Radiogurl a la Carte

Saturday, Oct. 08, 2005
Twist and Shout

Gotta love a computer crash. Just ask her-story. But make sure you're wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying a bazooka when you do. Don't say I didn't warn ya.

I can't claim a computer crash held me away yesterday. Nope, it was a drive to Timbuktu, Arizona - which isn't a real place, though it might as well be. There are plenty of little hick towns in Arizona. Unlike places to the east of us, though, there's a whole lot of nothing in between.

I grew up in the midwest, in northeastern Iowa, just outside the city of Waterloo. The area was and is gorgeous, and our enormous house sat about two blocks from the Cedar River. We went fishing a lot when I was a kid. I mean, a LOT. There was a reason for that, even more than living so close to the river. We needed the fish for food. We caught night crawlers in our back yard all summer long. I am not squeamish about fish or bait, probably because I never had the luxury of being a girly girl when I was a kid. (The double irony is that I really wasn't permitted to wear jeans or other pants until I went to work and paid for my own clothes. From that point forward I all but stopped wearing dresses at all.)

My dad made fairly good money, and the payments on our enormous house were less than $100 a month; but the budget was a constant source of friction at home, so my mother grew or caught close to 90 percent of what we ate. Our house sat on half an acre and we had a garden. And I do mean GARDEN. We grew green beans, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, onions, corn, rhubarb, asparagus, and just about any other produce you can imagine. We also had apple trees and blackberry briars and a mulberry tree in our back yard.

All that, plus one gigantic weeping willow tree that saw more Tarzans swinging on its slender limbs than any television set or theater in the known world.

Of course along with the home-grown food and lush greenery of the midwest came the flooding (though thankfully we were enough higher than the river that we were never inundated) and the tornadoes. And when I was a kid, tornadoes petrified me, more than anything. We'd hear the air-raid sirens at least a few times every summer, and the summer I was twelve they sounded every single day.

For anyone who hasn't lived in the tornado belt, the sirens only sounded when there was a tornado spotted in the vicinity. Imagine that you're a kid, and every single day of your summer vacation you had to spend anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours huddled into the dank corner of your basement, wondering if your house was about to tumble down on top of you. Oh, and if it would kill you when it did.

I'd seen first- and second-hand what tornadoes could do. One of mother's friends lived maybe three miles from us in a trailer park. The twister flipped up over a hill and landed smack in the middle of the park, turning the early 1960's trailers into aluminum pretzels. The woman's twelve-year-old son had to lift metal pretzel off of his mother and carry her away from the wreckage until the ambulance arrived.

My folks drove us over to see, less than an hour after the storm hit. I'd been to this lady's home perhaps a day or two earlier. Now all I saw was the town dump, transferred to a new location thanks to a nasty storm. That was rural Iowa. There were a lot of little towns and between the towns were farms and trailer parks and niches of life.

SuperstitionsIt's a little different picture in rural Arizona, where craggy mountains rise in gray-green splendor against a deep turquoise sky. This is along the highway, but the same sort of realities exist off-road, too. The picture's taken from the Bush Highway to the northeast of Phoenix, and the cliffs in the frame are part of the Superstition Mountains. A little later in the day, the folds of rock blaze vermilion in the fading sunlight.

There's a whole lot more to say about those mountains, which are called Superstition for good cause. They're ostensibly the location of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine (which, incidentally, has never been found.) People have died there, either searching for gold, falling from one of the cliffs, or murder. Last I heard, the total number of deaths was something on the order of 150 people.

They trained the astronauts in the area prior to the mission to the moon. It's known as one of the roughest terrains on earth, and for good cause. And that doesn't count the rattlesnakes, scorpions, mountain lions, and other assorted and sundry surprises provided by Mother Nature from time to time. It won't be on any list of the top day spas in the foreseeable future, I'm pretty sure.

Today was fun but challenging. I went to a child's birthday party this afternoon, feeling crummy but figuring this is a 4-year-old girl. It'll last maybe an hour.


The party was only for the kid insofar as the presents and birthday cake. The rest was a barbecue and so on for the adults. I didn't want to be rude but my back hurt, I didn't get enough sleep last night and I wasn't in social-butterfly mode at all. Not to mention that the birthday girl was herself too sick to really enjoy things. The only other child at the party was an eleven year old.

My friend knew that my back was bothering me so she talked me into letting one of the guys do reflexology using the pressure points on my hands. BIG mistake. Now my back and my hands and my neck hurt like hell. She swore I'd be back for more. I think I can safely say there's about a snowball's chance.

I guess like it or not I need to find a chiropractor and see if I can't get something done. I've never gone but I can't keep working at this rate.

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 - )