Saturday, November 30, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now? Part II

While the rest of the world is upgrading to more and more sophisticated cell phones I have downgraded to a burner phone. And have even debated doing that at all. I got it originally for road trouble but on my roads I have no signal in any place where I might have a mechanical problem. It gets used mostly to find my shopping partners in large box stores.

I once used it for long distance. But I had signal problems. Turns out 55% of users do have signal problems and I am willing to bet the majority of them live in Utah or New Mexico. And that isn't easy to do because there are whole sections of both states which do not have cell towers. The service at my house has improved except when doing cell phone to cell phone.

A whole group of people have decided in the effort to economize to cut themselves off from a land line. Yes, I went the other way when my land line company added DSL. But I had to get unlimited long distance because it does not matter if the person whose cell you are calling is next door if they bought through Verizon in Santa Fe. That is a different area code and ergo long distance.

I used to wonder about the long distance charges on my cell which was a regional plan. It was all those friends with cell phones from Miami and Washington, DC who did not change service provider when they moved to New Mexico. Remember it is not the distance between you and your friend two aisles over at WalMart. It is the distance between their service provider and your service provider. So look carefully at the area code before calling that person back.

But the biggest problem of all with cell phones is they are mobile. And the owners of said instruments are using them as them move.  No way do you have their full attention, and the shouted, "Oh damn," may have nothing to do with you. These instruments of modern technology seem to be able to garble any language and lay it over static but they do background noise as clear as a bell. If you do not believe me watch more CSI. I can now identify the particular beat of tires over a bridge or cattle guard or railroad track. I know the location of various callers because of church bells, airplanes landing, and shopping carts being pushed down aisles, and sirens. But I have no idea what my sister said the last twenty minutes of this morning's call when she was digging through boxes looking for the shock collar.

Remember when your mother was taking on the wall phone and she would say, "Excuse me a moment," to the person on the other end and press the mouth piece to her breast before shouting, "Time for lunch!"? Nobody does that anymore. Especially not if they were blue-toothing the call. You get the ear splitting yell, parts of the conversation made to people standing close and of course whatever background noise like loading the dishwasher or flushing the toilet. Note: cordless land line users can be guilty of the above offences too, but as you have to actually hold them less so.

A randomly established code says the person on the cell replaces a dropped call. If you are both on cells then both call and get each others message box. This can go on too long. If you are on the land line and do not get called back by the cell phone user one of two things is possible; 1) they hung up on you or 2) the phone fell in the box they were rummaging through or the dishwater or the toilet. In one case out the window and under the tire.

If you get the please leave a message option then it is 1. And if you get the message this number is unavailable then 2. And if you do not call back at all it is because you were so frigging tired of all the background noise you have no F**King  interest in continuing the conversation. Call me back when you are going to sit down on the couch with a cup of coffee.

And do not dare criticize me for a few key strokes of a reply to a friend on chat with me before your call.

Catch you later.

Oops that month went fast. Thankfully.

There is something about November which is without distinction. If it were not for Thanksgiving we would all forget it as we do February. I get so tired of things in November. Maybe it is some primal desire to crawl into my prepared cave and sleep away the winter. And yet because of December one has to stay conscious through November. At least barely.

And the cycle of submissions for exhibits in the art world requires some attention to details I would rather just forget. But I know I will regret it come January. And a whole number of things have been going on which have required my attention. The tenant is not moving out at the rate promised. My sister has moved to Texas, and that has not gone as planned. My friend next door went frantic in her speed to get to Florida. Frankly, I am finding myself happy she is gone. And guilty I feel that way.

December looks busy with a whole list of odd jobs for pay. And with the driveway (hopefully any day) free of all cars but mine I can open my studio at least three days a week. There is the accepted framed photograph to get to Albuquerque, two pet sitting jobs for now, consideration of entries or a show which juries in January, engagement of plumber to fix shut off valve in rental unit (should the tenants actually get their shit out), a order of vacation of property to file in Raton (if they don't), and paintings to paint, photographs to paint.

And fighting against just curling up in front of the fire and sleeping the winter away. Someone please wake me up in May. No I do not want to head south for the winter. I am a hibernator and not a migratory bird. The lowering skies and grey days do not inspire. I do not like the too early dark at night. The dogs are still on regular time.

So tomorrow is December. Will the world instantly change because of the date? God, I hope so. I want the world my way for the rest of the year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Words in the forecast I loathe

Wintery Mix
I really do not hate winter. I was a ski instructor for more winters than I am willing to admit to this morning. And I have lived in Colorado and New Mexico where winter provides much of the local income. But there are certain winter conditions I am not fond of. The older I get the more picky I get about snow. And since the record winter of 2006 I would just as soon the snow line be 250 feet above my house.

I am not fond of the new favorite term on weather sites: Wintery Mix. It seems to encompass the absolute worst of winter - sleet, hail, freezing rain which it tops off with blowing snow. I hate the term blowing snow. Frankly, I think it is a cop out. What they mean is blizzard but they do not want to panic us because blizzard brings back the PTSD from the winter of 2006. I have a friend who suffered a crisis during that three day storm that delivered six feet of snow which didn't melt until May. I believe it finally just wore out from being blown around into new configurations, but I digress. She heard it was going to be a bad winter this year and she listed her house for sale. I tried to explain nothing sells here in the winter.

In fact, nobody moves in the winter. Which gives me nightmares because my tenants are doing what nobody here does. And they are doing it late enough I worry about all their shit on my property getting snowed under and frozen to the ground. That happened to me with three cords of wood the winter of 2006 before I built my wood shed. Good news is I had my firewood for the winter of 2007.

But the winter of 2006 was the exception to the rule (oh let us hope and pray), and I was talking normal winter terms I loathe. Subzero is one which got added to my list last December. We normally have about ten days of subzero temps and usually in December but unfortunately back to back. But last winter I think we had 31 such days and nights which broke all sorts of records. One record was -33 degrees. Basically the last few winters have proven there is no normal. Take the January thaw, which here in New Mexico generally lasts about two weeks. Nice balmy weather which panics the ski areas because they fear an early spring. Certainly looked possible last year when January thaw continued into March. Had all of us locals actually praying for snow so we would have no forest fires come real spring.

No room for sitting

Depth of snow is not so much a problem as how it falls. I want it moist so it will melt easily. All snow storms should be followed by three or more days of wonderful sunny weather to speed along that melt. Definitely no wind until the snow has melted in all spots which get sun. And it must be highly photogenic. I have studied this and 1 to 6 inches is best. We get about 210 inches a season here but it is very doable at 6 inches at a time.

Wintery reflections

Back to those winter words I loathe - Gale force winds. I left Denver because of winter winds. And Texas because of summer winds. And every place I have lived in the midwest because of twisted winds. i.e. tornadoes. Wind when it involves powder snow of great depth is not nice. I really got to study drift theory. The county road maintenance crew went from plows to front end loaders, and at one point I thought I could build a winter garage by putting boards from the top of one snow pile to the top of the other on the opposite side of my drive. Yes, winter of 2006.

Hazardous Weather Outlook brings terror to my mind. It means lots of snow, cold temps and gale force winds. All together. I could go all winter without having to read those words, in red, on my NOAA forecast.

I want my snow picture perfect like it always seemed to be when I was young.

What are your favorite weather forecast words for winter?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Epiphany at 2 a.m.

It is 4:09 a.m and I have been up for two hours. For the record I do not do the fall back part of daylight savings (is there a daylight bank were it is stored?) at all well. In fact I am not sure if we are just entering daylight savings or exiting it. But I digress. This blog is supposedly about thinking out of the box when I should be sleeping. At least the clock said I should be sleeping. But I am not sure I believe any of the clocks.

Friends of mine on the ethernet know I am much upset about the current tenant, who thankfully is moving out not a day too soon. I have, rather automatically, put a for rent notice on Craig's List. But in my gut and soul I really do not want another tenant. The last three have been from hell. And the last two have cost me money. With the current soon-to-be-gone tenant I have not been able to have my studio open. There has been no place to park with his sometimes six (yes, 6 large) vehicles and three trailers. People have not been able to see my studio open sign or my front door. Sometimes you could not get to deck to my front door and I could not get my car out to make meetings, do freelance writing coverage of events, or on one occasion get my paintings to a show I was accepted to, etc.

Planning a huge studio sale the first weekend in December when he is gone, gone, gone!!! And endless open studio event!!! OPEN DRIVEWAY.

But when I first purchased my duplex the thought was the rent on the apartment would pay the mortgage. And that worked quite well for the first 12 years. People and times have changed. So I have been racking my brain for how to afford not renting it ever again. I have been playing mind games about conjuring up the perfect tenant if I were to ever rent it again. I have been looking for work outside my studio and pet sitting. Taken on odd jobs.

Then at approximately 3 a.m. (4 a.m in real time) I decided to go completely outside the box. Could have been just that I had not made coffee yet. Some part of my mind entertained going back to sleep. Sorry, another digression. A friend had suggest I figure a use for the 1249 SF unit that suited my soul if not my economy - like artist studios. Like artists have money? And then it hit me that is the point - they don't. So why not turn it into a sort of artist's hostel? A reasonably priced place for my many artist friends around the world to come and take in the beauty of New Mexico mountains.

It means furnishing it again. But I have proved once that can be done quite cheaply. Maybe even secure a used easel or two for those flying in. Other artistic paraphernalia. I have not been able to do a reverse mortgage I was considering. No way the appraiser could park let alone walk around the property turned to firewood lot. So I could begin there. Would give me some funding to do things, and begin advertising the possibilities. I could even hold workshops in my studio and provide lodging in the package. Or invite other artists to hold workshops in the apartment and bring their students.

First order of business is that Open studio event, then having a handiman turn off the water in the unit so I do not spend a fortune on keeping it heated through the winter. Or get just a through ski season renter, cash up front. I would love to be able to launch this venture come spring - well, just past mud and flood season. Gives me time for more brain storming and gathering input from potential visitors. And get the ground work going on the reverse mortgage.

My ideal dream would be to do this only summer and fall. And be able to afford to travel in the winter or just shut myself in the studio and paint. That is something else I have not been able to do with the log splitter running at all hours.

I invite your ideas.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Come November

Goodbye October

The last two days of October were punctuated with snow. The snow on the 30th was beautiful. Wet and heavy it clung to the trees and soaked the land as it quickly melted into the dry ground. The next day's snow was not nearly as beautiful and it came with a wind which closed you into the house.

Halloween snows were once to be counted on here in the high country. Trick or Treating door to door went without protest to community parties, haunted houses, and going to businesses for treats. I live on one of those quiet little back roads with only two juveniles so it has never been an issue at my house. I think I got one party of ghouls after I first moved in and still had the two huge German Shepherds.

On this first day of November I am told by a British friend I must say white rabbit for luck. Living alone that means typing white rabbit. And posting white rabbits.

White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

The above image certainly seems appropriate. And it goes with the color scheme of this blog.

I find myself rather tharned by the approaching winter. Tharned? It was a word used in Watership Down to portray the frozen nature of rabbits (white rabbits?) in the middle of the highway with the headlights bearing down. I want the moisture but I want it is precise and measured amounts. Or just 250 feet elevation above my house where it is welcome to rain all it wants. Farmer's Almanac did say wetter and warmer. I am definitely for that.

And if there is snow I want it to be beautiful snow. Like the snow on the 30th of October. And if saying White Rabbit at the beginning of every winter month can make that happen I will risk looking like the Mad Hatter.

Quiet Passage