Curiosity in Mars’ Gale Crater

You may have seen the post I did in 2011 about the NASA
mission to Mars (see 7/29/2011).  After 8 months flying through space traveling
a mind boggling 352 million miles, the little rover Curiosity arrived on Mars
and landed safely late at night on August 5, 2012.  I stayed up late to watch the live streaming
of the landing and it was a very satisfying event.  Curiosity has been on Mars for 53 Martian
days, Sols, now (one day on Mars is 37 minutes longer than a day on earth).  After extensive testing at its landing site to be sure it was in good health,
it began its sojourn to ‘assess whether the landing area has ever had or still has environmental conditions favorable to microbial life, both its habitability and its preservation.’   The instruments will look for carbon-based organic chemicals, the potential ingredients for life. I feel very close to this critter and check
on its latest progress several times a week using this site:

The area in which Curiosity landed has alluvial fans, similar to
Tucson, with our mountains slowly washing down into the valleys.  The floor of Gale crater
sits at a low elevation relative to most of the surface of
Mars, so if water flowed on Mars, this location is a prime candidate for
pooling water.  Mount Sharp rises about 3
miles above the crater floor
and is slowly eroding down into the crater.  The other day Curiosity arrived at an unusual
formation that shows evidence of large amounts of water in the past.  It is a sedimentary conglomerate (looks like
caliche to me…) and has rocks containing ancient streambed gravels.   “From
the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3
feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep.” So cool!

Here is the picture from the above NASA website:

I really like to try to
exercise my vision/imagination around the bigness of this.  Curiosity is so far away that it takes a
radio signal 13.8 minutes to reach earth, so we actually did not know if it
landed safely until long after it could have crashed.  And a third of a billion miles traveled…truly
amazing.  Then to see pictures, clear as
day, that are from Mars, it is really hard to wrap your head around. 


I’ll post updates from
time to time or you can check the link I gave you above yourself.

Comment on Harvest Moon – Enjoy

Just so you know…since Pluto and Uranus move so slow, this square has been, and will be looming for months. Maybe this whole summer has felt kinda stuck and a bit oppressive to you too…but this full moon adds lots of energy to it in this illuminating way, so we can SEE/FEEL that it is just all ‘out there’ and it’s not you.

Harvest Moon – Enjoy

Tonight, actually tomorrow, 9/30, at 3:18 am is the full
moon.  It will rise on the east horizon in
Tucson at 5:48 pm tonight, so check it out if you can/remember.  They say this moon appears the largest upon
rising because it is in the close part of its rotation around earth.  This full moon after the fall equinox
is called a Harvest Moon because farmers used the extra light at the end of the
day to give them more time to harvest crops, many ripening after a long summer.

This is also significant astrologically because the full
moon takes place in a frictional square with Pluto (regeneration, the unknown,
transformation, power) and a polarizing opposition with Uranus (innovation,
connection to collective, awakening, rebel). 
A full moon focuses illumination on or in a form.  So this full moon is bringing these tension
to light and allowing us to see/feel the form of the tensions.  So if you are feeling stressed, disrupted,
hyper, all signs of this configuration. 
It has the possibility of big change too, for turning corners, so you could RIDE the wave of
it to give momentum to any changes you have been considering and or practicing
over the summer.  Since this is a
Cardinal T Square is adds energy for action and decisiveness. 

I’ll be toasting the moon and riding the wave…


This picture is a crescent moon from last month.  I was delighted to find this weird and beautiful
configuration while viewing blowups.  It
was totally accidental!!  It is actually an
ocotillo in full leaf (in fact that same ocotillo of the mating  grasshoppers) in the foreground, slightly
blocking the moon.    I just love synchronicity.

Notre Dame du Cap

attention is caught

By the
crash of a fallen image.

The framework
is intact

But the
glass shattered

narrow knifelike shards

slice open my ‘right’ middle finger

The one
that so eloquently expresses

My often


This odd

Series of

Draws me
to repaint

Her faded

With the vital
force of fresh blood.

The blade
stabs clear through

the fires of passion and love

That rise
to her/my throat.


Her foot
lies ever so gently

behind the serpents’ head

in the stars

Not at ALL
like the wrestling

Of my
dark dreams.

gesture of openness


exactly what comes.


Queen of
the angels

With a
window into THIS particular life???

Or is it
the other way around?

Comment on year of the tarantula

I had to chuckle at the comment about the spider wanting to see what was on TV that night as well as him sitting on your shoulder at the wrong time of day!
The pic of the spider web is just awesome. It made think about how long it must taken that spider to accomplish something so beautiful. That in itself is a work of art. So when I’m feeling like I’m walking through mud in my life maybe I can remember that great photo.

year of the tarantula

Last year was the year of the rattlesnake out here.  There was a 6 week period in the summer when
we saw one every day but three. 
Typically, we might see 1-5 a year. 
I am declaring this year the year of the Tarantula.  We must have a half dozen living in dens
within a hundred feet of the house and have had them walk right into the TV
room twice this summer, I guess they wanted to see what was on…I have gotten
hundreds of photos up close with four different Ts and have learned a lot about
them.  Do you know that there are Tarantula
societies all over the world? 

I was remembering my first encounter with Tarantula the
second year that I lived in Arizona in the 70s. 
I was 20 and lived in a tiny trailer out in the desert on the west
side.  This was a big deal for me because
I now had to get myself some motorized wheels. 
I got a motorcycle, a scooter really, to get myself to my night job.  I was a phlebotomist; I drew blood at Tucson
Medical Center.  I was a vampire I

This trailer was primitive, almost camping.  It had no shower or hot water so I had a big
black hose coiled up in the yard in the sun so I could hose off before
work.  This was my first encounter with
solar energy, which became a passion in later years.  I forget how truly heavenly and awesome a hot
shower inside my home is….oh yeah…talk about something to appreciate!

Anyway, one of the great things about this trailer was
that I shared it with a tarantula.  It could
come walking through anytime and I was blessed not to have any fear of
spiders.  One morning I put on my robe
and went to brush my teeth and looked in the tiny mirror and Tarantula was just
sitting on my right shoulder, like a pet parrot.  Well, that was just too close too early in
the morning, I flailed, shrieked and we both respected a distance from then
on.  It made a great story for the family
back in Ohio, worrying about this crazy child who fled to the desert.

In addition to hot showers, I am appreciating the strong
presence of Tarantula in my life and the stories it gifts us desert humans
with.  Mythologically, spiders were
believed to create written language because their webs resembled written
symbols.  It is also the symbol for infinite
possibilities of creation, weaving beautiful designs of life. I think it good
luck to be blessed with so many right around the time I committed to this
blog.  My patron, Tarantula, thanks!

                               this is not a tarantula web, but a beauty nonetheless.

Equinox – A Part or Apart?

On this the eve of the fall equinox, it
seems appropriate to be present to our very own life giving star, the sun.  On the equinox the tilt of the earth’s axis
is inclined neither away from nor towards the sun and the center of the Sun is
in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The center of the Sun spends a
roughly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on
the Earth.  No matter where you are on
Earth, you have a due east and due west point on your horizon on the equinox.
That point marks the intersection of your horizon with the celestial equator, the
imaginary line above the true equator of the Earth.


Our solar house is carefully oriented with
its long axis east/west so we can optimize the gathering of the sun’s
energy.  Ancients throughout the Americas
watched, witnessed, and marked sun positions as sacred with buildings,
monuments, or structures.  These were important turning points in the cycles of life on
this earth.  There is a place in Chaco
Canyon in NW New Mexico where a pictograph seems to say:  “Hey you…stand here and watch the
sunrise.  When it rises just here…you
know that it is the equinox and the cycle has shifted.”  The pictograph was made a part of the
landscape, literally carved in stone to record and signal an important event,
maybe a reason to celebrate, or just to point out a beautiful pattern and
cycle.  The ancients were A PART of the landscape.  Most moderns are APART from the landscape.


Try to make some space in your life to
watch the sunrise or sunset or both tomorrow. 
You will Know east and west and be able to compare this with the
solstice sun at the extremes of its north/south journey.  Make a mental or an actual mark of where it
is on the horizon from your home and become A PART of the landscape. 

     Casa Rinconada, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico – the cliff in the mid-ground is due east.

Lingering on the Threshold

I had expected that it would stand headless and grow into its arms instead. 
But that lightning strike went through to the core of the entity.   Its entirety rapidly melting back into the
earth.  This accelerated dis integration
is beyond anything I have witnessed; usually it is a snail pace.  I am here to witness it, to interpret its


There is so much of its vital
force, its blood, running down, oozing, dripping, dripping, puddling, as
grizzly as a crime scene.  The smell
lingers in my nostrils; it turns my stomach even if it is not rank.  Somewhere between molasses and fermenting
fruit with an overlay of death.   I
breathe in its story, its message, its heavenly insights. 

It was scrambled at an atomic level,
letting loose the bond that held its form in integrity.  The abundant heavenly electrons, the negative
pole in this universe, lusted after a wholeness, to meet up with the positive
pole of earth’s offspring, this Sahuaro. 
A conjunctio oppositorum; I had not
expected this particular enactment of it right here.


Death from the inside out.  It is only its memory of the previous form
that holds it intact for a bit longer, lingering on the threshold.


I suspect it will all fall to the ground
soon, letting loose its last grip, surrendering to the sweet embrace of
gravity, Knowing its belonging to the earth in a new way.  If I release and let go, will my vital forces
flow out and seep into the spaces between the dirt?  Exchanging the struggle for freedom?  Isn’t it exhausting to be a human these days?
 I can sense death in a different way than
ever before right now in the presence of this giant toppled to earth by heavens


What drives negative to positive, toward
wholeness, toward total integration, toward total annihilation?  An elemental marriage of water, air, earth,
new forms created.  Death and rebirth
over & over in a million different forms. 
Is this creation?  Destruction? Are
they any different?


How perfect that I can witness it right
here daily from my computer desk….