Sunday, February 27, 2011

Desk clutter - TW3

Not my desk
I copied the above image off of Google. I was looking for images of cluttered computer work stations for this blog. This was posted on a blog about messy desks. If this is messy then mine is currently a disaster area. Mind you I am a creative mind and ergo not neat, but my computer desk and adjacent library table have reached new heights of not neat. It all began with the new computer.

CD's used for backup had to be unearthed, the laptop had to be in easy reach for transfer of files via jump drive, etc. And stacks of hard copies of documents I had unearthed to retype or scan into the new computer. I was in the midst of this task when the season to submit for fairs came. Now there are stacks of prospectuses and call for entries about with CD's containing art images shuffled from the regular back up copies. I really was making some head way when it occurred to me that my self imposed deadline for getting taxes to my preparer. Since my left brain hid after 2001 ski accident I dread this. I would almost rather be a plague victim.

Hopefully by the end of the day all the receipts for taxes will be in nice neat stacks and tabulated for total figures and those inserted in a spread sheet I managed to recover from lost files. Then all those stacks can go in folders I bought specifically to do this (I know somewhere there is a box of folders I have not used yet) and then put into file cabinet with the previous years tax records. Question? Since everyone wants us to go paperless how do we get the records we need for taxes? But I digress. The subject was mess.

In the last few years I have considered myself lucky if I shove all receipts into one basket, all bank records into another basket, folder's for shows in an in and out basked stack that seems to accommodate ins but never any outs. Then there is the stack of "suspense" items which I sort from the mail as needing immediate consideration. They are generally over or under my desk calendar. Currently that stack includes bills for the coming month and show entry forms with deadlines in the next two weeks. Oh, and items I found in that receipt basket that need filed someplace.

My file cabinets are about in the same state as my computer files - transition. There are really some folders that need to go into a file box and put up in storage. Now where was I storing those? Upstairs sewing room closet? How long do we have to keep tax records? Other than a controlled burn anyone have a workable option for the unorganized?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

That Was The Week That Was - Once More

President Abraham Lincoln
And what, pray tell (or is that prey tell?) does a long dead former president of the United States have to do with my week? Well, I watched the PBS documentary by Ken Burns on the Civil War on Netflix streaming video. I am not sure war should be viewed on high definition television even if there is only black and white stills of its horrors. And Hollywood thinks I would go see a movie about 9/11? What are they thinking?

I was thinking. This nine part series really got me thinking in so many directions. You think you know the history of something and then you read a book or see a documentary and know that you had only part of the truth. It was the bloodiest war America ever fought. 600,000 lives were lost. And the north was only partly invested in the activity.

So the civil war was my background music, as it were, last week. I was, as I have said on Facebook, a social butterfly. I seem to shun invitations and then they cluster around an event in the calendar and I get peopled out as it were. Meanwhile I was trying to work on my art business. Now is the time to apply for the summer fairs and exhibits. My mind meanwhile was crunching away on the ramifications of such a horrid war on our nation. We seem to have not learned the lesson of compromise even with ourselves.

Then a long standing friend from the old Yahoo!360 days posts on Facebook that she wants all to begin blogging more like we did in that bygone era. I never stopped. I just moved my platform. Several others did that. Facebook is great battlefield of the blog war. It allows us all to link our blogs and chat. But it isn't Y360.

Did you know that one of the reasons so very many were killed in the Civil War was because of the repeating rifle? I knew that. No stopping and loading musket balls and powder into old single shot long rifles. Toward the end of the war the north even had a 15 shot repeating rifle. And I heard that fact so often but Ken Burns put it in context. Yes, there were repeating rifles, but generals were still fighting a bayonet war stratagem: fire and rush the enemy. The ones that don't have to reload? The advantages of trenches was not even discovered till near the end. Whole forests were mowed down (and all soldiers in them) by the number of bullets fired. At one battle 7000 men fell in 7 minutes.

We're strange creatures us humans. We seem so inventive and open for new gadgets and technologies and yet we can doggedly hold on to the past and the ways our parents used to do things or how great it was in the day. Include your favorite decade. Marilyn Ferguson in her book The Aquarian Conspiracy writes about rats in a maze that will continue to follow the former route to the cheese even after it has been moved. Us humans add prayer and goosestepping and ritual to the same path hoping for a different result. Isn't that insane? Until some smart rat looks somewhere else and yells, "Hey, over here."

Well, Bee did rally some of the old timers to blog again regardless of their platform. And one of my former favorite bloggers even posted that he was looking forward to reading some interesting blogs. This interesting enough for you, Sir Mutt?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just Chit Chat

An artist living in the wilderness doesn't spend much time chatting over coffee. But since last Thursday I have been positively a social butterfly. My neighbor and I had coffee three days in a row and discussed the fall of Egypt's president and Ken Burn's PBS series on the Civil War.

I went to the spa and shopping in Taos with the same friend. And then to a community Valentine's dinner with another. This coming Friday is the opening reception for the MVAC Winter Invitational show. So yesterday and today I have just wanted to pull in my head and legs and turtle until at least Friday morning when I have to help hang the event.

Today I am dying my hair, and adding hanging hardware to two finished paintings. And I plan to watch that last episode on the Civil War. I have been saving it. It is a wonderful series and I have learned so much. Much of it horrible to contemplate. Why must we be so divided war is the only way to settle things? And that was in interesting part of that dinner on Monday. Great conversation until political opinions got mixed with too much wine for one. He called on Tuesday to apologize. I accepted but I am not sure how gracious I was.

I think we need to go back to good manners. But that probably makes me a reactionary stick in the mud. Maybe I spend too much time by myself. People have exhausted me this week. They seem to be such hard work anymore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Am Blaming It All On Hallmark

Valentine's Day is a feast day in honor of the martyred Saint Valentine . . . er 14 saints named Valentine. Oh, and not a feast day since 1969. Not a saint either? Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. Rome? If he died in Rome how did he rid Ireland of snakes? And what does this have to do with love?

Off to Wiki: The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime.

Okay, that is a bit closer to love, but no closer to snakes. And how on earth did we get from here to red hearts on doilies? Actually Valentine's day has always been painful to me, as it was to Saint Valentine as records show he (or any of the 14) were stoned on that day. Note: July 6th on the Greek Orthodox calendar.

But I digress. I was the kid for which teachers made the rule that all classmates had to be given a Valentine. We would all count them and then brag for days who got the most. I never got the least but I got little enough that I truly felt for who got the least and generally gave all of mine to him or her so I could go home without these paper hearts as reminders of my lack of worth.

College got even worse. Dorm life was hell for days before as everyone fretted it their boyfriends would send them flowers and for days after as we had to endure the displays of roses or carnations in the rooms. Even proffered candies in the common room were mere opportunities for the gifted to show off. See what I got and you didn't. I won't even go into corporate cubicle life on February 14th. There should be a rule that flowers and cards have to be sent to the home and not the work place.

Eastern mercantile companies made Christmas the garish display it became. There were no Christmas cards before they got into the corporate profit margin.  So I am going to blame Hallmark cards on all my years of broken hearts. And Russell Stover's chocolates in heart shaped boxes. And FTS florists. Too bad we cannot just stone them, put them on a liturgical calendar to be erased and move on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Something Abandoned, something lost, something found

I awoke yesterday to 18 inches of snow and a bright blue sky. And the stuck school bus at the top of the hill. School buses are a frequent sight on the highway running past my house. But they never, to my knowledge, venture down Osha road which this one would have had to be doing if it ran off the road into the ditch going up the road. How many vehicles there are stuck on this short steep road is a question all of us ask on such mornings after a snow storm. Originally their were five.

I was pondering whether my plowman could get down this road when the county show plow passed the studio heading down my dead end road. He live above me off Osha road and so I enjoy getting my road plowed first. Then he goes up Osha road to the highway and off to handle the first swipe on the county roads.

My sister had called earlier to check on the snow I got and we had begun discussing something that led to one of those "now just where is that" moments. I have these things I hide deliberately so a thief might not get them. And things I move to a better place than where they were. This was one of the latter. It was not in any of its usual spots. Worrisome. But there was the plowman to consider, as he got down past the abandoned school bus.

All morning while shoveling paths through the snow and bringing in firewood I walked backwards in my memory to where I had last seen the missing item. And when I took a short break for coffee would look there and there. In the process I found a cache of favorite jewelry I had hidden from myself it seems. Ultimately I found the item I had been seeking, only after having exhausted all the usual spots and sitting down in the easy chair to relax.

The school bus is still in the bar ditch at the top of the hill. I drove out past it and back. A bit iffy because of the ditch on the other side of the road, but doable. Pepe, the postman, who was missing on Monday (stuck in Ocate canyon I hear) showed up on Wednesday bringing my Netflix DVD's. Just another day in paradise.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Last Week on a Personal Level

It's Monday and we already have more snow even though the bigger storm is suppose to hit on Tuesday. After a warmer and drier than normal January I find myself arguing with the weather outside my windows - like anyone listens. All my neighbors have also been suffering from cabin fever. Rant and rave telephone calls are frequent. One of my neighbors claims to be making plans to move to Hawaii which she left six years ago because of island fever. She does this every winter. Another is so upset with the lack of immediate response, in the midst of a declared emergency, to her propane tank problem that she is planning to go totally solar. She doesn't want to hear what it will cost. A third friend is thrilled she is wintering in southern Arizona, but  is worried she won't be able to get to her house upon her return in March.

I think I have just "caved." I have holed up in my warm house with a fire in the wood stove and worked on my new desktop computer, my new Corel Printshop Pro photo editing program, and my new store front on my Facebook fan page. And I have blogged about the emergency situation caused by the shut off of natural gas to the northern part of New Mexico. And kept up with my ethernet friends around the world. Australia has had a cyclone and a wild fire. And I have been grateful for my snug home, coffee, crosswords and the Internet. My sister and I had been planning a bit of a roadtrip because the weather had been so nice. Due to money we put it off. I think we would have been in Chaco when the storm of last week hit.

Oh, and I have shoveled snow (408 calories per hour) and carried firewood (weight training) and refined my emergency preparedness in case we lost power. Yesterday while others were watching the Superbowl I got back to my studio and worked on my large painting which today I hope to finish while beginning two others. Let's hope the power stays up and some utility mogul doesn't opt to sell electricity to a higher bidder.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What Are They Thinking???

Clearly they were not thinking. Texas was not thinking when they shut down the compressors sending the natural gas here. Public Service of New Mexico was not thinking when they decided to sole source their natural gas. Our electrical coop was not thinking this ever would happen. Well, and frankly it hasn't. Weathermen have been scrambling to find a date when it got this cold for this long. But regardless of that answer it has been a big cluster fuck as the saying goes.

There is still no natural gas in a large section of New Mexico (all made worse because evidently it was ours first and piped to Texas to be refined) nor does anyone have a date beyond early next week. Everyone is avoiding the question of whether the compressors were softly shut down or "slammed down".  But we do know the pipeline was not shut down to remain pressurized so they are talking days of flushing and re-pressurizing so I think the compressors were slammed down by a brown out. BTW you cannot find these at your local Lowe's supply if they are damaged.

But the local politicians have only made the matter worse. Everyone wants to jump in with their emergency statement to calm the public and direct us so the electrical grid does not collapse (the US has one of the oldest and least up to date ones in the developed world). It was over taxed before this nation wide cold snap and now the dependence on electric space heaters is not helping. I received the following by Internet:

Angel Fire Mayor Stuart Hamilton is asking all residents to be aware of an urgent situation involving an interruption of natural gas delivery to Northern New Mexico.  The towns of Taos, Red River, and Questa are affected and have declared a state of emergency.

Although Angel Fire is not reliant on natural gas there is the risk of extreme strain to the electrical grid that will affect the area. We expect the risk will continue throughout the weekend and are asking all residents and visitors to be frugal with their use of electricity.

 The following precautions need to be taken immediately to prevent a rolling electrical blackout. 

Conserve energy to prevent further drain on the system, especially between 5pm-8pm.
  Do not use computers, televisions or other non-essential items that require electricity.
Turn thermostats to 65 degrees or lower.
Stay off cell phones except for emergency situations.
Never use a range or oven as a supplemental heating source.
Do not rely on candles as a heat source.
Make sure smoke and CO detectors are in working order.
Conserve heart (sic) sources as much as possible.

We have no radio station on this side of the mountain. There are only two weekly papers. The internet is the only means of communication. Which probably explains why they keep sending these warnings via the internet and posting on websites. Duh?

There are a lot of people angry with out electric coop because they think they were not prepared for this emergency. Few people realize the interconnectedness of our electric power grid. It is like a huge railway shipping yard. One person puts one train on the wrong track and disaster can strike states away like when the entire northeast corridor went down because of ice storms in Canada.

We are all a little scared and politicians treating us like the demonstrators in Egypt are not helping. And those of you sitting snug and warm with lights and internet should be warned this can happen to you. The United states needs to spend serious money on its infrastructure. And robber barons should not be allowed to suck of profits from public utilities.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The News from Black Lake

Front porch this week

At broadcast time it is a minus 30.3 outside and I have just proven that warm coffee tossed into the air will become a brown mist instantly. Such things are important to know. For me this morning it means I am not going outside until the sun comes up. The temperature is forecast to rise to a positive 21 degrees, which after being in the single digits or below for the last three days, will be positively balmy. And no the snow has not melted off, but the 15 inches we received has compacted and/or evaporated because of the cold to about 7 inches.

Chatting on line to friends in other parts of the country I have found a lot of misunderstandings about New Mexico. Even the national news was saying this huge storm went from Texas to Maine. We're the void to the west of Texas. And a whole group of people think New Mexico is desert. So I Googled up a satellite map this morning of my part of the state. There is an awful lot of errors. Google got the name of only one road correct. Well, maybe two.

View Larger Map

Notice that everything is green (currently under snow it is all white). The darker green is primarily Ponderosa pines and firs and spruce. Forest. I live at approximately 8580 feet above sea level in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

View across road
I live on a county maintained improved dirt road just off a paved state road and only 5 miles from Angel Fire which is a ski resort town that is currently getting more famous for its golf course and the increasing number of artists with studios and galleries in the area. The reward for living here winters is that summers are fantastic with the temperatures in the low to mid 80's during the day and dropping to the 40's and 50's at night. No air conditioners. Also no fleas, ticks, and cockroaches ergo to polluting bug sprays.

So what happens in greater downtown Black Lake? Not much. Big news this week was the snow - long over due this winter - and whose pipes froze or didn't freeze with these unusually Arctic temperatures. Several chats on the phone about how behind the man with the plow was. But unlike our eastern countrymen (yes, we are part of the United States - one of the 50 since 1912 but then it was 48) we are amazingly prepared and wonderfully self-sufficient. So we don't make the news often. And we rather like that.