desert



I wish I were going to say, “Joshua Trees and burrowing owls”
but
I’m going to have to go with SWAMP COOLERS AND HULA HOES.
Two things I never think about until I’m here
and hula hoe-ing the whole damn back yard. Morning and night. For a variation, I break it up with pruning rose bushes and rosemary. Many stingy spots on my legs tonight.
I can’t complain though,
my in-laws are treating me very very well;
Christian loves all the shovels he’s found on his grandparents property (are all grandchildren and grandparents so well-matched, I wonder? He thinks he’s in heaven-his ganma and gampy like to play in the dirt.);
we hop in and out of the pool all day;
the outdoor shower is heaven;
my JT friends are awesome;
and we see the burrowing owls (3 babies!) at least twice a day.
Hope to be home by Thursday, because that’s when my SISTER AND HER FAMILY ARRIVE FROM BANGKOK.

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A music video set in my old town sent by an old teaching pal (thanks Candace!)
The lyrics are great:
Cactus wren on a Joshua tree, fill up your cup with pints of glee. Fire up the band and the old shotgun, in the hills of Yucca Valley. Meet you up at Machris Park, past Veffhaus, little fore dark. Catching air at Devils Playground in the hills of Yucca Valley.

Tortoise on the move over hot black top. Summer bon fires at Giant Rock.Shooting at cans with honest Jay Bolt in the hills of Yucca Valley. Yucca, cholla, creosote, top of the ridge theres a mountain goat. Chopper over head from Twentynine Palms in the hills of Yucca Valley.

Green Mojave and a diamondback, a family of quail and coyote trap. Moonshine gin form a juniper in the hills of Yucca Valley.Desert rat till the day I die, lie me down under western sky. I cant get away even though Ive from the hills of Yucca Valley.

The theme song to that city along highway 62 in the mojave high desert. Yucca Valley. Hometown to infamous Poland Brothers. Directed by Jimmy Salazar. Shot in Yucca Valley, CA December 2008.
Invisible Mass Records ©2009

Back from two outrageous nights of camping in Joshua Tree National Park.
I say outrageous, because it was three moms and seven kids. It was a lot of work, but very very worth it.

I got to Joshua Tree Sunday afternoon only to discover that I had never gotten my fully charged camera back from Bella after her birthday dinner. Darn! Other people did plenty of digital documenting though, so eventually I’ll have pics to share. For the meantime, here’s just one of Maclean, Sierra’s brother on top of Arch Rock. Underneath is her son Aiden and a friend Senna.

I’m suffering from a bit of post-camping malaise. I feel so under-stimulated to be indoors – there is no wind, no stars, so smells…

Highlights:
We had some great visitors: Christian’s grampy and grandma and lots of friends old and new.
Christian said “ganma” for the first time.
He also refused to leave her arms, even to come to me.
Yoshie made a curry from scratch on our second day there!
Grassfed steak on the grill and an endless supply and variety of sausages.
S’more’s made with all-natural marshmellows and fancy chocolate.
The kids having a non-stop blast.
Christian waking up in the tent with a huge grin on his face and saying the names of everybody there (seven in our tent alone).
A surprise rock scramble hike to White Tank with my friend Caryn, who happens to be a ranger there.
Watching the sky fill with sunset colors and the empty feeling that comes before stars.
Waking up to pee and seeing that the big dipper had made a quarter turn across the sky.
Seeing shooting stars.
Being with really terrific competent camping companions.

Lowlights:
The wind.
The wind.
The wind.

I do not miss the wind.

The best place to sleep in the desert is outside.

I went back to Joshua Tree this week as a visitor. Strange, how you can leave a place one day as a resident and come back as a visitor the next.

I liked being a visitor; I found I had a much greater appreciation for the actual desert part of Joshua Tree living – especially the sky, and the weather at night time.

While I had many opportunities to sleep outside while I lived in Joshua Tree, I rarely did – since my own king-size bed indoors with freshly laundered high-count sheets was always too inviting. This time, though, as a visitor, sleeping outside with Giselle seemed vastly superior to sleeping on a friend’s sofa with two cats, so I did. (No offense to the cats – just that my nose felt itchy.)

I slept on a 20-foot high wooden platform that was built years ago as the beginning of a very cool fort. Well, the fort would’ve been cool if it had been finished (that’s the damnest thing about completeness, it adds imeasurably to a thing’s coolness quotient). As it stands now, it is a just a very sturdy wooden platform with sturdy, narrow wooden stairs all the way to the top. In my friend’s backyard.

And I slept on it. with Giselle.

The first night I didn’t sleep very well, because the wind was too brisk; and challenging the platform’s integrity just a little too much; and I fretted a bit about accidentally rolling off the platform. On the other hand, the clouds were beautiful shades of grey and blue and I watched them off and on through the night, passing over the moon. Giselle did not like being so high up on a platform from which she could not independently descend, so she was buried deeply in my sleeping bag nestled in the crook of my knee.

The second night I slept so deeply, I made up for the first night and more. The moon was nearly full, so there was magic light on the landscape, and the air was still. It felt like a spa sleep, the kind of sleep people would pay extra money for – because the temperature was so right, and the air so clean. Even Giselle crept up to the top of the sleeping bag to sleep with her head out on the pillow next to mine. The air was that good.

Don’t miss this sweet little 12-minute documentary movie Maya’s brother, Mattias, made during his visit to Joshua Tree. You get to see the homestead side of Joshua Tree – including Maya and Damian‘s abundant garden, the solar oven, and the National Park. You get to see Joshua Tree from the perspective of a visiting Canadian – nicely done.

If I can figure it out, I’ll try and post his movie (at google video) here directly tomorrow.

 My fiance’s parents lead monthly the Sierra Club hikes in the area (during hiking season, which around here is Sept-April). Instead of passing down family recipes, Ann and Al will be passing down a GPS full of hikes, an accumulation of over thirty years of hiking experience. Information, as I always say, is the best thing to share.

Last month we hiked to the Paymaster Mine. My friend Ellen snapped this panoramic vista. I surprised by the vast perspective because we spent a lot of time focused on close-ups on the different cacti we found out there.

And here’s one of Ellen and I at our lunch spot.

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