Friday, December 8, 2017

It Isn't That Simple - DTJ



I worked for over two decades in the construction industry. My first job was as a Submittals Engineer for one of the big five. I was hired because of my bartending skills. Bartenders are not just mixologists but stand up comediennes and trained diplomats. 

Three of my regular happy hour clients around the circular bar were executives for that construction company and they had a problem. Their CEO was a serious abuser of women, and the federal government, for whom they worked, wanted more women beyond the secretary level. They figured I had the skills to be one of the boys.

Those skills did not come from a college course though I had my degree in an age where women were seen as going for their Mrs. degree instead of a MBA. I had worked in a Senatorial office in DC, and as an administrative assistant for a lobby group. I spent time as a manager of a retail outlet, and in the entertainment industry. I was tending bar because it was the only place I could make as much money as a man without selling my body (or giving it away to the boss).

I was one of the first women to blog about Me Too when the silence breakers started speaking out. So, when I say I am on Senator Al Franken's side in his role of sacrificial ram to the current witch hunt (and believe me women can be witches with a B) I come to that conclusion from knowledge. I have been there. Women can and do lie.

It was that damn photograph. I am so thrilled I lived my wild and crazy youth before the video camera and most definitely before the cell phone. Still there may be some glossies which at the time seemed totally innocent. But cast parties are cast parties. And then there was the 10 day raft trip down the Colorado River with a group of 30 largely nudists. 

I am glad women are finally speaking out but we, and by that I mean women, need to find some balance. This jump on the bandwagon and bare our souls brings out those who make things up. And if we turn this into a no holds barred witch hunt we will be back on pedestals in Ivory Towers (spotless kitchens), and unemployable because the bosses don't want to take the risk. Better to be a survivor than a professional victim.

There will always be some men who try but as I learned there are also many diplomatic ways to dodge those moments. There are even "proper" ways to hug. We need to take responsibility for our own actions, and address issues and misconceptions one to one before taking it up the ladder or to the press.

I feel very strongly that Senator Franken is a victim. The first two accusers were Trump voters. And the Democrats decided to throw him under the bus without a hearing. The GOP, however, is volunteering to support Trumb and Moore who are sick aggressors. And I won't be a part of either party. But I support the women who opt to not put up with this behavior any longer.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Greek Yogurt, Sourdough Bread, and Other Adventures


Maybe two months ago I decided to make my own Greek style yogurt. And at the same time I ordered the starter for yogurt I ordered starter to make sourdough bread. I used to make my own sourdough in the 70's. Never have made my own yogurt but had purchased my Instant Pot because it bragged it could make it easy. Greek yogurt is simple but perhaps not that easy, if easy is defined as within 30 minutes. It takes 24 hours.

Sourdough is very difficult especially at my attitude. Today as I took more Greek yogurt out of the strainers and put in containers for refrigeration I decided to not attempt the sourdough any further and washed the attempt down the drain. It seems, per a quick research on whey, a byproduct of making Greek Yogurt, that I can make bread which tastes just like sourdough by using the whey as a substitute for liquids in a bread recipe. 

I have doubled my yogurt production from a half gallon at a time to a gallon. And my sister has joined in with recipes for frozen yogurt and even cheese. I totally intend to participate via the internet and telephone but I am busy trying to assist in putting on a Holiday Market.

Some years ago I dedicated my volunteer efforts to assisting the art community on my side of the mountain. I sacrifice my own creative studio time to do this. I am thinking of not doing it any more. I look longingly at my new chairs in the corner of the studio and realize I have had very little quiet time to spend there in the sun because of the bitches and moans and whines of other artists. They don't help out. They just bitch that they need more. Want the impossible. And blame if everything isn't just as they want. Nobody offers to help. Instead you get a fundamental Christian clogging the social media because we called it a holiday market and not a Christmas Market.

Because of that latter attack none of the churches want to be involved in any way but none of them has put on its own Christmas market. And when I say none, I mean none. A careful reading of all the social media shows all such markets are called Holiday and not Christmas.

The new tax bill has passed which probably means there will be no grants for art groups after 2018. And churches will be able to lobby from the pulpit. 

I think after Epiphany I will just stay in my studio and paint and sit in the sun and make Greek yogurt. My volunteer commitment (beyond the studio tour) will go the way of the sourdough starter. The environment has just gotten too hostile.

Monday, November 20, 2017

PTSD Fog?


I believe I stalled out last week. No, I didn't go upstairs, turn the electric blanket to nine and assume the prenatal position, but maybe I should have.

Oh, I got things done. Or tried to get things done. I spent the week battling with an often very dependable person to get two cords of firewood delivered. And ultimately negotiating with another person for the needed winter supply. But in truth there is still no firewood in the woodshed. I am down to a few days of this winter necessity.

I made yogurt, walked the dog, kept petsit appointments, paid bills. And on Monday last I dropped the pickup at the mechanic's for him to fix the brakes. I kept on keeping on after that Saturday before when the brakes failed. But I was in a fog. And in truth have missed a few things. I didn't flip the desk calendar over to the next week.

Most mechanical issues with a vehicle result in it not continuing to move further than pulling it over out of the lane of traffic if you are lucky. Brakes are different. Especially in the mountains. When I pressed on the always dependable before brake petal and it went straight to the floor my mind immediately ran through every single movie I have seen where the hero goes careening through impossible curves and ultimately launches into space over a cliff. That was followed by every piece of advice my father ever gave me on the "if this happens" list of survival skills.

I got the pickup home safely because I was not traveling very fast and it happened within a couple miles of my house and not the road to Taos. And it was a master cylinder and not a brake line (that is what is usually cut in those movies). I could pump the brake with both feet and slow and ultimately stop the 5216 pound truck. I checked the brake fluid and it was empty. I googled and found filling it with brake fluid would help but not address the issue of why it was empty. 

I just don't seem to be able to get past the flashes of all those scary movies. PTSD? Highly possible. Didn't get the pickup back until late Wednesday. Have made myself drive Big Blue but cancelled on my plans to take a photo trek on Sunday. I don't fully trust it. Or me.

As my sister advised me in one of those flashes of a barely avoided wreck I think I need to pull over and yell and scream. So this is me yelling. I was scared. Very scared.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

This is Your Life - DTJ


Don't separate your life from political resistance.
Nadia of Pussy Rant

Note: The Russian punk rock group Pussy Rant spent two years in a Russian prison for their resistance to Putin and his government. They are still resisting.

From the mouth of babes. 

Donald Trump was elected president and I joined the resistance again. I had experience with resistance to Richard Nixon. And to save the mini skirt. Sounds funny now in the same paragraph, but saving the mini skirt was serious. For decades men had told women how to dress. Hems up and down, no white after Labor Day or before Easter. No slacks at school or work.

Our protests against Nixon, Watergate, and Kent State were more serious. The peace marches against the illegal Vietnam war and the draft were deadly serious. And behind the marches to save the mini skirt were the fights for the Equal Rights Amendment. It was a very serious time even if Time Magazine made fun of the marchers in mini skirts. And I sometimes believed we did those as comic relief. If you are protesting in front of the White House in December Maxi's make more sense, but there we were in mini skirts with two layers of panty hose to stay warm. ID, taxi fare, and emergency numbers in case of arrest stuffed into the top of our knee high boots. Nobody carried a purse in DC in that mugger haven and mini skirts did not have pockets.

Then, like now, I had friends who thought I was crazy. They were not friends long. Then, like now, I thought we could be friends again after the resistance was over when I would be able to talk about something other than politics. That was wrong. That is wrong. My friends became those I marched with. My life became the weekend marches, the week night manning of help lines, the lunch planning sessions for what else we could do, pouring over the editorials in the Washington Post on Sundays at the coffee house, whispering about what Nixon was doing.

When you get older you regret more the friends you lose, so when this began I told myself that same lie - when this is over. Yesterday at a resistance group brunch it dawned on me I like these friends more. They are more tuned in and more alive and . . . well, just more.




Saturday, October 28, 2017

Revival of Deck Time



Fall gets really busy here in the high country. Things to do before winter closes in. And just enjoying fall. Trying to capture all the fall colors, enjoying the last of the flowers, and the snatches of deck time when the winds are mild and the sun is out.

Then there are the boards you belong to planning sessions, trying to find places for holiday parties. To that you add annual appointments, having the vehicles serviced, mounting the snow tires, at at long last going to the dentist for annual check up (oops, two years had passed), new doctor wants to see me more often, art group added a holiday fair back into the schedule.

And before you know it the only deck time is crossing it on the way to the truck.

Life gets away from you at times. You move along and adapt without knowing it. I remember my first fall in Washington, DC. I had looked forward to the eastern colors for months of hot summer days. But I worked for a US Senator involved in an election campaign, Nixon was bugging my telephone, I had to work in peace marches and Common Cause meetings. Then one day I was walking through soggy wet leaves on the sidewalk and noticed there was none left on the trees.

My long awaited eastern fall had fallen beneath my feet.

We are suppose to have several nice days before snow this approaching Friday. Time to move in the deck chairs eventually but I plan to enjoy them while I can this week.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Garden Withdrawal and Other Life Issues

Sunflower

I bought a large free-standing umbrella for deck sitting and the days got cold and the winds whipped up. I have not set under the shade of my new red umbrella even once. The deck goes unused. And the flowers I used to gaze upon and photograph have undergone a killing frost.

I think I am in mourning for the end of summer but I have been too busy to stop and think about it. My decade long physician retired, and the new doctor does not seem to be able to read my files. It might have been easier for me to have deliberately changed my medical provider, but I was too busy with my dentist to consider that. Genetics have finally caught up with me in the mouth department, which in my humble opinion, takes a toll on my one health issue. Dr. Cohen would have understood that. The new one doesn't except in that he can hold me hostage to more appointments.

More visits to doctor and more trips to Questa to see my dentist translates into less deck time. Less lap time for Thicke, my ticked tabby. Less sanity. 

I believe in a messy garden as winter approaches but I think I have exceeded all my previous expectations on this requirement to provide shelter for bugs and butterflies and food for birds. And the studio I swore to keep neat is in havoc. Chunks of time don't work well for large compositions so I have been working on little pieces for the approaching holiday market. But painting a dozen Christmas ornaments does not feed the soul like a large original composition. The oil sticks I ordered for just such a piece remain unopened. My drawing table is scattered with little 5 x 5 panels in one state of completion or another. My work space echos the messy state of my garden.

Both echo the chaos of my schedule filled with appointments I want to wish away. All reminders of the three years after my head injury filled with appoints with neurologist, cognitive therapist, orthopedist, and shrink for the depression. I am famous for telling one physician, "Enough. I will be better just by not having to see you."

Meanwhile my mama jade plant needs repotted. It stands there in its cracked pot, poised by the new, and accuses me of neglect. Just one of several projects in the chorus.

Damn. I seriously miss deck time.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Been There. Done That



The news is all about the sexual abuse culture of our leaders and "heroes." We sloughed last year reports of the man who would become president grabbing pussy because women let him because he was a star. Or because he had the power to fire them. That is part of the abuse: the power. The power to ruin the life of the abused.

I first ran into it while working as a store manager for So Fro fabrics. I was shocked. I quit. Toyed with bringing charges and was discouraged from doing so. Next job I applied for asked why I had quit the previous job. I lied. Something innocent like I wanted a change. I had been told the truth would blacklist me from all future jobs. And in those days companies called about references. 

I ultimately landed a great job working for an international construction firm. Their CEO had a reputation which would make Trump, Cosby, and Weinstein look like pussies. My immediate supervisor had somehow gotten the information that I had quit to avoid filing a sexual harassment suit. Yes, I had consulted a free legal service representing women at that time. But wasn't that suppose to be confidential. His solution was to give me paid days off any time the CEO was making a job site visit.

The CEO's reputation was so wide spread that the companies my firm worked for knew about him. They also sent their women employees to the movies when he visited. We all joked about it on our free lunches. There was always nervous laughter. To look non-discriminatory I was put on all bids for jobs we were seeking with government divisions like the Corps of Engineers. I was the girl engineer. I was proving we did not have a rapist as CEO.

I enjoyed my work but lived in fear that it was dependent upon my good behavior. I had found a position where I was one grope away from losing my job because I knew I would slug anyone that tried it. Ultimately I decided working for myself was the best solution.

So I have been there and done that. I know the pain the women coming forward have been going through and will continue to go through. I also know all the talent which has been lost because of hostile work places. I believe I know why women only climb so high. I know I limit my exposure to such situations. I know I freeze up when talking to men in power even after all these years. And in spite of the understanding I got from that last corporate job. 

I have been there and done that and my biggest aim is to avoid all situations where it could happen again. Does anyone who hasn't been there understand how limiting that can be?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Edges and Cuts


My sister photographing
 My sister and I share a passion for photography. I have missed her and our treks with cameras since she moved back to Texas. So naturally when she came to visit we planned a trip to Kash-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument which we both had not visited. I have posted two blogs on Creative Journey of black and white images of this amazing geology. But I realized today I had not posted beyond Facebook any of the color photographs. Or those with my sister in them.

The Trees reaching for the sun

The slot to the right through which we must pass


Debbie showing scale in the slots

For me it was all about the slots. But my more adventurous younger sister wanted to prove we could make it to the top. The trail rises about 1100 feet in the 1.6 miles from base to ridge and it is by no means an easy stroll. There are the many slots to be climbed through.

One of the wider slots to go through
I am claustrophobic and short. Some of the rocks deposited in the slots were a challenge to climb over especially with camera and camera bags. It would have been embarrassing to get stuck. 



 As you leave the slot canyon and begin the switch backs up the cliff face the views are spectacular. And hikers heading down provide encouragement and reasons to go the whole way. 


I am more afraid of heights than I am claustrophobic. So I could have stopped here. But it wasn't the top Even if it was a good view of the tent rocks.

Looking down on the tent rocks

Look out beyond the canyon

Cochiti Lake in the plain below

Yes, it was nice making it to the top but we spent a lot more time on the way down photographing the rocks and trees and slots.




It is a must trip even if you choose to not go to the top. Pick a day it does not look like rain and get an early start. I plan to go back to the slots.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

You Can Be Too Busy to Pause


Keep on keeping on. 

My last post was 20 days ago. A lot has happened in those days but there has been no time to stop and reflect upon it. I have been in to do list mode preparing for a a social event hosted at my studio, a visit from my sister, the first Angel Fire Studio Tour, and the approaching winter.

To that impressive list I had to add a trip to the dentist too long put off, and a nuisance lawsuit brought by an annoying gnat in my life. And, of course, you can never drop everything on your schedule to focus totally on the to do list. Life keeps on and continues to produce messes you must attend to.

And consciously or unconsciously we add to the list which should be getting smaller but seems to grow exponentially. In part because items on the list never stand alone. My visit from my sister produced fruit which made the list grow: More photographs to upload and post process, beads and findings to make more jewelry for the studio tour (five new necklace and earring sets). And the trip to the dentist has added another appointment or two which must be kept. The studio tour which is next weekend has its own list beyond just cleaning up the studio. There is promoting my participation
 in the tour.

I won the judgment on the lawsuit. Now to figure out how I might actually collect on that. Need the money for the dentist. And then there are the things I let slide to get what I needed to do done. Ordered firewood late. Now to schedule chimney sweep, prepare the garden for winter.

And on Friday I realized I had hit the wall on energy. But that sort of pause usually results in panic about what remains to be done. Not sure I had time to write this blog. Some times your only option is to just keep on keeping on.



Monday, September 4, 2017

These Unsettled Times



Fall approaches. I am not one to go by dates on a calendar. I think it is time for a major readjustment of the Georgian. Living on the land I find I pay attention more to the winds or lack there of or their direction or something as subtle as how they smell.

Generally there is a day in mid August when a subtle shift comes and whispers of a change of season. I really have not felt it yet. Others are talking about winter around the corner. Frankly, the far corner. But we are a ski resort historically and everyone starts predicting the winter to end all winters months ahead of time. They want their condos and vacation homes booked for the increasingly shorter ski season.

When I began skiing in the late 1960's the ski areas generally opened the weekend before Thanksgiving, and ski instructors and patrol had been on the slopes practicing the week before that. And ski slopes did it without making any snow. And when they closed after Easter it was with snow left on the slopes. And you had to have more snow in those days. Slopes were not as manicured as golf courses and grooming machines were often repurposed farm equipment. Everyone talked of depth of snow at midpoint. Kachina Post on Taos had to be at 50 inches at least and skiing was not good until it reached 70.

Now ski areas begin making snow on or before Halloween if the nights are 28 F or below for four hours or more. And they hope for days in the 40's at a max. Still the local area does not open until middle of December praying they can make it through spring break in middle of March.  Nobody really know the answer to the often asked question, "How much snow will you have on Christmas?" asked by every person booking a condo. Nobody gets that doesn't mean as much as it once did.

It has been a really wet summer. New Mexico is out of a 17 year drought. But the locals will tell you a wet summer means a dry winter. The Great Mullen around my house is rather shorter than it should be to foretell a good snow year. And I don't feel driven to buy three cords of firewood just yet.

We all talk weather this time of year. Aspens are beginning to turn. Nobody acknowledges that has more to do with length of days and how cold their roots are. Not the leaves. But all the forecasts for peak viewing weekends are up. 

I am enjoying my deck time. Cherishing the flowers which seem so great this year for longer. We had a late spring. Hoping the first killing frost (last year it was September 21st) is later this year. But Thicke is already putting on a winter coat, though the horses in the neighboring fields haven't. Then again the summer herds of cattle are moving down the mountain to where they were dropped off in May. Grazing has been good.

Everyone has an opinion about weather.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I am an Existentialist



With a touch of Zen Buddhist and a bit of Druid. What is is unless you can work some magic. But don't count on that. I was raised in Baptist territory in the era when "In God We trust" and "Under God" were added to our money and our pledge of allegiance. I believed it was unconstitutional. 

In college I took as many philosophy courses as a major in fine arts would allow. One of my best friends after college was an ex-Jesuit priest. Though I used to argue with him that there was no such thing as an ex-Jesuit. We are a sum of our life influences. We are the path we have followed.

I was the oldest child. I was the analyst. I think I got that from my pilot father who taught me to drive. When all seems to be going to hell in a hand basket I get really quiet. And if I say anything at all it is a very quiet, "Oops." It is likely to be the last word out of my mouth when the end comes.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today, from page 417 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Accepting the problem is what I am doing when I get really quiet. I have done that for decades before I ever read that line. Some problems there is a solution for and some there are not. "Can't change the weather," as Aunt Zelma would say though I doubt it was the weather she was talking about.

Hurricane Harvey which was never suppose to get beyond a tropical depression is expected to become a category 4 before slamming in the the part of the Texas coast where my sister lives. She is a nurse. Her son is attached to a fire station, his wife a nurse. Emergency personnel do not evacuate. None of that I can change. It is what it is.

I moved away from tornado alley because you cannot change the weather. I clearly do not live on the coast. But the mountain west has its wild fires and living 1/2 mile from a forest fire for 22 days convinced me there is no place totally safe, but I bought a home in a meadow with no trees. Big Blue is because if there was another wild fire I could load it up with camping gear and my fur kids and flee.

There is no sensible or realistic way to evacuate a major city. Ike proved that in 2005. Everyone seemed to blame the people of New Orleans for not evacuating ahead of Katrina. But how? How do you leave everything you own and have known for all your life especially without a car? How do you leave your cats and dogs and horses and llamas? Some things are harder to accept. 

But what is is. It is the path we walk. It is life.

I am going for the magic option today.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Duck and Cover - DTJ



I was in my senior year of high school when Russia parked missiles in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis also known as the Crisis de Octobre or just the Missile Scare was 13 days in October of 1962, the 16th through the 28th. Thirteen months later the President who stared down the Russians would be dead in Dallas. Shot by a man connected with Russia. My first conspiracy theory was that Russia was responsible because of those missiles President Kennedy made them take out of Cuba.

The building of a personal bomb shelter was a big conversation topic on Bellamah Street in Albuquerque in 1962 and 1963. The city nobody could spell was on the top ten hit list for missiles from Russia. We had two Air Force Bases and a mountain in the Manzano mountains to the immediate east which was hallowed out to stockpile our nuclear arsenal. And air raid sirens were tested every day. Duck and Cover made a return into my life.

I was in the second grade in Roswell, NM going to a Walker Air Force base school when I first remember being schooled in Duck and Cover. And being marched out of our building to a designated bomb shelter. My US Air Force pilot father talked me out of my tears of fear by informing me it didn't work. There was no way to survive a nuclear war. So I should just humor the adults who thought there was by dutifully hiding under my desk or marching in a row through the fall out to a basement with an atomic energy symbol on the door.
In the days following 9/11 a young adult friend of mine asked me why I was not afraid. I replied rather glibly, "Nothing new. I grew up afraid. I am one of the duck and cover generation." I don't remember fire drills in school but air raid drills. 

There has been a lot of talk about that long ago Missile Crisis since Trump has begun his verbal war with Korea. It has brought up a lot of memories about those long ago days in October. One of the biggest is Mom and Dad taking us on a camping trip to the mountains. No internet in those days. And actually no radio either. Not in the mountains. But Dad tried to get reception to keep up with what was going on. The static made it impossible. Without being told I fell in with the adult plan of enjoying the fishing and not being afraid of a red dawn. I was the oldest.

Until the day came to drive back home. If home was there. I tried not to notice Dad not turning up the volume on the car radio. "Maybe we should stay here," I said aloud as we drove into the tiny village of Canjilon, New Mexico. It was another ten miles before the radio would pick up an Albuquerque station and the local weather.

Home was still there. But to this day in times of no win situations I think of Canjilon and the beaver lakes where we fished for five days in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I am glad I have returned to the mountains to live. We are not on anyone's top ten list. That is good.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Pruning the Crown of Thorns

Crown of Thorns Before

I am a lover of Euphorbias. They are from the deserts of Southern Africa and Madagascar. They have evolved physical characteristics and forms similar to cacti of North and South America and are often incorrectly referred to as cacti. My big Crown of Thorns was one of my first of a growing collection of these succulents from the spurge family of Euphorbiaceae. I picked it up as a 6 inch plant in a New Iberia nursery when my sister and I were touring the northern gulf coast. I believe that was 15 years ago.

I made an attempt at limiting its height a few years back to allow it to devote more energy to the new branches and make it a denser plant. That failed. And the height of the plant continued to challenge the window space and soon the long branches were leaning over and leaning against the window.

I googled and found the proper way to prune this treasured plant. Still it was very difficult to cut off the four longer branches. Even with a plan.

The five pots with "new" plants

 I am not sure why I was afraid of this step because I have propagated other Euphorbia in my collection. Maybe it was that I failed once when I cut off the tall center branch. But I was essentially at that time trying to root pieces of the leafless trunk. That, according to one article I read, doesn't work. In this case I am focusing my efforts on the tops of the four branches I cut off. And the little sprouts which the parent plant puts out to spread itself. Three of those are in the second from the right pot.

All the pots are filled with sand and once moistened I am suppose to refrain from watering. This plant is from a desert area of the world. 

The pruned mother plant

With the larger branches gone the multiple little beginnings of branches should have more resources to grow and I will get a denser and healthier plant. In a week or two I want to lift the plant up (with leather gloves) and put more cactus potting soil below it in the pot. Repotting isn't necessary at this point the articles I read said.

I think I was willing to risk this radical step because I have recently visited a home where a Crown of Thorns was clearly dying because it had not been pruned. I own two other Crown of Thorns. And I now have the possibility of five new plants. If it works I will be looking for homes. Meanwhile positive thoughts for the mother plant.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Frantic Living - DTJ

California Poppies

Summer seems so short. So frantic. Not at all like the old song, Summer Time. The living isn't easy in a tourist town. Or if you garden. There is this brief window of opportunity and all are competing for your time and energy. I feel as if I am cheating if I just sit down for a cup of coffee on my deck. Yesterday I was able to do that if I took my sketch pad. I am working on a new concept for two paintings. The year is 7/12th over and I have only finished two paintings.

When I was an active art fair participant I had to be painting almost constantly during the first third of the year to have enough inventory to carry me through the summer and fall seasons. And yet I still tried to garden. Note: only possible with programmable drip irrigation system.

So shouldn't the living be easy? But it is raining and the grass is growing. Maybe I need a goat or two. I manically tried to keep up with mower and weed eater. While at the same time pushing to paint more, and to produce some framed canvas photographic prints to capitalize on two active venues. Besides if I was busy there was no time for depressing news and the circus going on.

Spirit has a way of stopping me in my tracks. This time it was my left arm. I knew when I was trying to get the last 20 feet with the weed eater I was pushing it. But I did it and then came in and stretched the last two canvas prints. My sister asked if this wasn't the shoulder I had injured in that long ago ski accident. I tend to remember only the CBT. And nobody ever told me I would be as good as new. I forget that.

I'm fine (my favorite answer to questions about health). And I am fine when I pace myself. Just forgot that. Denial is a survival skill. So I have been on chair rest. Which means the grass continues to grow unabated but the web pages for my art and photography are getting buffed and fluffed after an extended period of neglect. And there has been some photo file cleansing going on. But I have been obedient. As if it was an option. This period of neglect which began in late June has resulted in serious pain and limitation. 

Denial can be your enemy. Face it I don't do frantic any more. At least I still have health care. And writing my MoC can be done with a minimum of effort. I can even do it one handed if I must. More days of chair rest ahead until I can safely handle my big boy camera with both hands. Fortunately there are more computer based actions I need to do for my business. Boy, was I behind. And the forecast is for a long warm fall.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The New Easel



I used to paint small watercolors on paper. College training. And then the art suppliers came out with watercolor canvas. And I could paint larger.

But my studio furniture was all designed for small works. Most watercolors are painted on the flat because water drips. I expanded to folding tables which seemed to never get folded up and were sometimes still too small. And as I got bigger I expanded into more mixed media like oil sticks. While my flat work was poured and so took less time.

I am creative. I jerry-rigged an easel using my flat shelves and clamps. I finally gave up and bought an adjustable easel. It will lay flat but also stand up. It frees up a lot of work space in my studio. Work space which seems to be constantly over run with other projects like painted chairs.


And dogs I take in for vacations while owners are away. Every once in a while it occurs to me I was going to make this studio at one time half the size it is currently and only had a 3 x 4 foot stoop to sit and have my lunch on. Currently wondering if I made the deck too small also.

The new easel had demanded a rearrangement of art supplies and a cleaning out of my flat files. Now to clean off the L shaped table where I once painted so it can be used more for photo editing and drawing.

But first I have eight photographs on canvas coming early next week. All need to be stretched so the matting table needs addressed. I have a flat surface malady. I will walk into a room and deposit something on the first flat surface I come too. This usually seems to plague the living room and the kitchen. But since I built the deck I tend to use the studio entrance so all flat surfaces in that room are covered.

Which brings me to why the easel is such a good deal. It is seldom flat and when it is there will be a painting on it I don't dare stack things on. So if you are wondering why with a new easel I am not painting up a storm it is because I am once again cleaning up the studio.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Late Great USA



I think this is it. I believe it is the last time 50 states will celebrate Independence day together. It is clear we are no longer independent. And we are no longer together.

The divisions have been widening for some time now. It began in very quiet ways. The mountain west does not feel represented by the eastern establishment. And now that DT has declared war on our western lands more openly the chasm is growing. They believe they can sell off our public lands to foreign mining interests (including Russia) and then allow them to ruin the water. Since we won't let them steal the water they will poison it.

There is a phrase about being related to people you would not cross the street to meet. As citizens we are united to people we really don't want to know. We don't hold the same values, watch the same television shows, go to the same movies or sports events, even eat the same foods.

A  friend from another country asked what is American food? I found a list forming in my mind and realized it was comprised mostly of things I don't eat. Oh, I love how Savannah does shrimp and grits for breakfast. I can devour mud bugs with Cajun spices. I love how Kansas City does barbecue but North Carolina not so much. I love how major cities have ethnic food available. And I live in New Mexico where the cuisine is New Mexican and not American. It may have more to do with First Nations or Mexico than the USA.

And I increasingly do not think of myself as a citizen of the USA. Since Trump took office I find I cannot support the policies of this trashed government. So this 4th of July I will be wearing black.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

Storm Coming by J. Binford-Bell

In my family I was the crazy one. I know because my brother told me so. A lot. In fact, I stopped talking to my brother decades ago because of that. A psychologist told me to. No body needs someone who constantly tells them they are crazy. Words have power. There is no truth to the childish chant of Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Words hurt. Words sting. Words heard often enough re-shape us. Some call it brainwashing, some re-programming, some the truth. Jackie Gleason was very popular when I was young. I was taunted in during recess as being Jackie Gleason and being too fat. I graduated from high school weighing 85 pounds. I believed an art teacher who said I had no talent. A fifth grade teacher who said I was too lazy to excel. Mother convinced me to never attempt to be a writer because I could not spell. I knew I should take the first offer of marriage (if indeed I got an offer) because I was ugly or so pep squad had told me when I tried out.

Mother enrolled me in college and sent me off to earn my MRS degree. I was a townie until Dad was transferred mid term and I moved into the dorm. And somehow I knew this was my one chance to survive. Nobody there knew all my truths. I shoved those to the back of my mind, changed the spelling of my name and began the process of remaking myself. Well, mostly remaking myself. An upper classmate told me crazy was good. Especially if I was going to be an artist, and if I didn't do that I was crazy because I was talented.

The truth can set you free. That and spell check on a word processor. Not talking to those toxic relatives doesn't hurt. I truly believe only dogs and cats tell you the truth. All else is faux news.

Note: A friend on social media mentioned she thought the opening photograph was a pile of mash potatoes. I knew they were clouds. I knew everyone else was raving about the photograph but I went back and looked at it to see if I could see the mash potatoes. Maybe I don't know clouds at all.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tears for the Polar Sea - DTJ

Cimarron Cemetery
January 2017 
Just finished watching the documentary The Polar Sea. I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately. When I am not watching the news. The news, my sister informs me, just makes me depressed. And I find that my love for who done its has waned unless they are British or Canadian. I am just so tired of the killing in US films. No, it is not the killing. I think I have become immune to that. Tharned out to the body counts whether it is real or make believe. 

It is the meanness of spirit which seems to pervade fiction. And sadly reality.  It is not just the people who do not care but those who must blame others; make it someone else's fault. Abuse others for what they have done themselves. It is a waste of time to play chicken vs. egg. I find it creeping into me. And so I avoid the question by watching documentaries. 

This morning I finished the series The Polar Sea which is available on Netflix streaming. The photography is awesome. But I cried through lots of it because the Northwest passage is something only possible without an ice breaker because all the ice is melting. The plight of the Inuit peoples and the animals of the Arctic touches my heart. It is for them I cry. Maybe watching the news is better. The news where our current president has denied climate change and left the Paris Accord?

I have written in the past about compassion fatigue but this is more. It is the Watership Down rabbit frozen in the middle of the road tharned out by the huge mechanical machine racing to mow it down. I no longer yell at the TV screen, "Move, damn it, move." We are all that rabbit. Or the woman in the dark house walking down the stairs in high heel mules toward the noise that went bump in the night. 

"Don't do that." 

"At least take off those heels and run, stupid."

And you know in the audience somewhere men are laughing because they just decided being raped is a pre-existing condition and they get a bigger tax break.

Once, I seem to remember, when politicians did something awful they apologized for it. "What can we do?"

Now they go to the Rose garden and through a beer party. And the other house decides to seal our fate in secret. Even those who vote to pass it won't know what is in it until the idiot in the Oval Office signs it with a Scripto with a signature which defies translation. I long for the days of John Hancock. I used to try to sign my name like he did the Declaration of Independence. Just in case I needed it after Nixon left the White House because of Watergate.

And even that memory of youthful aspirations brings tears to my eyes. 

I was kicking off those damn heels with the feathers and making a run for it. A run to save our planet and our democracy. But I woke up this morning and knew that was all a dream. So I watched the last episode of The Polar Seas and cried for the Inuit.

I know the mean spirited are laughing in the Senate Chamber meeting room.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life in a Tourist Town



When I first moved back to New Mexico I lived in the small town of Questa. It was on a state highway from Taos to Colorado but if tourists stopped it was just for lunch at the Seville Restaurant or gas at one of three stations. It had no visible means of support beyond the Moly mine, some small town ranchers, and a barely under the radar drug trade.

When I had lived in New Mexico before it was mostly in Albuquerque which was on Route 66, which became interstate 40. It had two bases, a major federal laboratory, and the University of New Mexico. And sure, some tourists. But they were under the radar like Questa's drug trade.

In short I was totally unprepared for Angel Fire, New Mexico, especially since I had not moved to that town but a small rural backwater five miles south. I was looking to hide out in Black Lake. Silly girl. Income depended to some degree on Angel Fire. I taught skiing there. In Black Lake I made Mardi Gras masks which I shipped around the country at the Angel Fire Post Office. My social life was in Red River. It was where all my friends lived. Except for four or five ski instructors who moved to the area about the same time I did.

I suppose that was how I got involved in the tourist season thing. Angel Fire has no means of support beyond the resort and the tourist season. First it was just the one season - Winter. Then everyone was into building a tourist season beyond that. Skiers buy nothing beyond lift tickets. It is difficult to survive on just four months of fickle winter in a town where the skiers even bring their food from home.

So every organization in Angel Fire started some event which was in July. The one art event I had participated in before moving to the east side of the mountain had been in September. And they moved that to July. And there was Wings over Angel Fire, golf tournaments every weekend, and theater, and opening events for Music from Angel Fire (which has since moved to August). All depended on volunteers. And given the small amount of full time residents the same volunteers for everything. Forget having a life. But I did. I did art shows outside the valley. First with masks and then paintings. I treasured my time away from a town built for 1400 making room for 10,000.

But I got guilted into volunteering for the planning and organization of the July events. And, of course, I had to be home for ArtsFest, and donate art for the chamber music festival. One day I realized I was no longer invisible so I agreed to serve on the board for the local arts organization. Which is where I remain today. But I don't like tourists any more today than I did when I moved here. Maybe less. They want everything but are not willing to pay for it.

They come to town and cell phone service tanks, the internet slows to a crawl, at least one or more power outages on the big weekends and everyone griping because we should serve them better. No way am I shopping at the local market which goes Texan with all its food choices, and I only eat at the restaurants during off seasons. Summer tourist season is longer than July now. But off seasons seem to get shorter. I am not all together sure there is a fall off season but I like the breed of tourists that shows up then. They are artists or appreciate the arts. They want to see the aspens and the ghost towns and take in a concert or two and do an art tour.

I can see myself hanging out with the fall tourists but I am usually so exhausted from the summer tourism I want to hide out in Black Lake. And my studio is on tours so it must be open.  

This weekend is the kick off of summer. I got a new art exhibit hung on Thursday and then slipped off to my studio in Black Lake. There was a Friday night concert in the park, today there are balloons and tamale contest. Tomorrow the first of the summer Arts and Farmers Markets. I may sneak in early for the market. I can get edibles without going to the local store or over the mountain to the next tourist town. I need to conserve energy because Wednesday begins the planning for July. And did I mention I am an introvert.

I sometimes dream of a little mining town off the beaten path which hopefully does not have toxic water.


Monday, June 5, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours - DTJ



As an introvert artist I have the tendency to live a very quiet life on the rural fringes of a small village. I like it that way. I don't even get many visitors to my open studio. Social interactions seem to be limited to talking to pet sit clients and the monthly meetings of a couple organizations I belong to. Oh, and chance meetings at the market or post office.

June was looking to be so overloaded with pets to sit and art events I chose to bow out of a part time job I had managed to not quit over the winter. I thought I was making space for me. But it seems it is for more of the above. New tenant bowed out of agreement and so I was thrust into interviewing new possible tenants. And then suddenly a new pet client. And an art student. And then extra meetings with one of those groups I belong to. And new tenant wants to move in tonight.

And ran into that tenant who bowed out at the post office and she wants to sue me. Other friend in line acted as a buffer. Then off to market because I absolutely could not survive without caramel and sea salt ice cream. In that line i ran into neighbor up the hill who was buying his sort of rescue potion. Both post office and market were being swamped by tourists and part time residents arriving in for this coming weekend. I think I must have looked like one of the rabbits of Watership Down staring at the headlights.

I really can be easily overwhelmed since the head injury in 2001. My sister believes I give that singular event too much credit. But she wasn't around me in my corporate girl engineer for international construction firm days. But maybe alcohol was a better coping mechanism than ice cream. But then you don't get arrested for driving under the influence of Butter Brickle. 

And to make matters worse the 45th president is going on a tweet storm and raises all sorts of parallels with Nixon in his Watergate mania days. I am suppose to be in charge of the progressive news letter for the week. Beginning Today. I suppose running and hiding in a rabbit warren is out of question?

Speaking of rain it is about to pour. And only half the yard got mowed.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sitting on My Deck/Upside in the Dark Times



This morning I sat on my deck and drunk a cup of coffee while updating my garden journal. Hard to express what a joy this is. I have not had a deck for decades. Last one was in North Carolina. And I think it was no sooner finished than I was transferred. 

When I built my studio in Black Lake there was to be a deck. That was 2007. Mechanics lien by the fired contractor put all plans beyond finishing the studio on hold. I thought as the money came in from art sales I would be able to destroy the temporary stoop and make my deck. But GW and the Great recession of 2008 had other plans. Besides why spend money on something a bad contractor and a court could take away from me.

The summer of 2016 I finally decided to use pallets. Lots of work but cheap. And then I was given enough lumber to make a 10 x 12 food deck. I used the pallets for a lower deck and a boardwalk to the driveway.




Then came winter. Spring is all about garden. Then it dawned on me I needed deck chairs. Today, Tuesday, May 30, 2017 was the first day I could sit on the deck and enjoy that cup of coffee.




In addition to catching up with the garden journal I watched new pet sit client, Murphy play with Magique, and worked on plans for the north deck wind break. The coffee and sunshine was so good I had two cups.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What if? DTJ


What If
We dissolved both parties?
No red states
No blue states
No electoral college
No endless polling?

What if
There were no Republicans
No Democrats
Even no third parties
No platforms
No gang of eight?

What if
Instead of Red or Blue
There was just
Red, white and Blue
No GOP or DNC
Just us citizens?

What if 
We all voted for the people
Not for some party
Which has never been fun
Or entertaining
And in the end a disaster?

What if
You walked into a voting booth
And saw a ballot
With just the names of people
Who wanted to serve
Us
Not their party?

j.binford-bell
 independent
on the real Memorial Day
May 2017



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Time Without Beginning - DTJ



We are always so aware of our ends. And so oblivious to our beginnings. Do our lives begin not at our births but at that moment we achieve a conscious memory? And is that memory always of this life? Can it be of the ones before?

And are our lives linear or cyclic? We talk of deja vu; that feeling of having been here before. What if we have?

I don't do dates. Dad died in August. I don't know the year. Mother on the day after Thanksgiving, very early some Friday morning. I can tell you my birth date because I memorized it to put on forms ad infinitum (again and again in the same way forever). These people lived, shared my life and moved on. What matters the exact dates?

Mother always said I lived too much in my head. Is there someplace else to live? My reality may not be your reality. I was ecstatic when I discovered philosophy high school. I am clearly an existentialist. And I know I have been this way before. More than once I believe.

But at the moment it is not so much about past lives as this one and whether it is a straight line or circles within circles. Anyone who was conscious in the Nixon years has to at least be feeling a deep sense of deja vu in this era of Trump. Doesn't mean we know how it will turn out. Life is not so much circles as spirals or loops. Are we advancing? Or receding?

If you are expecting an answer to any of these questions you will be disappointed. I am totally content to live in the question.

But for my doomsayer friends who think this might be the end of the world let me assure you it isn't. It will just morph into another stage for the conscious souls to act upon.

Okay, maybe I did re-read Alice in Wonderland to many times. Watched too much StarTrek. But both are good grounding for the bumpy road we are currently traveling.