Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Pants-free Desert

Absolutely love this article (even if I'm not so crazy about the title), shared with me by Erik Knutzen of Root Simple:

Tracing the ideas that traveled from Germany to the deserts of Southern California, and, eventually, to define the spirit of 1960s counterculture. The remarkable story of the LA Nature Boys

William Pester in front of his cabin in Palm Canyon, Palm Springs California, 1917 (courtesy: Palm Springs Art Museum, Photograph: Stephen H. Willard)

William Pester, pants-free in 1917. The truth is, it's just too hot for pants in the summer, in the desert. Sure, you put on pants, shorts, or a skirt when you have visitors (some, at least) but the rest of the time, why? Your nearest neighbors are 200-500' away and they're probably not wearing pants either.

eden ahbez, one of the nature boys (who also eschewed pants), found fame in 1948 with his haunting song, Nature Boy, made famous by Nat King Cole. It became a number one nationwide hit.

 This all brings me to Bryan Cranston's desert rat character, meth cook Walter White, or Heisenberg, a man also often unencumbered by pants.

You come to the desert promising yourself certain things - you won't drink before noon, you'll wear sunscreen, you won't junk up your property, you won't change your name or join a nature cult, you'll wear pants, and you won't cook meth. It's a slippery slope, my friend. Keep your pants on, at least when company's a-coming.

Is it "Never put desert mallow in your eye?"

We've been collecting desert plant books, and this is a beauty from 1954.

I especially love the description of desert or apricot mallow:
A local belief that hairs of the plant are irritating to the eyes has given the name “Sore-eye Poppies,” an appellation carried out in the Mexican name Mal-de-ojos. In Lower California, Mallows are called Plantas Muy Malas, meaning very bad plants. In contrast, the Pima Indian name is translate to mean “ a cure for sore eyes.”
This reminds me of the video by the Kids in the Hall that I've pasted in below. Is it "do" or "don't" put apricot mallow in your eye?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Creosote Medicine

We drove to the desert Friday night and it was cooler than it was in LA. We arrived at midnight and slept outside. Near dawn we pulled blankets over ourselves.

About 8:00 a.m. on Saturday we drove to the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center for the pancake breakfast. Ken is learning to work the grill so he can sub for our friend Kip who will miss the next two breakfasts. I worked the door. We served almost 70 breakfasts and the Thrift Store did good business, too.

There was a birthday party at one  of the back tables - someone was turning 90-something and we all got a piece of cake.

I overdid it yesterday. By the evening my knees (osteoarthritis) were killing me. The pain kept waking me through the night. So this morning I did something I'd wanted to try, but never had. I took a small branch of creosote and wet it. Then I held the little branch against my knee for a few minutes. When I moved my hand away the branch remained. My hand was stained yellow.

The yellow is from the resin on the leaves. You can see little brownish-orange specks on my hand. These are lac scale insects (tachardiella larreae) that broke off the branch. The insects cover themselves in orange lacquer. I peeled the leaves and the scales off but my hands and knees remained yellow and sticky, even after washing them with soap.

The pain subsided. Chances are it's because I wanted it to. I'll have to try it a few more times to see if the fix was real or just in my mind.

We drove out to the Palms for breakfast with our neighbor, Gloria. We ran into Laurel and Frank from the Glass Outhouse Art Gallery, our friends Annelies and James, Robin and her son Billy, and Kip. We all had breakfast. Kip brought us a Coleman lantern and showed us how to fire it up. The electricity goes out up here from time to time so it will be nice to at least have some light. Now we just need to get a can of fuel and a carbon monoxide detector.

On our way home we drove past Laura Sibley's labyrinth. Since it was cool we all walked out to walk it. It was lovely. The view - all 360 degrees - was stunning and to keep seeing it - well, it was almost like slow motion spinning. Being slowed down by the turns made you notice things more.

Ken and Gloria walked it back but I cut across it as my knees were beginning to smart.

More later.