Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Chat over Coffee

A friend and I seem to be at each other's throats lately. Not really that strange for our long term relationship. She gets entirely to myopic at times (maybe even narcissistic) and I get intolerant of some of her behaviors.

Add to this her changing her plans totally and leaving for the winter before summer is over which throws a total monkey wrench in my plans, and, the worst, her playing professional widow. The first makes her even more narcissistic and the second seems to giver her permission to baby talk to every man in the universe.

I have a few pet peeves which I seem to be unable to erase. One of them is baby talking females around men. My ex-husband once invited an old friend to stay a week at our house when we were still married. She could speak nothing but baby talk when Marc was around. They decided she would stay two weeks and I got her a reservation at a hotel in the next town at the end of four days. Now I just get up and walk away. I have even driven away if it is extended like at the mechanic's yesterday.

Another of my pet peeves is dieting friends that make every single conversation about how much they have lost and how much I would lose if I just followed their dieting plan. Usually said at length when pushing of the remainder of their desert across the table toward me. Great way to get me to stop accepting lunch engagements. And I hate it when a friend lifts their blouse and shows how loose their jeans are. Even in restaurants and clothing stores.

Do not tell me to talk to her about these things because I have. And she always turns it around to my problem and certainly not hers. And I am being unreasonably cruel to even bring it up. I am absolutely failing at mastering Zen which she has as my teacher. l personally find all the above just so totally embarrassing if it takes place in public. At the same time I am rather worried about her. Maybe it is more than just the second year of widowhood.

Maybe it is Alzheimer's unset. She never seems to hear what I say or she forgets it way too fast. That can be a symptom of narcissism too.

She is trying to declutter her life so she can sell her house. Never said neutrally but always including I should do the same. She thinks I should move to Florida with her. I have not kept track of how many times I have told her I cannot even visit that state. Then she offers things she wants to get rid of to me. Not bad in some cases. But she never hears no on the move to Florida or the junk. One person's junk is not necessarily my treasure. Especially when things are offered as if I am the pour white trash living in the shed out back.

I have examined whether I am being overly sensitive. She says her tone is always neutral. Oh, but not her expression or where she is staring like my belly when she talks about how much she has lost. I think I am not overly sensitive until she mentions things three times like diet, decluttering, or schedule I have remembered and she forgot, etc.

Yesterday it was how slowly the painting of trim is gone on her house. I am getting paid but it has also rained. You cannot even scrape and sand when wood is wet. I have explained this so much I feel like a broken record. Then my tone isn't neutral. My intolerance shows.

We can have great times together but last week and this has not been even tolerable.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thinking Outside the Box

Unfinished Acrylic Circus

Just finished an acrylic painting workshop given by Sherry Wolf at Old Town Gallery in Cimarron, New Mexico. Sherry achieves some wondrous effects with acrylic. I rather hate the stuff. And she is great at abstracts. Everything becomes to realistic under my paint brush. Two good reasons to take the workshop.

It always helps to get outside the box you have painted yourself into. I took a metal embossing workshop from Sherry for the same reason this spring. And just yesterday I ordered more metal to do more pieces. I doubt it will ever occupy a space at my gallery but It is a wonderful TV project. Something to do with idle hands as I sit "relaxing" in the evening. But then painting began that way as a break from my business of mask making.

Unfinished embossed metal piece

A writers workshop I took when I was writing for money called it tithing. Or writing something you had no hope of selling. Writing poetry started that way. At the time I could sit down at the computer and turn out a 1000 word article or column without even counting the words. Poetry did not fit into that comfortable space. It taxed my mind. Now I am considering self-publishing a book of poetry illustrated with my paintings and my photographs.

I bought the embossing metal because I imagine a set of tiles for the back splash in my kitchen. Or ornaments for the holidays. I am not there are the acrylic painting. But I did rummage through my old mask making supplies and did out some of my favorite acrylic paints. And I can look at the experiment and image other things to do with it to bring it further along.

Experiments in texture

And on this little 6 x 6 inch panel I experimented with adding textures. Watercolor is only visual texture but acrylic allows for real texture like in the embossed metal. I have some oil paints I have been playing with on my watercolor/mixed media paintings. Maybe I will add some of that to these two acrylic pieces. Chance to learn more about oil at same time.

I often say I learned more about painting in the two years I didn't paint than any two years when I did. I photographed in those two years. I learned a huge amount about composition and light. And when I went back to painting I brought that with me.

Anything which adds to your experience will help in your creative search toward your goal even if it seems off the path at the time.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Why Don't Men Listen?

Subtitle: Why I love my dog. She pays attention.

I love my local hardware store. They know that even when I cannot remember the correct word I know what I want and what I want is correct for the job I am doing. I walk in with combinations of PVC pipe and they point me to the bins so I can play tinker toy (or would it be Lego Pipes) until I have the parts I need to replace it.

And Ace hardware in Taos knows me too. And probably has gotten the news that 60% of all power tools are sold to women and not as gifts for their husbands. My mechanic thinks I keep a messy car but respects that when I tell what I think is wrong that I am in the ball park.

The one set of men I have to deal with from time to time who show no respect are delivery men. So yesterday as I had to deal with Lowe's delivery men while doing odd jobs at her house was very frustrating. First because I had to consider what I was doing based on could I hear the phone or not. Delete use of power sander. Or my location so I could see the drive. Things got done in sort of strange sequence.

They did call promptly at 7:30 to let me know the window of deliver: 10 to 1. But they did not get directions as I was informed they would. I asked if they needed that and was informed they would call when they reached Angel Fire. I clearly did not have to answer the phone at 7:30. They could have left a message. I returned to my house to do some things at home before going back awaiting their call for directions at 9:30.

When two o'clock came and went I went to the caller ID function and found the number of the cell they were using and was told they were running late but would call when they left Angel Fire. Wait, I yelled, as they disconnected, DIRECTIONS? See, since I live here I know where the dead spots are between Angel Fire and my neighborhood. They were planning to call from one of those. And each time we talked they wanted to speak to Mr. Doe instead of a woman.

Thinking they knew where Black Lake was they drove right by at 60 plus mph in a 45 mph area. It is all cell phone dead zone for miles. So obviously they had to drive to a place with reception. "Mr. Doe, where are you located? We are down past Black Lake."

"You want directions now?"

"Yes, or let us speak to Mr. Doe."

"Me, take it or leave it."

I gave my practiced set of directions. This is not my first rodeo and I know where everyone goes wrong if they are going to not listen carefully. And then I went out and stood in the middle of the road to flag them down. Jumping quickly out of the way as they roared down my quiet little country unpaved lane and what had to be 50 mph. I waited for them to find a place to turn around and come back to where I was standing, so I could explain to them their only option to get the washer and dryer into the small laundry room with only one large enough door.

Of course they questioned that.

I feel back on icy silence. I had scheduled myself for three hours of work (sanding baseboard trim and scraping outside base trim isn't anything you do all day) and I was at five hours as they drive away. I was tired and in pain and frustrated.

When I get a new washer and dryer I think I will pick it up in my truck and install them myself.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

So Easy to Get Sidetracked

Sunset on the Sturgeon Moon

New Mexico may be the land of manana (not necessarily tomorrow but some day to be named in the future) because of sunsets (and sunrises). Or it may be because it attracts artists, writers and other introverts. Believe it or not we do not move here for fiestas. And those that do will soon leave.

A few of us old timers were sitting around at the art reception yesterday talking about what we know and those newcomers do not. And we were laughing over tales of how they were going to transform our sleepy little community. Nobody ever asks if we want it transformed. If they did the answer would be no.

We moved here because in the midst of performing some task on the computer or cleaning the kitchen we will look up and see the clouds transform as the sun sets and drop everything to grab the camera to catch yet another stunning sunset or sunrise. The camera is not necessary; a cup of coffee will do. Actually the sunrise or sunset is also not a requirement. Any clouds will work.

A noisy sky
Okay, I confess, the clouds are just an excuse. Other excuses that work are to smell the air, listen to the silence, enjoy a large cloudless sky, watch the hawks soar overhead (ravens and even buzzards work).

I worked my little (I confess big) butt off (sadly it is still there) getting ready for my solo show, all the time promising myself that as soon as it was hung I would catch up with all I was avoiding. Well, it has been more than a month. But I do now have a list. Two lists. My list. And the list of an odds job client which pays. And here I sit waiting for this morning's dawn. Getting up from this blog every few minutes to check on status of the sun and the level of coffee in my cup. Mornings are my absolute favorite here in the land of enchantment.

Dawn after the rains

I have a friend who wants to spend winter in Florida and fails to understand why I have not jumped at the chance to escape New Mexico with her. Might be nice to go someplace but not Florida. I could not stand the noise or the traffic or the pesticides or the crowds. The beach would be a nice retreat but only without people. Perhaps some deserted isle. But I absolutely love the "between times" here in New Mexico. Between the tourist swarms. It returns to the New Mexico I grew up in and I wonder why we worked so very hard to attract tourists. Or if it is worth the expense. Even in the days when travelers were courteous and polite and clean and in manageable numbers they were hard to take at peak times. We told ourselves it was a way to afford living here. Now tourists can be compared to a swarm of locusts.

Second home owners and those on retreats are different. They come here to be sidetracked and they arae out with their cameras or cups of coffee enjoying the air and silence and dawns and sunsets. But tourists, in the worst sense of the word, come here in packs for short periods of time to be entertained. And figure all the laws and rules of behavior which applied back home do not here. In fact, the worst ones (the ones that give tourists a bad name here and abroad) think we ought to change our way of life to accommodate them better.

So in the quiet space after the main reception yesterday, when the only ones left were us old timers, the conversation changed to whether we benefit from tourists these days or are they are rapidly becoming a financial and ecological burden we cannot afford. And then how to attract the cultural tourist who liked what we had here. On to how things had changed in the 20 plus years most of us have been in New Mexico and this valley. On to the drought and ever shortening ski season.

We are easily distracted in conversations too. Maybe it is looking too much at clouds, and birds, and elk and deer. We adjourned our informal conference with no answers or solutions. We are used to living in the questions like all mystics and philosophers on mountain tops. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Your Reality is Not My Reality

In the Mists

In the mists
shadows come
and go.

Shapes appear
and are erased
by the mists.

In the mists
the truth appears
and vanishes.

I have a creative mind too much influenced by the great philosophers. I do not think they teach philosophy as much any more. It isn't on the tests in high school and in college they are too busy teaching what we once learned in high school. But in the ancient age I matriculated in we studied them all; Plato, Aristotle, Descartes.   I loved Jean Paul Sartre and acted in No Exit in high school. My senior paper was on Kierkegaard. I lived existentialism.  

And in college I went on to all the moderns and immersed myself in essays and sat around the student union building with like minded students and discussed reality. Yours versus mine. We do not see the world the same you know. Well, I know. Or think I know. I think and therefore I am.

So communication has really always been an interesting experiment in my experience. In Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, Dr. McCoy is trying to open a conversation with Spock to assess if he is "firing on all thrusters."

McCoy: Perhaps we could cover a little philosophical ground. Life. Death. Things of that nature.

Spock: I did not have time on Vulcan to review the philosophical disciplines.

McCoy: Oh, come on Spock, it is me, McCoy. You really have gone where no man has gone before. Can't you tell me what it felt like?

Spock: It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame-of-reference. 

We want to believe we have a common frame-of-reference. We name things. Write reference books so we are all working from the same definitions. We think.

But we don't. 

We do not come from the same pasts. We have different expectations. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. A rainy misty day is a delight for me as a photographer and doom and gloom for sun worshipers. Some see our world as concrete; others as Mercurial. 

As Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke says, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Never, in all the history of man, from painting on the cave walls through movable type, into the ether, has it been easier to attempt to communicate, and I would argue it is at the same time never been so difficult because we think we all have the same reality. Isn't it on TV every day? But I opt to not watch commercial television but surf the net instead. My neighbor and I share a common history for almost forty years. She has Dish. I don't. I surf. She sends emails. It doesn't come up often but every once in a while like at Chili's yesterday it becomes starkly defined. They have kiosks on every table so you can play computer games. She does not know computer games, and the only thing I know about Duck Dynasty is I do not watch it.

A little matter. But such a little matter has broken another friendship apart. I expressed quite clearly my expectations, and she heard her desires. Wars are caused by less. Ebola is becoming a pandemic because of the definition of quarantine. The use of the term global warming instead of climate change gave those that do not want to believe in either a handle to destroy the planet by denouncing global warming just when there are blizzards.

So here I am attempting to communicate the sound of a tree falling in the forest while everyone else has their MP3 players turned up too loud. A tree falling in the misted forest makes the softest of sounds as it is swallowed by the fog. But you know when you hear it that something great has died.