Saturday, March 30, 2013

God doesn't want your contingency plans

I had a rather different day planned yesterday. And I think everyone I met also had different plans bringing up the question as to why all doctor's offices close on Good Friday. Or Christmas Eve or 3th of July. There is even an an acknowledgement among medical professionals that those winding up in an emergency ward on a holiday or holiday eve may get less than best of care. Treat and street seems more common. And more critically ill patients will delay coming in until the first work day after a holiday when it could be too late.

Doctors, nurses and paramedics want time off. They are human and their families want to see them. So administrations at urgent care facilities and emergency wards juggle rotations to allow workers some time off to enjoy family events. At the same time holidays can be inherently dangerous times. Not just 4th of July with the fireworks or boating accidents. I was shocked some years back, when researching DWI crisis in New Mexico, to find out Good Friday could be one of the worst for alcohol induced car accidents. Not good.

But holidays can also be a time when we over indulge in food or exercise or stress. And it can be an excuse to delay seeing your doctor even if they are open. Mother was a classic, "I will go to the doctor after Christmas. I do not want to ruin the holiday."  She died on Thanksgiving, which was when I first heard the saying, "God does not want your contingency plans."

My head injury was on Christmas Eve. I came off of the CBT bubble (you can actually feel overly wonderful) on Christmas Day but told myself I would wait and go back to the doctor on Boxing Day. The good news is I did not die. We all probably know such stories or have lived them. I was just along for the ride yesterday. I played a role in convincing a friend they needed to not delay. My involvement did not stop me from identifying with those in the waiting room at the emergency ward. Whether prospective patient or relative, none of them wanted to be there. Some had obviously protested being dragged against their will to the hospital. I wondered which of them would not leave the way they had come.

I was out in the parking lot getting some air when the life flight helicopter started winding up its engines. The weather was rough and I found myself accessing whether I would want to be lifting off. I am sure the passenger was grateful for the extraordinary measures being taken to save his life following a car accident, but he was probably cursing his luck for ruining Easter for his family. If his family had survived the car wreck.

I had planned to do some garden prep yesterday after picking up some mulch and compost. Today the local landscaping and nursery stores are closed. And I don't think sobriety is going to be any better on Saturday of a holiday weekend than it was yesterday so I am staying home. I hope the staff at Holy Cross Hospital gets to have a boring day today.

Holy Cross Hospital Emergency Room Entrance

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

The Chaste Moon by J. Binford-Bell

Artist's StatementI have always loved colors, shapes, and patterns. I see dragons in the clouds, gnomes in the rocks, sprites dancing in the light, and sea nymphs in watery reflections. Since I was very young I recorded what I saw with crayons, pencils, clay, and paint, but a camera is one of my favorite tools since very young. Digital technology in cameras and dry darkroom has allowed me to show the world I see to others. I love its immediacy; the now of it. Nothing quite equals uploading a day’s images onto the computer screen. It is like opening a box of chocolates. There is always what you think you took and what you really did capture. My camera is my window to the world. Just having it in my hand or beside me in the car seat opens a whole new set of possibilities.

That may explain the photographic image above but it also explains why I collect crosses. both as wall decorations and as jewelry. I just love the shapes of them.

Crosses with house guard by J. Binford-Bell

And I am not above mixing my symbols.  Amid the crosses at the upper right is a house guard made for me upon the occasion of my moving from North Carolina. Yes, Virginia, North Carolina has a few pagans. It has been a while since I made an offering. No chickens or little kids involved. Just dried flowers offered. Suppose to keep my home safe and sound.

I made a mobile for my studio upon its completion. Sail on Solar Winds obviously needs rephotographed because my big computer crash a couple years back lost those images. It takes a tall ladder to reach the rice paper and willow branch outrigger at the peak of my vaulted studio ceiling. So it is also obviously behind in gifts. I need to fold up an origami crane offering.

Crosses and moons by J. Binford-Bell

I also like moons as iconic images. Two moons in this photo and one in the top photo. And the studio mobile features a moon and stars. For those that associate the cross with Christianity it is in reality one of the most ancient of symbols of man and has been used by many religions. It is frequently a representation of the division of the world into four elements or cardinal points. Alternately it represents the union of the concepts of divinity, the vertical line, and the world, the horizontal line. You could, therefore, say that Jesus dying upon a cross was symbolic of the unity of man and the spirit. And maybe that is why it is Good Friday.

 For more on Crosses see Wiki.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday

Phoebe Reverent

The Thursday of Holy Week in the Catholic calendar is Maundy or Holy Thursday or Covenant Thursday or Great and Holy Thursday or Sheer Thursday or my favorite Thursday of Mysteries. That seems to go best with the name for yesterday which is Spy Wednesday. Thursday of Mysteries was when Jesus, per the new testament of the Bible, washed the feet of the poor and also the day of the last supper. Confess it. Didn't you think the Last Supper was on Friday? Why else would it be good Friday? He was crucified on Friday.

Now here is the mystery as I see it -- Maundy Thursday was not necessarily the Thursday that proceeded Good Friday. Because there was Judas and the priests (ever wonder why priests and not rabbis) and the Romans involved, trial and torture and mobs calling for the prophet to be put to death. So we need to add at least a week or two. Knowing the Bible 40 days probably came in there somewhere. They were way fond of 40 days in those days. The days when they wrote the Bible. But that was really years. Like the gospels were not written for a hundred years. So the Matthew, Luke, Mark and John were not four of the 12 Disciples. But you knew that, right?

So here is my really big question: If Good Friday is the day Jesus died on the cross why is Easter the following Sunday. If he rose on the third Day that would be Monday.

Never good to give me time to think about religion. We do not even want to get into the travels of Buddha. Or where Mohammad found the mountain or if the mountain found him. Or how many pairs of arms the Goddess Vishnu has. But I digress (and could digress for hours on just questions on beliefs).

I took the above picture of Phoebe, who I am considering worshiping, with a statue of Vishnu (only one pair of arms in this depiction) and the blood red Geraniums on Spy Wednesday. And that has what to do with holy week you ask. I am thinking of having it done in stained glass for my first temple of Phoebe? Lent has addled my mind? More likely but no.

It is all about intent and focus. Set your mind, consciously or unconsciously, on a task for 40 days and nights (46 in this instance) and reality is shaped by that intent or focus. So be it the mountain top of the Delhi Lama or the Last Supper in the Upper Room or the wilderness of a lot of prophets the magic is the intent. Our inner alignment with the universe. That is the great mystery.

Okay, so would you believe I was originally going to write this blog about at last having a tenant for my apartment?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Four More Days

Full Worm Moon

Beautiful moon last night. I was searching for the definitive moon picture. This was from inside the studio with a beveled glass Gothic cross in front. One of the clearest ever pictures I have gotten of the moon. And further research into that old age question of how much of any photograph has to be in focus.

As I approach the last four days of Lent I find myself pondering the question of how much communication really communicates. Twitter with 140 characters (that is not words but key strokes); FaceBook, which began with 400 characters; and the infamous 10 second soundbyte on television news has definitely gutted communication.

And then there is the meme where no words are necessary. Due to the Supreme Court sitting in judgment this week to the equality in marriage even personal avatars are reduced to the equal signs. It was while pondering which of the many variations, an effort to put a personal twist on it, I wanted to use it struck me that there is no equality in marriage even among heterosexuals as the GOP has shown glaringly of late. It is one of many reasons I am not in a committed relationship. Women always seem more committed than men. No apparent meme for that one.

But then as I post processed my moon pictures this morning it struck me that a lot of relationships are out of focus. The world things US women have equal rights. We do not. Ask the Christian Right and they will tell you the rules of Christianity are very black and white. I have read the Bible and this is not true. Religion for me is definitely out of focus. BTW I do have images where the cross is in focus and the moon isn't. Saving one to post on Good Friday though frankly I have never understood what was good about it. Just another fuzzy aspect of religion.

Wish I could say as I near the final four days of my self imposed "silence" on FB status messages I had reached a clarity in the exercise. Some conclusions can be drawn: Nothing is as important as it seems when you look at that blank box, 2) Correcting another's conclusion is futile, 3) I think there is more value in mentioning what I fixed for lunch than some of the status messages out there. I am fixing a blackened Salmon with a goat cheese and capers sauce served with stir fried bokchoy and Swiss Chard with onion.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Long Road to Here

Kodak DuaflexII

I posed a question on my Creative Journey blog about my purpose in photography. And how I would sum up in 150 words my objective in this often on and off love of mine. Consider it a 150 word artistic mission statement. And as I have found before sometimes to know where you are going you have to know where you have been.

The Kodak Duaflex II camera above was not my first camera. I seem to remember a Brownie box camera that had been my mother's and then an Instamatic which I asked for as a Christmas present. My parents saw both of those cameras as tests. You take care of these and we will see, sort of test. Dad believed in getting us kids anything that furthered our interest in hobbies and arts. And because these were his interests he got himself the top of the line in rods and reels, cameras, leather work tools, etc. When he upgraded we got the cast offs which he had always taken the best of care with.

So when I was off to college and needed something other than the Instamatic for my photography courses he gave me the old Duaflex.

Camera view finder and case

It had seen and recorded Rome when I was just a baby so it was old when I got it but tried and true. I think my instructor coveted it while I coveted my father's new Leica. I got that when he bought the Cannon.

Soon after I upgraded to my first Pentax which was my first single lens reflex camera but entirely manual. I had learned photography on manual cameras and so when I bought my second Pentax which was automatic I never quite trusted it and used the manual over ride much of the time. Pentax one and two got me into the collecting lenses photographer hobby. All the above, by the way, were film cameras. Pentax number two broke on a Caribbean cruise which I finished up with the cardboard box disposable Kodak cameras. No way was I spending my vacation without a camera.

Once back on shore I started looking for a new Pentax while mine was being repaired, but they had changed their mount making the lenses I had not compatible with their newer models.

Then life got busy. The company I worked for moved me around so often it was hard to drop off film to pick up later. There was a divorce and the death of two parents. Digital was being touted as the way to go and a friend gave me a cast off digital Cannon fixed lens and viewer on the back. It was light, easy, fit in my purse. I hated it so I went out and bought myself a Nikon SLR film camera. I had money if not time so I got a couple expensive lenses too. To avoid forgetting where I dropped off my film I sent it in mailers to Seattle Photo Works. But when Nikon broke into the digital SLR world I jumped.

To sum up there was hardly ever a time I did not have a camera since I was about six. However, there have been times I was not sure where I put it. Months would go by without using it or I considered it just a tool to take photos of my masks and then my paintings or the places I wanted to paint. Then came the second Thelma and Louise road trip with my sister to Utah. She had a Sony digital camera and I had my Nikon film camera. I didn't get to see my pictures until I returned home and picked up the mail. That was 2004 and I have never forgotten where my camera is since. On the 2008 Thelma and Louise boat trip on Lake Powell I had the Nikon D70 and a laptop for immediate downloads. Debbie had her first Cannon digital SLR.

Okay, that is way more than 150 words. Reduce that to, "I have always had a camera." That leaves me with 144 words for why. Because a picture is worth 1000 words? And I have always been a rotten speller?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Willow Sunday

Wee Willow and The Darkness
expressing surprise that this is Willow Sunday

It is Willow Sunday. No, not Wee Willow Sunday though she is inclined to think so. Willow as in the plant. The alternate name for Palm Sunday being Willow Sunday is news to me, but it certainly makes sense. Palms do not grow everywhere. And even in my mountainous area willows are present and often the first sign of life as we emerge from winter. Though today any willow stupid to be trying to leaf out would have frozen. It was three degrees last night. And at this time we have not gotten above freezing.

Fortunately I had only two remaining tasks on the rental unit. Both inside. Adjust a closet door and hang a ceiling fan in the master bedroom. When my late ex-husband and I worked electrical construction together I got the ceiling fans. Actually I got most of trim out while Marc tied in the main panel. There is only two really important things to know about installing ceiling fans (or any light fixture to a lessor extent) 1) be sure the switch is turned off and 2) do not read the directions. However, do not toss the directions because you may need to refer to the pictures and diagrams.

All ceiling fans and light fixtures are made in China or Mexico these days. And they do not speak English let alone write it. The diagrams have a chance of being wrong and pictures a greater chance of being wrong, and under no circumstances rely on the photo on the outside of the box. This ceiling fan box very clearly noted that I need three light bulbs that were not included and showed a diagram of a large base bulb. Wrong. It took the little base candelabra bulbs. And it was a ceiling hugger inside the box but a stemmed fan on the box.

Installation went swimmingly in spite of these issues until the light fixture addition. It was then I noticed I had forgotten rule one. (see paragraph two) But other than the day has been without incident. Closet doors no longer bind and the ceiling fan works. That is why the switch was on. I was doing a test of connections before the time consuming installation of blades.

Still and all it went faster than yesterday's repair of my Windows Operating System. Seems Windows update had given me a corrupted NAVID file. Corrupted files cause a variety of cascade problems. But a friend had recommended to fix windows issues. Their program works but like the ceiling fixture story it is wise to not follow their directions. There is some sort of disconnect between the nerds that designed this wizard program and the sales and marketing people that did the directions. Like maybe the latter had never used a computer.

I double checked today to be sure I was out of Mercury in Retrograde. We are, but maybe I am not. The good news is that the computer, like the ceiling fan, works in spite of the directions. And it is only six more days to the end of Lent and I can return to ranting in my status box on FB instead of long blogs.

Hope you are having a happy Willow Sunday. Willow tells me she is.

BTW in some Chinese prison there is a 1/10th scale model of the US capital building being built out of the screws robbed from every ceiling fan and light fixture box before sealing and shipping.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Struts and frets

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Yesterday was about doing. Doing what I really didn't want to do in weather I did not want to do it in. March again gave us gale force winds chilling a day that would have been great without it.

I am trying to clean up my property. More specifically the huge mess the last tenants left. And a scrap wood pile the studio contractor left and I added to. It all has gotten totally out of hand. With no help from the winds this winter which more than any previous year seems to have blown in trash from Hwy 434. I hate litterbugs.

It all seemed to go so very slowly. Especially when you factored in hot tea breaks to warm the chilled bones and muscles. I would cup my hands around the warm ceramic of the mug and stare at my computer screen seeking diversion or some relief from the boredom of picking up chip wrappers and water bottles and beer cans. There was a full bottle of soda. How did that blow in? And then back to clearing up the scrap wood and lumber. Running up to the dumpsters with another full black trash bag.

The dumpsters are up wind on the road. They are supposedly bear-proof (if there is such a thing) or were before the locking lids broke. By bears? Or people just trying to get bigger stuff in them? And if they are not dumped on schedule the tourists just put their bags of trash at the base of the blue boxes. The out of control dogs and ravens do a good job with those, so more trash blowing the winds.

Yesterday seemed to last forever with not much progress on the jobs at hand.The trailer a friend left in my drive for this purpose seemed to get fuller, but the piles of scrap wood seemed about the same. Be nice to just burn it. Especially the raked up firewood scraps in the tenant's yard. But the winds and the dryness of the winter makes that impossible to even consider. It has to go to the transfer station to be burned in controlled conditions. When the winds got so bad I could not control the trash bags (had visions of floating away like Mary Poppins) or pieces of wood scrap I was carrying I quit. Today's weather is suppose to be worse. Blizzard. I have inside jobs in the rental unit to complete.

Wish I had taken before pictures. Something to measure my progress against. Just cleaning up trash is not as rewarding as remodeling the front porch or painting a picture. I kept thinking of worker ants taking yet another grain of sand to the top of the hill and turning around to go get another.

And it is still March.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March is the Longest Month

My turn to whine

I got a flat tire today. Well, it didn't get exactly flat but it was on its way to there when I noticed it and swung by one of the three places I can put air in it. Actually I swung by two. One was out of order. I think one is always out of order. And the other took quarters of which I had none. By the time I waited out the people getting gas (let me mention they put the air machine in absolutely the wrong place by the gas pumps) and got change for it the tire was really close to flat. And as I am filling it up I notice the huge nail. So off to my mechanic.

I have awful luck with tires. I have hardly ever gotten a puncture that can be plugged. Always on the sidewall or like this one too close to be safely plugged. So I have to buy a new tire. Well, actually two. It was a snow tire that was punctured and it is about time to take them off anyway. The new tires will not be here until Wednesday so I am running around on that little donut they call a spare. That restricts my travel, but my travel is a bit restricted by what I have to do this next few days anyway.

But I am sitting there adding up my finances in my head with things due before the end of the month, while talking options with my mechanic, and how to fit two new tires in the budget, and find myself shocked it is only the 21st. Why is it only the 21st?

On one level it is good it is only the 21st because the new tenant is moving in the 25th or 26th and there are a few buff and fluff tasks I need to get done. One of which is cleaning up the back yard of the rental unit. Yes, it seems like I have been trying to get that done for weeks but first it is the snow and now it is the wind. And this weekend it is suppose to be snow. Again! But the new tenant moving in before the tires arrive is good.

But it is still March! Why is it still March? I do not think it is fair to have a 28 day month followed by a 31 day month. And why do we have a 28 day month? I think it would make sense to take a day from March and one from say January, another really long month, and add those two days to February. It would make four 30 day months in a row and that sounds so much more survivable in winter. Let's put all the long months in Summer.

I was trying to tell myself March is this long this year only because of Lent and Easter not being until the 31st but really March is always long. There is weather and tax preparation and wanting to garden when it is entirely too early. It looked like rain this morning and so I cast out this mix of wildflower seeds for butterflies and humming birds. It did not rain. It is blowing all the seeds to Mora I am sure.

Please can March be over?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Just Ten More Days

Ten more days of Lent. Sacrifice ought to be getting easier. But it is not. I admit to having learned a lot by this whole experience. The biggest lesson learned is that social media depends upon drama queens. And if you are unwilling to provide some drama you are immediately as isolated as a prophet in the wilderness.

Lesson two is that what you are doing on social media overlaps to what you are doing in the real world. That was partly my intent -- to discover just how much I have to be the one who initiates a conversation. Friendships should be two way streets. Conversations on the phone, between neighbors and on the ethernet take two people or more. Note: this was a test for me and not my friends. I have this weakness of trying to fill dead air. And I have been filling it as it were with more times with dogs, books, blogs, exercise, meditation, and photography.

But every once in a while I get this burning desire to share something. I just want to get on Facebook and fill the status comment square, or call a friend and tell them what just happened. Yesterday, for reasons I cannot explain was a treacherous day for breaking my Lenten vow. I had to apply by test question, "How important is it really?" more than once. Okay I confess I could have been in the double digits. But yesterday was a day in the real world where people checked in with, "have not heard from you lately? You okay?"

If you want to know how important you are in the universe stick your finger in a bowl of water and see what impression you have left when you take it out.

Yesterday there was another young man between 15 and 35 that wanted to make a lasting impression by shooting a whole bunch of people. One of the streaming videos said he had the same time of gun and barrel magazine as the Aurora shooter. I tried to remember that mass annihilator's name and could not. Or the shooter at Sandy Hook. That got me thinking of Gettysburg and the Civil War. We remember a short address by President Lincoln at the cemetery but I had to Google the generals of both sides.

So this is the question for you? Do you remember the heroes?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What you can miss while texting on your iphone

Big Horn Sheep

My friend Jessica and I went looking for animals to photograph, and specifically yesterday we were looking for Big Horn Sheep. A few weeks ago, totally by accident, we stumbled on the Red River flock. I knew these gentle and magnificent animals had been reintroduced into Arizona and then New Mexico wilderness areas after having been almost totally killed off by diseases carried by domestic sheep. I did not know how well they were doing until I saw them in Red River, and then yesterday along the eastern and western edges of the Rio Grande River Gorge.

In the two weeks since the accidental sighting along the Red River photographers have been quietly telling us where else they can be found. But as the picture above indicates you have to look closely. They camouflage quite nicely, and make you wonder how many I have seen but not noticed.

Watching Us

This small flock with two adult rams was along an escarpment defining the path of the Rio Grande River as it emerges from the Rio Grande Gorge. You had to look up. This light colored ram half way up was one of the first we noticed and we were seriously looking for them. Focusing on this beautiful ram we almost missed the girls and youngsters. We parked below and were deciding to walk up so we did not spook him when we noticed almost right beside us the rest.

Moving single file

We sat down on a berm beside the road so we could steady our cameras and were safely out of the way of the sporadic traffic. Two women with big cameras and long lenses - not the little snap takers or an iphone. Now while the sheep were above the eyes of the average passenger in a car we were not. And yet only one of three cars actually noticed what we were doing and why. Only one out of four slowed its progress to lean out the window or pop through the sun hood to take a picture.

Yeah, they might be old hat for the locals but you would think the visitors would be enthralled. Not. And the Big Horns were doing everything to be a photo opportunity.

Perfect Pose

I took over 500 pictures of these wonderful animals. My friend Jessica a similar amount. They seemed to have no fear of us. The rams looked majestic, the ewes uninterested, and the kids from last spring practiced their climbing skills.

Going down

Our lives, even our vacations are so jammed packed with things to do we not only do not stop and smell the roses but we miss what is right beside us.

Sentry duty

So take a tip from the Big Horns and stop and look at the world around you. Or just lie down on a warm basalt rock and watch the river below you.

Nap Time

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I have put it off long enough

I hate getting my financial records ready for my tax accountant. And for years I had myself to getting them to her by March 1st. You may notice we are 17 days past that time. I really have to get it done today. I owe no money so no doubt she will file an extension. That is cool because I am getting nothing back. In point of fact I really probably would not have to file this year.

But I have a business that made no profit in 2012 and a rental unit that I only got six months of rent for. But hopefully both of those things will change next year. And if they do and I didn't not file this year I will get audited. Point of fact it is probably only 30 minutes for the accountant of plugging in my numbers into the computer. And only a couple hours of me sorting receipts and finding out how much I did not make. That is the truly depressing part.

Admittedly 2013 is beginning better already. No, let me amend that. March 2013 has shown an uptick. And I have stopped buying art supplies every time I feel like it. Okay, Thursday I bought four archival ink pens. Shipping has gone up as I found out on Friday, and supplies are more expensive. And sitting down and sorting through receipts will make it clear I have to raise some prices, not include shipping in a sale, and again face whether or not it makes sense to be an artist and landlord.

That is the part I dread. And in the last couple of years with a down economy it has become painful. At one time I thought I was well buffered for "retirement" but lots of things have changed. The mutual funds went into the studio (and in part to a ruthless contractor from hell), and the art market that was my play money stopped supporting my play, and tenants started not being responsible and even more broke than me. I am looking at a reverse mortgage to be able to stay in my house long term.

And it isn't just me. Two of my friends are seeking a refinance to lower bills. One was turned down just recently. Yes, interest rates are low but willingness to lend money is low too. Though I have found out by talking to these friends that my land is worth a lot more than it was.

Yes, it is just one year of taxes I have to file. Yes, I have to consider just the receipts and expenses for 2012. But let us face it. This unfair requirement for people that make nothing just makes us angry because we know the 1% has someone else do this for them and they are bitching about a possible 2% tax increase at the expense of all the rest of us. Tax forms are so complex if you have a business that I do need someone to do them for me and paying that person becomes just another form of tax. What if none of us filed?

Oh, well, the only thing certain is death and taxes. I will put up a folding table in the studio among my plants and the sunshine through the windows and scatter the receipts about and sort while drinking too much green tea and allow myself more chocolate.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Proud of me

House with the porch barrier

The previous owner of my residence fancied himself an accomplished carpenter among other things. He enclosed both the back porches and the front porch. I removed the back enclosures some years ago because he did not reinforce the supports for the porch before he did it. The weight was tearing the porch away from the house.

That support problem did  not  occur in the front but it made the entry to the house dark and totally hid the rental unit door. I hated it but felt it helped keep the blowing snow off the porch. Today I decided I would rather shovel the snow.

Three feet of barrier to porch cut away

I cut away three feet of the deteriorating surround on the porch and revealed the original center support of the overhang. The opening on the left was covered with paneling before I removed it. By removing it you can now see both doors to both units A and B. This will also make it way easier to get furniture moved into unit A. And I found some cedar boards I had and finished off the edge unlike the previous carpentry. I now need to remove the wild rose bush right in front of the opening. Do not worry about the rose. It has spread clear across the front and around the corner. I will be trying to control on a small fraction of it.

Another great benefit from this modification is from my front door I can see my sentinel tree. And there is more light in both entry halls. Also the driveway is totally visible. With some limitations due to the ever growing spruce tree. Imagine the opening on the right closed off with boards to see how the world outside my door was limited before. I didn't take it all down because the wind does come from the right. I figured that would help with blowing snow. And it is a great place to keep the snow shovel.

View from my door
I feel as if I have let in the light and freed myself up. I am not sure why today was the day I decided at last to do this. They weather was suppose to turn foul, but this morning it was beautiful and I figured now was the time. I would get as much done as possible before the snow came. And it hasn't. It is still 47 degrees and I keep walking to my front door and looking out at my opened up world.

I am so proud of me for finally doing it. And doing a good job of it with my power tools.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Not all about me

The cat bench

If there is a lesson to be learned from this 46 days of retreat it is that it isn't all about me. As an artist trying to make it through trying economic times I must admit I sometimes forget that. Especially in light of shameless self promotion. The new art market is the internet and it takes more than just a website. In fact websites may be going the way of the book store these days. Along with galleries and art fairs.

What is hot in this day and ethernet age is Facebook, Twitter and blogs. And an artist needs all three and Google + I am not a tweet twit though I have a twitter account and post links to my blogs routinely. Blogspot makes that very easy. And also linking to Facebook and Google +.

And the marketing gurus tell you that you must be active on all platforms to catch the attention of the art buyer. This has been one of my good weeks in that regard. I have sold two photographs on gallery wrap canvas largely because of my posts on my Facebook fan page. Well, one of my fan pages. I also have one with my sister Binfords Back Country Photography. And there is this blog and Creative Journey with its pages of my recent works.

What made fairs so successful in their heyday was that shoppers got to meet the artists up close and personal. We are to some degree seen as rather weird creatures. And when you are standing in your booth with the crowds milling by you begin to feel like a monkey in a zoo. You tell yourself it is about your art and not about you. But bottom line is if people like you they are more apt to purchase your art.

That can be overlooked on Facebook. You try to separate your personal life on your timeline page from your professional life on your fan page and you can to some degree. But the lines are very rapidly erased in the heat of expressing a political opinion or defending women and their rights. Hey, us artists have opinions. Sometimes really strong ones.

Stepping back from my personal page on Facebook was a way to redefine the line for me. And to see that constantly posting status messages is not unlike hogging the conversation at lunch. For there to be a true conversation you have to listen too. Just shutting up and only listening is not easy for me. And I am looking forward to Easter when I can again post a personal status message on my Timeline.

But meanwhile I have focused more on my Fanpages and posting work there and the result has been increased sales of my photographs. And I have gotten more work in the studio done. My timeline seems so eerily quiet when I am not inciting debate.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Recap of the Week Past

Mining Car by J. Binford-Bell

A friend asked how I was doing on my resolution to avoid personal status messages during Lent, and instead only post links and photographs - say it in pictures instead. And I think I have slipped a bit by adding to much comment in the form of a caption from time to time. There are only 20 more days of Lent so it is downhill from here. Not being able to dash out an emotionally charged status message on Facebook or Twitter makes for more consideration of what is really important. And I have noticed how much of all that is just automatic response like a well trained rat.

However, every once in a while I come upon a burning desire to share something. Like the winning of third place in a professional photography exhibit. Fortunately I was able to share that on my FanPage which I exempted from the Lenten agreement. Besides it was a professional post and not a personal one. Right.

Grande Dames of Valle Vidal

Artists I think have very poor boundaries between professional and personal. And maybe that is good. We are invested in our work.

I also finished a painting I had been working on for a very long time. Or not working on for a very long time. I have trouble with middles. My mother called it a lack of follow through. But I do follow through. Ultimately.

Ceremony by J. Binford-Bell

Sometimes ultimately just takes longer than others. There is I have found a direct correlation between the ultimate culmination and the difficulty of the problem. But also when I do finish I am that much more happy with the conclusion than with those that come easily. Ceremony and two other paintings were dropped off at the Old Pass Gallery this Friday when I went to pick up my photographs from the Ralph Solano Professional Exhibit and discovered I had won 3rd place.

Other high points of the week included finding out my cell phone has survived, getting a verbal commitment to rent on my apartment, and taking the first step on a reverse mortgage. On the downer side was the return of winter after several days of spring. But what I fixed for lunch or what the weather will be for that day (one of my slips) no longer seems so important.

And last night I began a drawing for a new painting. Rather off my usual subject matter but I tell myself it is good to challenge yourself from time to time. Maybe it just fits into that whole 40 days in the wilderness mind set. Forty-six this year.

One question I would love to post a status message on is: If your display driver stopped and recovered (NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver) is that a screen problem or a tower problem? My problem on Windows 7 problem?

Obviously Facebook status messages are about more than having lost 2.3 pounds in the last week.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Problem As I See It

In my last blog I wrote about the Burger King trainee not having been taught how to securely put the lid on the very hot coffee, and the subsequent back floating cell phone because I was more concerned about the hot and the stains. I resolved to swear off of fast food drive throughs and most specifically Burger King for all time. In and out.

Friday I drove to Raton, New Mexico on one of my periodic trips. I generally start out early after coffee and require a pit stop at some point. The outdoor johns in Cimarron Canyon State Park have been a timely favorite but they now want to charge us women $5.00 just to pee when men get to do it right beside the road. Another option is always the St. James Hotel in Cimarron but I feel every third time or so I should stop and enjoy breakfast perhaps. So the New Mexico State park is cheaper but I get no food there.

Cimarron also has a visitor's center but it is never open on my way out to Raton. And as you can see by the picture above there are not a lot of trees for even scant privacy. So eliminating all those possibles I cruise into Raton trying to cross my legs while driving. The first reasonably clean restroom is the McDonald's and I hit it about the time for an Egg McMuffin and another cup of coffee. So I am thinking as I neared the exit I didn't swear off of fast food restaurants for inside service beyond Burger King. But even though I indulge in fast food only a couple times a month it might be a good idea. At least for the balance of Lent.

Where I am heading, Old Pass Gallery, has a restroom but I always feel so self-conscious about walking into a place and heading straight for the loo. So I stopped at the Raton Visitor's Center at the corner. Yes, I headed straight for the loo but I had a couple other reasons to stop. I wanted to pick up some local information to see if I had missed anything. And I always drive by saying I should stop and photograph the mine cars.

Raton Mine Car

Turned out to be a delightful decision. Friendly staff, some good information, a free New Mexico Magazine the town was featured in, and of course the pictures of the mine cars. The one employee also recognized my name when I signed the register as the writer of the Red River Miner's cooking column, Goats Don't Eat Zucchini. Okay, Northern New Mexico is a little pond.

Speaking of ponds, the cell phone that did the back stroke in the console pool of coffee is still working. I feel I should post my solution which seems to be suitable for accidents while traveling where blow dryers and bags of rice and the luxury of not using your phone for 24 hours aren't available. Take the cell phone apart. Best to pull over to do this. Definitely take out battery and SIMS card. Pat the open cell phone on a seat cover, napkins or even clothing if nothing else is available. Wipe away as much moisture as possible from all elements then turn on the defroster on high but low heat and place the cell phone, open back down on the vent on your dash. Do not do this with the back or the SIMS card as you may lose them. Wait as long as possible to reassemble.

Having depended on fast food restaurants for clean restrooms I am going to have to Google the location of all Visitor Centers I pass on my routine travels. I suppose with the Sequester it is useless to ask the state or interstate highway system to fund more rest stops. Or for the New Mexico Park system to have a cheap senior rate for annual permits. I get into National Parks for free with just a one time $10 fee but would have to pay $40 a year for a state park permit.

The End

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yesterday's Messages from God

No, I did not hear voices. But sometimes if I we are really attentive to the moment, totally in the here and now, I believe the cosmic consciousness sends us hints about what is going to happen or directions we should take. Even science acknowledges it to some degree with a tip of the hat to synchronicity or telling us there is no such thing as coincidences.

Admittedly some of the most persistent of messages can be THE UNIVERSE IS OUT TO GET YOU. Or some modification of that like BURGER KING IS OUT TO GET YOU. Yesterday as I was hitting BK for a croissant breakfast sandwich the drive through clerk was obviously in training. Note to Burger King - DO NOT PUT TRAINEES ON THE DRIVE THROUGH WINDOW. She did not put the lid on the hot coffee right and when I grabbed it I spilled coffee all over my lap, the center console of the car and paperwork sitting in the other seat. I did not exactly say please and thank you but I did not cuss when I told her what she did in my Bad Dog voice. I grabbed for the napkins in the sack and there was one. Not sufficient to mop everything up while she gave me another cup of coffee and closed the window too fast for me to ask for more.

Lucky for her I was on a schedule to get to Santa Fe for an appointment with a HUD Reverse Mortgage Counselor. Unlucky for me I did not realize that the black cell phone in the coin holding area of the black console was doing the back stroke. When I did realize it I immediately took it apart and wiped the various parts against my jeans. Hey they were already overly splashed with coffee. What is a few more drops. I took the body of the cell phone and put it open side down on the defroster vents and turned the defroster to room temp and high fan. Directions for home drying of cell phone says do not start it up for 24 hours but I figured the back stroke in coffee for 20 minutes made it toast and I needed it to work to connect with friend from Albuquerque that had called me just as I was leaving home. We decided to meet up for lunch at Zia Cafe.

She brought boyfriend. Girl friends change when they have boyfriends so lunch was really awkward. And attempt to shop after lunch at one of our favorite consignment stores even worse. I came home from Santa Fe early really bummed out because the Zia Cafe has also taken a nose dive on food quality. All good things must come to an end or for every thing there is a time. But the cell phone is still working. And I will never be tempted to buy a croissant sandwich at Burger King ever again. I got that message loud and clear. Maybe I should give up all fast food (which is no longer fast) from now on even if it is a very rare treat.

I also got to review cell phones and whether they really serve a purpose in my life. Do I need to be that connected? Jury is still out but I think it is good to look at what we consider necessities in our lives from time to time. Are our modern conveniences convenient or are we their slaves. And walking around Santa Fe half the day with coffee stains let me review my attachment to looking good. There is a time and place when I would have just had to buy new jeans before showing up to my appointment. Or gushing out a lengthy explanation as to why I was not looking perfect.

And I decided holding on to a friendship with a great long history isn't working for me. Maybe one day she will return to be the person I know and love. Or not. The outcome be it coffee baths, cell phones or friends in new relationships is absolutely totally out of our hands.

Thank you spirit.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Still Missing

Still have not found my favorite battery powered emergency light. The lights were out for three hours. No news as to what caused it. The plane crash was not until much later after the high winds kicked in. Power outages in my neck of the woods happen generally because of weather and now and again a driver that runs off the road and downs a telephone pole.

Spring is one of those seasons when we are most likely to get outages because the snows are thick and heavy. But today it looks as if it is going to rain instead. In fact the air smells like spring. So to avoid stumbling around in the dark again I put the Dewalt flashlight back where it is suppose to be, and then decided to install the solar powered shed light in my living room. The needed hole to pass the charge wire through was there having been drilled by a previous cable company. So now there is a solar power mounted light on the wall just above my computer desk. No way am I taking that and putting it in the wrong place.

No emergency system works perfectly which is why there should always be a plan B and plan C. Shit happens and as Murphy explained in his famous laws usually at the worst possible time. My neighbor's expensive generator with the very pricey automatic transfer switch didn't transfer yesterday during the outage. I evidently, they found out after power came back on, had not been starting up daily to keep itself powered up (see reference yesterday to being sure the cell phone was charged), and they had not checked for three weeks. Note to self: All emergency plans need periodic review.

I think today I am going into my studio and work on clearing my mind. I am willing to bet the emergency light will be found where I have already looked but only when I am not looking for it any more.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Where were you when the lights went out?

So there I was drinking my second cup of coffee this morning when the lights went out. As my frequent readers know I am an early riser. And the lights going out is not a rare occurrence in winter but there was absolutely no causative weather. But it was Mercury in retrograde. Boy was it ever.

I have this emergency lantern in the kitchen that is suppose to go on when the power goes out. It didn't. And I have oil lamps, candles and various flashlights. I try to keep the flashlights in the same locations so whether I am upstairs or down stairs I can quickly find a light source. It was so pitch black, however, that I all I seemed to find was the corner of tables, fur kids and their bones.

I finally made it to the area near the fireplace where I know I have those propane lighters for the fire and a couple candles and two oil lamps. I need to buy more lighters. They do not want to light of late and I have placed a box of wooden safety matches near them as backup but only about one in four of those light. Finally got a candle lit and went to find the flash lights. The upstairs flashlight was in the location for the downstairs free standing battery light. And it was not upstairs where the flashlight had been assigned.

I lit several more candles and the oil lamp (one of the two definitely needs more oil). Note to self: lamp oil, propane lighters, and matches that actual work. It is clear by now, since this has taken some time, that the power is not coming right back on so I started a fire and placed my coffee mug on top of the wood stove to warm my coffee. One cup of coffee is not adequate to deal with Mercury in retrograde. And then I go looking for the missing emergency light as it is easier to read my Kindle by. Addition to note to self: Never throw the last piece of firewood on the fire before going to bed, get a lighted case for Kindle, and neon collars for the black fur kids.

Next on agenda as the power was not on yet was to find the dumb phone (one that does not require electrical power to do its thing) and plug it in to the line to replace the smart phone. Find phone book. Find cell phone. Addition to note to self: Pre-program the outage number for the electrical company on to the cell phone so you do not have to find dumb land line phone and phone book. Oh, and charge the cell phone. And buy more batteries - AAA, AA, D.

Thankfully the sun came up eventually. Immediately my sister called for her weather report. I was not in the mood. I had not found the emergency light I am missing or a note pad for that note to self list.

In my defense it is Mercury in Retrograde. And I have been involved in two things which have created total chaos in the normal placement of things - the refurbishing of the rental unit, and the search for mortgage and appraisal documentation mentioned in the previous blog. So to the every growing Note to Self add - establish order. And sanity.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Take it Day by Day

Shadows of the Day

It occurs to me that if you are a Lama on top of a mountain or a monk in a monastery someone must be in charge of the day to day aspects of life beyond chopping wood and carrying water. Today was about paying some bills, realizing that I need to get my taxes ready to go to the preparer and trying to locate all my mortgage papers, appraisals and various property papers.

The latter took up so much of my time I did not get to the taxes. I thought I had all my mortgage papers in one place with other legal documentation. However, because of the lawsuit with the Contractor-from-Hell, I had pulled out various documents and forwarded it to my attorneys. I was sure they had given me back my copies at the end of the court case. And I was equally sure I had filed them back in some secure location. It was just that there could have been three or four places that made sense based on whether they went with legal documents, back in the original place, or stayed with all the other paper work on the lawsuit.

And it made infinite sense while weeding through ream after ream of paper we define our lives with to sort out some unnecessary chaff and to also organize more logically. I at last found the original appraisal and the original mortgage as well as the 2004 refinance. Then there were the building permits and plans for the studio addition. And a critical path timeline developed from all these documents. Rather like a forensic exploration.

I confess to throwing out vague guesses when asked as to how old the house is, etc. The well was drilled in 1981 which means the house was most likely built some time after that. I am guessing a few years as the builder built three duplexes in a row. Mine being the last but all wells were drilled at the same time. I bought it in November of 1996. I almost always say 1997 which was the year of my divorce but Marc and I did not divorce until the following year. I refinanced and re-drilled the well in '97 too. Busy year. I also tried to sue the seller as he had lied about the well. He was my first experience with the new inferior breed of Christian.

I began the studio and refurbished the rental unit in 2007 and finished the studio in 2009. All that stuff and balance on mortgage and square foot of the finished structure (2834) will be on the quizzes I will face as I try to obtain a reverse mortgage or refinance. I have an appointment with a HUD Counselor in Santa Fe on Wednesday.

Head injury was December 24, 2001 so I did need to study up. Cram even. It has made for a long but ultimately successful afternoon. I started a fire so I could burn those document copies I am weeding out from the lawsuit. Who needs a shredder with a wood stove?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Say It In Photos

Dos Cruxes by J. Binford-Bell

As I child I stuttered until the third grade and so learned to not open my mouth much. I did not speak up in class until my freshman year in college and then only if asked a direct question. I was known to get violently ill before oral book reports. I almost did not graduate college because I had not gotten up the guts to open my mouth in front of a group to give a speech.

Mother, the former cub reporter for the Kansas City Star, told me I could not write or spell and was dismal at grammar. So I drew pictures and fell in love with my first Kodak Instamatic camera. After all isn't a picture worth a thousand words? And I got positive reinforcement for pictures.

I might have been totally non-verbal except for Mr. Mealy in high school. He told me I could write. And that was echoed by several college teachers. And when I finally managed to deliver my first speech in that long put off college class I was immediately both enthralled and scared to death. And soon after I found out I had inherited (or learned) my mother's skill of stinging one liners.

So this 46 days of not posting status messages on Facebook has been an interesting mediation on my life. I have carried it over to the "real world" by not being the first to speak beyond "hello." BTW as a high school junior I once went for 30 days without speaking unless spoken to. Nobody, even my mother and father, noticed. And I went to a retreat once of four days where we all vowed silence except in morning and evening song.

I have become it seems since my head injury (after a period of not being able to communicate again - even back to the stutter) a blabber mouth. So much so I am often not even conscious of what I am saying or for that matter posting in the Ethernet. I am now a great deal more conscious of what I say or post. This is a good thing.

And I have gone back to trying to make my photographs speak for me. Not just pretty snaps of elk and deer.

Be a Girl by J. Binford-Bell

If you shut up it is amazing at what you can see even in the simplest of objects.

The Creamer by J. Binford-Bell

And I seem to still be more agile at making people look than I am at making them listen. The world seems so full of noise these days. Even an almost empty store has a couple people talking on cell phones to people not even in the venue. So close your mouth and open your eyes might be good for more than just me. And if you are not talking you can listen better. If only people were all saying something more meaningful.

"Choose your words wisely," Dad used to tell me to help me stop stuttering.