Island.

Abrazos.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Reservations

Next month I’ll be traveling to South America- my first time on that continent. Brazil -Peru- Chile at least. I’m  excited.

As usual, I have no confirmed flights. I travel space available on UAL because my generous friend, Cecil, works for them. The passes he shares with me are greatly reduced,  and usually I travel business or first class, but occasionally I don’t get on the airplane-for hours, or days. Mine is the lowest priority. Full fare passengers go first, followed by  employees, their relatives & finally friends. We board according to the enployee’s seniority.  Sometimes that’s the adventure.

A few years ago I spent 5 days with my then 16 year old grand daughter, Cooper, in “Tokyo’s Narita Airport-along with a slew of other ‘buddies.’ We spent the nights partying with other guests in a  hotel on the opposite side of the runway; the days hanging out in the airport: playing cards, eating, shopping, laughing and complaining- waiting for available seats going anywhere in the US. New buddies with higher priorities than ours came and went. I learned never to travel at the end of summer.

Finally, the day before Cooper’s school started in Santa Monica she flipped. She cried actual tears-for school.  “I need to go to school! she insisted.” This was a new Cooper. One I had not seen since maybe sixth grade, when she looked forward to going to school. I hoped it was a turning point in appreciation for education. Capitulating, I paid  2grand! for a ticket for her to fly home.


Cooper & me

 That evening I got a seat to Hawaii, where I spent the next three days with my friend, Jessica, in Hilo.

Once I spent countless days at a friends while trying to get out of Chicago due to lousy weather. Another time, another city, hours and hours waiting for a seat because an entire class of students booked all of the seats. Once I had to fly into Denver after two days of waiting to get out of Anchorage to Los Angeles. 

Sometimes these happen because: I forget and travel on major holidays, when schools let out for the summer or spring break, or I’m just an idiot. I love it when it’s a good thing. I flew to Singapore with new Canadian friends when the flights to Bangkok were full due to it being the Chinese New Year holiday. I’ve been incredibility lucky to get the last seat on the plane more than once. 

Not having a plane reservation, means making hostel or hotel reservations pointless. Finding one on arrival requires patience, luck, and perseverance, but can have unexpected pleasant results.


Monos playing on hostel roof Manuel Antonia, Costa Rica

 

New friends in Ulaanbator, Mongolia


Once, some folks who showed me how to use the airport phone in Bangkok at 3am, helped me find a room, and gave me a tour of their incredible diverse city the next afternoon.

In Casa Blanca I arrived at the Guimere Hotel in a cab. “Do you have a reservation?” the desk clerk asked. “No. But, I’d like to have one. For 4 nights.”
“We are full, but wait a minute.”
“I have a cab waiting. I need to either go to another hotel or pay the driver and let him go”
‘Ok. Let him go.”
I spent the next few hours with their truly delightful chef, Mohammad while they evicted someone. He took me to the market, showed me the surrounding area, and back at the hotel, poured me a glass of wine while I talked to other tourists who had shown up. 


Chef Mohammed


 In that room  in 2009, I, and several  European guests and a couple of Moroccans watched Obama become the 43rd president of the United States. I cried. The following day the hotel owner gave me the daily newspaper written totally in Arabic. Front and center was a big photo of President Obama on stage surrounded by American flags; a corner insert showed Jessie Jackson weeping. I was so proud of my country. He stamped and signed the front page.It’s framed, waiting for me to settle somewhere.

No reservations. Perhaps it’s also a metaphor for being unrestrained, flexible-ready to light anywhere. It’s not extreme adventure, nor is it necessarily out of the way or weird- just free and freeing somehow. It’s a way to meet folks you wouldn’t ordinarily meet, eat places not in a guide book, and do things unplanned.

You are in charge of your time: to spend it with whomever you like, doing whatever you desire. 


drink & soak








Laugh




On the Siberian Express train with the Aussies



Stoned On fumes

Art can be defined as using skill and imagination to produce beauty. OK then. Define beauty. We all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Personally I’m not a fan of body piercings, but my granddaughter is. I used to have a beehive hairdo held in place with hair spray-same thing as glue. Once I thought the piled up mess was a thing of art. Yuck.


Hair as art.


If I had appreciated tattoos, and now don’t, I’d have lumps where my tattoo art had been.

You can find art anywhere and everywhere. Just look and listen.

Art can bring you to tears,


Bound feet from old photo.

 make you laugh,


Funny mirrors

 


think, or react. It has gotten artists killed. You don’t have to like it-or the artist. But, if you open your mind, even just a little, allow the art to enter, to penetrate your senses, it will affect you.

Photos of events can teach you history

much easier than memorizing dates and names ever will. Sculptures can be so real they take your breath away or funny.

 Paintings have documented human life since a Neanderthal held a piece of slate and drew a picture on the walls of her cave while her husband was out chasing a Woolly Mammoth.

In China I frequently visited the Sichuan University of Art. My friends, Vivi and Eeta, who is an artist,
took me to the art district.


Apartment building in Chongqing..



Vivi & Eeta with long blue legs.

 Nothing taught me more about the gracious, persevering Chinese people who in spite of enormous difficulties for centuries live life fully and creativity.

Never mind that the students are isolated by the communist party, students are still students.