2019: More Of Da Same
I love this quote, and bow down to the mystery of all the choices I didn’t make this lifetime.
“I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
― Cheryl Strayed
5 wild and wonderful women arriving in our serene rice fields today. I've tried to somewhat prepare the staff, but they will find out for themselves soon enough what a mini tsunami of energetic, life-loving, adventurous, eternally young mature women, is truly like.
15 years in the planning. Let the fun begin.
As I sit on the shore, those are my joy making, life gulping, friends, out there on that boat, on the Bali Sea.
It would be hard to assess just how much contentment comes from living deeply immersed in nature, but I know from experience it is no small measure.
Now gone home but not forgotten, their laughter still echoes around the property.
We rocked it through the backroads of Bali... what troopers they were (especially for following me).
Memory making at the highest level.
I brought some Gerber Daisies, for fun and colour, but I now notice some have escaped and are creeping down into the jungle.
The only difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement - unknown
Please stop spraying our World.
Brand new cacao plant leaves are pink. This is the view that I wake up with to the north. It really is a jungle out there.
Living deeply and happily immersed in nature.
Scootered down from the rice fields to Nusa Dua, to see friends, and it’s incredible how in a couple of hours you can be transported to such a completely different world. Mind blowing opulence, certainly fun to experience, but give me the wild and untamed jungle any day.
I am also a danger to myself when faced with an all you can eat buffet that has unlimited chocolate desserts. It could be a sleepless night.
11:30 am, on my Taurean friends birthday, and we’ve already had champagne, chocolate cake and now we’re sitting by the pool and the gin and tonics just arrived. Viva la Venus ruled. Happy Birthday, Goddess Corrinne.
it’s very interesting being in a country where people never say “no that’s too difficult”. Our fancy- ansi retractable ladder broke, so they just said, “we’ll make another”, and 20 minutes later there it was.
Our newest little stone guardian, and my latest reminder of the wonder of the Indonesian language. An owl is burung hantu, and when I asked if you could just call it hantu for short I was told no. Burung I knew is bird, but hantu is ghost. An owl is a ghost-bird. How perfect is that?
I stand with every woman in wholehearted support of us maintaining full control of our own bodies and the right to choose.
Bali rain... it gifts me this view from my home, a minuscule bonus considering how it sustains this whole area with food, animal fodder, fuel, and ceremonial essentials. Natures timeless, teeming, vital bounty, completely irreplaceable and precious beyond measure. Its generosity and beauty never permits complacency.
Our gorgeous girl, (mama chicken), has 8 teensy adorable newly hatched baby chicks. She has gone into full ferocious new Mama mode, so I don’t even get a peek if I come within 10 feet. I completely respect her feelings, and hope to get a peek soon.
One day old, and one is an escapee, we know which one will be the adventurer already. Now safely back with mama.
I have always believed this to be true. If you wouldn't put it in your mouth, why on earth would you put it on your skin? It amounts to exactly the same thing. EWG, along with other advocacy groups, is pushing for more transparency and regulation of the industry to ban certain ingredients, many of which are already blocked in other countries. A recent report by the organisation found that more than 40 countries have banned 1,400 chemicals in cosmetic products, compared with nine in the US. “How many people had to die before we realised that smoking actually causes cancer?”
A day in the jungle office has to include a pair of binoculars within easy reach.
Agung, (the volcano), is kicking up again, but the air quality here is just fine and flights are still coming and going.
Some will laugh at the idea of me "cooking"... it's never been my thing. However pursuing the goal of seasonal, local, home sourced food is proving to be so much fun, Pinterest has now become a good friend.
Every day heroes; Polos, (our handyman), getting down the coconuts for our consumption, and also so they don’t start behaving like missiles.
Gangga; Our latest little rooftop space, just waiting for the Sunbrella fabric that my wonderful friend Carolyn is bringing for the cushion covers. I am about 1000 x more excited to see her and her family then the cushion covers though. It seems all my friends end up as mules.
Always dress a little brighter than your environment. I have not a clue whether there is an iota of wisdom somewhere in there, but I always seem to live by this “rule”.
What to do when the cutest, sweet-natured, fox-like, little homeless creature decides to move in? We need to think this one through carefully - I am not here all the time so it needs to be a "family" decision. She doesn't bark, just howls a little. Her new (probably only) name is Jahe - means ginger. Sweet loyal and polite she has not once attempted to venture up those stairs to my room.
Every living thing is busy in our wonderful rice fields.
These mango lime tequila popsicles might be the greatest culinary success to date.
I can spend an entire morning moving from corner to corner on the land, everywhere a different spectacular view. How lucky can a being be.
One of the most brutal dictators on the planet was just invited to be a respected and courted guest of the USA, as they continue pushing to extradite and harshly punish a foreign journalist.
Laughter is the antidote, no matter how goofy.
I just accidentally tripped over our little dog, Jahe, (the one who strolled into our lives a month ago), and probably hurt her a little. She gave me the saddest look, and tail between legs started to leave. After many profuse apologies on my part she settled down and decided to stay, but she is still slyly looking intently at me out of the corner of her eye. I might be projecting, (but I'm not), and wondering who it was who hurt her in the past. Pets seem to be the most potent barometers of kindness. I shall strive to tread more carefully from now on.
Best shampoo ever, (expensive but largest bottle lasts literally years)...
"Aveda arguably represents the gold standard when it comes to haircare brand sustainability. It was the first beauty company to use 100% recycled plastic, and more than 85% of its bottles and jars are made entirely from post-consumer recycled materials (soon, all of them will be, and it’s investing heavily in plastic alternatives). The products themselves are made using 100% solar and wind power, and most of their manufacturing waste is recycled or reused. Nothing in Aveda’s haircare line contains sulphates, parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, formaldehyde and heaps of other things I don’t have space to list. Starting next month, all Aveda’s haircare will be vegan (though naturally, everything is cruelty free and not sold in mainland China where animal testing is currently mandatory)."
Although I don't have the desire to live there again, nowhere quite stirs up yearning in me like the UK, I literally feel it in my heart.
So looking forward to being there later this Summer.
Big day for Jahe, her puppy bearing days are over. The yoga shala now doubles as an operating room, we have a lovely local vet and our sweet patient is recovering. She does have a rather perturbing new habit, wandering off with my (right) flip-flops, and I am left with odd left ones. We are quite literally in the jungle, so I have no idea where to start looking.
Having mixed feelings about leaving this, my most magical, beloved place on the planet, but on my way to see people I love beyond any measure. What a dilemma. Then my mind veers to all those suffering on the frayed and flimsy edges of this obscenely wealthy, consumer-fuelled world, when the ones we put in power (yes I do believe we are all a part of it) cannot find it in their hearts to make space for those who are displaced, poverty-stricken, disenfranchised and in dire need, and who have just as much right to the freedoms, opportunities and gifts of this world as any of us.
I am fortunate beyond measure, I have the right passport, enough money in my pocket, and the impetus to to follow my heart's desire, but here I am about to literally fly over the heads of many who will never, ever have a fraction of the privilege and choices I am just given as a luck-of-the-draw birth-right.
I weirdly get the title ex-pat, when those with zero to their name are tagged refugees and immigrants, and deemed far less deserving, just because of their material worth and the colour of their skin. Have we improved even one iota over the centuries?
Since I started packing to leave, Jahe has given up her lovely pillowy bed and sleeps right on top of my suitcase. I am suddenly one of those people who aspires to be even half the person their dog thinks they are.
There always seems to be someone, awaiting the same flight, who wants everyone for miles to catch every last syllable of their phone conversation(s). I might have been in the rice fields and jungle a little too long, my tolerance for oblivious humans sorely needs rebuilding. Nature is so much more polite.
In Singapore airport, I feel like I have gone down the travel rabbit hole because I am in what might be the pinkest room on the whole planet.
Then Doha. A sweltering concrete frying pan, even at 4 am. All the Guccis, Diors and ritzy, glitzy shops in the world can never compare to our precious jungle.
Edna O'Brien was asked if she has any regrets. “No, not really. I have been a bit foolish in my life,” she says, chuckling, “I’m a bit of a deep thinker, but I’ve been foolish with money, foolish in love. But, regrets are a waste of time. One moves on. One has to. In the moment, I am capable of real anger, because I am a passionate and furious creature as well as being a rather tender one. I am capable of Medea murder,” she says, laughing, “but I am not old and bitter.”
88 years old, still writing, still travelling, and searingly aware. Perhaps passion and ferocity are what keep a life fully fuelled?
In 7 days returning to Scotland, 1st time "home" in 16 years.
The rest of 2019 will be spent in the UK, Wales, Bali, Tasmania, and full circle back to the US, as much as possible seeking the wild places.
I’m not really a jewelry person, not like some of my far more Venusian friends. But what I treasure is that every piece I own is an embodied memory of either a place or a beloved. Today, for high tea with friends, (practicing for England), the adornment is my journeys to New Zealand and Morocco, plus a hand-made gift from an adored old school friend. Joyful memory triggers.
The courageous and promising young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, is arriving in the US. What a task we set her and her generation to clean up the unholy mess we all so recklessly created for them. She is a hero in every sense of the word. Please let there be countless others just like her.
Crossing the Atlantic ocean to the sister shore today, east coast Maine to west coast Scotland.
Woke up in Aberdeen, Scotland. The city of my birth and location of my most intense sorrows and luminous awakenings. 1st time back since the mid 90's.
I always wonder how it must be to spend your whole life in just one place. Do all those life forming embedded memories just become a part of life's mundane every day fabric, or do some of them burst out unexpectedly on occasion?
Being here is such a kaleidoscope of emotions it physically takes my breath away. Off to literally walk down my memory's lanes.
Picnicking on the train from Edinburgh to Shrewsbury. So far so wonderful. The Odd Couple/ Senior Thelma and Louise are having a blast - next chapter Edie and Patsy head south is kicking in. A very slippery, fun slope.
The joy of meeting up with old friends of 52 + years and how you can fill in each others memory blanks. A marvellous happy day.
The UK's "right to roam" laws are something I really miss when other places.
Back in the Shire, cruising the Severn with our marvellous quirky Brit Tribe.
And sometimes you inadvertently take the road most travelled.
Ended up lugging 2 suitcases on the underground across London to Heathrow because I thought it would be quieter on Saturday. It isn’t.
1st email of the morning:
"I would enjoy a trip to Bali. Please make accomodations for me now. I am no fan of your cow worship. Greasy."
Good Morning Sometimes Wacky World.
Tapas feasting with the South Africans, in the medieval town of Ludlow (aren't we cosmopolitan)... after standing near where the heart of King Arthur is buried in the gorgeous St Laurence church. Henry the VIII's elder brother, whose death at 15 set the course for all the mayhem and intrigue that Henry then wreaked. Amazing town, it never gets tedious revisiting it.
Fawlty Towers rental management truth-isms:
Sybil: You never get it right, do you? You're either crawling all over them, licking their boots, or spitting poison at them like some benzedrine puff adder.
Basil: Just trying to enjoy myself.
Still stalking Genghis Khan, this time scheming/hoping to take the Silk Road to see the 5 Stans overland, (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan... I'll give Afghanistan a pass). It would however seem there are no short routes to get to Kyrgyzstan from anywhere on this planet.
Trying to dump that list out of the bucket until I get it down to part-time jungle hammock and part-time tropical beach one... and enough extra hammocks so all friends come to me. We'll all be geriatric swingers together.
I know I’m back in my wild and happy jungle place when I can’t find my hairbrush, and I’ve been here almost a week. I hadn’t yet unpacked it. Heading for the city, so better have a 10 second sweep through.
I don’t understand people coming into these beautiful rice fields and building something with concrete walls all around it, the people inside can’t see the glory outside the walls, and everybody else has to look at the concrete. Ever baffled. And since when did a 2 meter wall ever keep anyone out if they wanted to get in? Even my antique self could find a way over.
Waking up and spontaneously shouting into the pristine river valley that your home looks over that "I love my life" may seem loony... but this streak of madness I plan to foster.
Cup of tea and a rant.
1st thing in the morning news reading is heart-wrenching, scary, sometimes ludicrous and hilarious (although at the same time incredibly serious), then suddenly there is the tale of the traumatised "Royals".
Dripping in cash and privilege and feeling oh so sorry for themselves. There is always the option of bowing out and joining the rest of the rabble (us) in normal day-to-day make your own living life... (although I'm sure with a hefty payout). They are the hangover of a primitive feudal system, and yes that brings some true life struggles (called LIFE). Against the back-drop of actual suffering on this planet they really are pitiful. Sorry, (but not really), to any Royalist friends.
I am and always have been a bit of a recluse, (only child who moved constantly growing up), and I learnt to love solitude. However, one of the many things Bali teaches me on a daily basis is the blessings of community. I may not understand 80% of what is being said, but the laughter and togetherness of our staff working together, and the peripheral milling around of village life is ever warm and comforting.
And one of my greatest joys is regular reunions with beloveds. Several are winging their way here right now.
Busy days and quiet nights.
I say this with irony and humour, because I truly believe we need to honour and embrace where we come from, no matter what, however when you come from a really crazy family there are times when chaos and disruption feel weirdly comfortable. I suspect that only those who have lived it too will get what I’m saying.
Of course I love it when the property is full of bright and enthusiastic people, (always the staff, and if we’re lucky the guests), however when I am completely alone in the saltwater pool watching the butterflies flit and the light change, and listening to the noisiness of the jungle, that’s when I fully appreciate the beauty I live in the midst of.
When life gives you demons make demonade... slightly akin to straight tequila shots with salt and lemon. Pucker-some indeed.
Spending a glorious week at the beach and I find myself staring at my Kindle like a woman with an over-stuffed wardrobe... but instead of lamenting about having nothing to wear, I am perusing 582 book titles (at least 400 unread) and my greedy little mind still wants a new one. The justification of this particular book addict is telling myself that the whole lot will all be read in my (imminent) dotage.
I'm in awe of the way some humans navigate disappointment, loss, suffering and grief. Of course there are no right or wrong ways to handle such things, or even choices sometimes, but every time I meet one of those souls who has lived through devastation and somehow emerged wiser and lighter, I feel touched by the hand of an angel. I want to stash the feeling, or tattoo it into my own being, for future remembrance.
Little is as exciting as planning a trip to somewhere you know almost nothing about, or even where it is in relation to everywhere else. Then you discover it is going to take about 54 hours of travel to get there. Feeling a tiny bit of urgency about seeing such places while I can still tolerate such gruelling travel. New resolution - leaving those easy to get to places for the golden years.
Ashgabat - I am committed and I will be there. Ticket bought.
After a self prescribed week of barely moving from this spot, I grant myself a clean bill of post-workshop recuperation. Work hard and rest long, repeat repeat repeat.
The view from my house that still takes my breath away at least 5 times a day, there’s just something about combining the colour green and different lighting.
About to leave, (in 48 hours), heading for Tasmania, where I hear the colour green is quite popular also.