About 10 years ago, I went hiking alone and met an intriguing hiking partner with an interesting past as an activist protesting an observatory on Mt Graham in Arizona. At the time, some of what the man said sounded far-fetched. Though he seemed nice enough, he had a gun. The gun, combined with frightening, paranoid-seeming stories he told, freaked me out.
For a while, my encounter was a story I told. Then, I wrote down what happened. Over time, I ended up looking up many of the things the man said and found that much (though not all) of what seemed far-fetched actually checked out. I grafted my research to my original story.
The final product is “Space Mountain.” I’m very thankful to Terrain.org for publishing the piece, and for the effort it took to present my system of notes. If you’re not familiar with Terrain.org, I’m sure my essay will be a gateway to much future reading!
A few months back, my close friend, Sandra Shattuck, interviewed me for Pima Community College’s Community of Writing series. We talk about writing, ecology, educational economics, teaching, science fiction, and more. I discuss some of my stories, too. It was fun to think about Sandra’s prompts and I’m so grateful to her Southwest Literature students for their questions about my story, “A Heliograph of Kin Kletso,” which will be in Weber: The Contemporary West Fall 2020. Thanks to Sandra and Dan at PCC for making this happen!
A few years back, I caught some footage of a tarantula hawk wasp harassing a large desert tarantula. The wasps use paralyzed spiders as hosts for their larval young, which feed on the still-living spiders, carefully devouring around essential organs what would kill their arachnid hosts. Creepy stuff.
In this video, the spider gets away. I know the wasp’s horror-show life cycle is natural. It’s a unique and, in its wickedness, incredible example of evolution’s finesse. But I like tarantulas and I’m glad I didn’t see it get killed.
Most of the tarantula hawk wasps in Arizona have copper colored wings. While there are several species, Pepsis thisbe is the most common. Because the female in the video has black wings, she is most likely Pepsis Mexicana. Tarantula hawks allegedly deliver the second most painful sting in the world.
With the pandemic and the heat keeping me indoors more these days, I’ve been learning my way around video editing programs and DAWs, which are music production and editing programs. As I’m new to these applications, I’ve gone the free route and opted for DaVinci Resolve and Cakewalk, both of which can do some amazing things. Perhaps once I get the hang of things, or find a professional application for video/audio editing, I’ll upgrade to more sophisticated programs. In any case, I composed the music for both videos here and recorded a song for a friend’s upcoming project. It feels good to work on music again and exciting to do some multimedia projects.