Friday, July 25, 2014

Thunder and Lightning and Wind, Oh My!

Kneeling with my face against the screen of the open bedroom window, I strained my eyes, seeking a better perspective on the night sky. The locust tree in our front yard partially obscured my view of the strobe-like lightning storm that thundered on the eastern horizon. To steal a phrase, "I knelt all amazed." Or is it, "I stand all amazed?" Whatever the case, I was locked in place, absorbing the beauty of the ultra-electric light show. The sky-scape was pitch black until, "lightning flashed and thunder rolled". Each bolt briefly illuminated the sky, exposing boiling cloud formations that looked something like layers of huge, dark, oversized bath bubbles which appeared and faded in quick succession. I estimated there were 15 to 20 strikes a minute.
Thunder and Lightning Yei
A warm and ragged wind swept in ahead of the storm, and the night smelled of rain. The prospect of a downpour thrilled me. I knew from past experience, however, the chances of receiving moisture were not good. In this area rainstorms are rare, but that does not stop Mother Nature from teasing us with grandstanding parades of unproductive pageantry. As I watched, slowly moving cars passed by on Main Street. It looked as if their occupants were watching the natural fireworks exploding above our heads and anticipating the much needed waterworks. They too were wishing on falling fire-bolts. Just then Laurie walked into the room, and seeing me kneeling, asked with a trace of sarcasm, "What are you doing down there?" Ramping-up the rhetoric, I replied, "Praying to the Gods of thunder and lightning." Laurie, who often worries over my theological theories, contemplated me patiently. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she said, "Well, that's a start!"

Soon thereafter Laurie crashed for the duration of the evening. Each day my overly energetic wife rises at the crack-of-dawn, does yard and garden work until 7:00 a.m., takes a little time to prepare for her regular job, works at the local community college from 8:00 to 5:00, returns home to toil in the yard until 10:00 p.m. and then goes down like a felled tree. When the dust settles, she is out until 5:00 a.m. If that woman does not have her hands in the dirt and her feet in the foliage at least eight hours a day she is not happy. It makes me tired just watching her. Anyway, lying there in bed, unable to sleep, I observed the pictures on the wall flickering in and out of focus with each flash, felt the thunder reverberate through my bones and thought about all things spiritual and temporal, contemplating the forces of nature and how they work in such wondrous ways.

Sometime around midnight I fell asleep to the sound of the white-fire storm. I dreamed how the Navajo once worshiped thunder, lightning, rain and wind. The people believed that all aspects of their lives were driven by the will and mood of the Sun and the Moon, by Mother Earth and by many other forces of nature. Through the natural world the Navajo discovered a way to explain the unexplainable. A multitude of Gods were born, each with a balance of positive and negative energy brought to bear on mankind. Mother Earth is the only deity made-up of totally positive energy; she absorbs all negativity and gives it back in a decisively affirmative manner. She is the consummate nurturer. Since I first discovered it as a young man, I have enjoyed and appreciated the legends of these high-desert dwellers. The stories are interesting and exciting, and . . . well, who knows for sure what is real and what is not.

It must have been almost 4:00 a.m. when I heard rain begin to fall. I got-up and looked out the window, hoping for a deluge: a male rain to the Navajo. What I saw was but a brief spattering of drops, not even a gently nourishing female rain. "Big Deal!” I said out loud, speaking to the Gods of thunder and lightning. A far away rumble answered my derogatory remark. Laurie turned over and murmured something unintelligible. My personal incarnation of "Mother Nature" began to stir and I knew very soon the work and the glory would begin anew.

With warm regards Barry Simpson and the team;
Steve, Priscilla, and Danny.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Blisster

Barry and I have always considered ourselves innovators. Who, after all, initiated the latest business convention of treating customers badly, embracing poor hygiene and dressing sloppily to generate additional sales? Yes, that would be your friends at Twin Rocks Trading Post, sans Priscilla of course. This strategy has been so smashing that even our most ardent competitors are calling to provide encouragement. “Right on, keep up the good work, U Stink”, many have declared with great enthusiasm. We are flattered.

As our new business model has become an undeniable triumph, Barry and I have grown to realize there are additional factors to consider if we are to be socially responsible. Having contemplated the effects of our ever-expanding prosperity, we concluded one of our overarching goals must be to stay happy and help the artists and patrons with whom we work be happy too.
Happy Bliss

In pursuing our twin goals of rising revenue and bountiful bliss, Barry and I have noticed several organizations also attempting to increase, evaluate and quantify happiness in the context of economic growth. Indeed, last week Danny, who proudly informed us he had done well in history class, pointed out that happiness was a guiding principle in the formation of our nation. He noted the drafters of the Declaration of Independence expressly identified its importance, and even declared it an inalienable right. Barry and I therefore determined that if it was good enough for John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson and the boys, it should be good enough for us.

In fact, the venerable Sustainable Development Solutions Network has recently postulated, “Happy people live longer, are more productive, earn more and are also better citizens.” Many others have come to similar conclusions, and recently there has been a rising tide of economists, politicians and spiritual leaders who believe overall well-being should be tested and utilized as a primary indicator when formulating governmental, business and social policy. In fact, the tiny kingdom of Butan has taken the lead in this effort by enacting a “Gross National Happiness Index”.

Barry and I are never shy about “borrowing” good ideas. So, taking a page from the Butan playbook, we have developed our own tool. Priscilla has suggested we name it the “Blisster”. We, however, prefer the title “Bluff Bliss Barometer”, which we refer to as the “3B”.

Barry and I think Priscilla, once again, may not be taking us seriously. As a result, we have considered imposing a variety of sanctions against her. We worry, however, that penalizing Priscilla may adversely affect our index, which, when you consider scenic beauty, quality of life, the lack of traffic congestion, exquisite night skies, peaceful surroundings and many other factors currently existing in Bluff, may be approaching nirvana. At this point messing with Priscilla may not be wise.

While much of the world has been slow to catch on to this happiness movement, the dreamers at Twin Rocks Trading Post are forging ahead, once again blazing the path. As the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell was fond of saying, “Follow your bliss”; as Bobby McFerrin liked to sing, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”; and as Priscilla has said . . . . Well, never mind what Priscilla said.

With warm regards from Steve Simpson and the team;
Barry, Priscilla and Danny.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Red River Ruse

It was smokin' hot outside; 104 degrees in the shade, and there were not many people moving around. Steve, Priscilla and I were holed-up, waiting for the sun to set before we ventured forth. We were parked under the refrigerated air conditioners, sipping cold drinks and chillin' to flute music. Steve was sitting at the computer writing some craziness about treating customers badly and wearing his bedclothes to work. Priscilla was working at the back counter, marking jewelry and filling-out information cards. I was in my office searching for information about Super-X turquoise. Some old-timer had been in Twin Rocks Trading Post earlier and pooh-poohed a prize box of Kingman turquoise cabs I was showing off. He said, "Super-X, is the best turquoise that ever came from Nevada, or anywhere for that matter!"

The guy had kinda ticked me off, not because he had a strong opinion, but because I have never seen a piece of Super-X up close. The stuff is rare and, with its deep blue color and gold matrix, is rumored to be spectacular. In my experience turquoise from any mine has a wide range of quality and appeal, so I judge it one piece at a time. Since Super-X was mined-out years ago it is hard to get a handle on any aspect of it. Thus the reason I was online Googling anything to do with this rare bird. About that time the door chimes went off; someone was entering the store. Since Steve and Priscilla were busy, and I was becoming more frustrated by the minute with my less than productive search, I jumped-up to help. The couple that walked into the trading post was classics, as interesting as any turquoise cabochon I had seen in awhile.
Navajo Twin Rocks Modern "Stairway to Heaven" Rug - Eleanor Yazzie (#120)
The man must have been in his late sixties, maybe early seventies. He was long and lean in a solid way, as if he had lived a life of more than casual labor. He wore a pair of long shorts, the ones that hang past your knee. They were of a faded green color. What showed of his pasty legs was thatched in white hair. On his oversized feet he wore moccasin-like shoes. Covering his torso was a discolored blue sleeveless t-shirt, and over that a washed-out dark brown clothe vest. His arms were bare of fabric, but covered from shoulder to wrist in ink. His face was tan free and his eyes wild blue. He sported one of those chest length scraggly white beards and a matching mustache; similar to something you might see on an episode of Duck Dynasty. His hair was thin and white as well, and it fell almost to his shoulder. Resting peaceably atop his head was a battered felt fedora with a grouping of molted feathers that jutted out on the right side of a sweat-stained hatband.

The woman was a good ten years younger than her man. She too had an off-white complexion and was matronly in shape, standing somewhere around 5' 9" in height. Her full head of hair was mostly brown, but laced with grey. It was pulled back in a loose ponytail that fell to her shoulder blades. She had kind brown eyes and walked about with a trace of a smile on her lips that looked like it existed there permanently. She wore a long Levi's smock with an overall front of pockets, brass fittings and shoulder straps. Under her smock she wore a black tube top that barely covered her ample chest. Her midriff was exposed, as were her shoulders, back and arms. On her right arm she too wore a full sleeve of tattoos. Her left arm was unadorned. Her sock-less feet wore a once brown pair of ancient leather Mary Jane's.

The woman had an expression of contentment on her face and looked, well, she looked a little uncomfortable. The guy had his hands under his shirt, rubbing his tummy and groaning loudly. "Are you guys all right?” I asked. "More than all right," said the man, "We just ate next door at that cafe and are we stuffed." "Too much is better than too little," I said. "Yah man!” replied the woman. The couple told me they were camping at Sand Island and having a big time of it. They were an outgoing pair with plenty of jokes and puns in their repertoire, and I was enjoying their visit. Just before they left, the man told us he needed a nap in the shade and a soak in the river. "Oh, I don't know," I said, "That river is about 40% solids. The iron in the mud will wash over you, impregnating every pore of your body. It will stain your hide from tip to tail and leave you with a red-tinged tan that will last for weeks. With your skin tone it may stay on for good."

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied Priscilla snickering and was inspired to say, "Just look at Priscilla there, 13 years ago she strolled in from Nova Scotia and took a dip in that same river. She was once as pale as you. Eventually her original hair color grew back, but her light complexion never returned. She can't go home until she fades back to her "true color. Her family would never recognize her or accept this new persona. She is stuck here with us." Priscilla snorted, turned and stomped off. "See," I said, "she's still angry about it." "She's mad about something," said the man, "but I am not sure it's the river!"

The man thought about my comments for a moment while watching Priscilla's exasperated exit. He took off his old fedora, scratched an unexpectedly bald and highly polished crown and said, "Well sir, I am all about new experiences. First of all, I have never been impregnated by anything; secondly, I can stand a little color; and thirdly, as long as Dora recognizes me, that's all that matters." Dora smiled brightly and bobbed her head in affirmation. "Were going in," she quipped. "Alrighty then," I said, "but let all that food settle first." The pair said their goodbyes and promised to check in if complications arose. We may not have seen some of the more rare and unusual turquoise specimens, but we are blessed to have met a few of the more singular individuals. When the couple departed Steve went back to writing his miscreant missive and I went in search of Priscilla, hoping she would accept my sincere apology.

With warm regards from Barry and the team;
Steve, Priscilla and Danny.