Saturday, December 31, 2011

Once more with feeling

Elk Dawn at Black Lake
I am a writer of journals and blogs, a maker of goals and affirmations, a believer that the future is a gift we have the opportunity to shape. So with the last day of 2011 before me I pulled out my journal and looked back to the same time last year. And then the year before.

I had begun 2010 with a lofty and extensive list of goals. I accomplished less than half. I was grateful I did that much but it did effect my list for 2011. That list is only 6 items: 1) Move beyond the events of 2010, 2) Be more positive in my outlook, 3) Set my own directions, 4) Set more adventurous directions in my art, 5) Look at doing poetry/art book, 6) Keep website more current.

I have failed miserably at number 6 which now adorns my todo list for 2012. And I will admit that it took me almost all of 2011 to get number 2 and 3 accomplished. And I can still be overwhelmed by grief from time to time. I am busy working on poems to fit various pieces of my works and have tracked down an on-line publishing option. I bought the latest version of Wordperfect office to assist in this goal. Dare I list Complete poetry/art book on the 2012 agenda?

I am most happy with my accomplishments on number 3 and 4. When I listed them in the short list for 2011 I had no idea what shape the achievement of them would take. So in that regard they were more affirmations than todo list items. Or even resolutions. I only knew that I was vaguely unhappy with the "eye candy" paintings I was turning out for shows and exhibits. I wanted to be more meaningful. And last year was filled with new departures on subjects for paintings. And surprisingly I found myself leaving a gallery that had long represented my work, and looking for new ways to exhibit my art. And I found myself deeply involved with photography. The year 2011 found me entering three exhibits with my photos and winning prizes in two. I also won a prize with one of my "dark" paintings.

I like the directions I have explored artistically because of those two affirmations and I want to continue to move along that path. I use the big artistic change as the reason I am behind on my website. I think it requires rethinking it entirely. (PS another computer crash did not help). No, I do not have the completed list for 2012 yet. This is the beginning of that process and I am somewhat behind if you go by dates on the calendar. Maybe I will just try harder on the 2011 list once more.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magpie Tales 96 - The Real Thing

Laughing Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern

Laugh lines
Non-airbrushed flaws.

by Clairol
by Mother Nature.

No plastic
no Botox
no implants
The real thing.

Except maybe the laughter

J. Binford-Bell
December 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day Photography

Christmas Morning Elk
Every photographer knows what a gift it is to have a close friend, or in my case a sister, to go a photographing with. People that have not looked at the world through a view finder don't understand when we yell, "Stop. Pull over. No, back there." And other assorted exclamations of excitement. Nor do they see the necessity in going out at the crack of dawn in sub zero weather (-12 F on Christmas Day) to seek the elusive elk.

This year's Calf

Studying the Dawn
Or to catch that early morning light on the surrounding mountains and hills. Most people miss this entirely.

Dawn on Cat Scratch Mountain

Dawn on Wheeler Peak
My sister and I returned after the morning expedition to a Christmas Morning breakfast of eggs Benedict on homemade English Muffin bread. And then it was out for the afternoon off-road tradition begun last year. So Nikon and Cannon in hand and fur kids in back we set off to find unexplored territory and went through Cimarron Canyon and up Ponil Creek to a wildlife management area. Morning was elk and afternoon was turkeys.

The Girls

The Boys

Hopping the Creek
Lots of great pictures and lots of new memories. No doubt regular readers of this blog and Creative Journey will see more photographs from Christmas Day.

Debbie and I had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve: Ribeye roast with English horseradish sauce, sauteed golden cauliflower with garlic, and French Silk Pie for dessert. We had plenty of leftovers for Christmas day. Giving us ample time to download and cull through our digital captures. Important things.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trust me I am not Suffering

I live in the mountains of northern New Mexico not Siberia.  Yes, we get snow. But the last totally paralyzing storm was 2006. We got 6 feet in three days. Things came to a stand still for about four days. And that was basically because all the snow clearing equipment in our area was pulled out for the plains. They got it worse just like they did on this storm.

A friend just posted a story about a couple heading to Angel Fire to ski who got buried in snow outside Springer. Springer, NM is in the plains where snow is compounded with blizzard force winds and total whiteouts. They obviously were under the misconception that their SUV would get them through the closed roads. They were wrong. I blame the commercials. Pay enough for your vehicle and/or tires and you are suppose to be able to make it through Noah's flood. Wrong.

Most of us that live in this rarefied atmosphere know when to stay home and hunker down and when we can make it through. I have lived in New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas City, Missouri. The latter may have had the worst winter weather to drive through - or at least driving from Denver to Kansas City across the plains of Kansas - was the worst.  That particular snow storm one Christmas was rather bad but I hung in between a couple tractor trailer rigs and made it.

And there was that year when the rain in Kentucky (I was living in North Carolina) suddenly at the Mississippi River changed to wet, heavy snow. Not a room in the Inn or any Inn in St Louis was available but the hotels were allowing travelers (again at Christmas) to hang out in lobbies until the roads opened up. The roads, btw, are closed more often not because of snow depth but wrecks or visibility issues. SUV's, snow tires, and OnStar are not helpful with any of that.

Smarts are your best weapon. Check road conditions before heading out. Have a full box of emergency gear in the car (btw it probably should be where you can reach it and that might not be the trunk), and don't be in a hurry. When in doubt stay put.

And the weather channel might not be your best source of information. Every state has a DOT hotline or website with more current information than The last snow storm was not that big of an event here. And the current storm is a total fizzle.

And I would rather put up with the worst snow storms than hurricanes, tornadoes or even triple digit heat. I choose to live here because it has none of that and no fleas or ticks or centipedes. It has clean air, and no light pollution and wonderful silence broken only by the howl of a coyote or bugle of an elk.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Next to Last Monday of the Year

I find it hard to believe the year is almost over. Been a relative good year. Especially in relationship to 2010. I suppose I should be thinking about a year in review blog but my focus at the moment is on the gathering storm.

Storm reports are fodder for us locals. We all have our opinions. The tourist center and the ski resort are currently picking up on the weather report with the greatest snow depth forecast - 12 inches. But then this storm was suppose to actively begin at midnight and when I looked out the window at 5 a.m. there was not a flake. As I write this (9 a.m.) there is only two to three inches. I think I am being really generous with the three. But the ravens are celebrating over the trees. They generally go into this party dance when they know they might have to roost for a while.

We all have our little signs we look for to bolster our opinion. I think maybe only about 6 to 8 inches at my house. It is wise to remember I live in the mountains. And weather and snow depth can vary drastically depending on which side of the hill you live. Velarde on the dry side of the mountain does not have snow yet. And Raton, out toward the Texas boarder is having a full out blizzard.

When potential tourists ask how much snow we are going to have at Christmas (frequently asked in July) it is difficult to keep a straight face. It is difficult to know how much snow we will get today let alone six days from now. Wiser people than me will have to come up with predictions 6 months ahead.

I do know it is suppose to be warmer and drier this year. And storms thus far have largely skirted to the south of us. That area of the state has been so very dry I do not begrudge them a single flake. Same with the east side. So while we welcome the snow pack to aid in reducing summer forest fires I won't do a snow dance to get it here instead of the Sandia's or Zuni's.

Wiser gods are in control of the weather and they do not ask my permission. May we all get what we need even if it isn't necessarily what we want.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Morning

That time of year again. How quickly it seems to come around these days.

I love decorating trees. Love the smell of them (the fresh ones). It looked like I might not get my tree this year. For the longest time only one place in Angel Fire had trees for sale and they looked dyed and plastic, definitely were not freshly cut, and had no place to place decorations the branches were so jammed together. I considered a fake tree. Even went internet shopping for one.

Disenchanted with that possibility I thought of any variety of ways to make a tree substitute. I had done one in college which was stacked tumbleweeds sprayed white and adorned with Christmas lights which my room mate and I swore blinked to Tchaikowsky's 5th symphony. I have used potted Norfolk pines also. And for several years when space was limited due to mask making for Mardi Gras just hung ornaments from the ceiling. I was dreaming up a mobile tree to hang from the studio rafters when I returned to my search for the real thing.

And I got it. A fresh cut New Mexico pine that just smells like the great outdoors. Nice when you are closed off against the weather in a heated house. No doubt why the Norse began the tradition. Course they had their livestock also in the house and I just have the fur kids.

I do make some of my own decorations and every year I have tried to buy a new one or two or three. As a result I have a wide range of options for adornment and can rather pick and choose. I do like the flowers and bows I did last year. They add a Victorian Flair. As do some of the tin ones I have picked up.

One of my hand painted ornaments in behind this reindeer I got last year. And one of my collection of moose. Stay tuned to this blog for more featured ornaments in the weeks before retirement to the boxes again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

TW3 - Winter Arrived

December snow by J. Binford-Bell

Winter arrived this week. All my bargaining did not work. Still with a forecast by NOAA of three massive storms we only got the second. And currently the third has been downgraded from 16" to as little as 8" additional. But it looks as if we are not going to escape the bitter cold. It is 6 F this morning as I write this and destined to only get to 10 F today. Plunging to -13 tonight. The good news is there is currently not a breath of wind. But it seemed like a good time to start a morning fire in the wood stove.

The first blast of winter weather always seems so rude. Yes, it is bound to come. And yes, we need the moisture. But I really would rather do it without gale force winds and sub zero temps. But I can deal with both easier than summers in the triple digits. I can always put on more clothing but there is just so much I am willing to take off in public. And New Mexico, is by in large, just pretend winter. It comes and goes. I found out what real winter was one year in Vail, Colorado. Thank you but no. Here, come Wednesday, we are back to sunshine and temps over freezing. December is the cruelest month here.

Good time to stay inside and paint in my studio. Or finally get around to updating my website. I need to add photography to that. Being snowed in is good muse time. Though yesterday during a break between storms I shoveled the driveway under blue skies and then tested out the snow tires on the new to me vehicle. The sun was melting off the 10 inches from the day before storm. Long range forecasts say it will be a dry and warm winter. This current week is just a fluke.

And I like the sound of a crackling fire in the morning. It goes so well with a hot cup of coffee.