Dark-Sky Dreams.

Tonight, I’m sitting here wrapped in loose, knit layers, feeling cozy in my cold (70F) house – no, I haven’t turned my heater on yet, despite the nighttime dropping of desert winter temperatures – and I’m listening to the rain, and I thought I’d share with you my proverbial heart’s desire. Because we’re in the moment. We’re sitting beneath something spectacular.

It’s the Geminids, my friends. The Geminid meteor shower. I’ve been thinking about it all year!

It’s been one of my dreams to visit a dark-sky area to view the Geminids. Of all the (30) annually occurring meteor showers, this is the one I’ve most wanted to see. The winter constellation of Gemini is one of my favorite constellations, and its twin stars, Pollux and Castor, are two of my favorite stars!

It would feel especially magickal to view a meteor shower in the winter, I think. To be outside, in the dark, in the cold, watching for meteors. It’s cold in space.

Could I make this happen? I don’t know. I don’t drive on the freeway (the spot I’ve pinpointed is 32 miles away), and I’d want to settle under the stars at 2am. It’ll be December 13-14, Monday night/Tuesday morning, so… not a viable consideration for most of my friends, as they’ll have to go to work on Tuesday. (Whereas I won’t. I’m taking all of next week off for vacation.)

It wouldn’t be just the Geminids, either. There’ll be a lot to see! From a dark-sky location, I’ll be able to see stars that are obscured by the halo of city lights, constellations in their entirety, maybe, rather than just the alpha stars and other large stars. Even beyond that, there’s the band of our Milky Way galaxy! If I could see that one day, too. And while I’m on the topic of cosmic bucket-list items, I should mention the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

Aside: I like to fantasize that somewhere next door in the Andromeda galaxy, our closest neighboring galaxy at 2.5 million light-years away, there’s at least one planet alive with sentient life forms, including intelligent beings. Beings who, unlike us, have the technology needed to leave their galaxy. That they exist, and that they’ve come to Milky Way and visited Earth.

I watched a video on YouTube that explained how the Andromeda galaxy has a history of devouring other galaxies, and how ours will be next. In roughly 4 billion years, Andromeda will collide with Milky Way, and the Milkomeda galaxy will be born.

To think that Andromeda is just one galaxy. According to current NASA reports, there are around 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe. (“Observable” being the operative word. There are 200 billion galaxies that we know of.)

The vastness of the universe is overwhelming. I’ll say it again and again: I can’t imagine that in the entire Universe, the only sentient life that exists is here on Earth, on this tiny planet in this small galaxy.

There’s us! The third planet from the left of the Sun.

I’ll share this with you, too: Two of my favorite ways to meditate are clearing my mind while gazing into fire, and clearing my mind while gazing at this picture. It’s mesmerizing to me, artistic renderings of the planets lined up in order, for comparison… Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, and then the Giant Planets on the other side of the asteroid belt: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Here’s another pic:

L to R: Mercury; Venus; Earth; Mars; Jupiter; Saturn; Uranus; Neptune, and dwarf planet Pluto.

The sheer size of Jupiter! No wonder we can see him so large and bold in the sky. I’ve admired Jupiter in the bright morning blue sky as well as in the dark of night.

I’m forever in love with the Cosmos, though I’ve still yet to star-gaze from the backyard (since Salem’s death). I’ve tried. I just can’t. Watching the night sky for meteors 32 miles away from here, though, might create a different story. It might be a good way to return to that practice.

We shall see.

I hope this finds you all doing well, dreaming your dreams, and hopefully living them, too.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

I love Tesla’s cover of that song. “Signs.”

Well, we tried to attend a friend’s wedding in Palm Springs on Saturday. Let me tell you how that worked out.

We left late in the morning for the 3:00PM ceremony, anticipating a pleasant four-hour drive through the desert. We love driving through the desert. It was sunny and warm, and the broad sky was as gorgeous as usual. I made sandwiches. We loaded up the truck with water and a selection of our favorite driving-through-the-desert music.

The previous evening, we’d had a little mechanical drama when our truck died while we were out running errands, but when the time came to leave for California we felt confident that everything was fine because the emergency road-side service people at our insurance company had sent Steve Buscemi in a tow truck, and he’d hauled us off to Auto Zone; we had a brand-new battery under the hood thanks to him.

Steve Buscemi’s secret identical twin brother, that is. Same exact difference.

 

Same looks. Same voice and manner of speaking. Hell, same mannerisms all the way around.

Same looks. Same voice and manner of speaking. Hell, same mannerisms all the way around.

 

So it’s Saturday morning. We have our new battery, and we hit the road.

 

Quartzsite, our last stop out of Arizona

Quartzsite, our last stop out of Arizona

 

Not long after we cross the border into California, we break down again. It’s the same scenario as the night before, but this time, we aren’t in the parking lot of a Target, and there’s no Steve Buscemi to come to our rescue. This time, we’re in the desert on the outskirts of Blythe, conveniently close to the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, which I’d heard has good Eggs Benedict. We just manage to coast off the Wiley’s Well Road exit to the rest area.

 

I actually don't even know where I took this, exactly. Does it matter?

I actually don’t even know where I took this, exactly. Does it matter?

 

Callaghan and I have a long-standing habit of cracking jokes about Blythe (and Bakersfield, but that’s irrelevant), so I guess a possible moral of this story is, don’t make fun of Blythe, because if you do, you’ll break down on the road and end up spending the afternoon there.

The more likely moral of the story, though, is that we weren’t supposed to go to that wedding.

Now, I’m not a trigger-happy “signs of the Universe” type person, seeing signs everywhere, in everything, for every reason, but I do keep an open, aware mind and gauge matters according to the facts apparent in the big picture while holding my sixth-sense finger attentively on the pulse of my intuition. When the collection of “coincidences” too profoundly resembles an enormous glowing neon SIGN that we are NOT supposed to go to the wedding, it’s just plain common sense. You’re not supposed to go to the wedding. You turn around and go home as soon as you safely can.

On Saturday, the Universe plainly said, “You guys aren’t supposed to go to this wedding, and you didn’t heed my warning when your truck broke down last night, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to concoct another mechanical break-down, but I’m going to put all the pieces into place necessary to ensure your safety and get you home with minimal hassle. The snafu is going to be serious enough to cause you to miss the wedding completely, and dramatic enough to let you know that it’s a sign from ME and you’d better not push it by trying to get to the reception. Take the gifts I give you and use them to get home.”

And so it was that everything was exquisitely in place.

–Our truck broke down precisely when and where we could glide onto Wiley’s Well Road.

–Within ten minutes, a trucker appeared off the freeway in a vehicle whose engine was perfectly suited to jump-start our 4-Runner’s battery,

–and, being sent by the Universe, he knew the area very well, so he was able to give us specific directions to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in Blythe.

–After we changed out our battery in Blythe and prepared to continue on to Palm Springs, we broke down again – for the third time! – when we stopped to get gas at the Valero station positioned on the on-ramp of the freeway.

Universe: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING STILL PLANNING TO TRY TO MAKE IT TO THAT WEDDING? WHAT PART OF “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PALM SPRINGS” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? HERE, HAVE ANOTHER BREAK-DOWN, YOU FOOLS!

Us: Uh. Okay. Guess we’re not going to that wedding.

The day continues on in this serendipitous manner:

Somehow, Callaghan is able to manipulate things under the hood enough to get the engine going. Back at the auto parts store, a different guy runs the diagnostics again and discovers the real problem – a dead regulator (inside the alternator). It was the alternator that killed the battery.

–An alternator specific to the make, model and year of our truck happens to be in stock.

–An auto repair shop happens to be right down the street… the O’Reilly Auto Parts guy gives us the phone number.

–By the time our transactions at the auto parts store are complete and we get to the shop, we find that the lone mechanic, who’d been working on a car and had another on deck when I’d called, had just then become available to take us. He gets right to work replacing the alternator and gives us an estimated wait time of one hour.

We walk to the Starbucks (miraculously positioned there in that tiny desert town) across the street to get some coffee while we wait. Callaghan gets online and calls Bill, one of the grooms (it was a two-groom wedding). They’d been expecting us, and we didn’t want them to worry. The ceremony is over and Bill is finally, officially married to his partner of 20 years. We congratulate them heartily. From Blythe.

We drive back to Arizona with a picturesque sunset behind us and get home just in time to feed Ronnie James and Nounours, who had no idea that Mommy and Daddy narrowly escaped some fate far worse than breaking down on the road. What unspeakable catastrophe did we avoid by not making it to Palm Springs?

We’ll never know.

One thing we do know: the Natural Born Killers soundtrack is still an entertaining soundtrack to play while driving through the desert in the American southwest.

 

Driving back to AZ with the sunset behind us. Cue Leonard Cohen.

Driving back to AZ with the sunset behind us. Cue Leonard Cohen.

 

Also, Blythe? Is a cute little place with friendly, helpful people. If you break down in the desert between Arizona and California, try to make it there.