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10/15/2004 Archived Entry: "First dispatch from the desert"

FIRST DISPATCH FROM THE DESERT. Having written those words, I've sat here for 10 minutes not knowing what to write. I think I'm supposed to say something filled with Wisdom. After all, I've been out here two whole weeks. Surely I must have discovered the Meaning of Life by now. Or had at least a small wrestling match with the Devil. Or at lived through a hair-raising encounter with a rattlesnake and have a renewed Appreciation for Being Alive.

None of the above, I'm afraid. t's actually been a rather busy and unusually sociable time, so far.

Spent nearly three days on the road to get here. Took a couple of days to set up. Got a couple good days writing done on my mystery project. Dashed off to the Freedom Summit where I hung out with Debra, saw many members of my Arizona libertarian family, met TCFers Kirsten Tynan and Dennis Wilson, met many friendly strangers, and played two cutthroat Scrabble games with Debra and Kirsten. (Don't believe what Kirsten says about coming in "dead last". She's a cagey player who almost persuaded us that QED was an English word, not a Latin abbreviation and nearly talked us into giving her 44 points for turning "vat" and "waxen" into "vatawaxen." So will you people over at TCF quit telling her about "qat" and "qi"?)

Immediately upon my return from the Freedom Summit, the Desert Hermitage had a most welcome visitor - another friend I'd never met. He came from Far, Far Away and spent three wonderful days here. He was the best of company - sweet, smart, considerate, and very, very funny. Among other things, he introduced everybody at the Hermitage to the sport of geocaching. Talk about a great way to explore an area! With sore legs and ravenous appetites, we'd tromp home at the end of the day from limestone caves, hidden springs, and pioneer graveyards that we'd never have known about if not for the magical hand-held GPS device and people who think it's fun to hide ammo cans full of silly stuff in obscure places. In the evening our visitor would make himself even more welcome by cheerfully surrendering his nickels and quarters at the poker table. (Bad cards, not bad skill.)

When he left, everybody at the Hermitage (yes, there's more than one hermit out here) felt as if they were losing a favorite brother. Come back soon, Apricot Man!

But ...

Poker? Scrabble? Visitors? Social evenings at the Hermitage? Not quite what you might have been expecting. Believe it or not, the ancient desert hermits had something of a similar dilemma. Between visitors and whatever the ancient equivalent of Scrabble was, many of them had a hard time getting much actual hermiting done. They kept moving farther into the desert. But being human, they could find distractions, even there.

Ah, but it was great. Especially that visit.

And at least a bit of actual hermiting has gone on. For two weeks, I've scarcely read or heard one lick of news. The presidential race? Who cares? The latest scandal? I dunnoaboutit. I did manage to turn on the radio yesterday to hear NPRistas gushing enthusiastically about the FDA's approval of the human-implantable VeriChip from our dear friends at Applied Digital Solutions. (May a herd of rabid pygmy goats stampede repeatedly over their whazooties. Both Applied Digital's and NPR's.)

That kind of stuff only makes a body mad. All I know is they'll chip me when they inject a chip into my cold, dead hand. Otherwise, it's currently Somebody Else's Problem. Two weeks without news (and mostly without an Internet connection) has left me calm and happy. And who would be eager to surrender that in exchange for a good Internet connection?

But now it's finally time to take myself into a far corner of the Hermitage, write, gaze out at the red-rock scenery, and Contemplate all that heavy stuff.

Thank you to Ian and Debra for blogging in my absence. Good stuff there, guys. Perhaps next time I check in I'll have at least a small insight on the Meaning of Life or be able to report that during my 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, the Devil showed up to offer me at least a small estate on the Adriatic, if not all the kingdoms of the world. In any case, I should be able to report that I'm getting a lot more Serious Hermiting done. Until the next visitor arrives, two weeks from now. :-)

Posted by Claire @ 02:52 PM CST

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