Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Paradigm shift -the end days of May

Paradigm Shift by Skydancer
Was looking at my blog stats and noticing that ones where I deal with art or science seem to be the most popular. Mind you my readership is not huge on Sidetracked Charley. My followers on this blog are less than a third of my followers on Creative Journey. I can only assume that more people are interested in my poetry and art and opinions on such than they are on the follies in my life. And so it should be. I do not pretend to be a reality show.

But I digress. I was going to write about paradigm shift. One of my favorite scientific theories. Well, next to chaos theory. And I have become rather enamored of late with queuing theory, but those are other blogs for other days.

Paradigm shift (or revolutionary science) is the term used by Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) to describe a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science. Since the 1960s, the term has also been used in numerous non-scientific contexts to describe a profound change in a fundamental model or perception of events, even though Kuhn himself restricted the use of the term to the hard sciences.

I first ran across paradigm shift (I do love saying it - sort of rolls around your mouth) when studying the theory of aerodynamics. About the time the SST, now a thing of the past) made its first flight it was written that by the theory of aerodynamics it should not be able to fly. But then that was also true I discovered about the bumble bee. Ergo the theory of aerodynamics is a flawed theory (most theories are in some way or they would be laws) and when it was refined to the point of being able to encompass the SST and the bumble bee it might allow all sorts of other possibilities for flight. That would be a paradigm shift in the theory of aerodynamics.

But as fond as I am of shifting laws of flight I find I see paradigm shift on a social platform more needed. But alas many elements of society seem to be holding so tight to their theories that they are squeezing the life out of . . . . well, life. But Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy held that some rats in the maze would die of starvation before admitting the cheese had been moved. But then paradigm shifts really are not sudden though they appear to be because of the Ah Ha moment. There is often a plethora (don't you love that word) of evidence the cheese has moved before we pause and say, "By jove, we are looking in the wrong spot!" or some such.

This last week was my Ah Ha moment over a paradigm I had been taught. Mother raised me to believe I was basically unlovable and quite strange. I grew up believing (as my brother still does) that I was the insane one in the family. I was selfish, egotistical, the dumbest of her children, and crazy. I worked hard most of my life proving her right by gathering evidence that supported her theory of Jacqui while ignoring evidence to the contrary. But the preponderance of contradictory evidence finally tipped the scale this May (well, I might say crazy could be close as I believed her for so long). 

I was always the ugly girl that my beautiful classmates took along to places (out of pity I assumed) so they could look more beautiful and empathetic. I overcame stuttering as an adolescent but still believe if I open my mouth in a group of strangers it is what I will hear. This list is almost endless so I won't bore you. Especially since I don't believe a lot of it any more. The scales have finally tipped.

The eve of becoming 66 seems a rather strange time to grow up. But I think I finally have. I have had a paradigm shift.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lucky Charms

I love Navajo silver work and am especially fond of feathers. I have pendants and earrings and a necklace of hand drafted feathers. But this story is about one particular feather pendant I bought in August of 2004. That was the year of my sister's and my first Thelma and Louise road trip to Utah. I had bought my Astro van of Vango fame the previous December. Debbie did not have her jeep yet. In fact she still lived in Texas and I picked her up at the airport and we headed to the canyons.
There are a lot of memories of that 12 days in the wilds including the new alternator for the van, a new camera for my sister, barely making it out of Cottonwood comb before the rains hit, and the case of the vanishing lug nuts. The lug nuts came as we were heading back to the airport through the Navajo Reservation. We had stopped for lunch in Page, Arizona and noticed a lot of hostile Utes wearing anti Glen Canyon Dam t-shirts. But we were in a good mood and nothing was going to ruin it for us. Or so we thought.

Twenty minutes outside of page the van began to shimmy. Debbie was driving and we elected to pull over at a scenic overlook where the Navajo's had set out tables of their jewelry to sell. Behind them was a 400 foot drop off. I climbed out of the car and looked at the front tires to see what might have been causing the vibration and noticed the right front tire was hanging at a weird angle and held on only by one lug nut and a bent lug bolt. This gathered the attention of everyone. One diminutive Navajo woman said, "Obviously spirit has something else in mind for you," as she looked at the long left hand downhill turn we would have attempted if we had not pulled off.

Needless to say there were cell phone calls to make and AAA to contact, airlines to reschedule. And a lot of waiting for the tow truck to show up so we shopped. And I bought this feather from the woman who had spoken to us. She said feathers were lucky. Back in Page at Big O tires we found out this had been happening all day. Evidently someone was removing lug nuts from cars with out-of-state-plates.

I wore the silver feather with a spine of white turquoise almost constantly until about 6 months ago when it lost a stone setting. Broke because of fixing the van which would not stay fixed I looked through my old jewelry to see which I was willing to sell to be melted down given silver prices. The lucky feather was in a box of pieces that needed repaired. I opted to repair my broken luck. And it now hangs again around my neck. I still don't know what spirit has in store for me unless it is painting and telling tales such as this.

I do know that sometimes what appears to be bad luck is actually good: Bad about the lug nuts but good that we stopped; bad about the alternator but good it happened in Moab and not the outback; Bad we didn't get to see the arches on the Cottonwood comb but good we were nut stuck for days in the mud the rain makes of the clay; etc. It is just hard at times to see the good until a distance has been obtained from the incident. Perspective is so important I thought that day sitting on the guard rail looking over the deep canyon beyond the turn we didn't take.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Life in Headlines

I have always blamed my mother for what I can headline thinking. My sister and I both have it but I cannot think of a single headline my mother actually uttered even given her past as Kansas City Star cub reporter in her youth. She was full of dire predictions based on our actions. Like say if I stuck out my tongue, "What if your face froze like that?" Headline in my head: Young Girl to Undergo Cutting Edge Surgical Procedure.

Or the time I threw sand into the obnoxious neighbor's face after he smashed my sand castle. Mother: Do You know what your actions could cause? Headline: Violent Neighborhood Feud Claims More Lives. I think I had just read something about the Hatfields and the McCoys that week.

Growing up only made matters worse especially surrounding any breaking of the rules. Like the time I signed out of the dorm (Yes, Virginia, in my day we watched carefully over the "virgins") to go to Juarez with friends. Mom thought I was spending the weekend with the Berry's, long time family friends. Mrs. Berry thought I had cancelled that due to a term paper. Headline: College Coed Arrested at Juarez Strip Club. And with this one was born the leads. You know that line that isn't quite as big as the headline but leads you into the story: Mother says she is considering suing UNM for lack of due diligence.

Working in Washington, DC and getting deeply involved with civil disobedience (hey, our founding fathers founded this) my nightmares would spawn a whole bevy of headlines some delivered by Chet Huntley on the Capital Steps: "Tonight we are covering the arrest of a Senate Aide suspected of bombing the US Capital." Followed by the Washington Post the next morning: Suspected Bomber Vanishes after Arrest by the FBI / Mother says she was always such a good girl. I woke up from this nightmare at 3 a.m. and called my mother. "Don't ever tell any reporter I was such a good girl. Understand?" Mother never spoke of this particular early morning wake up call.

These days with a more "normal" life and no mother to explain things, even mentally, to the headlines are more likely to be shared jokes between my sister and myself: Two Sisters Plunge off Thelma and Louise Overlook in Canyonlands / Tourists in the area say they wanted to test the viability of a sequel to the popular movie.

Headlines do relieve stress in my life. They allow me to vent without blowing up the neighborhood. I have been relatively headline free through recent events so I was a bit worried about myself. But I awoke this morning with my headline: Local Artist Kills Ex-Contractor and Local Mechanic / Swat team continues to monitor the situation at the Court House where the alleged murderer is holding a Judge hostage demanding fair treatment for the elderly.

While I was Googling an image for this week's blog I stumbled upon an article about getting more readers for your blog by using killer headlines. That one just might work. Have blogs been used as proof of insanity?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Temporarily Derailed

The Denver and Rio Grande Western ran the Chili Line until 1941. There was a trestle on that narrow gauge line which ran between Espanola, NM and Alamosa, Colorado which was known for derailments. It had too steep a grade and too tight a curve. I feel lately like an engineer on a steam locomotive headed for that trestle.

I am currently derailed without a clue of how to get back on track. The Blizzard Lizard, my transportation for six years had gasped its last. And it has been a long, long time since I have sought a used car. And then my ex-husband was alive to help. I really feel his loss at the moment as much as I feel abandoned by transportation. I got a fortune cookie recently which had the fortune: You will receive a wheeled adventure.  I hope that was not about getting back from outside Cimarron when the van broke down. I hope it is about a new (or new to me) car. I know I have to seek a replacement but at the moment I have not a clue what I want really. See previous blog about Skinner boxes.

Then I got this horoscope yesterday:  If you are in a quandary right now, turn to someone who has years of experience in the area that's confusing you. This person's insightful intelligence surpasses his or her communication skills, so be patient and be prepared to ask a lot of clarifying questions. Help!

That is the downside of my life right now. On the plus side I have discovered I have tons of great friends above and beyond those that are willing to pray for me. I have friends reaching out and offering real assistance as in temporary transportation, ways to continue to be able to do the fair in June which I need to provide money for that new vehicle, and encouragement that I will surmount this too.

I had said when one of those friends was giving me a ride back from Cimarron that I didn't need another problem. And of course when I got home there was one. HUD wants to inspect my apartment I rent in May and not July when I expected it. So I have had to scrape the funds together to get the screens the winds blew off. Now I have to retype the lease and renewal letter as that was just a fraction of the documentation lost when the nerd wiped my computer after the hard drive crash. This needs to be done before car shopping.

And I need to visit NM Motor Vehicle office in Angel Fire and get whatever I need to pronounce the van dead and not in my possession anymore. Yesterday I suspended my insurance and will get a credit to be applied to new insurance for new vehicle when I find it.

Then I can think about car shopping. Where I live it has to be all-wheel or four wheel drive. To continue to do art shows logic says a van, but with rising gas prices I am considering a smallish SUV with towing capacity so I can rent a Uhaul trailer when a fair needs to be done. And so if this is a sign it is time to give up art fairs I will not be saddled to a gas guzzler. In the future, I would like to own a covered utility trailer that can serve also as storage for booth furniture.

But fortunately none of those things need to be decided right this minute. Which reminds me of the end of Gone with the Wind. I read the book and saw the movie several times. When Scarlet, after Rhett leaves, says she will think about it tomorrow in reference to getting him back I believed in the movie she would. But in reading the same lines in the book I had no hope. I'll think about it tomorrow is not avoidance for me but letting go because I haven't the time or the energy or the assistance I need just that moment to be rational about the solution.

And so, loyal readers, that is where I am just now. First things first and maybe by the time I wade through that the solution to my other problems will be miraculously revealed even if it is in a fortune cookie. Times have changed. I no longer expect a chorus of angels on high. Besides which even their messages were rather cryptic too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TW3 - Life is a Skinner's Box

B.F.Skinner invented the Skinner box which is an operant conditioning chamber. An operant conditioning chamber permits experimenters to study behavior conditioning (training) by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli, like a light or sound signal. When the subject correctly performs the behavior, the chamber mechanism delivers food or another reward. In some cases, the mechanism delivers a punishment for incorrect or missing responses. With this apparatus, experimenters perform studies in conditioning and training through reward/punishment mechanisms.

I have decided that life is a malfunctioning Skinner box. When an operant conditioning chamber malfunctions and the reward and punishment are scrambled for a specific behavior the test subject just goes to a corner and shivers. I am there folks. I am trying to keep my eye on the prize as it were but I am unsure if I will get shocked if I dare reach for it.

I am desperately trying for a prudent reserve and a workable budget but shocks like oral surgery, washing my cellphone, a malfunctioning vehicle, and now a HUD inspection that demands I pay for apartment screens two months before they were a budget item seem like punishments for living a responsible and economic life.

The art season looms and an extra $500 bucks right now would be quickly spent on frame supplies, prints, etc. if the van was not already sitting in line first. Cannot make money if you cannot get there. Anyone want to buy a painting? After thinking through and developing 3-4 creative possible solutions for my problems I am now just sitting in the corner and staring out into space. I am clearly too old to barter my sexual favors on the street corner. Besides no street corners in my neighborhood. No van to get me to another neighborhood.

I never functioned well married (another operant conditioning chamber in my opinion) because it was too much like having bossy parents or being in grade school. But right now it would be nice to have someone to bounce my problems off and let them come up with a way out. My ex, Marc, used to serve that function (definitely worked better when I was not in his box) but, alas, he is not around anymore. And the tooth fairy has not made an appearance, or Cinderella's Fairy godmother. I keep hoping for a Hollywood musical ending just any time now.

Cue the chorus.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Off Season

It is off season, and like the elk, I am rather enjoying it. Grass is still rather scarce as winter is just leaving, and money is rather tight for much the same reasons but the silence and peace in my mountain resort community are priceless. This is the New Mexico I grew up in and thought I had moved back to. I was rather shocked that it had been discovered.

I always joked that we allowed the building of US 66 and later Interstate 40 through the most boring parts of the state so people wouldn't stop. Now that I depend in part on tourism to bring art lovers to my studio I am rather split. But fortunately the tourists seem to go for the peak times ~ when the snow is the deepest and the weather is the warmest. This works for me because it leaves the off times for me to enjoy my state of wilderness.

If you are a bird watcher this is a great time of the year as the migrants make their way back to our neck of the woods. How wonderful it is to sit on your porch and see the bright blue Mountain Bluebird flitting over the meadow or the flocks of Red Wing Blackbirds re-establishing their presence in the wetlands around Coyote Creek. My Red Tail hawk is back to her perch on the power pole at the back of my property. From there she can get the prairie dogs in the neighbor's field and the voles and gophers in mine.

It is getting warm enough to begin planting the cold crops in my raised beds. And this year it has been dry enough that I have had to water bushes and trees beginning to leaf out. The pines always look like they might die each spring as they shed the old needles and begin to put out new growth. Since we had -42F nights this winter, extreme even for here, I have made the rounds daily checking on the pliability of limbs and any hit of buds or regeneration. Why oh, why do weeds weather better than those plants you tend so carefully?

Memorial Day weekend 10,000 Harley riders hit the Enchanted Circle and the Viet Nam Memorial here and destroy all the peace and quiet. The elk will head to the hills and all of us locals that don't have to go out won't. Fortunately for all the wild and tame life here the tourist season is generally lots more quiet and sedate than Memorial Day. And hopefully this year it will be more profitable for all concerned.

For now I and my forest neighbors are just enjoying the off season.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waiting to Exhale

Seems like just yesterday when I was waiting for it to be 2011 as if it was a magic charm that would make all things better. Now here it is the middle of May and I am still holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Yesterday was one of those absolutely delightful spring days here in the mountains and I decided to dare to plant the cold crops in my two raised beds. The black plastic over them all winter had worked and they were weed free so with very little prep I got in the garlic, onions, radishes, carrots, spinach and four different types of leaf lettuce. I had lunch on the studio stoop between spurts of re-potting my squash seedlings which won't go out to the hot bed till June. And I worked on preparing the hot bed.

I know it isn't June yet but I am testing the water jugs. The theory is they get hot during the day and hold the heat at night. Before I put the bags of potting soil between them, and plant my precious squash seedlings and install the plastic cover I want to know if this will prevent them from freezing.

Seems I want to know a lot. I want to know if I will have another tooth that has to be pulled or if the van is truly fixed for a long while or if it will be a good art fair season or if the judge will die before rendering a verdict in my contractor from hell case. I seem stuck in the middle afraid to even finish the triptych I am working on - afraid the magic is gone.

A year ago my sister and her husband and I were in Moab exploring all the back country and national parks with our cameras. On Mother's day Debbie's daughter called to wish her step father a happy father's day because she had found the perfect song to send him and couldn't wait. It is one of those moments among many that seem to be frozen in time. Not a Kodak moment that you could take a picture of but still forever etched in your memory. It is a good thing Mary didn't wait because before May ended Alan would be gone.

Winter depression is over. I think the snows have pasted but then out of the blue another closes in. June is going to be a very busy month and a lot has to be done in the yard and the studio in preparation of it and July. Make hay while the sun shines. Yesterday was a great day full of positive energy so why did I wake at four a.m. with that feeling of impending doom? Why am I holding my breath?

Even when exercising! So I decided to get back to yoga and Tai Chi. Any exercise I don't have to count reps with. Kettle ball works if done freely. I am trying to not even time my workouts. No clock watching just movement till I am tired. No set routines because the goal they say now is to confuse your muscles. Dance. Even Sufi dance. Move. Keep on moving.

And breath. Just breath. Stop waiting for something to happen.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Survived April

Tuscaloosa Tornado
It is May the second and there is snow on the ground with more forecast for today. Current temperature here in the Sangre de Cristos is 19 F. But then I don't have to worry about super cells like the one that spawned the tornadoes throughout the south this month. My storm has been Mercury in Retrograde. Since Mercury is my ruling planet I am a firm believer in the evil retrograde can do. It began on March 30th and went direct on April 23rd.

April has been a horrid month. My van is still in the shop because my mechanic pulled his back. I am very grateful for the loan of an aging Corolla by my long time friend and neighbor. Without it I would have been wheeless since April 7th. April is not a good month to have to come up with an "extra" $1200 right after having come up with an "extra" $500 in March for the tooth extraction. Meanwhile the price of gas has been spiraling up and up. Years ago I gave up credit cards. And the contractor from hell forced me into giving up retirement savings. And the economy has forced me into despair I will ever have a prudent reserve any time soon. I have revived my youthful ability to play musical bills.

This morning I got current with all of April bills and have the money to bailout the van when the call comes but the next nine days will require being very thrifty as I found an insurance bill for my business that must be paid. If a tornado hits my house and studio or a forest fire levels the place I want my insurance to pay off. Rebuild? Might just take the money and run. Thoughts of the forest fire possibilities, however, make me very grateful for the snow in May. We didn't get enough in January.

I did survive April, however. And Mercury in Retrograde. And I have hopes for a great May and June. I have just one request of President Obama: Since you got Bin Laden can you now knock off the CEO's of Exxon and the other major gasoline suppliers?