Friday, July 30, 2010

Movement at Last

It was a Discovery Channel program on the great African migrations I believe where I learned that the herds of animals begin to get restless prior to movement. A tension builds and the individual members seem unable to enjoy the grass or their neighbors or even the shrinking waterholes. And at some point a critical mass is arrived at and they set off.

I noticed this with Purple Martins on a very unscientific level. My father and mother loved Purple Martins, and Dad, a master carpenter, built several martin apartment houses. The birds arrived to occupy them on Mother's birthday, March 29th. You could almost calibrate your calendar by them. Then about now every year the parents of that year's fledglings took to the trees and abandoned the constant feeding of their young until they got hungry enough to follow them to the trees.

For two weeks the trees seemed alive with the frenzy of the Purple Martins coming and going from their flights to catch mosquitoes and other bugs over the surface of the Missouri lake. Then one day they were gone. Generally on my father's birthday, August 15th, their building frenzy reached critical mass and they headed south on their long migration to South America. The year my father died they left late. Almost as if they hung around for him to join them. I cannot look at a swallow without thinking of him.

I think human beings have periods of pent up energy; times of frustration when none of our plans go right; when we are itching to head out. To just about anywhere. I have been keeping my nose to the grindstone trying to get those summer tasks done and feeling the need to move just about anywhere. I have been trapped by a car being serviced and fairs to get ready for so I was thrilled when my sister accepted the invitation to come up for the weekend so we could test her Rubicon modifications on familiar forest roads in preparation for a get away August 12 - 18.

Time to fly!

Meanwhile several of the things in my life I was trying to get unstuck fell into place this last week. The HUD inspection finally happened and I passed, I reached a decision about what pieces to enter in the three exhibits I was considering (totally nixed one because they did not get their act together), got my acceptance for the holiday fair in Albuquerque, and got back to paining for the fair next weekend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sometimes you have to go with the flow

I gave up on trying to get responses from unresponsive people this morning. Literally said, "The hell with you." You referring to a couple people and two government agencies.  I closeted myself in my studio and began the pouring of skies on eight new paintings. This is absolutely the worst time to be interrupted, but interrupted I was. Suddenly everyone seemed to know I was upset with them and decided to call and remedy the stagnant situation they were involved in with me.

I am reminded of a phrase: Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. And once I accepted that nobody else was marching to my drummer and was totally happy with moving on and leaving them behind the beat picked up and they joined the parade. All but one. Still have not heard from Expo New Mexico Fine Arts Exhibit though I have found an application should I want to enter a cow in the Expo New Mexico Agricultural department. Should I deduce that farmers are more computer literate than artists?

Nor do I have an answer to my e-mail about a triptych being one entry or three for another art show. But as Dad always said, "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Currently have seven of eight skies done. My parade is moving along.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let the Rains Come Down

The arid southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico get a large part of their summer moisture from the monsoons. Yeah, I hear you all saying, that is in India not the desert. Even though the term monsoon was originally defined for the Indian subcontinent, monsoon circulations exist in other locations of the world as well, such as in Europe, Africa, and the west coasts of Chile and the United States.

The word "monsoon" is derived from the Arabic word "mausim" which means season. Ancient traders sailing in the Indian Ocean and adjoining Arabian Sea used it to describe a system of alternating winds which blow persistently from the northeast during the northern winter and from the opposite direction, the southwest, during the northern summer. Thus, the term monsoon actually refers solely to a seasonal wind shift, and not to precipitation. 

New Mexico is located in the area of the United States that experiences a monsoonal circulation. During the summer months, winds shift from a west or northwest direction to a south or southeasterly direction. This allows moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico to stream into the state. This shift in the winds, or monsoonal circulation, produces a radical change in moisture conditions statewide. Every year we wait anxiously for this shift in the winds and applaud the the arrival of the rains.

They're here! I personally recorded more than an inch of rain yesterday in just the space of a few short hours. Everything outside my windows is suddenly very green. Tourists that come here to escape the heat of Houston or Dallas can get in an immense amount of trouble by criticizing the interruption of their afternoon round of golf or that they need a sweater or hoodie to cope with the 60 F degree temps. Not nice to disrespect our rains. And if you thought you could come to the mountains without at least a hoodie you're an idiot.

Besides the rains are not all day. They seldom begin before two p.m. so hike and golf mornings but take a poncho just in case. Nap in the afternoons with the rain hitting the roof. And enjoy that you are not suffering 110 degree heat with 90% humidity.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Time

In the old days of Y!360 we had a Word Thursday. It was rather fun partly because people looked up and defined words that meant something to them on that particular day for whatever reason. I had the tendency to use it as a Bush bashing blog. It was maybe one of the shortest of our theme days which included a Movie Monday, Poetry Wednesday, Song Saturday, and Art Sunday.

Those days on 360 remind me of the summers of my youth. We didn't have computers then. And enjoyed what seemed to be totally safe neighborhoods. Within certain limits we got to enjoy our freedom from school and the restrictions it imposed. And yet in our neighborhood we seemed to schedule ourselves to the max. There were plays we put on in our garage using the pull down garage door as a curtain. At Leslie's we closeted ourselves in the cool of her bedroom and played Clue in the hot afternoons. Clue had to be played with accents and dramatizations.

On rainy days we had marathon Monopoly games. And evenings after the monsoon rains passed we rode our bikes around our block and neighboring blocks; loose packs of giggling kids cruising the neighborhoods under pedal power. Parents would drag lawn chairs out front and share cocktails and conversations and gardening tips. There seemed an informal competition on the greenest lawn. Lawns we laid on as the stars came out and you could spot Sputnik and other satellites, count shooting stars.

Summer now seems so busy. Lawns to mow and fairs to prepare for. Repairs that must be done before winter returns. It is not a time I choose to vacation. Too many children running uncontrolled. Too hot. And I feel too guilty about things left undone at home. And yet I will sit on the studio steps and think of those once golden lazy days of summer that were not that lazy.

How are you spending your summer?

  • the warmest season of the year; in the northern hemisphere it extends from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox; "they spent a lazy summer at the shore"
  • spend the summer; "We summered in Kashmir"
  • the period of finest development, happiness, or beauty; "the golden summer of his life." 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Always nice when the job is done

The New Flight of Redwood Steps

Side View
The bottom stringer is relatively high and the uprights short to allow snow to be shoved off to the side in the winter. I used the scrap I created with mismeasurements  to cut the uprights.

I at last solved the problem of getting the bottom rail stringer cut to the correct length. And after pondering the problem for a while I came up with the solution of the missing second pair of hands to put it into place. This is one reason I maintain that Harriet Homeowners are smarter than contractors as they don't come with a dumb helper. And this puts them over husbands too because they don't get any response when they yell, "Honey, hold this."

My framing clamps holding up the bottom of the stringer.

Some carpentry jobs seem to require that you be in two places at a time. It was one of the reasons I had so many problems with getting the correct measurement for this critical piece. And it was clear with my DeWalt 18V in one hand, screw in the other I was going to have a problem holding this piece in place to secure it. Fortunately because of the angle if the bottom is securely held with the clamps the top remains in place to be screwed.

Round of applause please, she says while taking bows.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My 5 Step Program

My intention today had been to complete the now infamous stairs. This was after all day four if you counted Tuesday, the day I went for supplies in Espanola, as day one. However I miss cut the bottom stringer of the railings twice. This necessitated going to the local hardware store for another 2 x 6 x 8 redwood plank.

I blame this error in judgment because of having to change my thinking from my compound DeWalt miter saw currently being repaired Albuquerque to my Black and Decker table saw. Cutting 35 degree angles is very different on these two tools. The good news is the too short railing stringers can be used to cut uprights out of so I have every confidence I will finish the stair safety railings tomorrow.

I am very proud of the work done thus far. These are definitely solid steps with solid railings. And my new DeWalt 18v drill is wonderful. I finally had to charge a battery on it today after 3 days of extensive use. I am using long deck screws through solid redwood and it gets the job done. But I am waiting until after I pick up my repaired miter saw before I begin my second 5 step program on my porch.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hey, there are steps on my stairs

I am just a little embarrassed at how long this morning it took me to get to this place. First the car needed to be unloaded. This is where the redwood for the stairs were. Then practically every tool I own had to be located and hauled to the other side. The ladder on the right side was my solution to having to go completely around the house for everything I needed. Duh, there were no steps here.

And the stringers and the posts all had to be leveled in multiple directions and then double checked. Won't do to have sloping steps.

That is Magique at the top of the steps. She was the first one up and down them. And yes I know the second forth steps are longer. It is actually a design idea I had. The safety rails will be just to the outside of the stringers and those two steps will jut out beyond the rail to hold flower pots.

I was racing a storm at this point and so forgot to shorten the center 2x4 of the last step for the post for the safety rail, so it has to come off tomorrow and be modified. Big huge drops of rain began to fall and I raced to get all my tools back inside before it came down in buckets ending progress for the day.

Tomorrow - safety rails.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Progress - sort of.

Steps are gone. Well, I took them down but they are still in a pile waiting to be hauled away by me.
Part of the whole problem was that these concrete blocks were in the wrong place. The stairs didn't even end on them but on the dirt where they leached up water and rotted. I am sure the ones on my side are in just as bad shape. So when I went for lumber today I got enough for both sets of steps.

The concrete slabs in their new location. Note the stair stringers will actually rest on them. The concrete slabs were entirely too heavy to lift so I had to use the digging bar and shovel to move them tiny inches at a time. And get them leveled out by putting dirt underneath them. This had to be the most exhausting job. I really think the rest should be easier but I know I am going to be sore tomorrow and I was out of Aleve. So while at the lumber yard getting the redwood for the stairs and railings I went to the store and got some Aleve. Note for hardware stores: Start stocking the standard pain meds and Bengay.

The sky clouded up and looked like rain after I got back from the hardware store. So the lumber is all still there until tomorrow morning. Hopefully tomorrow morning I will make some substantial progress. 

The DeWalt service center called and my saw is repaired. And for less than the initial estimate. But the steps are going to have to be done before I can pick it up. So it is band saw and circular saw to complete at least the apartment side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Infamous Stairs

I have two porches on the back or north side of my house with two sets of steps. During the winter they can live under snow that slides off the metal roof. They are in sorry shape as you can see. And they have no safety rails. I have been saying I was going to replace them for three summers now and this is the summer!

I went down to Lowe's today and bought the stair stringers and posts and block supports - in short those items not readily available from the local hardware/lumber store. I am still a bit undecided about the safety railing because I know there is a code involved and haven't a clue what that code is. They only let licensed contractors know these little things. But as I have said I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER EVER hire a contractor again I am on my own with this.

I did my temporary steps on my studio I can no doubt do this. Twice. Tomorrow I begin one side at a time. And as I used to post progress photos and blogs of my studio finish I am going to do that again. Get your questions ready if you think this is a project you need to do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Normal? What's That?

My life has been a whirling dervish since April. I used to do Sufi dancing and loved to whirl. Done correctly it brings tranquility and connection to higher powers.  But get just a bit out of sync and you get dizzy. The key is to not fight the music or the movement. Just whirl.

I have been in that divine space from time to time and it is transcendent. But I have also been so dizzy I have wanted to just stop. And I have been looking forward to the end of this dance. Back to normal pace. Only I am not sure what normal is at the moment or if I can yet rest on the sidelines for just a bit. It is certainly not today. The van awaits unpacking. And that is just the first of tasks I have put off until after my big fair of the season.

While I was waiting for my coffee to brew I did the dishes - well, 2/3rds of the dishes. Too small of a drying rack and too many dishes. And I stuffed dirty clothes into the washer to be turned on after my bath. No rain scheduled for today so they will be hung on the line after the dogs are walked. They have complained about the short walks of late. Then there is this whole list of items to be done after a successful show to keep records straight.

But since it was a successful show I have to schedule in some more painting among all the "home" projects put off until I had the money to do them.

I am looking forward to mid August. The last summer fair will be over. The next big fair is not until November and our traditional Indian Summer should allow a lot of pleasant days to get outside tasks done. If the lawsuit is settled in my favor I may even build that deck I have been promising myself since 2006.

Meanwhile, take a deep breath, align my spirit with the music and whirl.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hit the Wall!

I multi-task well but I don't split focus worth a darn at times. (There is a difference.) At full speed if I slow down and take one step at a time and trip over my own feet or even consider where my feet are I'm doomed. That was yesterday. I was trying to still paint on three remaining paintings and load up the booth furniture to set up today. While mentally working on my schedule for the week after the fair and re-arranging furniture in my bedroom and my setup arrangement for the fair.

I took an activity break from the paint table and went to load panels for the fair into the van. But there were only eight and not the requisite eleven. Panic. Did I leave three at the Red River Fine Arts Festival? No, I set them up to put painting on in the studio. (PS the bottom three paintings and the one on the easel are new.)  I have been painting just on the other side of this panel arrangement for three weeks now and putting up newly completed works on it. Clearly it was time to slow down before there is a train wreck. But first I packed the paintings on the panels and loaded them into the van.

Maybe it is age but I don't seem to deal with schedule clutter quite as well as in my youth. I don't think I could study for exams, write my theme paper, eat popcorn, carry on running conversation with roomie, and listen to hard rock at the same time these days. Let alone pop down every hour or so to play a few rounds of bridge. We always had one continuously running through study and finals week.

But I digress again (see comment on split focus). After loading the panels in the picture above I ran off to retrieve some art from the gallery, tend to a dog sit client(s), and then came back home to crash. Old age version of crash is a DVD and a cable knitting project. Okay, from time to time my mind strayed to the design for the new steps and the process for rearranging the bedroom (gone are the days when I just begin shoving furniture around). Oh, and arrangements for those eleven panels in my 10 x 10 foot booth that did not include steps and a mattress.

By 8pm I had mentally and physically hit the wall and staying up until it was dark was no longer an option. Even reading seemed beyond my mental capabilities and so I went to sleep. Soundly. All night long.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Strolling through Google and Wiki

I once thought my absolutely perfect job would be research assistant except that I would have to research what my boss wanted to research. I admit to having issues with focus. And Wiki and Google do not help. I am one of those people that click on all the hot links for related topics. Before the internet I was probably the single most frequent noon time caller to reference librarians.

I blame this annoying trait on World Book Encyclopedia. My father bought us kids a set of them when we were in grade school. It was touted as the easy to understand alternative to the Encyclopedia Britannica. But I digress. You are wondering, no doubt, about what the movie poster has to do with all of this. Well, I was looking up historic border disputes and found out my knowledge of the Comancheros comes from this rather poorly researched movie. Not unlike pirate movies of the same era.

Wiki informs me: The Comancheros were primarily New Mexican hispanic traders in northern and central New Mexico who made their living by trading with the nomadic plains tribes, in northeastern New Mexico and west Texas. Comancheros were so named because the Comanches, in whose territory they traded, were considered their best customers. They traded manufactured goods (tools and cloth), flour, tobacco, and bread for hides, livestock and slaves from the Comanche. As the Comancheros did not have sufficient access to weapons and gunpowder, there is disagreement about how much they traded these to the Comanche.

They seem to have run afoul of the United States Government with that suspected trading of weapons and gunpowder issue. Does this sound like Iran and Iraq and Korea? Only this was only guns not nuclear weapons. But back to the 1961 movie, The Comancheros with John Wayne where the Comancheros were seen as ruthless pirates of the land who majored in weapons and gunpowder. Paul Wellman, the writer of the original book in 1951, was an American Journalist which could make him right or wrong in his assumptions depending if you are aware of Fox news or not. Or there could have been a major hatchet job by the screen writer for the movie.

All of which leaves me with a great deal more Googling and Wikiing to do (just one of the reasons I left all the links in). And I probably need to find the book and read it. And go to Netflix and get the movie. Reference librarians everywhere are so relieved I can do all this myself these days.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front

I was out and about yesterday among the people. The occasion was the Shuter Library Trash and Treasures Sale to raise funds to support it. It is one of the major events of the calendar year for us locals and is gradually being discovered by the tourists as well. While looking for great bargains in used items you have to meet and greet all the locals and part time residents and renew bonds with hugs and hellos.

But the treasure finding is the primary purpose and I came home with a lovely jute rug for the kitchen, a new comforter set for the bedroom, two nice coffee mugs, some sweats for painting in the studio, a cute leather purse, and some nice practically new hiking pants. All that was the practical side.

On my more frivolous side I got some nice rhinestone dangle earrings and shoe clips. No, I have not gone uptown. I love using such things on vests and jackets and hat. I like rhinestones and denim. Always have. And I am found of silver serving dishes for much the same reason. I like to place them around the studio next to serviceable ceramic bowls, etc. Or use them to serve noshes at gallery fetes. In that category I found two nice treasures to be given pride of place here and there.

I came home and unpacked my finds and put them about then I crashed. Too many people. I really can only do that sort of thing in short spurts. Today I may close myself into the studio and just paint as I should. Seems the gallery yesterday sold two paintings. That is nice for both me and the gallery.

With any kind of luck I can enjoy three to four days of quiet before it is time to launch into my public persona again with Artsfest. I can nurture my loner inside and be once again thrilled I live out of town. The fur kids hate fireworks as much as they hate thunder and lightning so they are hiding under the desk and the bed this weekend. I am hiding in my studio.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How Long Can You Tread Water?

Yesterday was one of those days! We all have them. Too much to do and everyone wants to add to that list. I had just spent the morning reviewing my schedule for the next 15 days and figured by juggling some stuff I could do it.

Then in a quiet moment between e-mails and telephone calls (yesterday everyone wanted me) I had one of those nagging feelings about something critical to a major event coming up. I decided I really ought to check and I am glad I did because a new employee in the village had disappeared this critical item. So it was scramble time. And with the need to order the quick fix extension cords had I waited another day it would have all been a great deal more complicated living were we live. And then there was the double scheduling over our event.

All that time spent of course impacted my schedule so carefully arranged earlier. I felt totally at sea. So the following comedy routine by Bill Cosby sprung to mind. It's a classic.

Bill Cosby Noah