Radiogurl a la Carte

Tuesday, Feb. 07, 2006
Fake Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes

Ack... Just FYI, Part 2 of the kidnapping incident is going to have to take a backseat for the moment. We've got a wildfire that ignited just a little ways from town overnight. No, I'm not in imminent danger; fortunately it's uphill from where I live and work, which makes it fairly unlikely that it'll spread here. Unfortunately conditions here are so dry that the prospect is not pretty for one community in our listening area. The blaze is burning within about 5 miles of their town, an area that's extremely vulnerable. And it's by no means a guarantee of safety for us here, either. The forest is a proverbial tinderbox right now.

I've got a politician due in this morning at 8. I guess he literally gets trial by fire, because I intend to ask him what he proposes to do to try and mitigate wildfire risk if he wins the mayor's seat. He'd better darned well be prepared to tell me how he'll be wringing the necks of state and federal officials, demanding something more concrete than the ongoing vague promises we've gotten so far.

In the interim, I've been working with the CBS television affiliate in Phoenix, coordinating news reports. I learned that the toughest part of rural news can be getting local politicians to give up any details on any significant story. Sometimes it's a power issue; other times it is as simple as making the right connection in a reasonable amount of time. If the story warrants, sometimes the fastest way to get the appropriate information in a timely manner is to set up a news partnership with the big boys. You give them the initial tip, where the information originated, and as part of the deal, they provide you with the additional information they're able to get.

Ah, the minefield of the news... Some days it's just sooo much fun.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled kidnapping story.

As I mentioned on my previous entry, this past Saturday followed a crazy week in terms of tech failures, and I wasn't ready to sit at home and fight with more of the same at the house. So I kidnapped MC.

Now, I've been hesitant to say much about MC's history here for a lot of reasons, but I will explain now that he's not originally from Arizona, and the local topography and geology fascinate him. I convinced him to accompany me to the post office, but after I pulled out of that particular driveway, instead of heading home, I turned in the opposite direction. Armed with a map, I drove us back several miles along a dirt lane that could only most kindly be called a road; then we turned down a wide dirth path that I'm not at all sure is classified as a road.  There are tire marks and there's a strip of no vegetation, but for the mile or so we drove along its pathway, there were places I wondered if we were going to be able to get through at all.

For what it's worth, I've traveled some pretty rough roads before. You can't go fishing in remote areas and not do that. I suppose technically speaking we were traversing a 4WD road. I just don't happen to have a 4WD vehicle.

Trouble was, there also wasn't anyplace wide enough or flat enough to turn around. I mean, in a few places the road couldn't have been more than six feet wide. At its widest I think it was maybe 8 feet wide. That's not a whole lot of space for driving. There were places so rock-strewn that I cringed for the sake of my tires.

But that was actually the goal of the quest: to collect unusual rocks.

Both MC and I are rock-hound wannabes, though I've had considerably more practice at it. I took geology in college and have frequently been told I've got rocks in my head. (That's a qualification, isn't it?) MC had never gone on such an expedition and had already expressed the desire to do so. Since the only things resembling pulloffs were dry stream beds, I backed the truck into the most likely of those and we began hiking along the opposite side of the road.

You definitely wouldn't want to be out on this road in the rainy season. The terrain is extremely unforgiving and even as dry as it is now overall, there were some places where water was standing and the mud was pretty intimidating.

We brought along Toby, who was overjoyed for the opportunity to hike with us. We followed the streambed, which meandered through the hills and also offered us the most tantalizing prospects for collecting freshly-deposited stones.

Now for anyone unfamiliar with this area (which is probably the majority of my readers, provided I've still got any,) there are a lot of common and uncommon rocks and minerals hereabouts. We already knew that there are quartz crystals in the area to rival the Herkimer diamonds you find in the northeastern US; limestone and chert; geodes; rose quartz; onyx; agates; peridot; obsidian (generally in the form of Apache tears;) copper; silver; uranium; molybdenum (used in steel production;) chrysocolla; azurite; malachite; wulfenite; hematite; turquoise; calcite; tin; lead; zinc; petrified wood; and of course, gold. (Among others.)

Nope, we didn't find gold, and weren't really looking for it. But we found some interesting and beautiful chunks of natural marble - limestone or white onyx, not sure which, but veined with black and pink and peach hues.  We also found some striated stones we haven't identified, where there's a clear demarcation between the sedentary and igneous; lots of interesting granites (also normal in an area that's got volcanic history) and some green stone I haven't been able to figure out at all. I thought it might be a green variety of chert - but according to everything I've found, can't be. Supposedly green chert is rare and only occurs on the east coast, but there was tons of the stuff where we walked, including some pretty good-sized boulders and lots of loose chunks.

Ah well - you can see now why I've been told I've got rocks in my head.

Luckily, MC was ecstatic. He was so jazzed with the experience that he's been trying to find the contact information for the local rock club, with plans to gain membership for us both. Not a problem for me, and my friend M and her hubby are also rockhounds and have said they'll probably join up, too.

We've got a good start on landscaping materials, all sitting in a tub on the front porch, waiting until we move into the house. MC's got some plans for that, too - from paint colors to landcaping ideas. We have pretty much decided against whacking down the hedge along the front fence there, too - ever since discovering that it's a hedge of lilacs! There are also apple trees in the front yard, and there's a fenced yard both in the front and back of the house, plus a doggy door already in place.

And once it warms up, I've promised to take everyone out to pan for gold. It's entirely too cold right now, since it entails wading and sloshing water all over the place. While it's gorgeous during the days here (in the range near 70 degrees Fahrenheit,) overnight it's still well below freezing. I dunno about you, but that doesn't impress me as good wading conditions. Once it does warm up, though, panning just needs a water source - probably the Verde River that runs north of town - and an old pie tin or two. You'll never get rich, but you might find the occasional flake of gold or silver from the riverbed. The fun is in the doing, when you aren't burning up with gold fever.

Someone asked me how 00 is doing. I talked to her a couple of days ago; she's doing vastly better. A little depressed, but better physically anyway. She can't really find work until after she gets all of the dental problems fixed, because they entail once- or twice-a-week trips to the dentist. That's not the best way to endear yourself to a prospective employer. She's staying with a friend but sooner or later she's got to find a way to get work. Hopefully after this initial spate, she can whittle the dentist visits back to once a month or so, and can find either shift work within walking distance or can find a really sympathetic boss and something part-time with the option of full-time after she gets the final certificate of good health with regard to her teeth.

I'm going to have to leave you for now, allowing you to ponder rocks, teeth and fire - not to be confused with Earth Wind and Fire. Pictures will (hopefully) follow soon!

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )