{ Simplicity is a Thing .. }

alOha : }   

   Posted this on Facebook the other day, and it seemed to resonate with people, so I figured we'd share it here too : ) 

Waking up this morning in the Winnie, I was thinking about the last apartment that we moved out of (about 7 years ago) .. and how it used to run $1,200 per month .. that's $40 per day.. . a poignant daily burn when you're pulling teeth rather than filling them and eating sickly food or plain grains.

$1,200 per month x 12 = $14,400 per year x 7 = $100,800.00 saved in this little experiment of ours.

We've lived for years illegally parked on the city sidewalks in Long Beach (renovation time) and Venice Beach (boardwalk madness) .. we've lived in the forest, watched over private property .. and right now, we pay an extra $50 per month to park and live in the driveway of our candle studio, the Hive ; )

Do we have that Hundred Thousand Dollars set aside in a pickle jar someplace?

No. We ate a lot of it -  by way of organic food which we couldn't afford in the past + .. more important than making, selling and saving, we never sold that time (life) in the first place.

When you see us off on hikes and camps with the babes or wonder how we carve out time to write, bottle spring water, or build things .. that's it. 

We just chose to adapt and not -need- so much .. the less life you have to trade for comforts and status, the more life that's left for you ... the rightful owner of these moments and memories to begin with.



{ Free the Bees - The New Buzz }

Hello Friends : ) 
    The time has come !!

Our future dreams of becoming beekeepers is becoming today's reality : ) 

   We just got back from a little road trip, and we've found the Land !! A beautiful desert scape on the river and around much wild forage.

    We've also found a connection on some amazing wild Arizona bees. We're working with a swarm catcher who kindly relocates swarming bees from private property and then sets them up, with their own honey stores and comb, in professional beehives.

    And now we're looking for supporters who will help us get the tools: bees, bee suits, hive boxes, sage smokers, and put wings on the project !!

    We will bee putting a lot of our own funds into this - and not so much spending time but enjoying our time with the bees (been dreaming about it and waking up with a smile on my face) .. but it's the slow season for us, and we're a tiny company .. so we hoped some of our bee-autiful friends would get behind this movement ... and earn some first harvest honey in the meantime !!

      Please .. read on : ) 

What's special about the way we want to keep bees, and how can it help the national community and bees as a whole ?

    *** To sum up what we're working on, we've been looking for a good honey connection, to supply our friends and candle collectors, but unfortunately, we're finding that the vast majority of bee keepers are supplementing their bees with GMO corn syrup in place of their own mineral rich honey : (
*** Most people have no idea that this is industry standard, (even for the hobbyist - who's misled from the start) and this Needs to Change before it's too late..

   And being the kind of people who strive for the kindest and most sustainable process, not to mention that we all know that the bees could use some health and help right now, we don't want to support and distribute honey coming from these conditions .. therefore we will bee making our own!

   On top of that, most bees are being treated with chemical medicines and dragged off to toxic pesticide crops for pollination.

    So, we've been thoroughly motivated to Bee the change that we wish to see. And hopefully through educating and creating a more informed and aware public, we'll open up a new market for "kind" honey and inspire other small beekeepers to do the same ; )  

If you want the full story, you can see our original post here { Sweetness & Sorrow - the Plight of the Honey Bee }  

   Our beginnings will be modest, but we'll start by giving about a half a million bees the life that they deserve. Our bees will live in the clean and sacred desert, feeding on wild flowers and blooming trees.

   We'll never ship them off to pollinate chemical crops.

    They won't be treated with anything but loVe and in the winter, their hard work will be rewarded the way nature intended, with plenty of pure honey to eat in the off season - no white sugar "candy slabs" or buckets of GMO corn syrup for our little bee girls : )

   We'll produce some great capping's wax for candles and some of the healthiest, most buzzing honey on the planet !!

    We'll bee offering our Sweet Honey for sale to our friends and collectors, but the first jars will be headed to our start-up supporters who help us get going : ) We'll send jars off to all contributors of $50 or more, bigger jars going to bigger supporters, but everything helps !!!

   We can't wait to share our experiences and photographs with sustainable beekeeping, and help others get setup in the future !!    

    Please keep in mind that this is a new project, a lot depends on the weather (which has been a little droughty lately ..) so we'll do everything we can to reward our supporters, but our main focus is making sure we leave enough honey for the bees, so supplies might be limited all around - doing rain dance as we speak : )

    If you have an old-fashioned check book, feel free to send us a check - payable to Pollen Arts.

    Pollen Arts
    PO BOX 301
    Flagstaff, AZ 86002

If you are sending a check .. please include your email address so we can confirm your gift/ mailing address before shipping in the future.

   ... or we can do paypal, too : )

   You can use the "send money" button on paypal and send it to pollenarts@gmail.com

*** Since this is a donation and not a sale, please make sure that you click the "I'm sending money to family or friends" option, (as seen below) and if you're paying through a paypal or bank account, they won't take out any fees ; )

Or just send us an email, and we'll send you a request in whatever amount you're comfortable with : )

Thanks for all the loVe and support!

  loVe !!

  -p&j .. and the honey bees !!


*** We've decided to forgo the KickStarter Campaign on this first round for a few reasons.

   One - we're starting small/ don't need to kick off a big media campaign. And we feel that we're already connected with like-minded people who want to help, so no need to funnel everybody over to a 3rd party site (they have some processing fees and awkward time tables, too)

   Plus - we kind of want to keep this just friends, since we'll be offering raw honey to supporters, and seeing as though this is a crop that depends on the unpredictable elements, we figure our friends, family and followers would be more understanding if we had a slow first season and had to send off smaller samples or wait till later to pull honey and send off thank-you jars ..



{ Dudy Calls - HelL-A }

***Note: there's a slight possibility that I -might- read this as an audio blog, but I've already lived this story and then spent a full day-and-a-half writing it, so I just might be done.. 

But, if you'd like to experience it first through spoken word, you might just want to leave if for now and check back in a week or so .. 

You can listen to another roughly cut audio blog I did {here}


   These stories are out of date quite a bit, and date way back to when we first went to the { Farm } and got the babes. 

   Juwels and I had been talking about getting goats, dreaming about it really. But we hadn't asked the landlord. He's a really nice guy, kooky and free like us, but he had mentioned when we moved in that he didn't want any more dogs on the property. But what about screaming hoofed dogs with a propensity for jumping on cars and eating.... everything?

   Juwels hugged him when he said "yes."

"You just made my dreams come true!!!"

   "Boy," he laughed, "you're some kind of lady if a goat is all it takes to make your dreams come true."

(Notice the singular, "goat". That's all we were thinking about at first. Getting -a- goat. And the little girl was supposed to live up the hill on the back of the property with our neighbor's lonely horse. Not at our place, right next to the landlord's house, although he maintains he's never really heard them.)

   When we got to the farm, naturally, we fell in love and wanted to take them all home. We'd driven the {winnie} to the and camped along the way, and seeing our excitement, the owner of the farm eyed the winnie's shape and size and said we could probably get about 50 in there. 

   We settled on two babes (they said they'd be unhappy alone) and before the winnie had even pulled up to the Hive, we knew they'd be living with us and not with the horse. Sorry Lily : (

   We fell head-over-hooves in loVe with everything about them. Their little waggly tails, their floppy ears, kissing their little snoodles, and the way they'd cry every time we had to go back inside to work. We were always watching them through the pouring room windows, maxed out our SD cards filming and photographing them, and I even slept on the futon on the other side of glass door, so I could make sure that nothing came out of the woods to bother them ... and they curled up and slept on the deck directly on the other side of the glass.

   I even got to a point where I was feeling exhausted and suffering throbbing headaches, and I was convinced that I was enjoying the goats to such a degree that it was actually frying out the dopamine sensors in my brain (the same thing that drug addicts suffer over time) and I caught myself rubbing my temples and saying, "I need to distance myself from them a little .. they're using all my happiness, and I think it's making me sick." 

Nobody believed this theory of mine, but it makes perfect sense to me.

   They were instantly attached to us, and whenever we had to go out, we had to sneak out through the back shed, after baiting them onto the front deck with corn chips, so they wouldn't know we left. Ever.

   We love it here so much that we almost never wanted to leave anyway, unless we needed food or we were taking the goats somewhere - off the trail and through the forest, up the local mountain peeks, or through the canyon. 

   But then, we had to leave. The state. For a trade show. 


   Our candle business just kind of flows. We don't look for work for the most part - it just comes, or stays away, at the perfect moment. But a week or so before we'd even asked about getting the goats, before we even knew we were going to have them, we were hanging around in the Hive, finishing up lunch, and I said to juwels, "It seems a little slow right now... Is it normally slow at this time year?"
   "Well," she said, "summer's a little slower for direct sales, but we normally do California Gift Show around now, and we book a bunch of orders."

   "When is it?" 

   "In a few weeks," she said. "Probably too late to get in now, and we don't have much money for a booth anyway."

   The California show has been getting worse and worse every year. More junk booths with crap from China, less buyers and many of the better ones saying that it was a waste of their time and that they wouldn't be back next year. But we needed something to keep us busy (and fed) through the summer, so I said I'd reach out to the promoters and see if they'd give us a deal for any last minute booth or cancellation spot.

   We hardly had half the booth money, and they'd surely be booked up. And we didn't really want to leave the mountain, but they got right back to us and said that we were in...

   The electric yellow "check engine" light came on in the truck almost simultaneously with the news that we'd be leaving town, (this has never happened before) and we ignored it for the moment and got right to work molding brand new styles, pouring samples, and dialing in the display. 

   Getting ready for these shows at the last minute can be a nightmare. And it normally climaxes with juwels staying up all night the day before we leave (usually making food and raw chocolate for the road and show). And I normally get to bed very late, but with still just enough sleep to drive the whole way across the scorching Mojave Desert, while juwels sleeps like a corpse on my shoulder, lap, the opposite window, and sometimes straight back in the seat.

   Somehow (juwels idea) we decided that it would be too traumatic for the babes to be left all alone for 4 or 5 days, and that it would be bad for their "training", so juwels said that after I got the truck packed up with her, I could stay back and play Mr. Mom, and she would run the show solo.

   I didn't really love this idea with the feared un-dependability of the truck, (even though it had never broken down on us) the fact that she'd have to accost somebody on the convention center loading docs to help unload one particular piece of furniture, and that hiding away to eat (normally behind the display) or running off to the bathroom would be very difficult without a partner. But she normally does most of the talking and writing of orders, and I just stand around uncomfortably in my clean, unwrinkled clothes, so I knew she could hold down the fort if need be.

   But ... as the days neared closer, I could tell that she'd be doing one of her all-nighters the day before, so to keep her from drifting off the highway, I said that I'd come along to drive her there. I could help set up, and hang around and work the first day, and then just take the train back that first night. 

   She was relieved by this, and so was I. Plus, I love the bug-splattered scenery of the drive through the desert to California. Such beautiful jagged mountains, ruined towns, stands of Joshua Trees and the endlessly curious trailer communities and old cafes with broken windows. 


   We had the check engine light diagnosed, and with reluctance, forked over the money to have it fixed at the last possible minute. And at about 4:30 in the morning the day of setups, we drove directly from the Hive, fingers crossed, to the convention center in downtown Los Angeles. It was a strange kind of time travel, and our bodies were like ... ummm .. I like it better up there at 7000 feet. What's this sea level nonsense?

   We were both so burnt out by the time we were setting up the booth, feeling high and hot and lightheaded. I had this feeling like a giant octopus pad was sucking on the crown of my head, and juwels looked like somebody had been spinning her - frazzled with rosy cheeks and raccoon eyes. Perfect time to meet the public : )

   "Hey," I said, unwrapping a candle for display, "We can be here as early as 6 a.m. tomorrow, and the show doesn't start till 9 a.m. Why don't we just get the hell outta here, get some rest, and then we can show up fresh and early and finish this up the morning?"

   My night's sleep was but a blink, and juwels had only car sleep, on the un-reclining bench seat of the truck, and that did nothing more than build a good kink in your neck, so we both nodded, left everything exactly as it lay, and fled the scene.

   We were staying with a good friend in Santa Monica (we never indulge in a nearby hotel during these shows) so we made our way 30 miles through traffic to the beach. It's an odd thing to show up at a friends place so fried and nonfunctional, but he was sweet and understanding and gave us clean towels, cooked us a warm meal, and then let us die on the blowup bed which took up most of his small living room.

   I slept in a black hole, in a noiseless vacuum, feeling like I was being taken somewhere far, far away only to return in that same bed, awoken by the light sounds of traffic and fearing that we'd slept through the alarm. 

   We ate some kind of dense and hardy Chia porridge on the freeway, beat traffic and spent the extra time in the commercial flower district downtown off 9th street. Juwels, running into an airplane-hangar sized warehouse of chilled air and flowers, and me, guarding the truck at a red-blinking unpaid parking meter, flossing my teeth in the rear view mirror, and watching a tall black homeless man smoke weed in the doorway of a still-closed Mexican restaurant.

   She came back, very happy, with two blooming orchids. (these would later be stolen from our closed display) And she told me all about how she'd found them at the last booth, and how they were hidden behind another plant, and she pointed out all the unpopped flower buds that we'd watch open back home, and I gripped the needle nose pliers into the empty hole where our ignition used to be and started the truck.

   We parked at a paid lot across from the show, remembering the scissors to trim all the protruding carpet tails sprouting up from the shabby seams in the rented convention center shag. Yes, juwels has an eagle eye for presentational detail, and sadly, yes, I've been mildly infected by her spore. And in this way, we groomed the seams of the cut-rate carpet like it was a bonsai tree in our garden. 

The show was slow. Very slow. And we were both like, “We could be home with the goats right now!!!”

   We were at the very back of the Vintage section, and the back wall was what they call, “pipe and curtain”, and I was able to duck out between the fabric panels and hide from the world in the industrial backstage.

   During these times, juwels dealt with the few people who came strolling up, and I’d stay back there, sitting on my skateboard and rummaging around in the cooler and snack bags. 

   But I was out there a lot with juwels, and alone at times, when she'd run off to the bathroom and return 20 minutes later with armfuls of vintage finds  - Tibetan singing bowls, colorful kramas, and African woven baskets. All bought at wholesale. “They’re cheap gifts!!” she’d say, but they’d never leave Flagstaff, and we both knew that.  

   Making no sense at all, people tried, over and over, to buy our display of antique trunks, hive boxes and furniture. Where did they expect us to put all our candles? In piles on the carpet?

   And we did write a couple of orders, maybe breaking even on the ½ price cost of our booth. This would put a lot of pressure on the success of the next day .. seeing as though day three is normally slow, even at a good show.

   Later that evening, we pulled up the night train schedule to find that they were completely booked. And the same went for the following day. The train is nice, and rolls all night, rocking you like a baby directly into downtown Flagstaff.

   And then there's the Greyhound bus. The dirty mutt, as my friend Klima calls it. And it doesn't go directly to Flag but rather out of the way down to Phoenix and transfers to another bus up the mountain. It’s a much longer drive with many stops, no full-glass of observation car like the train, and with much nastier bathrooms.

But .. there was no train, so the dirty mutt it was. 

   Juwels was very jealous that I’d be heading home in the morning, especially now that she could see that the show looked pointless and there'd be no heroics in coming home with stacks of orders, but I'm sure she took some solace in the fact that I'd be bumping around for over 13 hours on the bus to get home, and she’d be breathing her own clean air and listening to audiobooks in the truck to make her homeward journey. 


   Even though I thought I'd be gone that evening, it was nice going back to the beach towns knowing I wouldn't be working the next day. I guess that's what a Friday must feel like to most people.

   We got dinner with friends and walked the beach to the pier. The smell of the tar-covered beams of the pier mixed with seawater, caramel corn, french fries and fish guts made me feel like a little kid. We stood below the roller coaster, feeling its vibration, and watched a young Mexican guy catch (and smuggle away) a large rock lobster he’d accidentally caught on a baited hook.

   But I will say that I did feel a little like a deserter when we pulled into the Greyhound station the next morning. We were early. Given the temperament of the traffic in LA, the only two options are early or late, but never actually calculating distance plus velocity to show up on time. We sat in the truck and shared a Fuji apple.. Juwels really likes to nibble the core at the end. I think it feels a bit like cleaning to her. 

   I wanted to give her plenty of time to get to the show, so I said I'd just wait inside and let her ramble on. The iPod was charged. I had snacks, but we couldn't seem to find my notepad or pen.

   We kissed and said our words, and then I walked off through the rough parking lot, passing through the glass doors and into the zoo. People stood in long lines, shifting around nervously like they were all on the run from something close at hand.

   A very strong-looking girl in overalls clutched a pillow under her left armpit and pulled, no, dragged, a rolling suitcase which no longer had wheels, and I heard her talking about sleeping through a transfer in another state and accidentally ending up in Los Angeles. She was talking to an old security guard who either didn't understand what she was saying or just didn't care, and I noticed a couple, who at first I thought were two girls, kissing in the corner beside a payphone.

“Next person in line??”

   I walked up to the window and gave my drivers license in exchange for my printed bus ticket, and the young teller sneered at me when I asked which terminal my bus would arrive at. I guess they call them doors, not terminals. My bourgeoisie airport lingo had defied me already. I coughed loudly, put on my sunglasses, and walked into the traveler’s-only fishbowl.

   I found my line, which turned out to be different from the one I was told, and just as I was dropping my bag on the ground in front of me, I heard juwels calling from over my shoulder, “Bay-BEE!!”, she squealed in a bird call.

   I turned and saw her beside the lines in the lobby, watching me through a thick plexi glass partition. She waved and held up my writing pad and pen in the other hand.

   Oh, thank God, I thought. A slower way to think on this long drive. That pad would be a good friend in this friendless leg of the journey.

   I walked over, leaving my bag to hold my place in line, (first come first seated), and juwels smiled brightly, happy that she’d found my instruments.

   We looked at each other through the glass, both of us not looking forward to the rest of our separate days, and then she tossed the pad over the top of the glass wall.

The security guard watched us like a lonely sniper in a prison tower.

And then she was gone.

   All the digging around in the back of the truck had brought her close to being late, and although I’d spend the majority of the blank pages in that notepad writing about a marauding fly on the bus, I somehow felt less trapped and alone because of it.


   The bus was late, and crowded, and the driver couldn't seem to keep it running at first, but then it warmed up, and we are on our way.

   It was around the time that we’d passed the last of the many strip malls and car dealerships, just when we were just getting to the pretty and mysterious parts of the desert, when the fly made its first appearance.

   We’d recently stopped at a border town to take on more walking ballast, and I’m guessing the fly had gotten on there. Maybe it had been trapped in the bathroom, after navigating the toilet vent pipe and finding its way up through the bowl and into the light, but wherever he’d come from, that little bugger keyed up.

   Even when I couldn't physically see the fly, I could see a swatting of hands and rolled up newspapers farther up the row, and I knew he was on his way back.

   He liked me and would land on my notepad, the back of my hand and the tip of my nose. I was trying to write and just ignore him, but then I started writing about him, and the way he kept on living because nobody wanted his guts on their hands and how such a small thing could so efficiently effect so many people with the simple gift of flight.

   I would've killed him, but I just never got the right angle on him. The guy beside me, an Armenian-looking guy whose blood pressure I could read with the reddening of his skin, wanted to kill the fly, too. I watched his right hand, slowly, lifting over the fly who was dancing and scissoring his legs on the faceplate of the polished watch on his left. He had the jump on him, and I thought, yes .. yes .. yesssss!! And then I saw him change his mind, shaking his head and shooing it away.

   We only found relief from the fly once he nested into a guy’s hair a few seats ahead of me. He was a big guy. Maybe a construction worker who'd worked around too many chemicals and lost the feeling in his scalp, because he never seemed to feel the fly’s expedition through the curls of his greasy black hair.

   I was thankful for this man and for the greasiness of his hair, which must have packed some kind of nutritional content for the fly, and I remember writing something in my pad like, “Yes! Settle in and take it easy, ol boy. Build a nest. Laying eggs. But for the love of God, leave the rest of us alone!!”

   The people behind me, who’d just met in line, spent the entire time talking loudly about their jobs. But I didn't see or think of flies again until we finally reached Arizona and stopped in a town where we were given 20 or 30 minutes to smoke, stock up on gas-station food, or walk across the street to a Burger King or Del Taco.

   I stayed in my seat, but stretched out my legs on the seat to my right when the lady beside me collected her things and went out.

   Two more flies boarded the bus during this time, I was on high alert after that first one, and watched the open door like a hungry spider, but they were never really a problem to me. 

   Besides getting a little too much sun through the side window of the bus, and dreaming about wandering the desert with a feather in my hair, the rest of the ride was uneventful, and 8 or 9 hours later, we were dumped off in Phoenix.

   That bus was also late but at least the engine sounded strong. Being near the back of the bus on the ride from LA, I was also the last to get off at the transfer. So I found myself at the back of the connecting line, and consequently, at the back of the next bus.

   I sat next to an enormous guy who looked like he'd been bottle fed bovine growth hormones, and he occupied his seat and half of mine. Occasionally I’d have to lean back in on him to let people into the bathroom, directly across from my outside armrest.

   The door handle was a funny one, and after watching people struggle with it, I quickly learned the trick to opening it. And being a helpful person, I felt the need to explain this to the next 25 people who would squeeze beside my chair and fiddle with it.

"No. You have to push it In and lift it Up. No, no, at the same time." 

   And every time the door was opened or closed, I'd be gassed with an odd sanitary mint sensation … peppered with a few other things that we won’t talk about.

   A young boy became stuck inside the bathroom at one point, and after glancing up toward his parents and seeing that they had no clue, I sprung him free. And at another point, even with all my well meaning instruction, an old lady couldn't get the door open for the life of her, and I got her in.

   And all the while, like a seasick sailor, I thought, “I'd so much rather be working the show with juwels right now.”


   I had just started to settle into the life and realities of a greyhound bathroom attendant, when I saw the pines outside the window, and we were in Flagstaff.

   We were unleashed at the depot, and I almost kissed the ground. My brother was out of town, and I had borrowed and parked his car on the other end of town, thinking I'd be coming in from the train station.

   Giant grey-black thunder clouds rolled in at my back as I walked to the car. The trees were swaying in the wind, looking so dark green with no glare on their needles, and lightning broke out in clusters. Coming from the traffic and grit of LA and the sordid backdrop of life on a bus, this was all unbelievably beautiful, and I almost wished it would rain on me.

   I raced home, hoping to catch the goats before they turned in for the night. And we were all reunited, for a while.

   After a few minutes of snuggling on the deck, I noticed that they hadn't stopped glancing at the gate, like, “Where's mama?”

   And the next morning when I took them on a walk through the forest, they seemed to follow me with reluctance, wondering why we weren't complete.

   I was only away for 3 days (two being travel) but it gave me a whole new appreciation for my life and surroundings.

   Juwels and I only have one phone, and I left it with her, but we said we'd email or try to setup skype. 

   Back from my walk, I fired up the computer, turned on the music, and then read this message from juwels:

hey baby!

I'm am SO jealous that you are home with the girls and the rain!
today was excruciatingly slow. you are so glad that you weren't there
bored to death with me. I met a super nice couple from phoenix that
have had a home decor store for 33 years and they placed a killer
order ... luckily, that made the day worth while. but GOd was is
painful. definitely don't think it's worth coming back next year.
sO ... I met with lisa for dinner at Cafe Gratitude on LArchmont in LA
and I'm trying not to freak out ... but the goddamn truck froze up and
broke down in the middle of the street on La Brea when I left. It was
so scary ... I was stuck in the left turn lane at the intersection
with a phone that was practically dead and no clue what to do.

I was nervous to get out of the car with traffic whizzing by, and I
had no clue what I was even looking for ... but I popped the hood to
see if the wires chris worked on disconnected or something ... but I
have no idea what is wrong ;(

a nice girl who could tell I was distressed walked up in high heels
with multiple shopping bags dangling from her wrists and asked if I
needed help ; ) I asked if she could steer and I can't believe my
super human strength but I pushed the truck through the intersection
and up an incline into a parking lot and then back into the street to
make a u-turn up yet another incline and then back out onto la brea so
that I could park at a meter. thank god it's sunday tomorrow and the
meter's are free!!! and I am so grateful that there even was a spot
available and that I wasn't in a residential neighborhood cuz the
street that I turned around on was permit parking only! my lungs hurt
SOOo bad! I feel like I was breathing fire. and I am so weak and
exhausted I thought my knees were going to collapse ; (

I dunno how in the hell I am going to get this fixed on monday though
cuz I can't be in two places at the same time and I need to bring it
to a mechanic and then get to the show and then somehow pick it up so
that I can get back to the convention center and pack up the
display??!!! AHHHhhHhh!

what do I do baby???

I so wish you were still here ; (

can you please try to call me maƱana?

I wish I were sleeping and that this was just a bad dream ; (

miss you dearly,

lisa and her man gave me a good laugh when I got to their place all distressed.
these goats are friggin hilarious!



   I speed-walked up to my neighbor’s house, hoping I could catch juwels before leaving for the show and maybe talk her through getting it started, but soon found out that my neighbor's phone couldn't call long distance on her land line (we still had a California number).

   She pulled out a phone card, which I felt guilty using, and it ran out by the first ten words of our conversation anyway.

   Juwels hadn't yet left for the show, and after going to the gas station to buy another phone card, I got her on the phone and learned all the grim details of the night. I asked if she tried this and tried that, and eventually she drove back to the stranded truck in Hollywood, and we went through it.

   Nothing I asked her to do helped, and at one point, when she tried to turn it over for the 5th time, she said, “Oh my God. Did you hear that?”

   “No... Hear what?”

“It was a huge crashing noise and then a bang.”

   “Shiiiet.. “ I said, “just leave it alone for now..”

   She was late for the show by now, but said she had only booked one order the day before, so we probably weren't missing anything.

   But she also said again, “Well, I'm going to go to the show today in Lisa's car, but she needs it back tomorrow. And I need to get the truck out of the spot by the morning or they'll tow it. And. Tomorrow's the last day of the show, and I need to get our booth out of the Convention Center at the end of the day. Oh …  and I need to figure out a mechanic in all that, and I just wish you were still here!”

   I paced around in my neighbor's 50's trailer, staying close to the charger to keep reception and taking this all in. And in the next room, her daughter, Grace, sang fanatically loud along to some teen-idol music video.

   “Well,” I said, “What do you want me to do?”

“I don't know. I guess I could try and get it fixed, but I don't know about cars.. “

   “Neither do I,”  I said. "That's what mechanics are for." 

“Ah.. It’s just hard to do this with only one person. I need to be at the show tomorrow, but I need to get the car towed and fixed too.. That is, if we have the money to fix it.”

   She waited for me to say something.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

   “I don't know.. this sucks.”

“If you want me to come back, I will, but I won't come back unless you say that's what you want.”

   This was unbelievable.

I had just stepped off the second bus 11 hours ago, including 8 hours of sleep.

   “I want you to come back,” she said.

“Okay, I'll call Paul and tell him that it’s an emergency and that I have to steal his car and take it to California.”

   “Thanks, baby,” she said. “I'm sitting in the parking lot at the convention center right now, so I better get in there."

“See you in 8 hours,” I said.

   “I love you!!”


   “Oh, wait !!” She remembered, “Can you bring me two gallons of spring water? I'm so thirsty!!” 


   I packed a bag, threw some things from the fridge into a tote with no ice pack, never quite got my brother on the phone, (left a message,) and hit the road.

   I got gas in town, aired up the tires, and checked the oil. I felt responsible for at least doing this, and it turned out that the car needed a little oil. I bought a quart, and spilled a little on the engine as I topped it off.

   I would later wish I hadn't spilled, because that smell of burning oil reminded me of car trouble, and that would just be the worst, having my car blowup out of state and then stealing my brother’s car to come to the rescue, and having his break down along the way.

   He has a newer car though, and I drove 5 or so miles an hour over the speed limit, so, 80-ish most of the way, and I was making great time.

   Later when I pulled off at a truck stop for gas, I heard the cashier telling somebody ahead of me that there was a fatal crash up the way and that the freeway was deadlocked. I hit the traffic, but cheated by riding the exit and entrance ramps when they came up, so I could cut farther up in line. Not my normal style, but just wanted to keep the momentum. 

   The last time doing this, I cut back in and found myself directly behind an 18-wheeler filled with two levels of live pigs. Besides the obvious fear cloud and bad energy, they stunk to high hell. I rolled up my windows, but the smell was in, and all I could do was shallow breathe and let the particles settle into the upholstery.

   I talked to my voice recorder about everything and nothing in particular, and at one point, in the middle of nowhere, I saw a “peace pilgrim” type person walking on the shoulder of the freeway and pulling the rickshaw with a sign saying something about his travels. I almost cried when I saw this.

   God - I wish I didn't spill that oil. I thought. That’s a bad smell. Oil is the blood of a car.

   And then, just as it was getting dark, the yellow engine light comes on in his car. 



   I'd just turned my voice recorder off, but clicked it back on when I saw that yellow warning light, and to occupy my mind, I talked at a feverish pace.

   I hate cars, I think was the way started it, and I talked until I saw the lights of Los Angeles twinkling between particles of smog.

   I'd gotten juwels on the phone with the old calling card from the road, and she had a couple bits of good news. 1.) Lisa's boyfriends, Anthony, had a free towing credit on his AAA, and they’d be towing it out of there right after the show and 2.) He had a trusted mechanic nearby where they could leave it.

   I was happy to hear the truck was going to be out of its time bomb spot, and the free towing was great.

   I passed the Los Angeles Times building on the edge of the 10 freeway, again, and laughed out loud.

   I pulled off at La Brea on my way to Lisa's place where juwels with staying. It was also the same street where the truck had broken down.

   I passed all the high-end boutiques and restaurants with contempt, just wanting to be back in the woods. And then I saw the truck. Still there on the side of the road. Why was it there? What had gone wrong?

   I was instantly disheveled by this, and I pulled ahead of the truck on the busy street and looked for a payphone to call juwels.

   I found a phone, covered in spray paint and stickers, but when I picked it up, I realized that the silver cord had been ripped from the black box and the whole piece was independent in my hand. A bus passed by, and filthy pigeon-city dust filled in the air. And my stomach grumbled.

   Back at Paul’s car, all wired up and out of it, I said to myself, “Let's pop the hood and see what the hell's going on in here.”

   I know nothing about engines, so I don't know what I'd really be looking for, and I’d already made it all the way out there, but that damn engine light had me going.

   I popped open the hood and was completely horrified to see that, in my hurry, 450 miles ago back in Flagstaff, I'd forgotten to put the Oil Cap Back On. 


   There was oil splattered all over the engine and exploded onto the inside of the hood, and the heat from the engine came up on my face in waves.

I just ruined a twenty thousand dollar car … and in this God forsaken place.

   The smell of burning oil was on my tongue and coating the back of my throat, and the noise of the traffic was a blur as I chanted, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

   I walked around the driver's side of car in the lights and noise and dust of the passing traffic, and I scrounged around for a napkin to wipe the oil dipstick.

   Back around the front of the car again, still chanting and suppressing the fact that running a car without oil will destroy the engine, I pulled the dipstick and wiped it clean.

   In the sickly yellow light of the street lamp, my arms and hands in front of me looked like the limbs in some kind of virtual reality simulator.

   My hands were shaking as I slid the dipstick back into the casing to test the oil.

   And when I pulled it back out, it was fine. 

   The oil level had barely dropped.

   I wouldn't learn this until later, at the AutoZone that stayed open extra late, but you can't lose all the oil through the top of an engine, only the bottom.

   But when I finally got to Lisa's place and found juwels, I imagined I'd be the hero there to save the day, but instead I was fried, blitz, baked. 

   I had to call for juwels from the street (she said the place was hard to find but that she’d listen for me near the window), and when I met her in the doorway, Lisa’s man had just walked up with the two dogs, and I could even say hi to him.

   Lisa and her boyfriend were great. I'd never met Anthony before, and he said, “Well, you learn a lot about somebody through crisis, so we've just cut through a year or so bullshit.”

   I didn’t want to drive Paul’s car anymore, and we'd have to be at the show early the next day, so wanted to get closure on this. We jumped in their car like storm chasers, with him at the wheel and Lisa on GPS, and he raced around the night to find us the right cap and oil. 
They were the best, and an hour later, I'd be eating yet another warm, home-cooked meal, showered, and watching their favorite goat-scream videos. 


   Okay, I'm writing this all in one session by hand, and I can’t feel my thumb anymore, but I'll sum up the rest of it like this. 

   Anthony had the truck towed to the shop later that night, and in the morning, the mechanic would give the truck a fatal diagnosis. The rest of the show was a joke, but I think we made enough to fix the truck and buy some more beeswax. 

   At the mechanic's place, I'd learn that there was a difference between "check engine" and "service engine" and that the only thing Paul's car needed was an oil change, which we did on the spot. 

   We crammed the most valuable parts of the display in my brother’s car to be taken back to Flag and locked the bigger items in the shell of the truck where it was temporarily parked at the mechanics lot.

   And shockingly, a friend of ours back in Flagstaff who wanted to break in his brand new giant diesel truck, offered to come out from Flagstaff and tow the truck back for only the cost of gas. And, he works on cars and said he could fix it for less.(I could write a whole blog on what happened with this)

   We toyed with the idea of staying one last day, since we'd made plans with a friend to swim and hang on the beach, but as we fought traffic on our second trip to clear out our display with Paul's tiny car, and two cars crashed right in front of us, I said, “Let's get the hell out of here before something else goes wrong.”

And juwels agreed.

   We got stuck in gnarly traffic on the way out, and I thought, “This place is a black hole .. it’s trying so hard to keep up here..”

   And 9 or so hours later, we’d back at the Hive, snuggling with the goats and swearing off Los Angeles or any big city for a long while.

We didn't want to go anywhere for the rest of the season.


   Months ago, before we'd gotten the goats, and even before we knew that we’d be doing the trade show, we agreed to fly out to Reno Nevada and pick up a car and a trailer from my brother Paul.

   It was supposed to be a fun time for juwels and I. A free dependable car (we’ll see) and a vintage trailer, and all we had to do was pay the gas and take his car for the last leg of his trip back home to Flagstaff while they flew back and got to work.

   So ... just a three days later, we’d be on a two planes to take a car and a trailer 800 more miles to finally get back to the goats.

We didn't want to go.


We went.

And you'll soon here the tales of that trip.



{ Camp Cougar - Day 3 }

alOha Campers : ) 

You can read about day {one} and {two} of this camping trip <------ there : )

   Day 2 ended with a painful drumming in my head and with ezzie suffering an upset belly, but something that I forgot to mention about the close of that day was that we were visited one last time by that guy with the dogs.

   I was dangling in my hammock chair and reading a book, slowly turning with the breeze, when juwels noticed somebody approaching our camp. She went up the grass hill, and I heard her talking pleasantly enough.  I was still in my hammock, slowly rotating away from a view of the river, when she came back down the hill and told me that it was the guy with the dogs. He asked if the goats were still with us, which I thought was a strange question. Where else would they be?

   And then he said, "I don't want to worry you, but this is cougar country back in here, and they love goats and sheep. You guys should really think about getting a couple dogs to watch camp at night. Cats don't like dogs, even big cats."

   Juwels told him that we had a pistol, and he said that was good but that the only warning we'd have of a cougar approaching at night was from the goats, and that it would all happen pretty fast. (pleasant thing to think about while trying to sleep.)

   That night the whole family snuggled around the fire, and we kept the fire going with a few thick logs of oak just before bed. And the whole camp flickered in a nice orange light for hours to come. Most nights, I wake up periodically on my own, even at home in my comfy bed, but ezzie mez also has a habit of whining in her sleep, and since we were sleeping right next to each other, that would call me out of my dreams a bit more. 

   I slept with the pistol, wrapped in a silk scarf, under my pillow that night, and for the following.

   And tucked between me and mez, I kept my army flashlight, which has a bend at the top like a periscope. I remembered seeing an ad in a poultry magazine for a predator security system, and it worked by occasionally flashing light into the yard. They said that a night prowler's biggest fear was being spotted, so when I'd wake up in the quiet on my own, most times I'd click the light on, and without sitting up or lifting my head from the pillow, I'd extant my arm and do a slow circle once or twice around the camp.

   And all those times I was awoken by ezzie's whining and crying, I'd give her a little pat on the rump to wake her if it was just one of her bad dreams, and I'd sit up doing a two-handed version of the light trick, this time with the pointed pistol in my other hand.

   Another thing that would give me pause in the night was the sound of ezzie's digestion between her four very active stomachs. Sometimes after she'd cry, in the silence that followed, my alerted brain would hear a growl and not be able to place its nearness. The hair on my neck stood up the first time I heard this, thinking I'd heard a 200 pound cat hungrily grumbling before I realized it was ezzie's belly. 

   I haven't been around guns or hunting much since I was a boy, and it felt a little over the top working that 38 around in the darkness. But then again, we were 26 miles off the paved road, helplessly laying around in mummy bags wafting the scent of young female goats in the night air. And if she'd heard, seen or smelled a big cat on the edge of the camp, I might as well be ready rather than scrambling around under my pillow.

   I'm pretty quick to my wits at night, and I reminded myself, not to shoot into the main camp and don't shoot out the trucks tires or radiator in the night. My dreams between this, not surprisingly, were stressful, and when the sky would finally lightened up a shade, I'd think, Okay... we made it through.

   Since ezzie's poops still weren't solid, juwels would get up every time she'd drop one, and shovel it away.. Don't want them tracking that back to the bags.
   The wooden rod of the shovel lay between us for easy access, and although I was on watch duty, and she was on doody duty, I tried on a couple occasions to lazily scoop and move the piles with the shovel from a laying position, but the leverage was all off ... a bit like trying to turn off your alarm clock on the other side of the room with a canoe paddle.

   We decided that the next time we'd bring a collapsible crate for the girls, so we wouldn't have to worry about them being chased off or carried away by a lion at any second of the night.

    Somehow, through all of that, I was able to lose my headache, and ezzie got her berries back, and the new day was slated to be great : ) Were up early again that morning, brewing coffee, frying bacon and eggs and digging the charred squash and potatoes out of the dead coals of last night's fire.

The girls ate their grass, stood, circus-style, on hind legs to nibble baby oak leaves, and the hill of large red ants sent up frigid scouts who could barely move until the sun came up and into the canyon.

   On the way through camp, the girls at our sides and leashed, people came out of their tents to greet us and pet the babes. A young guy came out of the last camp and told us that he plans to hit the springs later and paint a giant rainbow over a wall that had been covered with names and initials. "Some people might get upset about this," he said, and waited a tick to see if we had any objections, but we told him we'd happily trade words four colors and thanked him for taking the initiative.

"We're not good artists," he said, "but we can paint a rainbow."

   We took the low road this time, which was a bit more difficult than the fire road, but this path had more graze for the babes, and the river bordered the whole way. We stopped and watched the bees visiting flowers and used a slingshot to skip flat rocks across the still water.

   We had the pool all to ourselves for a long while. When we were in the big pool, the babes perched on the rocks up the hill, and when we'd sneak into the small hotter pool in the room, they'd soon notice, and come crying and trampling in after us.

   We had to relocate a few toxic red paraffin candles which ezzie tried to nibble on, but then they snuggled up below the pool bench and chewed their cud.

   The rainbow painters showed up later, along with another couple, and ezzie seemed to bond with a skinny blonde girl who spent most of her time sunning topless on the pool deck. It was cute to see the goats being social with strangers, and the girl's boyfriend kept saying, "God, they're so cute. I just can't stand it."

   Which developed into a full-fledged obsession, and progressed to, "I need goats. Is there a way we could have goats in downtown San Francisco? Is there such a thing as rooftop goats?"

   The painters were very organized with their supplies as well as excitedly mapping and voicing the process, and the ambient sound of it fulfilled that silent observer's part of my brain that loves watching Bob Ross, cooking shows, or knife or blender sales pitch videos. 
   And we stayed there a long, long while watching the color go on the wall.

   While posting some Instagram pics back at camp, we caught a rare glimpse at the time, and found that we'd been gone for close to 6 hours, it now being lunch time.

   We swung back and forth, passing glass serving bowls from one hammock to the other like dance partners, eating fresh guacamole, Mediterranean quinoa, fennel salad with toasted pine nuts and dried cranberries, and when juwels came back from packing the bowls back into the cooler, she returned with the Holy Bowl of homemade caramel. Oh .. that caramel, how I loved thee.

   The rest of the trip was more of the same. Soaking, hiking, feeding, snuggle piles beside the fire and on the grassy banks of the river. Waving the gun in the night, and fending the goats off our sleeping bags. (They'd make your legs go numb if you let them.)


   Ezzie slept next to me every night. I think she could sense the protector in me. And for half of the second night, when she had returned from a 3 a.m. potty walk, chia stepped over me and flopped, with a grunt, directly between our bags, and there she spent the night snoring, cooing, and flapping her little swan neck and goat head onto the shoulder of my bag and then back onto juwels'.

   Oh, and we were also almost killed in our hammocks one evening. 
   We got a fair amount of wind cutting through the canyon, this was very pleasant at the springs, but on one particular occasion back at camp, we were in our hanging hammock chairs down by the water, and this gust came on us from down the river. The sounds of it came like a wave, throwing the trees and reeds into a physical frenzy before it even reached us.

   And we both pulled our eyes from our books to watch this thing coming. The meat of it stayed with us for a while, and then I heard those unmistakable sounds of a tree beginning to fall. That tearing sound, cracking, warning, but obscured by the sound of a million leaves flapping like tattered flags overhead.

   I jumped out of my hammock and bolted, yelling to juwels to "Run! Run! Run!"

   I had gotten four or five strides when the tearing noise of the tree got louder, and I knew it was coming down.

   It was behind me somewhere, I could tell that, but was it falling towards me?

   I paused, knowing I had to source the thing if I was going to avoid it, and I see juwels just standing there beside her hammock, book still leafed open in her hands, and staring up at a 30-foot oak with a dazed expression on her face.

   The thing snapped in half just as the wind had passed, and in the new silence, it sounded even louder still. It ripped branches from smaller trees as it fell only 15 or so feet from our chairs. 

"Oh my God," juwels called, laughing.

   After the shock wore off, I read juwels the riot act, "What were you doing just standing there???! You can't just freeze like that."

   She gulped comically ..

"I was yelling Run, Run, Run," I said,  "And demonstrating, too." 

"You did?" 


She laughed. "Well, I blew it," she said. "I failed."

"Shieet." I sighed.

   And after juwels' non-reaction to an actual tree falling from the sky, the next 45 minutes were filled, on her end, with speculation as to whether or not the long thick branch that we were hanging from in our hammock chairs was going to break as well.

   I fluffed it off, lazy in my hammock and seeing that the tree was healthy overhead, but after the first 5 minutes of her investigation into every nook and cranny of the base of its trunk, I finally resorted to scaling the tree barefoot, and jumping up and down directly above the hammock chairs to prove its stability.

   The half tree that had fallen was stretched directly across the path that we always used to reach the river and the hammock chairs. I walked over to the fallen thing and saw that it had been weakened by some kind of burrowing bug. I placed the palm of my hand on the smooth inside of the peeled back park. It was wet and cool. I rubbed the tree blood on my cheek and thought about licking it, but it was tucked back into a prickle bush, so I didn't. The pulpy heart of it was soft and spongy, and I could dig my thumb into it.

 And oddly, about an hour later, with no wind blowing at all, juwels had been talking about how crazy it was for the tree to fall like that, and just then, in mid-sentence, another large piece fell with a crash in the exact same spot.

   I have no clue where the second piece came from. The broken tree looked exactly the same, sheared off midway, matching the picture in my mind. It was the strangest thing, like a wormhole had opened up and dumped that second piece out ...

   We didn't have an exact date when we wanted to head back to society, but we figured that either the food or spring water would run out or the influx of weekend traffic would push us away, and the day we left was actually pretty unexpected. We were loafing around down in the hammocks, again, recouping from another long soak, and I was walking up to camp on a back trail (since the oak was blocking the old one) and I saw a set of big footprints in the mud with enormous nail marks slashing 
 deep into the earth.

Hmmmm ....

    I walked around and found more, right on the edge of our camp and coming up from the river, and they looked real fresh. I called juwels over, and we talked about it. We had off-and-on service on the phone, and we tried to look up the tracks, but it wasn't easy since the back of the pad was incomplete...

   This was all happening amidst one of our most favorite parts of the day .. the gloaming hour (which lasts an abnormally long time since the canyon ridge is so high on the horizon). We'd would have much rather enjoyed winding down during this magical part of the day, making a hot supper and meditating on the fire .. but due to sleeping on edge listening for mountain lions, and finding these unidentifiable tracks we talked about heading home to our hive.

 Juwels didn't really want to go, but then again, I was the one on guard duty, waving that gun around and getting covered in dirt every time the goats would come back from a potty time and feel the need to dig in the dust beside my pillow for a couple of minutes, so I finally made the call to pack up the gear, bribe the babes with corn chips to empty their bladders .. and hit the high road. 

And that's the way it all ended.

   With the four of us filthy, smelling like campfires and hot springs and safe and sound ; ) 
p&j .. & .. c&e 

      .... yes, this trip was full of many different polarities - from the warm soul melting into a pool of the earth's liquid heat, to the animated frights of mother nature in unexpected forms, but I guess that's what they call an adventure rather than a pleasure cruise with pillow mints and white towels folded like swans. (we could use one of these, too ; ) We love all that ends well, and life keeps you sharp in this way.

Oh ... and I'm not even going to mention the sticker bush that pricked the my eyelid as I was cleaning up camp to go ... or how the whole left side of the bridge of my nose swelled up and made me look like an avatar. "I'm sorry," juwels would later say, "but I can't look at you without staring at that thing. It's kind of freaking me out."

ha ha ha ..

"I know... me too."

The End ; )