Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday Monday

Shadows of Time

As I grow older I see time not as so many days upon the calendar, so many pages flipped over to reveal another, but as as shadows on the wall lengthening and then shortening; the breeze changing in freshness and from where it comes; the turnover of birds at the feeders and in the trees.

All these things I take in stride. Remarking only to a friend one day last week that fall was here again. The unspoken being that winter was coming and I needed to begin preparing. But events, long anticipated, have again snuck up on me. Like Sunday becoming Monday without warning it seemed. The 49th high school reunion is now only 2 weeks away. Well, less. Two weeks from last Saturday. And while we are on the passage of time, how did I get old enough to be attending my 49th high school reunion? And why am I going? But that is perhaps another blog.

This blog is about time. Oh so important when we are six. So important that we had to put in the "and a half" when applicable. Followed so much later by "almost seven." Now I forget what age I have become. And any number of forms filled in this year say either a year younger or a year older. What does it matter? I am old enough to get into bars though who wants to these days. My "Medicaid Birthday," celebrated by so many friends was no big deal because I had been on it for years because of disability. And I am certainly well past the age of caring whether I can get an abortion were I to need one. But I fought to hard for control of my body in my youth so I am fighting just as hard now for the young bodies that take that for granted.

It seems now that all the things I fought for in the 1970's seem to be vanishing without a fight. And I find myself shocked at old myths resurfacing. Didn't we debunk that decades ago about rape and pregnancy? So is there any progress toward a more civilized world? Should we even continue to fight for a better world.

Maybe it is all shadows. Shadows moving across a wall lengthening and then shortening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Going Western Crazy

When I was younger I devoured books of far away places - Greece, Rome, Egypt. Historical novels were my cup of tea. Then one day I discovered Agatha Christi and I was off on a mystery binge that lasted decades. But if you could put a mystery in a historical novel I was a fan immediately. Writers like Mary Renault, Anne Perry, Dorothy Sayers never wrote enough in my humble opinion. I loved their research into the period they placed their mysteries. And the further away from home the better.

Now I seem to be coming home. It began with Tony Hillerman and his mysteries placed on the Navajo Reservation. A friend turned me on to James D. Doss who writes about the Southern Utes. I started seeking out obscure and not so obscure mystery writers of the Southwest: J.A.Jance, Michael McGarrity, Cliff Black. Nothing set in Phoenix please. Has to be a small town and have a cast of western characters. You really have to live here to appreciate that.

PBS turned me on to the new Longmire series set in Wyoming but filmed in New Mexico. I have now read two of the books by Craig Johnson the series is based on and bought a third. I am trying to pace myself because there are only eight thus far. And last night I discovered via Netflix streaming video the AMC series Hell on Wheels. So far just 11 episodes but I have gone through four of those. It has been renewed for season two. That is the good news. The bad news is it isn't based on a book or series of books. I already looked.

So do any of my frequent readers know of mystery writers that are placing their books in present day American Inter-mountain west? Or in the westward expansion period of 1865 to 1910. I can read faster than they write. And definitely faster than movie companies can film.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Liberal's Guide to the language of social media

In the early days of my involvement with what has become known as social media I was on Y!360 and we had a Movie Monday, Poetry Wednesday and Word Thursday. There was also a Song Saturday and Art Sunday. I forget what Tuesday was. I obviously did not participate. Friday was for Fotos. But even though this is Friday this is a Word Thursday. And do not try to look any of what follows up in your Websters. This is social media language though some of it began with our parents.

First word is dear. Contrary to dictionary definitions I do not believe dear to be a term of endearment. When my mother used it I would have defined it as Stop it. Generally used just before my formal full, middle and last name was called into the conversation. As an adult I considered it a term of belittlement. On social media it is used to herald a comment which runs entirely contrary to yours. A polite form of the word idiot.

Another term in social media is the non-comment just before a link. In short the person posting the link has just dropped a bomb and does not want you to know if it is an a friendly or hostile bomb. Chances are hostile or at a minimum contrary to your stance on the issue.

Define is another very hostile word on Facebook. When I participated in debate it was a neutral term. And we used it often as in "could you please define that term." Okay, maybe not completely neutral. Define in the beginning of a comment on your status message is, however, a barbed hook designed to get you to fully commit yourself to what the commentator considers a stupid stance. Through these tough political and religious times I have seen the world Define, especially used in conjunction with the word Dear, as a sign I should check my audience. Surely I did not post that to public? Or delete the post in question. Or unfriend.

Unfriend - rude, crude, or otherwise unacceptable to remain on your friend list. Let's face it when in social media Friend means 200 to 3000 people that have passed briefly through your timeline. Unfriend is awful. Anyone you have to get off your Friend list is close to being a leper.

Acquaintance - Someone you do not want to know what your friends know about you. Facebook is allowing posts to friends less acquaintances so we can assume that Acquaintance is just above leper. In fact I have come to regard this list as a holding area for those I would like to unfriend but think it might get me stalked if I do.

Stalker - A leper you have unfriended after serving a period in acquaintance list. But you still have mutual friends (see 6 degrees of separation in Wiki). Enough that if you dare make a comment on one of those pages they will pounce on you with, "My dear, please define . . . ."

All this is just the tip of the ice berg but I do have a life outside social media (define that as I am fed up to my eyebrows with the stalkers).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Long Journey

Wayfaring Stranger

If I had to pick a theme for 2012 up to now it would be revisiting my youth. No, I did not go back to disco dancing in bars. But I have reconnected to a past forgot in a step by step and sometimes painful process.

A funny thing happened December 24, 2001. I had a ski accident. Not one caused by skiing too fast or otherwise pushing the envelope of my abilities as a downhill skier. Another skier slammed into me while I was teaching a lesson. At least that is what the accident report says. I don't remember it. Except for one or two out of body flashes four hours of my life was instantly gone. A half hour before and 3 1/2 hours afterwards is not unusual in a closed brain trauma.

Eleven years ago we didn't know as much about CBT's as we do now. The Iraq War has taught us a lot about them and their different manifestations. But then I was treated and streeted because it was Christmas Eve and I was walking and talking. Now we know about walk/talk/die CBT's and Shaken Jelly brain. And in the coming days, weeks and years I would come to know what the neurologist meant after looking at my MRI when he said, "The good news is you are not dead."

The bad news is I had a long way to go. When I first started recovery they said all progress would be made in 2 1/2 years. My level of disability was judged on where I was at that time. And I went on full disability shortly afterwards. Because it was a work related accident I got the best of medical care through worker's compensation. I am very thankful for that program. And Social Security Disability which allowed me to "retire" as of the date of the accident. I did not feel either programs were entitlements as I had over my working years paid into both a lot of money. Both allowed me to focus on what another survivor of CBT told me was my number 1 job - recovery. And practicing what I did not want to loose. Lots of blogs in that topic.

It took me quite a while to realize that one of my big loses was what I call my middle years. I worked hard at remembering the near things I needed to carry on. And I had amazingly detailed, and I thought long forgotten, memories of babyhood - life before 8. But between there and the more recent past were huge voids. Like high school. When I was contacted about my 49th high school reunion (I have never been to even one) I decided it might be good to get involved in the reunion Facebook group and see what I could recover of my youth. I am thankful for the sisters of Mu Heta Sigma for being patient with me. I even dug up the old yearbooks and have been cramming for the September 8th dinner.

And through that process snatches of my lost years have come back. It is far from a timeline but bits and pieces like a spilled jigsaw puzzle with a collapsed box. And everyone once in a while you find two pieces of the puzzle that fit together or get a glimpse of what the final picture might look like. And it seems at times as if the universe is assisting in the process. This week there was a casting call for extras in the Lone Ranger, a Johnny Depp movie to be filmed in part in Angel Fire. I used to do that!!! So maybe doing it again will help me remember more.

The casting agency wanted sizes and a recent photograph. These days I am mostly behind the camera, but in my youth I was in front of it a lot. I was a dancer, actress, photography model, and speaker. It says so on my Art Vita. So I set up a time with another photographer friend interested in trying to become an extra and we used her old miner's cabin to take some photos. We are both artists with web pages so win or lose on the casting call the photos will be useful. I came home with the jump drive of photos she took and set down to review them and post processes.

The photo that opens this blog was like opening a door and letting a tidal wave into my mind. A tidal wave of memories. Somewhere in my murky past I stood in just such a way, only against a large tree I think, and posed for a series of stills that ultimately got me 11 days of work in the movie Convoy. I was thinner and younger and in shorts instead of jeans. I was on camera in crowd scenes but my short speaking part was cut. And at this moment I remember more about that 11 days than I do about three years of high school. But it has given me hope. All is not lost. It is just the the CBT scrambled the connections.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Getting our of the Rut


I live in paradise, or darn close to it. Out-of-staters pay a bunch of money to come up and enjoy the cool mountain air and take in the views. The vacation home across from me has been proof of that the last couple months. But I will admit to sometimes taking it for granted. So this morning since I had an early morning pet sitting gig beyond Black Lake I decided to take advantage of having the camera in the car.

It had rained last night off and on and this morning the clouds were just breaking up over the mountains. I poured my coffee into a to-go mug and set out early. Time I figured to capture dawn over a strange mountain ridge.

Golden promise

Admitted this ridge was just five miles away but I am seldom there before the sun comes up.

A New Dawn

Same sun, same state, similar trees but so different it seemed from the dawn out my studio door. Maybe it was just the moisture in the air from the rain last night. Got an inch at my house.

Wheeler kissed by the sun
J. Binford-Bell

I cannot see Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico, from my house. I have to climb a hill or jump into the car and go a couple miles. This morning with the sun on the peaks and the fog at its base it looked like a scene from a movie. Well, they did film the Montana scenes of Lonesome Dove here.

Homestead by J. Binford-Bell

And Black Lake was founded by homesteaders and the 1862 Homestead act. You could get title to 160 acres if you made improvements and stayed on the land for 10 years. One enterprising local family had every single member do just that and then deeded them all over to one huge ranch. Decedents still run cattle here but there is any number of abandoned "improvements" about for us photographers. This is one of my favorites.

Promise by J. Binford-Bell

Fences were also improvements. And they gave birds a place to perch. The Indian Paint Brush wasted no time springing into late bloom now that the rains have come. Such a difference a day and a few miles make on attitude. And rain. Rain really helps when you are in a drought.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Narrow Passage

Slice of Sky by J. Binford-Bell


The path
seems to narrow these days
choices so few.

One foot
in front of another
toeing the line.

No room
or time for deviation.
No wiggle room

sits on either side
awaiting a misstep.

so confined
cannot even sit down and cry.

J. Binford-Bell
August 2012

And how
Did I arrive
At such a destination

Thank you for the honor
I nominate Wyoming Diva's Poem Missing

Friday, August 3, 2012

Why do you garden?

Garden August 2012

Oh, no, not another garden blog!! Yes, another. But this one is in response to a question which came up during a conversation with a new gardener: Why do I garden? And that is a really, really good question, because I have always been bad at it. Or at least that is my conception of my ability.

Mother was the perfect gardener. Never a weed to be seen and nothing dared not grow. I can remember gardens back to preschool days when we had a truck garden that covered a whole acre of land. And sold veggies at a road side stand in the summer and fall. We also sold eggs and puppies but that is another story.

My first garden of my own was in 1972. I was being earth mother. I raised goats, angora rabbits, geese and zucchini. I had never eaten a zucchini in my life but it was the only plant that survived Solomon and Sheba my two angora goats. Friends sent me cookbooks and recipes for zucchini and my collection of "Goats Don't Eat Zucchini" recipes for a future cookbook and cooking column began. Again another blog.

My failures from that first garden and the successes seemed to spur me on to try again and I got better. But then I was a gypsy for years living in apartments with no soil. I discovered and failed at the container garden with a success here and there. Aah, the year of patio tomatoes in Missouri!!! But since my failures seem to out number my successes why do I garden. I posed the question to some Facebook friends.

My photographer friend, Terry Atkins Rowe replied, "Love how it connects me to the seasons, and it's a small way to 'paint' my surroundings." That is very true for me too.

And Catherine in North Carolina wrote, "Gardening for me takes me to my Zen zone . . . totally focused on the moment and not thinking beyond making sure the task is done well." Yes, I can seen the Zen thing, but for me it is challenging my perfectionism. I am learning to accept that at this thing I am not perfect but I can still enjoy it lots.

Heather, my ether friend of many years in Australia replied, "I spend as much time in the garden as I possibly can. Hate being inside. I do all my thinking at this time. I find it calming and rewarding and like you, I don't mind getting my hands dirty. The sun on my shoulders on any given day will always lift my spirits." Amen, Sister. I was told by a physic friend that playing in dirt is grounding. As a child it was mud pies, and in winter it is repotting my plants. And summers it is attempting to do a not so perfect garden patch.

Cheryl says, "I am a student of the Art of Happiness, and gardening is one of my necessary textbooks. I love the design aspect of it, the sense of abundance I feel when I am able to pick a sweet cherry tomato, for instance, and pop the sun-warmed little beauty into my mouth. I love getting together a bouquet for some room in my house that I didn't have to bring home from a store. I love planting and dead-heading and watering by hand, which allows me to check in with each plant every single day that watering is needed. I feel more connected to Spirit while working in the garden or sitting in the garden than I ever have in a church. And I really love to sit in the shade on a summer morning and enjoy the beautiful little world that wouldn't be there if I hadn't worked hard to make it so." Wow, that says it all.

Then James, a friend of my sister's that I have gotten to know on Facebook wrote, "Seems to do a number of things for me. Color, I have always loved color and what it does to the world. Texture, how gardening can add so much texture to a setting. Seems to represent vivid life watching it grow and the cycles of life too. It removes me from all of the stress and distracts me from all the problems. It gives me relatively quick results from effort if you'll just get out there and do the effort. I came from a family that constantly worked in the yard and gardens and had the envy of all the neighbors. We probably had the highest water bill too. It takes years to build your soil and learning the science of soil is the clue to success. It's not just a ph thing it's much more than that, you have to work it. Drainage, water, oxygen, placement, propagation, replanting, root trimming, trimming, fertilization, minerals and just knowing your plants what they like and what they don't like specific to the variety. It's a whole library in your mind learned from years of observations and experiments, successes and failures and then trying again and again. It will give back to you what you put into it."

I am not that good at all the science part James mentions, and I certainly have not had the years and years of uninterrupted gardening in one spot. Seems like I just get to the edge of success and I move, or get divorced, or have to move my garden because of an addition to the house, or the climate changes. But still I garden. Why? What they all said. And the joy of popping food I grew into the freezer or dehydrator or mixing up a salad with my greens. Maybe it would have been cheaper to buy all that from the store but not nearly as rewarding. Or as clean and organic and good.