After 'Saturn the second time' (Dallas, Texas, 1993), I needed to recover, and this took time (several years)! Luckily, I had friends. Additionally, there's always something 'good' in something 'bad.' And If 'very bad,' then 'very good!' Such turned out for me.
I first went to live with a woman named Garlene Parris out in Pecan Plantation, some 70-miles south of Ft. Worth (near Granbury). This is a white enclave of wealthy people, thus I didn't really belong. But, Garlene, and husband Ted, had this large house where I could live without paying any rent (I was broke!). I repaid them by doing outside chores (as Ted too feeble). Additionally, Garlene and I had been friends for years via Jack Favor (the old rodeo cowboy I've written about).
Garlene, is one of the most unique persons I've ever met! A world-champion 'trick rider' (her parents famous as such) by the time she was four-years old, she made a mistake of marrying 'Buster' (much later of course). He shot and killed their two daughters, before committing suicide. She overcame cancer and a host of other diseases! She took care (at home) her bed-ridden mother for years (before she died). She made money with two pet stores in Fort Worth. She was active in many causes! Garlene never met a person she didn't like, and loved many. Thus, she wa/is loved! The last time we were together (2000) she came to help me with a film festival in Cripple Creek, Colorado. She always paid her way, never asking for favors! Before that we'd had many experiences 'going down the road' together in Texas! I used to call her, 'a force of nature,' as having inhuman energy! I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like her! 'Unique' is an understatement!
And so I survived with Garlene and Ted's help! It wasn't easy! I'd just lost over $100,000U.S. via a business that not only failed, but was accused of fraud. In fact, we (the 'Colonel' and I) were accused of such during a TV interview (for all to see). I don't think I've been so depressed in my life (except, of course, the first time Saturn shattered my life in 1972). But they say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!'
Along about the time I got help from another Texan, Bill Caruth. I'd met him in a strange way as we didn't 'travel' in the same 'circles' (conservative Christians). Somehow, and I don't remember how (maybe Jane Favor, Jack's daughter, would remember?) I was enlisted to help his Christian group. There were incensed that the TV series, 'Lonesome Dove,' based on a book by Larry McMurtry had distorted historical facts. This was ludicrous to me, but I went along with 'their program' as had nothing better to do at the time. They were angry that there was 'sex' and homosexuality graphically depicted in the series. For some reason I was sent to Lubbock, Texas, to scope out a convention having to do with God knows what...? I can't remember as only there for one day. But, what I do remember is Buddy Holly's ('Well, that'll be the day!') statue out in front the convention center.
They also got me involved with the J. Everetts Haley, 'center/museum' in Midland, Texas (Bush country). I forget now exactly what, maybe to produce a video about the man, and his book about Charles Goodnight, etc. They were going to 'set the record straight' about Charles Goodnight (Tommy Lee Jones depicted in the TV series ) and Oliver Loving (Robert Duvall). Not all that sex and homosexuality, but 'real' cowboy stuff!
Speaking of 'real cowboy stuff,' Bill invited me out to Big Bend, Texas, to accompany him and some friends on a shooting (not video but guns) expedition. Little did I know what I was getting into. What the hell, I went along for the ride (as I'm an 'experience junkie'). At the ranch there was a remote area where it was safe to shoot! One of Bill's friends was a gun dealer, and they'd brought an amazing collection of rifles and handguns. So, many rocks got 'killed!' I had brought a video camera and recorded them making a lot of noise. They wanted me to shoot the the guns as well, I guess to prove I was a real man they could trust! They had everything from the old M-1 U.S. Army rifle (which I'd fired many times in the Army), to the Swedish Army's weapon of choice, to the .45 cal. machine gun (old 'Tommy gun'). I'd never fired a machine gun before, so it was kinda fun. Also, I fired a .44 Magnum pistol, so powerful it blasted rocks in pieces!
Anyway, this was how I was introduced to Prude Ranch. I forget Mr. Prude's first name (maybe John?), but a nice guy who needed a video to promote the ranch. He hired me to produce one.
So, I returned from Dallas with equipment and stayed a month, 'shooting' a video about their guest ranch and the Environmental Program. During this time, I accompanied an 'Elderhostel Group' to the Stillwell complex/museum near Big Bend National Park. In the few hours the group was there I met Hallie Crawford Stillwell, the 92-year old matriarch of the family. I also met her daughter, 'Dadie.' It didn't take long to 'close a deal' with them for a book about the Stillwell family and a video about Hallie!
'Dadie' had two brothers, the oldest, 'Son,' and younger 'Guy.' 'Son,' huge and gangly, lived up in Alpine with his wife, Guy in the original ranch house, 7-miles north of the Store (I visited them twice). He held a 'Guiness Book of world Records!' Born in the old ranch house, it's the only one he'd ever lived in for 70-straight years! But, they would always drive down to the Store in the evenings. Interesting about Guy, the quintessential-looking cowboy, tall in the saddle, slim, and silent. He would somtimes utter, 'yep.' But, his wife never stopped talking!
So, I moved to the Stillwell complex, basically a store, gift shop, museum (next door) and a some trailers where they lived. After the ranching business soured Hallie, got the idea to open a store on the new highway (goes down to the Rio Grande River and Mexico). This ultimately became an RV Park, and a place where 'snow birds' spent the winter. I ended up spending almost two years there!
The Stillwell Store (and ranch)I discovered to be one of the most remote places in the U.S. We were 90 miles from Alpine, the closest good food market. Alpine is also the home of Sul Ross University, where I spend many hours in their Library. But, I loved being out in the desert and mountains, this a quiet refuge from my recent urban 'storm!' I became 'the weirdo in residence,' the deal, room and board, some petty cash for my work writing the book and 'shooting' the video.
Hallie and I became close friends, as another unique frontier woman a la 'Garlene' (or vice versa). Hallie had written an autobiography entitled, 'I'll Gather My Geese,' and was a local legend! She'd married into the Stillwell family and moved to this remote area of Texas when Pancho Villa was raiding across the Rio Grande (early part of the 20th Century). A bit of trivia... Her Crawford family had settled first in eastern Texas, where George W. Bush now has a ranch (Crawford, Texas, so named for Hallie's family).
I would work in the morning (researching, writing, etc.), have lunch with the Stillwell clan, and then spend the afternoons hiking miles in the desert mountains. I ended up with a half dozen 'hikes,' that I would rotate (there are but four directions). One, a short one (maybe only 1 mile round trip, I hiked to the top of a hill directly behind the Stillwell Store. Here I had a perch where I meditated. From here you could see many miles in all directions. One time I was there sitting quietly when a doe and fawn appeared below me, only ten meters distance. I observed them with interest as never so close. It was tender how 'mom' watched over 'baby,' occassionally her head jerking up, ears searching the distance, eyes darting about for any signs of predators, mostly man. But, they never knew I was there as down wind, and out of site (she never looked up). Eventually, the moved along and out of sight.
In the hundreds of times I hiked I never once saw a human being. I saw many animals, however! I saw a large buck deer bound over the highway, herds of javelina 'pigs,' (not technically). I once walked right into a group of them at night, this scaring the shit out of us both. They bolted! I 'awakened' two rattlesnakes in the course of many steps, but luckily they were slow and I was fast! Once I hiked to the top of Stillwell Mountain, and put a note in a bottle to prove I'd been there. This area is so dry, a 'wonderful' cactus-like plant called 'Lechuguilla' (of the Agave variety) is everywhere (you step, 'ouch!' ). It has long tough, 'leaves,' with sharp spikes at the end that can penetrate the strongest leather boot. Thus, by the time I returned to the Stillwell Store, my ankles were usually bleeding.
The night sky in that area is the most amazing I've ever experienced. It was so clear, with so little ambient light you could see billions of stars with the 'naked eye,' and even their color -- down to the horizons! I saw many man-made satellites crossing the starry sky. Planets were as plain as day. I got interested in astronomy and began to be able to identify constellations.
Part of making the Prude Ranch video had to do with visits to McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. They had a Visitor Center, to accommodate guests. One night they'd set of a telescope to view Mars. But, for some unknown reason when I got to the head of the line, they had switched to Saturn (you could see the rings). Both times when I happened to be there with a group (from Prude Ranch) I saw Saturn through their telescope... twice! I ultimately knew what this meant, seeing Saturn twice! That it wouldn't' bother me again, that I had 'passed the test!' 'Know thyself!' the Oracle at Delphi instructed Socrates.
The title of this tome has to do with 'the return of Saturn:' "The first time Saturn comes back to meet your natal Saturn is in the late twenties. This is one of the most important times astrologically – a time of getting real with yourself and your mission in life. If you’ve been coasting on bravado and wishful thinking, Saturn will cause the foundation to dissolve beneath your feet. It can be a time of upheaval, stress, major re-evaluation and change." Note, this is exactly what happened to me, when I was fired from my job at ABC Sports! "And you get another chance to take stock when Saturn returns again in your late 50s." And again, this is exactly what happened to me in 1993, when I was 53-years of age (losing my company and with it my self-esteem). Ironically, the 'return of Saturn,' twice in one's life, is like the two 'major plot points' in a Syd Field 'three-act' screenplay. 'Plot points' are defined as events 'that hook into a story, and spin it in a new direction!' Thus, plot-points divide the drama into a 'three-act' play: The set up, the conflict, and the resolution. Such, has been my life!
In the Big Bend area (of Texas) there are mystery 'lights' seen at night called, 'Magic Lights.' This is not a figment of some local's imagination, but a documented phenomenon. In fact, Bill Caruth drove us to one of the tourist 'viewing sites,' not far from Marfa (location of several 'Hollywood' movies including 'Giant'). But, I didn't see any that night.
I asked Hallie about them and she thought they were 'swamp gas' ignited by static electricity. Everybody in the Big Bend region had a theory, or a story about seeing them. Japanese television had been there making a news story out of such. I thought they might be the spirits of dead indians (as there had been a group up in Chisos Mountains). One time I was in the National Park with friend Jeff, viewing the full moon. And although I thought I might have seen one, it was nothing like what I experienced some months later.
One night, with Jeff back in Baltimore, 'Pardner,' his dog and I went to Stillwell Canyon, This is located some 7 miles north of the Store via the ranch road. I rode Jeff's bicycle with Pardner in tow (on a leash).
Not a deep nor wide, Stillwell Canyon, is long in length, some 20 miles going all the way down to the Rio Grande River. We had been driven down the canyon many miles in a jeep (one of the tourist attractions of the area). Dotted along the both sides are unexplored caves where ancient peoples lived. I've actually seen artifacts proving such, as had climbed up and entered several. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to be there alone on a full-moon night.
I built a fire that evening on the ledge of one of the caves. It was an interesting experience, almost transcendental in nature. I meditated, with Pardner content to be part our adventure (more subdued than usual).
I think we started back to the Store around ten o'clock, now night. But, the moon was so bright, I didn't need my flashlight. Nearing the Store, maybe one-mile south, I happen to look to my right (west), and there was a 'magic light,' a fuzzy ball of illumination moving along with us. People asked me 'How large was it?' and 'How far away?' Such is relative (as Einstein tried to point out), as to the distance, etc. I can only say it wasn't small, nor too big, and maybe 50 meters off the ground. It wasn't stationary but moved at the same slow speed we were. I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is one!' It was difficult to negotiate the bicycle and Pardner, but I looked at it several times over a few minutes. This fuzzy ball of light keeping up its steady pace with us. However, the next time I glanced to my right, I noticed it had changed directions and was coming right for us! Suddenly scared, I said to 'Pardner!' 'Let's get outta of here! And I cranked wildly down the road. When I looked again, it was gone! But, I had definitely seen a 'Magic Light!'
I had other metaphysical or transcendental things happen to me while living at the Stillwell Store (near Big Bend National Park).
I lived in an adobe building the Stillwells called the 'Wet Shack!' It was a guest room of sorts, small, with one door and two windows. I lived and worked in this room. One day I was at my desk writing, using my laptop computer. For some reason I looked to my right (maybe sensed something). There was a man standing only a few feet away, wearing a black suit! It scared me so much I jerked my head back! The door was locked, there was no way for anybody to enter the room without me knowing it. When my heart returned to near normal I looked back and 'he' was gone. Poltergeists don't like to scare you. Later I thought about 'who' this might have been? I first decided it must be my grandfather. Then it dawned on me it was one of the Stillwell men come to visit, as I'd learned so much about the family (all the way back to England). He was curious about who was writing about them. Had I not jerked away so scared, it might have had a conversation with 'him.'
Besides this ghost in the 'Wet Shack,' I've had two other experiences with embodied spirits in my lifetime. Both in China.
Another time in Big Bend I was driving up to Alpine in my Classic Ford Mustang. The Stillwell Store was some 7 miles off the U.S. highway to Big Bend National Park. Where the two highways joined was a stop sign. But, with so little traffic on the highway, we rarely bothered to even slow down. But, this day I stopped. There was a 'man' standing there alone. I thought how unusual... A 'man' standing waiting for somebody at this remote intersection. I didn't notice right off but he was dressed strangely too! He raised his hand as if needing a ride. I motioned him to come, and I reached to open the door. Note, I've always picked up hitchhikers.
The 'man' turned out to be an avatar! I wasn't sure in the beginning, but after awhile I began to understand. First of all, his story about being in the area. He said he'd been rafting down the Rio Grande River, but had no luggage like a backpack with him. His clothes more like a 'uniform' (a mustard color) than something you would wear rafting or hiking in the desert. But, what convinced me is what he told me. For one thing 'he' seemed to know all about me. He told me about my life, and what I needed to do now. It was unsetting! He also gave me advice, some authors to read. I drove him up to Marathon (40 miles) where he got out. He said he was catching a bus to somewhere... I didn't pursue, as I knew now he wasn't going anywhere, but was everywhere at once.
People ask me how I know he was an avatar. There are some things you just know, and don't have to explain or defend. I don't really care if anyone believes me or not! I've told this story many times about C.G. Jung, one of my intellectual mentors. How, when asked if he believed in God, he replied, 'I don't have to believe, I know!' You just know! I experienced a ghost, a 'Magic light' and an avatar in Big Bend! It was a watershed period in my life!
When I returned to Dallas, I had changed, and off in a better direction (to Mexico, with friend James Essary).
Labels: 'Saturn Twice!'