Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The trailteam

Antelope canyon is where the walk went over BLM land and the wilderness area. Pristine, high-country land under a morning cloud cover, land filled with pinion pine, dried out trees trying to sprout new leaves after the first few rains, confident in their future. The three Antelope springs surprise with reeds and cattails at a 4500 feet beautiful, easy hike in a special place. Itchyfoot and Ingrid checked out the trail, cleared the path, planned on future maintenance and along the 4 X4 ride up to the starting point, picked up all the cans. People, just don’t litter. Mother Nature doesn’t like that, remember it is the earth that supports us.
The clouds stayed, the sun burning hot behind them. The promise of rain and a cool night unkept, muggy heat in a dry, thirsty desert matches my thoughts of packing and leaving in a just a few days. The things we carry between continents amaze me: books and blanket. Wisdom and warmth – or so one hopes.

ps: I got good illustrative pictures the dial up connecton is however extremely slow. Maybe more pictures later.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Juanita’s birthday

She had been 86’ed in the other place, so she had her 80th birthday bash in the bar at the corner. Not just a bar, the only bar in town. To some their second home, to others an occasional waterhole if life gets to them. Drunks and doped up losers is what they call the people there. I call them pure, real, and if you are real life can get too hard, and you may try to avoid what is hurtful, fleeing the judgment of others. Good real people, beautiful in their generosity of well wishing, in their acceptance of who anybody is. These people will be missed when the other continent is my home again. With them I am thrown in the balance of life. Tonight was a lighthearted and caring bath in humanity. 140 $, a lot for an old lady, did she spend to spread the joy of being alive and marking the day the light shone on her for the first time. She is fiery, proud, fiercely independent and packs a pistol… The musicians played for free, for her, for all of us. Amusement and distraction is at a premium in the summer heat. We are all sweaty, sticky; yet hug. How else to lessen the distance between people? And tonight was not a night for distance, it was a celebration of life, whatever life brings. To our futures!
I cannot but think of a line by Theodore Roethke: What’s madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rain on roads

Traveling with a friend through Northern Arizona and Western New Mexico in monsoon season is exhilarating, thrilling, refreshing restoring. We were most of the time in high country, the air thin and pure, ethereal, cool. Mountainair, aptly named was originally inhabited by the Tiwa and Tompiro Indians. In the 17 hundreds the Spanish missions started to be build here. The city itself was founded in 1902 by bean farmers happy that the railroad was coming soon. They had a vision of grandeur, build stone houses, laid out wide streets. A lot of Mexicans worked in the bean fields, so all there is are two Mexican cantinas about 13 miles apart where you still can have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yet the rain went away during the drought in the 1940's. Then followed the ranchers with big herds of longhorns and black cattle. The high valleys provide enough grass, it seems. You could witness live auctions of cattle and the cowboy days festivities if you came at the right time. The air has a special cleanliness about it that makes dreams possible and waking up from them a fresh start. The rain was exorbitant, over the top, the lightning fierce yet splendid. It awakes every deadened heart. Driving over the long, lonely roads, you know: This is life. Here you are in the purity of what life is supposed to be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Easy Guests

Easy guests are fun. They come with the ton of questions one doesn’t always have an answer to and that makes you think. They fall in love with the place you have to offer and feel at home. You rediscover your surroundings with a fresh eye. In this desert town I took them to the murals and petroglyphs. Since road was washed out in part we hiked in quite a way. The petroglyphs are at least 800 years old and tell all kinds of stories, where to hunt, where the mountain sheep are, were there is a box canyon. I can’t read them, but recognize the maze as a road map, the clear animals and some of the rain symbols. Then we went to where they old mines are and walked to a stone building that held the generators and the main for a very deep hole in soft soil; a bit perilous, but interesting and with a lesson. Man’s activities in the desert leave a deep a scar for centuries. We learn here to head the earth, not to rape and plunder what sustains us. Old pawnshops in Town, the museum and Ernie, the singer in the park, learning about the history of Route 66 which all met with enthusiasm. Then they wanted to see some cowboy stuff. There was sawdust on the floor, brands and the names of the regional ranches all around, they ate cowboy steaks with cowboy beans and spiced corn biscuits. I of course ate fish. The evening attraction was ‘Fred’ my resident tarantula who is bit offended that I moved into his/her territory and tries hard to walk into the house… My friends realized that we live in a part of the desert where you better learn to live with nature than against it. Of course, I really try to keep the magnificently proud killing machines that the Mohave Greens are out!!! I have to draw the line somewhere.

I'll be away from my desk, back on line in a few days.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Line dancing and leavings

While in one place there is the whirlwind of line dancing, at least six different one’s, in another place friends are helping a friend to pack. She’ll honk when she leaves town with her truck of possessions. She lived her life the way it was supposed to be. Like so many of us, there was a man and children. Some of it good, bad times too, like so many of us. She changed, made mistakes, missed the right or left turn – But she keeps looking for whom, for what. ‘What’ is what she found first, deep in mud… Then she might find ‘whom’, to dare to share with. Thus we met, thus you leave. Keep following the road with heart, keep the flame alive, travel well, and fill your eyes with dreams and a whirlwind of happiness.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The evening is warm and sweet, filling me with a tenderness for the day. You know, something urges you to get in your car and in my case I drive to Kingman. I find real reasons to go there: a Mexican blanket, a talk to the museum director, buying a book, which turned out to become a gift, going to K mart. Now I wonder what I a doing there, but spend the time I am supposed to spend there, going on to Basha’s: I get some little thing, not enough to call it shopping and drive back through downtown Kingman and on a corner I see a friend who lives quiet a bit away and whom I have been calling for three weeks. So we hang out, we talk, get a late Mexican lunch and decide to go back to my gasstation. My friend is a Hualapai healer and singer. He lays a hand on my body and sings a song in Hualapai. He takes my legs and finds a hidden pain, I wasn’t aware of and sings it away. Then he sings a song taking me by the hand for letting go of what is not wanted in my body and my soul and mind. I follow eyes closed his steps. In all, four songs which make me feel at ease, at peace, happy, serene. We kid a bit and talk and make plans. Then he drives back and will gather roots on the way home and I go to find friends in the restaurant, friends I haven’t seen in a year and again fate is merciful at the next table some kind people, dear to me are sitting. Ok, I have listened to what I needed to do and seem to be rewarded with meeting whom I needed to meet. Thanks to the Wave Structure of Matter, I know these things happen because all is related to all. You just need to follow its pulse.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Follow your dream

The Cob House Girl, Hendrika, had her birthday. Free Spirit had provided delicious food, some nice wines and there was a huge carrot birthday cake imported from Phoenix by a City Girl. Hendrika is sixty and starting out on her new life. One of these day's she'll leave in a big U-Haul with her dog and cat and some of her stuff, off to Oregon. She'll build her own cob house and she'll teach people how to do that. Cob houses aren't expensive to build, so everybody who learns the technique can build her or his own house. The teaching she sees as a service and a means to make a living... She is brave, I wish her happiness, fulfillment and a good companion. Way to go Hendrika! I am always happy to see a person try to fulfill her dreams.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

White supremacists

In Kingman, Arizona, where Mc Veigh lived for a while and probably got his explosives, 2 white supremacists threatened and intimidated some neighbors. Upon the arrival of the cops, they proclaimed loudly, proudly that they were members of the Arian Brotherhood. They were taken into custody and one of the charges was membership of a criminal syndicate. The Arian Brotherhood has been heavily involved with the amphetamine trade in this area. And now one or two moved into my little desert town. A week or so ago a black man was in the bar, admittedly a rare occasion. He was articulate, good-looking and not really drunk. Some of the local toughies kept yelling “This guy doesn’t know he is black.”, “He doesn’t know he is a nigger.” So I am beginning to wonder how many Arian Brotherhood members or supporters are in town.
Among he motley crew of my friends you’ll find all colors, plenty of different religions or atheists. Most of these friends are tolerant except towards stupidity, racism, the search for power and $$, and recurrent violence. I have no patience for groupings who feel to be better than the rest, be it based on the lilywhiteness of their skin, the supremacy of their state or because they deem themselves to be the chosen people, or because only their god is the real god. All this is ugliness of the mind. Although child abuse, domestic violence, economic exploitation and dollar driven bloodthirsty war is part of the same constellation. May a black hole inhale these aberrations of the human mind. We are all related!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The sandstorm

How to photograph the whining, howling wind, the wisps of dirt chased along the road and the empty bottles rolling to their destination of shattered desert glass slowly turning purple.
Then came the sand filling canyons and the valley as it approached. It was in your eyes and hair and ears. A few minutes and it was done and gone but the wind stayed on. The banana moon illuminates the sparse clouds heavy with water. Lead is the color then, but not for here, not for this forlorn, forgotten, forsaken desert town where the kindness of a friend reminds you of your history and tomorrow’s dreams. The wind is warm. The summer is dry and hot. The monsoon is late, while the sandstorm displays unexpected drama.
How to photograph the force of the wind, moving your body while you write on the flapping paper under the swaying light and the creaking, screeching tin?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The visitor

A Vietnam vet, was Navy, special operations and a sniper, suffering from PTSS, and bicycle racer at national level –
Now a woman, 62 years old, stuck in pain, in body and soul. Not pathetic, but searching. The latest identity superimposed on all this, when finding out after her mom died, that she was Cherokee and finding the family name in the books – yet not quite looking the part because of a German father.
How does one integrate voice and attitude from one life segment to the next? Only in the bike racing, she was recognized an athlete in her before and after. She always knew she was a woman, not gay, but just a woman born in the wrong body. Where can she find acceptance, a companion, peace of mind and fulfillment? It is such a simple but hard to fulfill wish since no groups seem to accept her for all she is. Only there where society is not judgmental but welcoming all differences will she be home.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The code

Are we really living the end of an empire? We witness the wickedness of men and corporations. The humanity and honor they may have had, seem to have been lost. The code is breaking down. Everyday the news shows more killings, brothers with their brothers’ blood on their hands in wars, fights started frivolously. Catullus, a Roman poet wrote that Fides (trust in fate) and Amor (love) only flourish if accompanied by Pietas. Pietas is not piety in old Rome; it is the compassionate code leading to harmony. As soon as a society forgets this, it starts to disintegrate by greed and “men who banished justice from their greedy souls” in Catullus’ words about Ceasar.
This is where we are at in the US. Many of our leaders moreover are Perfidus (you all got that, isn’t it?) and Immemor, forgetful of things said and promised and what is more indifferent. So promise after promise is broken en dignity and ahimsa immaterial in their eyes. Not in mine, but then for me Fides and Pietas never had the meaning of blind belief and piety that it acquired through religion.

Friday, July 13, 2007


It was the evening of the many dust devils. Some wide and loose, others straight and narrow, and one traveling with me for well over 5 minutes at about 40 miles an hour. The evening had to be good with so many free Indian spirits dancing. I was invited for dinner and Itchyfoot had brought moose from her latest trip to Alaska, served as a delicious stew with lots of vegetables and a homemade strawberry cake with wiped cream as the ultimate sin to end this meal. The talk was about travel, contentment versus happiness, places and people. Itchyfoot’s mam is near 85 and just back from a trip through Holland and Belgium, showing me the book with pictures she made on her computer… It warms my heart. She plans the next trip, in autumn to Maine and her restless daughter is planning China with the train ride from Beijing to Tibet. When I am in the southwest I always forget to readjust my mental map of the world: the Far East is the Near West here, too near with all the cheap stuff we find in Wall-mart… and far enough to draw on one’s imagination. Tonight’s lesson is, you’re never too old to travel and learn and enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Small towns

July in the desert entails a few rituals: trying to stay cool, walking early with a neighbor, along the tailings, around Silver Hill, or just through town. Trying to be under cover before the sun peaks over the Cerbats. It also includes coffee at the porch where the locals gather and talk. This morning the talk was about impeachment. The people here, my friends and neighbors in a republican, weapons packing small town in rural, poor America have had it with the attitude and actions of their president. He should take note, because if small town begins to protest, then it is becoming a serious problem for him. Without cable or a satellite there are only four channels on TV here, one of them, thank you, PBS. The radio is about the same, according to the wind direction , I can or cannot receive NPR... We should do something the women on the porch agreed, yet they feel helpless as to what can be done. Any advise?
My return here also always leads to keeping to place livable and doing repairs. The harsh winter has shattered half of the plumbing; I have been to town four times for more parts. It is the gentle dance between me and the desert, it takes what I don't hold on to and I restore tiny spots for human use temporarily taking back. the desert is strong, but lets me get away with the slow repairs and repainting...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Snow, the form of the flake, Turkey’s current political situation and a glimpse of history, a deep human understanding, the joy of words well used are only part of the rewards for reading the 2004 novel ‘Snow’ by Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s, Turkey’s most famous writer.
He brings us to Kars – a one-and-a-half day train ride from Istanbul and an unimaginable distance from the mythological West. Pamuk is a highly original voice in world literature and from his unique vantage point he gives the reader a feel for the despair and reasoning of the Kurdish and Islamist youngsters, the ineptness of the secular state and the ruthlessness of the army, the power games and the thin line between life and death, love and lost. He constructs a beautiful bridge helping us to understand this very different culture. No, it is not a sentimental blood and honor novel, but a very intelligent eye opener, so that we might grasp the truths hidden in the daily news… The beauty of winter and a woman, love, the old heritage and the new longings, symbolized in the longing of Necip to write an Islamist sci-fi novel, this all makes me want to jump on a train… That and the insightful remarks about writing, novels and poetry stole my heart.
The story: Ka, a Turkish poet comes to Kars after a recent wave of suicides by ‘headscarf girls’, with the intention to write an article. Or Ka comes to Kars to try and find a wife, his long lost love Ipek for whom he yearned during all the years of his exile. He is caught up in the unfolding tragic events. Through the intensity of love, life and death and the incessant, surprising beauty of the snow, which keeps him locked in this town isolated from the world, poetry whispers and speaks to him again after a long period of not writing. So he writes down what the snow brings.
The person telling the story is a novelist retracing his murdered friend Ka’s steps in Kars and in Germany at the time of his death. Thus we have the all knowing authorial point of view once removed. This interesting construction of the novel allows the ‘author’ to get entangled, not to be impartial and having his own drives and motives. Snow did not help as an antidote to the triple digits heat in the desert, but it did further understanding and empathy and chased the summer times blues. Quotes:
- The landmarks that hadn’t been torn down, had lost their souls.
- One night I decided to disclose my sorrow to the sheikh, but he knew nothing of modernist poetry, René Char, the broken sentence, Mallarmé, Joubert, the silence of the empty line. --- a poem was coming to him. Although he had yet to hear the words, he knew it was already written.
- Much later when he thought about how he had written this poem, he had a vision of a snowflake. This snowflake he decided, was his life writ small; the poem that had unlocked the meaning of his life he now saw sitting at its centre.
- Rising up inside him was that sensation he had always felt as a child and as a young man at moments of extraordinary happiness: the prospect of future misery and hopelessness.
- He had a rational desire to fall madly in love, that much he knew.
- What was the difference between love and the agony of waiting?
- We’re not stupid! We’re just poor! And we have the right to insist on the distinction.
-‘Women kill themselves because they hope to gain something’ said Kadife. ‘men kill themselves because they have lost all hope of gaining anything.’ --- ‘But this is exactly why women commit suicide’, said Kadife, ‘to escape all forms of punishment.’
- and as we walked, they spoke unbidden about their lives, the emptiness of life in general, the pain of love and growing old. Neither had a hat, and when the snowflakes landed on each man’s thinning hair, they didn’t melt.

Friday, July 6, 2007


A little past four in the morning the sirens disturb the serenity in this sleepy, overheated desert town. 111 °F yesterday on my friend's porch. There is a fire, smoke and the pop, pop, poppp sounds of exploding ammunition and black powder. Twice already, this old mining camp with its mainly wooden structures burned to the ground. So I throw a change of clothes, medication and toiletries in the car, get my laptop, phone and ticket cum passport ready in a rucksack and go off to take pictures and investigate. A small trailer next to the church and the activity day center of the church is burning wildly. Our understaffed and underfunded volunteer fire brigade does its best. We all know there is hardly any water, so the water might be shut off in the rest of the town so that there is enough pressure for dousing the flames. One person, keeps the church building nearest to the fire wet, two others work on the fire. Years ago, another structure owned by the same man went up in flames… It reminds me of a poem by Sherman Alexie ‘Little Fires’, where the flames follow his family. All the right decisions were made, the volunteers took risks being near the very possible explosion of the structure, but got it under control. The wind was calm, so the fire was contained.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

It is a dry heat

The first hurdle to posting was the lack of a telephone line, six calls and three days later I could go online again. Then however it was sooo hot 108 yesterday and 110 today and no air conditioning in my place that my laptop's ventilator couldn't cope with it. I could have written about a smooth ride not withstanding the major scares in the U.K. A Welcome Barbecue in the canyon, help to repair last winters freeze damage in the plumbing department, meeting and greeting and glad to be back in the desert... Water alert RED. Extreme conservation is needed, otherwise we loose the pump for the whole system. My only sin, a bowl of water for the stray or wild animals... My posting may be irregular, photo's can't be done with the slow line in this heat, so be patient and in a few days the temperature should be going down.