The High Desert

We spent the first four nights and the last two in Hesperia, in what’s called the High Desert (the Cajon Pass is at 4190 feet and the southern part of Hesperia where we were at nearly 4000).  Jim’s lawyering meant that he would only be available the second weekend of our time in southern California.

There were five of us humans:  me, Debbie, her cousins Laurie and Mike, and Aunt Lee. And there was an assortment of animals:  three dogs, a cat, 5 adult turtles and three clutches of 5 turtle eggs each, buried in the hard-packed sandy soil of the desert.  And I should mention the assortment of avian life as well:  some ravens who would love nothing less than to feed on baby tortoises, a family or two of quail that I could never get a shot of, various smaller birds, no shortage of neighborhood dogs who barked endlessly, a noisy neighborhood rooster, and the usual assortment of desert invertebrates.

[Note:  17 photos inside.  I did try to minimize file size.]

It’s Lee’s house but her daughter and son live with her.  She survived polio when she was young but is suffering some of the lingering effects as she is aging.  She spends much of each day watching/napping through CNN, outside smoking in the screened in porch, and cooking dinner for everyone.

Laurie, who is my age, is fighting her cancer (Debbie went with her on her visit to City of Hope our second day, where they learned that the new generation cancer drug she is on when Tamoxifen proved ineffective seems to be working:  two tumors have disappeared and some others are so small the doctor wondered how the technicians spotted them).  She grooms dogs for extra income and I got to meet some of her clients.  The bulldog Lady was especially a peach, though I didn’t get a photo of her.  Laurie has a soap she watches in the afternoon and she she practices a lot of handcrafts.  If anyone is interested in doggie dresses, I can put you in touch.

Mike manages a pizza place and prefers baseball and Fox.

They are all very Christian.  Lee, at least, is extremely anti-Bush.  Laurie is more open to moderate viewpoints than she once was.  I think Mike is hopelessly right-wing.

We were given one of the back bedrooms, which had another television, so I could escape sometimes to watch what I wanted to see.  Of course, the last few nights, we had the Olympics as a diversion.

One of the dogs is Sara, who is 14 and nearly deaf…and quite photo shy:  when I finally got a pic of her, she started shaking like she was going to have a seizure.  🙁  The small dog is Kobe.  The tiny yapper is Heidi.  Heidi is pretty much Sara’s guide dog, since he seems to only hear her high-pitched yaps.  [Note:  The house is dark.  This is the desert in summer and one protects oneself from unnecessary heat sources.  A better photographer would no doubt have gotten petter pics.]

The cat is Salome.  She seems to be philosophically opposed to touching.

At one time I mentioned that Laurie is a licensed rescuer of desert tortoises, which are endangered due to human encroachment on the desert.  The three clutches of eggs did not hatch while we were there, but everyone is waiting expectantly.  The last photo was taken in retreat, after they seemed to conclude that my green crocs might be food.

The star of the show, of course, is the desert itself:

High Desert

Below the vast cerulean above

enlivening an endless

canvas of assorted browns

lies a short barrel cactus

crowned by a yellow flower

with red streaks

topping the cylindrical body

which wears

lethal looking spines

warning me

to keep my distance

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–August 1, 2008

Counter-clockwise from upper left:

-The desert sky on a cloudy day

-Three different species of cacti

-An oleander flower

-A desert rose


-Closer view of the barrel cactus

-Big Bear in the San Bernardino range

-A joshua tree in the direction of Deadman’s Hills


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    • Robyn on August 16, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    …in the San Bernardino National Forest, up the mountain in the upper right of the last collage.

    Laurie’s photo is from our visit to the San Diego Zoo.

    Maybe a little later tonight, if I can eliminate the headache I currently have, I’ll do some mountain photos.

  1. … great stuff, Robyn.  Really liked the desert rose … and so glad you found the perfect frame for your great poem.

    Can’t wait to see more more more more!  Oh, after you’ve taken care of your headache, of course.  😉

  2. Technical question….. how do you situate the pictures next to the text?

    • Alma on August 17, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I love the way High Desert looks in amidst the pics.  🙂

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