Saturday, August 31, 2013

Got Sidetracked Last Week

Magique Pointing a Bird

Magique is not a pointer. She is supposedly a retriever mix - Standard Poodle and Labrador. But like her owner sometimes she just gets a wild hair. A couple weeks ago I decided to go back to freelance writing. I used to do a lot of it before the infamous head injury. It was a good way to make money from home. Well, mostly from home because generally at some point you have to go out and do some footwork.

The local newspaper wanted a freelance writer and it seemed an easy and painless way to find out if I could still do it. I do, after all, keep a couple blogs going. But it is a bit like sourdough bread. The first batch is a bit difficult because you have to get the mother started. And then reacquire your skills in kneading, etc. And before I just did the articles or the photographs. Very seldom both. not easy to handle a camera and a pen and notebook and remember what it was you were going to ask the person standing before you.

And with a local newspaper there is some local knowledge required. Yes, I am local but I do spend a lot of time in my ivory tower, er studio. To try to shorten an already long story I didn't do this blog last Monday because I was trying to turn out three articles for the local paper on deadline. And as I am typing this I keep looking over at the notes I completed this morning on two of the three articles I have to do by noon this Monday.

I think I am good. Better this week than last. I have learned some things and relearned others. I have discovered the camera is a great way to take notes. And social media is a great way data check. Most people have business cards because their email address is to long. If I put cards in order in my pocket helps keep the story on track especially if I make a quick note on back of each. I need a business card for writing and photography, and I think I need a short and easy to spell out email address just for reporting.

All which brings me back around to my art business which seems to be picking up. I really need to print new cards for it. I think I am getting rid of my website for my art. My blog Creative Journey in conjunction with my fan page gets better traffic and action. So should I start a freelance writing blog? To make money at this I have to do it for more than just the local rag. And I keep finding myself stumbling on to larger issues while covering the local art fair. So what does one do with all those side notes to self labeled for future development?

Maybe that is something I will find out next week.

Monday, August 19, 2013

End Days of Summer

Don't know that we had a spring. And some would argue we didn't really have a winter. The lack of moisture seemed to have effected everything. And when it came at last it was as if nature wanted to cram all the months past into one week. Friends are even already reporting the leaves of Aspens turning gold.

In the last week there has been a nip in the air mornings. Hoodies are again my morning computer time attire. And I washed the lap blanket for my legs. Time soon to dig out the house slippers from where ever they have lost themselves. Knowing me and them, under the computer desk or the easy chair. Which brings me to fall cleaning. And the often endless list of to do's before the snow flies. There is talk of an early winter.

And this year it is not just my end of summer tasks but those of a neighbor recently widowed. We debate what she wants to pay me for vs what I would do out of friendship. With luck we will have an Indian Summer and lots more time to get it all done. Though in truth it doesn't always get done every year. I look at my list and star some because they were skipped last year - like the draining of the sediment out of the bottom of the water heater.

In the last couple of days I have cleaned out behind the washer and dryer and gotten the link out of the insides of the dryer. I have pulled the thorny weeds from the back of my yard, and at last knocked down all the stored cardboard boxes and stacked them up to be hauled to the recycling center. And neatened up the framing wood on the rack in the hall. Those two things will make it possible to do the water heater. There is just a bit more wood to be moved to my new makeshift lean to for it. And a friend is stopping by with her trailer on the way to the transfer station so I can add my two bits worth.

Not bad for August. There is still September with good weather for outdoor tasks. And with luck parts of October. But this week is mostly going to be about now. Appointments and stuff. Return to business as usual which has not been usual all summer. Most of it went watching the skies and hoping for rain. Waiting for things to happen. Now that it has I am rather like the flowers; trying to sprout, bloom and seed all at once.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ode to The Darkness

The Darkness Lording it Over the New Studio Construction
I so miss her

My black cat
slinking by in the shadows
silently always there
Watching over me
The Darkness.

J. Binford-Bell
August 2013

With Wee Willow her misses her too

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Social Networking and Angst

It has been a dozen years since I began my first online journal on the now extinct Y!360. It was more than a blog and less than a chat room. And in spite of my proclamations to the contrary more than a social network. I made some long and fast friends and some not so fast as it were. And as Yahoo brought it to a close we followed each other to various other social platforms to stay connected.

I came here because of its blog capacity and not its social networking. It took me a while to miss my ethernet friends that migrated to Multiply and then to Facebook grumbling all the way. I miss Y!360 still. It was a unique experiment and not everyone's cup of tea. But those of us that loved it have not been quite happy with anything else we find. And too many have learned to grumble all too well.

When the dictators come out and think they can reshape the social platform and those on it I escape to the quiet of my forest - my blog - where I can do what it was I first sought the blogosphere for  - on line journalling. There seems to be a trend on Facebook, my social network part of this connected experiment, to dictate what friends post. Or at least attempt to. There was a war about posting what you cooked for dinner. And then the war about doing status messages about the weather or the chores you did for the day. Now it is posting too many pictures. Or sharing too many photos of Johnny C. Depp.

I use Facebook in combination with my blogs on Creative Journey as promotion of my small art business. Networking. Facebook has fan pages for me and my artistic friends to do this. We also use the Group function to hold "meetings" on line. Binford-Bell Studio on Facebook as a business but has evolved also into a social network location for my friends from my primary page to talk art and photography. And I have fans on that page that are not friends on my primary page in Facebook.

That led me to thinking this morning when I was so upset at the dictators telling me what to post that my Timeline on Facebook is not about them. It is about ME. I have even made it accessible by in large to friends and friends of friends only. It is my on line diary. I record what my day has been about for me and if some of my friends care, and comments would show they do, then that is fine. Those friends usually have their settings to see my postings in their news feed. As I have friend by friend set my options to see what they post.

What I post on my Timeline (on line diary) includes especially good recipes and meals, my newest exercise program, great times with friends in the earthly world, links to things that really interest me and I want to do further research on and, Yes, pictures of Johnny Depp.

I post my angst and elation on blogs here in blogspot. I link those blogs to my Timeline for those friends that care. Please ignore if you do not. I ignore your negative comments be they here or there or Google+. And if they are rude I delete them or do not publish.

Bottom line: This is all about me.

Oh, and some keeping up with those dear friends from Y!360 I wish to keep up with

Monday, August 12, 2013

That Was The Week That Was - Week 32

I know it was week 32 because I do that 365 Day Photography challenge weekly blog on Creative Journey. Though I must confess I recently double checked that because I was pulling photos out of a folder marked week 33. That all probably comes under the category of TMI - Too Much Information - for those out of the texting loop.

It was a week about completion and rain and flowers. It was about rediscovering my garden. Seems to have gotten along without me quite well. Hail storms had necessitated the replacement of the plastic cover. While at that task I opted to put a double fold of the old plastic just across the top to help cushion the other plastic and add more protection from hail. The squash plants have developed a powdery mold which I am told will respond to aspirin dissolved in a misting bottle and sprayed on the leaves.

I harvested Swiss Chard, Collard Greens and Kale which I chopped and blanched and then frozen in an ice cube tray. These cubes are to be used this winter to make Mean Green Smoothies. Need to harvest more Swiss Chard to freeze up in measurements for quiche this winter. Love Swiss Chard and thin sliced ham with green chili quiches.

Another boon of the gardening this week was the harvesting and dehydrating of herbs. I love curly parsley and spicy oregano. Both are hard to get unless you grow them. And I harvested my garlic this week. The tomatoes are huge and it is going to be a race between ripening and freezing.

I think I have once again over planted. Next year I am going to go for the minimalist look. Need to make a note of that in my gardening journal which has also been abandoned this last month.

Polytunnel with new under-cap

It has rained lots this last week. And with the rain we had before it has turned the valley green, while providing great opportunities for us photographers in love with clouds.

All of which has brought us flowers. And that feeling of impending fall just around the corner. I read somewhere that Summer Solstice is not the first day of summer but the middle. Rather makes sense when you get up and feel that nip in the air.

With the added moisture all the flowers are taking advantage. All the wildflowers have bloomed at once. And the domestic ones in gardens seem to be celebrating the wet.

The last month has put me in mind of my first fall in Washington, DC. From the first moment I moved there I was anticipating seeing the eastern fall colors. But I got involved in a political campaign for the senator I worked for. He lost and I missed all the colors. I remember walking home from the SOB - Senate Office Building on the Wednesday following election day and trampling on wet and soggy fallen leaves drained of all their precious life and color.

Reminder to self: Never get so busy you miss life again.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Celebration and Duty and Healing

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel
I was one of the generation which found the rituals of our parents no longer valid. We are the Vietnam Generation. How sad our lives should be defined by a war. Some of us went to war and some of us went to war against war. A lot of us in our way questioned the older generation and its wars and rituals. And now we are that older generation. Many of those who fought in Vietnam and survived their tours of duty are now dying because of exposure to Agent Orange. It is bringing us all to places we thought in our youth we would never be.

Friends and clouds gathering

We celebrated the life of Steven Ryan Oliver on what would have been his birthday. Steve would have been the first to tell you he did not want a funeral. He was a Buddhist and a Vietnam Veteran. No doubt he faced the possibility of a death in a nameless jungle in a country we all did not know existed until our friends started vanishing into it. Just another missing in action. But he returned and became an integral part of the communities where he lived. The hole he has left in the community here, his last, has to be healed. It is for that community, his widow, Janet Graham Oliver, decided to have a ceremony. No not a funeral. Our generation does not do funerals really.

Jackie, Sally, Danny and Julia Margaret
All friends
In reflection
We are re-inventing the rituals we cast out because they no longer fit us. I helped my best friend, Jan, deal with this nebulous task of opening an opportunity for friends and family to gather and recognize a life lived in our midst. As President Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg, "It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this."

The valley and mountains we love

We chose to call this a celebration of life. We chose the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because it is an Angel Fire landmark which was important to Steve and which we all of our generation connect to in our way. Such rituals, I have come to conclude, are not so much about the one not here. He has moved on. It is about those of us which live on. It is about the community and healing it. About giving us all a sense of having done our duty to them and to ourselves: whether it is building a monument, planting a tree, erecting a flag, holding a funeral, releasing a balloon or just sitting on a hill top and sharing stories and a few tears.

The MIA flag was oddly still on a windy summit

And as our celebration ended the gathering clouds became pouring rain and gave a hope of renewal to our parched valley which Steve loved so much.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial and approaching storm

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Time in a Bottle

One thing good about the last one or two months is I found that the excuse I do not have the time is just that - an excuse. I am amazed myself with just how much I have accomplished over and above my normal tasks and chores and agenda. No, not everything on the todo list is done but like I discovered in college, the smaller the window of time open the more I got done. The biggest time waster is a whole day off.

And listening to other people explain in detail why they do not have the time to meet you for lunch or drop off the check or pick up a bag of sugar for you when they're in the store. This week I probably bordered on rude to long winded explanations about lack of time. "Do not let me keep you. Bye," and hanging up works wonders. Course I may never hear from these people again but they already explained they do not have time so no loss.

I am more than willing to "waste" time on friends as long as it is not on listening to why they have no time for me. My fur kids always have time for me. And so do the pets I sit for other people. There is never enough time for sunsets or hummingbirds or watching the rain streak down the studio windows or coffee with a friend I have not seen lately. You never know if that will be the last opportunity for any of those.

So I am writing this blog when I should be wrapping the dried floral arrangements for my friend's memorial service tomorrow. But I know for a fact I will get that done even if I sit on the stoop for 30 minutes and watch the hummingbirds fly. I will do what needs to be done regardless of how much idle pleasure and chitchat I sneak in when I should be doing this or that.

You cannot save time in a bottle but you can make time for others and stretch time for yourself. Be honest and admit you just do not want to or they are not important enough. At least take the time to be honest. Yes, we all have times when we are up against the wall but think how much time it would save to just say that, "Cannot talk now. Let me call you back." Nineteen minutes and 30 seconds saved for you and your friend who doesn't have to listen to the explanation de Jour and can watch humming birds or blog instead.