{ Visitors - a Buzz in the Hive }

   We just bid farewell to our first traveling guests at the Hive. Arriving just around my bedtime, I heard their bus coming over the hill as I weaved my bike in large figure 8's in the middle of the dark and empty scenic road outside the ranch, " I think I see your headlights," I said into the phone, "just drive down until you see me. You can't miss me - I'm in the middle of the road. You'd have to kill me to miss me."

   At a distance, the engine had that raspy Volkswagen bus kind of sound, but as it got closer, and I hung up the phone for better use of my limbs, the engine sounded drum-like, an old dodge, maybe. It was strong and hot and proud - and it should be, beating the odds and the hills and the heat ... and in it's funky state of affairs (hand painted blue, a boomerang screwed to its forehead below an appropriated bathroom sign "WOMEN" and the black & gold scrawled lettering reading "Sons of an Illustrious Father" on it's flank ... it's a wonder they made it thru Texas.) They had the dead native bugs of many states bespeckling their windshield, and quite a few notches on their belt ... mileage & luck-wise. It's a thing of beauty ; )

   They were tired - 11 hours in the bus - and one of them, Max, couldn't find his legs to leave the guts of the steal beast, and just slept through the night amidst the cold amps, drums and guitars. Once the sun was on him the next morning, he emerged, a bit crooked from the bed slant, but smiling and ready for juwels' mushroom lattes & watermelon juice. After breakfast, we strapped his legs into the inversion table and hung him upside down in the lawn to let gravity pull the kinks out of his spine. (note: best not to do this after a meal, but they were on a tight schedule (needing to be in LA for a 10pm show..).

    At first, we weren't sure if they'd actually show up since they were just entering the State earlier that day, planned to pass by Flag to walk a transparent glass bridge extending over the edge of the Grand Canyon ... and then, come back to crash here. But once we got final word, we decided to pick up a couple bags of chewable food to feed our weary visitors. (our fridge is a sad sight to anyone who's not on a liquid fast - just jars of juice in all shades of green and red and mushroom brown.) 

   Of the six strangers who rumbled into town, one was only a stranger in the colloquial sense: it'd been two years since we'd seen our dear friend ezra. I met him five years ago on the boardwalk in Venice while selling my book - he was maybe 15 at the time with the humor and sentiment of a well traveled vampire of one hundred and two, but still, almost every time he pops in on us unannounced and from afar, I find myself saying, "man - look at how big you're getting .." like an old grandma. But seriously, this kid does not stop growing .. He picked me up off the ground with a hug this time.

left to right: Josh, Max (in the window), Lexie, Ezra, Lilah & Rafe

   The band he's in, Sons of an Illustrious Father, has been touring all month from New York - doing a show a day until they met us, but racing off to play the very next night in LA and the next in SF and on and on .. First, I heard 'bus' ..(cool - we've got the parking, and good for them ; ) then later I heard 'short bus', (how many people in the band? six ??) but when they showed up that night, I saw a Mini bus. It was packed with bodies and musical equipment. Ezra used his phone for an interior light, searching for something of his in a pile near the entry, "Hey - you want to come in and check it out?" I heard Max shuffle in the dark, probably hearing our voices in his dreams, and I said I'd check it out in the morning. Nets hung from the ceiling - pregnant with clothes and bags, and they had the whole space so jam packed that they didn't even have room for the small footprint of a five-gallon bottle of fresh spring water for their trip through the Mojave dessert. Gulp.

   Upon their entry, they honked a few times, pulling off the paved road and onto the darkened ranch. I peddled ahead, bare feet indenting on barbed foot peddles and quite happy for their head lights at my rear (.. I almost crashed on the way down the entry road, no moon, phone to my ear, and giddy about the night.) At the same time, juwels, with out tasing her concoction once, was making a very deep bowl of Mediterranean quinoa with raw goat feta and a dozen or so other ingredients which I won't list here.

   Welcoming the gang to the Hive, I fed them bee pollen (from desert cactus flowers) and raw honey (wild mesquite), and gave them the quick tour. I told them to setup camp on any of the decks or rooms - shower (sorry, no hot water .. burr, I know) use the rest room, and otherwise take a load off. Juwels had a bit longer to cook, and as ezra and I strolled through the studio again, with every other sentence starting with 'remember when..', I glanced through the window and noticed a semicircle of heads around juwels in the kitchen - viewing ingredients, listening to the peppers and onions sizzle, but most likely, just inhaling very deeply the scent of their soon-to-be diner ; ) Welcome to the Juwels show.

 ( loVe and happy ingredients .. juwels has a way with both of them ; ) 

   Sitting around the flagstone deck of the cold fireplace and on the ground beside the packing table, nobody talked and everyone ate. Brimming bowls of moist grains with bits of olives and cucumber, chewy soaked sun dried tomatoes and feta nestled like golden eggs in an easter hunt. I'll admit, it looked beautiful and was surely delicious ... but 20 something days into our no-chu cleanse, I had no urge for a bite.

   'Orchestral chewing' someone called it, and even from the kitchen where juwels was filtering a fresh batch of nut milk, she could hear the nom-nom hymn and moaning delight. Food really is art to her, and that's the sound of her applause and good review ; ) "Is it good? I couldn't taste it, so It's hard to season to taste .." (I actually chewed some quinoa for her .. to prove it was cooked well enough .. but I was stubborn, and didn't swallow ; )

   I warned them that juwels fills bowls the size of the brimming human stomach, and that they could save some, but their bellies must have been running low, and in the end, the final movement of the diner piece, spoons hitting bare bottoms of clay bowls filled the room - not a scrap to be seen.

   This would have been a good time to say goodnight and let them build their nests, but instead I said, "What do you say we take a little walk in the forest?" There was a little bit of nodding of heads, slowly .. a burp or two, and I went on, "It's just next door .. we can walk off the food. I know a viewpoint nearby, and the fire roads are wide .. easy to walk in the dark." (I had never actually done this ... mentioned it on a half dozen occasions, but never had anyone said yes, but they were game ; )

   Halfway through the yard, some of us wearing headlamps, I said to juwels, "Oh - let's do a midnight apple!" Juwels agreed, and ran back to the Hive to pick a shiny one. Not sure how the midnight apple started, but it basically involves making lily's night. There she is, standing in the corner of her pen, dreaming her horse dreams, and we show up on the darkened outskirts of her fence with a treat. We all walked over there, knocking over a noisy metal pail in the process and waking up the owner's dog. But after a quick sniff of my hand through the chain link fence, I was okay'd and he was for bed. We started psssst-ing lily to our spot where the scent of many strangers made her hooves move slowly.

   My favorite thing about the Apple, is hearing her breath in the quiet night, sniffing, lips like hands, grasping, and then, the Crunch. The chewing and the sound of the other half of the apple hitting the ground all seemed surround-sound quality, but it's the initial crunch that's the best. Maybe it's the anticipation leading up to it, or the sneaking around at night that puts my senses on 10, but that first crunch .. and subsequent sniffing around for the lost half, then, crunch .. really makes me smile ; )

   Off the ranch and in the forest, I was wrapped up in a story about being bucked out of the saddle, and realized we were all following two of the band mates in the wrong direction, "Hold on - why are we following you? This is the way .. ha ha ha." I guess that herd mentality is alive in well in those with a distracted mind.

   That's not to say that juwels and I didn't take turns at getting everyone lost, too, but we at least had some idea of the lay of the land  ... during the day. On these wide U turns of conversation and wildly spinning compass, we sort of hovered above ground level, suspended on the quilted generations of pine needles under branched which cast no shadows. We sniffed the sweet vanilla resin oozing from the crags in the pine tree bark. (Juwels, perpetual hostess even in the forest, buzzed around like a nocturnal humming bird, searching for the sweetest tree for the nostrils of our city slicking guests. They were enthralled, and seeing as though we left before dessert, I thought I might have to restrain them from taking a bite of the bark. "Mmmm, smells like fresh bread, birthday cake and vanilla!") We stumbled upon tall BMX jumps, molded from dirt like grave sites of baby elephants, and talked about childhood scrapes and stunts. We rested on a crude log-and-stone bench beside the dead ash of a wide ceremonial fire pit and balanced rock stacks on the rim. We anthropomorphized the rock's standing features, and scratched pictographs on stone with charcoal from the pit. And when my wandering hand became entangled in a spider web beneath a rock, I blew the ashy strand from my finger tip, and it floated in the light of the lamps above our heads like a white snake in slow motion. It was a night of many stars and the grit of trampled dust in the air and on our lips and teeth.

   On the way back, after being forced to organize the party into a small-scale revolt against juwels who was trying to lead us in, what I belived to be, the completely wrong direction, somebody at the back of the cattle run spotted an interesting bug - a beetle with gold spots, long antennas and an interesting armored body that seemed to be crushed and split in half. We all crowded around and looked at this little alien creature, and I picked him up and thought that he wasn't crushed, seeing that his back leg was twisted over his wing and the jam was causing his protective shell to splay out like a broken convertible top. With the butt of a long blade of grass that I was chewing on and a little help from juwels, we untangled this little guy and set him back down in the dirt, feeling a bit self satisfied and benevolent .. but then we realized that his back legs indeed wouldn't bend or move.

   "So there you have it," I said, "our choices are .. do we leave him here, to struggle all night .. and maybe be eaten by a blue jay in the morning, or do we put him out of his suffering?" Looking from my squatting position up at the dark figures standing above me, I said, "A vote?"

   There was a second's silence .. more diplomacy than many other bugs might have been given as a species much less an individual, and then somebody said, "I think we should end it." And the rest murmured the same.

   "Okay - who's gonna do it?"

   Another silence.
     The bug, dragging himself.. 

   "Um, I think you should."


   "Yeah - this is your land. Your bug. You should be the one to do it."

   I agreed, but said, "Ah ... it's just so irreverent - stomping - it's a hard thing to do with compassion."

   Maybe we were all taking this too far - maybe it was because we knew that one of us had stepped on his existence .. or maybe it was just because he was such a unique looking creature - which we humans normally can't bring ourselves to come to terms with: killing anything beautiful for food or otherwise: a chicken vs. a peacock - cow vs. zebra, butterfly, mosquito, trout, koi, etc .. 

   "Okay," I said, "but maybe you guys shouldn't stand around and watch.."

   Nobody moved.

   I hesitated, wishing I could help him thru this as delicately as we'd done with the tangled wing and the blade of grass, then raised my foot high, wished him safe travels in the cosmos, and stomped.

   A headlamp spotlit my foot, and as I stepped back, I noticed he was still alive. Dusty, in one piece, and seeming more alive now than before. I stomped again, this time twisting my foot like one might do on a cigarette butt, and he was gone, somewhere under the twist and swirl of soft dirt, and we all walked away.

   I went into a bit about how I'd want the same if I was the bug, and how humans suffer too much at the hands of western medicine and breathing machines and portable oxygen and chemical pills. Where mother nature might make a meal of us, calories, compost, and soil... man would place us in a plastic bubble, reattach the long forgotten umbilical cord and face us toward a flower arrangement and daytime television. 

   We got home - eventually - and everyone staked their claims around the Hive. Ezra, on the wood floor between my desk and juwels' (we did give him the 'anti-fatigue' mat which we stand on at the packing table .. a bare hip on solid ground = bad dreams) Lexie rolled out her blow-up mat directly below the spout of the hissing beeswax melter. While she was away brushing her teeth, I debated whether or not to tell her that only a rubber sealed ball valve would be between her sleeping body and 500 pounds of liquid beeswax. I told her, and she laughed, then tucked herself into bed. Everyone else locked down the back room - futon on the floor, and juwels and I walked across the way to the Winnie and our hanging crow's nest bed ; )

   This post is getting long (I think this is how all my posts begin to end) and I'll just say that the morning was set by more hot food (egg fajita tacos in warm corn shells topped with cheese, peppers, onions, fire roasted salsa, avocados & young green sprouts.) Stories were told under the shade of our cherry tree. More bodies hung from the inversion table in preparation for the long hot ride on the floor of the bus. Ticking wrist watches were tapped - engine fluids checked, and juwels sent them packing with a cooler bag of fresh squeezed honey-ginger-lemon aid, chilled watermelon juice, left overs from dinner, as well as the breakfast peppers and onions, salsa, cheese and two sealed bags of organic blue corn chips.

   Last night's hand shakes had turned to hugs, and then all was quiet - the buzz and the bodies in the Hive were replaced by the subtle hiss of the wax melter and the wind chimes in the tree. Thirteen hours in all - including sleep - and it left me with that odd feeling you get after walking off a boat, like the ground is still moving beneath your feet. Or maybe more like that phantom flash bulb that sticks around a few seconds after 'cheese' .. .. is that the 'empty nest'? Or just a nomad dizzy with the whirlwind of friends (old and new) passing in the breeze?

   So long comrades.
       I hear your engine, drumming in the distance ... 



  Prologue :

  A note from Lexie (most likely shakily typed on an iphone in the bowels of their ship, somewhere on the pacific.)

"Hi darlings.

   Been thinking about you two ever since we left your beautiful love hive. I'm so excited to put your candles in my house and enjoy their delicious smell. Your snacks literally kept us going. That ginger drink with raw honey and the watermelon juice fueled us completely! Also all the other fun snacks. We all appreciate you so much, we were screaming your Names when we took sips of the juice in the desert.

   There really is no word worthy enough to describe how amazing you two are. Otherworldly. Such a pleasure and privilege to meet you. I cannot wait until I pass through again for a visit. Also let me know if you think you can swing a Martha's Vineyard trip. I would love to return your level of hospitality. We can rub ourselves with red clay and wash it off in the ocean.

Lots of love from
The bus!

Ps that is joshys shirt and he is debating whether or not it's worth the shipping cost. Will be in touch about that! Xoxoxoxoxxoxoxox"


  1. As I type this, I'm listening to Lexie's video that her link leads to. Mellow, moving, mellifluous, Magic. Lexie, the vineyard and its cliffs and warm water (in the summer), are part of my soul too. I am so "taken" with your magical walks in the dark and alchemy of delicious food. Your writing pulls me into the dream. I am obsessed with night adventures, the stillness and smells and mysteries. Beautiful you all witnessed and chose the passing of the bug, you stewarded it on to the next level of becoming. Thank you for taking the time to write and shoot this. Simply gorgeous, sharing the heart and love of you all and carrying it into my day. If your band is still near LA, let me know, would love to come see you! <3

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment - glad to meet another creature of the night ; ) Sometimes the best amplifier of the senses is to cut one of them off and direct the energy to the others ; ) It was a great night, and we're happy to have had you along with us out there in the darkness - more stories to come ; )