Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Affirmations

Wheeler Peak Blow
Written on one of my bathroom mirrors, I have three in the half bath downstairs, in eyebrow pencil is the affirmation, "Manifest power, prosperity and energy in your life today." I feel powerless, broke and sapped today so maybe I noticed it for the first time in the months since I wrote it there because I need that message.

Another affirmation I had years ago because of a certain time in my life was, "Breakdown comes before breakthrough." Sort of goes along those lines of it is always darkest before the dawn which is one of those things people say after you have poured your heart out to them about life not working. Which is just before they tell you that you are a survivor.

Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico, is an obvious survivor too. But it is often battered by storms and winds and miners in its foothills. Yesterday it looked as if it had hunkered down under the latest onslaught of winds.

The winter has not been gentle. And February is the cruelest month. Add in Mercury in retrograde and sometimes it is all you can do to keep on keeping on one day at a time.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

What the Caterpillar calls the end of the world

Image by J. Binford-Bell




The butterfly counts not months but moments,

and has time enough. 

Time is a wealth of change,
but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf.” 

― Rabindranath Tagore

The Master calls the Butterfly


There seems not enough time and too much. Some times it creeps at a slow and ponderous pace and the next moment it has flown the coop. Life is not about the time you spend but how you spend it. And it seems of late I am wasting too much of it. But by whose definition is it waste?

Is the worth of our lives measured in the buildings we erect, the money we bank, the education we obtain, or in the joy of a single conversation, noticing the dawn, petting a dog, making a cat purr? Is success evaluated by the number of friends we have on Facebook or the number of attendees at our funerals? Or the tears people shed when they think of us not being on the earth any more?

Have you smiled today? Then you life has worth.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Really Seeing



I ran with scissors when I was a kid. Now a days we call it hyper active attention deficit disorder - HAADD. My late brother-in-law always said of my sister she had trouble monotasking. I do not know if the name is important. The bottom line is sometimes if you are running with scissors you miss what is going on around you to avoid tripping.

Since Lent began I have been occupied in two exercises I thought were previously unrelated. First I was giving up trying to reduce my life to status messages on Facebook. I undertook that exercise because I believed I was playing to my audience instead of being real. Any artist, actress, musician, performer or writer is prone to do that. Maybe it is why some very successful comedians like Johnathan Winters lost who they really were. It is certainly why some authors begin putting out formula mysteries and us readers drop them from our reading list.

Be limiting my Facebook participation to comments and responses to others and links that interest me I find the voices in my head are being ever so much more quiet. That was not true the first day or two when I even considered doing a blog that was just the status messages I wanted to post. Deprived of the quick one liner I find myself more interested in the posts of friends and more weighty discourse.

They other, seemingly unrelated endeavor was to take one week out of my 365 day photographic challenge and devote it to one subject. I picked a sterling silver creamer. I have added an object or two to the still life as the week has progressed but the creamer is the star. And just yesterday I joined it with the withered blossoms of my amaryllis which had starred in several previous photographs. It has made for a very meditative week. Rather like focusing on your navel. I am getting to know my subject very well.

Then a friend posted a quote of Edgar Degas - Art is not what you see but what you make other's see.

But first you must see. The difference in photography as opposed to taking pictures is capturing the essence so others can see what you saw.

To communicate first you must hear. The difference in monologue versus dialog is there are two people involved and two actions - hearing and replying.

Art is see and show. Conversation is hear and reply.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Difference of Opinion



Religious Hatred
Song of the Bird by Anthony de Mello

A tourist says to his guide, "You have a right to be proud of your town.
I was especially impressed with the number of churches in it.
Surely people here must love the lord."

"Well," replied the cynical guide, "they may love the Lord,
but they sure as hell hate each other."

My father used to say it was the difference of opinion that made horse racing possible. I always liked the image. And often wondered why it was humans could not always solve their problems with a horse race or a flip of the coin or a chess game. Or just agree to not agree. Not agree is different than disagree as I found out during the recent political season. I was blown away with the hatred put into words in the Ether of social networks because people held different opinions. It became all about make wrong.

One of my best friends from clear back in the days of Hippies ended up somehow on the right side of the fence. She listens to Rush Limbaugh. I call myself a centralist but I have far right views too. But we both love movies of the same type, and Chinese food, and fabric shops and bead stores. We have shared almost 40 years of memories. We have far more similarities than differences. And there are even a couple political issues we agree on. For the rest we have just decided to not go there. Fortunately religion is not important to either of us. Because once you put religion into a belief system it seems to generate hatred.

Why? I can look at my friend's political beliefs and know she has listened to Fox New too much, and it does not matter to our friendship. But religions say their points of view are right because God said they were right and if you do not believe the same thing you are going to hell. Really? I see a lot of talking to God (generally asking for some favor like wealth), but God talking to people?  If She does (yes, She) everyone is too busy expounding their God Blessed view to listen.

A friend of mine and I were having a discussion of the Pope recently. He has been in the news of late. And as a former Catholic this friend figured I was ready to be converted to Christianity. (Note: both religions believe in Jesus Christ and ergo are both Christian.) The friend was questioning the belief that the Pope was the channel to the word of God. This is someone that quotes their pastor's sermons as the revealed truth.

I was good. I have found the button to press on my cell phone that makes it ring. "Excuse me I have to take this call from the Pope."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Label Makers



Buddha once held up a flower to his disciples
and  asked each of them to say something about it.

They gazed at it in silence for a while.

One pronounced a philosophical lecture on it.
Another produced a poem on it.
Yet another made a parable about it.
All trying to outdo one another in depth.

Mahakashyap Looked at the flower and smiled and said nothing.

Only he had seen it.


We sometimes rush to judgement in our effort to label the new around us. I have been dealing with inquiries about the apartment I have to rent and I find myself sorting people by the nature of a few words they email me in response to my ad.

We are told not to discriminate in housing and jobs and in life in general and yet we all are looking for those roughly like us to be near us. And we avoid unpleasant experiences or want to. So if a young couple did not complete their lease or pay us promptly we shy from someone sounding young. So young is out. Some label themselves. And that can be handy. Retired, family, self-sufficient, building a house, moving from Oregon, etc.

But labels can also be very restrictive. I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last night. Aaaah I bet you didn't see me as a CC member. And were were discussing tourists and tourism. Among ourselves we call them white platers as they are from Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas and some Louisiana; states that issued predominately white license plates. If you are behind a white plater driving through the canyon you might grumble about flatland tourists not knowing how to drive.

I was taking notes on programs the Chamber of Commerce was embracing. I was taking them in the memo function of my Galaxy Tab. One of the speakers after the meeting asked if I was bored. It took me a few moments to realize he probably thought I was texting a friend or playing Angry Birds rather than recording the prime points of his presentation.

We are prone to rush to judgement entirely too fast. Sometimes that is necessary in our busy lives to sort through the infinite data possible. But sometimes it paints us into a corner and restricts our options. My photograph of the above cactus flower did not depend upon my ability to name it. But it is good to know it has thorns.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Religious Belief and the Pebble of Truth



The Devil and his Friend

The devil once went for a walk with a friend.
They saw a man ahead of them stoop down
and pick up something from the road.

'What did that man find?' asked the friend.

'A piece of Truth,' said the Devil.

'Doesn't that disturb you?' asked the friend.

'No it does not,' said the devil, 'I shall allow him 
to make a religious belief out of it.'

People that cling to a nugget of truth make no progress because they are sure they have found it all. They know the way. And the more their way is questioned the more hostile and dogmatic they become. They are blind to the whole.

It is wise to not rush to judgment but live within the question. And yet that is a difficult place to be like balancing on the point of a boulder high up on a cliff. Everyone will jump in to try and tell you where to put your foot so you can climb down. They never ask if you wish to come down or even what the view is from that position.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Make it March or Not



Patience is not my long suit. I sometimes wonder if I am here on earth this incarnation to learn patience. My life seems to be so much about it and that I do not have it. I am chronically on time or early and every friend I have but one is chronically late. I live in the land of manana (btw that does not mean tomorrow but some as yet specified future time). And I am a self-starter which means that everyone else is already behind.

That makes life frustrating. I have learned to cope by always bringing entertainment with me - once a book and now the Kindle or my tablet or a sketch book. The camera is a constant and I can take pictures waiting in the line at the drive through or on the corner waiting to meet with a friend or sitting in the restaurant waiting for the wait staff. Note: if you read a book they think they can ignore you longer, but a camera annoys them and you can get faster service.

I began this modified vow of silence on Facebook just five days ago and I already googled the number of days till Easter. Forty-One. Naturally I picked one of the longest Lent's possible. And to vex me further I am looking for a tenant for my rental unit. I was suppose to have one yesterday so I think it is natural to want one tomorrow. I do not. That is the bad news. The good news is I am getting a lot of inquiries which I must respond to; answering the same questions again and again. And I have decided to make all serious possible tenants fill out an application which will only prolong the process.

I think I have been too impatient in the past - decide in haste and repent in leisure.  And if the prospective tenant is reluctant to fill out the application that is a sign they are hiding something or just as impatient as I am.  And I have been through this process before - too often recently. There has been the ever present Nigerian scam attempt, the one that seemed on the phone but does not do stairs, the wants to live in the country but really the mall is two hours away, the one just looking at what is available should hey decide to move? I want to fast forward so I can get a tenant and get on with life.

Yes, I know life is a journey and it moves at its own pace. But I am obviously listening to a marching band in my heart. So the universe gives me waiting practice like the three year lawsuit with the two year let-us-not-rush-to-judgement final judgement. Then there is my dear friend with her dying husband on year eight. Little did I know the length of this ordeal when I promised to support her through it. I engage in the arts where I am constantly having to submit pieces for a snail jury and then wait for the judge to ascribe them merit. And for the last few years me and my studio have been waiting for the recovery of the economy.

So why isn't it at least Palm Sunday and all the revealed truth is in my possession? I want to get on with my life. And I resist that this is my life. I am waiting for Godot. Spoiler alert - Godot never shows up. There is even supreme doubt Godot exists. It is after all and existentialist play.

When the Zen Master attained Enlightenment 
he wrote the following lines to celebrate:

'Oh, wondrous marvel:

I chop wood!
I draw water from the well!'



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Good News/Bad News

Apartment for rent

The good news is that at about 3:30 pm today I finished the last of my tasks on the rental unit. The prospective tenants who had put down a $500.00 deposit were suppose to move in tomorrow. That is the bad news: they had not called to make arrangements to sign the lease. So I called them to say the apartment was ready on schedule. And they called back to say they were not moving in and could they have their deposit back.

There are times in my life when a question or statement leaves me speechless. This was one of those times. They were scheduled to sign the lease in less than 24 hours and they think they should be able to get the deposit back? Probably no more crazy than the tenant I evicted for non-payment wanting a reference from me for another prospective landlord.

What are they thinking?

Obviously they are not thinking. 

Which is where the bad news becomes the good news. Always nice to know how irresponsible a person is going to be before they move in. It is hard to get a dead beat renter out. And the prospect of having a tenant got me motivated to do some long pondered refurbishing on the unit. The tile work is beautiful and the apartment is now ready to rent immediately. Well, as soon as I replace the upstairs light fixture.

I had just finished the vacuuming and was wrapping up the ShopVac to take back to my side and I swung the wand around carelessly and broke the globe on the ceiling light. It is an old fixture I have wanted to replace and I stood there debating rushing to the hardware store before it closed to buy a new one to install. And this voice said there was no rush. That was when I still believed I would have new tenants on Sunday.

But somewhere in the back of my head I think I had doubts for a while because yesterday I took careful pictures of all the changes in the rental so I would have them for Craig's list. And I had rewritten the ad for the newspaper and the bulletin boards in town. And I was regretting how low I had rented it for. Then there was the chihuahua and a pit bull cross. My sister believes I was not thinking when I agreed to rent to a couple with kids and those two dogs. Chihuahuas are like Coyote bait in my neighborhood.

I really would prefer a single tenant or a nice couple. But I lost almost two months of rent because of the last tenant . And when I got her out it was almost Christmas. January I had it held with the deposit. That is a lot of income to not have for almost a half of a year. Yes, maybe I was a bit desperate to have just anyone in there paying the heating bills in a way colder than normal winter. But I also keep thinking it might be easier to just get a part time job, put a bed or two in the rental and keep it as a guest house.

It isn't always easy when you are exhausted and broke and stressed from rushing to prepare the place for a tenant which will solve income issues to see it as a good thing they crapped out. To believe what looks like bad luck to actually be good luck. But I think I do believe it. Within minutes of getting off the telephone I had the Craig's list ad all updated with the higher rent and new pictures. I edited and printed the revised ads for the bulletin boards, posted on the two Facebook groups that cater to the area, re-figured my budget for the next month. Keeping the deposit will help.

But really what else could I do? You really have to let go when you have no control over the events in your life. And look at it this way - it wasn't a hurricane.

The Sound of the Bells




THE TEMPLE BELLS 
From The Song of the Bird
Anthony de Mello, SJ

The temple was built on an island and it had a thousand bells. Bells big and small, fashioned by the finest craftsmen in the world. When the wind blew or a storm raged, all the bells would peal out in a symphony that would send the heart of the hearer into raptures. But over the centuries the island sank into the ocean and, with it, the temple bells. An ancient legend said that the bells still rang out ceaselessly, and could be heard by anyone who would listen. 

Inspired by the legend a young man traveled thousands of miles, determined to hear those bells. He sat for days on the shore facing the vanished island and listened with all his might. But all he heard was the sound of the sea. He made every effort to block it out but to no avail; the sound of the sea seemed to flood the world.
He kept at his task for weeks. Each time he got disheartened he would listen to the village pundits as they spoke with unction of the mysterious legend. Then his heart would be inflamed only to become discouraged when weeks of further efforts yielded no results.

Finally he decided to give up the attempt. Perhaps he was not destined to listen to the bells. Perhaps the legend was not true. It was his final day, and he went to the shore to say goodbye to the sea and the sky and the wind and the coconut trees. He lay on the sand, and for the first time, listened to the sound of the sea.

Soon he was so lost in the sound that he was barely conscious of himself, so deep was the silence the sound produced. In the depth of that silence, he heard it I The tinkle of a tiny bell followed by another, and another and another... till every one of the thousand temple bells was pealing out in harmony, and his heart was rapt in joyous ecstasy.

*****

I woke up this morning thinking of this parable. My copy of The Song of the Bird is much worn and dogeared. It was recommended to me by a priest at a retreat during a particularly difficult time of my life. And I was manically trying to make my life work, and at the same time find some spiritual connection that would work for me.

I always believe I can force march myself out of any situation I am in. Maybe I got that from my father when he made us all angry enough to keep putting one foot in front of another to get us all back to the car when a fishing trip turned ugly due to the weather. It worked that time but and it has worked in a lot of situations in my life. Enough so I think it is the only way to get through a difficult situation.  

I will hear the bells if only I just keep on keeping on. But that is not always true. Sometimes you have to totally let go of control. You have to give up and go with the flow. It isn't easy for me and so maybe that is my life lesson, because I seem to keep being put into situations where fighting against how things are is not going to work. All my negotiation skills could not keep me from being sued. All the voodoo dolls and ceremonies and yes, even prayers, could not get the judge to make a decision in my favor one iota faster, all my due diligence in picking a good tenant does not seem to work, even all my marketing efforts cannot fight the current economic situation nor does screaming at the neighbor make him want to keep his dog up.

Wanting it does not make the weather warmer or end the drought or take the pain from my friends. 

This is an age where everyone talks about praying for something they want. They credit prayer with saving their lives without seeing that the same god they pray to let others die. I ran into a definition about the difference between prayer and meditation I really liked - Prayer was asking and meditation was listening.

There are things I can do and times when I need to let go. 

Do you wish to hear the temple bells? Listen to the sound of the sea. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Way of the Cross - Vow of Silence

Window Pane Acid Trip by J. Binford-Bell

Long time followers of my blogs will know I am not a religious person, but I like to think I am very spiritual. I think most artists are whether they know it or not. Life, however, can separate me from my spiritual connection with the universe and ergo the muse which directs my creativity.

Life can be challenging and annoying and downright irritating at times. The month of February has been that in spades with slaving to get the apartment refurbished and cleaned, the dog issue which gets close to life and livelihood threatening, winter in general, and a dear friend facing the end of days for a loved one. Oh, and my sister running over her cell phone. What does all that have to do with the price of tea in China, you might ask? Well, it just seems that when I am most personally challenged and at a loss I am placed into a position where communication is sparse, difficult or nearly impossible.

Get thee to a mountain top seems to be the message. Isolation on mountain tops or going into the wilderness or taking a leave of absence from life's trials to ponder the unknown answers at a remote monastery is a long time tradition in many religions. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and the Dali Lama are noted for these spiritual retreats. And Lent, the Catholic season we just entered on Wednesday, is supposedly all about preparation for the celebration of Easter, an awakening to a higher plane.

In my youth I was all about the joke of giving up something for Lent. Dad used to give up watermelons routinely. I asked him once why watermelons and he replied that you couldn't buy watermelons in the calendar part of the year that Lent resided. Then. You can now. I tried to find something equally easy before I realized it isn't suppose to be easy. However, giving up chocolate is the end of the world.

I have an Ethernet friend devotes herself during Lent to restricting communication only to kind things to say. It hit me looking at her profile picture with the duct tape across her month that life, as stated in paragraph two, was trying to tell me something. I had reduced my life to 140 characters like a Tweet. What could I put in my status message on Facebook that would attract people to my page? Why if my sister cannot call me am I taking my cell phone and cordless phone to the apartment in case she calls? My live was being reduced to those days in high school where you would not leave the house in case HE called.

It seemed obvious to me what I had to give up - the status message on Facebook, the Tweet, the shock sentence at the beginning of a telephone call. I needed to listen and not plan what to say or write or type. So for the 45 days of Lent (I came to my epiphany a day late) I am taking a modified vow of silence, subscribing to the modern world version of not speaking until spoken to.

Dad always joked that the first day of giving up watermelon was the hardest. I didn't get it because he hadn't had watermelon to eat since the previous fall. It isn't about the watermelon or the 140 characters. It isn't even about the sacrifice. It is about looking at your life and what your craving for watermelon or communication of any nature has reduced it to. Several things happened yesterday -- the vacuum cleaner breaking, and the neighbors' dogs still holding me hostage, my sister not having minutes on her burner phone to call me and I found myself mentally composing the status message so I could rush to the computer and alert the world.

And it dawned on me how dependent I had become to words typed in a white box. FB once was 400 characters and so I find myself thinking in that length like when I wrote a newspaper column and could sit down to the computer and almost automatically compose 800 or 1000 word essay.

It should be an interesting 44 days because I already got that a vow of silence is not about not speaking. It is about listening. And maybe the most important person I need to listen to just now is me. And my muse, and the cosmic consciousness.

Note: I am allowing myself to write blogs, and post pictures and links, enter into an online dialog if it is a dialog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Dog Problem

Mardi running from the neighbor's dog

I live in an often delightful rural area. I moved here because I love dogs and cats and at the time owned llamas and a horse. I fenced my property responsibly and sectioned it off between hooved animals and pawed ones. I believe in obedience training and every dog I have ever owned is a responsible citizen. They do not chase, they obey without leashes (voice control) and are only out of my yard when on a walk.

Let me say that is not true of all my neighbors like the dog in the background chasing Mardi, my 14 year old standard poodle. Nor is it true of Augustine's dogs that every morning are out beyond my fence killing prairie dogs or getting into the hooved animal fence area and chasing my cats. Nor does Butch keep up with his Great Pyrenees, Isis, or aging hound, Suzie. Those two have been kept from starving and freezing by my immediate neighbor opening her covered porch for them.

I have little by little stopped walking my dogs on all our once familiar country roads. I cannot even walk to the end of the road I live on with out the dogs chasing me and my dogs. So I do not go down the road. And I do not go up the hill. And lately I do not go to my neighbor's so our dogs can play in their yard because Isis and Suzie have decided it is her property.

This morning however I was in a mood. A mood to photograph the frost on the aspens down the road. I watched at my studio window for several minutes before deciding to risk it. The dog from hell was not in evidence. So I donned coat and hat and gloves and picked up my camera and called to Magique and Mardi. I was intent on the photo opportunities when Isis, who has a personal space problem, ran up behind me and knocked me down. I was taking inventory after getting to my feet when the Dog from Hell rushed out of the door and starting barking at my heels and chasing Mardi, Magique, and Isis.

I yelled at the owner and told him to rein in his dog. That I had every right to walk on this road with my dogs. His dog has even camped out in my driveway and keep visitors and clients from getting out of their cars. He goes to work and leaves the bitch out. He threatened me because my dog was always at his house. He meant Isis. Evidently Butch has called the sheriff's department because the dog has followed Isis home. I informed him that Isis was not mine. So the dogs are barking. Magique and Mardi are hiding behind my bruised bum. The humans are shouting at each other and Augustine's dogs show up because it sounds like fun.

A hasty retreat was by no means possible as the roads were icy. And all the dogs are around my feet.

And the local newspaper says we do not have a dog problem in our county.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Refurbish! Just the Name.

Washing Tiles

Finally got the court mandated release of lien on my property in the mail today. The lien was placed by the contractor from hell on November 9th 2007. I had a partially finished studio and plans for a refurbish of my attached rental apartment and several remodel projects I wanted to do in my residence. It seemed important to finish the studio if for no other reason than to generate income. And I did - from the sheet rock on. I even laid tile in the 16 x 21 foot interior.

I like laying tile. But the studio floor was not the small project I told a friend recently she should begin with. Up to that point I had only tiled a small bathroom counter top and my mudroom floor. Floors require yoga and gymnastics. And doing small projects (not the studio floor) means you can pick up cheap (sometimes free) odds and ends of tile. I had several projects I wanted to do that would fit into that small project concept and so I accepted tile odds and ends. But because of the lien which morphed into a major legal battle I lost all interest in putting any money into my property. In the five years I only replaced the back steps to be able to pass HUD approval for housing assistance for renters.

So when the vacating of my rental property came about right after the court decided in my favor I immediately thought of the small refurbishing projects I already had the material for - the rental unit mud room and the wood stove tiled apron. I had everything I needed but grout. That was good since I was broke since the tenants had not paid me in two months. The tile had sat out on the back porch through rain and snow and needed washed.

Mud room floor tile with no caulk yet

Tile of Apron laid out so carpet could be cut

I took breaks from the tiling projects to clean out the junk left behind and do repairs on the damages. And some maintenance routines like caulking. And then since I had the camera out why not take a frivolous picture or two.

Gilt mirror and sconces

The mirror and sconces reminded me that my bedroom was half done when the lien stopped all progress. So they were saved from going to the thrift shop. The mirror is great beveled glass.

Mud Room tile complete

One forgets in five years it is not just about the tile. There is the preparation for the tile. Always wise to paint the walls before doing the tile and then you do not have to worry about getting paint on your new floor. And it seems I had never painted the back of the door either. The above picture shows the tile grouted but the trim has not been put in yet. It is good to paint your trim before installing it too.

And with the apron around the wood stove I had to cut out the carpet. That was way more work than the tiling. The staples they use to tack down the foam and the tack strips are deadly to take up. I would love to be able to replace all the floor with wood but not now. The apron is at least allowing me to get rid of all the worst burns caused by carelessness.

Completed tiled apron

And I had to stain the trim for the tile and install that before grouting. The half tile in beige match the tiles in the entry hall/mud room visible from the living room. So to the shopping list of grout I had to add trim and stain. But because of the studio I already owned an electric ceramic saw, all the trowels and implements for the spreading of thin set (had that left over from the studio) and the grouting.

The two refurbishing projects made a huge difference in the rental unit. Now I have to clean up my mess. Just moving all the tools out is huge.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Revealed Truth on the Road to Raton III


Federal Highway Stripe Yellow

Another of those long empty stretches of highway on the road to Raton. Though if you look very closely there is another vehicle up there heading the same way. And even though there were no buffalo out I made myself stop and take a picture or two. I had told myself I was going to practice on taking pictures of vast open spaces and trying to capture that feeling. Today when I was editing my pictures I played around with the panoramic effect that can be achieved by cropping your photos. Below is what the picture looked like before.

Before

Okay so I upped the saturation some too but I will argue that the top picture is how the particular sunglasses I was wearing made the road look.

It was one of those warm afternoons for the 1st of February and I actually turned off the heater in the car and toyed with the idea of putting on the air conditioner. The warmth of the car was making me sleepy and I was playing my father's mile marker game. He would make us kids guess what the next mileage sign would say about our destination. I have been to Raton enough lately I have them memorized. And so did he. Took me a while to figure that one out. My brother was really slow on Hide, Hide, the cow's outside and I confess to being rather obtuse about Railroad crossing look out for the cars. How do you spell that without any cars? Those memories made me all teary eyed about my dad so I got out and took another picture.

There be antelope

I didn't realize until I got back to the computer to post process that it was not just a picture of a wide vista but there are antelope in the foreground. You can click to make the picture bigger and see them dotted in the grass.

Life is like that. Sometimes you do not see what you are looking right at. It is some event later that taps you on the shoulder and reminds you of what you missed. I think that is why I have to keep driving to Raton. So many memories with this stretch of highway, the town of Raton, and the road from Raton to Denver. Dad used to hunt antelope somewhere along this highway. And my first vacation from college I took the Greyhound bus from Albuquerque to Denver. Raton pass was closed and I and my fellow passengers were stranded in the Raton bus station for hours. I had one dime to make a collect call to my parents and, all my cold weather clothes (it was spring break) were in my suitcase in the bowels of the bus. Along with the book I was reading. Changed forever my travel check list.

And I went back and forth to district court six times three years ago this March to fight against the contractor from hell. It was like this driving out and snowing driving back with my ex-husband in the car. He and a friend in the car following had been my witnesses that day. I was prepared with extra clothes, a heavy coat,  a book, and my laptop. The men weren't. We were trying to get through Cimarron Canyon before they closed it. It was looking good until friends from Eagle Nest and Angel Fire started calling me to see if I was okay. Three inches of snow on our side of the canyon and 12 inches on their side. My mind started working on alternatives.

When we got to Cimarron we were told the pass was closed because of wrecks (plural). We hung around the lobby of the St. James Hotel with other stranded travelers until the closure of the road behind us meant the reserved rooms at the St. James would not be used. The hotel waived limits on number per each haunted room and passed out blankets so we could also sleep on the floors. I didn't sleep because of the snoring and maybe a ghost in the hall.

In the morning the canyon was still closed so we enjoyed a buffet breakfast while we waited. My focus was on calls from my friends, who were still worried, and my fur kids alone in my house, all the things for the day I had scheduled. And the 18 inches in Moreno Valley caused me to worry about getting to my house once I could get through the canyon. It was the last time before Marc was admitted to the hospital to die that I would see my ex-husband. Of course I did not know that. There is so much we do not see until we have the time to post process.