Wednesday

{ On the Road ... again .. } pt. 1

Hello-Hello !! 

   This post directly follows our { Hel-LA } travel blog .. where we found ourselves called away from our new baby Nubian goats right in the middle of one of the most important developmental stages of baby goat cuteness... (they were soooo small and squeaky) !!

   So if you haven't read that ^ one, you might want to give it a look just for context sake & to understand the odd mix of travel momentum sprinkled with the strong desire to just sit still for a moment.

    But if not ... here's how this trip started. My younger brother is a bit of a wanderer (runs in the family) and he'd been talking about going on a long trip across many states during his summer break (he's a math teacher). He'd worked out a deal with our neighbor to rent her mini canned ham trailer, and in the coming weeks, he'd put in a lot of time tinkering with the water tanks, wiring, fretting over the condition of the tires, etc. 

   And out of the blue, he asked me if I wanted to meet him in Reno (he'd buy the plane ticket in exchange for all the dog watching we do for him) and then we could do a "Bro's trip" back down through Tahoe and all the scenic spots between here and there. 

   I was skeptical at the last minute proposal but interested .. and later found out that he really just needed somebody along to do the driving 'cause his wife would be flying out of Reno to get back to work, and he thought he'd be fried on driving by then.

   Hmmmm .... and after hearing things like, "well .. . keep in mind that I'll have already been on the trip for a month, so I don't want to take too much time getting home." I thought I better bring a partner in crime. 

   Juwels. 

   And besides, we don't get to travel that much, so of course I'd be incomplete without her. 

   "Do you care if juwels comes?" I asked .. since the whole "Bro's Trip" sham had been exposed. 

   He didn't care, but said he was only buying one ticket, and that was fine by us .. and even though this was all being planned in the somewhat distant future, we were excited to go !! 

   We're not big on advanced planning, and never really know what we'll be up to, and it just so happens that months later ... we suddenly got the goats, and we didn't want to leave their sweet little faces, ever. 

   But then we had to leave on a stressful mission to do a  trade show in LA .. and when we finally returned home - dead, broke, and with our car blown up, we were like .. Oh, yeah .. we're supposed to fly to Reno in 3 days .. ha ha ha. 

   But we made the best of it : ) 
   


   We took a small plane out of Flag to a bigger plane in Phoenix and then off to Reno. We both felt jet lagged from the trip we'd just returned from, and at one point the little old lady in the seat beside me, popped open a luch-able type thing, and proceeded to squeeze cheap mayonnaise and tuna fish onto a plastic plate, mash it with a fork and spread it on ritz crackers ... 

   I turned off all the overhead vents, including hers, to try and keep the fishy smell confined to the container on her lap, and for some reason she kept the empty cartons and packets even after the attendant had come by to pickup trash.

   Oh, and something I forgot to mention, the trip had gone from a bro's trip, to a third wheel trip .. to an arrangement where Paul would just take the easy route and fly home with his wife, and hand the keys over to us at the airport. This would give us more time and freedom to drift, but now we'd be paying the gas (keep in mind we had $400 to our name until we got home to fill the few show orders) and we just wanted to unwind and be home anyway ..    




   Arriving at the Reno airport, we just barely caught Paul and June Bug before they boarded and flew away. To pass the time, and get our minds off the turbulence and tuna fumes, juwels and I had written a last will and testament on the back of a barf bag ... listing the winnie, goats, furniture, glass vile of wisdom teeth, etc, etc .. 

   I showed it to Paul (he was on there for a juicer) and when he handed it back, he had spit and pinched his gum in the bottom of the bag. Juwels was Not happy about this. He was stressed, and on top of all the complaining he'd been doing about the Terrible gas mileage he's been getting due to the heavy trailer, he looked at me out of the corner of his eyes and said, "Take it easy on that car man ... I'm starting to get really worried about it. That trailer's too heavy, and I'm about to ruin a 25 thousand dollar car ... it's making some strange smells.." 

   Perfect : ) 

   Their car is nice and new, and that was the one thing that I was looking forward to - we could ride easy and at least we'll know we're not going to break down, we can just cruise around and enjoy the scenery .. ha ha ha.

 

   One stroke of grace was that we'd connected with some friends of ours in Tahoe, (they're actually parents of a friend of ours who have such spark they tend to make juwels and I feel old .. ha ha ha. ) And although they live out of state, we got a hold of Jamie and found that they just so happened to be in town. We were invited to come and stay at their cabin, so we parked the car, which had a smell like burning electrical, and the trailer in their cul-de-sack, and found ourselves wined and dined in the light of our own beeswax : )  

  She had her table set for 13 guests .. and somehow found room for us : ) She's one of those superwomen who can place-set a banquet, hunt, clean and prepare the main course, grow the salad and the flowers, back a 30 foot boat down the dock, wake board at speed, and do it all without breaking a nail. We were in good hands, and we slept that night on their balcony under the stars and had breakfast with them and speed-boated the lake in the early morning : )



   After the speed boat was put away, everyone kind of split up, and they offered us a couple of kayaks they had below the house, and off we went. The lake was beautiful, and I wanted to drink it all up. We paddled forever, beached on a rock island, ate snacks and dove like seals. 



   I had been to Tahoe once before with a friend just before driving to Burning Man, and I remembered a beach cove with beautiful water, rock perches, and it was one of those funky clothing-optional places. We thought about making it all the way there, but in the wind and the increasingly choppy waters, we turned back and found a beach closer to home. 

   Tomorrow ... 



   We beached here, and I hid from the sun while juwels swam & exfoliated with tumbled shells & pebbles  : ) 





    The night was beautiful, and we arrived back at the cabin after they'd finished dinner, but we scraped and chiseled the delicious grizzly sheet of cooked rice from the wide pan of Jamie's Paella, and it was just what we needed. 

   We heard about a spot up the mountain where a sand trap existed in a clearing with an open view of the lake. Our hosts sent us off with a can of bear attack spray (the husband said we wouldn't need it .. but then again, all the neighborhood trash cans were locked up in steal boxes with bear claws stamped on them.. ) and off we went. 
 

   It was a nice night, and we didn't stay up long with our batteries running low from the travel, sun and paddling the lake all day. I woke up early, and prodded juwels to get up .. get up !! 

    (Here's a vid of the morning .. if you're seeing this on your email, the video won't show ; ( 





   We finally made it to the Secret Cove, and quickly acquired matching full-body sunburns : ) It was so amazingly beautiful and refreshing, and we didn't to leave !! 

   It's a nude beach, but not everybody goes in their birthday suits ... There were random foreign families setup with kids cliff jumping, gay couples, straight couples, old men .. and everybody just enjoyed this eden with no shame and plenty of sunshine : )   


 

   You know we had snacks .. and this little guy knew it as well. We thought he was so cute, and just had to feed him a couple blue corn chips. How could you say no to that little sweet face !! But we caught him rummaging around in our bag after we'd been out on a long swim, and it seemed that he'd been in the bag of chips ... 

   We were hungry, too, and figured that he was a clean wild thing, and didn't fret over eating the rest of the chips even though his little paws had been there ... this wasn't a great decision. You see, we'd kind of come off the main path in our search for the spot, and on the way out to the car we took the path .. and noticed a signboard that we'd missed in our back country mission that morning. 

   And on that signboard, just at the end of the day when we were both sun dazed, and juwels was super sore from wake boarding the day before, we looked up to see a sign with a cute little chipmunk on it .. just like the one we'd shared the bag of chips with down at the lake. 

    And just above the cute picture were the words, in CAPs .. "WARNING .. PLAUGE" 


   The symptoms ranged from headache, (check), dizziness (check .. now in a growing way) .. muscle soreness (juwels, check) .. to death. 

   Ha Ha Ha ... Classic .. and it said you wouldn't really know your statis for up to 7 days : ) 

   We spent that night hiding out in the cluttered trailer on a slanted street in the neighborhood. We'd hit a supermarket in town and bought a few things to make by the light of a candle, but juwels was now nauseous with how achy her muscles were from being  the pulled around the lake by the boat (it had been a Long time since she'd been wake boarding). And not being ambitious enough to cook for myself, I just laid awake in bed picturing that little chipmunk's face ... and even called a friend that night to quietly complain about it as juwels slept.


 


   That day was great though - and we came back the next day .. and it may have more if we didn't realize that we had to stay out of the sun after that first bare-bunz baking we'd had. So after that second day, we'd be headed off with the ball and chain, trailer, in-tow. 

   A young naked man, who'd walked up to our blanket asking for a lighter, had given us the names of a couple of hot springs we'd pass amidst the long road home, and we filled the tank up for the first time (of many-many .. ) and close to sunset, buzzed off into the unknown : ) 



   I'd need more of this farther down the road, when all hell looked like it might break lose, but ... that's why we save these sojourns in our mind's eye .. to create a happy place accessible 24-7, even while sweating in the middle of the desert.    






   More pics and stories to come from the 2nd leg of the trip, but farewell for now ...  


loVe, 
p&j

Monday

{ Unveiling the Bees - a long night }

   It was past 10 p.m. by the time juwels and I finally packed the truck, including our three full and very active beehives. And I veered away from the efficient GPS directions and took a smaller freeway which bordered the Pima Indian Reservation, open desert, and cotton fields.

   Our bees were to be wild and free once they met our care, and there was no point in further upsetting them with the static energy of the city, bassy radios and exhaust vibration. Not to mention, our license plate display lights just quit working, and that was a great reason to get pulled over and hassled on the busier freeways.


   Somebody once told me that people who were born and raised up on Machu Picchu couldn't come down to the ground level ... something about their lungs filling with moisture. But regardless of the accuracy of that statement, something similar seemed to be happening to juwels from our time off the mountain. She was reporting a funny earache, sensitive and oceanic feelings in her head, and she said something else about sensitive hair follicles...


   I just had a headache, and was sneezing from the bright yellow explosions that were the flowering tops of the Palo Verde trees. Beautiful bombs of pollen.


   But as we climb elevation through a linear burn at about 75 miles an hour, our heads re-pressurized and expanded in that fine, high-mountain way.



__________________________________________


   The clock was just hitting midnight as we slowed for the exit and pulled off into the small desert town, and juwels reminded me, in a kind of whisper, to take it easy on the bumpy dirt roads. The girls don't like wind or the vibration, and soon we'd be unscreening the three hive entrances in the dark.. with no smokers, veils or suits.






   Most European honey bees are very docile, and besides these ladies being a little out of sorts because of the travel, we wouldn't have thought twice about any of it. But these were feral bee colonies, and the swarm catcher we got them from originally told us that they were still pretty "hot" and that we should probably hold off on picking them up just yet, and let him keep an eye on them for another three weeks while the new Italian queen produced a more mellow population.


   But we were going to be down in the valley for Easter anyway, and the donations from our sweet friends and supporters were rolling in ... so we just couldn't wait !! But why didn't we have suits ??? Well ... juwels was still doing research and calling around to make sure we weren't getting anything from China (and with different regulations on labeling, this is harder to decipher when ordering online, but she's steadfast about supporting American Made/ fair trade and not the sweatshops, so..)  


    Plus, I guess we thought they'd all be inside, sleeping or something like that, since it was already past midnight and at a much cooler temperature than down south.


   But the entrance of the hottest hive was swarming with activity. Little bristly legs rubbing against one another made a sound like a healthy crackling fire. And when I got out of the truck for good, in the middle of nowhere and with the moon not yet up, the hives sounded like the humming fan in an overheating laptop computer.


  Holding my bare hand in front of the screened-off entrance, I could feel the heat that they were producing .. and the synchronized fanning of many wings. I shined the light on the dark screen and saw that some of the bees walking back and forth were still carrying white larva around ..


   Juwels had noticed this in the light of the streetlamps in front of my parent's house, and we worried that they were upset and making preparations to leave the hive.


   She called Scott, the swarm guy, and he said that they were "undertaker" bees ... and that some of the uncapped larva cells must have dropped their seeds in the moving of the hive, and those bees were just trying to get the compromised larva out.


   Bees are very particular about their systems, and something about having those undertakers pacing back and forth in the blocked entrance kind of made me uneasy ... knowing we were halting the natural ceremony of the dead, but what choice did we have ... 


   Before leaving the rent's curb, my dad splashed holy water on the three bee boxes, told the bees to take it easy, and we all hugged and said our goodbyes.


   Scott had said that even though it was going to be late by the time we found our spot, he thought we should let the hives sit still for a little while, at least a 1/2 an hour, before opening them up.


   But they wanted out. Not because it was natural to be out of the hive at night, but because they needed to find out just what was happening.. and who was making it happen.


   "Oh .... Hiiiii Bees : )" juwels said, "Now I know you're all scared and confused, but we're you're new parents, and we ... " 


    I stepped in. "No, no ... we're not your parents. You don't belong to us. Your life contract is with a much higher power. We're just watching over you. We're you're two-legged spirit animals."


    Juwels stopped me from going on .. and on and on .. as I have a habit of doing, and gave me a look like, 'you're going to spook them' ... ha ha ha .. I have a tendency of projecting my voice for no good reason, and she wanted to keep everything as zen as possible.


__________________________________________


   We were on the back edge of our friend's very large property which borders hundreds of acres of state land. And I climbed into the back of the truck and heaved down a small white wooden pallet for juwels and another one for me, and we walked off into the desert in search of the perfect spot for the hives. We spotlit the western landscape and pounded our feet extra hard on the ground to ward off rattle snakes, and after investigating a few clearings in the bush, we picked one with a few beautiful clusters of wild white daisies on its edge.


   We dropped the pallets, which the hives would soon rest on, and juwels walked over and sat next to the biggest bouquet of flowers and said, "Hello little ladies : ) We're about to introduce you to some new friends .. you're all really going to like each other."


    I plopped down beside her, and lied completely flat on the cool soil of the desert. I had done all the driving, and it was already 2 hours past my bedtime, but I found that I wasn't quite tired, but instead, dreamy with an odd mix of subdued excitement peppered with uncertainty.


    One thing to mention, the screen over the hive entrances weren't setup to be quickly pulled off. Most people would have bee suits, and could take their time. There was duct tape streaming in different directions, and once you got one untaped, those bees would be out, and it would be a few minutes of fiddling with the next, bees to the second power .. and then on to the next, so if the bees decided that we were bothering their night, well ... we'd be sitting ducks with all the tape to go through.


   I told juwels we should just Swiss-army-knife the screens, pull them like zippers and play with the tape when we come back with suits, but no, no .. she wouldn't have it. "They'll get all sticky in the sun," she said, "I'll deal with it all on my own, you can just hang back at the truck. Besides, I want to make sure that they have a proper entrance, not just a hack job."


    Juwels fancies herself part bee and part humming bird, and it's true that her vibration is much higher than this old grizzly bear's, but I still had my doubts, and although tempting, I didn't think I was just going to go hang back at the truck like she'd suggested.


    When we'd first left the freeway about an hour earlier, juwels had remembered that it was earth day, literally the first moments of earth day as the clock struck midnight, and as we lied there on our backs with the white sun-burst of flowers smiling between us, we saw 4 or 5 shooting stars in the course of maybe 5 minutes, and juwels remembered her moon calendar, and said, "You know ... I think there's a meteor shower tonight."


   It was all too perfect, and I felt like the back of my skull was growing roots into the earth, heavy and connected. And then I remembered, "Hey, we should really get the hives in their final places, and then we can start the clock for their wind-down period."


   The boxes were heavy, and for some reason we insisted on carrying our own rather than going half's, and this made using the lights near impossible. Also, stamping our feet would just upset the bees, so we whisked along through the thorny weeds and chaparral bush, trying not to think about snakes, and we found the spot just as my arms were going numb.


 __________________________________________



   Once everything was setup, we lied there on our backs between the hives - me between the first and second, and juwels between the second and third, and we just listened to them buzzing around in there. The hive to the left of juwels was the most mellow, then the one between us was a bit louder, and the one on my right was the loudest.


   I talked to them a little bit ... tried to explain that even though they could probably feel the predator in me, that I was at their service, and that the fire they felt in me was an asset to them. And I'm not sure if that was something they could understand so soon, but it was really the best that I could offer at the moment ... The goats seemed to value this as I'm chasing dogs away and leading the heard, but maybe the bees preferred I'd meditate first, and I did that too. How could I not in this setting of shooting stars, love and buzzing bees? Juwels was in heaven, honey heaven. 


   We must have stayed there between the hives for another hour. Juwels talked to the Queens, and decided that we'd name them all Maria. We were in awe that there were three queens in our presence, "There's Queens in there!!" .... "Shhhhh ... you'll scare them.." I pressed an ear to the box, and a bee just on the other side made such a buzzing that I pulled away and swatted at my neck and ear. I had to run my hand across the box in the darkness to make sure there wasn't an opening there before I'd bring my ear close again. I just sat there with my eyes closed and listened to these fascinating little creatures who I'd have to wait till another sunny day to meet face to face.         


__________________________________________


   After lying a long while, careful not to let my dreads become roots again, planting me in that spot for all of eternity, I got up, marked our territory beside a grateful purple cactus, and noticed the moon was finally rising above the mountain range.


   Juwels was over my shoulder in an instant. "Wow, look at the mountains .. they are glowing! I can't believe we are going to witness the Moon rise !!"


   It was just a pin prick of light at first, and then it started coming up in a very strange way.


   "Hey .. it looks like it's pointed," juwels said.


   "It is pointed ..." 


    We both watched it, waiting for the optical illusion to reveal itself, but the moon was not round .. it was coming up in a giant white-yellow pyramid.


   I'll admit that this freaked me out a little, like finding the sun in the sky as a square. I blinked my eyes, hard, and even looked away and then back at it to reset whatever glitch this was due to ... but then we finally saw what was happening. It was a half moon, and it was coming up at an angle behind the ridge, so the cut straight side on the left looked like the slope of a triangle, and the top of the curved right side mirrored it on the other.


    After talking to herself for a quick second, and then agreeing, yes, the "big" camera could be fun, juwels went running off to the truck for her camera and tripod, so she could shoot the moon.


   Standing there, alone now, with the moon finally making sense, I saw a flicker of light on a thin grey cloud ... moon lightning ?? Is there such a thing ? What things do exist that I'm just not tapped into? Had the bees and the fear and the lack of sleep removed a filter from my vision? I'm not ready, I thought. Left brain ... stay with me. I still have high-speed driving to do before sunrise. 


   I thought of juwels running back through the desert to this spot, and I loved our lives together, and wondered what I might be doing at that very moment if I'd never met juwels. She saved me - that's for sure.       







   After admiring and shooting the moon for a while, juwels said she thought it might be time to free the bees. I told her that I might hide out in the bushes on the sidelines and watch her do her dance, but that I might also just lie in the back of the truck on a bed roll and get some rest for the final drive up the mountain. It was about 2am, and we were only about 1/ 2 way to Flagstaff.


   Back at the truck, I fished out some goodies we'd picked up at the Asian super store, and climbed up onto the roof of the truck and tore open a mesh bag chewy longans. A dog barked in the distance, and a porch light went on down in the valley. Half the tropical fruit was sweet and delicious and the other half tasted like mold, and I quickly became antsy and walked back into the desert to watch the unveiling from afar.


   I screened my light as I approached, and turned it off completely when I saw juwels standing there bathed in the glow of her red headlamp. (the bees did Not like the white light but didn't seem to mind the red.)


   She didn't notice my appearance, and I lied down on my belly between two over arching bushes in the pebbly sand.


   I could hear, just barely because I knew the tune, that she was chanting.


   Now ... I can only tell you what this looked like from a distance. Lying on my belly like a 6-foot snake, anchoring my bare elbows into the sand and propping my chin up, A-frame style, on my cupped hands like a TV camera. And it was a fantastic sight to see ... her, delicately peeling back the tape like a nurse undressing a wound. Her hands moving in that red light. The chanting and occasional breaks she took to stand and face the moon and stretch in alternating crescent bends.


   And I worried for her at times .. said little beat poetry prayers and wondered what I could do if these black striped bugs came out wild and invisible in the night ..


   I pictured the scene where Forest Gump was running all those soldiers out of the jungle over his shoulder, and then I laughed at myself, and watched some more.


   At times, she'd wave her hand around in her face, shooing something away. And as an afterthought at one point, she stood up and wrapped her Cambodian krama tightly around her neck and head, and left only her eyes open through a ninja slit.


   She stood up at other times and turned her back on the hives, clicked her headlamp off, then to blue, red, white, and then back off again. I thought she was being swarmed with bees and trying to hide her face, and then she moved to the next hive. I could almost see the energy coming off of her, and at times I wanted to yell out, "leave the tape .. we'll come back later !!" but I didn't.  This went on and on and on ... and then, not knowing if I was there, but voicing it just in case, she said, "if you're out there ... get ready to run."


    Anyway, juwels was the one there with her hands on the hot hives and calming the bees with her song, so I'll let her finish this off in the first person.


__________________________________________

Welcome juwels : )

.......

alOha!

oh. my. was that an ineffably amazing night!

when dreams come true .. you truly feel like you are dreaming ; )

   I was extremely giddy from the excitement of the night. We have bees! We finally have bees!
!! I could barely believe this was actually happening! And perfectly so .. in the wee hours of earth day, during an amazing meteor shower, and then witnessing the half-moon rise over the mountains. To say it was "incredible" would bee an understatement ; )

   Unlike peter's terrible plan of slicing the bee's screen door with a pocket knife, I was determined to scrupulously remove the duct tape and screen entirely from the bees entrances. And even though our buzzing bee girls had been grounded for over an hour .. they still seemed very rambunctious. 


   I've been around bees at their hive before and felt quite comfortable without suit or veil. But the energy of our hives, after the night's journey, was intimidating, and even though I immediately offered to be the one to execute the mission, I will admit, I was nervous. 

   I was trying not to imagine 90,000 winged bees carrying small venomous swords following me (& possibly peter) all the way to the truck, with the intent to attack. 

eEk! 

   Instead, I tried to calm my trepidation by chanting: om mani padme hum. 

   This, the chanting, wasn't something I'd envisioned in my earlier when I walked through the proper steps on my mind. But I somehow mellifluously transitioned from talking to the Maria's (three Queen bees), to chanting. 

   I was so nervous, that my voice was undulating like I was underwater and speaking mermish .. ha ha ha .. 

   Without words, I asked each Queen for respect, while chanting in my vibrational song.

    om mani padme hum .. om mani padme hum .. om mani padme hum ..

   Each hive had a completely different countenance. It was interesting to read their energy, ranging from mellow to heated. 


   My plan was to slowly and carefully roll back the tape from each hive's entrance, prepping them for the grand finale: tearing their screen doors off in ascending order from 'calm' to 'crazy'! 

   At the entrance of the first hive (the quiet one) there were only a few guards at the door. Maybe ten. The entrance of the middle hive had maybe twenty .. but the wild hive at the end had seriously like one hundred or more. All I could see were bees guarding the screen! And they did not seem too jolly. Hence, saving that one for last!!!

   The whole experience was so surreal that at one point I though for sure a bee buzzed right passed my face. I swatted the night air multiple times in the moonlight. The vibration from their wings was loud and audibly tangible. But there was either nothing there .. or my hallucinations were actually moths.


   Prepping the tape wasn't easy. The swarm guys did a good job of securing the screens. It was wrapped well around the corners and underneath the hive, and I continued to chant as I performed the task. 


   After a while I became more and more confident and my voice started projecting stronger .. less quivering .. and more connected. It was absolutely magical to witness their energy calm as my voice grew stronger ; ) Not only was I calming myself down .. but I was mollifying the bees as well!

   Never before have I chanted for sOo long! My throat was incredibly dry, but my voice was finally unwavering. 


Oh Maria! 

   I was enthralled at the thought of our three queen bees ; ) Without even realizing this subconscious shift .. I changed the chant .. in homage of Maria .. and I started chanting: "om mami padme hum. And I kept repeating mami .. until I seriously forgot how the verse actually went.

om mami padme hum .. om mami padme hum .. om mami padme hum ..

"Hello Queen! I love you Mami. And thank you bees, for everything that you do." I said without saying, my forehead pressed against one hive and then the next ..

   After surveying my escape route for impeding rocks and throwing the bigger ones aside .. I practiced flashing my headlamp from red to white. I didn't want to trip over anything and I definitely didn't want to run wildly through the desert guided only by a dim red light. 


   And for whatever reason, I usually always seemed to mess up the direction, so I kept practicing for the big show. I was laughing at myself, thinking of me running like crazy and accidentally flipping the light to blue, and then back to red, then to black, and finally white .. ha ha ha ..

   As I got each hive ready, I had multiple adrenaline over doses when I would accidentally pull too much on the tape, completely exposing the bees to the outside world. I recoiled so fast that they didn't have enough time to react. I obsessed over making sure that each hive was ready to go maybe three or more times.


Check one. Stretch. (My back wasn't too thrilled on the position I was squatting in for almost an hour.)

Check two. Crescent stretch (In salutation to the moon.)

Check three. (which I was most nervous about.)

Stretch. Repeat.

om mami padme hum ..  om mami padme hum .. om mami padme hum ..

   I was in such a zone that I had no idea if peter was watching me from the bushes or sleeping in the truck .. but I called out into the darkeness, breaking my flow for the first time since I started chanting,"Get ready to run!"


   I don't know how long it took me to build the courage to say to myself .. "Okay, I think they are officially ready, pull the tape and run!" But I was finally psyched to do it. I felt like I was on some adrenal junky reality TV show and that I had to execute this challenge flawlessly and in record time to win the prize! Don't mess up. Don't trip. And don't get stung!


Ready ..

Go! ..

OM MAMI PADME HUM ..

Swipe! (ONE!)

OM MAMI PADME HUM ..

(Jump right.)

Swipe! (TWO!)

OM MAMI PADME HUM .. 

(Jump right.)

Swipe! (DONE!) !!!

RUN!

I flashed my headlight to white and bolted off in the direction of the truck. Peter was running right ahead of me with a flashlight in hand. We dodged bushes, jumped over rocks and hooted and giggled as we ran.

Zing!

Ooh .. not bad. not bad.

One sting is not bad.  - I thought to myself.

We jumped into the truck, safe and sound ; ) There was a beautiful silence. And no buzzing!

"One sting is not bad! I proclaimed to peter as he started the engine.

The clock read: 3:17 am.

Perfect ; )

seven and then three are my favorite numbers.

Of course it was 3:17!

   Almost choking on the air from the buzz, I lifted up my pant leg to find the stinger, but instead found an inch-long, and uncomfortably thick, cactus needle embedded deep in my knee. My skin tugged with the tension as I slowly pulled it out, and it seemed to go forever. Peter and I laughed aloud and then drove home bleary eyed but safe and sound ; ) 


__________________________

    Being almost daylight by the time we hit elevation, we let the goats follow us into the Hive and sleep under the table beside our bed by the fire. (they must have felt real special coming in in the dark and staying until morning .. something they haven't done since chia broke her leg and had to live inside for close to 2 months ..) 

   
   We slept until about noon, but let the goats out and sprung the chickens into the yard with feed about midway through our slumber. It was so nice to listen to bird song and continue the night's dreaming from the desert to the bed ; )

     Thank you so soOoOoo much to everyone who supported this new passion project of ours, I can't tell you how much more pure it feels to do something like this, and forget the stress of cost and numbers, and just know that the support has come in homeopathicly from all over the world : ) We can't wait to bottle some thank-you honey for all you loVely people !!


 More to come, loVe, lOve,


p&j .. & .. c&e .. and the honey bees !! 













   







Saturday

{ Message in a Bottle }

alOha Friends !!

   We've told this story over the campfire before, but it occurred to me that we've never really mentioned the spooky and magical (2nd) message in our bottle to our online friends. This is a first showing of the found bottle that spawned Pollen Arts Antique Bottle-Shaped Candles ... and, our growing relationship with the bees.




    So .. as the story goes, we'd just moved the Winnie away from the beach and into the dirt parking lot of an artist community near the port of Los Angeles ... not super happy about the change of scenery, but the Venice stakeholders just didn't want "our kind" of people living in rolling dinosaurs on the streets and displaying their art on the boardwalk. ..

    Getting setup in this new chapter of life and making the most of one of our first mornings in the port town, we decided to take the rusty old beach cruisers out for a spin to explore the new town and collect some flowers for an art project.

   About an hour later, we happened upon a small beach cove ... and a beach that we'd both been to once before, for a bonfire on our second-ever meeting .. long before we'd fuse our names and souls with an ampersand - p&j ; )

   We walked the bikes onto the sand (no bike locks) and then left them in the sun and walked off to a white-foam section of rocks and swells and many tide pools.

   I found a pocket of sea glass swirling in a spot against the jetty, and juwels walked off across the boulders singing a little song.




   A bit later, we were comparing finds ... I had a beautiful piece of black corral and a bunch of green sea glass, and although juwels had spent most of her time watching hermit crabs climbing over each other and carrying things around, she produced this tiny glass bottle.

   "It was just barely sticking up from the sand," she said. "I'm surprised I saw it.."




    We could've been doing many different things that morning, and most times we stick close to each other on these little scouts and adventures .. but she was at the right place at the right time, and that tide-tumbled bottle would change our personal course of history within just a few days.

     Later, maybe a day or two later, I'd be holding this bottle, running my thumb over its textured patina, and saying, "I love these old bottles ... but .. what do you really -do- with them? I guess the colored ones could go in a windowsill ... " And then a second later, as an after thought, I said, "Hey .. wouldn't it be cool to make candles in the shapes of antique bottles?"

    We Googled the concept, and were amazed to see that nobody else was doing it!!

    A fellow artist at the pound was getting ready to leave for a bigger studio in Florida, and as he was going through his stuff, he'd found a container of mold making material. He asked us if we had any use for it, but this was before we'd found the bottle.

   He'd left it behind with some other stuff, and when we called and asked about it, he said we could use as much as we needed. We hit the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, and after purchasing $50 in small antique bottles, we were ready to go ; )






    Most of you know the way the rest of the story goes ... the etsy shop .. the etsy interview .. moving away from the port and into the mountains ... and setting up in our next studio, The Roost .. and then later, here,  The Hive.

    But here's the 2nd part .. the subplot that we find an even bigger sense of calling in . .. for you and for me and for the honey bee : )

    Back when we first got started, we were introduced to a girl through a mutual friend, and she was working on a documentary about the vanishing of the bees. She and her partner were just about to premier their film in Hollywood, and we offered to come out and sell candles in the garden courtyard and give 100% of the sales to the film and the cause.

    The candles were a big hit, and it went great ; )

    And later that night in the theater, watching the story unfold with all the confusion and panic of the beekeepers, scientist and environmentalists ...  and when it all climaxed on the industrial chemical producers spraying our food and the hard working honey bees ... they flashed the name of the Corporate Poison maker full screen and bold .. and it was "Bayer".

   .. Now, take a look at the bottle we found.

    Bayer.

   At that moment, I immediately got goose bumps and turned to look at juwels in the darkened theater, and she was already looking at me wide eyed.

    It was like that scene in the movie when the poor delivery boy is taken aside and told that the world is depending on them ... ha ha ha. Who ??? Meeeeee ??? 

    The way we see it, this bottle came to us and inadvertently sent us into a life of beeswax and the story of the bee.




   And the fact that this tiny forgotten bottle was made by one of the leading poison companies just deepens the message in the bottle. We've brought a lot of awareness to the people about bees and beeswax (vs. chemical paraffin) through our craft and sharing our story, and now we're starting to keep bees, and soon, produce the friendliest honey on the planet : )

   We've wanted the sprays and science out of our food system for a long time .. most selfishly for our fellow humans, family, friends and future generations. But the bigger picture is the in soil and the rivers and creatures of the earth ...

   So we thank the honey bee for being the canary in the coal mine.. for all of us to see, laying there still brightly colored, but now cold and pointing those large reflective eyes up at us .. and what we've let happen.

   Are we really to blame ?? I think that's how a lot of these communications end and go sour .. Person A tells person B that we're all funding the people who are making us sick and unhappy and unhealthy and killing off life as a practice. And person A feels guilty ... which makes them mad .. because they're helpless (I mean who can Afford to buy all organic?? - this, also, is not your fault ... we need a better living wage in this country, and we need to start subsidizing and loosening the red tape strangle hold on small organic farmers so they can be competitive with the factory farmers, and real people can afford the fruits of their loVe . ) .. and that helplessness to act on what they know is right raises even bigger issues and makes them even more mad ... and now, it's time to kill the messenger.

   Or better yet .. make a joke of them. Take away their pride and credibility. "Heeeere we go again ... another one of those boring environmental rants .." Which, by the way, .. in a society all about WoW and celebrity .. being boring is about the worst, most nonexistent thing you can be. People just tune you out and change the channel. Brilliant. Pop-culture and big biz (you know, "a word from our sponsors") have sterilized the activist to a comically sad nobody .. and out goes the hope for change : (  

   So anyway, we'll do this differently. With a disclaimer and an amnesty-with-an-expiration-date (effective at the end of this article)

   No, we, (the people) are not totally at fault, because we're all just school teachers and candle makers and firefighters and accountants .. not scientists who make sure this stuff is safe and tested .. not a panel of highly paid public servants keeping a watchful eye on the health and happiness of the planet. We Trust .. and believe in what should-be .. and anyway, we're busy and it's not our department .. glug .. glug .. glug .. glug

   We're told it's okay (not that most of us even second guess it .. it Wouldn't Be There if it was dangerous .. new and untested, right ??? ) Wrong. Business is very competitive, and people are Rushing to the market with hot patents and pushing things through to make it Big Big Big.

   But now that we're the first generation to have the knowledge, we can no longer plead ignorant .. we need to bee the change that we wish to see. Put our heads together and figure out little ways to make a start.

   No more chemicals on the lawn or on the flowers ... or on the dinner table. Let's step away from bathing and washing our dishes in chemicals .. juwels and I can suggest great natural products ; ) Steer clear of Chemical perfume, deodorant, toothpaste, fluoridated tap water, and hair dye. (start small .. first with organic hand, dish and washer soap .. easy : ) I remember my aunt stopped dying her hair, in the last stage of cancer, because it occurred to her that soaking her head in harsh chemicals might not be as safe as it sounds... And I remember coming back into town to see her at the end .. and she looked so different in full grey. Like the veil was finally lifted, but it was too late.

   And who are we kidding? We get old. We can finally be goofy and not give a shit when we're old .. once a man and twice a child. So show you're age. You've earned it .. wear it like a metal, because history is memories and memories are magic.

   I am not a scientist, doctor, or psychologist but I can confidently say, the above things will not lead to happiness. Chemicals confuse our bodies and blood and liver .. just look up how big a milligram is, and keep in mind the magic or the mayhem that prescription pills can do at these modicum doses, then ask yourself how much is too much chemicals in our homes and bodies and minds.

   Oh, boy .. the snow must be getting to this sun child.

   Back to the magic bottle ... ha ha ha ..

   We're always seeing a deeper meaning in things, pieces of the puzzle .. and we believe that All is connected, and that you never know where one seemingly bad turn may lead. Being chased out of our life in the beach town was a heartbreak, but it led us to that tide pool, and to all of you beautiful people who help us in our campaign for love and kindness and simplicity and living for the moment, and in a growing way, we've begun the next chapter in the Pollen Arts story: loVe and Honey : )

The end. 

Buzz-Buzz, loVe,
p&j .. & .. c&e .. & the bees



Tuesday

{ 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.

loVe,
p&j

Monday

{ 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 ..

      

Wednesday

{ 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 then 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,
love,
juwels
sOs


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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpccpglnNf0

____________________________________________________

   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!!”

“Yeah..”

   “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. 

Gulp. 

_______________________________________

   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.

But..

   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.

But.

We went.

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

loVe,
p&j