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.