Monday, September 29, 2014

Moving in Time Again

It is that time again. Time to move in the plants that were moved out this spring and try to find them space for the winter after a summer of new growth. This is usually a multi-stepped process. First the move in to any space reasonably out of the way. And then everything which lives all year in the studio gets moved around to make room. If you are looking for a well taken care of house plant now is the time to approach me, because not only did the indoor/outdoor group grow but the totally indoor group did too. In fact this was an epic year for some of my euphorbias - repotting and separating out babies from mother plants.

And then there is the rosemary plant. I have a friend who grew hers outside all year around up here. Never quite worked for me so the last attempt at raising rosemary became and indoor/outdoor. That was three years ago. It is getting bigger. And every year about this time I wonder if it is big enough to be an outside plant. I seem not willing to risk it because it is crowded up against the indoor geranium (it is too big to move indoors and outdoors anymore.

I do not help this moving process any by my need to buffer the loss of outdoor flowers with purchases of blooming indoor plants. This year it is two more baby Crown of Thorn plants and another orchid. Thankfully the need to find them a place on plant bench or floor is not as immediately necessary as moving them inside. Some immediately find pride of place.

And once all the garden supplies and tools are off the plant stand by the door the rosemary plant can be moved to its customary winter home. The Angel Wing Begonia, a new addition, is going to have to be hung. It is finally getting big enough to not look silly suspended.

Speaking of suspended there are the herbs to be cut, tied and hung to dry. Oh, I have a dehydrator but there is never enough room or time for all herbs to go through that process. All this necessitates the fall cleaning. If you are going to spend all winter more inside than out things need to be cleaned out.

All this when I would just like to hibernate once all the fall glory is over.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Where the Buffalo Roam

Buffalo on the Vermejo Park Ranch

The herd which was close to the highway was about 47 to 50 in number and included several of this year's calves. Needless to say we were going for the up close and personal photographs.

Aunts and Calf

And there really was no end of opportunities. The grass was long and lush and the bison all had their heads down. The calves were curious and edged closer to the fence and the adults almost unconsciously covered them. The entire herd comprise of adult females takes care of the calves. It was very interesting to watch.

The Gang of three

We got so engrossed in the herd by the fence we did not notice at first another herd moving into the area in the distance.

Herd Two in the distance

Herd Three coming through the pass

Off with the long lens and on with the wide angle. I walked back to the car to get my second camera already set up with the wide angle.

Jessica Duke and Equipment Management
Jessica's High Country Photography

First a herd moved from the middle to the far right along the base of a ridge line and vanished into a gully. Soon it or another herd was moving from the right to the left while another herd was coming down through the gap on the left. Each herd numbered around fifty or more.

Four herds?

Then another herd began appearing on the ridge to the right and filtering down through the trees on the top of the ridge. I almost forgot to take pictures. Watching the slow but steady movement of the herds was like a scene from How the West Was Won. I had to wonder if this was what the pioneers on the Santa Fe Trail, which ran through this area almost where we were standing, had seen before the buffalo herds were decimated by hunters so ranchers could put cattle on the land.

I have to applaud land owners such as Ted Turner who is trying to restore this area to what it once was and give it back to the majestic beasts that inhabited it. Yes, I am sure the herds are culled and meat sold to support restoration of the prairie. Two other ranchers in the area are raising buffalo commercially. And the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National forest which abuts Turner's land has its own buffalo herds.

Our herd moving back toward the others

Not breaking up meal time the herd that had been up by the fence began to inch back toward the others. Every once in a while one cow would break from one herd and run to the next as if it spotted a long lost friend or herd they had gotten separated from earlier.

It was a wonderful gift to watch this drama unfold. And during that time other cars stopped and occupants ran out through the tall grass in shorts to snap pictures with their iPhones or small cameras. They got their few shots and left without having seen what we had seen. One man from Maryland was so upset this had been the first herd of buffalo he had seen in the entire trip.

As an area local I drive this road often and the buffalo are not always here. They have other areas to graze. And this year with the good monsoon season has also been a return of the good grass. May the rains continue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Epiphany on the Road from Raton

Chamisa Blooming

There is something about the open plains and a totally straight line of highway for mile after mile which frees the mind to think. On this trip back from Trinidad I was thinking of so many other trips across the plains in the last few years and the difference rain can make. I want to use the word lush but so many in the east will not understand that used in this context.

The grass, already beginning to go gold because of night temperatures looked so thick and so long in spots you almost felt it would be difficult to walk through. And indeed a lot of the locals were not walking. One of this herd of buffalo got up when I walked (waded) to the fence line. The grass was up to my knees and almost up to their bellies. They definitely looked well fed.

Buffalo on the Vermejo Park Ranch

Even the post rut Pronghorn Antelope were too stuffed to move much. A rather nervous animal in the best of times this one even allowed me to get out of my truck to get a better angle. He was not about to move from his patch of long green grass. And one can hardly blame him. In his lifetime it has been difficult to find. This spring as I drove through this area I wondered it it would ever recover. I was not just grass grazed to nubbins but bare earth in large expanses.

And all the stock ponds and catch basins and streams were dry. We all laughed about the Canadian River. Bridges seemed to be unnecessary, another government boondoggle. All the fishermen in my valley complained about the water being released from Eagle Nest lake per water rights owned by ranchers, and treaties with other communities and states. Eagle Nest is at about half capacity. And even with the monsoons more seems to be going out than coming in.

Draining the lake has been going on for at least four years. The drought in the plains a bit longer and the water we trapped was the survival for the plains. So the stock pond below was a cause for celebration. I apologize for the power lines. I took this photo primarily for my sister who was last here when this body of water was not.


And there was water in the Canadian River and Ponil Creek. And many more stock ponds dotting the eastern plains. The rest of the world is all upset about ISIS and Iraq and Iran and Israel (what is it about I's), but few of us here in New Mexico care much. We do have Weapons of Mass Destruction because we built them in Los Alamos and the other states of the United States have shipped their atomic wastes and weapons of war here to our "wasteland" to store.

Here we are excited about grass and water. We are angry at politicians from the east for ignoring climate change and letting Phoenix (a desert community which gets at best 4" of rain) mist their sidewalks with water which came from the peaks of Colorado, also in a drought. If water is to be expended it should be to grow pasture, not lawns, to feed livestock and native residents both two and four footed. We measure the water used and the height of the grass, not the strokes on a golf course.

Standing guard

Those hot spots that begin with the letter I had their rights ignored too for too long. Nations decided borders and policy based on what was true of the G8. And the politicos in Washington decide what they think is right for the states with the biggest electoral votes. But it is the lessor folk that built this nation and we are getting upset at being ignored. There are 30 states in the US with petitions to leave the union. Nobody will miss our electoral votes but they might miss our produce, water, and those stored nuclear weapons.

Wars have fought over water and war will be fought over water again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Graduate Course in Failure to Communicate

Communication was easy once. Besides what was there to talk about? You walked up to another person and either threw down your club or threw it at their head. But as times went by it got a bit more complicated.

"Honey, I told you to fix the stairs."


"So you going to do it?"

"Not inclined to."

And so with the introduction of the mother-in-law was born the third party negotiator. I did not say necessarily independent. Everyone has a dog in the hunt.

King Arthur introduced the concept of the shape of the table. Have you ever followed one of those openings to peace or truce negotiations? Weeks can be spent on the shape of the table. You could argue they are not fighting during that time if the third party made a truce part of the prelude to the shape of the table. There are not that many shapes. Could we just universally decide on round and go from there?

Which brings us to language. Sometimes this is why the war began. And then there is alliances, and treaties, and precedent. And who speaks for whom and in what order. Then how. With technical developments people are not necessarily in the same room. (Skip shape of table discussion.)

I am currently involved in two problematic conversations. One is between my new BluRay and all my other techno gadgets. And then there is between my neighbor on her way to 6 months in Florida and myself.

I think with the advice of a friend I am well on my way to solving the first one: First you pick the dominant device. The newest usually has the edge. But you can get in a problem if in addition to a Smart WiFi BluRay you have a Smart TV, computer, and a Smart Phone, etc. Note: the dumb router can take the upper hand right quick. And in the case of my neighbor's entertainment system the Dish Hopper wins every time. We still cannot have a movie night at her house.

But she left for Florida already anyway. And I am in charge of the dogs and the house. Well, I think I am. A nephew popped in for a few days then popped out but may pop back in if other relatives get a seat at the table. Note who gets to have a vote is a big thing at negotiations. Power goes to the first person to leave the table oddly.

The big problem is we have not figured out the method of communication either. I tried to have this discussion when she was in the room (see previous note about power going to who first leaves). She is a text maniac. I do text. Short text. And usually when avoiding a conversation: I LEFT - I do not do caps or punctuation and seldom more than four short (3 to 4 letters) words. She does TOMES with no paragraphs and no punctuation. I told her that I would not communicate with her via text. Phone call or e-mail only. And that is partly because my toss phone does not scroll well, and while cataract surgery made it possible to see the little text on the screen it still means digging out the readers. But the biggest reason is I do not get reception until I leave my valley.

She knows this. She texts Florida back and forth but before she left I could not text between her house and mine. Sometimes I would get what she considered an emergency text two days later when I left my house to go buy groceries. Once a whole week. Could not understand why she was angry with me. Hard to respond to something you did not receive.

And then of course there is language. As mad as she is about texting she doesn't event know what BTW means . . . er btw since we both cannot do caps. I am not spelling out by the way. So we can (if I am out of the valley where I can receive text from her) have a furious text fight over the meaning of btw. I always leave that room first.

And then with texting you have not a clue about who else is in the room i.e. conversation. I have gotten in trouble with texting two different people and forgetting which one I am replying too. Especially difficult when the person's name is not entered into your contact list with their phone number. But my texting maniac BFF (btw I have my doubts at times like these about the last f) does not have anybody's name in her contact list. I kept getting the weirdest replies back from her. She is good at skipping subjects (Agendas are important in any negotiation) even mana y mana). I would go back through her last text to see if I has scrolled through all of it. That can be problematic. I kept trying to delve into my memory as to what could be the subject when I at last did the BGD - Battery Going Dead - escape which she of course did not understand. And texted me back. I turned off the phone. Some times I think dropping it in my hot coffee mug would be good.

Last text I sent was email (I do not know the hyphen or the ? mark). I have sent her an e-mail which she could respond to on her Chrome tablet. She refuses to FaceBook. I refuse to text. We either agree on telephone or e-mail as the means of communication or the conversation is over till she returns. There is always the possibility there is nothing really to talk about.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Morning Reflections - Bucket List?

I have several friends who bring up their bucket list from time to time. The movie certainly made the idea of a list of adventures before you die popular. My parents had such a list. They managed to snowbird a couple winters before Dad died. And my sister and I took Mom to Cozumel and Toronto (twice), and out to eat at a Chinese restaurant before she died.

I was on one of those career paths mandated for my generation at the time I became an orphan. My redneck period my friends called it. I even owned my own bowling ball. I dressed for success with a nod to wilder than accepted earrings. I considered the blazer and blouse my costume and the earrings my bit of rebellion. The bowling ball was a prescription for perfectionism mandated by a psychologist I was going to for bulimia. I no long want to return to 103. And I no longer bowl after I broke 100 once or twice.

Before the redneck period I had been a lobbyist in Washington, DC (for would you believe? The American Council of Churches), an organizer for a conference against defense spending, had my phone tapped by Nixon and his cronies, had an FBI file, been down the Colorado River twice on a raft, joined the Sierra Club, toured with the USO as a belly dancer, etc. Before, during and after the Red Neck period I added to my list of states lived in and visited, took flying lessons. Before and after I worked as a ski instructor, raised llamas, hiked Canyonlands, floated Lake Powell in a house boat, had a stalker or two . . . The list goes on. Enough for two or three buckets.

For the longest time the item which remained on the list of things to do was go back to Italy. I was there as a toddler. Australia was briefly on The List until I found out how many poisonous animals were on their list, and that the parts I really wanted to see looked a lot like Utah which could be visited without four days of flying. Peru and Macho Pichu remained an objective until I found out about the littering problem. Who wants to pay that much money to look at ancient rocks covered with energy bar wrappers.

I used to like to fly commercial but 9/11 ruined that. Why should I voluntarily give myself over to privacy invasion just to go from point A to point B, when driving is so much more fun. No, not the interstates. My sister introduced me to the joys of off road travel. And the fur kids can come.

A close friend is getting a condo in Florida to spend winters away from the snows of New Mexico. She wants me to come down and share it with her some. My stomach went into total revolt when she asked. She does not understand my heart felt NO. Cheek to jowl with humans? Crammed into a flying sardine can after worse treatment than arrested drunks? Heat and humidity? Aerosprayed poisons to kill bats and bugs and humans? I go out of my way to eat organic food and yet I am going to volunteer for that?

I have found paradise. And those things which are on my list currently are pretty close to home. I want to spend a week at Monument Valley and Natural Bridges. Oddly I think it might be fun to spend some time on a dinosaur dig in Utah. I toy at times with completing the great American novel or self publishing a book of poetry with my paintings and photographs. None of that requires me leaving my comfort zone.

If there is a bucket list it has a green house and a camping trailer on it. Would love to be able to stucco my house. I came to the realization I am the perfect reverse mortgage applicant. And a very good pet sitter.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Living in the Question

My mother was First Christian. Dad had been raised Catholic and then, as he would put it when the conversation came around to religion, went to war. In my formative years I went to base chapels and then turned to philosophy. I believe. I just refuse to limit that belief. In college I discovered Reciprocity as a construct of social psychology.  And if I have a belief system which guides my life that is it.

That has had a major impact on my life because I fail to understand those that condemn or restrict or declare without latitude. I have continued to study the history of  religions because it is within religions you most often see a rigid condemnation of others. Religionists are your zealots, your fundamentalists,  your condemners of all who do not believe as they do.

Religionists have nothing to do with faith or spirituality and often are counter to good moral practice. I find them very scary whether base of worship is Islam or Christianity. I find them scary because they feel they have the answers and no longer seek.

Spirituality is living in the question and constantly seeking a higher understanding. You cannot do that if you believe you have already been given all the answers by a puppet in a pulpit. Or a clerk doing the "Good Work" at a thrift shop.

It is easier to continue to seek if you avoid those so dogmatically sure of the answers. I believe we all have that freedom to seek. Who knows maybe the creator of the universe is a while salamander or a gecko or Coyote. Maybe all of those are just names for an energy way beyond our poor power to comprehend.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Deliver me

We have a local thrift store run by a Christian ministry. The money they make from their thrift store sales goes to help local families in need and several charities their faith supports. There are one or two on their posted list I cannot in all honesty wholeheartedly support but their good outweighs their bad on my scales.

At least until today. In fact I have always seen a trip to the Attic is a positive point in the week. You always run into friends. The prices are always amazingly cheap. The merchandise very good because so many of our citizens donate their clothing and house goods to the charity. A fun time is usually had by all.

Casually shopping I picked out two very nice shirts which run $1.50 each. Looked at quilts and comforters which I use as dog beds. And through kitchen wares. I at last wound up in purses. The locals seem to favor a very nice quality of purse and surrender them for resale with just a minimum of wear. Sometimes no wear at all. I found a lovely purse that converts to a "backpack" which will be great for trips. Especially photography trips. Purses are usually a dollar. Brief cases and hobby bags run $2 or $3.

I handed the clerk my prospective purchases and she immediately accused me of having removed the price tag off the purse (it was not a brief case). I explained I had picked it up in the shelving with purses and she questioned that.

"This is way more expensive than a purse," she stated. I pointed again where I had gotten it. And she went on at length about it being all leather. She is definitely wrong about that. Vinyl and some leather, nicely lined with good zippers, but not a name brand and made in China.

"Are you trying to STEAL FROM THE LORD?

I started to push all my items back across the table. About that time I wanted nothing to do with them or her or the shop. Everyone had stopped and was staring. She, however, was proceeding to explain in not even good English the length people will do to hurt the good works of the people.

My friend, and another person from the community intervened. And I left the store. We got the purse for $3. But the Good Woman of the Lord turned around and double charged my friend for her purchases. We are not talking a lot of money but it left us both with a nasty taste in our mouths. Frankly, I am not sure I am going back.

Finally we were able to hysterically laugh about it. But I still do not think I am going back.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reflections Upon September

Reflections on the Rio Grande

September is my favorite month. Always has been. Even in those dreaded days of my youth when it meant going back to school and all the teasing and not fitting in. September meant, more than any other month, new beginnings. In school it was new subjects, possibly new friends, definitely new books, and new clothes.

I really love September. It smells wonderful. So fresh. And every day there will be oh, so subtle changes as vegetables ripen and foliage begins to turn, and flower petals fall and reveal seed cases of fascinating shapes.

Fresh flowers I have left outside all summer long. Dried grasses and seed pods and dried flowers I will cut and bring inside to fill all manner of containers. And I will collect the seeds; the promise of a new spring. Fall reaches its culmination in October with the harvest but September is the beginning of the fall.

Spring is the promise and September is the glory of that promise. And yet there is always this bitter sweetness about September. Soon the glorious leaves will fall. The last flower will bloom. But if we are lucky those things will not happen until October. Snow will not fall until November.

I have made it a rule to never ruin September with a marriage or a divorce. I avoid relationships in September because it is my month. Thirty years ago the 9th of September I gave up drugs and alcohol. And I began to habit of reflection in September. Sometimes I do a soak in Pagosa for a few days. I had plans to camp this year. But, Mardi Gras, my fur companion of a decade and a half, will be 15 this September 6th. That is hugely old for a standard poodle. So this September I will be sticking close to home. I may just let the answering machine take all the messages for hours or days while I sit on the stoop, or paint in the studio. Or me, my camera, and my fur kids in the truck in the mountains if just for a few hours.

Meteorologically autumn begins today but the autumnal equinox is September 22nd this year. Mabon, the White Goddess, marks the middle of harvest. The Harvest Moon will be September 8th. Time for all things to come to fruition. Traditionally the time to look back and reflect on your past life and plan ahead to the future. Or just celebrate having made it to this point in time.

White rabbit, white rabbit.