Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Some Days Nothing Makes Sense - DTJ

The Gardner and the Plumber

"I weep for you,' the Walrus said: 
      I deeply sympathize.' 
With sobs and tears he sorted out 
      Those of the largest size, 
Holding his pocket-handkerchief 
      Before his streaming eyes. 

"O Oysters,' said the Carpenter, 
      You've had a pleasant run! 
Shall we be trotting home again?' 
      But answer came there none — 
And this was scarcely odd, because 
      They'd eaten every one."

From the Walrus and Carpenter
By
Lewis Carroll

I was always a strange child, or so my mother maintained. I totally understood Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I memorized the Walrus and the Carpenter and The Jabberwocky when others were learning their ABC's. I always rather got the middle of the alphabet mixed up. 

And if I had to find a letter in the latter half I had to begin in the middle. So as we approach the end of DT's first 100 days I want to go back to day 50 and start again. Or back to day one.

"So the time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things. Of shoes and ships and cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings." I was the elder child who could understand my sister's baby talk. I was the frequent translator for her. Mother asked once how I could make sense of her jabber. I told her I just didn't have expectations about it being English or making sense. I figured after reading the AP interview that might make sense with trying to understand the Trump. So I reread it. Nope, that doesn't help.

So back to the Walrus and the Carpenter that makes sense though the Walrus looks a lot like #45 the walrus. Do we look like oysters? And Ryan like the Carpenter?


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Show Up - Dark Times Journal

Stand up

I went to a Carson National Forest Planning meeting yesterday. I confess it has been a long time since I participated in this sort of meeting. Twenty-Five years ago I was deeply involved in saving our forests from clear cutting by logging companies. I lived in Questa and the logging trucks roared down our rural road. One day the brakes failed on one and it tumbled over into my front yard. There is nothing like that to wake you up to where the trucks were coming from and if they even should be on our road.

The election of Donald Trump is a bit like that logging truck. It had no brakes, it was suppose to be taking the logs out by another route which was not lined with houses, he was driving too fast. And as it turned out he was clear cutting an area of the forest when his contract said specifically he was suppose to be leaving old growth islands. It was all about making the most money with the minimum amount of effort. I joined an organization called Carson Watch and we watched everything the Mayor of Questa's logging company did.

So what happened to that forest stalker and environmentalist? There was the Hondo Fire which came within 1/2 mile of my house, and the divorce, and the move over the mountain to get away from the Mayor of Questa, as well as my husband. A house of my own to obsess over, sometimes three jobs, and a head injury. An art studio to occupy my energies.

Then the election. And the resistance. And the notification of the planning session at the Carson National Forest. In the almost one hundred days since the inauguration of DT I have learned I cannot do it all. You have to pick your fights. I live within a half mile of the Carson National Forest. I am a photographer who goes there often. When I walked into the meeting room yesterday it seemed like coming home. A few of the same people in Carson Watch were there.

Plus about 50 more. You could see the amazement on the faces of the presenters/planners. They scrambled to put out chairs and move tables to accommodate us all. And they welcomed input from all of us living either side of the Carson. Very different from a town hall meeting with a GOP elected official. These people wanted our input. Wrote down the things we said. Answered our questions which were many and varied.

It is nice to be a forest stalker again. Great to be involved. Wonderful to be heard.




Monday, April 10, 2017

Too Busy to Cry - DTJ

Through the Tears

In my midlife crisis, now long past, I contemplated a career change. Well, multiple career changes. The career change du jour at one time was going into counselling. Like many who contemplate this path I was in counselling. So much in my life had gone wrong all at one. I used to stand in the basement lobby of a neighborhood church which served as a location for multiple 12 step groups from AA to ACOA to Alanon to Over-Eaters Anonymous and try to decide which one on that particular day I needed the most. My extended silences at the beginning of any counselling session centered around having to pick what I needed to talk about most.

I survived that period of my life by being overly busy. In addition to the 12 step meetings, and the counselling sessions, work, and classes in mental health toward the new career. I watched movies in dark theaters until I had them memorized. Star Wars was just out. I will not admit to how many times I watched it. Before the binging days on Netflix. I had to pay for every ticket.

I know about the various stages of grief intimately. I lost a husband, a father, a mother, a cat, a dog, a direction, my perfect childhood belief, and was transferred to a new location by the company I worked for in the middle of it all. Thank god, the theory of Post Traumatic Stress was not yet on the diagnostic books. 

"You seem to do things in bunches," a 12 step friend said one day at the coffee machine while I debated which meeting shortly after my mother died, "Wouldn't it be easier to take one issue at a time?"

"Takes up too much time," I replied, as I toyed with giving up caffeine. 

I did learn a few things through the chaos years of my life.  Grief isn't done just once. Nor is it necessarily in the order the counselling courses state. There is no upper limit on how much you can cry. Mixed with PTSD you can feel like a ping pong ball in one of those demonstrations about the nuclear chain reaction. Been there, done that does not apply to either problem. And very empathetic people shouldn't be in the mental health professions. I was, however, a great inspirational speaker.

And if you stay busy enough you can at least delay the tears until you are alone before your computer, out in the wilderness with your camera or binging Netflix. Busy helps you avoid doomsday predictions from friends and what stupid end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thing the orange man in the white house just did. But grief and PTSD are patient. And depression can be good for your creative goals.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Aaah, Spring -- Dark Times Journal

Have a Seat

A Facebook friend of long standing asked me today where was my outrage for the people of St. Petersburg on Monday. Monday? This week?

Yes. I was running to Raton, racing the approaching spring storm in an effort to reclaim some of the normalcy of my life as an artist. I had four photographs to enter in an annual show. I wanted to support a non-profit gallery in a country which wants to unfund all art programs. I also desperately needed some windshield time (i.e. down time). 

I am suffering from compassion fatigue: indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals. Also called vicarious traumatization by the American Institute of Stress. 

Yes, I am not in the counseling field but I am living in the dark days of the USA, and maybe the world at large. I confess to pulling in my empathy antenna just so I can continue to cope. Cope with my business, my resistance to what is happening in Washington, D.C., my victimization by a local official And spring in the Sangre de Cristos. 

Remember the approaching storm I was racing on that Monday road trip to Raton? I almost didn't go. I have been caught on the high plains in a blizzard before. I kept asking myself how important was it to take four photographs to a gallery two hours away.

Very important. For me to focus on something normal in my previous life. And there was the snow coming. And it came. A total of 12 inches. The good news is I did not lose power. 

Lawn Chairs

But I did not get around to looking up the suicide bombing in St. Petersburg until today. Fourteen dead. But now it has been eclipsed by the Syrian gas attack and whether it is real or fake.

I just want to escape to my garden. Or tune in to April the Giraffe for extended periods. Denial can be a survival tool. So can avoidance.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Revealed Truth on the Road to Raton - DTJ Version

Dark Skies
It has been a while since I drove to Raton. And since I entered one of the Old Pass Gallery exhibits. Following the election I became a hermit. Well, not really a hermit because I seem to be more involved in my own community. 

I have just not wanted to get out of my comfort zone until it became decidedly uncomfortable here. Since Angel Fire has made me the Black Listed artist of Black Lake I have sought other venues. Which is why I found myself yesterday racing a storm to Raton to drop off four framed photographs at the Ralph Solano Exhibit opening this week. They are all black and white which is another departure. And the titles are The Memory of Trees 1, 2, 3 and 4. So a dark subject. Last time I entered this annual show the pictures were brighter. The times were brighter.

I was suppose to take my entries on Saturday but the weather was foul and forecast to get worst. I have been caught before in weather between here and Raton. Spring storms can be the worst especially across the high plains. I was racing a weather front again on Monday. And with a late start. I wavered about going at all. Fortunately the storm had a late start too. I decided fair or foul to put my big girl panties on and head east in Big Blue.

Storm moving in
What after all is the worst that can happen? You slide off the road into a ditch and freeze to death in a blizzard? Or fall prey to a high plains twister? Or I make the entire trip without taking one photograph? Perish the thought.

The buffalo were not in evidence anywhere. Maybe hunkered down because of the ions in the air. Storm or just the volcanoes? Yeah, they say they are dormant. I say prove it.

Clayton/Raton Volcanic Range

I took no photos on the way out to Raton but stopped a few times on the way back to record the changing horizon. It seemed to change minute by minute.

So what is the revealed truth of this trip? 

There are just so many Trump bumper stickers which can be put on a pickup. Raton could be home of the winner of that competition.

At 65 miles an hour you don't need your windshield wipers in the rain. The wind does it for you.

Snow can happen within minutes of rain and hail anytime it wants. Even without clouds overhead. 

The storm which was scheduled for four pm was 12 hours late. So there, Weather Channel

And if I don't stop for photos I can make the trip out in an hour and half. But where is the fun in that. Return took two some of which was spent just standing beside the road and smelling the ions in the air.


Back before dark

And last but not least: Fear is a mind game. Don't let it win.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

DTJ - Epiphany

Once we stood tall

I had to stop and ask myself what I believed this week. And I found that very hard to answer. I cannot do it without tears. I cannot look at a tree or two coyotes playing in a field and not immediately feel their loss. I am a photographer who once recorded the beautiful world around me and now I feel I am preparing an obituary for that world.

At the beginning of 1970's I was in Washington, DC working for a Republican Senator trying to end our involvement in the illegal war in Vietnam. Those were the days when we expected our presidents, then Richard Nixon, to go to congress and ask for their approval. He had not. 

Republicans and Democrats had ethics then. They fought for things they believed. And individual members of both parties crossed the aisle to cooperate on bills they believed in. You bantered around terms like liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Now both parties seem to cookie cutter their droids. And to me that is the really scary part of this whole time line.

I have crossed the aisle before. Now I am marching far left of the chamber. I am by labels a resistance fighter, a cry baby, a poor sport snowflake, bleeding heart liberal. I am told to get over it, leave the room, you loser.

I know nobody should leave the room. We should all stay engaged. And we should resist the labels, the push to put us into neat and tidy categories. And make us march to a specific drum beat must be resisted. I am currently a centrist who has been pushed way to the left of where I am comfortable. If we survive as a people we must remember where we began. 

And what we believed in our very heart of hearts.

If for no other reason than the memory of trees or to protect those two coyotes in the marsh. 


Memory of trees

Saturday, February 25, 2017

DTJ - One Hundred Days is a Long Time



I think I have always lived my life as a sprint. I grew up fully believing I was going to die at 23. Who knew where I got that. Then I belonged to the generation who was not suppose to trust anyone over thirty. I was diagnosed with a chronic disease with a limited life expectancy in my thirties. And just when I was told I seemed to have defeated it relatives were dying off. Sixty-seven seems to be end of days for the older generation of my family.

The ski accident with its closed brain trauma centered my life around today. Life is short. Live it to the max. Do not wait for retirement. Art is great because there are constant new beginnings and endings to your work. And when paintings take too long there is photography. Even my real world job was in industrial construction which has a beginning, middle, and end.

So I admit to diving into this resistance battle to save the republic in short terms. I committed to the first 100 days and it has only been 30 plus. And he is not gone. The republic looks to be in grave danger. Worse every day. I doubt it or me will make it to 100 days.

I knew a marathon runner once. He said I needed to know how to pace myself. The long race was all about pacing and patience. Patience is not my strong suit. I would add recess. You cannot take a recess from a marathon race except mentally. Don't think of the pain or your thirst or the miles yet to run. You cannot stop and smell the roses but I can take the camera out and photograph the land I love which the Republicans seem bent on destroying.

There are so many battles to fight this war, but I can center my attention on just one front. Even General Eisenhower did that in WWII. So my current battle cries are pacing, focus and brief recesses.