Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Foggy Dawn

I was hanging out a load of wash yesterday morning in the fog. Time was short and I had tons to do in very little time so when I looked up to see this view of the sun coming over the mountain and through the fog I told myself I did not have time to run back into the house, find the camera and immortalize this scene.

The do-bee was having major subconscious debates with my more laid back muse who eventually won. I got the camera and re-emerged on the porch sure the scene would be forever altered and I would curse taking the time for nothing. Sometimes you win one. Actually, yesterday I probably won more than I lost. That is not bad for a day in the middle of Mercury in Retrograde. I am just too tired to totally appreciate everything that did go right. Give me a day or so and I will probably bore you with the not-so-instant replays.

I had a spiritual adviser at one time that said it was never wise to brag about the miracles that happen in your life. Be appreciative and say a private thanks but don't shout it to the roof tops because it might crash down on you. It is rather like a foggy dawn. Just absolutely fantastic but very underplayed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee - Facebook!

Don't you love the internet? You Google an image to illustrate a vague idea you have about a blog and TA DA! I love this one. In fact I loved this one so much you may see it again and again. Especially on days it is being particularly hostile to me. Like today.

Yes, I have one of those applications - a Firefox add-on - that allows me to block all the crap. But Facebook keeps inventing more crap I need to block. Ergo the first few minutes on my news page results in just resetting all my blocks. If I can get to my profile to begin with. None of my bookmarks on my tool bar or my Yahoo homepage will get me there. I get a white page unless I circumvent whatever they are doing and get there by way of a link they put in e-mail notifications of notifications of comments on Facebook.

The Notifications on Facebook are also not working well. Some I get only through my e-mail notifications of notifications. Some not at all. And I laboriously set up automatic loads of this blog to my main Facebook page and Creative Journey to my Fan Page. Those are definitely not working on my profile page at all regardless of how many times I have manually reset it. And works only when it dam well wants to on my Fan Page, which incidentally you don't become a fan of now after all the creation of fan badges, etc. placed as links on blogs. Now you just LIKE a page.

Then when their photo uploader using Java failed to work they stopped letting you go to their simple uploader and instead invented a new and improved uploader which 50% of the time does not upload. Photos just vanish in the ether if it allows you access at all. Its favorite trick is to shut down your browser. And it is a two step process to upload and then find the photos and then edit the photos. The simple uploader just showed you the photos to edit. No need to search.

But, hell, Facebook is improving my skills. Yesterday I mastered being able to type a status message without seeing more than the first line. Typing blind! And no misspellings. I am also learning seek and ye shall find - eventually. And lots of trials on developing patience. But be warned Facebook, I have failed to learn this trait even in Taos traffic. To this day I never drive through that town during tourist season.

Now for all this joy that Facebook claims to provide they are going to begin to share even more personal information with their advertisers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On the Far Shore

I shared so many pictures of the iced over Lake Coyote I felt I owed my readers the more normal look. Well, normal for spring with a heavy snow pack. The "log" in the center of the picture is actually the top of a weir and is the normal width of the stream. The Little Coyote is out of its normal banks and moving along at a right good pace for a head waters. I have hope there is a substantial enough flow to scour the bottom of reeds and grasses that have taken root there in the past years of lesser flow.

Taking this picture yesterday I paused to reflect how wonderful it is to be on the other side of a crisis in the making. There is a special joy and light when you have dodged the bullet be it a near flooding out of your property or a total crash of both your computers. Oh, yes that happened later in the day.

I booted up my laptop with the intention of doing some serious buff and fluff on the hard drive before vacation. Basically this means combing through the photo files and doing CD back ups and deletes or uploading to FlickR but it would not stay up. I rebooted three times before the task bar vanished and it would  not respond to the Start key or any of the fn commands. I copied down the error message before it crashed again and called my neighbor nerd (everyone should have one).

After an on-site visit he determined I had picked up some malware that was going to require me to totally recover - ergo loss of all those photos I was going to sort through without allowing me to sort. I don't routinely download photos to my laptop. I thought most of my photos were on the CD's in my fireproof safe where I found my recovery CD's but as I prepared to load disk one of 23 in all sorts of thoughts and doubt rambled about. Top of that list was whether or not my desktop was also infected and where were its recovery disks? And when did I last back up to the external hard drive?

I called a local friend also on Facebook to see if she had picked up any malware. We both don't do apps on that site. She had seen on Fox News (yes, I actually have a friend that watches Fox - couple really) about McAfee having a fatal update. Evidently it saw a Windows exe file as a virus and deleted it. Hey, I am not going to totally dis McAfee for this - Microsoft does like hiding spyware in its exe files. But how to fix this if you cannot go on line or anything.

You call a friend that does not have XP (yes, I do have a few friends with Vista - see note about Fox News - my friend with the MAC was out of town) and they go to McAfee and download to a CD the fix. Nerd to rescue he came back with the printed directions and the fix. After fixing the laptop I had the courage to start the desktop and immediately update virus protection before it could reboot itself.

Meanwhile while I was off the internet a friend there suggested in regard to my lawsuit I should do daily visualizations of how good it will feel to be on the other side of that after 3 years in August. I found this on Youtube. I actually saw the Highwaymen and the New Christy Minstrels do this song when in college when we were all new.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee - Next to Last Monday in April

April! I have been trying to loose weight and I have gained. I have planned to be ahead and I am behind. I wanted the lawsuit to be over and it continues to August. So frustrated as only Francis Bacon's art can make me feel I woke this morning to face the too short days remaining before I depart determined to focus on what I had achieved this month - not what remains to be done.

I have gotten the taxes done. And I am going to have a nice refund check waiting for me when I return from Moab. Yesterday I covered the last of the white canvas on my 26" by 62" painting. I finished my triptych - Tres Cruces. I have been accepted in two summer fairs and when I return home I will have 11 paintings to frame for those exhibits.

I have switched from my satellite ISP, which was increasingly unreliable, to DSL for Internet. I have been on a seek and find deployment around the house locating camping gear and summer clothes for the Moab trip. I have celebrated the spring weather by washing and hanging out on line all the winter bedding. And buffed and fluffed two Oodles (a poodle and a doodle). Okay, Mardi still needs some finishing work on those paws. And Magique needs her claws clipped.

I have twelve more days! I need to take that todo list one item at a time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The time has come, the Walrus said

To speak of many things. 
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. 
And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.
Lewis Carroll

The events of the opening months of 2010 have given me pause. Winter is a time I step-by-step my way through and with spring comes a regeneration of energy, a list of todo's to make my house and land better. But this year with the ruling by the judge on whether I can keep my house pushed off to August I find myself wondering if I even want to keep it. I certainly do not want to spend any time or energy or money on improvements if I might lose it.

So April finds me rethinking my life and my goals. This spring and summer will be about enjoyment of the land around me and my fur kids. It will be about growing my art business. And it will be about re-establishing my sense of inner peace and spiritual connection. Nothing ruins that like a lying contractor and the legal system. Or it seems of late Facebook with all its glitches. Everyone can expect me there less. Because of business I will be on my studio fan page. Catch me there or here.

In two weeks I leave for Canyonlands and a road trip to the vistas that have always inspired me and given me peace. It will be a busy time with everything I have to do before my departure. I will try to blog because it does give me peace. And check my messages. And while on my trip I will have my laptop and camera and you can expect photo blogs on Creative Journey and here. If Facebook behaves with the links then friends there can get the updates on my life.

Hopefully the next month will provide me some direction and closure. Some serenity. Some peace. Things have to be different when I return the middle of May.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sometimes You Get Lucky

Some days the cards are falling your way. Some days they are not. Things have been rather dark lately and at times I was not even sure I should dare to hope for a change of my luck. But from the beginning of 2010 there seemed some glimmers of a possible change of luck. Small in the beginning - like I made it through the winter with bills paid. And then DSL fiber optic lines arrived at the top of the hill and I could drop the expensive satellite (and troublesome).

Then I landed the commission for a painting. Not money in my pocket but on the horizon. And then the special order for the koi mask. But so I would not get cocky everything did not move that smoothly or rapidly on either of those. And expenses I had not considered seemed to balance the unexpected income. My prospects had been dismal for so long I was finding it difficult to appreciate what was happening.

Taxes loomed. I nervously accumulated all the receipts and tax documents. A couple years ago I had to pay an unbelievable sum to the IRS so I don't do taxes joyfully. And I was relating that to a friend when she said I might be able to go back and file an amended return for that year. I mentioned it to my CPA and YES! Not getting all I paid in back but a nice chunk. Still Dad always said to never count your winnings before you left the table. But when that check arrives I will at last get the LCD TV I want. And the rest will go into savings.

If nothing else the events of the last couple of months has led me to feel a bit luckier. Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes the bug. Feeling a lot less like the bug. Let's hope that bodes well for the judicial ruling on the court case.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Importance of Being Alone - or Not

I will readily admit it: I love to cave. Just me and the fur kids and some creative project or just a good book. Being locked into a tower in the middle ages would not have been torture for me. And I actually survive on being snowed in for a couple weeks at a time. But I am not totally a hermit as I thought.

A friend was sharing with me a Zen philosophy they got second hand about the nature of people. They did not remember the source of this knowledge so if any of my readers can enlighten me I would appreciate it. Seems, per this philosophy, people came in three categories - for clarity let's call them A, B and C. They used 1, 2 and 3 and I got immediately confused. Type A people are totally happy all by themselves. People belonging to this category are hermits or mystics or recluses. St. Francis of the Assisi and the Dahlia Lama, monks that take vowels of silence, etc. The type B people are those that do best in one on one situations are alone. They shun gatherings or "let's all meet at the bar" events. Their roster of friends is short and they would rather see them mano y mano as opposed to collectively. And type C personalities want to be in a crowd. They love gangs and cliques and clubs and events.

I am definitely not of that latter category. And I, like many artists, have a very strong leaning toward the recluse. We generally only attend those events forced upon us by our gallery owners or looming poverty, i.e. fairs. But I do form strong attachments to a limited number of friends. And yesterday sitting in the parking lot of Whole Foods in Santa Fe and scarfing down olives with another artist friend I had day tripped with was absolutely delightful. It was our reward for doing the gallery tripping earlier and acting businesslike and we scoped out the scene on Canyon Road.

When I am stressed to the max or disappointed by some sequence of events I want to climb back into my cave dwelling and pull up the ladder behind me. I admit to going days without answering the land line. And only a select few have my cell phone number. I even run under the radar at social websites and other than fugitive peeks at my e-mail have either stayed off the internet or used it only for online games. I have absolutely no desire for a long-term live-in relationship EVER again. But I like my short list of friends. I like having someone to call and chat with while the paint dries or meet for lunch or day trip to Santa Fe.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee - Eating Out

A friend hosted a potluck dinner yesterday. She grilled the meats and the rest of us brought something to add to the spread. Unlike the church events this one was rather gourmet and it was also a sit down affair. Laura sets a lovely table. But what always amazes me at these events is even without prior arrangement of who was bringing what it turned out great. As anyone been to a potluck were there are all deviled eggs? And why not? Wouldn't the odds predict this happening from time to time?

And don't we all have a dish we can be counted on for bringing: "Oh, here comes Aunt Sally with her 5 bean salad!" I like to do a Salmon pasta salad for summer picnics. Will show up with a special homemade chocolate item around Christmas: Homemade truffles or dried apricots dipped in dark chocolate. But for last night I made a spinach and Portabello mushroom quiche. I don't do that for just any potluck! The kitchen is a total disaster. I begin with fresh spinach and fresh mushroom and a pastry shell that is to die for. If I am going to that much trouble I make two. One for the party and one for home. I am having quiche for breakfast.

Which brings up the question: Do you eat your own dish at a potluck? And what dishes can't you eat? Potlucks are not as easy as they once were. Nor are dinner invitations. Among the guests we had a vegetarian who since last party has decided to stay away from all things dairy. He didn't eat any of my quiche. I stay away from things with corn products due to an allergy but I had to have some of the polenta Julia brought. At least a taste. I didn't dare do that with the soy dish. Another allergy. Then there are the lactose intolerant and ones avoiding bread who were not represented last night.

I am, unfortunately, amidst a group of people swearing off of caffeine. I am not entirely comfy with the chemicals used to decaffeinate coffee. I get a headache from decaf but have this tendency to forget that from one dinner invitation to the next. I also forget how uncomfortable over-eating is. I drove home vowing to never eat again. This morning I still feel stuffed with all the good food and sated on all the great conversation.

I must learn to take less food on to my plate and also to decline the decaf coffee. But then would it be a fully experienced potluck?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Road Trip Planning

The one major problem with planning a vacation in the Colorado Plateau area of the western United States is there is absolutely too much to see! And the map above leaves out  Arches National Park because it is not on the Colorado River but above it.

The first road trip that my sister and I took to Utah we just sampled several of the parks but this year we have decided to focus on the parts of Arches we did not do justice after the broken camera. And Canyonlands National Park which we just barely took in.

"We glide along through a strange, weird, grand region.
The landscape everywhere, away from the river, is of rock."

—Explorer John Wesley Powell, 1869.

Canyonlands National Park protects and preserves an immense, wild, desert wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. Sculpted mainly by water, including by the Green and Colorado rivers, this wilderness contains hundreds of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. Prior to the park’s establishment in 1964, prehistoric Native Americans, cowboys, river explorers, and uranium prospectors were the few who dared to enter this rugged country.

Canyonlands National Park remains exceptionally wild. The roads are mostly unpaved, the trails mostly primitive, and its rivers are free flowing. Throughout its 527 square miles roam desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, foxes, deer, and bobcats. The rivers are the only major water source in the midst of the dry expanse, and attract a variety of wildlife, including migratory birds that find shelter in the riverside cottonwoods, tamarisks, and willows. From the NPCA site.

Our intention is to take in some of the wilder sections of this huge park like the Maze and the Needles District.I am after new "mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires" to photograph and ultimately paint. And we are all after the silence, and the pitch black nights with billions of stars, and a new vista around every bend of slick rock trails.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Canyonlands Dreaming

My sister and I are again planning another trip to the promised land. A pilgrimage to the holy shrines of Canyonlands in Utah. We are taking her husband along for this return Thelma and Louise Roadtrip. There were a couple muttered threats of divorce if we didn't. Our first trip was in 2004 and I have been painting pictures from the photographs I took since then. It is past time for a creative and spiritual renewal.

The whole lawsuit was getting in the way of my joy about this adventure. With all the postponements and revised docket schedules I had fears that a major court appearance would fall smack in the middle of the two weeks we had scheduled. The good news to come out of Monday's court date was that nothing requires me until to alter plans before August. So Moab and my two summer fairs are safe. As are the garden plans.

My friend, Dianne, is coming up to house sit and take care of mine and my sister's fur kids and water the plants. We leave May 2nd. So lots to do before that date. Like finish two commissions, tidy up all flat surfaces, make lists and camping and hiking things, pack. And of course dream of arches and goddesses I have yet to see.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Looking Forward and Back

I named this particular blog Side-Tracked Charley because my life had taken a turn I had not anticipated. The contractor I had hired in August 2006 for an estimated $17,000 job threw me for a loop two years ago by claiming I owed him another $21,600 over and above the $33,000 plus already paid to him. He wants to take my house to pay the debt that in my opinion he has never proved. Tomorrow, win or lose, it will be over I hope. But I have thought that before.

This Easter weekend I have been looking at the sidetrack I have been on for two years. And not just the legal side but the stall it has put on my plans - my life. I am generally not one to blame outside issues on my problems but in this particular case their are some definite cause and effects. He took all my money and so I have not been able to move forward on any of my remodeling plans or even finish the deck to the studio I paid and arm and leg for.

Nor if I had the money would I be able to find the motivation to pour into a home I may lose by public auction. At times I even have trouble committing to events more than a month in the future. I was talking to a friend at the visitor's center about workshop promotion but how can I promote an event to be held in a studio I may not own soon. I am even afraid to leave my house for a fair as he has been driving by from time to time.

My sister is busy planning the Moab trip for May and I should be excited and anxious to go and take more pictures of canyons and arches to paint but I don't know that I will have a home to come back to. I don't know if the court trial won't be over tomorrow and postponed to when we are scheduled to be gone. And it is highly likely when I leave the judge won't have rendered a verdict and I will still be in limbo. My life still on hold.

It reminds me a bit of the Mad Hatter's tea party. I have no idea why a raven is like a writing desk. Or why I am even at this back eddy in my life.