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UPSTREAM: A Book of Selected Essays ~Mary Oliver

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Mary Oliver beloved poet takes a look at the beauty of the natural world and offers the reader an opportunity to investigate the mysteries and bounties of the world and the world of literature.  UPSTREAM could be a series of lectures that as one reads takes you down the paths her feet have taken and dazzles the senses with the whole adventure.

UPSTREAM is prose with poetic license and glorious word descriptions, which allows the reader to understand life through the experience and to understand how Oliver’s life developed and her worldview was enhanced by the glories of earth and walking through.

UPSTREAM is a meditation on the books and experiences that allowed a child to grow and become; forcing a life to create on it’s own strength, knowledge and power.

“UPSTREAM follows Oliver as she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully and intelligently, and to observe with passion.  Oliver positions not just herself upstream, but us as well, as she encourages us to keep moving, to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within us.” (Book Cover)

UPSTREAM is a memoir of the child to the learner, to the writer, to the poet, and to the teacher we so admire and study.

UPSTREAM is a book I purchased for my own library to read, contemplate and enjoy for many years to come.  I wanted to share it with you because it means so very much to me.

“Born in a small town in Ohio, Mary Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of twenty-eight.  Over the course of her long career, she has received numerous awards.  Her fourth book, AMERICAN PRIMITIVE, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.  She has led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching.  Oliver currently lives in Florida”   (Book Cover)

Mary Oliver Wikipedia
Mary Oliver Facebook
On Being Interview with Mary Oliver entitled “Listening to the World”

All the News I Need
Night Ringing
A Tale For The Time Being


Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

“Everyone encouraged one to ‘live the dream,’ but no one talked about how to pay for it.”   “He was learning the hard way that even divine cooking didn’t make one immune to being unloved.  Sadly, food wasn’t always enough.”  (Unproofed copy at 25% of Kindle reader)

Ever dream about living on an isolated island in the South Pacific?  THE LAST GOOD PARADISE is about that very concept of escaping to a remote island, having no fancy amenities handed to you and relaxing to a happiness of self-discovery.  Soli has put in more twists and turns than you can imagine including such amazing back stories of each of the characters that it is very difficult to put this book down.

I recommend this book to folks who like to read about how a character reaches their best potential and wants to ameliorate the back-story into the reality that is surfacing into the story now.  This is a study in responsibility and relationships between individuals and commitments and how they are going to play out their own happiness and future.  I found the writing compelling and the words kept me reading in the few draggy/ redundant moments; I was not actually on a sunny atoli in the South Pacific having nothing to do and gourmet food arriving on time!

THE LAST GOOD PARADISE introduces us to Ann and Richard a Los Angeles power couple that is attempting to become pregnant and about to open their own restaurant.   Ann is an attorney who has been making the money and saving for this big adventure of Richard’s when their plans become a train wreck and they hurriedly gather their savings and race out of L.A.   They travel lite, taking only a backpack and a tourist bag full of cash; and a brown one-piece bathing suit!

When they get to the remote resort, they meet Loren, a Frenchman, who won the resort in a poker game; he has chosen this remote lifestyle for his own.  A most interesting fellow, who has brought Titi, of the Royal family, and her childhood betrothed, Cooked to help him run the resort, reclaim their heritage, and become the owners upon Loren’s death.

Dex and Wende are aging rock star and his young muse, both are attempting to escape from the pressure of the public and move forward onto new pathways and adventures.  After 2 months of being isolated, the events on the island assist Dex in writing new songs for the band and Wende has found her own passion and not just being the muse and “hottie”.

There is an underlying environmental issue, which begs for some responsible re-action and recovery in that it has truly affected lives and the way of life,  also the whole problem of the  huge resorts for the wealthy including the theft of the land and lifestyle from the original people.

I have read all of Tatjana Soli’s novels and enjoyed them all.  This is the first one I have been sent for review.  I liked this story very much and think others would also as it required me to take a look at the choices I had made and my responsibilities over my life.  Was I a follower or a “wild-child”?

I think book groups would enjoy this read, as there is a lot to discuss.  I think a study guide would very much enhance this book.

About the author from the TLC Book Tour page:

“TATJANA SOLI is a novelist and short story writer. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was the winner of the James Tait Black Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel The Forgetting Tree was also a New York Times Notable book . Her stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Boulevard, and The Sun, and have been listed in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.”

Tatjana Soli Twitter

The Divorce Diet 
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry 
Walter’s Muse

Living Building Challenge

Monday, July 25th, 2011
Hawaii Preparatory Laboratory Living Building

Hawaii Preparatory Laboratory Living Building

I am in love with the idea of building a building that is healthy and beautiful and functions like a flower in the environment.  I have spent hours studying the International Living Building Challenge 2.0 and attempting to get a team together to put just such a building in my neighborhood.

Seattle put in 17 proposals for 2011 and Portland 19 – Portland got the go ahead for 3 buildings and their first Living Building project from 2010 is just about ready to begin construction.  We heard all about their efforts recently at the Center for Urban Water in Tacoma, Washington (an amazingly earth friendly building which has been around for awhile)

I have written about one of the Living Buildings in Hawaii, completed, on Biking Architect.

Bertschi School in Seattle  is now on its first year evaluation countdown as the children use the Living Science Wing of their school.  I think starting with a school is extremely powerful as the children helped design and can understand what a Living Building is and how it helps the environment and think this is NORMAL, not just some random concept or idea.

No stick in the mud folks here – and no toxic materials – so theirs is a building which is health giving to each of them and to the city around them.  They are completely contained.  And the composting toilet is the way to go!

There are 7 petals to the L-B concept, with 20 detailed design considerations within the petal format:

  • SITE Limits to growth, Urban Agriculture, Habitat Exchange, Car Free Living
  • WATER Net Zero Water, Ecological Water Flow
  • ENERGY Net Zero Energy
  • HEALTH Civilized Environment, Healthy Air, Biophilia
  • MATERIALS Red List, Embodied Carbon Footprints, Responsible Industry, Appropriate Sourcing, Conservation + Reuse
  • EQUITY Human Scale + Humane Places, Democracy + Social Justice, Rights to Nature
  • BEAUTY Beauty + Spirit, Inspiration + Education

It took 22 people working full time to deal with the RED LIST, which are things that cannot be in a living building (They are most likely in an energy efficient building- your house).


We in the USA are allowed to bring all of these things into our own homes.  Many of them are the active ingredients in our toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, laundry products, carpeting, wall boards, and furniture.   There are now protective laws about Asbestos – a bit too late for all those teachers who taught for years in schools full of this  (My Mother and Aunt).

Portland, Oregon is now listed as the Greenest city in the USA, but it still falls way behind  Vancouver, British Columbia, and most of the European Countries that signed on to the Kyoto Agreement and had governments and individuals who just went ahead with Green/ Sustainable planning.   It is still going to take massive education to get folks to understand how this works.

To be in a healthy environment not only saves people money, but will improve the health of the people within a community, which will once again save money.

There is huge resistance to understanding health – and if people cannot grasp it for their personal understanding then it is going to take massive educational efforts to help focus whole communities and countries and heal the earth.  Not a task for the faint hearted.

It was very exciting to be a room full of people who have been working all along to understand and accomplish healthy buildings and healthy environments.  Having pictures of the 4 buildings completed here in the USA gave people a touchstone of reality they could be very excited about.

Is there something that you are involved with that works towards the health of the earth and your community?  What excites your creative juices and gets them going?

Looking forward to your ideas

Related Reading:
Design with Life in Mind
International Living Future Institute Seattle
Wikipedia Living Building Challenge
Carbon Fast?
Do You Know Your Walk Score?

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