Monday, November 30, 2009

Derailed by the Season

It is quite difficult to stay on track through guests, holiday events, and all the cooking and shopping that entails. And as I discovered yesterday after the last house guest had departed it is near impossible to get immediately back on track even when the guest in question cleans up after herself expertly. And helps you with things like unloading the van from the fair.

I had set the goal of re-hanging all my paintings sitting in boxes in the studio and getting most of the decorating done on the fresh cut tree. I got two paintings hung and most of the decorations on before collapsing before the television and wasting the afternoon watching DVD's and making trips to the kitchen for left-overs to munch on. I could blame the fatigue on fibro which probably had something to do with it. But basically it was a rebellion over a week of "have-to-do's." I really did not want to do anything regardless of energy level.

So I enjoyed doing nothing much yesterday, but that still leaves all those paintings to be re-hung and the last of the Christmas decoration boxes to be emptied of items and stored till time to take the tree down. The studio is an absolute mess with boxes and ladders, and things not put away.

I am inspired to begin planning for the triptych I want to do but there is no room to do it in. And in one of the boxes is a painting which is sold on layaway. I have a couple customers that pick a painting and put a deposit down on it and their mate comes and gets it out for them as a Christmas present so I need to find it. But today, since we did not get the 10 inches of snow they threatened, I think I am going over to Taos to workout at the gym, soak in the hot tub, stretch out in the steam room. Holidays are hard work and I need to reward myself.

I will worry about getting back on track around Wednesday I think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Day in Taos

I had to go to Taos yesterday for an appointment with my legal aid attorneys and one of my witnesses in my defense against the contractor-from-hell. My witness is giving a deposition this afternoon. Needless to say I was not looking forward to the whole ordeal and so taking a tip from my father, who always combined our doctor visits with trips to toy stores, I decided to treat myself to working out at the gym and then a visit to my favorite kitchen store: Monet's Kitchen.

My excuse was that I needed a harp and a mandolin. No, not musical instruments. A harp is a more intelligent hand potato peeler and a mandolin slices and juliennes. According to the chef that instructed us at the Taos School of Cooking last week both are indispensable in the kitchen.

Monet's Kitchen is in the little Bent Street area of Taos with all the cute stores. It is were Moby Dicken's Book Store is. And my favorite yarn shop. I needed some #6 double pointed needles for a knitting project. So after being good and working out I got to be naughty and shop though stores I rarely visit without a burning need or a visitor in from out of town.

I admit my shopping trips to Taos have become very plebian. I go with list in hand to buy the necessities at the lowest possible prices and spending the least amount of time. The one exception to this being my favorite art supply store. Hey, business expense. I had a list this trip too but it was small and exclusive as I am still on a budget. And I have found many women shop for hours without realizing it isn't the merchandise they are after to paraphrase Thoreau's quote on fishing. We just love to shop. Eye candy as an artist friend of mine says.

Lots of great eye candy at Monet's. And the yarn shop. And the book store. Only item I bought not on the list was a pastry cutter. My sister was shocked on a recent visit that I didn't have one since I have three sizes of whisks and still scramble my eggs with a fork. I love kitchen toys. I love to cook.

I should revisit Bent Street more often now that I have proven I can shop and not over buy. But the yarn shop could be dangerous. I can defend purchase there as not merely merchandise but entertainment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sidetracked to Cooking Class

I know how to cook. I learned from my mother who was a very respectable basic cook firmly rooted in the dishes she knew her family would eat and who every once in a while dared to inject something new. She taught me what a pinch was, and taste before you season, how to read a recipe book, and substitutions.

College taught me books. I have always maintained school is not about memorization (teach for the test) but on learning how to continue to learn; ergo books. So graduating from my mother's kitchen I sought out cookbooks she didn't own; had no need to own. And I helped my friends in the kitchen when invited for dinner. Then there was eating out and guessing the ingredients and coming home and trying to duplicate that recipe. At a time between "serious jobs" I even worked as an apprentice chef in a small French/Italian restaurant with a great repetition. I was hired on the basis of my French Onion Soup. I make a devine French Onion Soup.

But I don't cook winter squash. Mother didn't cook squash period. Dad didn't like it. Drawn to Italian food I learned to deal with zucchini. And became a master of it when it was the only plant in my garden my goats didn't eat. But zucchini is a summer (thin skinned squash). Winter squash have these think skins and require super sharp knives and muscle. And cookbooks I hadn't bought. So when my friend, Jessica, suggested a class in cooking winter squash at the Taos School of Cooking I jumped at the chance. I did a cooking class on Cajun food in New Orleans once. Tons of fun. If you have never done a cooking class do.

Not only do I now know what to do with a Turban Squash I know how to do it. And most important I know I love it because we got to eat what we cooked. I am still stuffed. I was feeling bad about having cut out on my so new diet when I went to Google an image for this blog. I found it on a fitness site. Not only is winter squash good and economical it is also healthy!

Best part of cooking class is I feel energized. I love to cook but I get into ruts and this definitely knocked me out of that. I think I am putting it on my list of todos as a periodic adventure into the culinary arts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln spoke these words several wars before Veteran's Day came to be. And still the dead from wars die and die again. You would think we would learn.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Needs to Dream

Unnamed Arch in the Maze area of Canyonlands, Utah

Life becomes just so much keeping on keeping on unless you have a dream to move toward. Long range goals and dreams that are rather nebulous because of their distance from your point in time are, of course, necessary but they too often fade from our focus. And short term plans like the fair I have at the end of the month are about the same as making payments on all your bills; more of just putting one foot in front of another.

It is the middle range dream that is the most fun. My sister and I have engaged in the infamous Thelma and Louise Road trip three times before and found we had almost as much fun researching, plotting, planning, and equipping as we did finally setting out. We had not ventured out on a grand road trip since our 2006 adventure on Lake Powell. The minute we got into cell phone range after eight days in a technological black hole she received the call from Alan, her husband in Texas, that he had a job interview in New Mexico.

The intervening years have been filled with building my studio for me, and Debbie and Alan moving and settling into new jobs and the Land of Enchantment. Road trips because day larks in the Rubicon. We kept trying to plan something grander and ran into the hard facts of funds, pets, time: In short the life of keeping on keeping on.

In the last week a new plan began to take form. It began as a redo of a previous plan - another houseboat trip. And then diverted and grew. We are currently doing research on the Maze district of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. We are currently in research mode. Debbie's Jeep opens up possibilities we didn't have in our first trip to Canyonlands in 2004. It also opens up a shopping list we didn't have before - lift kit, high lift jack, top rack, jerry cans for extra gas. Then there is the get us into shape part. Sure there is a vehicle they advertise can go anywhere but if it doesn't one has to be able to walk out. Best laid plans oft go astray.

The Maze District is about as sidetracked as one can get. Even all the arches in the area are not named. It certainly will give me lots of new subjects for paintings. Current tentative schedule is early May of 2010 so we have a lot of fun time ahead with the planning and tweaking of the plan, etc. It is Thelma and Louise plus Alan this time; two Canon digital SLR cameras and a Nikon DSLR. And the film cameras. I think between the three of us we can manage a better photo.