Tag Archives: North Carolina

She Talks To Angels

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The Okie and I were in Asheville, trying to sell the huge quartz cluster we’d been given at Coleman’s Miller Mountain Mine in Mount Ida, Arkansas.

The man who gave us the cluster only wanted points a couple of inches long to use in his crafts. He wasn’t interested in the chunk of quartz that probably weighed 50 pounds, so he offered it to Mr. Carolina and the Okie. When the boys asked me if I wanted to keep it, I said hell yeah! They hauled it over to my van and lifted it up into the space under my bed. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. The Okie was convinced we could sell it to one of the downtown rock shops in Asheville for several hundred dollars which I could use for needed repairs on the van.

So the Okie and I were in downtown Asheville on the day after we delivered Mr. Carolina to his brother. When I parked the van, we had no money to feed the parking meter. I figured either I’d panhandle change for the meter or get a ticket I’d pay later. The Okie loaded the quartz cluster into a green army-issue duffel bag and hoisted it onto his back.

Before we made it to the first rock shop, we met some traveler kids hanging around on the sidewalk.

The Okie, who was not the least bit shy, talked to the folks and asked if they wanted to see the cluster he was hauling around. Of course they wanted to see it. While he was showing it off, I pulled out some of the smaller points I had found and traded them to one of the kids for change to put in the parking meter. If I hadn’t needed to feed the meter, I would have given him the crystals. Since he offered the change and I needed it, I took it.

When I got back from putting the coins in the meter, the Okie introduced me to the oldest of the kids, a guy who actually had a girlfriend and a house just outside of Asheville. That guy wire wrapped stones and offered to trade quartz points in exchange for making some pendants for us.

The guy picked out the points he wanted, and the Okie and I gave him the crystals we wanted wrapped. We agreed we’d be in touch the next day, and the Okie and I went on our way.

When we heard from the stone wrapper guy the next day, we were at Stuff-Mart where I’d been flying a sign. He and his girlfriend were out and about in a car, so he said they’d meet us where we were.

Upon arrival, they presented us with beautiful pendants made from the stones we had found combined with (as it turned out) the girlfriend’s fabulous wire wrapping work. But even better than the pendants was the girlfriend!

Miz C and I hit it off immediately, which was unusual for me. There are few people I’ve liked the moment I met them. I’ve had to warm up to even my closest, dearest friends. But not Miz C. Right away we were talking as if we had known each other for years. Within minutes, she had invited me to Thanksgiving dinner the next day. I typically don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I agreed to go over and share the meal.

On Thanksgiving morning, the Okie and I cooked eggs on my camp stove in the Stuff-Mart parking lot where we had spent the night in the van. After breakfast I drove him thirty miles east on I-40 to a Pilot truck stop so he could hitchhike to his next destination. Once we said our good-byes, I headed back to Asheville and Thanksgiving dinner.

Upon arriving, I was introduced to Miz C’s mother. Yikes! Although everyone was very welcoming, I suddenly felt as if I were crashing a family party. I wondered if my presence was going to be awkward for everyone.

Luckily, Miz C’s mother, Em, was as cool and loving as Miz C herself. It was a total case of “like daughter, like mother.”

While Miz C and the boyfriend cooked, I sat with Em and chatted. I told her some about my life and my travels and my very vague future plans which involved New Orleans for Mardi Gras and visiting an old gal friend in Austin. It turns out Miz C had once been quite the traveling kid herself, so nothing I told Em shocked or surprised her. Em was absolutely accepting of the way I was living my life.

When I asked Em about herself, she said received messages from angels. Communicating with angels was a new one to me, but I kept my mind opened and listened to what Em had to say.

She explained that angels are around us all the time and want to help us. We just have to ask them for the help and guidance and protection we need. However, sometimes if we are focused on negative aspects, the angels will think we are asking for a lesson and will send us the very situation we have been fretting over.

She told me both the archangel Michael and the angel Uriel were with me.

According to Wikipedia,

Michael…is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

In the New Testament Michael leads God’s armies against Satan‘s forces in the Book of Revelation, where during the war in heaven he defeats Satan. In the Epistle of Jude Michael is specifically referred to as “the archangel Michael”.

(I found an interesting gallery to help one decide if the Archangel Michael is actually sending guidance.)

According to the Ask-Angels.com website,

Archangel Uriel is a spiritual being of immense light and power, with an incredibly high vibrational frequency.

Uriel is the Archangel of Wisdom, Illumination, Light and of the Sun.

Over time, the conversation drifted to other topics. After a while, I excused myself to go out to my van to get more quartz points for gifting and trading.

I hadn’t been outside long when Em joined me at my van.

This friend in Austin you’re going to visit, Em asked, do you call her your sister?

I thought about it, then shook my head. Lou and I were close when we lived in the same city and worked together, I told Em. But I don’t think I’ve ever called her my sister or thought of her as my sister.

Em seemed perplexed. The angels were talking about my sister she said. The message from the angels (which was unclear to Em) was about my sister…

I almost fell over. Although I hadn’t mentioned her to Em, I did have a sister. She and I had been estranged since my bad-news boyfriend said she’d told one of his relatives that she didn’t have a sister. When I explained to Em that my sister had rejected me due to the crazy behavior I’d exhibited while still with my ex, Em wisely pointed out that he could have been lying to me to separate me from one of my main sources of support.

This talk of my sister went a long way in helping me believe that Em received messages from angels. I hadn’t even mentioned having a sister, so how could she have known about her? Maybe she just guessed, but it seemed more than coincidental to me.

I took the photo of the angel.

Steps to the Tule River

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On California Highway 190, between Camp Nelson and Springville, there was what appeared from the road to be a scenic overlook with steps (mysterious steps) leading down and vanishing.

Mysterious steps.

Mysterious steps.

There was no sign other than standard Forest Service signs, nothing to let one know where one was or where one might end up. On the way back from Springville, I decided to stop. There’s a place to pull off the road with three or four marked parking spaces and two plastic trash cans on either side of the steps, each chained to the guardrail. And just so everyone knows, no, I wasn’t chemically altered in any way, although I was battling motion sickness due to the continuous curves in the mountain road. I started down the steps, although, yes, it occurred to me that I was alone and no one knew I was there, but I decided whatever. If I wait to go places until I have someone to go with me, I won’t be going many places. So I walked down the steps. And then the path turned, and then there were more steps leading down. There were more turns, more steps, then a wooden bridge. All the while I could hear the river, but not see it.

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Looking down the steep steps to the wooden bridge.

There was vegetation all around and boulders, and if not for the fairly big lizards and lack of oppressive humidity, I could have been in Tennessee or Kentucky or North Carolina.

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Fairly big lizard.

I continued descending the steps, thinking, should I be afraid? Maybe I should have been afraid because I didn’t know who was at the bottom of the steps or what people might be doing down there, but I wasn’t scared at all. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, entering a totally magical and mysterious world. Then the steps ended, and the ground in front of me was just rock, and where the ground of rock ended, I could see the river tumbling over other rocks, not quite a waterfall, and not rapids, but water tumbling down. I carefully climbed down the rock I was standing on toward the river. It was a gentle decline; I wasn’t repelling down the side of a mountain. The rocks I walked over were mostly flat and not slippery. IMG_2852I walked into an area with no vegetation, just these smooth, mostly flat, ever so slightly curving rocks right up to the water. The earth was stone, smoothed out, gently sloping, white. It was unearthly. Of course, it was earthly, because I was still on earth, but I also felt as if I was somewhere else, maybe the moon. (And then, because of the hippie I am, I thought of the Grateful Dead song “Standing on the Moon.”) When I looked over to the river, I saw that the water tumbled over rocks and into a pool. The water in the pool was green, but also clear enough to see rocks under the water. It was somehow both clear and green. I thought about sliding into that clear green water, but it wasn’t nearly hot enough for that, and I’m not much of a swimmer. I’m brave (or maybe foolish), but I’m not brave (or foolish) enough to get in a pool in river all alone when no one has any idea where I am. Besides, the water was probably pretty cold, and I do not like to be cold and wet.

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Water tumbling into the pool.

IMG_2848 The pool was big and looked fairly deep (another reason not to get in—I don’t like to be in water over my head, even in pools made by humans). There were big rocks at the edge of that pool. The water went over those rocks, and there was another only slightly smaller) pool. IMG_2854 The whole scene was totally amazing and miraculous. I walked on those big flat rocks and wondered if I were actually dreaming. The whole scene had an absolutely dream-like quality to it, so different from up above where I’d left the van. The terrain had changed so quickly—I think that’s what made it feel like a dream. It didn’t seem possible that my whole world could have changed so fast. I felt as if I were mentally stumbling around (my feet were steady), and I kept thinking, are you KIDDING me? I didn’t stay too very long. I hadn’t brought water with me, and I knew I had to climb all those steps to get back to the van. I took photos, but I fear they won’t do justice to the experience. (I don’t think photos ever do justice to an experience, but sometimes they convey something close to what really happened.)

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There’s the wooden bridge and the stairs I had to climb back up to the van. I like the way the wooden bridge is sitting on top of those boulders.

I just don’t even know how to explain how I felt. I was totally in the moment. My life was absolutely real, while at the same time I also felt as if I were in a dream. It was the flip side of those dreams that feel so real; it was absolute realness that felt like a dream. This little excursion was a blessing because it reminded me why I’d come to California: to see new places and have adventures.

 

All photos in this post were taken by me.

Update on the California Adventure

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On Sunday, April 26, I arrived at the campground where I’d been told to report. Within a couple of hours, I met the boss and was told there was no training the next day. She seemed unsure as to why I’d been told to arrive a week before my training, although she said she could put me to work. (On the voicemail I have saved, the woman who works in the office said she’d just talked to the boss who said I should be at a specific campground for training on the 27th.) No one has explained why I was told to arrive a week early. The boss was certainly not expecting me.

On Monday, April 27, my van wouldn’t start. I flagged down an elderly man who was hard of hearing, and he used my cables to jump start the van. I drove into town (where I was headed anyway) and proceeded directly to the Car Quest auto parts store. Thankfully, I had a small monetary cushion, because I used that money to pay for a new battery.

The battery in the van when I bought it had been doing weird shit for months. I’ve had to have it jumped six times since I bought the van last July—six times the battery was dead for no obvious reason. When I started the van, it kind of stuttered before starting, and it often died when I tried to back up immediately after starting it. I had it checked out at a Car Quest in Southern New Mexico—they charged it for eight hours, then checked it and said it was fine. But I decided I can’t be having a dead battery out in the woods, so I bit the bullet and bought a new battery. Now the van starts right up, no stuttering, and no dying when backing up. Am I glad I had to spend my money cushion on a new battery? No. Am I glad to have a new battery? Yes.

I spent small parts of Tuesday and Thursday filling out paperwork and getting some training for the job (from the women who gave me the message to show up early). I also spent a couple afternoons that week at the Burger King in town (WiFi, an electrical outlet, and free refills on sodas) writing and mostly catching up on email. I explored a pioneer cemetery and the local history museum.

On Friday I was finally taken out to the campground to work temporarily. The camp hosts of my temporary campground had not arrived yet. I don’t know why. However, the company was having yurts built in the campground, to they wanted a staff person around to keep an eye on materials and supplies after the builders go home. They decided I would be the staff person on duty. Since I’d be at the campground anyway, they decided to open it to campers two weeks early.

The campground is much bigger than the one I’ll be working at for the rest of the summer. This first one has 32 sites, plus five or six large group camping spots, compared to just ten sites at my campground. I’ll be parking on one of those sites, so I’ll actually only be responsible for nine camping spots once I’m out there. Although I’m only expected/allowed to work five hours a day here, the first couple of days kicked my ass. Just the walking was wearing me out. At night, all I could do was eat dinner and read a bit before falling asleep early. On the first two nights, I was in bed before it was dark out. When I woke up in the morning, I did not feel recovered. It was very depressing, and I wanted to give up.

On Sunday, I was given a golf cart, and that helped a lot. At first I was scared of the golf cart, but when I told the guy who delivered it that I’d never driven one before, he told me it was just like driving a car. And then I realized, yes, I drive a giant van, I should be able to drive a golf cart. And you know what? I can drive it! (And it’s fun!)

In van driving news, I am able to back into my campground host site. Granted, it’s a pretty big area, and I don’t have to be in one strict spot (like between lines or on an asphalt slab), but backing in is a HUGE step for me. I’m learning!

I did see my campground on the way to the temporary spot, and I love it! It’s so cute! It’s ½ mile off the main road down a dirt road, and there are lots of trees and a meadow. I can’t wait to be there.

I’ve had mixed feelings about being out here.

On the one hand, the landscape is absolutely stunning, and the wildlife is incredible. There are mountains, a river, and tall trees. There are many ponderosa pines where I am stay and they are soooo tall. I saw four deer (two mammas and two youngsters, I think) in the campground the other morning around 6:30 when I was making my rounds. That afternoon, I saw the biggest chipmunk I’ve ever laid eyes on—it was the Arnold Schwarzenegger of chipmunks. One day I saw a blue jay so blue I gasped. One night as it was getting dark, I heard a sound I thought was the panting of a dog or maybe a bear about to attack, but it turned out to be the sound of the flapping wings of two low-flying birds.

On the other hand, I’ve had moments of intense loneliness. I feel very far away from the people I love. When I see co-workers, it’s not for very long, and I haven’t found any common ground with any of them yet. Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to hear that my favorite prat of the job is welcoming campers and talking to them while I’m filling out their paperwork. I hope I’m not coming across as desperate for human companionship, although I do feel a bit that way.

It’s been cold hour here at night; the temperature starts dropping around 4:30 in the afternoon (or 16:30, for those of us currently using military time). Once I’m snuggled in bed, I’m warm, but 12+ hours in bed gets uncomfortable, and it’s difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning when it’s cold. Fortunately, I don’t have to be out and about at any particular time, although they do want us to a “sweep and hang” (sweep restroom floors and make sure there’s enough toilet paper) early in the morning. I do have my propane heater, but it’s still packed away. I think I’ll get it out so it’s easier to get a blast of hot air to get me going in the mornings.

I’m also bummed out because every time I drive on the tightly curving mountain roads #1 all my neatly stacked plastic crates tumble all over the back of the van (but it’s easy enough to put everything away again) and #2 I get car sick. I suffered a lot from motion sickness as a kid, but as an adult in a moving vehicle, as long as I don’t look at the floor (like to tie my shoe) or turn around to talk to someone in the backseat, I’m fine. And I’ve never before gotten even a twinge of motion sickness while driving. But these roads are something else. I’ve driven on curvy, twisty mountain roads in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and New Mexico, but none of those places compare to the sheer number of miles made up of tight curves I’ve been experiencing.

In the last week, I’ve thought many times about quitting and going back to New Mexico, but I realized that while New Mexico would familiar, it wouldn’t necessarily be better. I’d still be dog dead tired at the end of the day. I’d be hot instead of cold, and also windblown and dusty. I’d still be lonely a lot, because when I’m working I don’t do much socializing because I’m tired and concentrating on making money. So running away to New Mexico doesn’t actually seem to be an answer.

I just finished reading a book of first-person accounts of single women homesteaders in Montana in the early days of the 20th century called Montana Women Homesteaders: A Field of One’s Own, edited by Sarah Carter. I am finding inspiration in those tough, determined foremothers. Many of them lived alone in tiny shacks, with no electricity, often with no water on their property, sometimes with no neighbors for miles and no transportation. They depended on their neighbors, but they depended primarily on themselves. The loneliness was intense, the labor backbreaking, the weather destructive. Often the crops didn’t grow, the garden didn’t grow, and they had to work additional jobs for survival. One woman mentioned hurried to do her own chores on her claim each morning so she could walk six miles (and later six mile home!) in order to earn cash doing laundry for other people.

I’ve got so much more than those women did. Surely I can be as strong.

This Is Love

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The man in the photo is Pigpen (legal name: Ronald Charles McKernan). He was the front man for the Grateful Dead from the beginning in 1965 until shortly before his death from gastrointestinal hemorrhage in 1973. He was a keyboardist, a harmonica player, and most of all, a blues man. Although he grew up in San Bruno, California, he had the voice and persona of an old black man who’d lived a hard life in the rural Deep South. The Grateful Dead started as a jug band (Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions), but with Pigpen at the helm, they were quickly singing the blues. If Pigpen wouldn’t have died when he was 27, the Dead would have surely been a very different band.

If you hang out with large groups of Dead Heads, you’ll see stickers and t-shirts that read, “I Miss Jerry.” Fair enough. I miss Jerry too (even though I never saw him perform live). But most of all, I miss Pigpen. (Somebody could make some money selling “I miss Pigpen” t-shirts and stickers.)

While I was traveling with Mr. Carolina, we had no music. My van had no radio. Neither of us had a laptop or a tablet or an MP3 player or a music playing phone. When we picked up the Okie and Lil C, we got a little relief. Lil C had a phone onto which he could download music. I mentioned how I had really wanted to listen to “Estimated Prophet” while in was California, and those sweet boys got it onto Lil C’s phone for me. Mr. Carolina and I listened to it while stopped in a gas station parking lot, one ear bud in his right ear, the other in my left.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the Okie and I were in Asheville, NC. We’d left Lil C at his mom’s house in Kansas City. I decided I wanted to go to Arkansas to dig quartz crystals. Mr. Carolina decided he wanted to dig quartz too, then convinced The Okie to travel to Arkansas with us. From there, we went to Asheville and on the Monday before Thanksgiving, we delivered Mr. Carolina to his brother so he could spend the holidays with his family.

The day we dropped off Mr. Carolina? That was one of the saddest days of my life. We’d been together every day for a month and a half, and every day with him was a joy. Whenever I was stressed or upset, he’d remind me to breathe or hand me a flower. He never let me pump gas; if I was by the gas tank about to pump, he’d jump out of the van and run over to help me, take the nozzle right out of my hand. Whatever he had–food, money, friends, shiny rocks, weed–he was ready to share with me (or whoever else was around and in need). He always had a sweet, long, tight hug for me. He always thanked me for anything I did to help him. When we left him with his brother in the parking lot of a convenience store on the edge of Asheville, I felt as if I were leaving the nicest part of my life behind.

So the Okie and I were in Asheville. The Okie was a sweet kid, with emphasis on the kid part. He was 19 and acted it. He interrupted me whenever I spoke. (One day in exasperation, I snapped at him, “Do you interrupt me all the time because I’m a woman, or do you do that to everyone?” He claimed he did it to everyone.) He asked to drive the van (a lot), even though he didn’t have a license. The one time we let him drive on a deserted country road, he drove too fast, even though Mr. Carolina mentioned more than once that he needed to slow down. He acted as if he knew everything about everything, even when he didn’t know much about anything.

I had a lot of compassion for him. He’s been born to a young mom who ran off to California with him when things didn’t work out with his dad. When she got a new boyfriend, she shipped the Okie back to Oklahoma to live with her mom. After a few years, Grandma sent the Okie to live with his dad, a cop. That didn’t work out so well, and the Okie started getting in trouble and running away from home. By the time he was 15, he was living in St. Louis, hooked on heroine. He was clean when he was with us, but his emotional scars were obvious.

He certainly wasn’t accustomed to his friends being generous to him. We had a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly that we’d either been given by strangers or had bought with money given to us by strangers. It was for all of us. Whenever the Okie was hungry, he’d ask me or Mr. Carolina if we minded if he made a sandwich. The first few times he did this, he seemed considerate. We explained that the food was for everyone, that he should eat when he was hungry. After a while, his asking permission to eat got extremely annoying. Mr. Carolina started teasing him whenever he asked by saying no, he couldn’t have any food. I thought it was sad he didn’t trust that we really meant to share with him.

So yes, I had compassion for the guy, but he pushed all my buttons and drove me crazy. It was as if I were his 41 year old mom and he were my 19 year old son.

So we were in Asheville, with a huge quartz cluster we’d been given at the quartz mine in Mt. Ida. The thing had to weight at least 50 pounds. The Okie was convinced we could sell it to one of the downtown rock shops for several hundred dollars which I could use for needed repairs on my van. He was carrying it from store to store on his back in a huge Army issue backpack.

As we were looking for one of the stores, the Okie asked an older guy in a tie dyed t-shirt for directions. The guy told us how to get where we were going, and the Okie offered to show him the quartz cluster. The guy was impressed and told us he had a stall in an outdoor market around the corner. The Okie asked him if maybe he’d be willing to trade for some quartz crystals fresh from the Arkansas dirt. The guy said he might be, to come to his booth when we were done at the rock shop.

Unfortunately, we were not able to sell the cluster. We tried at two rock shops, and neither made us an offer, much less an offer of several hundred dollars, as the Okie expected. I wasn’t surprised. The cluster was gorgeous and magical, but it wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of nice points on it, but there was a lot of matrix too. For a rock shop to give us even $200 for it, the buyer would have to feel confident that the store could sell it for $400. I just didn’t see anyone paying that much money for it.

The Okie hoisted the cluster-laden pack onto his shoulders, and we walked over t0 the older hippie guy’s booth. He had a lot of hand painted light switch covers, and several Grateful Dead pins. The Okie pulled out some of the nicer quartz points he had collected. The man accepted them, and the Okie said he’d like to have a Grateful Dead pin. While he was looking at the pins, I asked the man if he was interested in looking at any of my points. He nicely told me he didn’t need any more than he’d already gotten form the Okie. I stood next to the Okie and looked at the pins too, although I certainly didn’t have any money to buy one.  (My pockets were so empty, I’d had to trade some of my points to a street kid for a handful of change to put in the parking meter when we’d arrived downtown.) I was just enjoying looking at them, and I was interested to see which one the Okie would pick.

I saw the one with Pigpen and pointed it out because it’s just not so often that I see anything with Pigpen’s face on it. Everyone knows Jerry, and his face is all over stickers and t-shirts, but Pigpen is harder to come by. (And if your guy is Keith or Brent–the other dead Grateful Dead keyboardists–forget it.)

Also, during our time on the road, whenever conversation turned to the Dead, it had been Pigpen I sighed over. All the boys knew I had a little crush on him, so it was natural I’d be excited to see Pigpen and point him out.

When I showed the pin to the Okie, he put down the one he’d been looking at and told the guy he’d take the one with Pigpen on it. Then he turned around and gave it to me!

I tried to say oh no, I couldn’t, tried to tell him he should pick one out for himself, but he insisted on giving the pin to me.

That is love! He did without something he wanted so he could give me something I wanted.

I’ll never part with the pin. It’s not just the photo of Pigpen or the stealie’s cool glitter background that makes it special to me. What’s important about the pin is that the Okie loved me enough to give it to me.

Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_%22Pigpen%22_McKernan for information about Pigpen.