Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I Did Yesterday

And probably why every muscle in my body is complaining today. It is what is called a lasagna garden which is alternating layers of newspaper, grass clippings and peat moss. Bekkieann started me on this when she blogged about it on My So Called Life. It seemed like a good idea. I had started this a couple weeks ago as a way of uniting a couple plants like my peony and current bush in my little back garden and prevent me from having to mow around all of them separately.



The rock garden/pond feature at the end is not completed yet. Yesterday I added another level to the garden bed and humped it up in the middle and then planted a blue and white columbine and three colors of poppies I had bought. I transplanted a purple columbine hidden in the front garden to this more airy location. I also put in a creeping rosemary I had in a pot and a start of rhubarb. I like rhubarb as a plant because of the huge green leaves and the red stalks.

I have not done all the planting here I want to do but I have made a good beginning, but that beginning required mowing the lawn to get the grass clippings. And that required learning how to use my grass catcher on the walk behind mower. Lots of bend and lift emptying it. But I think it was worth it. I want to add Chintz thyme as an edge around it. And perhaps a Hansa rose in the open space before the end. And also some herbs that I routinely grow here. The poppies will be huge in the not too distant future.

I have two other areas I want to do this sort of bed in and it looks like the grass catcher will provide lots of grass clippings so I better lay in more newspaper and peat moss.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Pit Bull


This week has been dominated by the pit bull next door. He is owned by two typical pit bull owners. I am not sure people look like their dogs necessarily but we do pick dogs that fit our personalities. I love dogs but I hate pit bulls. I lived in North Carolina long enough to learn to fear them too.

There are new renters in the house down the road and they own a pit bull. Pit bull owners, as a rule, never put collars on their dogs and fail to understand why they should exercise any control over them. Their pit bull attacked Magique. We got lucky and no serious damage was done.

Our state has not outlawed these beast yet but the movement is a afoot or apaw as it were. Several cities require very strict licensing of them and their owners. No insurance company will provide liability coverage if you own a pit bull. As a consequence I do not allow the breed to be owned by any renter of mine, so I figured the owner to the duplex next door did not know he had a pit bull resident. I called him.

The pit bull owners countered by doing a police report stating that it was mine and Steve's dog that attacked his poor pit bull and that Steve later drew a gun and threatened them and their dog. It is not unusual for locals in this rural area to carry a gun while out waking or riding their horses. We have bears, and coyotes, and a mountain lion, and now a pit bull. But we are responsible gun owners and nobody draws down on a human.

When I heard of the police report I figured the pit bull owners (two brothers 19 and 18) were being vindictive as they had been given an ultimatum of getting rid of their dog or moving out. Then when I went to pick up my retractable leash (Steve and I have changed the direction of our walk and have at least two of the four dogs on a leash when out) I noticed that it might very well be mistaken for a gun at some distance. They are not purple orblue or orange if you have a serious dog but black and dark gray. And if the dog is straining against the leash (black but invisible in some lights) your hand and arm comes up as if you are moving a gun into firing position.

Should I write Petmate about their Walkabout and tell them the danger this devise might hold for the user? Or Petco that sells the Walkabout. Or all of the above. Remember when people that owned those water pistols that looked like machine guns were getting killed by police officers for being armed and dangerous? Being shot for your Walkabout is as bad.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Have Been There


When one of my news alert services informed me of the Washington, DC Metro wreck I had to stop what I was doing on line and scope out the breaking news. I have ridden the DC Metro. I think I have stood on the platform at the very station pictured here. The wreck was in the open, however. A wreck in a tunnel would be really, really horrible.

Riding the metro at rush hour is a bit of a Twilight Zone experience if I may say so. My then husband and I were staying at his brother's house in Alexandria and taking the metro in to visit our congressmen and play tourist. We got an early start most days and wound up on the train with the regulars. It was like a scene from the Clone Wars. Everyone was dressed alike in three piece black pinstripe suits (even the women) and all carrying I could swear the exact same brief case.

All of them had this thousand mile stare my father used to talk about on the brink of a bombing mission in World War II. There was one woman dressed in a stark red coat one day we road the train. She stood out dramatically and yet she could have been a ghost because nobody looked at her but us.

Nobody talked to each other and this was in the days before text messaging on your Blackberry. I found it interesting that one of the survivors of the wreck yesterday mentioned that when she felt the bump she immediately begin to text message that to a friend. Life as observers. We all seem to distance ourselves from the experience: cannot describe it in more than 140 characters on Twitter.

We really ought to participate in our lives more. I had the opportunity once to fly on a Leer jet with a pilot friend taking his final cross countries. As we came into Sun Valley, Utah the turbulence above the mountains threw the light jet around. My first impulse was to close my eyes against the possible crash. And then I thought that if this is my last 10 seconds alive I want to enjoy every moment and opened my eyes to watch the shifting horizon.

I don't think I will bother texting. I might miss something important.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kitty Tracks

Mischief was afoot last night. The dogs in the neighborhood broke out into full chorus on a couple of occasions. One of the reasons, I found out this morning, was a skunk because it managed to target the neighbor's dogs I walk with in the morning.

Because of the disrupted sleep patterns I was a bit more groggy than usual while sipping my first cup of coffee. I heard a thump somewhere near. It was not anything breaking. Did not sound expensive. So I continued to sip coffee and try to wake up before the morning fur kids walk. Upon returning home I noticed little white cat prints everywhere. My first thought was whether I had any paints out in my studio, but as I am packing for a fair this weekend that was not a possibility.

I grab a sponge, wet it and begin wiping up the kitty tracks. They are not milk, or wet clay. I follow them back to the source and there his a spilled gallon of ceiling white latex paint in my hallway. Suddenly I remember the thump. And quite obviously both my purr kids walked through it. And being cats and not liking stuff on their paws they did that little paw shake here and there and splattered paint about.

How do you pick up almost a half gallon of paint off the tile floor - with a dust pan and a sponge. How do you get up white kitty tracks all through the kitchen and living room and studio - one track at a time with a damp sponge.

My morning was definitely sidetracked.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They're Back


Twice a year our little mountain community is the focus of an alien invasion of sorts. The tourists return. And the second homeowners come to enjoy some of the mountain peace before renting out their investments to those tourists. For some reason this always puts me in mind of the movie Poltergeist II and the little girl saying, "They're back."

I generally look forward to seeing the second homeowners. I have friends among their numbers, and owning homes here they are not totally alien creatures from another planet. The remaining tourists can be divided into two camps not unlike spirits into good and evil. There are the visitors who I find very benign and quite charming in total. And there are the invaders. The invaders are primarily from one neighboring state and are convinced New Mexico would profit by taking their advice on everything. They have felt that way since the late 1800 range wars. Anyone remember G.W. Bush? Multiply that by 6000 and you will get the feel. I have great sympathy for the Iraqis.

I was working in the village this weekend and it was a chilly day with threatening thunderheads blocking the sun. The invaders were wearing shorts and tees and bitching about the weather. They came here to escape the heat and could not appreciate that they had escaped it beyond their wildest expectations no doubt. But I don't think that gives them the right to accuse us of ruining their vacations with our variable mountain weather.

The longer I live here the more practiced I have become at ignoring them. But then us locals take for granted UFO's and ghosts too with our many ghost towns. And at the end of summer we will have our state back to do with as we wish until ski season when we will be expected to give them fresh powder snow AND warm days with lots of sunshine.

Ghosts are just so much less demanding on the whole.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lost in the Clouds


I found this wonderful early black and white photo of New York with her head in the clouds as it were. I was Googling images in black and white for use here on Sidetracked Charley. For reasons only another eccentric artist could understand I find myself wanting to stay with B&W here or monochromatic color images.

I was soaring through the ether to avoid having to rein myself in and plant feet firmly to the ground and get to updating my inventory spread sheet, etc., which I blogged about on Creative Journey this morning. Mother would have said I was woolgathering, and these clouds do look like cotton wool. Well, I have always had my head in the clouds.

But to get down to earth, let me confess that I haven't a clue what this blog is about. I think I begun it just because I wanted to post this picture and not do the boring work I know I must do. That old law firm of Delay, Delay and Delay. But then once I began to type I realized the many cliques that decorate our language which have some reference to the sky and clouds and daydreaming. Can anyone add any more?

This could be interesting and definitely diverting from the work I know I must do.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cloud Gazing

When I first bought my house here in Black Lake I had my dining room table at the window facing east and would sit and sip my coffee while watching dawn creep over the mountains or the huge clouds build during the monsoon season.

That window is now the door to my studio; a studio I designed to take advantage of all that beautiful sky. The process of building it, however, shut me up in the recesses of my house with my computers away from the dust of construction and all the windows I had so dreamed about.

I have long ago moved back into all those forbidden spaces but somewhere I lost the habit of morning coffee spent before a window watching the clouds turn pink. I begin my day on the desktop computer looking at a corner and blinds down on the western view. It is still dark at that time, and if the blinds are open I feel exposed to the traffic (odd word for my little lane).

Two days ago it occurred to me that I should take my morning coffee into the studio and boot up the laptop instead so I could stare at sky as it lightens up in the morning.

I am back to cloud gazing. My very soul missed I think. I had gotten sidetracked and left on a rail.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Year Complete


Today is my birthday. I am under the impression or delusion that this will be a lucky year because the numbers are 06/03/09. And 6 times 3 is 9. And the Chinese think years with nine are lucky. The year just finished was not lucky. Or maybe I should hold it as luck that I survived it.

Age is an interesting thing. I remember as a kid I argued for the one half. Dad you say I was six (he was usually off a year or two) and I would correct him and ad the half, "No, Daddy, I am eight and a half." Definite stress on the a half. At some point, probably the 5th grade, we learned of fractions and I started arguing for three fourths which then gave way to almost nine or ten.

After reaching my teens this stress to always be older gave way for a while. I remember continuing to slip in for under 12 into movie theaters. Tickets were cheaper for kids. And I did not see anything at all sweet about 16. It was a horrid year with Mom's cancer. I admit to a certain numbness of just putting one foot in front of another until I was off at college.

Then suddenly you want to be 21 and legally able to drink. I became a master at altering ID's (they seem to have since made better). I made the mistake of celebrating my 21st birthday twice at the same bar. Wisely did not do that a third time.

Then women, at least, don't want to be older. I got asked to prove I was 21 on my 30th birthday. And the waitress thought I am my stepdaughters were sisters. Their father did not like that.

Anyway, yesterday, on my last day of being 63 (which I thought would be lucky because of the 6 and the 3) I realized I was not looking forward so much to my birthday today as feeling profound relief at having just completed another year. I want all the problems of the last 12 months (including the depression economy and the contractor from hell) to be gone as if by a wave of my Fairy Godmother's magic wand. I even woke up this morning wondering if the world would look different. And it didn't. Well, it did rain all last night and is currently foggy and overcast which is different for here. But other than that it seems like the same world as yesterday.

You would think that after all these years I would realize that one day does not a difference make. It is probably being raised on fairy tales and Hollywood musicals.