Monday, January 30, 2012

Emergence from Hibernation

Standing alone against the night

I first noticed this behavior here in the mountains of New Mexico so I cannot speak for it occurring elsewhere or not. But here we all seem to go to ground right after Christmas. Almost as if the demands of that season put too many stressors on our social networks and manners. The only communication there is seems to be via social networks, hallow e-mails, and a phone message or two.

No lunch dates, no running into each other at the store, or in Santa Fe (oddly enough us mountain folk seem to meet up there a lot), or get together requests. A drive through Angel Fire to the post office reveals no friendly cars or known associates. Nor is the post office its normal meet and greet site.

Then suddenly, somewhere around the 25th of January heads pop up not unlike a ground hog checking on the weather. You see old friends at a Taos grocery store restocking on depleted supplies, get an invitation from a friend for a girly night pot luck, call a friend to go to Santa Fe with you, take a few chatty and long phone calls, load the dogs in the car for a walk in town on the public paths, stop in for a quick mocha and end up sitting with the old gang.

I don't believe this 30 day vanishing act is weather dependent. We live in snow country so we get out and about in all but the worst of storms. Besides this part of January is generally what we term the January Thaw. Days are in the 40's and nights just below freezing. The snow is subsiding and larger and larger parts of the earth are exposed. Mud becomes an issue.

Nor is it task related unless reading and watching re-runs are on your task list. I have read four ebooks this month, and pawed through my DVD collection for my favorites, rewatched old shows on streaming video. It is almost like a downtime for recharging the batteries, taking stock of just where you are energy wise. Winter is not over by a long shot. In fact some of the February and March storms can bring the most snow. But the nature of winter has changed on an almost primordial level. Deep within us we know we are heading toward spring. And we seem to all know it at the same time. It is as if we are celebrating that the coldest and darkest part of winter is behind us.

And it isn't just us humans. Bears are known to take a vacation from hibernation about now and check on the status of things. Visit a few old dumpsters. Flocks of our winter-over birds seem to be everywhere. Ground hog day is February 2nd and we know if there will be six more weeks of winter or not. Imbolc, which celebrates the return of light and warmth to the earth, is February 4th. There is some rhythm to life those of us who live close to the wilderness sense and respond to.

Us humans believe we are masters of time and place. We control our environment in cities and tall steel and glass buildings. Do those that live in such artificial worlds respond to the pulls of the earth like those of us living on the edges of the forest? As we come out of our caves, houses and cabins to sniff the air are we responding to some ancient shift in the axis of the earth?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winning Coach

Winning Coach a Symbol of Penn State

If I were the editor in chief
Heads would roll
A pedophile and an institution
Of higher learning
And dare we venture
lower moral values linked in bold type.

There once as a time
When being a sports star
Did not excuse
amoral behavior
We expected so much more
of our icons.

And we knew better
than praise their resumes
on national news.
We buried their shame
Oh, so quietly and rightly
In the back page obits below the fold.

J. Binford-Bell
January 2012

The exercise this week for Jingle Poetry at Gooseberry Gardens was to take a headline from the New York times and write. I did.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Denial is a God Given Survival Skill

Red Sky in the Morning

I do want to pretend all will be well when things are going well. I believe that if I prepare for a rainy day that day will come. And my history seems to have proven me right by in large. So what is wrong with preparing for a sunny day?

If the pantry is full and there is a prudent reserve in the bank why won't it work just as well for a celebration as a rescue?

On some level I always seem to prepare for the worst but am totally surprised when it comes. I seldom, if ever, throw away a document or receipt I think I might need to prove my point. And I am a great person for following every critical conversation up with an e-mail or letter. So why don't I put them nicely in folders as I go along instead of having to scramble to get all my documentation lined up. Why do I want to whistle in the dark?

This morning finally totally sure that my tenant was not going gently into that other apartment complex in a far away city (even though her move was her idea) I lined up all those pieces of paper in the infamous file termed rental legal, printed out all relevant e-mails, and wrote out a timeline. When I worked as a contracts engineer for a construction firm all of this would have been done. Every piece of paper would be punched and inserted in reverse chronological order in the folder with those brackets on top. Lined pages stapled to the left side of the folder would have meticulous notes of significant events in the process of the contract.

I know how it is done. I would just rather assume it isn't going to be necessary.

I will even argue with that old sailor's saw of Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night sailor's delight. I reverse it to suit my mood.  So this morning's red sky I say as a photographer's gift. Not the preamble to a spate of rough seas.

Mother always said I was a dreamer.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Trouble with the New Year

Rock Baby by J. Binford-Bell

The trouble with the new year is we are sold on idea that we get to start over. Things are going to be different once 2011 is over and the brand new year begins. And then the December bills hit. We discover that our new get in shape program seems to be plagued by the same issues we had with the old get in shape program. Taxes are not that far off and we are still broke from those we had to pay in the old year.

Warm weather seems forever in the future. So there will be other heating bills like the last 2011 bill that awaits our attention. One year I would like to have the money and time to prepay everything for January in December and launch the new year truly new.

At times I feel like the photograph above - an eroding rock being a base for lichen which has taken hundreds of years to get to that point but is new as opposed to the rock - their growth and erosion now totally linked forever together - till death do them part.

Trying to get on the stick and get a new renter soonest but then the state the apartment is in I don't want to show it until the one that gave notice has moved out. It is a hoarder's haven. Hardly room to walk. And daily I learn more from others about why it is my renter so suddenly up and left (hasn't been back in town since serving notice) and in spite of my well developed guilt complex (owed me money for 5 months and I was getting rude about it) doesn't look like it was my fault. May be reluctant show up in our small town again. Or give me a forwarding address.

I always begin with Anne Frank - that all people are basically good at heart; and in with end with my father - Anne Frank was wrong. I do believe that we are producing more narcissistic personality disorders these days. Would love to be able to talk to Dad about that.  Meanwhile I am trying to cinch down the budget belt which binds this time of year in the best of times. Keeping the house a bit colder, picking and choosing my invites to lunch out, rethinking February expenditures over and over. Oh, and the balance of January.

While trying to rethink my policy on approval of tenants yet again. I was blessed with great renters the first 10 years of owning the duplex. And have been plagued with a run of three awful ones. I think I am in for a run of good luck. Please universe send me the perfect tenant and send them soon.

Will also take a part time job, art sales, art awards, art students, and pet sitting gigs. And any massive improvements in the economy. Getting tired of being cold and broke.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Shadow photographer and dogs

I was having coffee with a friend recently and chatting about the cruelest months. There are more deaths in February of chronically ill patients. And more suicides. But I blame it on January. We're all tired from the holidays and let down. Taxes loom in the future. Spring is still months away.

And there seem to be more monkey wrenches in January. My monkey wrench was the renter giving notice on the 4th. I hate when renters move out. They always think they need all their deposit back. Some even want it the day they give notice. I look at them as if they are smoking something. I got spoiled when I first bought this duplex. First renters handed me money the day I moved in and stayed for almost nine years. Since then I have been through a couple renters from hell.

Then there are the todo's that accompany January. Exhibits and association dues, insurance, and those taxes I mentioned before. I always come out of December a bit behind on money. More so this year because renter was behind on rent. January is expensive. No way I can even consider looking to rent the apartment until March because of things that must be done.

Bed has been feeling so awesome the last nine days. I just want to snuggle deeper under the covers and wait until February to get up.

Monday, January 2, 2012

And So It Begins

First Dawn of 2012

Been a while since I walked to the door of my studio with my camera to capture the dawn. Yesterday seemed an appropriate day to do so. First day of 2012 and the first dawn was definitely recordable. And this is the first Monday blog of the year.

Yesterday I cooked an elk roast, and butternut squash with curry and craisens. I took those two dishes with my English horseradish sauce to my neighbors. Janet rounded out the feast with baked potatoes and creamed spinach, pumpkin pie and coffee. A cooperative holiday meal has been a tradition between us for quite some time.

The week before the year 2011 ended I began another get in shape campaign. When I allow myself to stop and consider what works for me as opposed to all those media hyped plans I usually manage to make these campaigns work. Exercise. And keeping records of exercise.

So on the 26th of December I got out a spiral notebook and recorded my first day of exercise. Later in the week I added weight to my Chronicles. Almost immediately it goes up when I pay attention to it. Then it is locate the tape measure. This can always be a bit shaming because the measurements I remember are always those from my bulimic youth. I had an 18 inch waist. Anyone out there remember cinch belts and petticoats. I could cinch that waist to about 14.

This all seems silly in light of the fact that I don't really care what the scale or the tape says. It is what my jeans tell me that matter. I want them all to zip and fit more comfortably. And what my muscles say. If you don't use them you lose them. And at my age losing muscle results in bone breaks and joint replacements. I hate doctors. So all the hand weights and elastic bands were recovered from their resting places. The elliptical trainer oiled and adjusted. The Pilates ball inflated. Yoga mat washed off. And daily I have been rotating my exercise techniques and increasing the time spent. All noted neatly in my fitness journal. Already I feel better.

Soon as I am totally addicted to the endorphin's generated from exercise and I will allow myself one day off per week.

Other goals for 2012: More photography trips, more progress toward that poetry/art book I am planning, more painting, more sewing, more dinners with friends.