Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do You Have a Facebook Page?

I have two in fact. My regular profile and my fan page for Binford-Bell Studio. Or I think I do. Seems this morning Facebook is having a melt down.

There have been an increasing number of glitches of late. Facebook sites improvements they are making as a reason. That and their fantastic growth and most of that among a different age dynamic - the older set. We utilize the popular social platform very differently than the teenage set. First we blog. And we want those blogs to post on Facebook. And they say they can be linked in easily. Yes, it is easy to link a blog in but they don't live up to posting new material every two hours promise.

So now Facebook is trying to head us off at the pass by making its Notes more of a blog platform with fonts even and the ability to underline and bold text. They are a long way behind on that! I would be happy if they would just do well what they were designed to do which is let us interact in real time around the world. This morning FB will not even load.

Last night it started messing up on notifications of comments. My Yahoo e-mail notifications were way ahead of them and easier to access. They shoved Scrabble off into a corner to allow more space for Frontier Village or some such which my friends who play it say won't work. And then they do all these scam "Like" groups and at the same time degrade fan pages from 'Become a Fan' to 'Like' putting a serious page on the same level as spam.

I think I have had just about enough.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Morgue

Not my refrigerator
The above picture is not of my refrigerator door. That is obvious because I have no kids that draw pictures. However I take them and years ago found these plastic frames with magnets on the back so that I could post photographs of friends and fond memories on the refrigerator. Some of the pictures are very old. As are some of the magnets I have collected.

Among the magnets is: Denial is a God-Given Survival Skill. And: I want a young man with old money. The latter is old enough I am willing to consider an old man with young money provided there is nobody else in his will.

Then there are all the self-help magnets: Angel Fire Automotive, Timberlake Snow Removal, Colfax County emergency services and offices, Preventing Forest Fires, Fish and Game (or bears and cougars). And the not so helpful ones like Kit Carson Telecom, and Lovelace health clinic. I don't use either of those except to hold up a print out of The Four Agreements.

Among the pictures are those of my youth showing me and friends at weights we will never again see, and a collection of photos from Christmas Cards I received from friends picturing themselves and looking far older than I remember. And for of the people for ever entombed in plastic on my refrigerator wall are now dead. That number was a rather shocking realization this morning as I put the picture of Marc back up there. I had taken it down to scan for the obit the newspaper ran. Others are:

Ross Ward standing by my friend Carla on their Christmas missive of the previous year: Ross may have been the first to leave my company of friends. He got early onset Alzheimers and died within three years of being put in a care facility due to his violent behavior as he slid down the slippery slope.

Jim Elliot: He was second. His significant other whom I never met wrote me a wonderful letter and enclosed it with a Christmas Card he had already prepared but not sent. I think that singular experience put me off the tradition of sending cards at the holidays. The picture I took when he visited me in New Mexico the year before. I saw death in his eyes then. He was my physic friend and spiritual adviser for many years and I have never thought he was very far away even now.

Kathi Densow Arnold with her husband Dirk: Marc and I frequently "doubled" on adventures with Dirk and Kathi and on that particular day we had had our pictures taken on a top of the mountain hike. Kathi and I were both Gemini's and celebrated our birthdays every year together at some point between June 3 and 10. She left before her last birthday a year ago this past April.
Newspapers have a morgue. They used to be in the basement but probably are now scanned into some computer storage system. It was where all the past copies of the newspaper were kept and files on prominent people just in case they were needed for a speedy obit.
 It dawned on me this morning that my refrigerator is a bit of a morgue in the newspaper sense. It chronicles my past life and the past lives of my friends captured forever in kodachrome. It pays homage to those ideas which I thought were once so important they had to be enshrined or at least put where I could see them daily. The question is whether once something goes up on the refrigerator should you ever take it off?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rolling Right Along

My 2011 Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendar arrived on Monday signaling the approaching end of 2011. Time to get the summer chores wrapped up, the wood for the stove ordered for the winter, the mower's winterized, etc. My shopping trip to Taos yesterday reinforced this. All the garden centers had sales on remaining plants, and the art store was awash with students looking for art supplies.

I decided to take a tip from my blog friend, Becky, and prepare my beds this fall to get a jump on next spring. To that end I purchased some edging for an existing bed that is invaded with weeds and a new area around the aspens I want to turn into more of an island in the lawn. Not sure I have enough but I can make a beginning. I am told you edge the bed and then weed and mulch for winter. I am always so busy in spring with art fair prep that I am behind the minute I get the hoses out of storage.

I also bought a "Nearly Wild" Rose to plant. This hardy species of rose bush before they hybridized them is one that survives in my mountain area. And August, Becky has reminded me, is a perfect time to plant shrubs, bushes and trees.

And August is a time when I can give it the attention it needs to get its rooting system established before winter. The rose is for the memory of Marc. I am sure most men would bristle at the thought of a pink rose planted for them but it wasn't his choice. It was mine. BTW the Hansa rose I planted in memory of Kathi last summer has returned. I thought it was a goner last fall and even mowed it down after total frustration fighting the mildew it came from the nursery with, but like Kathi it is a fighter. No doubt next summer it will be a bloomer.

All which brings me back to that 2011 calendar which sparked this blog: How optimistic us humans are! We are so sure we will be around for the new year, or the new growing season, or the vacation scheduled for next summer. But then what is the alternative? To just sit in our rockers before the television and await death. George Burns, as he entered his nineties, would joke in his stand up comedy routine that every morning he checked the obits to see if his name was there. It was going to be a great day if it wasn't.

I think, as I grow older, I become a bit irreverent about death. I told my two best friends yesterday when they separately called to find out how I was doing with Marc's demise that if I predeceased them I wanted a memorial service befitting a person that survived (and enjoyed) the 1960's and 70's (even if I cannot remember all of either decade). I am a wild rose. Not a tea rose.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Catch Up - Accent on the positive

My New Nikon D90
One of my long time blog friends commented that he was looking forward to a positive blog from me. Not that he was whining about my whining - just the blogger way of wishing you well. So I figured a blog accenting the positive might be nice. Always thank the spirits for what is going right in your life. Above is definitely one of those!

Cameras are for me a tool and a hobby and a form of Zen Meditation. Well, until I try to wade through the 278 page manual (already tossed out the Spanish versions). I love my new camera. So much so I am thinking of selling my Nikon D70. Was going to keep it as a backup. And the new puppy has a 18-105 zoom wide angle lens I like a lot. Don't know if you can see it in this particular picture but it has a port for a GPS. What is that about?

Golden Bolete gnawed by squirrels
I am also rather excited about the wild mushroom season and yesterday took camera with me to record a few of my finds. It has been a few days since it rained and so the mushrooms that are up have been for a bit. This one above was gnawed on by creatures. And the good news is they are not lying dead within feet of this feast. I always leave a few in a field as an offering to the creatures that testify they are edible.

Rains also bring flowers. I took this picture of two sunflowers lazing in the sun by a pond. Doesn't the one on the right look like it is wiping its brow? "Boy, is it hot." "Just hang loose," says the one on the left.

Yesterday, I reported that my Dewalt compound miter saw was back from the repair shop. During my recent trip to Santa Fe I got a new blade for it. So I am good to go on frames and also on doing the railings for my new steps. While at Lowe's I also bought two cool post caps for the steps.

I have trouble doing the same thing twice the same way. And admittedly the steps and railings on the rental side were my first. Great job for number one but I am doing some things differently on my side. I am always jealous of my rental unit as I do things first there as it provides income. So my new promise to self is on my residence I will do things better.

Rains are due back today. Which is good from the shroom hunting but not good for step building or lawn mowing. So it is either more art work today or taking off to a movie with a friend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Magical Thinking

Magic Flute

“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there's all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.” Arthur Gordon

I was told that acceptance was the answer to all my problems. To not accept things as they are means to continually waste energy fighting against what cannot be changed. And only through accepting things as they are can we objectively make decisions about what can be changed and what cannot. And what we can do to help ourselves make it through difficult times. This theme keeps reoccurring in my life.

In my youth I took the est training, "the technology of transformation," to transform my life. (Note: Est has now transformed to The Forum.) One of basic premises of est was to tell the truth about something and it would cease to have a hold on you. Getting to the truth of a matter can be as difficult as acceptance. And at times both concepts seem as magical as circling a tree counter clockwise three time in the light of the full moon. But then I believe in magic.

Yesterday I made a list of the trials and tribulations of my life of late. Lists, to my way of thinking, are telling the truth (not that you cannot lie in them), and a path to acceptance. And in the way of magic a means to have the items on the list vanish. Well, maybe not go poof, but get better. Take vehicles. I talked to the mechanic. Mine will be ready to pick up today. It has taken so long not because of increased problems with the van but with other cars that had to be handled before he got mine back together. And my sister's Jeep is doing well.

On the Housing Authority issue I received a check yesterday. Okay 18 days late but it arrived. And a form to have subsequent checks directly deposited.

Dying friends are still dying. And I still am grieving their loss as active participants in my life. But today that grief seems acceptable; a natural process, like death, we must all go through, and not so totally paralyzing. I was able to look rationally yesterday at living and all that includes (the infamous to do list) and communicating with friends. And this morning my cell phone actually has bars and not that "emergency only" message of the last couple weeks.

What little magic tricks work in your life?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Sum Up to This Point

A friend I had not chatted with of late asked how I was and I think I dumped. Things are not going well if you can cry through an episode of Psych. So I figured I would take a blog idea from my friend Bev and try a weekly sum up for my own clarity, if nothing else.

1) Vehicles: My van is still in the shop. It was suppose to be done yesterday but mechanic didn't call. And I could just not face a conversation with him at that time. Besides I was having a conversation with my sister over a new issue with her vehicle at the time the repair shop closed. BTW she has her new telephone. Did I mention she dropped and broke her cell?

2) Communication: Obviously not good on several levels. Debbie broke her phone right after the incident of the rattlesnake and ergo her kids in Texas were in a panic because they could not get her. Neither thought of going to Facebook were a picture of the dead one was posted. But her new phone was not delivered as planned and without her cell she could not call Fedex. So she would text me on Yahoo Chat and I would call on my cell which was having issues with bars so I had to run upstairs and then down to the computer. Fedex can be fantastically unhelpful but a bit better than UPS. Think smoke signals. When communication was at last restored with my sister her well water was coming out of the tap black and not very much of it.

Housing authority communications - now there is an oxymoron. My new renter, Jo Lynne, and I have been trying to communicate with the housing authority person in Espanola for over three weeks. I am to the point of admitting failure. Granted government agencies are difficult enough but putting them in Espanola makes them darn near impossible especially with a passive/aggressive individual that per her boss's admission has communication issues. So still no promised fax, check, or forms. She is putting a whole new spin on the oldie but goody: "The check is in the mail." Seven days from less than 100 miles?

Dying friends:  Still dying. No miracles on the horizon. I find myself, however, very surprised by my grief which seems almost endless of late. Suffice it to say dry eye syndrome is not an issue this week.

Painting: Have not finished any paintings since my return from Santa Fe though seven still await me. Yesterday, however, I did sit down and do about a dozen new sketches and tracings for transfer.

Saw/Steps: Yes, the infamous Dewalt compound miter saw is repaired and back in my possession. And I have a new blade for it. This means I could finish the railings on my steps. I bought these great caps for the bottom posts and while not installed yet they are sitting where they belong waiting for me to be inspired.

Grass Mowing: Is definitely in my future but rain and pain have given me excuses to side step it. I thought I heard a puma out in the tall grass this morning.

This probably is TMI for most of you but it did me good to list it out. Some of it either is very funny or I am laughing because to not is to cry.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pile Up

Ooops, another frog image! But this one just seemed so appropriate. I feel like that bottom frog on the right. Things just seem to be piling up on me. If I were her I would just sink into the water and sneak away and leave the boys to hump themselves.

Okay, that lowered the level. But yesterday I did just slip below the surface and leave the scene, well, mentally at least. I was not entirely successful but I avoided a divisive board meeting, a confrontation with a lately argumentative friend, and used the "sorry, in the middle of a painting" excuse to get out of several telephone conversations that showed every indication of heading to no man's land. And I have plans for the weekend of a clear escape from the valley. Sssshhhhhh, not a word.

I see this escapism tendency as an improvement over my "sit still and take it" attitude demonstrated so well by that little female to the right in the picture. Course now before I started using escape routes I would want to pull out the AK47 and blow them all to smithereens.  Escape is good. Escape is health. Escape is progress. Escape saves frogs in my pond.

One of those phone calls yesterday was from a friend of mine that earns money as a counselor. I hate her counselor mode and she knows it. Unfortunately my grief over the slow demise of my ex-husband gave her a clear opening she could not resist and she began on all those questions I did not know the answer to, nor care about with wet paint on the canvas. I was polite with non-answers or no answers until she hit the questions about how his wife was doing (they know each other and she could certainly call and get it from the horse's mouth).

One of Marc's and my pet phrases was, "Do I look like someone that gives a damn?" I bit my tongue. "Yeow," that hurt. And got quickly off the phone on the excuse of the cats brought a mouse into the studio. It is fall and rodents are looking for avenues to escape winter. Dead at the claws of a cat is a sure route.

Yes, fall. It comes early to the high country. The good news is it is 'shrooming season, and I scored some nice examples of them yesterday. Scrambled eggs with sauteed puff ball is on the menu for breakfast. Cold wild mushroom pizza (left over from dinner) is lunch. The bad news is the todo's that have not been done like finishing the railing on my new back steps. I won't bore you and depress me with the rest of that list.

Below the surface today includes an early 'shrooming trek with fur kids, and then studio time. I have been informed my dark piece is not dark enough. I have some more ideas to sketch out so I have sizes for stretcher bars when I pass the art store on my escape out of the valley (contingent upon the van being fixed today as promised if not there is grand theft auto).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hanging in there

Clearing my schedule to allow for downtime and serendipity was the correct thing to do even though it ran counter to all my upbringing of living up to my commitments. I have taken my responsibilities so rigidly at times that in order to give myself permission to give in and give up I have to virtually cut off a finger or fall down the steps. A simple cold won't do it. I will muscle through like the trouper I was raised to be.

But sometimes survival means just sitting still and waiting for rescue. I learned that when I was with the Civil Air Patrol and we were out flying over forests looking for a lost hunter. It also helps to take off the camouflage jacket and sit in the middle of a meadow. Not under the trees. I could be bleeding from multiple wounds and when asked by the EMT responding to the accident, "How are you?" I will answer with a smile, "Fine, and you." I was brought up to not whine.

The last week has not been easy but I am a survivor and I will make it through this rough patch. And I am practicing letting go and just being with my feelings and my inability to live up to what others expect of me just now. That is the hard part.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Little Memories Light the Corners of My Mind

You just keep thinking, Butch

First we worked together. Marc and I were employed by the same major construction company. And a careful perusal of our histories showed that was just when we happened to be in the same place at the same time. We had traveled the same path before finally meeting in Kansas City 23 years ago. And I wonder at times how many other lifetimes before this. It puts me in mind of Richard Bach's book Bridge Across Forever.

Are we soul mates? Yes, I think so. But we did not get it right this lifetime and it has taken so much energy I wonder if I want to try it again. Of the 23 years there were only seven we were married. We were better friends than lovers, better lovers than mates. We were horrid as husband and wife. But through it all we were an are friends. And we shared all those stupid friendship things; all those same favorite movies and classic lines from them. There were so many they almost became a shorthand for verbal communication and others standing around would look at us as if we were just a little crazy.

There are so many quotes from movies with Clint Eastwood (Make my day, etc), and Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons (Natasha and Boris had too many lines to even mention here) and of course Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . then we have to go to all the books we read and loved and quotes from them, oh and politicians we knew and loved or loathed.

A friend who visited once said we were the only couple she knew that used intellectual discussion as foreplay. It was his mind that first turned me on. So when his 1st/3rd wife mentioned at the hospital that the swelling in his brain was compromising neuro activity I wanted to yell, "You just keep thinkiing. Butch, that's what you are good at." But it was his inability to see what was so clear to others, that alcohol and ignoring health issues, would be the death of him that got us all to this place. "What we have here is a failure to communicate," Cool Hand Luke.

And I must quote wife 1/3 here, "Such a fantastic mind to waste." But it was not just his mind he wasted but the love of all those in his life that tried to rescue him. The only thing Marc forgot in all the things he read or heard or watched was that alcoholism is a fatal disease.

Unfortunately, like him, I remember too many things I have read or heard or seen or done. I am sure for years I will tear up with I hear one of those signature lines that became so much of our "unspoken" communication when we worked or lived or loved together.

They may seem like little memories but they are so connected to huge events at times. Memories that lurk in the corners of my mind. Memories I cannot share with him anymore.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keepers of Memory

In the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge a mariner seems compelled to relate a tale of his killing of an albatross while at sea. The crime arouses the wrath of spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow"; the south wind that had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed.
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
I always saw it that the man had to have agreement from even perfect strangers - forgiveness on any level, but one professor I had talked about the keepers of memory and if all his shipments were dead the mariner needed others to keep his story alive. It seemed a larger message than one of atonement.

When we are young friendships seem such fleeting things and they come and go in our lives based on our interests, our jobs, a social platform, membership in a club. As we age the friendships that count are those that stay through whatever changes we make in our lives - moves, divorces, deaths, job transfers. Dad said once I should know myself lucky if I could count my true friends on the fingers of one hand. I could add that as you get older losing those friends is like cutting off a finger. You feel handicapped for a while.

And friend no longer defines just those people that will come to your rescue if you need but those with which you have shared significant events, times of transition - Keepers of Memory. I have two significant keepers of memory in my life today that may not be in it tomorrow. And so as I keep up on all the medical trivial that garners an intimate departure these days my mind flashes through the memories we shared. All this so close on the heels of others who left me in charge of their memories we shared.

It is not about how frequently or infrequently you see these significant others in your life but that when they call or you call or you bump into each other at a reunion or party you can immediately slip past the chitchat and go into fits of laughter over that event in the past; cry over a mutual loss; bond all over again almost immediately over a shared memory. So if you are not out making more memories with new people then soon you will be the last one left holding all the memories.

I went to my high school reunion website and was in the process of registering to possibly reconnect with some keepers of memories from way back and got to the question: What was the happiest memory you have of high school? I, without much thinking, typed in NONE. Some people keep memories we don't want to revisit. I exited the site. So I guess my message here is treasure the keepers of the good memories and keep making more memories with new people then soon you will be the last one left holding all the memories. Like the mariner you will find it a very heavy burden.