Thursday, June 25, 2015


DAY ONE-TWO-and THREE-just getting there took 3 days --crossing the international dateline cost a day and then a 3 hour delay of sitting in a plane with complications on the runway in Los Angeles caused us to miss the flight in Brisbane making us lose a day of adventure in Adelaide. There was an interesting Heavy Metal band on our flight with us-interesting characters! Rolling Gayln around the airports in a wheel chair with her Achilles tendon surgery boot on did speed up airport customs and no waiting in security lines!  That evening in Adelaide we explored the Central Market and Chinatown.

DAY FOUR:  We leave Adelaide in a propeller plane to fly to the small-100 mile long -Kangaroo Island.  4000, hardy Aussie inhabitants and a zillion Kangaroos and Tammar wallabies.  We picked up our Aussie SUV with the steering wheel on the right hand side and quickly i had to adjust to driving on the "wrong "side of the road.  Because of the huge amount of marsupials at night on the roads insurance doesn't apply at night.  Roadkill was seen at every 100 yards or so.  We spot a flock of Ghalas- a pink and grey and white cockatoo-and our first stop is the town of Kingscote where we buy supplies for our cottage on the bay.  Driving along the coast we stop to take photos of many Australian pelicans, white ibis, silver gulls, lapwings and our first black swans.  For a quick lunch stop we pause at Bella's Pizza Bar and then head for Seal Bay.
Magpies and Currawongs fill the road skies and we spot our first GIANT Wedge-tailed Eagles-the largest Eagle in the world.  We stop along the way to take a stroll at Bales Beach, finding cuttlefish bones in the sand.  Looking up Gayln spots two amazing White Bellied Sea Eagles fighting over a fish in the sky and gets a few photos!  
At Seals Bay Gayln finds our first Kangaroo and we hike the rock path to discover a young humpback whale skeleton surrounded by sea lions.  There is a big bull sea lion on the beach and the baby sea lions are scattered in the dunes, one baby only a few feet from us.  We spotted a white faced Cormorant and plenty of Honeyeaters-small black and white and yellow birds- playing in the water spray.  After leaving the sea lions behind we head to Hanson Bay.  We encounter flocks of Crimson Rosellas-midsize parrots of red,blue and green, and the beautiful Rainbow Lorikeet flocks chattering in the trees.  near the Hanson Bay center there are many grazing Tammar Wallabies and the endangered Cape Barren Geese.
Later we arrive at our home for the next few days, a cozy cabin overlooking the bay-complete with wood burning stove and kitchen and a big balcony facing the water.  We get a fire going and we watch the day end as Swiftlets swarm over the water like bats and Black Swans swim in the bay.

DAY FIVE: RAIN!  and more RAIN!  We wake up to torrential downpours and strong winds, the surf crashes loudly on the rocks.  Donning rain gear and hiking boots we load up and head out to fight the elements and discover what we can.  We tried the Eucalyptus forest but the heavy rain drove us away.  We get a snack and then drive to Flinders National Park where we find Tammar Wallabies and Cape Barren Geese close up.  I approach a young wallaby with the mommy watching and i got to within a couple of feet, very docile animals.  We arrived at Admirals Arch-a huge rock formation that arches over a monstrous cave and the ocean roars in onto flat rocks where New Zealand Fur Seals and sea lions recline and fight.  hiking to the arch we find a baby seal about 2 feet long along the trail and he of course barked at us to keep our distance.  Gayln made the long hike down to the arch in the strong wind and rain on crutches-an amazing task!  
Our next destination was the Remarkable Rocks, a rock formation of huge boulders bigger than elephants that looked like God tossed them down on top of the granite like giant dice.  Gayln climbing up to these steep rocks on crutches was scary and dangerous in the rain and slippery rock but she was determined and she made the climb!  
Leaving the wind and hard rain of the coastline we go back to the forest of Eucalyptus trees in search of Koalas.  After a bout an hour in the forest we had photo-ed and spotted six koalas.  The rain slowed down and i found a wallaby skeleton in the plains.  
Driving back to our cabin we jumped as a big Kangaroo hopped right in front of our SUV as we drove up the hill.  At the cabin we decided to hike down to the beach on Hanson Bay and we discovered a big tide pool with Pied Oyster Catchers wading in the shallows.  Kangaroo and wallaby tracks were everywhere.  Back at the cabin we sat on the balcony and watched the brilliant blue fairy wrens in the tall grass-incredibly beautiful little birds.  I got the fire going as the night came and with it Brushy tailed Possums came to our back door.  These guys were scavenging for food and were so brave you could pet them and of course i did.  Gayln filmed a great fight with two of them ripping their fur out!  An end to a long day of adventure.

DAY SIX:  The sunrise over the bay was hazy but at least the rain had stopped and i went out to the back porch to find a big kangaroo grazing a few feet from me.  Gayln and i drive out to Vivonne Bay and hike around the cove and beach and then go out to the Raptor Domain.  A demonstration of Australian venom features glow in the dark scorpions on our laps, funnel web spiders-the most deadly!, a venomous Brown snake and a grumpy venomous black Tiger snake that bit the girl demonstrator's boots dropping venom four times!  
Hiking through a small forest we catch another demonstration of aussie raptors.  Boobook owls, wedge tailed eagles, and amazing kingfishers, while a barn owl hopped on Gayln's lap and i put the falcon glove on to hold a flying Australian Masked Owl.  
Driving the sand roads to Pardana we spot our first Echidna, a spiky critter like a porcupine.  I stopped the SUV and followed him as he started digging in until he was only a back full of spines sticking out of the sand.  In Pardana we entered the Animal Sanctuary an amazing place helping and conserving the animals of Kangaroo Island.  Here we got to experience petting koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, and birds.  after a full day of animal encounters we drive to the far coast to Penneshaw for our new lodging on the sea shore.  We hiked the penguin trail and found little blue penguin nests but none of the birds were home-out to sea feeding we guessed.  At the only restaurant in the small town i had a Schnitzel steak, a Parmesan crusted tasty thing and we enjoyed a chat with a tall girl who was a "NET"ball player- a strange game played down there sort of like basketball but very very different.

DAY SEVEN:  The last day on Kangaroo Island and we head to the town of American River in search of rare black cockatoos and the even rarer gas station.  No luck finding the cockatoos but we filled up for 75 dollars!  yes-Aussie gas costs more-and before our 20 minute flight back to the mainland a few residents tried to talk us into living on the island and teaching in their schools!  Arriving in Brisbane to our worst hotel experience of the trip.  and we paid 27 dollars fro the saddest excuse for a seafood meal ever!  but we put this day behind us and moved on to brighter and better adventures.

DAY EIGHT: Picking up our rental car after a chatty conversation with our Sundenese cabbie, we head excited to the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Australia!  Driving on the wrog side of the road in the city was a new challenge and i kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signals.  An hour later we enter the cleanest and most beautiful zoo we have ever visited.  We were allowed to walk inside of many of the animal enclosures- what a great experience!  Gayln had a close call as a wild brown snake crossed our path and she barely missed stepping on it as i did manage to get a photo as it tried to escape into the jungle.  The crocodile feeding and show was awesome!  The rain forest surroundings of the zoo was amazing and it was a spectacular day!  That night we flew from Brisbane to the most wonderful city in the north of Queensland, Cairns, Australia.  The Rydges Hotel is just excellent and a huge suite awaited us for 2 nights in Heaven.

DAY NINE:  Waking up early we discover an enormous bird rookery in the trees along the coast just outside our balcony window filled with Ibis and egrets!  At sunrise we walked along the seawall with the tide halfway out watching the amazing assortment of bird life, lapwings, striated herons, pelicans, pied cormorants, willy wagtails, mynas, the spectacular black and white Magpies and magpie larks.  Gayln toughed it out on crutches on the long walk to the marina to catch our catamaran ship to the Great Barrier Reef.  I snorkeled two locations out on the reef and Gayln was ushered around the reef in a glass bottom boat.  We swam to an island that was a bird sanctuary and filled with thousands of feathered squawkers!  The blue and yellow sting rays were interesting!  All day out and back at the Great Barrier Reef and that evening we relaxed along the many shops and restaurants of the Escalade-seawall-of Cairns!

DAY TEN:  Our guide -Clayton-picks us up from the hotel and we are bound for the Daintree River where we board a quiet boat and cruise out searching for Saltwater Crocodiles.  Along the river we spot a Tawny Frogmouth, a long dark Tree Snake, a big green frog, and a few large crocs!  Karumba Australia -population about 500 or more is a quaint small town featuring many art galleries and a home to many resident hippies and their arts and crafts!  Hiking the rain forest nearby we see  sunbirds, fantails, cockatoos, and an injured fruit dove-which we caught and took to the fruit bat rehabilitation center.  The lady let us go out back and get up close and personal we about fifty or so rehabilitated Flying Fox fruit bats!  I loved it there!  The bats we loud and crazy and cute and funny!  Later that day we hiked into the rain forest and spotted Whistling Kites, Kingfishers, shrikes, and the big brush turkeys!  
We hiked to a beach where mud crabs lived (A mud crab is worth 90 dollars each-to eat)- We see our first species of Agile Wallaby and then we arrive at our new destination of Granite Gorge, home of the endangered one of kind Rock Wallaby.  We get settled in our cabin on the boulders and then go for a night spotting hike.  That night we found sugar gliders in the trees, possums, tree frogs, flying foxes, rainbow fish and catfish in the creek, a barn owl and a fast Bandicoot.  In the rainfoirest that day we made a quick meal of Lemon Ants!  That's right, we ate live ants that tasted sweet and sour-kind of tart but full of protein.  The night night drive produced a glimpse of Dingos and a big Wallaroo.

DAY ELEVEN:  Early morning we sat on our porch and enjoyed the vistas of rock boulders and forest as many birds (Pale headed parrots, rainbow lorikeets, butcher birds, noisy friarbirds) visited our area.  But the most amazing was Two Blue winged Kookaburras that sat about ten feet away and spent about 20 minutes with us defending their territory from all others!  I will be doing a painting of them.  Gayln and I spent a quiet hike among the boulders on our own and found a colony of the rare rock wallabies.  They were all around us, curious and friendly.  I climbed a big tree and had them hopping along the branch to surround me.  We hiked the boulders and waterfalls for about an hour.  Clayton, our guide picked us up later and we drove to the valley finding black swans, cormorants, crested grebes, Pacific black ducks, Goshawks, Kites, and we search for the elusive Cassowary.  Only about 1500 Cassowaries are left in Australia.  At the Crater Lake we found long white tailed rats, and an awesome forest dragon on the side of a smooth tree.  I walked right past the dang lizard-he was so camouflaged.  We found our first Bandicoot!  Lunch at the Teahouse on the lake --a nice relaxing setting we spot turtles in the lake.  
Back in the car driving we find a huge flock of Sulfur Crested Cockatoos and a large colony of Flying Fox bats!  Brolga cranes fly overhead and about 20 or more black kites circle overhead on the air drafts!  
Next stop we visit an amazing artist and his awesome studio out in the bush!  Clive Walters, does ink metaphysical geometric art with nature and his studio is filled with new age sounds and the deep resonating aboriginal didjeridoo.  We also got to meet his cat!  
Towards dusk we are in search of the elusive Duck-billed Platypus.  We walk around a small lily pad covered pond and within minutes a platypus surfaces!  YAY!  watching the strange animal swim and go under and surface was an incredible experience that can only be found in Australia by luck and being in the right place at the right time!  We are lucky!  Later that day at sunset we found under an overhang in the river -fish eating bats!  That night we ate at Nick's famous Italian/Swedish Restaurant.  After a big meal we head out for night spotting by "torch" Aussie flashlight.  We begin our search for the hard to find nocturnal Tree Kangaroo.  brown rain forest tree frogs, tree possums, a "zebra" possum, bandicoots. pademelons,  but no Tree Kangaroo.....This was the night i woke up with a pain in my right eye--more on that later...

DAY TWELVE:  first thing in the morning at our new lodge, in the rain forest, we are greeted by a furry cute pademelon,  and a rifle bird (Victoria Bird of Paradise) lands on the balcony to get up close and personal with Gayln.  I'm hand feeding the many Brush Turkeys flying up the stairs to our balcony!  Suddenly the brush turkeys get crazy and one flies by, hitting my head with a big wing.  Crazy birds!  Later that morning before we head out we get a visit by a big green Cat bird-very cool bird.  We stop for teatime-brunch at an interesting place, Gillies Roadhouse-where I have the best pancakes ...well best except my mom's!  But they were awesome! 
After food time we turn our trip to the rain forest again, searching once more for the solitary nocturnal Tree Kangaroo and we hike to the most magnificent tree i have ever seen, The Cathedral Fig Tree.  all i could saw was...nothing..i just stared at the home tree in Avatar....just so awe inspiring.  Wow.
The massive behemoth tree was covered in strangler fig vines and behind it was a cascading waterfall.  Barrine Crater Lake and then we explore further as we hike to many waterfalls, some like Jurassic park some small and some with many drops of fingers of water--gorgeous scenery today.  The Milla-Milla (Rain rain) waterfall was special and the millstream falls.  Crimson Rosellas screeched past in the sky.  Breaking form the waterfall hike we drive through clouds to Ravenshoe, the highest town in Australia, and find free fruit.  
Next stop, Hypipamee Falls and exploring the rain forest around the falls.  The river and falls are the most stupendous yet.  A serious of falls along the river drop into thick rain forest and the trees and vines twisting in unusual shapes like a chaotic ball of yarn wrecked by a wild cat.  Down and down we travel the river rushing beside and below us.  Clayton finds something and the next thing i know is we are staring through the trees above the river.  A TREE KANGAROO!  And it is out in the daytime, on a long branch directly over the giant rocks of the river.  LUCKY US!  I hike and scramble down the big rocks in the middle of waterfall to get right up close and that animal stops eating to watch me but stays right there to allow for us to get great photos.
In the jungle we find a Golden Bowerbird nest, which was an amazing find of artwork created by a small bird.  They weave a big nest of sticks and decorate it with all kinds of things from seashells, to nuts, flowers, pieces of plastic....
At dusk we head to a big lake to find Brolga cranes and an enormous flock of Magpie Geese.  The rookeries around the lake were filled with egrets and cormorants and the trees filled with flying foxes.  As night came the 20,000 bats took flight!  We left the lake to go night spotting and saw green possums, and when Galyn and I returned to our lodge we went by ourselves to explore and found Squirrel Gliders near our place.  my eye was still irritated-thinking maybe a stye or infected eyelash?  more later...

DAY THIRTEEN:  Awakening in a rain forest to so many interesting bird calls, whip birds, rifle birds, birds of paradise, honeyeaters, brush turkeys and magpies is such a cool feeling.  Today was a day of more waterfalls and the high rain forest canopy walk.  A search was still on for the elusive Cassowary but as we left the forest and drove into the hills we make a great discovery!  Water Buffaloes!  A big herd of Cheeky Water Buffaloes.  noon stop for Italian buffet in Ennisfail town.  Later we walk the beaches at Etty beach in search of Cassowary but no luck as the big birds are staying hidden.  I decided to create some "Earth Art" under the trees on the beach and take some photos of it.  Later i did find a Broad-headed Skink on the Lava Rocks at the beach.
Two hours later we were back in Cairns at our fabulous Rydges Hotel.  Saying goodbye to our guide, Clayton, we stroll the city to find the flying fox colony.  We sat for about anhour watching the bats waking up in the big trees and as dusk approached hundreds of ibis armies were flying in to roost in the trees as the bats were starting to leave--what a flying spectacle of bats and big birds flying in all directions with squeals and squawks filling the air.
Later in the night we enjoy the "Night Market" where everything is a bargain, clothes and souvenirs and massages are only 10 dollars for 45 minutes! Last night in Cairnes was a grand finale remembering those flying foxes!

DAY FOURTEEN:  Flight to Sydney and we arrive at the Rendezvous Hotel in the "Rocks" district-downtown close to the wharf and across the bay from the Taronga zoo.  That afternoon we eat at the historic Australia Hotel where Frank Sinatra once ate and we enjoyed a Kangaroo meat lover pizza.  WE walk the streets to find a view of the Sydney Bridge and the famous iconic Sydney Opera House.  Gayln finds some Opals to buy at the Rocks Center and we enjoy some Aussie Ice cream served by a Chilean girl.  

DAY FIFTEEN:  First day we actually sleep in a little later since our Ferry across the bay to the Taronga Zoo doesn't leave until 9:30 am.  At the Zoo we take the Gondola Sky Ride across the top of the zoo which is built into the hillside and has dozens of levels from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the water.  We loved seeing unusual animals-some I have never seen- like rarest tigers-the Sumatran Tigers, Sailfin Lizards, and many more.  The amazing highlight was a Asian Elephant that would hold a football with his trunk and then drop kick it high through the fence posts like a field goal...Great kicker-that elephant.
This was such a beautiful relaxing day with about 70 degree weather and nice sunshine.  Brush turkeys, peacocks and Ibis walked among the people at the zoo.  Afternoon shopping and strolling the wharf district in front of the Sydney Opera House-waiting on the shuttle back to the airport.

DAY SIXTEEN:  "Goodbye Australia."  The long flight back to Los Angeles (which has the "WORST" airport of all airports We have ever been in).  Arrived in Houston and home about 1230 pm..and about that eye pain--driving home i'm still rubbing my eye...and out of it falls a little tiny black beetle-like bug---it had been in my eye those last few wonder it hurt and at least it came out--eye dr friday for sure....  What a whirlwind adventure with the love of my life and best friend Gayln!!! :) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PARADISE ONE by Doug Hiser

Paradise One
Doug Hiser

            Shelly had fallen in puppy love during high school.  She married shortly after.  He was a good husband and had been a great teenage boyfriend.  They dated all the way from 9th grade to her twentieth year on earth and decided to get married.  He didn’t get down on one knee or take her by surprise.  They both just talked about it and having never dated anyone else, just thought it was the right thing to do. 
            Shelly had yellow-red hair that shone in sunlight and shimmered in candle light.  She was a short girl but had sturdy legs and a narrow waist like an athlete.  She was smart and funny and serious and sad.  Shelly was quite an introspective person and a sympathetic soul.
            She kissed her husband goodbye yesterday because he had to go to work and she caught a flight to Hawaii for a business conference.  She never arrived. 
            After the plane went down, she found herself floundering in rough water, breaking waves on jagged rocks, and a sandy beach.  She swam past an airplane seat that contained a body, slumped and still strapped in it.  She swallowed salty sea water and coughed as she struggled in the surf.  The white foam covered her face with each surge and she finally pushed herself forward, almost crashing hard into a rough lava pitted rock as she found the sandy bottom and fought her way to the beach.
            Face down on the sand, she coughed up saltwater and put her head down, breathing heavily.  She tried to get up and glanced back at the ocean.  Nothing.  The plane was gone.  She saw flashes of orange and red, yellow, green, things floating in the waves.  People, dead people floating.  She saw life jackets, clothing, and a big piece of silver metal sticking up by some large rocks like a monument of abstract sculpture to mark the tragic impact.  Shelly closed her eyes.
            The cool ocean breezes always felt good early in the morning and Shelly tied back her hair with a piece of ragged cloth as she left her palm hut near the beach.  Multi-colored small parrots cackled at her as if saying,” Good morning,” in their black tongued voices.  She checked the bamboo traps in the surf and gathered the few crabs found inside, putting them into a flight attendant’s carry-all bag.  Two weeks ago after the crash, she had scoured the beach for anything she could find useful.  The several dead people were horrible finds and she left the bodies where she found them and avoided the location after that.  She had traveled around the island each day exploring.  The island wasn’t a big place and in a few days she had covered most of it.  As far as she could tell there were no inhabitants. 
            She erected her crude shelter on the opposite side of the island of the crash to avoid the decaying dead people.  At least she had found a safety kit floating that contained matches and Band-Aids and other useful things. There was plenty of fruit and the island also had fresh water cascading down from small mountains and running into clear flowing streams back into the sea.  Shelly had no idea where on planet Earth this island was located, but knew it had to be somewhere on the way to Hawaii, unless of course somehow the plane had gotten off the regular track and flown way of course.  She thought about rescue and she built a sign for HELP, out of coconuts, on the beach.  Each day she felt more alive than before. She missed her husband and her family but somehow she felt guilty that she also felt happy here.  She talked to the three parrots as they cackled at her.  The worst night was two nights ago when a storm had passed over the island.  Lightning flashed like massive crackles that lit up the world and the winds and driving rain smashed half of her shelter to the ground.  She shivered and crawled under her torn palm frond roof and waited for the storm to move on.  The next day she repaired her shelter and the parrots flew around her head as if encouraging her.  The storm attack and the courage she found in surviving here gave her renewed strength and confidence.
            Sometimes Shelly would sit near a shallow lagoon and stare at the water for hours.  Her new home was a beautiful place.  Giant palm trees shaded the edges of the lagoon and on some days six to ten dolphins would enter the lagoon and entertain her for hours, splashing and leaping.  She would bathe in the lagoon or go inland to bathe and wash her pants and shirt in fresh water beneath a waterfall.
            Shelly was bathing one overcast day, almost as if the clouds were grumbling out a warning of danger for her, when she came out of the water to find a huge snake resting on her clothing.  The only weapon she had found in the plane crash debris was a kitchen knife and it was in her pants pocket beneath the snake.  She had no idea if the snake was poisonous or harmless. She only knew a fear of snakes and felt it would either bite her with fangs containing poison or coil around her and choke her to death.  Shelly took no chances and smashed the snake into submission with a large head sized rock.  The incident made her stronger.  She had found courage that she never knew existed.  The island belonged to her.
            Shelly hiked to the south end of the island where huge boulders protruded from the sea like Neptune’s throne room, massive chairs made for giant mermen and mermaids to sit and rule over the ocean.  She liked to sit on the giant rocks and watch for the whales that sometimes came by the island.  She first noticed them by the spray that shot up like smoke from the horizon.  Sometimes she was lucky enough to see them breaching and smashing back down onto the surface like gigantic dirigibles falling from the sky impacting with the waves.  She always thought she might see a ship out there on that far away horizon but if she did see one she was not sure what she would do.
            Each night she would start her small fire, sometimes she practiced starting fire with a stick and a tree branch and she finally figured out how to get one going.  She knew the matches wouldn’t last forever.  Shelly made meals of fruit and crab or spiny lobster.  Sometimes she speared a fish with her sharpened spear.  One day she speared a small octopus and she thought cooking it in coconut juice in a piece of curved metal from the crash was the best calamari she had ever tasted.  Shelly missed people and the civilized world less and less.  She fell into an easy life filled with her hunting and gathering chores in the mornings and her relaxing walks of exploration in the afternoons.
            The dolphins were swimming slowly into the lagoon and Shelly reclined in a bend on a low hanging branch, a place where she sat many days to survey her body of water.  The dolphins had swam close to the shore as they noticed her watching them.  Each day they grew bolder and got nearer to her as she waded out into the water to get closer.  Today as the smooth silver mammals splashed and frolicked swimming into the lagoon, Shelly climbed down and removed her clothes, walking out into the clear turquoise water.  As she swam out to them she felt an adrenalin rush and thought maybe she was crazy.  She felt the fear just below her skin, wondering if the big dolphins might attack her.  Before she could turn back she was surrounded by long smooth silver creatures swimming in circles around her.  She tread water as each dolphin seemed to come close, almost touching her and then retreat as another would swim in near her.  Slowly, it seemed like forever, but was only seconds, her fear departed and she smiled as each dolphin seemed to introduce themselves to this strange mermaid with legs.  Gradually as each one approached she would touch the smooth wet rubbery skin of their fins or rub the top of their head.  She began to swim around with them and dive beneath the water, playing a game of tag.  She stopped abruptly when she heard thunder in the distance and looked out over the ocean.  The sky had grown darker like a menacing black monster made from billowing smoke and ash.  In the distance she saw flashes of white lightning break open the sky.  The dolphins began leaping into the air chattering and then suddenly they disappeared beneath the water.  Within seconds she was alone in the lagoon and saw the silver fins of her new friends swimming out and around the shoreline, away from the storm.  Shelly swam for shore and ran to prepare for the monster to come to her front door.
            The storm raged most of the night and she covered herself with palm fronds and endured the cold sheets of rain as best she could.  When the rain stopped she started a fire and stripped, hanging her clothes up to dry and warmed herself.  When she was dry she curled up beside the small fire and slept until daybreak.  Her little house was wrecked again.  Instead of getting to work repairing the damage she decided to explore inland.  The parrots buzzed by her head squawking at her and they flew from tree to tree along the jungle path.  She wondered how the jungle path had been created.  She had never seen anything larger than a monkey on the island and the path was well worn and wide enough for large animals.
            She thought about the small mammals she had seen, rabbits, rats, mice, small monkeys, bats, and even a cream colored badger like animal.  She had also encountered a three foot long monitor lizard and sea turtles in the lagoon and on the beach.  She had thought about searching for turtle nests if she got hungry for eggs.  Her diet of fruit and sea creatures had satisfied her but she thought maybe she might trap a rabbit or a bird.  Walking the path today she encountered a large track, bigger than anything she had seen before. 
            She traveled inland, following a clear rushing creek flowing smoothly over a bottom filled with coin sized pebbles.  She came out of the jungle and into a hillside covered in tall yellow grass.  She encountered colorful birds in the tall grass, almost like pheasants with long bright scarlet tail feathers.  She walked alongside the flowing water until it led her to a wall of jagged rock, forty or fifty feet high.  A waterfall dropped mist and gallons of water into a pool at the base of the wall.  She thought it was beautiful, this little oasis of falling water and the rough wall of rock standing near tall cliffs with the fields of grass behind her. The large tracks, round like pancakes with deep toes, were in the sandy mud all around the pool.  The rock wall seemed so out of place here on the center of the island, almost like if some giant colossus dropped it here to make a stone fence across the landscape, maybe to keep some big creature on one side of the island or just a barrier to slow down hurricane force winds from destroying the jungle trees.  Admiring the scene, Shelly once again saw the large mysterious footprints. She looked around the fields but only the grass swayed with ocean breezes. Shelley noticed a worn path near the wall leading south towards the ocean.  She didn’t see any of the large tracks but something had to have walked this path regularly to make it so smooth and worn.  The winds picked up and her long hair blew about her face as she hiked the trail south.  She felt vulnerable for the first time since she had discovered her new courage.

            That’s when she heard the sound.  Behind her…Snorting, repeated snorting, heavy footprints trampling the ground.  She was afraid to turn and look.  The waterfall rumbled down the rock wall with a solid roar but the snorting sounds were voluminous and carried weight over the cascading water.  Slowly she twisted her neck and shifted her feet to look back.  The pond was surrounded by the snorting massive things.

            Shelly was astonished and could only stare at the site.  The beasts were huge.  There were at least ten of them, maybe more.  Their dark skin was almost black and looked like leather armor.  They snorted and stared back at her but only in a disinterested fashion, as if she were but a small rodent scurrying about the grass.  Each animal must have weighed a ton and were taller than her at the shoulder.  Their snouts sported dangerous looking horns resembling some sort of monster unicorn.  She knew that they were a sort of rhinoceros but a big strange one almost from a dream land of impossible.  The animals drank from the water and snorted and some of them jogged around, light on their big toes like an armored ballerina.

            Her stomach felt cold and empty.  She watched the immense animals as they seemed to lose interest in her.  This island had captured her imagination in so many ways and now to find such a beautiful incredible creature it left her in a stunned amazement.  Shelly sat down on a small rock about forty yards away from the dark skinned armored creatures and wiped the hair from her forehead.  The rhinos milled around the edges of the water and some began to browse on the tall grasses.  Shelly stood to leave and as she turned one of the smaller rhinos trotted slowly in her direction.  She stopped and stood as still as possible, afraid to run or move.  The animal stopped a few feet from her and sniffed the ground near her feet and smelled her scent, its snout touching her chest and hair.  Shelly held her breath.  She looked into the creature’s eye and felt something shift in her world.  The rhino tossed its head and swished the air with that long horn on its snout.  With its tail in the air the rhino trotted back to the herd.

            Shelly walked into the jungle, following the trail she knew would lead her back to her shelter near the beach.  She felt like a queen.  She could feel the air from the island surging inside her lungs.  That air was giving her magic and power to be the majestic ruler of this island.  She was the caretaker of dolphins and rhinos.  This was her calling.  This island was her world.  No ship would come. No plane would find her.  She would build and plan and design her future and her life.  The next day she found a parachute hanging from a tree.

            She took it down and for the next three days she worked on her shelter, turning it into a more permanent home, with bamboo floors and a roof of palm fronds and parts of the parachute.  The next few weeks she stayed near the ocean making fish and crab traps and visiting her lagoon and swimming with the dolphins that she loved so much.  She kept thinking about the parachute.  She wondered if somebody had survived and landed on her island.  There was no evidence of anyone landing and she just thought maybe they had died or fallen into the sea.  Shelly did not want company.  She wanted to be left alone in her own new world.  She found solitude and paradise here.

            She knew it was only paradise because no one else were here.  Inside her heart had grown bigger and her soul had filled up with magic.  Paradise can only be in such an isolated place.  She knew that others, humans, that virus to which she belonged were like a plague and destroyed paradise wherever they went.  Shelly gathered beautiful shells and added them to her mounting collections in her shell garden around her little home. 

            She sometimes traveled to the wall and visited with the rhinos.  They were becoming used to her and would approach and sometimes brush against her with their rough wrinkled hides.  She would scratch them behind the ears but doubted they could feel anything through their armor coating.  The macaws followed on her forays squawking at her to give them some bananas or other fruit.  Shelly ate from the trees and from the sea.  She could start in a fire in less than sixty seconds.  She could climb any tree even faster.  She was leaner and more physically fit than she had ever been in her life.  She hardly even remembered her other civilized life.  She marveled at the clear blue sky and the cloud formations at dusk and dawn.  The rain quenched her thirst and filled her containers.  The monkeys scolded her climbing into their trees and the macaws sat on her head and shoulders eating from her fingers.  She had only infrequently hear or saw passing jets and she had removed any sign from the beaches that she had ever been there.  She only killed one more snake in the jungle.  This time with her crude sharpened spear.  Two months has passed since the waves had brought her to the beach. 
            She still thought about the parachute.  The island was big enough for someone else to be hiding out there somewhere.  This was the only thing she ever worried about.  The thought of another person moving about on her island scared her.  She worried about the rhinos.  She worried about the dolphins. 
It had rained lightly that next day and when the clouds still covered the beach Shelly hiked towards the wall.  That afternoon she sat upon a boulder worn smooth by the ocean winds for centuries.  The rhinos grazed in the near distance in the tall grass.  A macaw perched in a tree near the waterfall by the rock wall.  Her spirit settled into her skin like a resting leaf that had floated down from the tallest tree to land with a faint ripple in the clearest pool of still water.  The depths of her love for this place could not be reached.  She gazed out over the land as if it were the most precious lover she had ever known.  The island wind was her kiss, the jungle and the ocean were her mother and father.  The dolphins and the rhinos her brothers and sisters.  There was nothing else she could have yearned for.  Shelly was complete and this bliss, she knew came from her creator.
            All people find their complete happiness in many different things and Shelly reveled in the accident that had brought her to this revelation of pureness.  She reclined on the rock beneath the rolling clouds, she let her mind drift.  She dreamed of flying like the macaws.  She opened her eyes and saw the small plane overhead and then heard the slight hum of the motor.  Tears formed in her eyes.  Shelly saw the rhinos snorting and stamping the ground before they stampeded into the jungle of sheltering trees.  She jumped off the boulder like an antelope and ran for the cover of the jungle.  The plane’s motor rumbled louder as it flew closer.  Shelly ran under the cover of the trees and felt like the plane was following her and flying lower and lower.
            The next day Shelly watched the men as they gathered around the plane, which had landed yesterday in the grassy field.  She had climbed the rock wall and hid in the many clusters of boulders that formed small caves in its heights.  She knew the men had found her little home on the beach.  She would have to hide until they give up and leave.  That parachute had brought them.  She hoped the rhinos stayed hidden.  The macaws had followed her as she had climbed the dangerous sheer rock wall. 
            The men had hiked all over the island and in three days they finally took their plane back into the sky and left her island.  Shelly knew that someday they might be back.  She would move her home up high and hide on the rock wall.   That next morning she dismantled her beach home and wiped it from existence.  She found a note written on paper left by the men from the plane.  She did not read it and burned it in her fire.  That morning she also went out and swam with her dolphins. 
Shelly walked through the grassy field with the huge rhinos slowly moving around her.  She patted their heads and their great horns.  She put her hand on a rhino’s head and swinging herself up by climbing on the tough armor she stretched out on the beast’s wide back.  With macaws chattering and flying above her, Shelly rode towards the waterfall and the magnificent pool on the back of a great dark animal that had become her brother in a place called paradise.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

2015 Spring Art /shows !

I survived my ruptured biceps surgery and I am 12 weeks post op- and ahead of schedule.  My arm gets stronger each week and I am now working out harder to bring it back to full capacity.  The Spring Art Season is here. Since i injured my right arm I could not do art for many weeks and it was sort of depressing!

I turned down a couple of art walks and shows because teaching and coaching has become too busy.  I would like to congratulate my fantastic High School Art Students on their amazing 25 GOLD MEDALS at the Visual Art Scholastic Event-our most ever!!  It was an exciting ART DAY and it is so much work but I love to see their pride and excitement when they get medals for all their hard work and dedication!  I truly do LOVE my ART KIDS-I appreciate their loyalty and their passion for Art!  This weekend I will take about 20 of my medal winners to the Bayou City Art Festival and they love going there and meeting all the working artists and checking out their techniques.

Some other NEWS is the TWO Murals produced by my team of students:  The juniors completed a 30 slat section of fence to be installed outside our school featuring "the scream" "the Girl with the Pearl Earring" Melting Clocks-aka-Persistence of Memory" and "Starry Night" and our school Cougar mascot!

The Seniors are working on a hall mural containing 22 master paintings from our Art History studies: featuring Dali, Frida Kahlo, O'keeffe, Frazetta, Michael Parkes, Durer, Van Gogh, Vermeer, Las Caux, Keane, Da Vinci, and many more.  We should be finished within a couple of more weeks!

I'll be coaching Girls soccer with my wife, Gayln, next month- we coached the team a few years ago and it was very successful and rewarding!

I have 4 pieces of ART in the N.S.A. show this weekend and will be entering 3 more pieces in the Mainland Art Show April 4th.  Thanks for reading my blog!  Doug Hiser

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I start the new year off typing with only my left hand because of my pre-Christmas soccer injury and resulting surgery---ruptured right biceps tendon!  So, therefore my plans of super workouts and making lots of art are gone for now.  Next week school starts again and I am getting ready to prepare my students for their upcoming UIL ART competitions.  

Next weekend is the exciting National Society of Artists "miniature art show with all art being smaller than 9 x 12, Doug Hiser NSA, love being recognized as a signature member now.  Looking forward to seeing all the members little paintings!

New Year's Eve my daughter announced that my first grand baby will be born in May and it is a GIRL!  I'll teach her about art and books and oh yeah---NATURE.

2014 was a wild ride -Painting the giant BOOT in Wimberley, Texas, with BIRDS-now installed in front of the visitor's Center-my daughter's marriage in the Bahamas, our trip to Alaska, my Dad's amazing 80th birthday celebration, my step son's marriage, my wife's basketball team winning district again-making her coaching career with 43 district championships, my solo art show PAINTED JUNGLES featuring animal paintings from Africa, Brazil, Ecuador, Galapagos, Montana, Costa Rica, and more, photographing wildlife with my wife, Gayln, in Alaska-whales,eagles,bears, caribou-and in the Texas parks and refuges-alligators and hogs,herons and thousands of sandhill cranes--my son's promotion at his cartoon company in New York, speaking engagements, art shows, qualifying for the 5th year in a row for the National Art Show and the NSA Gold medal, seeing many of my former art students graduating college and starting careers, proudly watching my excited art students win gold medals at VASE and taking three to State VASE, played too much soccer-our outdoor team qualifying for post season playoffs twice--the second time playoff game,in the goal, stopping a point blank shot is what popped my biceps off the bone--

I look forward to a new year with my coming little girl grandchild, no more soccer goalkeeping after a career of 22 years, and a renewed look at teaching and producing art and writing my books!