This Letter 00a, 21 Febter 2000; Last Letter 99g;
Wednesday, November 24, 1999, Return To AriZona Oasis
When I left here back in April it was shortly after Saint George's Feast Day. Now it is for Saint Turkey's day of Thanksgiving that I return to see if I can pick up where I left off.
It is a little less than perfect here at the moment; too cool for playing outside, and yesterday was a bit breezy as well; but the promise of a warm week ahead is in the air. There are new places for me to explore but they are all further afield than last year. Right now my plans include hanging out here and finding some oddments of work to supplement the meager income derived from fund raising on behalf of the Spotted Dowel and selling t-shirts for The Cat Drag'd Inn. I thought I might apply to one of the larger markets for the position of night stalker... The Oasis is larger by 120 new acres recently purchased, that means lots of new expansion work--water, electric, phone, fence, campsite layout…
According to the Old
Roman Calendar this is the feast day of St. John of the Cross, priest
and doctor (1542-1591). St. John of the Cross was one of the great Spanish
mystics, whose outstanding Dark
Night of the Soul is still read by all interested in Catholic mysticism.
He also wrote a series of intense religious canticles.
Saturday, December 25, 1999, Christmas Day; Dinner and Cleaning Up After
It was wondrous to be sure but not what I would call wonderful in the common use of that word. There was a train derailment near here the week before Christmas and then I went off to spend a few days soaking in El Dorado hot spring and interviewing for a summer job. Christmas day I went to visit a friend where three generations (and nearly all the middle one has had more than one spouse so there were lots of half kids and half cousins) of family got together for a dinner and gift exchange. There must have been twenty kids tearing open junk presents. It was wondrous and sad at the same time.
One boy, about ten, whom I have met before, spent much of the afternoon counting the presents under the tree and whinging about that there were not enough with his name on them. As each branch of the family arrived he would check the added presents. I tried to explain to him that Christmas was a time of giving, not getting; but he is a greedy boy enthralled by the popular hype that a child of these times cannot possibly survive without all the toys he sees in the adverts on the telly.
One young boy asked me why I was barefoot. No, what he really said was Why don't you have any shoes on. To which I replied Why are you wearing shoes? He looked at me like that was the weirdest question anyone had ever posed him. Why not? he said. Soon enough our rhetoric got back round to the opener and I responded the same. But this time he had a different tack and said Cos I can climb trees better. So I said I could climb trees better without and he challenged me to show him.
The family who was hosting this gathering has a nice old blood-orange tree squeezed in between the double wides and presently he and me and several other urchins were well up in the branches picking oranges and dropping them to catchers below.
That tree climbing was one of the highlights of a raucous party where there seemed to be an over abundance of obesity. The fat kids out numbered the skinny two to one and none of the fat kids were up in the tree. Same for the adults. Stuffing their faces with every sort of greese imaginable and all the while clamoring for more.
The Christmas tree was the other thing. It was hanging from the ceiling. Crown down. All the branches had been removed from one side so it was flat against the wall, next to a window, with the crown just touching the floor and the cut stump tied to the molding of the window. Other than that it was decorated as one might expect and of course there was plenty of room to pile presents under it and to walk past with some of the branches arching overhead.
Back in the desert I had a quiet evening and then the next few days
were a torrent of things and stuff as I played sitter/host/playmate for
a boy who lives here--usually he is at school whilst his parents work--so
I am way behind in my reading and writing. Now he is back to school and
I have a chance to catch up.
Saturday, January 1, 2000, Happy New Year 2000
Everything about the event of New Years went well here; I heard nary a whisper of upset as the clock rolled over. I think one of the most significant parts for me was the live video from South Pole Station showing the moving of the geographic pole, an annual ceremony. Communications with any of the stations in Antarctica has come a long way from the 50 baud upper case only radio teletype that was the best we could do only ten years ago.
One old laptop computer crashed when its date went back to 1960 but
I gave it a good swift kick in the BIOS and it seems to be ok now. One
of the other inhabitants here works at a local super market and he related
all the folks lined up to purchase gallons of water and carts and carts
of foodstuffs. This morning the sky is still blue and the sun still yellow.
The air is still breathable, more so than in the past few days for that
matter--must have been the rain yesterday, all of ten minutes for a hundredth
of an inch but it washed the dust down.
Tuesday, January 4, 2000, The Bean Sprouts are Coming…
One of my Christmas presents is a bean sprout grower, a seed breeder.
Beans are sprouting faster than I can eat them. Perhaps the entirety of
Cat Drag'd Inn will be full of them by the time you visit next. You'll
have to eat your way in. Bring some mayo and a hedge trimmer.
Thursday, January 6, 2000, Twelfth Night and Arbour Day
Yesterday I repotted the live spruce tree a friend gave me for Christmas
and set it out next to the juniper I brought from TeXas. Today I disassembled
the plastic "tree" in the clubhouse and reboxed it. Perhaps both will still
be around for reuse next Christmas.
Thursday, January 13, 2000, Christmas Present Upgrades
Some kind soul presented Kevin an old laptop for Christmas. An IBM PS/2, 386, about like the first Compaq laptop I had--no RAM to speak of and a fixed disk that would not suffice for one of today's operating systems let alone all the applications--except that this one has a colour screen. In and of itself it works fine but trying to get it to connect to the net, the WWWeb, is a trial made unnecessarily complicated and tedious by everyone elses quest for bigger, faster, more glitzy programmes. It is like the U.S. Postal Service: The higher the rates go the slower the delivery. Nobody writes programmes for the old hardware anymore. That's not the worst of it tho. Just finding any of the old stuff has so far proved impossible. Looking for a browser for instance. In the old days Netscape 1.x fit on one floppy, ran quickly and quietly, was simple to install and operate. But try and find a copy today.
So far, without exception, all the help I have received leads me round in circles and eventually back to Netscape's homepage where everything points to version 4.7 and insists you have to have Java turned on or you won't even be able to download. These folks, and they are not the only ones for sure, have lost sight of the fact that not everyone has a highspeed connexion, a pentium, and 32 meg of RAM. Every page is full of adverts which take longer to load than the material you want in the first place--which always loads last cos they have to load the adverts first. Bah!
Its like trying to find parts of an old car, or for this old bus. The
industry really puts the screws to you to throw away the old stuff, even
though it is still serviceable, and buy-buy-buy new-newer-newest and no
matter how fast you shop you canna keep up with the changes.
Monday, January 24, 2000, Report from Quartzsite
What a place! What a time! Talk about old bus overload... phew... I'm
about burned out with
looking and wondering. Every kind of bus you can imagine. In ghettos of
make were Flexibles
and MCI and GM, scattered about in the community were double decker school
bus conversions, Greyhound Scenic Cruisers, even one articulated city bus.
In all this I found only one old Superior
Coach that came close to The Cat Drag'd Inn's vintage and make:
A front engine troop carrier, with current tags but off the road wanting
Some of the old buses were for sale, some for real good prices based on what could be seen of them. It was a really exciting time just wandering around looking, between the rock & mineral show and all the coaches and RV show and sales; I could have spent a week and still been wanting more time.
There is one section of South La Posa to camp in called The Magic Circle—a self-proclaimed naturist area. I met some folks there that I know from AriZona Oasis and Kaniksu. I am beginning to feel a part of this community.
is a year-round city with
a population of a few thousand at best, 1876 according to the current edition
of SNICKER, but it mushrooms to tens of thousands during this part of the
winter. Most amazing is the quality of life. The humans who partake of
this mode of full-time living in "RVs" change the fundamental concept of
recreational vehicle. Within this vast La Posa "long term visitor area"
as it is called (20$ a week or 100$ for the whole winter) distinct communities
spring up as various clubs, families, SIGs, and otherwise like minded sets
of people congregate. Some have a "Mayor" who seems to have the job of
greeting new arrivals and helping them get acquainted. The naturist area
is like that.
Wednesday, February 2, 2000, Catching
up on a Solstice Project
With a saw? I tried first with a cutoff wheel to finish off one section that had been started by the railroad workers and it took me several hours to get only halfway through the base flange. My wheel was too small to cut all the way through and even working around and around still left about a half inch triangle out of reach of the circular wheel that I had to do with a hacksaw. That little bit took another couple of hours. Rail is very hard. So I took the rest of the job to a machine shop and they sliced me up ten pieces.
After the cutting I cleaned up the rough edges and then took them
all to another shop to have the rust blasted away. Then we painted them
with a clear lacquer. Voila! Ceremonial commemorative rail. A Piece of
Monday, February 14, 2000, Unidentified Floating Object(s) sighted
UFO east of Marfa TeXas on u.s.90. What do you know about the Marfa Lights? The tome of the resident expert is between printings just now so all I have to report other than my personal observation is the bumf on the sign at the official viewing spot.
The Marfa Lights are mysterious and unexplained. The first recorded sighting was by one Robert Ellison, a local rancher, in 1883. Now, over one hundred years later the lights have been chased by helicopter and dune buggy but still elude capture.
Watching them that evening was pretty fascinating as well as mysterious. There were a dozen other people there, some, regulars--one guy was a professor who has been bringing out a new group of high school students every three months for nine years--others, first timers like me.
The lights appear at twilight but there is no reason to believe they are not there all day, you just can't see them. At twilight you can see that they are often above the low mountians at the horizon, but not always. At times they look very close. They appear to move. I say appear because at other times they move but appear to be still.
The lights are always white. No colours are ever seen. They come on, wink, fade and bloom, move, go out. No pattern. All night. Sometimes only one wandering around alone, more often a group of three or four. Everyone there seemed to see the same lights doing the same thing each time.
The moving around was the weirdest part. If I concentrated on watching any one light it would move about in reference to its neighbors but when I tried to reference one light against a distant object like a tree or power pole that light would be still but the others would move. Strangest of all was the blinking red radio tower light that was on the horizon in the same area as the Marfa Lights. It appeared to never move, just blinked, regularly.
I watched on and off all night, between naps, until dawn, when
the blinking red light went off and gradually the Marfa Lights faded.
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Copyright © 2003, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn