Henry: Desert Philosopher and Authentically Interesting Person – Part 1

henry bikeToday’s newsletter spurred a lot of emails.  They made me realize, something is missing.

I’ve maintained this blog for a long time. Nearly 25 years! Obviously, most who read here have no earthly idea my background… which used to be common knowledge.

Specifically, that man right there is my grandfather. He was called a “health nut” back in the day.  My mother called him a “bohemian”. We (the kids), just loved him beyond all measure.

Now what’s happening is I am turning into him.  If figures because my greatest fear throughout my life, is that I would end up like him. Today, I accept that this is my legacy.

I just want to show you my roots… and how far the go. If you want some insight into… everything.  Your life and mine, then read a little bit about, Henry (in his own words).  These are short posts with no boring parts.  Read them and be transported and inspired.

Meet my grandfather, Henry. Here is a partial list of his claims to fame:

– Spontaneously standing on his head in grocery stores to demonstrate the benefits of a healthy diet.
– Climbing the same mountain 127 times, over a 50 year window, last assent at 83 years old.
– A vegetarian, from the early fifties until he died
– Attending flying saucer conventions
– Oldest person in the 20 mile walkathons year, after year, after year
Taking me to meet Peace Pilgrim
– Living in a three bathroom, no bedroom house.
– Building an underground house.
– Coaxing the #2 ranked ping pong player in China to his house to play a few games on his homemade adobe ping pong table.
Having his truck stolen by me.
– Keeping a carbon copy of every bit of correspondence he wrote for more than 50 years, personal or otherwise.
– Never raising his voice, and I mean never.
– Being first in line to volunteer when the first organic food co-op was opened in the city, and being at least 40 years older than anyone else there.
– Sleeping outdoors in front of his house in the desert, ten months a year

Henry was a triple Capricorn with a stellium in Sagittarius (Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus). That’s him upside down on the bike, circa 1923, and that bike is moving.

He was a professor of English and Library Sciences before dropping out of conventional life in his early thirties to spend the next fifty years building adobe (mud) houses, reading, traveling, climbing mountains and listening to music.

I was fortunate to grow up next door to him…where “next door” meant a two minute walk through the desert.

These are excerpts from his various letters…with more coming. Enjoy.

Letter to “Spencer” June 16 1958

“… And I enjoyed the article on nervous and sensitive people. With it I agree entirely. I am a nervous and sensitive myself and think most of my ailments start in my mind. That is why I always feel better when I set out on a trip. My mind has so many new and interesting things to think about, it quits thinking about my body and it’s weaknesses…”

Letter to my mother November 5th 1956

“… Maybe I will get a good community here after all. Such a venture takes time. As time goes by the good ones stay and the bad ones leave. A crook has to keep moving to keep getting something for nothing…”

Letter to my Mother Feb 23 1957

“…Money does not worry me anymore. I have a feeling I will have what I need for the rest of my life. My aspirations are for more spiritual development. As you can see I sent you one oh Gandhi’s favorite passages of scripture. This was probably his most precious one. I have repeated it over so many times (especially when driving and had nothing else to do) that it has become a part of me. Of course the auto-suggestion people came out with this one to be repeated as one falls asleep “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better,” 15 or 20 years ago. ”

There are nine parts. Skip to Part 2

47 thoughts on “Henry: Desert Philosopher and Authentically Interesting Person – Part 1”

    1. Haha that’s one of my daily mantras
      (have had chronic health challenges for many years which finally seem to be shifting)

      “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better”

      Never knew it was from Ghandi!

      Your grandfather sounds like a wise old soul. And you obviously inherited a lot from him. I so appreciate your posts Elsa. Even though you’ve had a lot of hard knocks yourself ~ you express and display so much enthusiasm, spirit, wisdom, inspiration, endurance.

      Much appreciated!

      Ps I agree that we need a Spiritual anchor in these crazy times.

  1. Avatar
    Teresa Angelicus

    OMG: I am a AC Capricorn (Conj Venus-Jupiter) with A STELLIUM of Saggitarius incl. Sun and Moon.

    Truth to be told: There are great similarities with Henry’s in my speaking style… and seeing his feats, it does remind me a part of myself (I also have the tendency of stunmanship… hmm… hmm…)

  2. Avatar
    the other Kat

    Having read about Henry for the the last few years, I’m still amazed at what a unique individual he was. You’re lucky to have known him, and we’re lucky to get these glimpses.

  3. I don’t know if I’m saying this the right way but I feel inspired to tell you, the love and laughter I recieved from both you and Henry is absolutly beautiful. Thank you.

  4. I love Henry. Something about him speaks to the inner quirky person in me who was willing to move from a fairly large city to a tiny town in Appalachia. I could live without a couch and was just thinking recently that I’d really prefer a small cot in a corner instead of a big, clunky bed. Beds seem so inefficient. I feel like Henry would understand.

  5. My Mother (an Aries) used to say, and told us to say, “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better,” as we fell asleep. She was a big Dale Carnegie fan. I hadn’t thought about that in years – thanks.

  6. I wanna live like that, someday – just do whatever I want and don’t worry.
    Maybe when I’m fifty or so :p Hopefully.


  7. Avatar
    mark mike mays

    omg this describes me to a tee. i dropped my only job as a TA at an asian prep school that my girlfriend used to work at because i spent so much time there. she was a virgo and i had my jupiter trine and mutually recept both stelliums. then i dropped the whole idea of love and a job. and became a full on version of my higher self. dropped everything. i was a valedictorian in 5th grade, don’t need to impress anyone. all i have is a stupid pin, but i can converse with everyone and make them smile. i also am insanely fit now as a vegan. it is my secret strength. i also walk 4 hours and catch the red sun. i want to be a solar gazer like santos bonacci. but i get lazy. but i ebb and flow in counter-space. all i need is the best juiciest fruit and herbs like he said and we’re jamming

    1. Good idea. I’ll post it and we can discuss… I have never done this before, or even spent much time with his chart… perhaps because it reads itself!

    1. It means, “hippie”, and my mother was one to talk! She was super mean to him, which was not usual for her, though she didn’t like me either.

      But not liking someone and being mean to them is two different things. She was embarrassed of him. Just classic family stuff.

      I’m embarrassing to my kids too. ASTROLOGER????

      1. I thought it meant being poor, haha. You’re saying not liking someone and being mean to them is two different things? WOW, this has upgraded my thinking. My family growing up lacked Love but Grandma Lilly showed it to me. Grateful for Elsa. Thanks, Jenni

  8. I am thinking of my niece: Sun/Mars/Jup/Ur/Nept in Cap.(12th hs)
    (Sat.Pisc) Pluto Sag 2.

    I hope she chooses to self heal and be ‘herself’ whatever that means.

    This has helped a lot–thanks Cap. people.

    Me? Back to The Underwork.

  9. Every day in every way better and better love this love you hi five yes you are the seed he blew from the top of the tree as it climbed up to view the little bird that made him so happy I wish I could find his version , in today’s man in my age zone? I love men who are into nature proud of who they are &just wide eyed!

  10. Feel like I know this man….parts of me in parts of him and feel kin
    in ways
    Life is rich…just wrote that yesterday… Dare to be yourself
    Thanks for sharing these precious posts Elsa Elsa

  11. “…Money does not worry me anymore. I have a feeling I will have what I need for the rest of my life. My aspirations are for more spiritual development.” I can totally relate.

    What’s Henry’s full name, so I can quote him?

    Thank you for posting this.

  12. I follow a guy on YouTube named Brian Scott. He has a meditation that I use as my mantra: “Everything is working to my advantage. Something wonderful is happening for me now. My Life is taking care of me. Everything’s going according to Plan. Things are working out beautifully, and will continue to do so with ease.” When I start to get stressed, I just go to the mantra and anxiety lessens. And things often do end up working out better than I’d thought they could.

  13. Elsa….your insights are invaluable. if you ruffle some feathers, you know you are planting seeds. let them water their own seeds and you just carry on…the way you always have. Appreciate you & you sharing your skills with us. Your words EXACTLY how they should be….full of truth and that is what you always deliver. thank you for all you do for us. xxooxx

  14. I love your saying : I know that sometimes I write things that seem incomprehensible 😉 (Same here, from europe) It hits exactly where i am on now;)

  15. I love reading about Henry. Elsa, you’re magnifying and multiplying the reach of his magic by sharing it to so many online. I hope someone will carry on this work for you in the future, to share your wisdom along with Henry’s.

  16. Oh my gosh! My best friends mother growing up told me to tell myself 10 times before bed “everyday in every way, I am getting better and better and better.” sounds like everyone could use a Henry like yours in their life!🥺❤️ thank you for these stories❤️

  17. I’m in love with Henry.
    The desert breeds such originals.
    It’s been my home since 1979.
    Was Henry anywhere near Landers? or 29 Palms, or Yucca Valley?
    Maybe I even met him.
    They’re all gone, and now it’s us, the last real people imo.

    “… And I enjoyed the article on nervous and sensitive people. With it I agree entirely. I am a nervous and sensitive myself and think most of my ailments start in my mind. That is why I always feel better when I set out on a trip. My mind has so many new and interesting things to think about, it quits thinking about my body and it’s weaknesses…”

    Thank you thank you for this.
    Gemini stellium 9th House, Virgo Rising. Time for a little trip to calm the nerves and feed that ninth house.

    Elsa, my esteem for you and interest in your life has zoomed exponentially.
    How wonderful that you are turning into him.

    1. Thank you! Henry lived with my mother in Patagonia AZ. My mother met my father when she was 15; they married when she was 16 and they lived in Tucson, AZ, in town.

      Henry then built them a house in the desert outside, Tucson. My family moved out there, then he built himself an apartment, attached to our house. He lived there, while he built his house on the next five acre plot. He lived there until he died.

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