Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eagle Nest Dam

Tour of Eagle Nest Dam

Eagle Nest Dam is the largest privately built dam in the United States. It was begun by the Springer family in 1917 and completed in 1920. It and the reservoir beyond it one was privately owned by the CS Ranch which recently sold it to the state of New Mexico. Eagle Nest Lake is now a state park, but the dam and the waters in the lake are another matter all together. Water is well regulated in New Mexico especially during a drought. The lake is now at 25% of its normal capacity, and the water in the lake are water right lease holds of Raton, Cimarron, and historic ranches in the area like the UU Bar and the CS Ranch.

Game and Fish department also get involved because the Cimarron River is an active fishery of the state. Our guide was a state engineer and the Gateway Museum secured permission of the land owners below the dam for us to gain access to the area. Some 100 locals and tourists attended this rare event. I have lived here almost twenty years and this was my first visit.

As a sometimes free lance writer, an amateur historian, and a professional photographer not taking advantage of this tour was inconceivable. But the professional photographer won out for my interest once we left the Gateway Museum and historical perspective part of the tour give by Jack Schweitzer.

The Springer family obviously picked the narrow part of the canyon with lots of sturdy rocks to hold the dam in place. It is leaking when the water is higher but that only adds to the charm. I was immediately taken by the half moon hovering over the dam as well as the mix of textures.

Eagle Roost Rock
Eagle Roost Rock is supposedly where the town of Eagle Nest took its name. No there is not an S on Eagle. Loved the noisy sky and textures in this photo which includes an iron stairway through the rocks on the right. We were not allowed to climb it. When the lake is at full capacity (Last in 1957 I believe) the stairway is the spillway for the dam. The outflow for the lake is on the other side of the expanse of the dam. Getting to it was not the easiest of walks either. But worth it for the photographer.

Outflow into Cimarron River

Eagle Roost Rock close up

One of my must sees of the trip was the train tunnel. It was built to house a spur of the rail road from its terminus at Ute Park through Moreno Valley and over Palo Flechado into Taos. It was a much debated route as the residents of Red River wanted it to go over Bob Cat Pass and through their town. The politics probably killed the entire extension. But during the building of the dam the tunnel was used to transport supplies. I am not sure how the supplies got to the tunnel. Obviously there were once trestles.

Railway tunnel

I would love the opportunity to go back without the 20 cars obscuring the natural beauty of this part of the Cimarron Canyon. And would love to have an extended coffee with Jack Schweitzer to get more historical information. He approached it from the ranching perspective and my research has always been from the train perspective. And I would love to get past private property to take pictures of the dam from the other side. I am working on the lost dog suggestion of Jack's. Or I could try the freelance writer approach.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Week Upon Reflection

It has been an interesting week. Faced the fact that the used camper shell would not do as I could not get two friends together on a non-windy day. When you have tried to do something for a month and there has always been something to prevent it you should just get the message and give up.

Yes, spring is windy in New Mexico. Yes, everyone complains of it as if it never has happened before or anywhere else in the world. Our winds are straight and not circular so I try not to mention it. Like Mark Twain said, "Dog bites man is not news." The only thing more tiring than listening to gale force winds is listening to people complain about gale force winds. So I will admit I am not the friendliest of souls in the spring. Add to this spring the final preparations of the one woman show in Trinidad, Colorado and I have become a virtual hermit. No camper shell and I was trying to think of another solution to the art to Trinidad problem also.

And then Angel Fire was doing what it always does in the spring, "Oh, did I say May for that? Well, I need you for end of June instead." They also forgot I said no end of June and no July. That time is all about me. I am doing pet sitting but no people hand holding.

I went to a writing workshop some time back and had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by Rita Mae Brown, author of Ruby Fruit Jungle. She said she had at long last decided that being a writer meant no relationships and no pets beyond maybe a cat if you really want to write. I think the same is true of painters though I have managed to train dogs to put up with my muse days. The cats have been prone to sit on a newly stretched canvas.

My problem was that I did not paint for two years and I sucked some of my casual friends into unrealistic expectations. And me. I thought if I could train my dogs to ignore me when painting I could do the same with friends. So I informed them I was going to be largely unavailable for their pleasure for the duration. But would from time to time, if taking a break, try to include them in my plans.

Yes, Rita, it did not work. Even my black out dates did not work because of that slide which occurs in spring. I am told, by a long time friend, I am not a more successful artist because I am too unfriendly and inflexible. Translation: I am unwilling to listen on the phone to her tales of woe for longer than five minutes or totally change my schedule to accommodate her change of schedule. I will admit I am overly fond of the phrase, "Make it march. My paint is drying."

She is reminding me entirely too much of my mother. The dogs are accepting the morning walk is often later and that I am walking the other direction to not wake up her dog. Last complaint from her just before she complained I never stop in for coffee in the morning. Well, I was told she wanted to be alone and heal. Which did fit with my need to spend more time painting.

Why do I expect them to listen to what they say when they do not listen to what I say?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Last Twelve Days

Tres Amigos

Seemed a century ago when I began working on more work for my one woman show at Gallery Main. Now there is less than two weeks. Yesterday I was a bit tharned by that. Mercury in retrograde reared its disruptive force and I was deep into alternate plan scenario. Going with the UHaul rented trailer as opposed to the used camper shell. Winds and a need to round up friends to help install it seemed to made it impossible over the last month.

I am one of those, who if something is TOO difficult, figure the universe is trying to tell me something and back off. Admittedly I was more dogged about this than most. I had bought the pick up in part for this whole affair. That and you just need a pickup living in the mountains. Especially if we have a horrid fire season. Yesterday was the last straw. Too much wind to begin with. I really want to back my pickup into a garage and have someone install the shell for me. I have the installation kit. I was prepared to do this. It just got worse than herding cats.

But good to know all this now. Time to revise plans. And if I have a successful show I will be able to buy a new shell - the type where you drive in and they install it. And the pickup is more than capable of towing a UHaul trailer. And I am very much more comfortable with things if I have to depend upon nobody but myself. The whole going blind thing had put me in a different frame of mine. I needed eye buddies.

So yesterday in the studio I was making two frames for finished paintings which seemed to need them, Googling for UHaul locations and prices, staring at my newest painting just begun and wondering if I would finish it in time, going upstairs to pull paintings from boxes and evaluate for the show, and looking over my long not updated inventory list and penciling in revisions.

It will work. It will all work out and for the best in the long run. Dad raised me to be highly self-sufficient.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

STOP - Let's think this through

The lowly paper bag
First used in the 1960's in 1977 the disposable plastic bag was introduced into supermarkets as an alternative to paper bags because of the cries of environmentalists we were killing trees and wasting resources.  See Wiki. I still chose the paper bag. So many reuses for the paper bag not the least of which was to carry lunch. Nice paper bags got saved to do this more than once. And there were other uses like covering your school books (now outlawed because who knows what is under a book cover). And lining litter boxes or lining little trash cans.

But the plastics industry (a by product of oil production) was not happy with just giving us a choice. The biodegradable and infinitely usable paper bag was soon not a choice. Big plastic wanted to cover the world in plastic (and oil as they have demonstrated). And it is not grocery bags, but straws, and boxes for six packs of beer gone to the plastic-fish-killer handle. And bubble packaging. If we outlaw anything can it be bubble packaging in excess. My one inch by inch and a half scan disk came in a bubble package 5" x 6" and totally impossible to open without a commando knife. Which I keep in my car or purse. But I digress.

With the lovely paper bag gone we are now outlawing plastic bags, which has created a whole other industry - the reusable grocery bag. Where are yours? And how many do you own? And who are you advertising for free? Well, not free. You had to buy it. Most recently I had to buy a bag to get out of a store in Santa Fe where they just outlawed plastic and did not offer paper. And they did not want me to take off my t-shirt to carry my five items in. One store was even automatically putting items in their reusable bag and adding the charge for it. Other stores were so angry at the new and arbitrary application of the law they just left customers staring at the pile of things pushed to the end of the counter for them to worry about. Grocery carts were just everywhere in the parking lot. Abandoned by angry customers with no warning.

I was particularly miffed at my art supply store in Santa Fe. They used to have this wonderful mat board sized (42 x 54 inches) plastic bags to get my foam core and mat board purchases home unmarked. I would store my purchases dust free for their life so protected in my flat file. These durable plastic bags got reused a lot for transporting paintings to and from shows. I never threw one away until it was in shreds. To get my purchases home safe they wrapped them in - wait for it - brown paper. Which, by the way, I have used as wrapping paper for purchases from my studio and sketch paper.

I reuse plastic bags too. Not for anything meaningful because they are now made so cheaply but they make good packing materials and prevent me from having to purchase those toxic Styrofoam packing peanuts. Doubled up they are good for kitty litter waste. Which goes into my tall kitchen plastic bag, and then into a larger plastic bag with the trash from various decorative trash cans about the house and then off to the dumpster. Aaah for the days in Colorado when I had an incinerator in the backyard and burned all paper waste to ashes which could be used in the garden.

Now they want to eliminate plastic straws. First image in my mind was trying to drink from my tea to go obtained at the drive through at Wendy's. No straw. No cap. And the big gulps when lifted to your mouth to drink will totally obscure your view of the road and all the cars around you. And I dare you to not look down at your lap when the tea and ice spill all over your lap. And I am not sure I want to eat at someplace that allows me to pass my sippy plastic cup inside the to go window to be filled with tea. Even at buffets you cannot reuse a plate for seconds.

I am not sure what the solution to this is. But every time we come up with a solution we seem to make it worse. There are anti-litter laws in every state. We used to scorn litterbugs. And there was in our state a $300 fine. Some states have made the company whose logo is on the bag or can or bottle pay a fine or higher tax for those cleaned up by the highway department. It would no doubt drive Budweiser out of business with just New Mexico if we did that.

We could provide more trash cans for disposal of accumulated waste in the car. Every drive through ought to have several so you can unload the waste of the last trip before picking up the latest additions.

We could also legalize hemp which can be used to make "paper bags." And if I have to buy recyclable bags from a store I want them really cheap because I am saving them money. And no doing what I swear Walmart does - making flimsy reusable bags and then directing employees to overload them so they give away in the parking lot.

BTW my prettiest reusable bag is Trader Joe's. What's yours? And have you purchased your reusable straw yet? Where are you going to store that?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

OMG Tell me why I am doing this

They say (whoever they are) it is best to quit a habit or begin a new one while out of your normal comfort zone. Giving up smoking on a ten day raft trip down the Colorado river seemed to make sense because yu could not bob off for more cigs at the corner store. Course the guides and counselors may need to carry guns. But the philosophy has been used somewhat successfully at treatment centers and diet farms.

So when faced with five days of "extreme" pet sitting I figured now is my time to begin my campaign to get back in shape. I have my dogs trained to walk at my pace. And I have figured out all the paths in my immediate neighborhood to avoid going up hill on the way back when tired. The pet I am taking care of insists on his pace and his family lives literally on the side of a mountain. I have checked. There is no easy path to walk. Ninety percent end with a killer climb back up a hill.

Then there is the spacing of the three walks per day. A leisurely meal is not going to be in the schedule. So I am stuck with quick power shakes, etc. In five days I figure I ought to be able to lose three pounds and kick start the plan to get in shape.

Or die.

Never under estimate day three. It is about the time all the muscles are screaming, NO, NO, NO. And the body wants there to be FOOD. Preferably something in real high carbs and calories.

The other error in my thinking was Day 5. It is my birthday and you know I am going to be taken out to lunch or dinner or both.

Then I have all these friends in worse shape than me who are questioning why I am even working this hard at something this painful. No, I do not enjoy self-sacrifice. But I am really feeling the four weeks of not doing as part of the recovery plan for eye surgery and tooth extraction. Use it or loose it and that is really true as you get older.

I have often said photography is a sport. Well, so in gardening. You do not have to include squats or lunges in a workout if you garden or take photographs or both. I was just out in the sauna I call my green house repotting tomatoes. And the noon mile walk looms.