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Crystalflier is back, writing from the Desert Outpost. And why was it I moved from a lush green Redwood forest to a barren terrain of sand and rock? Oh yeah, to be near my darling grandchildren. The view from my deck faces southeast toward Las Vegas...Sin City...land of perpetual light...Oz. July and August are monsoon season in the southwest, and the underbellies of tonight's black thunderheads are reflecting red, like the reflection of a forest fire against a smoke-filled sky. Add humidity to the 107degree Mojave heat and, needless-to-say, it's highly oppressive. I'm told it peaked at 120degrees in mid-July.
Mesquite thrives in this heat. I thought my son was crazy to suggest that my Mesquite tree be trimmed. I still don't want it trimmed, but at its current rate of growth it will soon be knocking at my door! The tree is also home to flying grasshoppers that scared the hell out of me the first evening they burst into a symphony of loud buzzing. The neighbor's Poplar tree produces a more soothing and familiar sound, similar to a breeze flowing through a Eucalyptus tree. As for the Pine trees, there's a vicious rumor going around that they're plastic.
It's beginning to feel like home with Buddha greeting visitors on the front porch and with Jonathan perched on the deck next to a bird's nest from Grand Isle, Vermont. The first feather I found here was a gift from Dove; I laid it beside the last feather gifted to me by Crow. Black Birds, Pigeons and Quail forage for food on the green. Rabbit hops across a sand trap, its destination unknown to me. I'm told the fog returned to Sonoma County the day after I moved, the same day that Mars turned retrograde...as it moved closer to Earth.
On August 27 at 5:51 a.m. EDT, Mars will be closer to Earth than in 60,000 years. It will also be retrograde (until September 27), conjunct Uranus, and opposite the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon. Shining brighter than Jupiter, it causes me to wonder if the Star of Bethlehem was a similar phenomenon. I'll be camping with the grandchildren on Labor Day weekend at a place called Duck Creek where the view of Mars will be spectacular under the dark sky of Utah. With luck, the only aggression we'll suffer from the fiery God-of-War is an old-fashioned pillow fight.
I was homesick last night and longed to see Turkey Vultures soaring above the river canyon. Low and behold, when I walked out onto the deck this morning, two Vultures were soaring overhead. I thank whatever creature gave its life to fulfill my wish.
He came back to me
then left me again the same day.
Grasshoppers buzz in mesquite.
The smell of cut grass.
Speaking of Vultures, the California gubernatorial recall is bringing them out in droves. Larry Flint? Tell me it's not true! I turn on the radio and hit the search button...it stops on "Savage Country."
With half of my antiquated computer components buried under a garage full of unpacked moving boxes, my desperate need for communication with the civilized world sent me shopping for a new computer system. Three hours later "crystalflier" was set-up at the Desert Outpost, and sometime around midnight she was connected to the internet. Yes! Not. My tendency to forego reading instructions caused me to spend the rest of the night on the telephone with a computer tech in South Dakota. Sometime around 5:00 a.m. "crystalflier" was reloaded and I proceeded to connect the peripheral hardware, this time in proper sequence.
Bright and beautiful though it may be, Mars is playing havoc with all objects mechanical. Not trusting my instincts to the contrary, I put one of those blue tablets in the toilet tank today. In less than one hour a part broke in the tank and dark blue water overflowed onto the tile floor. Naturally, that's when the phone rang. When I returned to mop up the blue water, the floor was dry. Since I live in #202, one might assume that #201 will return from vacation to a blue ceiling.
Moral: Trust your instincts, especially when Mars is retrograde.
Okay, so don't go thinkin' that life at the Desert Outpost is hell on Earth. It's going to be just fine once I get my sea legs...uh, desert legs. Afterall, this is Art Bell country...Area 51, UFO's and the infamous Black Mailbox. It's also beautiful red rock country...Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire where ancient petroglyphs have been found near Mouse's Hole. Mouse was an outlaw. About eight years ago I hiked back into Mouse's Hole with one small bottle of water...it was 118degrees in the shade.
So Arnold is running for Governor of California. Well, make my day.
Warm nights are one of the benefits of desert life, taking a drive at dusk with the windows rolled down while still wearing shorts. Sunset behind Red Rock Canyon sets the whole canyon ablaze with reds and oranges. The sky is clear this evening with no cloud cover to prevent the Luxor's beam of light from reaching the stars. Two days away from full, the Moon out-shines Mars. The Mesquite tree is silent.
There's a quaint book store in the little town of Mt. Charleston. It's 20degrees cooler on the mountain and has panoramic views of the Las Vegas Valley.
"The vanquished knight pursued his journey."
The Adventures of Don Quixote
by Miguel De Cervantes.
I met a woman today who also recently moved to Las Vegas to be near her family. We agreed that it will take time to become reacquainted with children we've lived apart from for so long. My son and I will never know each other as well as we once did since our recent paths, naturally, have taken opposite directions. He has a wife and children, and is busy with the business of survival. Mine is the path of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
"Sometimes words are the longest things there are."
The Stones of Summer
by Dow Mossman.
Today's longest words: "Your canteen is your life."
So I grabbed a bottle of water before driving to the opposite corner of the valley to have dinner with my kids.
The freeway parallels The Strip with its dazzling hotel-casinos. Mars has temporarily joined the light-show, and while I was driving home tonight, the Full Moon was teetering precisely above the Luxor's beam of light. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I accepted it as a sign that I'm where I belong...where my bottle of Aquafina is my life.
The color of mango as it rises through layers of smog and the haze of Las Vegas lights, I look to the Moon for something familiar. It is an odd sensation to go to the market or the post office and not see someone I know. There is nothing familiar here, not in the way that ones home is familiar. Looking again to the night sky, I am comforted to see Orion and the Big Dipper. The Russian River flows under the same sky. The crowns of the Redwood trees touch the same heaven. Friends wish on the same star.
Utopia...a perfect world. By design, Las Vegas is an adult Disneyland, offering the illusion of Utopia if we cooperate by not looking beyond the glitz, beyond the hotels with their veneers of gold leaf and polished Italian marble, beyond the apparition of wealth; no different than any other tourist destination. No different than the wine country of Northern California where homeless encampments exist out-of-sight under bridges or tucked away under green boughs, masked by a veneer of perfectly groomed vineyards, quaint B&B's and 5-star restaurants. Until humanity is blessed with a collective vision, Utopia will only exist in the dreamtime.
Cloud wisps swirl in the sky like Snowball Garnets, Hummingbird hovers at my window...the blast worm attacks! After a series of mysterious shut-downs, I called my knight in shining armor, the South Dakota computer tech. Two hours later, the insidious worm was successfully deleted from my system. Guess I shouldn't have ignored those little 'security warning' pop-ups. Two more hours, all antivirus updates were successfully loaded onto crystalflier. Then the lights went out in NYC. My stomach knotted; I took a deep breath and held it until I heard the words spoken: Power outage is not due to terrorist attack.
"Hello Les." The familiar voice belonged to a man I no longer knew. His eyes glowed the color of scotch; his body had aged far beyond its years. I attempted to act normal while not knowing what normal was anymore. Then Doug began talking about old times, pretending light-heartedness, sharing with our children and grandchildren the first time I took Collaborator out-to-pasture by myself. I hear myself laughing and picking up on the story, telling how the retired race horse darted out-of-the-gate and left me dangling on top of a fence post. Everyone laughs, goal accomplished, atmosphere lightens, time-warp ensues...
I answered the phone at 9:15 p.m. to my daughter-in-law's panicked voice. "What's wrong," I asked. "Doug had an alcoholic seizure and was taken to the hospital by ambulance." I had hoped, we had all hoped, yet none of us were surprised, just disappointed and terribly sad.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it is hitched to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir
You are absolutely correct, the man is no longer part of my personal drama. But I didn't divorce my son and my grandchildren...everyone is hitched to everyone else in the universe...
None-the-less, the man is not my responsibility so I offered my son whatever help was appropriate, then proceeded to physically and emotionally detach.
Fifteen days later, everything I write is retrospective. Most writers detach from reality via writing. When my reality gets too heavy it taints my perspective, so I bury it somewhere deep inside of me where language doesn't exist and I drift through the days. Fly, Jonathan, spread your wings, let the up-drafts lift you higher and higher where you can safely soar above the bogs below, where you are free from all that fades your technicolor visions.
When I answered the phone today, I heard a familiar voice from home. Julie moved to Pahrump three years ago; her sister Teri followed last winter. Ahhh, a little up-draft.
Gratitude in the midst of sorrow.
I didn't want to write about my personal reality; it's a downer, not appropriate for posting on a public forum, plus, I feared it would sound like whining. Well, you can only soar above the bogs for so long; sooner or later you have to land. When I finally landed, I was engulfed by sorrow, yet simultaneously grateful for retaining the ability to empathize.
Diagonal sheets of rain began plummeting the roof, thunder rolled, lightning flashed, wind raced down off the mountain snapping a pine tree of at its base, and the temperature dropped approximately 20 degrees within seconds. I ran outside to stand in the rain and filled my lungs with cool air. The Mesquite tree was practically laying on its side then bounced upright when the wind subsided several minutes later. But something was wrong with this picture...why was the power still on? Lord, I miss everything about the river, even that the power went out at the slightest hint of thunder.
Okay, I get it...flash flood warnings broadcast on the Las Vegas flood channel are no joke. Nothing like a little flood and the sound of cracking trees to make me feel at home. But desert flash floods give no warning...no time to move belongings to higher ground while watching the river rise; no gathering of townsfolk to talk about past floods or share opinions as to how high the water will ultimately rise this year; no National Guard trucks; no news crews camped out at town square. So I watched from my deck as Chopper 13 conducted 'swift water rescues.'
Having climbed to an unprecedented 67%, the humidity is causing the clean-up crews to breath harder than usual in the summer heat. Streets are covered with red clay, homeowners are pulling up saturated carpet, a fire truck that was submerged when a wall of water rushed through an intersection is being towed away, and the local Red Cross is asking for donations to replace its flood relief supplies.
Yet simultaneous with monsoon season, we're in the midst of a five year drought. And drought relief is dependent upon rainfall in the Rockies and its subsequent run-off into the Colorado River.
6:00a.m., an up-draft moment: A flock of honking geese take-off in unison out of the bulrushes and fly away in perfect V formation.
While browsing through local geology and rockhound books, I found mention of an old amethyst mine northwest of Mr.Charleston. Also found in So.Nevada are: gold, lead, turquoise, lavender and pale-blue chalcedony, green jasper, apache tear, pumice, blue-gray quartz, phyllite, marble, selenite, petrified wood, and fossil remains of pelecypods, trilobites and echinoderms. In spite of there being several gypsum quarries in So.Nevada, eyes glaze over when I inquire about alabaster. This doesn't make sense so the quest continues.
I've made it through 'the spaghetti bowl' two nights in a row without any accidental detours. That's where all the freeways meet on the north side of downtown Las Vegas. The first night I ventured south to have dinner with my kids, I ended up ten miles short of Boulder City. Driving home, I ended up at Nellis Air Force Base. So much for adequate aqueduct systems and proper road sign placement. But there are no coincidences, and an Aries Rising relishes the opportunity for a good adventure.
Well what d'ya know, there's talk of a gubernatorial recall in Nevada.
If you're starved for good news, read the following excerpts from an article published August 21 in the
South Florida Sun-Sentinel,Copyright 2003
"CARACAS, Venezuela -- Huya, the rain god in Venezuelan Wyuu Indian culture, has been granted a place beside his counterparts Jupiter, Mars and Venus. Venezuelan astronomers led by physicist Ignacio Ferrin have named the frozen planet 2000 EB173 -- which they discovered in March 2000 -- after the deity.
"The planet, which is beyond Pluto and takes 256 years to orbit the Sun, must be named after a mythological god under guidelines set by the International Astronomical Union, Ferrin told Reuters..."...
..."In March, after determining its orbit, the Venezuelan scientists baptized the light-red planet Juya but later changed the name to Huya to avoid phonetic confusion in the English pronunciation of the name.
"The scientist said that there likely was no life on Huya's surface, where temperatures reach 292 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The planet has a diameter of around 435 to 466 miles.
"'I don't think we can see it, but science indicates that we cannot be alone in the universe. It's like thinking there is only one elephant in the jungle,' he said."
Copyright August 21,2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Monsoon season or not, I'm going to attend the advocacy meeting in Pahrump tomorrow night. I miss my work and need to begin making connections. At an elevation of over 4000 ft., Pahrump will also be the perfect place to view Mars. Home to Nevada's only winery, Pahrump Valley Vineyard imported their grapes from California's Sonoma County until the Bureau of Land Management allowed the winery to fence-off their vineyards from the discriminating palates of foraging wild burros and horses. Yes, Dee, wild horses still roam the high deserts, and those adorable burros take their sweet time crossing the highway.
Magik...connecting with spirit...that's why I'm here. We can't predict where or when, but we'll be led to the right place at the right time.
On the way to Pahrump, I stopped at Red Rock Canyon to listen to the Ancient Ones. Continuing toward Spring Mountain, a spectacular panorama of the western end of the Canyon compelled me to pause again while the wind whispered tales of those who passed before.
Later that night, my friend and I sat on her front porch and looked skyward to Mars, so close to Earth we believed we could reach out and touch it.
As I approached Red Rock Canyon, less than twenty miles from home, my body began buzzing. I hadn't expected the Canyon to be visible, but its soft-yellow upper sandstone strata was glowing in the darkness of the New Moon. I slowed down and looked for a pull-out. Out of the jeep, I stood under a sky lit only by stars. As close as it was, not even Mars was bright enough to reflect its light off the canyon walls. The buzz magnified, similar to a crystal buzz but stronger, like how I've imagined it would feel inside Merlin's Crystal Cave.
Maybe Mars' perigee caused my reaction, maybe there was magik in the air and I was led to the right place at the right time...or maybe the desert heat has finally fried my brain. The explanation doesn't matter to me, what matters is that I connected with spirit.
will be the keyword when Mars goes direct on September 27, a balance of both positive and negative
. Having been retrograde for two months, the release of tension when Mars goes direct will
the potential for
. Vizualize a rubberband being stretched to its max, then suddenly released...
...which makes me wonder what hornet's nest Bush&Co. will stir-up next.
"Think of a moment when the people of planet Earth were called to demonstrate collective wisdom. It is now." --
The Institute Of Noetic Sciences
Due to this year's unpredictable monsoon season, the family camp-out at Duck Creek was postponed. Having had more than our share of drama for one month, hanging-out at home, barbequing, and listening to the laughter of children jumping on a trampoline sounds like heaven.
Valley Of Fire...
Silver etchings of cumulus clouds
tower above Mesozoic sandstones
wisdom of the Ancient Ones
carved through desert varnish
As I write this, Mars is aligned with the Luxor's beam of light. Play also being healthy for the spirit, I think it's time to check-out the source of that light beam. To quote a Libran friend, it's all about balance.
Was it really only five weeks ago that I drove out of Guerneville? It feels longer than that, but not so long ago that I don't still miss my family of friends. The river will always flow within my soul, and family is forever. If it weren't for Mars and that pesky Saturn Return forcing me to
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