Saturday, August 29, 2009

Foto Friday and Friday Five

And I know it is no longer Friday! I actually took this photo on Wednesday to post on Friday and then forgot. It is not a wonderful photo except that it represents one of those isolated moments when three of my pets were unaware of me or the camera. They are out on the studio yard enjoying each other and the delightful weather. The dogs have their new buff and fluff dos. And Willow, the calico, looks like she is chatting with them about the vole hunt this season.

To tie in with this Kwika brought over the Friday Five from Multiply to her Under the Cabbages Blog. It was one of my favorite theme days on the old 360. The hostess to the Friday Five vanished from 360 before anyone else practically. Anyway this week's Friday Five is: "If you could have 5 animals where you live and your circumstances would allowed it and you could afford it what five animals would you like to have as a pet?"

As a pet owner all my life I am probably going to be all too practical.

1. Dogs. I love standard poodles and labradoodles. My dogs have to be intelligent and not boring and these two breeds fill the bill but one of the things I like about my pet sitting is I get to have transient relationships with lots of different breeds. All have their pluses.

2. Cats. Clearly cats. I have four at the moment (took the two Siamese of my dying friend). I like only two generally but I have been know to fall madly in love with stray kittens from time to time. As my black cat, the Darkness, is also a Siamese I am currently rather top heavy on this very vocal and opinionated breed of domestic cat. Wee Willow in the picture above is my favorite. Shhh, don't tell the others. Calicos have great personalities. It is hard to not love a Calico. But I have had Persians and a Maine Coon too. Cab I trade two of the Siamese in for one Maine Coon?

3. Fish. Thought various parts of my life I have owned and managed aquariums. Large aquariums. My last was 75 gallons. I currently am aquariumless but given the time would love to have a new tank - Salt water I think. Or just a smaller one with two ciclids. Watching them build sand nests and keep the fry in their mouths is fascinating.

4. Geese. I have had geese before. They are not as easy as one thinks especially when all the dogs in the neighborhood want to kill them. But if I could totally fence my property I would have geese again. I love watching geese communicate with each other. Great group dynamic. And if I could afford to line my seasonal pond with plastic so it would be year round they could swim.

5. Cockatoo. If you don't know me and have not been to my various pages with parrot avatars you probably don't know this about me. I have never owned a cockatoo but almost bought a peach one once. As a kid I had bundges. We called them parakeets here in the us. I like watching birds. I court wild birds. My yard is filled with birds in spite of the cats.

The geese and cockatoo will probably remain wishes because they will definitely out live me. Geese can live to 100. Most parrot breeds are extreme long livers. Some days I worry who will adopt my cats and dogs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Many Blogs is Too Many?

I have always believed in moderation in all things including moderation even though I don't believe I have yet to achieve that. I am a creature of extremes always striving for that balance of Ying and Yang. So my question for the day is how many blogs is too many.

I began this blogging journey earnestly in January of 2007. Then one blog was enough. It was enough until rumors of 360's collapse loomed and also until the presidential campaigns. I strove to for diversity and decided to open a Blogspot account to post my political views. Thus came Travels with Charley. Creative Journey was second. The thought behind CJ was to separate out my paintings and poetry to a dedicated location. This allows me to link to my website for my paintings without turning off a client with my political or personal opinion.

This blog, Chats with Charley II, is a replacement of the now defunct Y360, and dedicated to chattering with friends. So why then Sidetracked Charley? It is for the topics that don't fit in any of the above. Once you begin to separate blogs by topics you have entered a slippery slope. I realized this when browsing the profiles of some of my Blogspot friends I follow. Many of them have at least two and often three or four blogs through Google alone. And just recently a one blog friend opened a second page just for her poetry. Not a bad idea since she would like to some day get it published and she has one link to put in e-mails to publishers.

That started the idea of a Goats Don't Eat Zucchini blog. I write a cooking column for a small local paper. The title comes from a cookbook I was going to put together on living, gardening, and cooking in the mountain west. It was going to contain essays about that along with recipes. Several people have been urging me to self-publish (it was taken by a small publisher at one time but dropped when hard times hit). So wouldn't it make sense to post a blog with that title and put in the essays and recipes to generate interest?

But is this one blog too many?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Twitter - Stolen Time

I have a confession to make: I sometimes seem so busy and driven because I am trying to get ahead of time. My father used to say you cannot literally "save time" because it keeps moving on regardless of what you do. But I do save time in my fashion. I work and work and work until I am ahead of schedule and then I have this precious stolen day to waste. A whole day.

Sometimes it does not work and because things go wrong all I have gained is time to put it right but it worked this week. I am a day ahead to hang the exhibit Thursday at Artspace Gallery. Just printing of title cards is all that remains. And realistically I could do that tomorrow morning.

So what to do with my stolen day? One thing is to continue with the Back to Exercise challenge entered into on Facebook. Day one, yesterday, went well with lots joining in. And I completed my set exercises (we each set our own). Basically I learned I could do it but that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I have not exercised beyond the morning walk with fur kids since recovering from the flu this spring. My inactivity and tightened up tendons had begun to effect my sleep. Last night I slept like a baby but the scale this morning said I gained a pound.

I bought some nice polished agate beads from a friend on Friday. And I want to see if I can put together a necklace and earrings. Probably with other odds and ends of beads I will be able to do more than one but Christmas approaches all too rapidly and it is nice to get ahead on the gifts. This way I get to keep my favorite.

And there is one painting I could finish today and have a frame for so I could add it to the exhibit. And there is a sketch I have been working on for a 16 x 16 canyon/cliff dwelling painting. But basically today I want to rest and isolate myself from people.

I want to do what I want, when I want, and because I want, and only because I want. Mom used to call me selfish because of such moods. I see it as reward for having worked so hard I can steal away some time just for me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday - the week thus far

I am not fond of weeks that seem to be governed by the to do list. But such has been this week. And no there is not an end to it because we have reached the weekend. Today I need to begin making frames. Five frames for sure.

I have reached the flex part of the list. I have done three new paintings. Five would have been nice. Those three need framed plus frames for the two I took out of the gallery to frame with the promise of bringing them back. Those five will be the core of the exhibit for Thursday - to be hung on Wednesday. Then there are five more paintings I will pull out of the studio to go with them. At the moment it all seems doable.

One of the drawbacks to living in a rural community is now Lowe's Home Center. The local hardware/lumberyard is not open on Sunday. Ergo to stay within my schedule I need to know by 2:30 if I will need more wood for the frames. Monday just would not give me adequate time for glue to dry. May hop buy more just to be on safe side.

So I have been busy painting! And busy dealing with allergies - mine and Mardi Gras's. Anyone have a dog with allergies? They try to lick themselves to death I swear. And Mardi is the most noisy licker. In the quiet of the studio while trying to concentrate on painting comes this endless repetitive noise. Reminds me of my brother eating cereal. I swear he could crunch and slurp oatmeal. Mardi and I have been sharing the Benedryl.

Mardi and Magique were buffed and fluffed on Wednesday. They are beautiful and soft and sticker free for about 24 hours. Now I am fanatic about getting every new sticktight out of their soft coats.

I must have astro traveled last night because I woke up with Magique holding me down. She literally stands over me pinning me to the bed. And if I don't wake up she lies down on top of me. Escaping from my todo list? I did give myself a break yesterday afternoon and got with some friends to chat. But it was a scheduled chat that required I return to the list rather like Magique was requiring I return to my body.

If I get done what I need to do today there will be some air to breathe in the next couple days. That will be good. The fall air, even with fall pollens, is nice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Foto and Story

If you click on the photo you can enlarge it. This was taken with a 300 mm zoom lens on an evening jaunt around the neighborhood. The Bald Eagle is hunting for prairie dogs in a field less than a mile from my house. That is pretty spectacular in and of itself. But the next day we either saw another a few miles away or this one again.

If you look up habitat for Bald Eagles you will see my area isn't it. They like tidal estuaries or large bodies of water. There are two lakes within flying distance of where I took this picture and one has reported mated pairs of Bald Eagles in residence. Think my friend just wanted a change in diet? Eagle Nest lake that week was having a blue/green algae bloom which is toxic to all manner of things. Perhaps the eagle knew.

But I would like to think a pair has taken up residence at nearby Black Lake and hunts in the meadows and fields around it. That means I will see this majestic bird again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning Chat - Garden Update

We have had a couple freezing nights and so suddenly the growing season is over. There will, no doubt, be a delightful Indian summer ahead but major progress on growth is basically at a halt. I started my new flower/herb garden late in the growing season so had not expected much. But yesterday when I went out to plant some petite mums I rescued from Wal-Mart's garden section I was surprised.

The columbines I transplanted in July went through some transplant shock but are making a full recovery. And the poppies (plant in lower right of center) which I purchased small for economy sake are almost doubled in size. Not sure they will be large enough to produce blooms next year but maybe a blossom or two. The gold and deep rust red mums add fall color. Hard to kill a mum so I am pretty confident they will make it through winter.

The biggest surprise in my new flower/herb garden is the rosemary. This hanging variety was dying in my studio. And for the first week after its "rescue" location outside (still in hanging pot) I figured I might still lose it. But it surprised me and flourished so I transplanted it. It has gone wild. It is now a creeping rosemary bush and is almost two feet across. Might have to cover it with straw for it to survive the winter. Any thoughts fellow gardeners?

Still have not finished rock garden around pond or the rock edging but progress has been made on latter and I am still thinking out my approach on the former. I want it to include a large white Hansa rose bush to the right of the water feature.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday Foto and Story

Real Estate Offering: Airy homestead style shotgun home with semi-attached mother-in-law apartment and outside plumbing. A handyman's delight. Easy access to Hwy 434 for commute to Taos. Off the grid with great possibilities for wind and solar energy options. Sits on Black Lake meadow once used to film the Montana scenes from Lonesome Dove. The views are to die for.

In the final months of our beloved Y!360 I started posting pictures of real estate offerings in my area. There are quite a few. This area and others in New Mexico were settled by the 1862 Homestead Act. A person willing to build a home and fence the property and do improvements could claim rights to 160 acres of land after 10 years. Here in Black Lake the Trujillo family, land grant excluded from the Taos area, came here and took up the challenge.

After receiving deeds to the property they removed fences and joined them all together into one of the largest ranches in the area at that time. They were the original founders of Black Lake. Descendants still own property in the area although they have sold off small sections for development. My land was once part of the Trujillo Ranch.

It was while taking photographs of my neighborhood that my sister, her husband, and I discovered there is a Bald Eagle (or pair) residing and hunting in this area. We think since Black Lake is not a huge body of water which they generally prefer they are temporary residents during the blue/green algae bloom at nearby Eagle Nest Lake. Some tourists you just have to love!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's August

And it is hot! And I am lazy. I am just finding everything so difficult to get excited about. Even blogging lately. I have not updated Travels with Charley for almost two weeks. I find it impossible to find a political topic with any legs to stand on these days. And evidently I am not the only one. A couple of my regular blog buddies are taking breaks. I miss reading their thoughts.

Maybe it is just August. Mother used to call them the dog days of summer. I long I heard that phrase, knew what it meant but not from where it came. Did you know the Greeks were the first to use the term Dog days of summer referring to the Dog Star - Sirius. And they sacrificed a brown dog to appease the rage of Sirius who they felt was responsible for the hot, humid weather this time of year. Sirius no long rises at the same time of the year due to the progression of the equinoxes but we still call them the Dog Days of Summer.

Per Wiki:

The phrase Dog Days or "the dog days of summer", Latin: Caniculae, Caniculares dies, refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere they usually fall between early July and early September whilst in the Southern hemisphere they are usually between January and early March. The actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.

I like that part: define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress. Oh, so true of me this time of year.

PS the mud covered animals in the picture are not dogs but wart hogs.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Sum Up for the First Week of August

This has been an interesting week to say the least. First the van stopped running. For those of you that suggest cash for clunkers let me say it gets too good of gas mileage so off for repairs. Got it home on Thursday but I was much poorer. The good news is I did have the money for the mechanic. Lots of months this winter that would have not been true.

Then I heard that my obligation to Chapter 13 Trustee had been completed early. That means I can replenish the money taken out of meager savings to pay for the car repairs. Then I sold a painting and the gallery sold a painting! Then two more dog sitting jobs. Pet sitting is how I am earning my spending money these days. And the business is building which is good. Now to start saving it for a road trip.

We all need to dream and for the last several months the dream has been to just get past this rough patch. Let me say thank you!

I had three paintings accepted into the Illusions exhibit and my sister had two photographs accepted too.

Yesterday, after spending two days on the computer working on my website, I decided to do something physical and rearranged furniture and went on a dust bunny hunt. If you are going to move things to clean then move them around to someplace new. This new arrangement gives me room for the elliptical trainer in the corner. And I can hide my other exercise toys out of sight there too.

My sister is coming up today and we will be doing some more off-roading so I washed all the mud off my camera cases from the last trip. Such fun! Volatile week with its ups and downs but I think it is ending on an up note.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Ten Second Sound Byte Life

I confess. I am enjoying my Facebook experience at last. It is rather like popping in at the neighborhood coffee shop and catching up with the crowd; re-establishing your position in the flock. Twitter is more like being a lost bird trying to find a flock then one of an established group. I last logged in on Twitter over a month ago and yet yesterday I was informed I have another follower. Where do they think I am going?

Blogging on the other hand is more a private conversation if only with yourself. It is more on the level of meeting someone at that coffee shop and say , "Hey, let's go someplace quiet so we can talk." But we live increasingly in a ten second sound byte world. So it is easy to see the popularity of an internet platform which encourages that sort of interaction. And yet in that world there are some interesting "long" discussions.

One status message posted by a friend or one photo which seems to become the "table" around which all gather to make a relevant comment or not. Monday I posted something about my broken van and then a comment was made about the earthquake in Mexico and eventually we were all agreeing that maybe there is a connection between quakes and cars because of the disruption of the magnetic fields. Then we were on to money and whether cars know we have the money to get them fixed. Reminded me a bit of happy hour on Friday after a long week of work.

So is Facebook the virtual happy hour? Coffee with your co-workers in an age when more and more of us are self-employed. Working at home. With our neighborhoods more etheral we collect friends not on where they live but common interests. Like a lamentation of swans we find our flock with a series of honks and head bobs, finding safety in numbers even if they are scattered around the world in a virtual flock.

I have made connections with some old friends from the pre-computer days. Judgement is still out on that. Perhaps they were picked at the time just because of the neighborhood where we no longer live.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Morning Chat Over Coffee

One of the assets of a couple years of blogging is a folder of blog images collected from Google Image search to illustrate various blogs. The one above I found for a Travels with Charley blog about kitchen table economics. The economy, the pundits tell us, is getting better. Not that we can prove that point with the economic situation of must of us sitting around kitchen tables.

Summer in the high country has meant lower utility bills and that has made for a bet more flex in the old budget. But I have also been trying to save up for the winter utility bills and a couple of cords of wood for the wood stove. I cannot believe it is August already.

Then my car began acting up. Have been given a few opinions about what might be causing that. But it also needs a brake job before winter too. Did I mention I have been trying to put some cash away for winter? Do you think cars know that?

There is not a lot of time to sit around kitchen tables in the summer. Besides who wants to be inside when the weather is so nice out. Well, mornings. We have been having a run of afternoon and evening rains here. Which means the grass has been growing. When I first moved into this house over a dozen years ago I didn't mow. Then my ex gave me an old mower of his. That was the beginning of the end. I now have a riding mower and a walk behind mower and a weedwacker. Yesterday, I had the last two out neatening up the studio/fur kid yard. The grass keeps getting thicker and more lush. I blame the mowing.

And I have added trees and raised herb/vegetable beds. And this year a flower garden with herbs thrown in. Flowers all by themselves seem so frivolous. But I seem to be especially in love with this new garden spot. Even got out yesterday and weeded it and fussed with the stones around the edge. Still need more to complete it. And the rock garden around the water feature needs more work. One stone at a time I suppose. It is nice to look at from the stoop with a mid morning cup of java in my hands.

Love's Labors.