Thursday, December 30, 2010

Biggest Lesson of 2010


Just tried to log on to my bank account and failed the security questions. Don't you hate those questions? You fail just because you forgot to put an "S" on a word or capitalize your high school. And fail the questions twice and you are locked out.

The worst websites for security are banks of course. And oddly enough my insurance company. How often do you log on to your insurance company web page? With me it is twice a year and it seems as if every time I have to redo my password or some security question. I have come to expect problems but I have no problems generally with my bank account. In fact this is the first time I can remember being asked my security questions. Has my identity been stolen?

That would be the icing on the cake for 2010. This year has been so horrid I refuse, like other friends, to take inventory of it. Instead I have done a couple blogs on best memories and best gifts in an effort to accentuate the positive and ignore the negatives. This blog is about the biggest lesson of the year: I am not in control. I am helpless like the early blooming rose that gets hit with a killing frost.

Yes, I knew I had no control over the economy or rising electricity rates or a very cold winter. But I thought I had control over my health and H1N1 proved I didn't. At the beginning of the year it looked as if the court case would be settled but it still isn't.  And before anyone asks I haven't a clue. I was smug about backing up my computers but who knew the external hard drive would fail. Or my computer expert would blow it. Or that Microsoft would again lie about Windows and I would need more upgrades on software than I can afford.

If any one single event proved I was helpless it was my extended battle with HP over the faulty computer. And maybe I battled so hard on that losing front because I wanted just one small thing to go right in 2010. I wanted to win just one tiny little battle. Several friends lost the biggest battle.

So while I am thrilled to just have some frost on the petals I am setting no goals for 2011. That seems like a total exercise in futility. I am just going to keep on keeping on one day (sometimes one hour or minute) at a time. Like I learned riding roller coasters, all you really can do is hang on for the ride.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sneaking Past the Sleeping Tiger

A spiritual center

As 2010 and the year of the Tiger move toward close (February 3, 2011) I find myself tharned.

Tharned:  Describes the act of a person or animal being frozen in terror, e.g. a deer caught in the headlights.

Perhaps originally found in Richard Adams's novel 'Watership Down,' the term was also adopted by Stephen King for use in his novel 'The Stand.' Michael stood tharn while the grizzly bear bore down on him.

It has been a rough year. Some attribute it to the Chinese Year of the Tiger and hold out hope for the much gentler Year of the Rabbit ahead. Others take solace in the fact of how much worse can it get? Lots! But I refuse to go there. I don't even want to give conscious thought to anything bad. Instead over the last week I have immersed myself in four wheeling with my sister and getting acquainted with my Windows 7 and new computer.

Surveying the remains

Four wheeling has been more fun. The weather has been unseasonably warm and the roads clear largely of any mud or snow and we have managed to go where we had not gone before, discovered new churches and new real estate bargains and broad new vistas.

A brighter outlook

I have considered various images to use for an Epiphany card having skipped the "holiday" mood. My card making software does not work on Windows 7 and an attempt to download a newer version was thwarted. It evidently is one of those things I am going to have to order and have mailed to me. But since all my three years of files are either frozen on a non-working external hard drive or lost by the nerd that ruined Charley V (my last desktop) I don't need to stick with that software. In fact cannot even upgrade software I owned because all that registry information went south with the files. If I had $300 I might get the whole Corel Suite but this was a year that had a lot to do with lack of money.

But there were spurts of money that allowed me to replace the computer, Charley V, with Charley VII. Charley VI was a dud but caused enough problems to make me retire that name. I managed to save up for the flat screen TV of my dreams with the blu ray/Internet streaming player. Now to just get technically savvy enough to stream netflixs. And my sister gave me the Nikon D90. I see the closing days of 2010 as a time to start over quietly. I want to tiptoe past the end days of the tiger, hunker down with art, catch up with my new technology, and try to get back up to speed on both as well as my life. I have felt behind the 8 ball for months. Maybe by Chinese New Years I will be ready to hop.

Checking out the wreckage of the past

Sunday, December 26, 2010

That Was the Christmas that Was


Christmas 2010 is now in the past. But what a great Christmas it was. My sister and her two fur kids came up from San Fidel on Christmas Even. The weather has been beautiful here so after opening presents Christmas morning we loaded the dogs in the jeep and hit the back roads.

I would have begun this blog with pictures of the dogs wading in Coyote Creek, or the Pussy Willows that believe it is spring but I left my camera at Jessica's and Ronnie's last night. We went there for a grand Christmas feast for ten. Ronnie did smoked turkey and brisket. He is a master of the smoker, and Debbie and I came away with some leavings to have in sandwiches for today's vehicle exploration. We hear tell there is a new road we have not yet tried. After we pick up my camera this morning we will be off. Weather should be an unseasonable 42F and sunny today.

Meanwhile the southeast part of the United States is under an ice and snow alert. My sympathies. I hope all of you had a great Christmas Day. Check this space tomorrow for photos of our off road adventures.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best Memory of 2010

Debbie's Arch
A friend on Facebook asked about best memories of 2010. I guess I have rather been stuck on the worst memories of 2010 so I think Scott for bringing this topic up. I am going to devote some time each day in the remaining week of the year to come up with another nice memory of the year.

First is this arch in Lavender Canyon in South Canyonlands, Utah. We were four wheeling in a restricted/limited access area quite all alone and with no trail guide and no markers as to whether we were going right or wrong. And also no named arches that we knew of. In fact until we began seeing them we were not even aware this narrow canyon had arches. Debbie spotted this one first from the other side. Alan and I thought she was imagining things and it was not until we passed it and could view it from the other side that what we thought was just a depression in the cliff face was clearly and opening.

The day alone in the Lavender canyon was an awesome one with lots more arches discovered and photographed. It was a gift in a year that seemed to only get worse as the days passed. But now I am aware that there are these little gems hiding. BTW this day's download of digital images is largely gone with the destruction of the old desktop but fortunately I had uploaded many of the special ones to my FlickR account. Sometimes you get lucky.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What I Really Hate About This Time of Year

Parties! I am not, never have been, a party animal. I was a terribly shy child. I learned at sometime to act as if I wasn't but it was hard work. Alcohol in my youth helped me fake it more easily but after giving up that crutch I find large groups terrifying unless I am behind the podium or on the stage. In short in order to deal with large groups, containing friends or strangers, I must have a defined purpose: Speech, role, agenda, photographer,  my art. Parties are work for me; not fun.

And since my CBT nine years ago, large parties are exhausting. And I don't mean just wiped out the next day but maybe a whole week. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy small affairs. Petite little groupings of 8 to 10 people whom I mostly know, but even those I like sparingly. The trouble with the Christmas holiday season is there are too many of those even to honor them all. And too many people decide to erase all their obligations for the year with one huge party.

I have pretended to be out of town but this causes issues with the one or two little dinners I want to attend. I have tried saying I don't like driving in the dark and hostesses have even arranged rides for me with other guests. Most of my long standing friends know me and will extend provisional invitations giving me the number of friends I might know to make me more comfortable, but totally aware that if I don't show up it has nothing to do with our friendship. But I do make new friends and getting them to understand I probably won't be at their grand affair is not easy.  They have seen me perform at a gallery reception and don't understand how exhausting it is so the truth seldom works. But why should I have to bare my soul anyway? Why doesn't, "sorry, I cannot make it" work without bruising their feelings? It is nothing to do with the host or hostess but with me. I don't like to party!

When I have to give a party they are open house affairs so people can come and go and not create a panic attack because of my people claustrophobia or I have a couple or two over for dinner. But even those small sorties into entertainment require a lot of downtime for me before and after. I like my solitude or my friends individually or small packs. I would not make a good elk. I fear herds.

Monday, December 20, 2010

TW3 and Lunar Eclipse and Solstice


Going to get a bit airy-fairy here so if you are a non-believer in the effects of planets upon our lives skip this blog.

I was siting here with my first cup of coffee, considering the past week for my TW3 blog, and scanning my way through Facebook News (is that an oxymoron?) when I hit the link from Big Sky Astrology regarding eclipses and solstices. Seems this solstice eclipse is going to be in 29 degrees of Gemini, my sign, and it has not occurred for 19 years. That got me looking back at the changes in my life 18 to 20 years ago. Dynamic time for me. And there is no denying that the last year has been very dynamic. So I went Googling. And at another site where I found the image above I found:

In a spiritual point of view, a Lunar eclipse intensifies tremendously the power of a regular Full Moon: the Tibetans say that a Lunar eclipse multiplies the karma by 1000!…Whatever you do on a Lunar eclipse, + or - 5 days, can have implications during years on your karma… it depends on what we wish, what we ask for and how we act on that particular moment.

That certainly got me looking back at the last five days which is roughly what this weekly blog is about anyway. Changes are often not dramatic but subtle and five days ago my battle with HP over the Pavilion desktop changed: I realized they were not going to give a single inch. It was all about me having to take their replacement for the faulty computer like it or not. It has been shipped and will arrive here today on the eve of the eclipse and winter solstice. Hopefully it works, but by e-mailing customer service I have gotten permission to by pass tech support and ship it back if it does not immediately boot up. More on that issue later. I have grown very weary of the entire matter and yet they have sent me another customer un-satisfaction survey to complete. Like that has changed in the two weeks of this battle and the 5 other surveys I have taken for them. I do get the feeling they don't read them.

Once I gave up with HP (I won the battle of them not repairing the first computer but sending me a new one) my focus changed to painting, photography, and exercise. Friday was the 7 Years and 7 Ladies event at the Artspace Gallery. We are very dynamic ladies. Those seven years have not been easy for any of us but we have survived. And we have continued to grow as artists. I find myself wanting to branch out in a different artistic direction; paint not just pretty pictures but ones that speak to myself and my growing client base. So maybe that is part of what I am asking for. Certainly the week ahead with the eclipse and solstice is a time to look inward and seek what it is I want for my future. Or ask what it is the universe wants of me for the future. And Listen!

Whether you believe in astrology or planetary influences or not I think it is always good to stop now and again in our lives and take stock of where we are at and where we are heading.  What we really want. So often we get stuck in the just keeping on keeping on; putting one foot in front of another without consciously thinking of the path we are on. And this last year that has been a level of success; just maintaining some sort of balance at the plate when the universe kept throwing bean balls at my head.

The next week will be a powerful and reflective time for me. No idle wishes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Curses, Foiled Again


I told HP on Sunday I wanted a shipping notification within 48 hours or I was canceling the replacement HP Pavilion order and getting a refund instead. And low and behold the HP Case Manager did indeed get a shipping notification to me.

However, Fedex has yet to receive the HP desktop computer to ship. For a while this morning the Fedex tracking number provided me by HP even said it would get delivered today. Frankly I was leery of that one because it gave a ship date of the 11th and I didn't give them my ultimatum until the 12th. I must admit this was a rather clever ruse. Too bad they are not as clever at giving good customer service.

Meanwhile someone is marketing is sending out e-mails saying I can still order a computer today and get it before the end of the year. Interesting since I have been told I would be very lucky to get the one I essentially ordered in November before the end of the year. Really HP get your script straight.

Is this sort of game playing really dastardly or no? Could Snidely slip so low.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

TW3 - the week of HP


I would like to say HP is the Grinch that stole Christmas but I am not sure they are any worse or better than 99% of modern business. It all comes from Mexico or China with support teems in India or Texas (both have impossible accents) and CEO's in the United States that only care about the bottom line and not customer satisfaction.

I am so sick of being asked to take on line customer satisfaction surveys (even my computer nerd that destroyed the original HP had one) that I tell them it is really simple just note unacceptable for everything you ask me to rate. It doesn't help that because I do a very base rate on Qwest (because basically they were the first firm this year that lied to me) it is costing me 3 cents a minute to be lied to by HP.

You know when they say this call may be recorded to ensure customer satisfaction? Well, I am thinking of recording them on my end to compare the lies they tell. Supposedly they have an open file on a computer (might HP case managers use Dell?) with my record up and yet I have to tell them again and again the story. I think I saw this interview technique on a Lie to Me TV show. I give up. I am ready to sign the confession! Now I am not even trying to get the computer sent to me before Christmas. I am trying to get them to let me cancel the order and give me my money back before 2011.

This morning why I couldn't was a bank issue. My bank has no problem with it. Then if I expedite shipping I could get the computer faster after built so why cancel. Fedex ground will get it here in 2 days max because of where it comes from so why pay more? Then it was I could buy a floor model with an inferior processor or if I wanted the Intel 5 processor I could pay a couple hundred more for a floor model. Two days ago they had no floor models ready to ship - cancellations by other dissatisfied customers? But then 4 days ago they were going to charge me for the one I ordered.

I escaped to Santa Fe for two days with my sister to avoid having to communicate with HP. We had fun. I came home to more HP issues. HP shipped me the warranty which Fedex says they left on my porch. This is the warranty for the computer they cannot send for 18 more days. But their order status page looked like they might have shipped the computer too and left it on the porch. I called to see if that was the case and to cancel the order if it wasn't. I have been on the phone with them twice today to cancel.

I am so sick of this entire issue I am taking a 24 hour computer break. If HP let me cancel my HP order and had the money in the bank I am not sure I could stand ordering another computer. I am sick of computers. I am sick of corporate lies. I am not even logging into this machine on Monday and maybe not Tuesday. Ergo I am doing TW3 now. Hell, if this experiment goes well I might cancel DSL, the computer order, and all e-mail, and Facebook. I seem to remember being a lot happier when I was not lied to all the time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why, HP, Must I Be Punished?


I all fairness let me first say I am not really neutral on computers right not. I have been dealing for over a month with a three year old HP desktop computer that a local nerd, in the business to save computers, killed after losing 3 years of data.

Yes, I backed up, but to an external hard drive that failed. So I was forced to go shopping for a computer when I did not have the time nor the money. Nor quite frankly was I feeling warm and fuzzy about the boxes or the people that worked on them. But computer shopping I had to do. I am a small business and while I have a laptop for play I need the desktop for lots of year end business stuff and beginning of the new year submissions of art for fairs throughout 2011.

HP had a cyber Monday sale that extended through the following Tuesday and I found a computer, that while not the one of my dreams, met my minimum requirements, fit my budget and would be delivered within a week. The HP Pavilion arrived on December 6th and I unpacked and plugged it in. Suffice it to say I am not a novice at this, but the HP computer with Windows 7 would not boot up so I called tech support and was shocked to find that in spite of all promises to move their tech support back to the United States they are in Manila.

After 2 1/2 hours of trying to become belatedly bilingual I threw in the towel. The HP desktop would not even complete a short smart disk check and would not even begin a long one. I asked to speak to a supervisor. NOW. That took about 10 minutes of waiting. The supervisor, after getting my summation of the problem, wanted to refer the matter to a case manager (they are in the US) so they could get approval to repair my brand new, non-functioning HP computer.

Up to this point (well, accept for the NOW demand) I had been rather nice in spite of carpel tunnel from hitting F8, F9, F10, and F11 keys while rebooting. But repairing the HP Pavilion was not my problem. I bought and paid for a working computer not a repaired computer. They played broken record that they could not okay this. I played broken record that the only acceptable solution was a brand new working computer or a full and immediate refund. The Case Manager would call me back before 48 hours. I could only think of all the files that had to be rebuilt before the end of the year for my small business. Tick Tock.

Twenty-four hours, and two case report reference numbers, later I was called by a case manager. And like being in a doctor's office I had to again repeat all the symptoms of my still born HP Pavilion. I think they had the file in front of them and were looking for any discrepancies so they could negate my claim. Ok, I was getting paranoid. They did approve a new computer which they told me would be $35 more expensive. "Oh, no you don't," I said in a voice that made all the fur kids run and hide, "You eat that." We compromised on $5.35. Let them win the little issues.

I packed up the HP computer in its original box, printed out the approved pre-paid return label and dropped it off at the designated Fedex pick up spot. HP got it the next morning. Time was of the essence because I was informed they would not build my new replacement computer until the non-working HP was returned even though they have kept my money. I was pleased this morning to see they had processed my order. Build Date: December 28th! Maybe.

So I have two questions, HP. One, is why am I being punished for your errors on this Pavilion Desktop? And two, given that I would go pencil and paper before I went Dell, which computer company do I go to when I want to replace my HP Pavilion Laptop? Currently you are out of the running.

Customers used to be right. Now we have to prove we are not guilty and we are still punished via time and money for our mistakes. This mistake, HP, could cost me way through next June because of the fairs and exhibits I cannot apply for because through no fault of my own my old HP failed and my purchase new HP was trash. And your response to a small business owner that used your products has been hostile and frustrating.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Solstice a New Beginning?


My sister asked a thought provoking question yesterday: "Why do we believe things are getting better after the end of the old year?" Or what is the difference between December 31st and January 1st other than one is 2010 and the other is 2011 by arbitrary agreement.

It occurred to me, while pondering this issue, that there is none, but from somewhere the belief arose and has carried down to the present day seemingly unchecked by reality. The actual magical day might just be Winters Solstice instead. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth associated with this planetary event. And that makes a lot more sense than the new year. The winter solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 22 1/2° 26'. And while this is for just a brief minute the influence of a planetary shift has been noticed throughout the ages.

The Christian calendars have moved a lot around to benefit their perspective on life, but the Mayans had ten days, pinned by winter solstice, which did not belong to any months of the year. So from approximately what we would now call December 21st or 22nd till the end of our year.  So did the Druids. This year winter solstice is on the 21st in conjunction with the Full Cold Moon. Seems more likely that a shift in energies and attitudes can happen with this event than New Year's Day.

Or maybe this idea of a rebirth or new start is just something us humans require to let go of the bad luck or malaise of the past. We need to believe, especially in very hard times, that things can and will change. So whatever you pin your hopes on, I say go for it. I always do a ceremony at the solstice and yesterday, without thinking why, I bought four new candles. The fifth will be a white one carried over from last year's solstice. I will burn folded paper cranes, a couple springs of green from my solstice tree, and dried flower blossoms I have collected through the summer. And ask the blessings of the four winds and mother earth.

Monday, December 6, 2010

TWTWTWXI


About now all my faithful readers are asking themselves just how long I can carry on this TW3. I know my Roman numerals up through thousands and no doubt can find the millions and trillions on Wiki if in the Ancient Roman world anyone even wanted to innumerate to that extent. And even in today's world it does seem silly at times. Today I am getting a new desktop computer with one terabyte of memory:
It really seems very silly because I have not used up a fraction of my three year old hard drive memory on the failed computer. I need one of those simplistic little examples my teachers used to come up with - like you could store three complete digital sets of the Encyclopedia Britannia and still have room for your personal photos.

My first computer had 16K and I just purchased a couple of the smaller memory sticks out there - 8GB each. I can supposedly store on just one 3,184photos from an 8 Megapixil camera. Or 501 minutes of MPEG-4 Video. That is like Gone with the Wind and Ben Hur if I could get it in the right format.

But don't worry about TW3MCM. On a more mundane note I got the holiday tree up this week and have been decorating it. I went for a smaller and more sparse tree so it showcased my decorations better and took up less studio room. Currently making more bows and flowers to put on it and give it a more Victorian feel. My mother had a neighbor that was batty about holiday trees and had one in every single room of her house with a theme specific to each tree.  I would put her in the same category as terabytes.

I have only broken on thing this week - a 20 year old Christmas moose but he is fixed. The one featured on this blog is only 19. The laptop as been acting recalcitrant so I did some cleaning up of programs and evidently cleaned up one or two I shouldn't have. Why don't they name these programs clearly? Anyway it would barely booth up my settings so I went back to a restore point. Once the new Charley VI is set up I am going back to baseline on the laptop with the recovery discs I made when it was new.

Well, time to get in the studio and get cranking on the three new pieces I want done by the 16th.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Computer Shopping and Learning Curves.

A friend asked me this weekend, "If you had never had a computer how would you start leaning how to use one?" I admit I was tired when this question breezed by me. I was also downloading photos and posting them on Facebook and checking my e-mail at the time. I think I stared at her. Dumbly I might add. So she asked when did I start learning computers and how?

I had the advantage I suppose to work for one of the construction management companies that led the field in using computer programs to manage multi billion dollar projects. We had Wangs and we programmed them ourselves. We were introduced to them by having them put in our cubicles with games the company had designed to get us familiar with the keyboards and functions. One of my early tasks was to enter line after line of Basic code into the DOS system. Line conditioners were just a thought at the time so I learned to save frequently. Almost killed a secretary that wanted to reset the Xerox machine by flipping the breaker. Did have a very nice and long talk with the Xerox tech on that one.

My first computer was a used Commodore 64. And I attended night classes to learn BASIC. I think that computer had 16K of memory. I just bought a small memory stick with 8GB. My brother worked for an insurance company on their mainframe. It took up almost an entire floor of the office complex.

There have been a lot of computers and a lot of changes since then. Frankly computers now seem almost to be their own life form. So my answer to Helene's question of how do you learn to use them would be, "They teach you how?" "They?", she asked. "The computers," I answered. I think what we had was a failure to communicate. And I don't know if I could communicate in my world without a computer. Some years back a friend of mine, now dead, and I said that there would be a time when the world could be divided between the connected and the non-connected. It is that time. Though, in all honesty, I must say there is a middle ground; the marginally connected.

I think I am in the elite connected group until I have to look for a new computer. Then I know I may only be in the marginally connected category, though I would like to believe at the top of that class. Charley V failed, as all my loyal readers know, and I began my period of mourning. Oh, yes, all the classic stages including anger and bargaining and denial. Yesterday I went shopping for Charley VI and realized how very much I missed out on since early 2007 when I purchased my now deceased desktop. My sister and others in the connected group kept giving me advice about requirements on RAM and processors. I definitely appreciate their help but I was going into sensory overload rapidly.

Charley VI will have six times the RAM of Charley V and an Intel Dual Core Processor several times faster. And, rather important for me, as I was able to opt out of those "free software programs" like Norton and Microsoft Office that I almost immediately take off (but with a great deal of pain and suffering involved). But will it be obsolete in three years? Yes, definitely. Given that I bought it on sale it is probably obsolete now. But in a few months I probably get to do this again with a new laptop. Traveler is after all six months older than the late Charley V.

So the question this morning is how did you get introduced to computers and learn to use them? What advice can I give my unconnected friend, Helene?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another TW3

Friends around the table
Thanksgiving was fun with lots of friends and lots of laughs. Oh, but tiring with the cooking and the visits and the fair and just being away from my "safety zone." I guess my studio is my safe ground. I like being at my painting desk and applying colors to my world. It seems when I am out that the world gets control of the colors and the tone.

Fairs can be so very exhausting because of having to relate to strangers and old friends and keep your energy up and attitude positive. The packing up seems almost a relief. It is a pure physical activity that has an end. Well, except for getting home (that may be put off a day because snow in Angel Fire) and unpacking. And unpacking may be further delayed depending on the depth of snow on my property. But the fur kids will make all that seem unimportant.

Only 32 more days left in 2010, but in that short span there is the tree to put up and decorate, three paintings to do for an invitational show and for the gala anniversary of the Artspace Gallery. And the continuing dilemma  of the failed desktop computer. I am tired of holding on too tight. So what happens happens in the remaining days of the year. Latest electronic failure was my curling iron with half my hair curled of course.

But I am grateful for my sister and my handful of long term close friends that made it through this year. Grateful for my studio and my fur kids and that I can paint to my heart's content.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TWTWTWX or TW3X

Seekers
This was the week of the broken tripod just when I was furiously trying to rephotograph paintings whose images have been lost by the servicing of the desktop computer. And it was the week the desktop computer CPU fan failed. Fortunately I have already subscribed to the carbonite cloud and my new data is in the ether. And retrievable to my laptop. I managed to get two necessary documents.

Down to one computer it only seemed wise to also subscribe it to carbonite automatic backups. And begin looking for a replacement desktop. And seeking money for summer fair fees, the new tripod, the new desktop, and whatever else will go wrong. Fortunately there is a fair this coming weekend that I have high hopes for.

When visiting the Malpais of New Mexico and the badlands of Utah I have often wondered about the first people to seek a way through these arid canyons, high mountains, deep chasms before hitting the waterless great basin of Nevada. The promised land was California and the gold in them thar hills, but the route was not an easy one. Many a canyon turned out to be impassable or a false route through the sandstone cliffs.

Scouts were paid to lead groups of westward ho pilgrims through the mazes, safe portages across the Colorado, and from watering hole to distant watering hole. But if the tales are correct, even the scouts got lost from time to time. Or worse, died with the trip half complete. Wagon ruts etched in sandstone sometimes lie or a landslide has blocked the narrow passage or the Snake or Colorado Rivers changed beds. Shit happens.

I have stood on what is now the shore of Lake Powell and marveled at the wagon ruts of what is called the Mormon trail heading through a gap in the canyon walls to a slot on the other side of the chasm now filled with water 400 feet deep. How did they do it even with just the raging Colorado River to cross at the bottom?

I suppose our lives today, winding our way through the technological and financial slot canyons, are not as trying or dangerous, but the scenery is a great deal less interesting. And there isn't always that thrill of having at last topped the far horizon and gazed back at the route taken. Some gave up on the route to the Pacific. They stayed in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah or Arizona. They settled for the promised land under their feet. Since there was not all that much gold in California they made the right decision. The Donner Party should have stopped before the snows it.

There really are no scouts to lead us through life; to let us know when to stop seeking the next peaceful valley and just stick where we are. And sometimes you just keep putting one foot in front of the other because the alternative is too hard to contemplate. My father raised troopers. We don't give up but sometimes I just want to ask, "What am I doing here?"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TWTWTWIX


And I will not confess that this new weighing technique in is how I did it but I have now lost eight pounds. I know just one silly pound since I last reported diet success.  There is always a plateau challenge as I have come to call them. And admittedly it is often where I give up. How many of us can say we have lost a 100 pounds? It is just the same 5 pounds over and over and over again.

I think this plateau was almost because of my exercise program. I was gaining muscle and losing flab. That's my story and I am sticking by it. I also have got my metabolism on over drive currently and unfortunately that makes me hungrier. And being rather depressed this last couple of weeks has made me accept invitations to dine out with friends.

Before anyone even suggests it know that happy pills make me suicidal. Believe it or not better things for better living through chemistry does not work for everyone. Endorphins from exercise and getting my broad spectrum rays from the sun (sitting in the outside spa as reward for exercise) does work. But happiness can be an uphill battle at times. This week, like last, the road block on that road has continued to be computer issues. And a community issue that has extremely threatened a group I am deeply committed to. There have not been rosy outcomes for either but I have my 1GB of RAM back on the desktop (or at least I hope so when I finally hook it back up today).

And painting in the studio for the Rio Grande Holiday show I set up for on the 24th is going better. I may also make my weight goal of just two more pounds lost before then. Debbie, my sister, has her beloved jeep back. Our winter emergency kits are now installed in her jeep and my van. And the forecast is for a drier and warmer winter than normal (sorry, skiers but I am ecstatic about this). And I am loving my much wished for LCD flat screen TV. Though there have been moments this week I wanted the money back so I could buy a new computer. But that is a new goal I am aiming and saving for.

I have changed my mantra this week from one day at a time to sometimes one hour at a time. Oh, please let me make it through the next minute. Whatever it takes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Memories come Tiptoeing

Memories can come tiptoeing in the early dawn or at dusk and totally knock me off my seemingly safe perch in these troubled times. It can be something as simple as pouring coffee and noticing the clock on the stove. It is around the time he would call when he couldn't sleep and he knew I was up.

I loved our morning talks. And it is in the morning I miss him most. I miss his mind. And the wonderful hodgepodge of esoteric subjects we would discuss. Dawn and coffee and talk of politics and history and philosophy. A dear friend of ours, who visited our home frequently, once said we were the only couple she knew that considered debate foreplay. Intelligence has always been a turn on for me. And men that are willing to consider I am their intellectual equal I find very attractive.

Mother used to tell me I would regret being intelligent. I really haven't, Mom, wherever you are. But I definitely miss those individuals where there has been a wonderful synergistic meeting of minds. I would not identify my grief as a broken heart because he left this world loving me and me him. But sometimes I feel as if I have lost half my mind. And the silliest little things can bombard me from the far corners. This morning it was wanting to share a random thought and knowing he would not be calling in.

I don't know that this will go away soon. Mom died more than two decades ago and the silliest little things can bring her to mind like yesterday; looking for her recipe for fudge, shopping for bargains, her spaghetti sauce I still make religiously, not knowing the name of a flower and wanting to call and ask. Dad died before her and he has become more gentle on my mind but I don't think I will ever enter a hardware store without sensing him beside me, or see a swallow and think of him and his Purple Martins. Mom and I discussed the varieties of life when I would call perplexed. Dad and I would share the lessons of life over dinner out or working in his wood shop creating another treasure.

My question this morning is why one random thought while pouring coffee begins this cascade failure of composure, and sends me into a Niagara of tears for all of those wondrous minds that I have lost? I don't know that I understand grief or life and death. And the people I would once have had those discussions with will not call this morning. Nor can I call them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TWTWTW VIII

Six Cactus Blossom Panels
I got my desktop computer back from the computer doc on last Wednesday and discovered that he was right - it runs a lot better. However, it is empty. Absolutely no data which he promised to save and reload. Nice document tree with all the familiar names of my three years of file building but just folders and no files. He told me that he keeps a copy of the downloaded documents on his back up hard drive but the he is out of town and cannot tell me if my files are hiding safely there or not.

Quite frankly I am rather amazed at the emotional roller coaster that has caused. Even in the best of circumstances I have had to do without my computer, which formerly had all my art photos on it, for three weeks instead of the one I thought. That my external hard drive failed at the same time seems to be a punishment for backing up as recommended. I have spent too much time looking for hard copies and combing through my FlickR files looking for my portfolio, inventory, and title cards. I finally decided to wait until after he gets back on Wednesday before I rebuild my website, rephotograph all my paintings, copy and paste all poetry posted on blogs, and see if there are other locations for all my legal files on the studio.

I am suppose to be painting for the show which is in just a bit over two weeks. Painting is difficult to do when stressed and let's admit I am mega stressed. So on Saturday I said the hell with it and ran to Santa Fe with a friend and at last bought the LCD flat screen of my dreams. Oh, and the DVD blu ray player that will allow me to stream videos from the internet. I have been watching DVD's but I have yet to muddle through the manual to the streaming video set up beyond finding out there are two ways to do this.

Also have been working on the winter emergency box (so has my sister). It BTW is still in my living room next to the old TV I barely managed to get off the stand so the new one could be installed. Snow is not in the forecast until Thursday. I need to unload the last of the bird seed I bought out of the back first. Before the snow comes not only the emergency box will be in the van but the TV so I can take it to Angel's Attic. It works well.

I am continuing to exercise and that does help relieve the stress created by lost files, lost sister, not lost others, and the rather typical fall schedule I always seem to be unprepared for. Speaking of unprepared: I hate DST. Especially its fall manifestation. You cannot easily reset internal clocks, especially those of fur kids. Ergo I have been up at 3 or 3:30 blogging and playing on line scrabble. Why can't we just pick a time scheme and stick with it?

Oh, so glad I got the TV instead of the new laptop computer (I am rather pissed at computers). Things have got to get out of the LR so I can get more into the kettle ball exercises, and I need to stop eating to cure my stress and get back to the diet. My sister got her emergency spot that sends me and others her GPS coordinates if again stranded in the out back. Progress has been made. Now back to scrabble or a DVD.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get in Shape Status Report


This might be one of those blogs where the picture has nothing to do with the content. But if you can get past the rippled abs you will see that he is holding two kettle balls. "And what pray tell what are kettle balls?" I asked last week. Just the newest in workout crazes. And it is not just for men as reported by Women's Health Magazine. It seems to go hand in hand with this new sprint training concept.

Okay, so maybe I am sitting at the computer Googling and reading too much but I have begun to employ the sprint training concept in my aqua workout at the gym. And yesterday I bought my first kettle ball. The good news is this is not about exercising more but differently. In fact the ideal exercise program should be three times a week and for 45 to 50 minutes. My workout buddy and I are doing that at the pool. And I plan to throw in a couple short "strength" workouts at home with the kettle ball and some of my other collected gym toys.

I have now lost 7 pounds which means I am on track to meet my first goal at Thanksgiving. I have also dropped a size. And the really good news is I am beginning to believe this get in shape plan is doable. I am craving the exercise these days and not avoiding it. The separation diet makes me feel better - not as bloated as I had felt since recovering from the flu Spring 2009.

Yes, I would like to not be embarrassed when I walk into the gym or an art reception feeling like a blimp. But my real goal is health. I don't want to be on all the drugs many of my friends take to keep all those "health" numbers down. And btw some of the medical opinions on those numbers are changing. My ex-husband, who died this summer, is proof positive that popping pills for health issues is not healthy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I know you think that is what I said.


Communications are at the best of times at cross purposes. Even when we are in the same room and we have inflection and body language to add to our understanding of the words we think we hear. Written words should be clearer because generally we have a wider vocabulary at our fingertips and the chance to reread and edit.

I worked as a free lance writer for small publications for a number of years and still submit an article or two. I found quickly that the first read through I am likely to read what I thought I wrote. So I generally let it settle a bit before coming back to it and giving it another once over. I am often shocked at my second take. That clearly was not what I intended to say and so I rephrase it.

But there are often those times when you come up against a deadline and don't have the grace of time on your side. I suppose that is what retractions are all about. But experienced writers generally hit the mark. If the upset a certain segment of their readership it is because they fully intended to do so but with plausible dependability: Surely you misunderstood what I wrote. I know you think that is what I meant but it isn't. Generally said to your editor.

Blogs don't have editors so thankfully there is edit and delete. Supposedly blog etiquette says you don't edit after publishing. But better than being hung, drawn and quartered I say. We all derail from time to time and miss an innuendo or two. Blogs are a responsibility. Facebook and Twitter are crap shoots. It is too easy to post something too fast and I have discovered it doesn't always delete from all windows.

But the worst part of the "my life in 140 characters on a key board" is the brevity. In a 1000 word essay you can upset your reader in paragraph two and calm them down in paragraph three. And by paragraph four make them understand the purpose of those leaps. But everyone, regardless of how benign their posts are, will piss off someone on Facebook from time to time. And in part because we have been too short, and in part because we aren't in on the conversations they have been having before we leaped in to comment.

But I have encountered those that seem to piss me off constantly - intentionally or otherwise. I try to be patient (not my longest suit) and understanding (sometimes too much so and others ask me why I am putting up with this behavior) and sometimes it is just easier to hide them.

Some years back when I was married I attended an adult child of alcoholics meeting that was badly run. Nobody stuck to the principles and a couple judges kept mandating attendance by felons that had no business there. I am home ranting one time too often and Marc asked me why I went. I replied that it made me feel better. He then informed me that his view was that it made me feel worse. I had to admit he had a point so when I was ranting to an earth friend today about another dumb comment by a certain FB friend something clicked. I came home and deleted her, and him and a couple others.

And when FB becomes un-fun I am deleting it just like I deleted Twitter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

That Was the Week That Was Seven

Wheeler Peak after the clouds cleared
The end of October is generally the time locals turn on the under the house heat to prevent pipes from freezing. We all try to go longer because of winter heating bills but temperatures falling to 7 F one night let me know how risky that can be. It is also the time the emergency winter box should go in the car.

The clouds of the first "winter is coming" storm finally cleared away from the mountain tops to reveal the first snow on the peaks. Yesterday all this snow on the south side of Wheeler was already gone. That is pretty typical of this time of year. Fall and winter seem to dance around each other into November some years.

Saturday was fall and I went to the spa with Jessica and spent a prolonged period in the outdoor hot tub catching the warming rays of the sun. My sister went off-roading with a friend in the Zuni Mountains. I wasn't even that concerned when she didn't call as promised that evening. I figured they went out to dinner after a fun packed day and it got late. Little did I know, as I fell asleep, that the Jeep had been terminal since 2:30 pm.

Before I get the cell phone comments let me say we do not live in an area that any of the major cell phone companies consider advantageous to erect towers. Sprint never made a "can-you-hear-me-now" commercial out here because you cannot. We all have cell phones, if for no other reason than emergencies, but 9 times out of 10 when that emergency happens you won't have service. The government needs to get back involved with the FCC regulating mandatory coverage areas. But still there are the hills and gullies and canyons. Cell phones have to be line of sight to the tower. Debbie had it briefly after climbing up a hill. Sunspots are on the rise and causing disruptions. Then there was the battery issue. Cannot charge cell phones on cars with major computer failures.

By yesterday morning I was worried. Calls to her cell went directly to voice mail without even a ring - dead battery or broken phone. She was not on chat on the computer. She lives on a remote corner of a ranch and I did not have the telephone number of the ranch owner to check if she got home but the phone didn't. A flight medic with the company Deb's husband worked for determined on a landing pattern that her jeep and the dogs were not at the house. It was not looking good.

Tried the Forest Service to see if there was a search yet. This is hunting season and all sorts of people go missing in the mountains, but due to budget cuts the forest service does not man phones on weekends! Duh? And emergency 911 does not want to hear about it until someone is missing 48 hours. Unbeknown to me people were already looking for my sister. Her group of friends, since she had gotten gps coordinates off the jeep called in to her work, were out traveling the back roads. Since the jeep was in computer failure the coordinates were wrong so my sister and friend, a diabetic, opted to leave the vehicle at dawn and walk 6 hours out. They knew they could not spend another cold night in the car with only two dogs for warmth.

They are both okay no thanks to Cibola County emergency services or the Forest Service. All this brought to mind how casual we have become about things. I am collecting a pile of stuff that goes into my van today: Sleeping bag, old quilt, energy bars, spare batteries for the flash light, snow boots, and paper for messages. Yet to get next time in town: emergency flares, space blankets, bottled water, canned heat, and crayolas.

Crayolas? Yes, because they don't freeze or dry up like magic markers or pens. And you just might need to leave a sign on your abandoned vehicle as to which way you are walking out, etc. And if you think all this is necessary for just those of us that venture out of the normal path think again. Would you be prepared to spend 48 hours in your car during a blizzard? Or do you think someone would come to your rescue in the storm of the century?

I would rethink that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fabulous Foto Friday

Moreno Valley from Palo Flechado Pass
Thought I would get a bit closer to home with this week's photo. This was taken about six miles from my house as the crow flies. I was coming back from Taos with a friend. I had my camera with me because of the extended time of dismal weather. I just knew sooner or later the overcast skies had to break and give me a peek at the peaks which no doubt were going to be snow-capped. The mountains and clouds had been playing peek-a-boo for the better part of a week and fall turned to winter.

This photo shows just a hint of that snow under Touch Me Not's cloud hat, but it also shows the shadows of the clouds across the Moreno Valley, all framed in pines and bare Aspen branches. Glad I had the camera. But then yesterday I left it home and Wheeler Peak made an appearance with its solid white winter crest, but no doubt I will that again and again in the coming months.

Monday, October 25, 2010

That Was the Week That Was Six - Or is it five?

Winter at the top and fall below the clouds
This was the week that fall at last succumbed to what can only be described as winter weather. Us New Mexicans (even those in the mountains) are spoiled. We seldom, if ever, go a day without some grace from the sun. But if we saw the sun here for more than a few minutes a day since Thursday we celebrated it. I did get a peek between the clouds of the full moon on Friday. I think it was full. I only saw part.

Wednesday, however, was glorious and I posted a photo blog about that. See below. With the weather being not nice to get out and hike I began a round of frame making forgetting that the damp of the seemingly endless rain (rained 2" at my house on Thursday) would slow down the drying of glue and paint and varnish. Obviously, I had forgotten what life was like in the southeast. Still slow progress has been made.

Yesterday, the winds of winter arrived. I loathe them. They just seem to penetrate all clothing and suck the heat from my house. Hoodies are now inside attire. The woodstove got drafted into full time service this weekend to dry the air and chase the chill. And yesterday I realized I did not have a jacket that kept out the icy wind and so after three years of doing with the old bought a new one on line at Sierra Trading Post. I love them. Got an Oakley winter sports coat for a third of original price. It will probably be here about the time we move into a "sucker hole" in winter.

A sucker hole is when nice weather returns briefly and leads you to believe winter is in the distant future. We have sucker holes in January that lead you to believe winter is over. I just love New Mexico. Don't like the weather? Wait 10 minutes or drive 10 miles. Today, however, I am staying home and inside and keeping the fire going.

Yesterday I went again to the spa with my friend to take the waters. I love aquafit exercises and have shared them with my friend. She, in turn, has inspired me to once again swim laps. I dug out the exercise swim fins and we challenge each other on one lap more. Boy do fins work the legs and gluts. The scale this morning confirmed I have lost six pounds. Four more to go in four weeks to meet my Holiday fair goal. Applause!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall is Over


The "S" word has been sneaking more and more into the weather forecast and as we are nearing the end of October that is to be expected. The local ski areas begin "making" snow at Halloween because then our weather will be such they have a chance of keeping it around. It is supposedly a La Nina year which means dryer and warmer than normal. I think I can live with that, but a lot hangs on the ski slopes for our tourist dollar input.

But the rural electric coop is again raising its rates. It has to buy power from other states because all the power generated in the four corners area from our coal and our rivers goes to light Los Angeles and Las Vegas who seem to waste it. So with higher electric bills in the future warmer is definitely nice. And I have three cords of wood to burn for heat. But snow pack is what makes our forests healthier to avoid fires come summer. And it is how our aquifers are recharged. So I am divided. How about rain at my altitude and snow 200 feet higher?

Don't mean to be picky. And I certainly know if you don't like the weather in New Mexico just wait ten minutes or drive ten miles. And there always is some doubt in any long range forecast because of the mountain effect. Still all the local pundits like to have their predictions. At the ski area when I taught there we used to say, "It isn't snowing until it is snowing." And thus far even with the "S" word in the forecast it has not snowed except at the top of the mountains.

But I think I can predict with a fair amount of accuracy that fall is over. Mind you New Mexico weather has been known to prove even this simple forecast wrong in the past. But the firewood is stored and most (but not all) of the fall tasks completed (history has shown there were be other nice days to do the rest) so let it snow if it must. Chances are it will be here today and gone tomorrow. If it falls at all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saying Goodbye

DSC_0057
Beginning of the end of fall

In college we used to play a verbal game where we tried to decide what a particular friend was in terms of a food, or an animal, or a season. We really did have a hall mate that was lemon jello. And one of my best friends was the ferret. The trouble with that game was that the comparisons, if aptly made, stuck. And somehow I find my subconscious mind still playing the game.

Marc was fall. His birthday was the end of September when the mountains of New Mexico put on their grandest show and we traditionally rode the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge railroad over the mountains to see the color. Or drove up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I thought of both as a way of saying goodbye. His wife chose to not have a memorial service here and I am not the only one of his friends hanging in limbo. Both trips seemed to long and I could not see myself doing them alone.

Fall lingered, way longer than is normal, as if waiting for me to make a decision of how to let him go. Yesterday I had to go to the dentist in Questa, where Marc and I had lived together, and I took the camera to avoid all the memories. I hide behind my camera at times. I take it to social events where I don't really want to mingle and appoint myself instead as official photographer. Yesterday it just became a focus on all the memories. You cannot move forward until you let go of the past.

Wheeler Peak through the trees
Wheeler Peak through the Aspens
And knowing we had three days of rain in the forecast let me know I would be saying goodbye to this spectacular fall too.

DSC_0016
The colors of fall
And Questa except as a place where my dentist is. And a place I once lived with a man I loved but could not live with. I could say the same of Questa.

Cabresto Valley and the burn area
Cabresto Valley

Monday, October 18, 2010

TWTWTW Five or TW3-5


It has been a glorious fall and no recap of the previous week should ignore that. I have of course been out and about with my new camera. Did I mention I have a new camera? Trekking the aspen covered hills with the fur kids has been one form of exercise. And a good friend has me back working out at the spa. Thus far just in the pool with aqua fit exercises, but it has made a difference. Amazing how when you expend more energy you have more energy.

That, as they say, is the good news. The bad news is I got water in my ears which seems to have combined with fall allergies to give me a really stuffy head. I feel like I am walking around in a diving bell. But this too shall pass. And I hope soon.

Finally getting around to frame making. Got all the wood glued together into framing strips and sanded. Now to just start cutting the correct lengths and gluing them up in squares and rectangles to be painted and stained and fitted on "naked" pictures hanging about the studio. Just one more step in the process of getting ready for the Rio Grande Holiday Festival in Albuquerque followed in less than a month by the Seven Years and Six Sensational Ladies exhibit at Artspace Gallery on December 17th. I am one of the six.

So it is going to get busy. Hopefully not too busy to exercise but too busy to over eat because I want to be back to my size ten's by Thanksgiving.

Oh, and still no news on the lawsuit. Legally the judge was suppose to render a verdict in July but begged off to August because they were moving the court house. Two weeks ago both lawyers sent a request for a new date to expect the verdict. But still no news. And maybe that is good. Who wants to have to move before Christmas.

Monday, October 11, 2010

That Was the Week That Was Four

a
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Totally an up and down week. As the song by Joan Baez goes - Some days are diamonds, some days are rust. For reasons I cannot explain my ex's death August 22nd really hit me this week. It began with last Monday when a trip to Taos seemed to invoke his memory at every turn. The good news is I have not had to worry about dry eyes.

On the good news side I finished two paintings I had been struggling with, the sold one of them, got half of the do before the snow flies list done, finally confronted someone about a forgotten debt (they forgot - I hadn't), gotten back into exercising, picked more raspberries, developed an outlet for left over masks and costume items, received two more of the Connie Shelton Charlie Parker mystery series, and had two pet sitting gigs come up for extra income.

On the rust side of the equation beyond the leaky eyes I wasn't careful about my low blood sugar and had a major event. Coupled with the water in the ears since swimming laps I have felt like an alien life force.

Received a copy of a letter from the lawyers reminding the judge we are still all waiting on the verdict which had  time of July per court regulations, a promise of August due to moving of the court house, and did not show up in September. Maybe that is the connection to the bad week about Marc.

I met Marc before my mother died and when she did I felt like a total orphan. It doesn't matter what age you are when your last parent dies it can happen. And because of my mobile life style with the company I and Marc both worked for home base was always my parents house. So an orphan and homeless. Marc had just bought a home in New Mexico that we visited. And in a year we were married. I have often wondered just how much of our relationship had to do with that at drift feeling of that year.

I have my own home now but that is challenged by the lawsuit and divorce or no Marc was in so many way my anchor. I feel totally lost at sea now. It hits me in huge waves. I tell myself this will pass. It seems to pass for men faster than women. Of the two men I know widowed in the last year both are in relationship. Of the women I know in the same situation none are. In fact most seem to be saying never again.

I once promised to never say never because it always got me in trouble. And realizing my need to find some solid ground and how much trouble reaching for anchors (that are sinking) has gotten me into in the past I thought I would amend my never to IF. IF I found a man of certain criteria I might be willing to consider a date. The following is a short list of the non-bargaining points:
  1. No heirs and at least worth $2 million
  2. An Italian villa as well as a home near here
  3. A Rubicon he leaves at the airport for when he flies his jet in.
  4. Loves fur kids
  5. Is sober and has been for at least two decades
  6. Has a good sense of humor and a childish sense of fun
  7. Enjoys food, art, and intellectual conversation
  8. Likes to buy me things
  9. Does not consider duct tape a permanent solution to a temporary problem
Any one that thinks they could meet these requirements is welcome to apply. Warning: The screening process can be extended and difficult.



Saturday, October 9, 2010

A day of tasks


We have been blessed and plagued of late with thunder storms building by late morning. When there are booms and flashes the last place you want to be is on top of a ladder even if you know there are things to be done before winter settles in. Today I finally got around to them.

It was beautiful weather for working outside around the studio screwing down siding that had warped because of the weather. And finally putting up the last two strings of rope lights I had bought two years ago for Christmas decoration. They are white lights and so will be great when the studio is open for an event in the evening. Speaking of night events I bought and put up a solar powered motion sensor light at the corner of the studio near the gate. I rather like using the studio entrance personally but the motion sensor lights are by the main entrance to my house.

Speaking of those lights. They are florescent and I hate them. In fact I tried using florescent lights on all the exterior of my studio and house. I gave them an honest try and today I switched all but the two on the front walk out with incandescent. When the weather falls around 40F it takes forever for a florescent to come on bright enough to see by. So as soon as I buy some more incandescent bulbs the ones on the walk way are also getting replaced. I turn lights off so I see no reason to put in bulbs that save me energy if I leave them on. AND make me feel as if I am going blind.

I also got the new flag pole installed so my Open flag for my studio can wave when the studio is open. I spent extra money on a heavy duty flag pole and support to tolerate the winds here.


Today's list of tasks was accomplished in spite of sleeping late and dealing with a plethora of phone calls and requests and two pet sitting gigs. Remaining to be done are the stair rails (and some rope lights to light them), the new solar light for the distant storage shed I never ran electricity to, and the tacking up of some other trim in front of the house and putting steel wool in the Flicker holes in the siding, oh, and hauling away the trash in the front of this picture.  But I do feel as if I have made a good beginning.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another Fabulous Foto Friday

La Sal Mountains Utah
The date is May 2010. We are off roading below the rim at Canyonlands National Park. Second day of our Utah adventure. It snowed on our way up which gave the La Sal Mountains in the distance the tremendous cap of deep snow. We are in summer weather gear on the canyon rims.

But the interesting part of this photo for me was how close that mountain looks. We are approximately 15 miles outside of Moab at this point. And the La Sal Mountains begin 20 miles the other side of Moab, but the air is so clear the sandstone tower looks like an immediate neighbor to Mount Tukuhnikivatz  - 12,482 feet (3805 m) and little Tuk to the left. Mount Tukuhnikivatz is obviously big Tuk.

Mount Peale, the tallest in the range, reaches 12,721 feet (3,877 m) above sea level. The range contains three clusters of peaks separated by passes. The peaks span a distance of about 18 miles (25 km). The name of the range dates to Spanish times, when the Sierra La Sal (meaning the "Salt Mountains") were a prominent landmark on the Old Spanish Trail between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, which if you look at a map is a bit out of the way but it avoided crossing the Grand and Glen Canyons on the Colorado River. Moab, Utah was where the trail crossed the Colorado and skirted around the bad lands of the Colorado Plateau. In this picture the Colorado river is tucked out of sight in the winding canyon at the foot of the tower.

BTW, the Colorado River has water in it at this point. Lots of water. Phoenix does not suck it all out to below Lake Mead.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nightmarish Night

Nightmare by Fussli
I don't know if it was my day, littered with a multitude of activities, or my night, disrupted by howling coyotes and activities next door, or the strawberries and cream I ate for dinner, or just the lack of routine in my life of late but last night was fraught with nightmares.

Per Wiki
A nightmare is a dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the sleeper, typically fear and/or horror. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.


Nightmares can have physical causes such as sleeping in an uncomfortable or awkward position, having a fever, or psychological causes such as stress and anxiety. Eating before bed, which triggers an increase in the body's metabolism and brain activity, is a potential stimulus for nightmares

In mythology the nightmare is a ghost or night demon that terrorizes people while they sleep by sitting on their chests and suffocating them. The victim is paralyzed, unable to cry out, and aware of a frightening presence in the room. A similar sensation is associated with alien abductions. Most nightmares are combined with that paralysis and to me that is one of the most terrifying parts. I am totally unable to wake up and escape the nightmare. And if I fall asleep after waking from one my brain seems to go back and continue where it left off rather like the Friday the 13th horror film series.

Last night's series of horror flicks of the subconscious did not have monsters as in Edward Scissor Hands by events I would not want like a beloved fur kid dashing into traffic over and over. Or holes that kept appearing in my walls opening it either to the outdoors or to an energizer bunny sort of neighbor just "making a few small changes."

There have been a lot of "small changes" in my life this year and I admit to being rather unbalanced by them. Things and people I thought of as solid in my life have vanished or seemed uncertain. The incidence of nightmares is up but I seldom have a whole night of them. The real scary part of nightmares for me is that upon waking I wonder if they are prophetic. Does the holes in the walls relate to the court case that has yet to be decided but has the power to take my house away from me? The fur kid rushing into traffic symbolized the ones close to me that have died? Are these dreams just about my uncertainty or warnings of the future that might be. I am afraid I took Dicken's A Christmas Carol rather too much to heart.

I was a strange child (and perhaps a stranger adult). It was not The Monster from the Black Lagoon that gave me nightmares but Tarzan. The musical Brigadoon disturbs me still.

Whatever the reason for my marathon of disturbing dreams last night I am exhausted this morning and very reluctant to go back to bed any time soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weather About to Change

Storms on outskirts of Albuquerque
We have had such absolutely delightful Indian Summer weather. And one forgets that by the end of October we could have our first snows. Historically the local ski areas begin to make snow around Halloween because the temps are such they can begin to build a base. But the temperature has been in the 70's with 74 F scheduled for today. However, there is rain forecast and tomorrow will be in just 60. It is 6 am here and sun has not made an appearance yet.

Winter is coming like it or not. I have the firewood bought and stacked in the woodshed but there are a list of other tasks to be completed before winter hits like the railings on the back steps and the grass trimmed around the flower beds before it is laid down with snow.

But I also have less than two months before my big show in Albuquerque. That issue makes me almost look forward to less than perfect fall weather so I will want to stay in the studio and work. New Mexico rarely has consistent bad weather so no doubt I will be able to do the outside chores for much of October. There will just be days when a fire in the wood stove will be nice. And I will want to stay inside the sun warmed studio.

My goal is to finish the current round of paintings and then do some frame making. That would also be a good time to get the railings done on the steps. Get all the messy saw stuff done at one.

I am at the moment kind of looking forward to the rain of the next couple of days. I love watching weather move through in the mountains. And we need the rain.

Monday, September 27, 2010

That was the week that was three

Debbie and Crystal Fenced In
 Most of the past week was spent in San Fidel. And much of it was sadly without visual commentary as my sister and I were doing things like the Feast Days at Laguna Pueblo where cameras were inappropriate. As the mission church there is quite stark and beautiful I am including a Google Images picture of it. Yes, it will be the subject of a painting.

Laguna Pueblo Mission
I do like the sky in this picture but on the day Debbie and I and her friends were there it was a clear blue day and hot. Over 400 vendors to shop and an invitation to one of the homes to eat. We had a grand time but were exhausted when we got home to the little house on the mesa.

The following Monday was a shopping day in Albuquerque so we could get supplies for the fence and other projects we had planned during my visit. We met our friend Dianna in town and proceeded to see just how much stuff could be loaded into a Jeep Rubicon. We might hold the world record. Any challengers?
Debbie and Dianna with gates and fans, etc
Driving home in the evening after a tiring day of Shop-till-you-drop we encountered a huge storm moving in.

Cloud burst on the west mesa
Having grown up mostly in Albuquerque I always think of this sort of hit and miss thunderstorm as what is meant by the term cloud burst. It really does seem to me the clouds have burst open in a couple spots and just dumped.

Tuesday we got the fence installed as per the top photo and three ceiling fans put up in the house with light kits It was a definite improvement. And there was the doggie door to allow Debbie's two dogs and my two visiting fur kids access at will to the new fenced yard. Thus we ended their unsupervised walk-abouts. No worries they still get more walk-abouts than the average pooches.

 Wednesday was rain. A tropical storm up from Baja made for overcast skies and bouts of rain. Debbie and I spent some welcome downtime and also did the laundry, looked over our new treasures from the shopping trip, taught the dogs to use the doggie door, and watched some telly.

Dawn in San Fidel
Thursday brought the above dawn and packing to come home. I arrived here to two cords of wood that needed to be stacked in the woodshed which I did on Friday. The weekend was to be about catching up until Jessica called on Sunday morning and enticed me to the raspberry picking adventure. More about that in a separate blog. I probably have bored you enough with my week.