Friday, January 12, 2018

Reached My Limit

Bird Painting Practice

When things get totally dark I want to go into hiding. I hide in books, and movies, and gardens, and creating. I embrace words, and inks, and plants, and redesigning my house. Things which do not disappoint me.

Yesterday I binged the Travelers on Netflix. Before streaming I would binge read. Just outside my bedroom door was a spot of carpet right in front of the wall heater. I would sit in what Dad called my frog position and read from morning to night; from Friday after school until Monday morning when I was told I had to go back to the classroom. And once at school I would sketch characters of the book along the margins of my notebook. 

Such behavior got me notes about not using time wisely or not paying attention in class or would achieve more if she applied herself to the task. They just never totally understood my task to which I applied myself very well. It was ignoring the reality of their moment.

When life got too stressful I just sought other realities. I am great at dismissing time, space, context, and people if they do not meet my expectations. I totally got Alice in Through the Looking Glass when I first read it at 10. I won't admit to how many times I have read it since. In truth I have lost count. I caught my step-daughter reading a book once I am sure she read before.

"Why are you re-reading it, Kris," I asked.

"Because the people in it are old friends," she answered.

"I have books like that," I admitted.

And television series. After binge watching Travelers I watched the Best of Agatha Christie on Acorn. I watch again and again Midsommer Murders, Longmire, and Sherlock Holmes (any version) because my friends in those behave as I believe people should.

And being a runs with scissors sort of person while watching these escapes to a reality I wish existed I knit, or paint, or draw remodel plans, or fidget with my plants. I have gotten a lot done this week ignoring the world outside my walls. There are the note cards as just example one. And the orchids are all preparing to bloom. And I think I have the shower addition to the half bath designed in my head. Time to put it to paper.

So in answer to Mrs. Hill's note that I would achieve more if I applied myself to the task let me say I achieve a lot. But they are my tasks. Not hers. Age has given me the wisdom to know when I have reached my limit on the world for a while. If I retire to my old friends soon enough I can emerge whole quicker.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Proof of Life Required

So the envelope was hand addressed. The letter inside was officially addressed to me under a previous legal name and at an address I had not lived at in 30 years. It took a moment for me to even remember it was my townhouse in Lee's Summit, Missouri when I worked for an international construction firm building a new auto assembly plant.

The stationary was official. There was contact information. I called the toll free number and verified the company existed. I, of course, Googled said company. They are a S&P 400 insurance company. In this day of scams and identity theft I was doing my propers before contacting them via email address provided and query them about where this unclaimed money was coming from. And definitely not providing any information until I was satisfied.

Seems that company I once worked for had held pension funds which were now being distributed. I am not going to get rich but it is a tidy sum given my life style. Windfall comes to mind. And the gentleman I talked to gave me his contact information, answered all my questions, and did not ask me for anything beyond proof of identity. Which I had more than once provided to film companies I had worked for. Plus marriage license linking Bernhart with Binford-Bell.

I have a fireproof box with all that stuff including a saved receipt for a camera I bought under the Bernhart name but giving my address as in care of the construction company.

The small windfall isn't here yet. Could be a few weeks. But it doesn't prevent me from dreaming a little. Dad always said found money should not be used to pay bills. But Mother always argued for a prudent reserve. I will try to honor both. Meanwhile my sister and I have begun planning for another Thelma and Louise vacation. Let the googling begin. We are thinking of a luxury resort in Utah with cameras, of course. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

It Isn't That Simple - DTJ

I worked for over two decades in the construction industry. My first job was as a Submittals Engineer for one of the big five. I was hired because of my bartending skills. Bartenders are not just mixologists but stand up comediennes and trained diplomats. 

Three of my regular happy hour clients around the circular bar were executives for that construction company and they had a problem. Their CEO was a serious abuser of women, and the federal government, for whom they worked, wanted more women beyond the secretary level. They figured I had the skills to be one of the boys.

Those skills did not come from a college course though I had my degree in an age where women were seen as going for their Mrs. degree instead of a MBA. I had worked in a Senatorial office in DC, and as an administrative assistant for a lobby group. I spent time as a manager of a retail outlet, and in the entertainment industry. I was tending bar because it was the only place I could make as much money as a man without selling my body (or giving it away to the boss).

I was one of the first women to blog about Me Too when the silence breakers started speaking out. So, when I say I am on Senator Al Franken's side in his role of sacrificial ram to the current witch hunt (and believe me women can be witches with a B) I come to that conclusion from knowledge. I have been there. Women can and do lie.

It was that damn photograph. I am so thrilled I lived my wild and crazy youth before the video camera and most definitely before the cell phone. Still there may be some glossies which at the time seemed totally innocent. But cast parties are cast parties. And then there was the 10 day raft trip down the Colorado River with a group of 30 largely nudists. 

I am glad women are finally speaking out but we, and by that I mean women, need to find some balance. This jump on the bandwagon and bare our souls brings out those who make things up. And if we turn this into a no holds barred witch hunt we will be back on pedestals in Ivory Towers (spotless kitchens), and unemployable because the bosses don't want to take the risk. Better to be a survivor than a professional victim.

There will always be some men who try but as I learned there are also many diplomatic ways to dodge those moments. There are even "proper" ways to hug. We need to take responsibility for our own actions, and address issues and misconceptions one to one before taking it up the ladder or to the press.

I feel very strongly that Senator Franken is a victim. The first two accusers were Trump voters. And the Democrats decided to throw him under the bus without a hearing. The GOP, however, is volunteering to support Trumb and Moore who are sick aggressors. And I won't be a part of either party. But I support the women who opt to not put up with this behavior any longer.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Greek Yogurt, Sourdough Bread, and Other Adventures

Maybe two months ago I decided to make my own Greek style yogurt. And at the same time I ordered the starter for yogurt I ordered starter to make sourdough bread. I used to make my own sourdough in the 70's. Never have made my own yogurt but had purchased my Instant Pot because it bragged it could make it easy. Greek yogurt is simple but perhaps not that easy, if easy is defined as within 30 minutes. It takes 24 hours.

Sourdough is very difficult especially at my attitude. Today as I took more Greek yogurt out of the strainers and put in containers for refrigeration I decided to not attempt the sourdough any further and washed the attempt down the drain. It seems, per a quick research on whey, a byproduct of making Greek Yogurt, that I can make bread which tastes just like sourdough by using the whey as a substitute for liquids in a bread recipe. 

I have doubled my yogurt production from a half gallon at a time to a gallon. And my sister has joined in with recipes for frozen yogurt and even cheese. I totally intend to participate via the internet and telephone but I am busy trying to assist in putting on a Holiday Market.

Some years ago I dedicated my volunteer efforts to assisting the art community on my side of the mountain. I sacrifice my own creative studio time to do this. I am thinking of not doing it any more. I look longingly at my new chairs in the corner of the studio and realize I have had very little quiet time to spend there in the sun because of the bitches and moans and whines of other artists. They don't help out. They just bitch that they need more. Want the impossible. And blame if everything isn't just as they want. Nobody offers to help. Instead you get a fundamental Christian clogging the social media because we called it a holiday market and not a Christmas Market.

Because of that latter attack none of the churches want to be involved in any way but none of them has put on its own Christmas market. And when I say none, I mean none. A careful reading of all the social media shows all such markets are called Holiday and not Christmas.

The new tax bill has passed which probably means there will be no grants for art groups after 2018. And churches will be able to lobby from the pulpit. 

I think after Epiphany I will just stay in my studio and paint and sit in the sun and make Greek yogurt. My volunteer commitment (beyond the studio tour) will go the way of the sourdough starter. The environment has just gotten too hostile.

Monday, November 20, 2017


I believe I stalled out last week. No, I didn't go upstairs, turn the electric blanket to nine and assume the prenatal position, but maybe I should have.

Oh, I got things done. Or tried to get things done. I spent the week battling with an often very dependable person to get two cords of firewood delivered. And ultimately negotiating with another person for the needed winter supply. But in truth there is still no firewood in the woodshed. I am down to a few days of this winter necessity.

I made yogurt, walked the dog, kept petsit appointments, paid bills. And on Monday last I dropped the pickup at the mechanic's for him to fix the brakes. I kept on keeping on after that Saturday before when the brakes failed. But I was in a fog. And in truth have missed a few things. I didn't flip the desk calendar over to the next week.

Most mechanical issues with a vehicle result in it not continuing to move further than pulling it over out of the lane of traffic if you are lucky. Brakes are different. Especially in the mountains. When I pressed on the always dependable before brake petal and it went straight to the floor my mind immediately ran through every single movie I have seen where the hero goes careening through impossible curves and ultimately launches into space over a cliff. That was followed by every piece of advice my father ever gave me on the "if this happens" list of survival skills.

I got the pickup home safely because I was not traveling very fast and it happened within a couple miles of my house and not the road to Taos. And it was a master cylinder and not a brake line (that is what is usually cut in those movies). I could pump the brake with both feet and slow and ultimately stop the 5216 pound truck. I checked the brake fluid and it was empty. I googled and found filling it with brake fluid would help but not address the issue of why it was empty. 

I just don't seem to be able to get past the flashes of all those scary movies. PTSD? Highly possible. Didn't get the pickup back until late Wednesday. Have made myself drive Big Blue but cancelled on my plans to take a photo trek on Sunday. I don't fully trust it. Or me.

As my sister advised me in one of those flashes of a barely avoided wreck I think I need to pull over and yell and scream. So this is me yelling. I was scared. Very scared.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This is Your Life - DTJ

Don't separate your life from political resistance.
Nadia of Pussy Rant

Note: The Russian punk rock group Pussy Rant spent two years in a Russian prison for their resistance to Putin and his government. They are still resisting.

From the mouth of babes. 

Donald Trump was elected president and I joined the resistance again. I had experience with resistance to Richard Nixon. And to save the mini skirt. Sounds funny now in the same paragraph, but saving the mini skirt was serious. For decades men had told women how to dress. Hems up and down, no white after Labor Day or before Easter. No slacks at school or work.

Our protests against Nixon, Watergate, and Kent State were more serious. The peace marches against the illegal Vietnam war and the draft were deadly serious. And behind the marches to save the mini skirt were the fights for the Equal Rights Amendment. It was a very serious time even if Time Magazine made fun of the marchers in mini skirts. And I sometimes believed we did those as comic relief. If you are protesting in front of the White House in December Maxi's make more sense, but there we were in mini skirts with two layers of panty hose to stay warm. ID, taxi fare, and emergency numbers in case of arrest stuffed into the top of our knee high boots. Nobody carried a purse in DC in that mugger haven and mini skirts did not have pockets.

Then, like now, I had friends who thought I was crazy. They were not friends long. Then, like now, I thought we could be friends again after the resistance was over when I would be able to talk about something other than politics. That was wrong. That is wrong. My friends became those I marched with. My life became the weekend marches, the week night manning of help lines, the lunch planning sessions for what else we could do, pouring over the editorials in the Washington Post on Sundays at the coffee house, whispering about what Nixon was doing.

When you get older you regret more the friends you lose, so when this began I told myself that same lie - when this is over. Yesterday at a resistance group brunch it dawned on me I like these friends more. They are more tuned in and more alive and . . . well, just more.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Revival of Deck Time

Fall gets really busy here in the high country. Things to do before winter closes in. And just enjoying fall. Trying to capture all the fall colors, enjoying the last of the flowers, and the snatches of deck time when the winds are mild and the sun is out.

Then there are the boards you belong to planning sessions, trying to find places for holiday parties. To that you add annual appointments, having the vehicles serviced, mounting the snow tires, at at long last going to the dentist for annual check up (oops, two years had passed), new doctor wants to see me more often, art group added a holiday fair back into the schedule.

And before you know it the only deck time is crossing it on the way to the truck.

Life gets away from you at times. You move along and adapt without knowing it. I remember my first fall in Washington, DC. I had looked forward to the eastern colors for months of hot summer days. But I worked for a US Senator involved in an election campaign, Nixon was bugging my telephone, I had to work in peace marches and Common Cause meetings. Then one day I was walking through soggy wet leaves on the sidewalk and noticed there was none left on the trees.

My long awaited eastern fall had fallen beneath my feet.

We are suppose to have several nice days before snow this approaching Friday. Time to move in the deck chairs eventually but I plan to enjoy them while I can this week.