Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dawson Cemetery

Dawson, New Mexico was a company town. And after the two mine disasters in 1913 and 1923 the company buried the 263 of the 1913 disaster, and the 123 of the 1923 collapse in the company cemetery with cast iron markers in white. Most were Italian or Greek and their extended families were in the old country. They came here seeking a new beginning. And ended up with a small plot and a white cross.

There was a world wide depression in the 1980's and in the first decade of the 1900's immigration from Europe increased from 3.5 to 9 million. Many were pulled here by contract labor agreements offered by recruiting agents, known as padrones to Italian and Greek laborers. Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, Bohemians, and Italians flocked to the coal mines or steel mills, Greeks preferred the textile mills, Russian and Polish Jews worked the needle trades or pushcart markets of New York. Railroad companies advertised the availability of free or cheap farmland overseas in pamphlets distributed in many languages, bringing a handful of agricultural workers to western farmlands.

The town of Dawson is no more. It became a ghost town in 1950 when Phelps Dodge closed the mines. Over the years the town, which even boasted of an opera house, was dismantled for building materials. What remains is the cemetery, and its silent message that while all wars are economic not all of them are fought on battle fields and not all died in a hail of bullets. And not all perished in the mines.

In the October 22, 2013 mine disaster 286 went into the mine and only 23 came out alive. A 146 were Italian and 36 were Greek. It was caused by a mining violation of safety rules. Given the mistreatment of many miners and their families by the mining companies I have to wonder about whether the widows and children were kicked out of company housing and sent packing so the next wave of immigrants could be hired, housed and sent down to get the precious coal. Outside the miner's plots are the graves of unadvertised babies, and their mothers. The dates would say that the tragedy of losing a loved one in the mine made their pregnancy an extra burden.

Descendant of the dead at Dawson have a formal reunion every other year and tend to the graves. They are even allowed to revisit the site of the town of Dawson which is on private property. The mines and their dead are as much a history of the west as the more colorful range wars, and its notorious outlaws. I think it is why we distrust big businesses and root for the underdog.

The two explosions at the Dawson mines were the biggest mining disasters at the time. Mine safety laws allowed states to declare a mine unsafe but they were all the biggest source money in the economy under populated states. Miners at the Ludlow mine in Colorado were on strike at the time of the first Dawson mine explosion. The Ludlow Mine Massacre happened in 1914 following a year long strike. The striking miners and their families had been kicked out of company housing and were living in tents. Estimates of that death toll range from 19 to 26 and include women and children. It is hard to imagine a happy life in the company owned towns.

The Dawson Cemetery seems a focus for much grief. They may not have been my relatives but I have friends who have relatives memorized here, and on the miner's memorial in Trinidad, Colorado. It seems to represent a collective shame about a part of our history when we sent the poor into unsafe conditions beneath the earth. WOP incidentally did not refer to just Italians but to any immigrant With Out Papers. They were considered of less value than mules. A mule had to be trained and taken care of so it would work. Wops who died in the mines were immediately replaced with new Wops coming through Elias Island legally.

The prayer ribbons on the barbed wire fence are new since my last visit. If you go take ribbons.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Garden Journal

Garden Progress May 9, 2015

I got the top on the high bows on the 8th of May. The cover had been on the low bows over the 4 x 4 raised high beds since the 12th April. Seeds for lettuce, spinach, carrots, snow peas, and beets as well as sets for onions and garlic were planted. May the 1st I planted starts for rainbow chard, butter crunch and Romaine lettuce. My goal this year was to not over plant. And to be ahead of last year.

I almost did not do a garden last year. I had two cataract surgeries to sandwich the garden between. The surgery is quick and easy and very immediately satisfying but there are these restrictions which you dare not violate. Though a friend tells me in India those with restored sight walk back to their homes on the same day and pick up work in the fields the very next. In the United States no heavy lifting or inverted poses or exercise beyond walking for three weeks. Gardening is heavy work. Especially when I wanted to do a larger bow structure than I previously had.

My Garden May 13, 2014
At this point I just wanted to give up

This was my original polytunnel structure.  It allowed for a double covering of plastic and space for some buckets at either end but that was about all. I did have lettuce planted in the snow covered low tunnel at that point but with my second surgery less than two weeks away I did not see me getting all the heavy work done before it. And not possible for three weeks after. But spring snow melts fast. And by the 18th of May I had the bow ribs in place, bigger bows on the low tunnel, and buckets assembled.

Garden May 18, 2014

This is the way it looked a year ago. The two side beds were not completed until the 23rd, just two days before the left eye would be operated on. The plastic on the high bows went up on the 21st.

Two 2 x 4 foot raised beds built May 23, 2014

I bring this all up because yesterday I was looking frantically for kale, broccoli, red cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and pepper plants. I, and another gardener friend, were sure we had missed out. But I could not have. I have been haunting the garden stores weekly looking for the latest vegetable starts. Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts were new to me last year. I wanted to do them better this year (no over crowding better bed placement) and had left room in my beds for them.

Living in the mountains can be a disadvantage because all the nurseries except one are at lower altitudes and stock for their costumers generally two weeks in advance of when we need them. But with the bow tunnels extending my season I should be in time with their stock. Frustrated at May passing and empty space in my beds I consulted my garden journal. And my photo files. Broccoli was planted in the raised unfinished bed on the lower left side of the photograph in 2014. Clearly I was in a panic for nothing. The cold weather greens had not been on the market this time last year. I was rushing the season.

But yesterday I found and planted the last of my crops for the gardening year 2015. I have about half of the 9 packs left. A couple I plan to plant in a bucket or two left over since I am not doing tomatoes this year. My garden journal says I had two hard freezes in June last year. The 14th and 17th. It killed off the squash, tomatoes and two of my pepper plants because they were only under the high tunnel. As you can see from the first photograph I have added bows and plastic to my two new long beds from last year.

I know I can get tomatoes and squash at the farmers' market this summer. So why do all that work for nothing? June 13th of last year was my first salad from the garden. I think I will beat that this year.

I am not as religious at my garden journal as I should be. But it is a great help for issues like when starts are available and when the hard frosts happened. I should keep better notes on the successful plants. But it has helped me figure out which are not worth the efforts.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Another Mercury In Retrograde

Upside down or right side up

Three years ago with the Pluto Uranus squares it seems our lives were shaken up and rearranged in ways we never expected. Or so those who watch the stars tell us. And Mercury in Retrograde gives us yet another chance to make it right. But not by effort but by letting it all go.

I only obliquely study the stars. Sort of as an appendage of the study of rituals of Wiccans and other Pagans. I think there is probably a lot of truth in the stars but I doubt, like with the Bible, that the translation is always correct. But it was interesting to unearth this bit of information about the Pluto Uranus squares in 2012.Yes, my life changed a lot three years ago. It was not just physical changes but emotional, mental and spiritual growth as well. I am not now the person I was three years ago nor am I the person I was through these last years. I feel as if I have been released from a promise I made. Released to be me.

So I am rather looking forward to this Retrograde. My birthday in in the middle which also seems to be a sign. The hard part will be not tensing up about things that happen in Mercury in Retrograde especially since Mercury is my ruling planet. Roll with the punches like a shell bouncing around in the surf and hope to find a safe harbor on the 12th.

Wish me luck. I hope this is the new world it promises to be. I hope to find myself back on the path I abandoned to help a friend.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Desk Calendar

Morning Salutation to the Sun

The desk calendar says it is May 18th. A year ago I did not get the poly tunnel up until this date. Now I have lettuce planted. The outside temperature is 27 F and the temp in the green house is 36 degrees. Sun should be up soon. It has been a month since the kittens came into my life and three hours since they (with the help of Wee Willow) broke the glass on the entertainment center. I just ran the shop vac yet again because of the glint of shattered glass 20 feet away. And also cleaned up the mess they made yesterday with the potting soil. On this day on my calendar I am suppose to begin doing yoga salutations to the sun. I am thinking of going back to bed. Straight to bed, turn the electric blanket up to 9 and assume the prenatal position. Not exactly Yoga.

But the desk calendar says I can have the freedom of a total day if I do the yoga. Nothing else on the page but one pet sitting job which I usually combine with walking the dogs after the sun gets up. But in the week before this day there are several things not done which should rightly slide over. I haven't re-listed the rescheduled items because I like some white space on my desk calendar. Without thumbing ahead too far. Next week already has things to do scheduled. One of which is pick up my finished taxes. I am obviously not the only person running behind. Behind. My tax prep person knows she can always file an extension for me.

I have two long term tasks which hinge on weather. So each day begins with a look at NOAA. I think both will not get done today because of high winds and thunderstorms with 70% chance of rain. They appear on the desk calendar in hopeful positions over the last two weeks. That is sort of where yoga stands. I scheduled in a slot and then do so much other "exercise" it gets crossed out. Except for corpse pose.

And then there is backing my truck into my car when shuffling their positions. I just went on my merry way to my list of pet jobs. Returned and put the Corolla into the holding position after determining the bent hood still opened and it was just the headlight assembly I totally shattered. They are plastic you know. And glass. What is it about me and glass in the last 24 hours? I am sure I can do without a glass door on the DVD enclosure. I am thinking rubber hammer on the bent hood. Duct tape comes to mind to hold a new headlight in place. But I have the truck and no decision has to be made today.

Considering cancelling much of today and tomorrow. But Monday begins Mercury in Retrograde and things could get worse. I have so many friends trying to simplify life. How do you do that without dropping dead?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flawed Communications

For satisfactory communication to happen there has to be first and foremost a desire to communicate on both parties. In addition to talking both must listen, and the end goal must be a meeting, not a beating down, of minds.

I can train a rat to my way of thinking through the use of positive and negative messages like in the Skinner Box. As ever pet owner knows communication does not have to be verbal. And on the other hand verbal communication can be positive and negative. A manipulative person can and does use words to be positive or negative reinforcement. They can even use words to be as damaging as electrified grids or withheld food.

Some people are impossible to communicate with. They see their ability to talk as a tool to work you around to their way of thinking. And when they fail at this it is your fault and not theirs.

Some people are also dangerous to attempt to communicate with because they will lower your sense of self and harm you emotionally. I do believe some people can talk you into self harm.

So what can you do? Not talk to them. Beyond hello and nice day. Certainly do not get into deep conversations with them.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Second Homeowners

May Day and can the summer people be far behind?

They also go by the name Second Homeowners, and part timers. Definitely not tourists. Tourists have no investment here and behave as such. The Summer People have second homes (called cabins) or condos they let out for the winter peak times. Many plan to ultimately retire here in the mountains.

I have several friends who are second homeowners. We will catch up over coffee and lunch, and shared community activities.  They show up in May to get the houses opened up and repairs made and catch up with all the other part timers with coffee or lunch at their favorite place. They come to escape the heat of Texas mostly. They come for the variety of summer activities here, not the least of which is golf and trekking. The highlight will be when the extended family comes in July.

I usually hear from various returning couples to check if I am available to pet set some date in the summer when they plan a trip to Santa Fe or up to Pagosa Springs. It is not as busy for me as April and November when all the locals (live here year round) are going on vacation. But busy. I am always gratified they call me and that their pets remember me.

The second homeowners also buy art. And more property. They also merge into the the community as volunteers for Music from Angel Fire, ArtsFest, and the return of the Balloons over Angel Fire. They participate in the summer pancake breakfasts, and the various bike and foot races. Most have communicated through Facebook almost all winter so their lives and our community milestones are at least known to each other. But none of these people ever lived here before. They were part timers from the day they bought their condo or cabin.

It is rather different for those who were once full time residents and just recently decided they cannot do winter or why do winter. They own part time homes in Florida and Mexico and Phoenix. They come back after a winter away and expect a time warp to have held all things at bay like Brigadoon. But life marches on. It is like pulling your finger out of a bowl of water.

I am not sure why it is so different. I am just totally aware that it is. Those are snowbirds. Not summer people. My parents found that out when they began taking their Airstream to Havasu, Arizona every winter. Nobody back in Missouri wanted to know how they spent the summer. They were away. Nothing else seemed to matter. Friendships did not pick up where they left off. And more and more of their friends were at the campground in Havasu. They shared a life style with them. Mother devoted time keeping up with them more than she had devoted to keeping up with friends in Missouri. She took those friends for granted. Friends in Missouri found other friends to fill their absence and did not jettison them when my parents returned.

Length of time has something to do with it. I have friends who customarily take a couple months away in the depth of "ugly" part of winter. But if you approach half the year there is a change in the snowbird and the community they leave. Most second homeowners do not spend all their winter away. There is the family reunions at Thanksgiving, and a skiing holiday with all the relatives around Christmas, and coming back in March to close up the house.

And maybe it is that the second homeowners are choosing to come here while the snowbirds all too thrilled to leave us. Why then do we owe them any loyalty? They are like migratory fowl who do not even write. And if they do it is about how wonderful Florida or Mexico or Phoenix is. "Come for a visit. Surely you are sick of winter?"

Actually not. And that is when I realize we have nothing in common.