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.