Friday, December 25, 2015

Game Changers

Life seems to change when we least expect it. And we are prone to see those changes as failures as if success is for the situation to remain the same. In fact, success should be about rolling with the punches.

Anyone can walk on even ground or keep in step with a marching band. Picking your own path or setting your own rhythm is the challenge.

It has been a challenging month. So challenging I have not had time to write a blog in three weeks. No time to pause and catch my breath and re-access. Sometimes the pauses are enforced by other circumstances. And you are stuck in a lobby, or a waiting room, or exam room having forgotten your tablet and your cell phone; all the magazines are five years old; and there is no one to talk to but yourself.

But you know things will be changing if on no other level than how you see yourself.

And there are no quick answers. You have no plan for the days ahead easy at hand.

A choice is to see it as an opportunity. A game changer. The challenge is to figure out the new game.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Campaigning for Agreement

Part of the whole deadly triad of blaming others and impression management is campaigning for agreement. We are herd animals. Especially the extroverts among us. We are not comfortable being shunned or blocked of even not getting enough likes for our posts on social media.

I call it the deadly triad because in just a few hours, thanks to Facebook and email, we can create opinions which once took months to spread by word of mouth and telephone. Thank heavens we have gotten beyond literal lynch mobs. But maybe what we have now is worse, because we do not even have to think about what we are doing when we post on social media. Nor can we take it back easily because once it is out there it is out there.

And some organizations like the Right to Lifers who want to kill abortion doctors don't just shop for agreement but campaign for it. They post names and addresses and hit lists of those against what they believe on websites they manage. And they celebrate in a post when one of the list is taken off. The GOP has found if you repeat a lie often enough everyone comes to believe it is the truth. The Christians have done it with Christmas. Don't want to say Merry Christmas? Well, you are now apart of the persecution of the believers in Jesus. We want to divide to conquer. Not with us than you are obviously against us. It is all in or all out.

But we do it also on a smaller scale on free platforms. There are those on your friends' list on Facebook that will crucify groups or individuals for doing them wrong. And if you do not fall in line and agree with them you will become one of the shunned. It can be very damaging in a small community which relies on social media for its information. The intelligent don't chime in. They whisper in corners at face to face events. Those who speak the truth or even voice doubt in a campaign for agreement can named the enemy.

Words have power. Do not misuse them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Impression Management

I am an artist and a poet. I know how to manage impressions. I have also, in my somewhat checkered career, worked in advertising as a copy writer, been a free lance writer, a theatrical set and costume designer, and acted. You could say I have an advanced degree in impression management. But I seek to be very honest and up front in my personal life. Poetry, not so much.

And while I am at times a real sucker for the narcissistic personality disorder in friends (more and more briefly friends) I am also really good at spotting bullshit. I am sure I could have put that more poetically.  There is currently a lot of impression management going on in my little town. And today that means you take it to the ethernet. Let me say that just because it was posted on Facebook does not make it gospel. It does not even have to make it close to the truth.

Generally I just read these little mini-dramas and not like or comment. FB does not have a button for Liar or even Dislike so not liking and not commenting is the coward's way out of the fray. But I am rather upset about one that just hit our community because it tarred and feathered without proof an individual I know but it also painted with the same brush our volunteer firemen. Rule one on Impression Management: Do not paint false impressions of others to make yourself look good. Rule two on Impression Management: Leave the innocent and others not directly involved OUT OF IT.

I have lived in Black Lake for twenty years now. I have nothing but good to say about the citizens here who volunteer for the fire department. If I was thirty years younger I would volunteer too. Our tax base is about 1400 and yet during the height of tourist seasons the fire department and paramedics take care of 10,000 visitors doing dangerous things they are not in good physical shape for, and with professionalism and compassion. In the past years of drought they have been our first line of defense against our surrounding forest when on fire.

It is totally wrong to blacken their reputation with an oblique reference in a totally unproven and unsubstantiated story on public media.

That is my impression of this entire incident.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Theme is Humble

Alone in the field

The end of the year always brings about agonizing reappraisal. And a questioning of my assumptions. It is always easier to do this with others but not as easy to do it with ourselves. I have promised myself to do better this year at that.

A local business just announced it was closing. They blamed us locals because we didn't shop there enough. But who would want to? I asked myself. And I was one of those that shopped there. They stocked products I wanted, but increasingly I was willing to drive over the mountain to get those products.

The economy gets a lot of blame for failure of businesses. I do not have enough money to shop local a lot. I try to eat at least one restaurant meal a week. It is a budget line item. If I had more money I would spend more money. I blame the economy for the low sales at my studio. That and Google Maps had me in the wrong spot. But maybe it is that I am not a good painter. Or I have a toxic personality. Admittedly nobody needs a painting. And everyone thinks their iphone takes a great photograph.

A few years back this agonizing reappraisal stuff led me to give up painting for two years. I spent my creative energy on photography. That was rewarding but painters don't choose to paint. They need to paint so I went back to it. Our valley has several well known painters and I am probably the least of those. I do know I am third on prices, and second on google listings. I promised myself when I went back to painting that I would paint what I wanted to paint. Maybe that isn't what others want to buy. The mustang paintings go very well, but I get tired of the question, "Do you paint aspens?" "I photograph those," I reply nicely. But everyone photographs aspens. My old truck photographs sell better. Note: I did do a couple aspen paintings. Neither sold.

And one of the reasons I quit painting for those two years was the production line of churches. I sold a lot of churches. "Paint churches. Everyone buys churches." But I still have churches in the studio I have not sold. And a new one I just finished recently. It is from a photograph I took which moved me to paint it.

Alone on the High Plains

I do not know if I have an answer on this appraisal of my business acumen. But the theme is humble because I find I tend to blame myself. And what is the line between humble and self-abuse? Don't worry. I am not going to cut off an ear. Nor will I turn to painting 2000 flowers. That would not make me happy.

I paint what makes me happy. And every once in a while a painting makes someone just as happy as it made me, and it goes home with them.

Thunder Run

 I am a painter and a photographer but not a great sales person. I keep taking course on marketing. But I am better at passing that information on to others than utilizing it for myself. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Change is Afoot

Red Tail Hawk on the Sentinel Tree 

The last week of November begins. It brings with it the Full Beaver Moon. I am not sure why the Indians of the Southwest named it that, but for me it seems it may be the last month when beavers can be seen before they go to ground below the ice in their dens. November is the 'tween month. Between Indian Summer and winter. It is the month where we do not take snow seriously because warm days which follow will no doubt melt it. Ski areas are seriously blowing snow to be ready for a ski season which used to begin now.

It is the month were ice appears on the ponds and lakes but it also disappears on the ponds and lakes almost as fast. It is the month of preparation for winter, whether you a beaver stashing twigs under the water, or a bear putting on hibernation fat, or a human stocking up on firewood and pantry essentials.

The snow does not get serious until middle of December. It is then you best have a plowman lined up for the driveway and enough food in the freezer and pantry to last a few days if you cannot get out of the valley. Actually that only happened once in my twenty years of living here: 2006. Four days the passes were closed and we were sealed in with tourists from Christmas who had no idea how to survive.

I have begun checking my weather app again. Snow is coming on Wednesday night. Chances are it won't be serious but it could be. It is a Super El Nino year. Admittedly the weathermen have absolutely no idea what a super El Nino year will mean. Other ordinary El Nino years have not meant that much snow for where I live. The storms seem to divide and we are between the dumps in Colorado and the part of the storm which goes south. But 2006 and six feet of snow in less than three days taught me to be prepared. The weeks of blowing around that same six feet were not fun either. January usually brings a thaw but not that year.

That was the worst of winters. Even for ski areas because the tourists were sure they could not get here and if they did it would be too cold. Somehow they seem to forget we, unlike Dallas, have snowplows.

So while I haven't a clue what winter will bring there is a feeling in the air that things will change. Winter will at last announce its arrival. The ponds will be serious about icing up. And the question about winter boots or snowshoes will be moot. In fact one pair of snowshoes will go into the GMC 4 wheel drive in case I have to walk in or our of someplace. And I will become much more aware of where I left my cellphone so I can be sure it goes with me.

But we are not Alaska or even Aspen, Colorado. There will be days in the middle of what passes for winter here when I will go out with just a polar fleece to get the firewood for the night. It is THE ten days in December I dread. There are always ten days when the temperature really falls and sometimes the sun will not shine for that period of time. I loathe those ten days. They are what winter was in Colorado when I lived there. It is why I do not live in Colorado. But ski areas in New Mexico love those ten days, because if they work it right they can blow enough snow to last them till March.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I Walk In Beauty

to walk in

around me

the silence of

the noise of

J. Binford-Bell
November 15, 2015

It is often a solitary path, but one with great rewards. I will be on social media a lot less in the future and just to post positive messages and images.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Violence is Not the Answer

Where have all the flowers gone?

Once again the world was shaken by an unspeakable act of violence and yet everyone wants to speak about it. The news media platforms are full of it with all the gory details. Social media is full of pundits with all the answers. Including, but not limited to their favorite cause, be it ISIL or guns or inadequate policing or the wrong religion or praying to the wrong god.

And everyone has their favorite solution to the problem. In the US it is take away the guns. France took away the veil. The military want to take lives. The police all our freedoms. None of these have been the answer. Many of these solutions have been the root cause of more violence. And yet we ignore that. It was all about we didn't take it far enough. Guns ought to be harder to get, we need to drop more bombs, spy upon the populations with more, strip more people naked, ban the black hoodie, forbid the religious veils and habits, close all the borders, police all the neighborhoods . . . Find yet another "non-violent" way to violate our humanity. And if that does not work be more violent.

I wanted to escape the news this morning. Does it really matter if it is 149 or 151 dead? Or if they were shot or blown up? None of that will change in any meaningful way if we watch another minute or find another news source. We will not solve the problem if we post another meme or demand another invasion or push the media to place blame.

We are to blame. We have been given plenty of opportunity over the decades to find a way to peace. But we continue to choice violence.

I was a hippy. A peacenik. I participated in peace marches against the war in Vietnam. I stood in solidarity with the non-violent approach to civil rights. I lit candles. If the rest of the population believes they just haven't bombed enough people I can continue to believe I haven't lit enough candles.

I urge anyone who reads this to turn off the TV, shut off the social media. They do not have the right answer. Instead sit and meditate or pray for an answer we have not yet tried. A way to peace, be it on the neighborhood or national level, which does not include violence.

Violence only begets more violence.

I do not have the answer. I just know nothing we have tried seems to work. And I am willing to live in the question of how do we stop killing each other.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What is true?

I need to take a long lonely drive to Raton to reflect. But life has been rather busy of late and empty road time not on the schedule. Frankly the schedule of late has not allowed a lot of space for reflection in the studio or behind the camera or walking with the dogs.

So, oddly enough, I am looking forward to the dentist today. That is an hour drive to Questa through the Moreno Valley and over Bobcat pass and through Red River. And after the dentist it is off to Taos for the passport renewal before returning through Palo Flechado canyon to my side of the mountain. Without the errands and appointments this route is called the Enchanted Circle. For me it is in a lot of ways a passage through the past.

I once lived on the other side of the circle in Questa. Red River was a frequent jaunt for work. And I drove the route from Questa to Taos more than I wanted. I hated Taos as much then as I do now. And, in fact, frequently went north to shop in Alamosa, Colorado instead.

After living on the front lines of the Hondo Fire for 22 days I knew I one of the things I would leave behind easily in an evacuation was my husband and Questa. Twenty years ago I moved to Black Lake and have not regretted it except for short bits of time. It fits my geo-spatial cultural personality more than the other side of the mountain. When I began looking for someplace to live here I had a different image in my mind than the property I now live in. My real estate agent knew me better than I knew me. After a life of being a gypsy I am home. It seems late to make that pronouncement, but I have been presented with alternatives a lot lately.

Friends are questioning their "homes." Some are moving. Some moving back. Some divide their time between two places but still call this area home. Some have been planning to move for almost a decade and are still here. I am here. I plan to stay here. I am working on a plans to make staying here easier. And I am getting involved in the community again. Especially the art community.

So on the list of today's errands the passport renewal seems strange. In fact I left the spaces blank on the application which ask about my travel plans. My sister is making the travel plans for the next Thelma and Louise road trip. I am getting the passport renewed because of the illegal aliens with New Mexico driver's licenses. I want to beat the January 1, 2016 deadline imposed by the federal government. But can I put in that planned travel slot "legal form of ID." That is the reason I am renewing it. That is the reason I will carry my passport even while just traveling the Enchanted Circle.

The story is Donald Trump, possibly the next president of the US, doesn't know New Mexico is part of the country he is making a bid to lead. And to be honest I think that may be good. The passport is just in case the US invades us. But frankly I think we can slip away and not be missed. One of the reason I really love it here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Second to Thicke

My Cat Thicke

Because I am an artist, and a blogger, and on several social media sites I Google well. But Thicke leads me in likes. Paws down. And my photographs of Thicke do very well on several photographic pages I participate in. He certainly has fan appeal. Wondering if he should be my logo. Should I take advantage of him being my unofficial studio cat and make it formal.

Yesterday I attended a workshop on how to put my business on the map. Yes, I Google well, even Google image well, but Google maps has trouble locating me. Evidently it also has a great deal of trouble locating a lot of others in my neck of the woods. Literally. But would they zero in on my location if I listed it as the home of Thicke?

Tag words or labels help your posts, be they photos or blogs, score high in Google ratings. I use New Mexico a lot. But I am wondering as I am trying to put Binford-Bell Studio on Google and the map should I be using Thicke as a tag word?

You got my spots right?

In the workshop yesterday one of my table mates had used her dog's name to set up her Google site originally. She decided to change it to her name and Google won't without verification. They are sending a post card. I have to wonder if they are sending it to her or her dog?

I keep telling myself it is not all about Thicke. My photographs of Thicke, and numerous other animals, are stellar. In my capacity as pet sitter (don't quit your day job) I often capture my charges in memorable moments. They will run and hide from even their owner's smart phones but ham it up in front of my DSLR with long lens. Maybe I should just go into pet photography.

So Thicke's name is in the labels on this blog. Let's see how that scores as a tag. I promise to not have my feelings hurt.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Out of Sync

Out of Sync

I have been feeling out of sync this summer. I blamed it at first on just being too busy with things out of my comfort zone. And figured it was just a matter of scheduling my life better; paying more attention to my physical and emotional self.

Doing those things seemed to take entire too much time. And money. And they also got me overly involved with things like teeth and numbers on cholesterol and blood pressure and calories and sodium. If schedules are tight to begin with then something has to go. One area I almost immediately noticed was art. Even time with my camera ebbed. Since painting and photography are my means to Zen then I was defeating my purpose of paying more attention to my emotional self.

But then I began asking myself if all the syncopation was internal. We are part of the universe and certainly our communities and when both are on wobble it is natural to be effected. Some conflagration occurs on the heels of change. Change can be good but it can also be very unsettling. It can create chaos. In yourself and your friends and things you depend on to provide stability.

The year my father died I suffered a series of accidents of fortunately a minor nature but clustered together. A counselor told me it was a sign I needed to stop and take time off. Take time to mourn for my father and find my emotional balance. Emotional imbalance can cause physical imbalance.

If Mercury in retrograde can cause accidents and miscommunication then certainly retrograde in our emotional lives can too. Getting back in balance is not as easy as cutting back on salt or eating more fiber or being sure you show up for all your dental checkups.

Nothing a two week vacation, no medical or dental appointments,  and a half million dollars would not instantly make better.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Modest Proposal

Holidays are traditions long observed and in a lot of cases very out dated. Take Thanksgiving, for instance. Yes, take it away. Christmas decorations have generally been up for almost a month by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. It is recognized as officially the beginning of Christmas buying and nothing more. Few of us are thankful for much beyond the sales, a day or four off work, and football games. I am not even wild about Turkey. Stuffing yes, turkey no. And in a country dedicated to separation of church and state a holiday that includes praying seems a contradiction.

Speaking of contradictions, consider Columbus Day. An Italian that sailed for Spain and never actually made the shores of what is now the United States. And had he, then he would have simply claimed it for Spain. A couple other nationalities made it first we have now determined. And that is if you do not count the three waves of the earliest immigrants to our shores. Note: nobody is indigenous. But I guess you could say that for much of the world if we all originated in the Garden of Eden and out-migrated because it got crowded. Current belief is Eden was in Africa possibly around Kenya.

There is a trend afoot to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's day. That gets those of Hispanic heritage a bit upset. They forget he was Italian. I say we just wipe the holiday off the calendar as a bad idea to begin with. And if we must have a federal holiday in October than let's make it Halloween. It is really very American in that the pumpkins were grown here. Before that in Ireland they carved out turnips to be lanterns. It would appease the Hispanics who are losing Columbus Day as All Souls Day is kin. The merchants would be thrilled no end because currently Halloween is the second biggest single marketing event. It is beat out only by Christmas.

The fundamental Christians might not be thrilled because of the supposed overtones of devil worship. But if we confine court house displays to just pumpkins and harvest scenes I do not see the issue. And a feast with pumpkin pie would make up for losing Thanksgiving.

So with those changes we are only one Federal holiday down. Ten is the magic number. I say we put a Dog Day in August which has no holidays but is known for the dog days of summer. We can all get behind taking our dogs to the park for a picnic. And if the cat people get upset we can make it Dog and Cat Day. We do love our fur kids.

My next campaign: Let's get rid of Day Light Savings time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Faulty Logic

Shooting for the Moon

At sometime in my life I was introduced to logic. Maybe more than once. Lewis Carroll, under his real name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson supposedly invented the logic puzzle. But Einstein got credit for the famous Zebra Logic puzzle that Dodgson did. His writings under his pen name of Lewis Carroll are laced with logic and illogic, riddles and unanswered riddles like "Why is the Raven like a writing desk?" The mere question assumes it is. And the answer?

"Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!" Frankly, always liked it not having an answer. Or Poe wrote on both seemed logical.

Logic is the offspring of the Greek syllogism. All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Syllogisms are the core of deductive reasoning or top down reasoning. The conclusion is valid only if the premises are valid or true. But there are valid arguments and sound arguments. It all swings on the validity or soundness of the premises.

Everyone who eats carrots is a quarterback.
John eats carrots.
Therefore, John is a quarterback.

A current example could be:

Everyone who owns a gun kills people
John owns a gun
Therefore, John will kill people.

Can we solve the problem of John being a quarterback killer by eliminating carrots or guns?

If you took the time to look at the Zebra Logic Puzzle you noted that there are often tons more premises than two. And each premise has to be tested to be proved valid and sound. Another premise we might add to the last syllogism is all mass shooters are white males in their twenties. So will jailing all white males in their twenties end all mass shootings? Will taking all guns away from everyone (even those not white males in their twenties) solve the problem? And another premise to add is the use of psychotropic drugs by young white males in their twenties. And by almost all mass shooters? Or another premise to be considered: Twenties are when young white men first exhibit schizoid signs. Or the premise nobody considers: Gun control does not control guns.

Who is up for the challenge? Get your girds drawn and your premises defined and tested.

I lived in the brainy wing of my college dorm. We played bridge and toyed with philosophical arguments and logic puzzles constantly. And to this day I find myself annoyed with the fast conclusions news anchors and politicians reach. It is a wonder I even watch the news. And even weirder that I stay on Facebook.

Not it is easier to determine if a conclusion is not sound than to find the flaw in the logic.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spirit Abhors a Vacuum

Great Mullen on Bear Trail

A former friend told me nobody liked me but her. She alone could put up with my aloof personality and separateness. I had a husband who said something similar decades ago. He died recently, alone, in a jail cell. But my mother raised me to believe the naysayers in my life. I seem to seek them out. If this is friendship and love then I prefer to be alone.

I have learned to make friends with myself. And enjoy my own company. Not having someone to meet for lunch does not prevent me from having lunch out. I do not need to go to church, as mother often advised, to meet the right man. As if life is complete only if I did.

I am an introvert. Not a solitary human.

I have found other introverts on my path. And we enjoy walking together from time to time. On yesterday's walk with two friends and three dogs I found myself hanging back to observe. I do that a lot. I was not observing my friends so much as our dogs; our truly best friends. They took the trail sometimes ahead and alone only to turn back and regroup. Hang with another for a part of the trail and then break off to explore the elk bed from the night before. A wonderful almost choreographed dance.

I was also studying the Great Mullen and the thistle. Summer rains have produced an abundance of both. Here and there would be one of these plants all alone by itself and then there would be a great horde of them. I found myself thinking of star clusters and queuing theory. Mother always said I read too much.

Thistle and friend

I think sometimes I see too much. Maybe over think it. Dad said that. It is what makes me an artist, a photographer, and a poet.

The solitary thistle or Mullen plant had small volunteers not too distant as if in a time too slow for us to perceive they were being crept up upon. And Valentine, the butterscotch doodle, after a long loopy run around the humans and other dogs ponced upon Magique, my silver doodle, as if to say, "Hey, remember me? We're pals!" Magique rolled her eyes as if to say, "Pups!"

My friends on the trail up ahead broke off their running conversation on trying to herd cats (organize artists), and stopped to let me catch up. I consider it my role to give them a chance to take a break.

Nature abhors a vacuum. It just doesn't rush to fill it. Well, at least in our sense of time. Or in our preconceived notions of how that looks. A friend responded to my post of the Great Mullen by commenting, in her neck of the woods, they are considered invasive and they are trying to eradicate them. If you take the time to watch you will find they sort of do that themselves. In time. Their time.

It is the Zen way to not fill the silence with your answer but to live in the question.

It was a beautiful day on Bear Trail yesterday. The dogs wore themselves out. Us humans had a rolling conversation about art issues. I got some photos taken. But best thing about yesterday's walk? Everyone turned their phones off or forgot they brought them. Just in case of an emergency. And in those times we paused in the shade you could drink in the quiet. It fills your spirit.

Bear Trail

Saturday, September 19, 2015

And So Came Fall

Aspens turning on distant mountains

Google has given up fonts with serifs. I remember those days with the calligraphy pen practicing the strokes which so naturally gave you serifs. I think I first did that in the seventh grade. I was so proud when I got it right. Now it seems kids do not even learn cursive in school.  And to be honest I love Arial with no serifs the most of all fonts. And my cursive daily looks more like printing. I must acknowledge Penelope, my roommate in college, who taught me prep school script which was actually printing. I practiced it in my first ever journal.

I have a shelf on a book case which contains all the journals I have managed to keep before Y!360 and my first every on line journal. I still love journals and buy them. I have four currently with a page or more written in them. There is the garden journal which I am religious about only in the spring. Time to update it. And then there is my ceremony journal in which I keep records of phases of the moon and effects of Mercury in retrograde. It usually contains a list early in the year of what I want to happen in the year. That makes it a lot like spring in the garden journal. And then there are the books of poetry. My journaling began with poetry after I discovered e.e.cummings. 

My latest poetic journal lies on the computer table just to the right. The garden journal is beside my easy chair. They seem to be waiting for me. I turn poetic in the fall. Fall is late this year. There is usually a day in the midst of August when the smell of the air has changed and it has a fresh chill to it. I think that happened yesterday and by noon it was Indian Summer. The world seems to be slowing down at the same time the days are speeding up.

So very much is going on now. It is as if the change of the seasons has knocked me off my complacency. Time for fall cleaning. Yes, Mom, I do it backwards. Spring comes to the mountains and I rush to the garden. Fall arrives and I must make the inside (and outside) ready for winter. All the blankets need washed and the pantry stocked. The house needs to be cleansed of the clutter of summer; fit to inhabit for the long winter nights. It is when I consider rearranging things. Debating moving the computer back to the studio where I will be able to greet the sunrises. But first the studio must be reordered. Fall is studio time. And time to be out and about with my camera.

Lots of things have moved from the back burner to the front. Some will be recorded in those bound paper journals and some in the electronic journals. I will wax poetic about awesome photos I have taken. And make mention of movement in my life ever wary of Mercury in Retrograde. It has been a wonderful summer and I am looking forward to a very prosperous and creative fall.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Don't Live There

Shadows and light in Taos

Once again I have been asked about where to live in Taos. And once again I had a difficult time explaining to the friend of a friend that I do not live there. Would not live there.

I lived in Taos County for nine years and so wanted to leave that county I was willing to get a divorce to do so. I live on the other side of the mountain now. I try to explain to people how very different this side is.

The Mountain Between us
We're the wet side. We can drive through the pass to the other side in 45 minutes to an hour. But there is a huge cultural divide between the two sides. Taos was on the Camino Real and settled by the Spanish who took the land from the Native tribes who lived there. Then they enslaved them.

The Moreno Valley was settled by miners at Elizabeth town and homesteaders who took advantage of the 1862 homestead act to settle the Black Lake area and the Moreno Valley grasslands. The Trujillos and Torres built huge ranches by blending their 160 acre homestead plots together. They were invaded by the Texas ranchers who had already overgrazed Texas and came west to overgraze this rich grassland. We had our own version of the range wars. Texas is still invading. They are called tourists.

Meanwhile the New York artists invaded Taos to turn it into an art county.Then fought against the hippies in the 60's. Now they believe they are the only place on earth able to paint and will not allow artists from my side of the mountain to compete in their shows. Even Music from Angel Fire had Taos artists for their posters 33 out of 35 years. The trust fund babies from New York are the last invasion. They say no to all development.

Frankly, I try not even to shop there. Las Vegas has a better Walmart. So does Trinidad. Amazon delivers. And even when I lived in Taos County I shopped Alamosa. Santa Fe is a hell of a lot more fun to visit. Cimarron cheaper. I feel safer in all those places because they have less gangs or none. And they prosecute crimes against women. Taos doesn't.

So why is it I am suppose to know where to live in Taos? Why won't anyone believe me when I say I do not know. Why do they think all residents of New Mexico are Taos wannabes. Hell, I went through my first ten years in Black Lake trying to explain where I lived without mentioning Taos. And when Taos posted signs declaring themselves the Soul of the Southwest I started the rumor if that was so they needed and exorcism. And now the Santa Fe New Mexican is trying to force us to buy the Taos News after closing our newspaper.

I don't live there. I don't want to read about it either.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Revealed Truth on the Road to Raton 123?

The Palisades in afternoon light

Truth is where you find it. It can be in a book or a movie or a short scene from television episode. Or, quite frankly, for me in alone time on the road to Raton. Or maybe the road to Raton is just the processing time I need; the pause to meditate on the signs showing up in my life.

There was this StarTrek episode with Harvey Fenton Mudd as a pimp for women to be wives of miners on a far and distant planet, Mudd's Women. He gives the women pills to transform them into goddesses and it turns out it is really an inside job. How we perceive ourselves is so much a part of how others perceive us. I first saw this show originally decades ago so it has been stashed in the back of my mind for a long time.

Yesterday it joined up with another scene from something I just watched in season four of Longmire. It dealt with a rape victim and how part of her was stolen and she needed to call it back to her to be whole. Nobody could do it for her. It isn't just rape which steals our essence. Abuse, verbal and physical, can do it too. Or just being misused by someone we thought was a friend. Bad marriages, sick friends, the wrong company can all rob us of our power. We can be less than we once were without even knowing it. Until alone on an empty highway driving to Raton.

I had this vision of myself as fat and old. Frankly, I was beginning to look like my mother entirely too much. I had always looked more like Dad. I love clothes and have entirely too many I have not worn lately because I look fatter in them. I was down to the favorite sweats and hoodies. And yet in the last month I have discovered my glad rags again, and ventured forth from my cave. I am always rather surprised when people remember me. I must be infinitely forgettable if I cannot remember who I am.

I am not sure there is a direct or indirect cause and effect but in a little less than four weeks I have lost eight pounds. Last night I dug down in the dress jeans that did not fit ,slated to go to the thrift shop, and pulled out an old favorite. They fit. I also unearthed from the bottom of the closet boots I once loved and forgot. And my power jewelry. I have often thought the pieces I have made or bought from jewelers were talismans which held power for me. When I felt powerless I hid them in boxes.

I am not sure the process is over yet but it has begun.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Play's the Thing

The Play's the Thing

We met in the laundry mat
I was in an off campus apartment
He was in just out of a marriage house.
He invited me to tryouts
for Night of the Iguana.

I didn't much like him
Don't think he liked me
I got a small part and lights
He had a bigger role
A brain and a car.

I first fell in love
with the theater.
The director fell for all I could do
My neighbor was in charge
of delivering me.

I remember my first lines
Spoken in an amateur play
I do not remember our first kiss
The first time we shared a stage
I remember better.

I designed the costumes and sets
for the Importance of Being Ernest
He slept with the ingenue
I did a 20 minute monologue
In Androcles and the Lion.

I played Mercy
In The Crucible
Proctor laid the lead witch
I danced the cast parties
With every actor but him.

Moving in with him
Seemed just another role
A part to be studied
And memorized
Line perfect.

The curtain never came down
I just exited stage right
In the middle of the second act.
The blessed silence
Ringing in my ears.

J. Binford-Bell
September 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Professor

A call
to remember things
some best forgotten
from decades
past and gone.

she said.
Not unexpected news
how and where

A cell
in the county jail.
The child of bright promise
a drunk.

A man
at the end 
I thankfully never knew.
I left to avoid

The call
became more
about the past 
we knew
not him.

in a cell
the professor

Jacqui Binford-Bell
September 1, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Visiting Past and Present

Old Friends

I have long known that photographers are only truly happy with a camera in their hands. And paradise may be having a photographer buddy to share fstops with. I say maybe because there are photographers and there are photographers. We don't all want to capture the same subjects. Or talk about the same things while scouring the landscape outside the car looking for the next object of attraction.

And there is nothing more awful than being in a vehicle driven by a non-photographer unless you forced yourself to leave your camera at home. Better to travel with just your camera.

But the last three days have been awesome with my photographer friend from the east coast visiting. Since her last visit I have been cataloging old trucks to share. And yesterday we hit the truck trail. Some were old friends of mine. And some I had saved for her visit.

International at Eagle Nest

And some were eureka moments while looking for buffalo and antelope or discussing the next destination.

See the USA in your Chevrolet

But Terry Atkin Rowe and I are not picky. Or wimpy. She is a more brave about fences, signs and crumbling buildings. Or maybe that should be less paranoid. I am always sure I am going to get caught going where a sign says I should not be.

Melting Adobe

But sometimes going past the No Trespassing signs have rewards. If nothing else than manufacturing your cover story if caught. Terry was going with, "Sign? What sign? I didn't see any sign?"

And I advocated the lost dog ruse. "Sir, we stopped to give Moxie a pee break and she raced after a rabbit going this direction. She is old and partially deaf so calling her doesn't always work." At this point you put in a "Here, Moxie" or two.

Another melting adobe

Photography can also be highly educational. Take the tracks from the Dawson mine. I am a railroad buff so I know that most unused rail lines were derailed, if you will, for the iron. Especially those not in use by the beginning of the US involvement in WWII. The Dawson mine did not close until 1950. And per research the track, part of the Southern Pacific Branch to Tucumcari was taken up but then relaid for the York Canyon Mines run by Kaiser Steel. They closed in the early 2000's. It was initially built for the Dawson Mine and became part of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad until bought by Southern Pacific.

Only thing left of the Dawson Coal Mines, besides the rail spur, is now the Dawson Cemetery which included the graves of the immigrant miners who died in the two disasters there. Both of us had visited it before but it is one of those photography destinations you feel you have never quite fully captured, so we went back for another try. And found it very altered. New Mexico has had record rains this summer and all the plants reserving their strength through the drought sprung up to flower and seed before winter.

Tres Cruces on the Hill

There was something particularly haunting about the grasses and flowers swallowing of the markers of the dead swallowed by the mine. Later at the Aztec Mill Museum in Cimarron, NM we found a plot of the cemetery and discovered hundreds of graves have already been swallowed up by the earth.

Where have all the graves gone

The somber mood obviously had to be altered so it was back to the trucks. And some comic relief in Cimarron. Windshield time to home was a combination of review of places seen, photos taken, history we knew and didn't, and personal reflections. We refueled with burgers at Kaw-Liga's in Eagle Nest. Hours of photo processing and Google research awaited.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upon Reflection

My friends, who have weathered the storm, have taken to calling my split with long time friend and neighbor as the divorce. In the beginning I protested. But, upon reflection, I can see what their reasoning is. But this blog is about life after divorce. Or as I would put it -- re-entering society. Never easy for an introvert, be it entering or re-entering.

Life has gone on, as every divorcee discovers, without my participation. There is a lot of catching up to do. I am way behind on conclusions others have made about several other mutual friends. Maybe this stage of life is prone to having breakups with long term relationships. We could form our own support group. Since others have been on the same path I find the general population was already trained to not ask about the missing friend, who was previously attached at the hip. Well, mostly everyone.

At a dinner with friends in Taos, owner of the restaurant where we dined, asked where our once mutual friend was. She didn't comprehend the still-looking-at-menu, "haven't seen her," reply. Or the quick change of subject. Some people are just not satisfied with the polite response. There is a reason Donald Trump gets away with his off the wall behavior. He has an established base.

But Dad had been an officer and a gentleman, and mother raised me to be a lady. That may not always show when I dash into the hardware store in sweats to get a plumbing part I need. But even if there is drain water all over the kitchen floor I try to be polite and say please and thank you and wait my turn.

I recently watched a plumber replace a toilet without a spill. I really watched him quite closely. The not spilling has to be why they earn the big bucks. And it really seems to be simple. It is about patience and process, and attention to detail. So are divorces and breakups and shakeups in organizations. Nothing like your youth when you threw things and broke windows. And in my case tried to put hexes on the offending party.

One of the first things I noticed as a tried to slip back into old friendships and organizations is change was everywhere like a breeze shivering the surface of a quiet pond. I know it isn't my place to pry so I just listen, try to politely answer questions put to me. And, this is the wonderful part, be hugged and welcomed back.

I cannot help but remember the Hundredth Monkey Effect be it myth or reality. Maybe it is critical mass or a paradigm shift. I thought I was outside but maybe not. Perhaps it doesn't matter where you are in the troupe of monkeys. There is a lot of energy in shift and change. Hold on. We may be in for a bumpy ride.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Killing Offense

The story goes that in the wild west killing wasn't a killing offense, but recreation. Only two things a man could be hung for were stealing a man's horse or his water. Both were cruel methods of killing someone. You have to live here to understand that. And you know you will never move when you totally understand it.

Horses are not as important any more. We have roads and cars and conveniences closer to us than when the Camino Real was the only road and all else were horse paths. But water is still very precious and very necessary. People still get killed over stealing water but the bodies are better hidden. Poisoning water may be even worse than stealing it. You cannot steal it back. Poisoning it has made it useless for everyone including the livestock and the land and the wild creatures.

So the recent news of the toxic spill from the Silverton Gold Mine into the Animas River is to us westerners worse than a madman in Aurora killing people in a movie theater. And yet the national news seems to be unimpressed. Or are they being paid to down play it? By Mississippi standards the Animas River is small but it is part of a major watershed which includes the San Juan and Colorado Rivers, and the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. The waters in that watershed are used for irrigation, livestock, drinking water, fishing, and recreation.

The Animas River, mentioned constantly in the news, begins in Colorado (about the middle of that square), crosses into New Mexico where it enters the San Juan River. The San Juan goes through the four corners area and enters Utah before joining with the Colorado River at Lake Powell. They claim the toxic chemicals in the spill will be diluted as it moves down stream. But for now nobody should drink the water, irrigate with the water, water livestock (like they are in pens where they can be kept from the water?). No swimming, boating or fishing.

New Mexico has a system of acequias or ditches used to irrigate the fields. It is the hottest part of the growing season and yet they will not be used while the water is still orange. It is unclear if the spill has even been stopped. Just today the estimate of toxic liquid dumped into the San Juan River Watershed has been tripled. It was announced that Navajo Lake, upstream from where the Animas enters the San Juan, is releasing water to help dilute the spill.

If no people die, no livestock thirst to death, no crops are infused with toxic chemicals there is still the fish die off. And say fishery experts the killing of all insects and micro organisms in the water producing a sterile river which cannot support restocked fish.

Mining was rampant in the west in the 1800 and 1900's. Regulations on mining were nil. In fact to support the settling of the west and the needs of the east you could file a mine claim for $50. Records on all these mines are few. And mine owners had no rules about filing plots of their shafts and adits. And clean up of the mine when "closed" was never required. Open shafts collect rain water and perk away under ground leeching out toxic chemicals. More of a problem since California began sending us acid rain. There are likely thousands of these little toxic time bombs to be accidentally released especially if you add fracking into the equation.

The good news for Colorado River Compact states is once it gets into Lake Powell only Nevada, California, Phoenix, and Mexico get to use the water. I think the old wild west was right. It isn't nice to mess with water.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

First Blog in August

What is it about the ennui of late summer? Spring has its push to get the garden planted. And the first days of summer is that list of all the things which must be done while the weather is still nice. I still have that list. I have added to that list. Only a couple things scratched off. I got the spouts on the bathtubs changed out! And Totally cleaned the bathroom. Both bathrooms. Had a new toilet installed in the rental unit. Gave up on the lose tooth just falling out on its own and had it pulled. In Stephen King films they seem to fall out so easily.

With all the rains, mowing grass seems to have taken a big chunk of the time this summer. And yet I am very obviously behind on that. A professional is coming next week to catch me up. But I rather like the three foot tall grass and all the wonderful wild flowers blooming just every where.

I am behind on photography. Going to blame the broken Nikon on that but I had another Nikon to use. The photo treks I planned were curtailed by the heavy pet sitting business. The pickup bed tent I bought last summer has yet to be used. There is always fall. That seems to be my mantra on a lot of things.

One of the twin kittens I got this spring went missing this summer. I still shake the Temptations box and call, "Here kitten kitten." Only his brother comes. Mardi Gras, is a month short of 16 and still with us. She still goes on walks with Magique and me mornings, though they are shorter and she tends to take her own routes, walks to her own tune. Magique and I go on longer walks with Valentine and Polly. And Magique comes in the truck with me and the camera. Mardi hates the truck.

But I am painting. And painting new things. Magique and I still enjoy the studio stoop. I really want to build that deck this fall. The studio has been done for six years now. About time, huh?

It is just August.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Am Back

First the disclaimer: This blog has nothing to do about lions. I just felt like posting a happy picture of lions to erase all the pictures of a dead Cecil currently on the internet.

This blog is really about a tooth. My ex-tooth. And that I will put off going to a dentist until it is so painful I consider pulling it myself with a pliers. I know I have blogged about how I feel about dentists before. This blog about The Tooth and nothing but The Tooth. Because that is what your life becomes about when you have a bad tooth.

Your focus at every meal is how to chew on the side The Tooth isn't on and in such a way the movement of your mouth or tongue does not touch THE TOOTH. THE TOOTH becomes the entire focus on your life. Even when it isn't hurting you are thinking about The Tooth.

You think that when at last THE TOOTH is gone you can get back to normal but then you get to think about not exploring with your tongue where it was, and how much it cost to have it gone, and that you cannot drink out of your favorite suckie cup until 48 hours is gone, and the foods you cannot eat in that time.

But suddenly you are hungry and oh so thirsty and so without pain. You wonder what you were thinking to wait so long. And you know. You do not like dentists on so very many levels. So when a dentist paid scouts to lead him to a beautiful lion to kill illegally you hate him more than most animal lovers will or do.

But I am back. The tooth is gone. I can give my attention to other things like art, and eating eggs and bacon, and beasts that kill the king of the jungle.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Argue for Your Limitations

Bridge on NM 434

I have been working in one form or another on a series of articles about the New Mexico Department of Transportation announcement to widen a stretch of road I frequently travel. It will take them five years to widen eight miles of which five is too narrow for two way traffic. It is essentially a one lane road without adding logging and cattle trucks and tourists with RV's or flagmen.

For all the years I have lived here, approaching 20 in Black Lake, we all knew the road needed to be widened but we were sure it was impossible. The state engineers' office doesn't think so. The five year plan is afoot. And now it is not whether or not it is impossible but whether they can do it without a complete road closure for at least three years of that five. Frankly, I love that we have something other than politics and religion to discuss. Or for that matter the never ending discussion of widening of NM 64 over Palo Flechado Pass to Taos.

There are always the naysayers, "Can't be done." Or the doomsayers, "Mark my words, they will get in the middle of the project and funds will dry up." But I love most the armchair engineers, "What they need to do is not descend 1000 feet into the canyon but bridge over to the cliff face on the west and not come down until past the four bridges that cross the Coyote." This one is a personal favorite of mine. After all I lived in Grand Junction, Colorado when then widened the road through Glenwood Canyon and not only crossed the Colorado River and the train tracks but the two lanes heading the other direction several times. There was a detour for cars but they never shut down the Amtrak or freight trains.

West Cliff

Design/build is a more and more frequent method of letting difficult contracts. There will be three designs and three contracts let for this silly 20 feet wider the road needs. It is enough to make me want to live another six years. I want to see how they do it. But I have already picked out my detour route to Las Vegas, NM for shopping. I doubt the Angel Fire Resort and town employees who live in Guadalupita and Mora will want to travel all that many more miles, but it isn't all that much further if you just want to go the Las Vegas and you have a four wheel drive vehicle.

Bridge over the Coyote Creek

I have to admire the can-do attitude of the NMDOT. In comparison it has made the pessimists very obvious. And it isn't just the road they are negative about but so many more things in their lives. And in researching this road expansion I found the limitations I had set for myself as No Ways. 

When I taught adaptive skiing to students with physical limitations we had a motto: Argue for your limitations and they are yours. That motto got me past my own ski accident and head injury. It is frightening how easily we can fall back into negative ways. After almost getting slammed by an inattentive driver or three researching those impossible eight miles and taking pictures I have had a paradigm shift in attitude.

I am excited about the next five years.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

They Ran Away From Me

Dad's story, told at every family gathering after I entered college, was that they could not get me to run away from home and so they ran away from me. I never thought it was funny but I did come to believe it was one of the luckiest things to have happened in my life.

Mother had registered me for college. I was not even aware she had done it until she got me up one morning and told me I needed to go enroll at the local school, University of New Mexico. So much of what occurred in my life following Mother's cancer was rote or automatic. I just did what I had to do. What people told me to do. Or in the absence of anyone making a decision I just followed the crowds. Like a lemming rushing to the sea. Keep on keeping on.

When I stopped to think I thought of suicide. I kept a notebook of all the thought about methods. I didn't want to make a mess that Mother would have to clean up. Or that would horrify my sister should she be the one that found my body. A friend of mine about that time cut herself open with a carving knife when she could not procure an abortion following a rape. I understood why but thought she was a bit uncaring of her parents.

It amazes me looking back at my high school years how I kept up my grades and aced all those important college placement tests. I took so little interest I do not even remember my scores but have friends that to this day can cite theirs.

I remember the art teacher that came after me with a mat knife. I remember the month of mandatory counselling because I screamed when he did that. I remember standing in a purple cap and gown in the third row of 300 plus students and going up to collect my diploma from the Principal that refused to let me transfer to another high school so I could continue to take art from someone that had not tried to cut me. I remember Mr. Mealy, my English teacher who accepted me on the Phaethon Literary Magazine staff so I could get the credit I needed to graduate without art class.

And I remember enrolling in college with all my high school college prep classmates and wondering if I ever had to see them again on campus. And I remember President Kennedy being shot. And our whole family at last crying together. His funeral gave us permission to grieve it seemed for everything lost since Ruskin Heights tornado.

That was November and in December my family moved to Denver, Colorado and I moved into Hokona dorm in with a steamer trunk Mom packed for me. I flew back for Christmas in Denver to find, Misty, my cat had not made the move. She had run away. Or had they also run away from her like they had from me?

You have to close a door sometimes before you can open another.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Memories of Dad and Granddad

My father and his father

The Ruskin Heights tornado was this dividing line in my life. And in the life of our family. I have wondered from time to time what the alternate timeline would have been. We went to Kansas City for the funerals as a family and we came back as isolated individuals living in the same house. What had always united us before, fishing trips and camping and building things, was gone. On hiatus.

Mother had a secret. A lump had begun to grow in her breast. She would ask me during our bathroom talks. She would invite me in to talk while she took a bath. Talks that Dad and my brother were not privy to. She had come back from KC with a pain in her right shoulder. She went to Dr. Fitzpatrick who thought she had a lingering infection from the mastitis. He treated that with more antibiotics. Then he thought she had bursitis. He treated that with heat treatments. The lump was supposedly drainage. But it kept getting bigger. That was what the whispered talks were about. The size of the lump.

"Don't tell your father," she would almost plead.

"But, Mom, you can see it," I would try to reason.

"Your father has had one loss already. He doesn't need another."

"But, Mom?"

"After Christmas."

After Christmas the lump was removed. It was larger than a golf ball by about half. It was biopsied as being cancerous. The big C. Nobody spoke the words in those days. They never took out just the lump. They took her whole breast and part of her breast bone and all the lymph nodes under her arm.

I was taking care of my brother and sister while Dad was with Mom at the hospital. When he came home he asked me into their room and told me.

"You need to be strong for all of us," he said, before he began to cry. I hugged him and went out to make dinner for my siblings. I couldn't cry. I couldn't upset my brother and sister. I could not disappoint my father.

Cancer was not talked about in those days. And there seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. There were also no therapy groups for families going through this. We were alone. Oh, so alone. Separated from all our neighbors. I had my family to take care of. The bathroom talks with my mother continued. I could not avoid the horror of the butchery. And Dad and I began the workshop talks on weekends.

Grandmother did not show up as often those days but Granddad did. When I would climb the tree in the backyard to escape from time to time. He would be sitting out on a limb beside me.

"You're a Binford. You can do this."

Between bath  talks, shop talks and tree talks I like the shop talks the best because I learned to do wood work and home improvements, minor repairs. It often included trips to the dump (they were dumps in those days) where we would come back with more than we took some days.

Dad as I remember him

And the shop talks were not about his problems but philosophy and religion and history and world events.

It would be years later before it dawned on me that because of our secrets my mother and father had both lost (or excluded) their best friend. And I had lost my childhood.

"Childhood is over rated," Granddad said.

And oh, the workshop skills I acquired.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Are You a Cave Person?

Windows off Main
Trinidad, Colorado

Every dying town has its cave people.

I have been doing research on the Village of Angel Fire, New Mexico for an article I just finished writing. I live five miles south of the village near what was once the town of Black Lake. It once had a store and a school and a church and a post office. Now Black Lake is where they shot the Montana scenes for Lonesome Dove.

I love old towns with history. Angel Fire is not old and it does not have history. No old school house or cemetery with tell tale dates to contemplate. It has no grand buildings or even a real main street. No sidewalks. Angel Fire was incorporated as a village in 1986 severing itself from the ski resort of the same name opened in 1965. The resort is still upset. As I was preparing to write this blog it dawned on me I have no pictures of Angel Fire. It has nothing worthy to photograph beyond the mountains which surround it. It has no park like Los Alamos, also a young town, and what passes for Village Hall looks like an abandoned strip center.

So I take my camera and visit other towns with history. Other towns which are dying like Raton, New Mexico. Raton is our county seat, and forever a sore point for our side of the county where Angel Fire is situated. All the court houses and county records are in Raton. That is where we go upon demand to serve in juries. Raton is two hours away. Just far enough they pay for mileage if you serve but not for an overnight stay. Raton's population is falling almost daily. Angel Fire's population is rising. Angel Fire isn't dying but it definitely has not grown up yet.

Main Street Raton, New Mexico

Angel Fire still behaves as it it is a service community to the mine; read as resort. All my favorite old towns like Raton, Cimarron, Trinidad and Las Vegas were once mining towns with railroads. And the mines closed. And all came face to face with dying. To save a mining town from dying it must be repurposed. Las Vegas, New Mexico is doing pretty good at that. It just takes a few people willing to commit. Restoration of its older buildings around the central plaza is following the Plaza Hotel. It is now one of the filming locations for Longmire as well as several movies. And galleries and restaurants have taken up occupancy of other old buildings.  

Plaza Hotel
Las Vegas, New Mexico

Trinidad, Colorado is succeeding too in my opinion. I think some of the movers and shakers in that town have doubts from time to time primarily due to economic conditions. But it does have the movers and shakers. They are mostly small business owners, the historians and the members of their arts council. They out number the cave people. Cave people epidemic in Raton.

Off Main Street on Commercial
Trinidad, Colorado

So what does a very new town like Angel Fire have in common with these older towns? Two things: Cave people, and the need to repurpose. Angel Fire if it is going to grow responsibility and not die if the ski area closes must develop a purpose other than just a resort town. 

It does not have to remodel and restore its infrastructure like Raton, Las Vegas and Trinidad or even Cimarron with its main street of galleries. Angel Fire has to build an infrastructure. It needs a park, sidewalks, a museum (maybe it isn't old but the surrounding area has history), a senior center (it has an aging population). And to reflect the community interests it needs infrastructure for the art organizations which are even older than the town. It needs a performing arts center for Music From Angel Fire and theatrical companies. It needs an Arts Activity Center for the Moreno Valley Arts Council so it can continue to foster arts, artists and other art organizations, as well as continuing to carry the art education ball dropped by the schools. And that park, not yet built, needs a band shell for musicians to perform in on summer nights.

It also needs a new Village Hall and a post office not bordering on condemnation. The bulldozer is under estimated as a remodeling tool in northern New Mexico. But to know what needs saved and what needs built and what needs bulldozed you need a vision of what you want the Village of Angel Fire to grow up to become. I am personally in favor of beginning with the Arts Activities Center. The towns I have visited which seem to be turning the tide on dying have been lead by the artists. Maybe it is because their creative natures allow them to see beyond to what can be.

BTW, all the towns which are winning the fight to survive have an active arts council.