Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ephemeral Christmas gifts

trying them on for size
trying them on for size
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Every year, MJ's aunt, who lives in the Milwaukee area, sends a cache of old family photos along with her Christmas greeting. Each time she writes, in her elegant Palmer method hand, “You probably have these already, but I'm sending them to you just in case.” While we have many images that his mother and father left, we usually haven’t seen the ones she returns.

These little gifts are true Christmas surprises--full of fun and memories. What more can you ask from a gift? In fact, who says a gift must always be glamorous, practical, or costly? These small pieces of paper cost nothing, yet each is embedded with its own small story that money cannot buy.

christmas window
chrismas window
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Their effect looms large our minds as we remember holidays when we were four or five years old. We remember long forgotten memories of stenciled window panes, tinseled pine needles, and frosted breaths in December air. All float to the top of our consciousness, and only then do we realize another year has flown, and the holidays are here once again. What memories are we creating this year? How will we send memories to the young? Are these URLs we create the future Christmas card memories for others? Only time will tell.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

my kid that blogs moves east

a blogger moves east
(with apologies to frank o'hara)

will you have a goodbye/wrap-up
for the blog
b 4 u
will you blog on the road from
yr tree-o?

remember, we love you.

asap if you need

H E L P!
call, even if it is 2:00
in the morning
and you
are driving down
a foggy
road, with a foggy
mind, and
need a chat
while shannon sleeps
and mister
cat purrs.

call, just to say
hey! i'm at
i-forget-where, AR
at the Waffle House!

call when you reach
the NY state line!

call when you
get to brooklyn

call, even it's all good.

and most of all,
call us when you get there.

ps-we love you

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The knitted afghan for curtie by her grandma Lucille

Before I became pregnant with Curtie, my mother-in-law began a very beautiful and complicated knitted afghan. Everyone in the family would crowd around and question Lucille about just who the lucky recipient would be. Finally, after too many questions, and also exasperated that there was no granddaughter yet, she made an agreement that the first granddaughter would get the knitted quilt.

From the start I had a feeling that Curtie was a girl, so I never thought about the project. But once I had her, that was the first thing that everyone said after congratulations--hey, she's going to get the afghan! First, it was kept in Lucille's cedar chest, safe from sunlight and dust. Later, when Curite graduated from high school, she was given her gift, and we've kept it for her until tonight. Tomorrow, Curtie leaves here and will drive back to Oztown; then in a few weeks, she will leave it for good and strike out on a new adventure in NYC.

It's good she can take with her a part of her family history.

The painting in the Judge's room

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by curtie.
this weekend, curtie stayed in the judge's room. funny, i've never thought of photographing this painting, although i like it very much. it's very strange having one daughter missing during the holidays and it will happen again next month. that's why curtie came home this weekend because she will have moved to nyc by christmas. which reminds me, i'd better take a picture of the knitted comforter her grandmother made before she takes it home. more to follow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I know they go too far

Nothing much going on this side today. I'm about to sign off, but I thought I would insert a pointer to a new post left on my alternative blog, which shows a darker side.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
This building sits across the street from MJ's office. While I’ve never heard if this building is haunted, I know that MJ’s office is. Part of the building is a doctor’s answering service and they have 24-hour shift workers. At certain hours of the night, the operators refuse to walk down the hall, especially if they hear footsteps and feel cold air.
But back to the apartment across the street. It is rare that there is not a car sitting in front of the building, so I was glad when I saw the place all decked out for Halloween. Twilight was ending and no one was on the street. This apartment building has an interesting history for me. Years ago, there was a fire on the top floor. Curtie and her friend Amy were there that day and the girls saved a singed and very scared kitten. Amy kept the kitten, and they named her Whistlebritches.

Earlier this summer, my aunt and cousin came down from Colorado for my uncle's funeral. We reminisced as we all gathered around a box full of old family photos that my cousin secured from her father's house. As we went through the black and white photos, we discussed how my dad lived a block away from this building. His apartment is now the location for Sen. Eliot Shapleigh's law offices. Then my aunt remembered that this apartment building was where she and my uncle first lived after they eloped. She married him at 15 and my uncle was 21. We kept talking, remembering, laughing, writing names on the backs of photos and then, before too long, it was time for them to leave for Colorado. Unfortunately, I wasn't able at the time to find out where their rooms were located, though.

Seems as if everyone I know passes through this part of town at some point. In addition, the apartment is a couple of doors down from the H & H Carwash, and its famous Mexican café.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Amsterdam :: At the mall, by my friend, Urban Chill

At the mall
Originally uploaded by Urban Chill.
This marvelous photo by my friend Urban Chill caught my eye the second I looked at my postage-stamp sized Flickr contact images. Contact images of contacts; contact lenses, contact paper, contact us now....

And while they are not friends in the real flesh and blood sense of the word (we don’t have Meet-ups or Art Mail projects or long telephone conversations), we are compatriots in the global family of photographers. We shoot, we score; we upload, we explain; we comment and we kvetch about world events, family successes, and personal triumphs. We are there for each other, whether or not we know it. We support each other by saying “I am a contact/friend/fellow snapshooter of digital/film/medium format/toy camera pictures. I like your's and you like mine.”

That is why I chose to post Urban's image here. Evidently now, even in Amsterdam, or especially in Amsterdam, photographers are harassed and told “you cannot take photos here!” We are not out to harm anyone. We are there to capture things that interest us. We are there to document our part of the world, which makes us closer to those who view our images. We are cameras. I am a camera. I shoot, therefore I am. The photos of the people are the eyes of the gods.

Thanks Urban Chill, you keep me grounded and attached to the wider world. Thanks to all, for we all work together. Whether Reddirtrose, El Paso Joe, Silvertree, Brenda Anderson, [kren], magic fly paula, ! »☺►/streetart#───█ -_- ©██, foxglove, tchatchke, meowmeow, curtie, LensENVY, Elena777, .natalie, Mr. Yuk, gem66, Santxvike, tejas962002, or one of the others: We share a passion to communicate and share. And I thank you for being “out there” for me.

MSU :: Hubbard South at twilight

Yes, yes I know. Where have all the blog posts gone, long time passing (sorry about that Pete, I could not resist).

Well let's see, there was a death in the family in late June (and I promised myself I would write about its impact, but haven't yet, which must mean something). Then July was uneventful, although the Judge, MJ, and I spent a lot of time getting ready for the August trip to Michigan, which arrived much too fast because…all of a sudden, August was here, and we were gone to take the Judge to college.

While there, I shot many film and digital photos to document her move-in/transition to college life. Along the way, while holed up in a way too small Red Roof Inn, a Starbucks, and the Judge's dormroom. I uploaded the images. Now they are in a set on Flickr. Before we knew it, we were saying goodbyes,and then MJ and I returned home--just the two of us. Que muzak and fade out.

But wait! Immediately upon our return, I began graduate school (albeit a week late) and since then, it's been one long state of panic and terror. No, not really. The terror and panic come on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 10:30 AM and 5:50 PM. In contrast, I can’t sleep Monday and Wednesday nights in anticipation of the following days' terror- and panic-filled hours. Although, Thursday night is best because I have Friday all to myself.

While this is a bit of a histrionic and stratospheric POV, I wouldn't have done it any different—except I'd try to be more organized. And write more blog posts so that I don't have to sound like I'm apologizing for something. And read my journal articles before class begins. And get out and take more pictures downtown like my friend Mondo Loco. And, and, and...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

RIP Luiz Jimenez :: Sculpture entitled The Sodbuster

Sometime in the late 80's, Luis Jimenez loaned his sculpture entitled The Sodbuster to the El Paso Natural Gas Company for display. While I did not see it on display (photo by my boss at the time, James Dean) I found a wonderful 8x10 print in the files at the company when I worked in the PR department a decade later.

Sadly, Luiz Jimenez died yesterday and the world has lost an incredibly gifted and innovative artist whose sense of fun and irony permeated all his works, including his most controversial, "End of the Trail (with electric sunset)."

Article Launched: 06/14/2006 12:00:00 AM MDT

Accident kills creator of plaza's 'Lagartos'
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
El Paso Times
Luis Jimenez, the El Paso native whose fiberglass sculptures made him an internationally prominent artist, was killed Tuesday morning in a freak accident in his art studio in Hondo, N.M., authorities said.

Jimenez, 65, was the most famous artist to come out of El Paso, with his work recognized from barrios to President Bush's ranch home near Crawford, Texas.

Around 11:50 a.m. Tuesday, Jimenez and two of his employees were moving a large statue piece with a hoist when the piece got loose, struck Jimenez and pinned him to a steel beam at Jimenez Studios, Lincoln County Sheriff R.E. "Rick" Virden said in a news release.

Jimenez received a severe leg injury and died at Lincoln County Medical Center in nearby Ruidoso.

The death of Jimenez created a shock as it spread by word of mouth through the arts community in El Paso, where Jimenez's "Vaquero" and "Plaza de Los Lagartos" sculptures have become civic landmarks.

Jimenez was a major figure in Chicano art and a pioneer in public art. His vibrant fiberglass sculptures are found in parks from Albuquerque to Fargo, N.D., home of "The Sodbuster" statue.

Last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported he was working on a Cleveland Firefighters Memorial that was to be ready by the fall. The statue was supposed to be finished by the end of 2004, but the date was pushed back in part because Jimenez had suffered two heart attacks.

"He was one of the most original artists on the planet," said Becky Duvall Reese, the former director of the El Paso Museum of Art. Jimenez's "Vaquero" -- a 20-foot-tall statue of a Mexican cowboy on a bucking horse -- stands in front of the museum.

Jimenez's work often reflected his border and Southwestern roots. He often said he was inspired by his sign-maker father, a Mexican immigrant.

"I have a way of looking at the world that is somewhat unique, that is not maybe totally mainstream," Jimenez said in a 1995 interview with the El Paso Times. "I would hope that I've helped people have insights into the world we are living in."

Art gallery owner Adair Margo said Jimenez will live on in his work, including the "Texas Waltz" lithograph purchased by first lady Laura Bush that is now at the Bush ranch home.

"I think Luis shared this border region with the world. Those images will continue to live on," Margo said. "You look at the images he left us, you realize he was a voice that mattered, that gave form to this region and communicated it with people. He was a man of just incredible talent, but he also had great generosity of spirit."

Daniel Borunda may be reached at dborunda@elpasotimes.com; 546-6102.

El Paso Times reporter Adriana M. Chávez contributed to this report.

Photo by James Dean

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Heavy Cloud, No Rain

Sadly, if you drive along the newly completed section of Loop 375, you can see those who are most likely to care less whether downtown is revitalized or
Franklin Mountain Poppies
not—the northeast, far east, and Mission Valley areas of town. And why? Well, IMHO it's because they believe we have no mass transit to get the homebodies into and out of the downtown/entertainment-to-be districts.

Yet last week, The Judge and I had a good time, driving from I-10 West/Transmountain, through the mountain, gliding past Parkland Middle School and over Dyer Street, onto the newly refurbished Loop (by Ft. Bliss and Airport land.) Around the bend, flying over Montana, we then headed onto the newly completed eastern Loop section, which was the reason for our adventure. And as clouds followed and surrounded us the entire time, we hoped for rain.

From the highway, we saw miles and miles of tract housing stretching out
LaBola de Oro :: I drove downtown to the border highway one Saturday morning
eastward, surrounding Montwood High School, a place which when first built, used to be in the middle of undeveloped land. We continued and drove past the eastside manufacturing and call centers, then drove along the newly constructed section with its elaborate bridge details at I-10 east at Avenue of the Americas. Finally, we began our count of high schools that lie along the Ceasar Chávez Border Highway, which is the southern stretch of the loop—Del Valle, Riverside, Bowie.

Approaching the downtown area and Segundo Barrio, we saw the elaborately tagged and graffed boxcars stopped next to the border near South Florence and made the final and semi-hazardous 45 degree turn to the right onto Santa Fe Street. Approaching Paisano, we saw a halfway demolished Tampico bar and
Holga Sunset
upper tenement apartment building (across from the now defunct fire station whose number escapes my memory, but one thought to be haunted).

Turning onto Paisano we headed for home and by the time we past Asarco’s tower, we had logged about an hour since we began. Sadly, my odometer is on the fritz, so I don't know how many miles we traveled. Yet, in that one hour we saw “heavy cloud and no rain*” views—lots and lots of anonymous plots where people live individual stories that we will never know or appreciate. And while we don't have lightrail, a third rail, or non-stop a/c'd super trollies, we do have a mostly completed loop that is a near circuit around the city--and it will help. In fact, someone from the hinterlands near Montana could conceivably drive non-stop to the downtown area in about 20 minutes. And I think that's pretty slick.

*Heavy Cloud, No Rain
Sting, from the album Ten Summoner's Tales

Turned on the weather man just after the news
I needed sweet rain to wash away my blues
He looked at the chart but he look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Back in time with Louis XVI
At the court of the people he was number one
He'd be the bluest blood they'd ever seen
When the king said hi to the guillotine
The royal astrologer was run out of breath
He thought that maybe the rain would postpone his death
He look in sky but he look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Well the land was cracking and the river was dry
All the crops were dying when they ought to be high
So to save his farm from the banker's draft
The farmer took out a book on some old witchcraft
He made a spell and a potion on a midsummer's night
He killed a brindled calf in the pale moonlight
He prayed to the sky but he prayed in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Heavy cloud but no rain

The sun won't shine till the clouds are gone
The clouds won't go till their work is done
And every morning you'll hear me pray
If only it would rain today

I asked my baby if there'd be some way
She said she'd save her love for a rainy day
I look in the sky but I look in vain
Heavy cloud but no rain

Monday, May 29, 2006

Reflections upon a favorite story

Frontpiece illustration
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
For Curtie's birthday, we sent to her the copy of Sara Crew, or What Happened at Miss Minchin's by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Years ago, when we lived in Santa Fe, we found the book, which was a shortened precursor to Burnett’s book, A Little Princess and bought it for her. This book, published by Scribner’s and Sons in 1888, is a romanticized remnant of its time and place. It also remains a sentimental favorite for both Curtie and me. Overall, it is the quintessential stoic Victorian child's story—a glimpse at their view of childhood. Along with Little Lord Fauntleroy, and The Secret Garden, the books epitomize how the British Victorian middle-class doted and romanticized their heirs.

Yet the irony of it all was that while all this doting went on at one level of society—while children were presented with such extravagance as Sara Crewe and her doll’s matching ermine-trimmed coats, silk stockings, and satin day dresses—the streets of every large urban city like London and New York, teemed with abandoned urchins living “hard-knock” lives. One only has to read William Blake’s The Chimney Sweeper from his collection of poems entitled Songs of Innocence and Experience to taste and feel the grim work such children toiled at for their so-called "betters." So much for thinking, that all Victorian children were a Fauntleroy, outfitted in blue-velvet breeches, or a silk-stockinged Sara.

Although, Burnett’s princess embodies both sides of this realm’s coin as it were for she describes with envious detail the sumptuous clothes, food, and education Sara received—that is however, until her father’s fortune was lost and he died greatly in debt to his daughter's headmistress. Now, the second existence jolts us into the reality of so many other children, the scullery maids, the chimneysweepers, the little ones begging in the streets.

It is this mirror image of Sara’s riches to rags story that shows how extremes can became but a puddle of debt due to mismanagement and lies—bad investments on the part of her overindulgent father. Helpless as we read on, we see her adrift, making her way in our minds—as she is lead away, wearing torn and ill-fitting clothes, cleaning the rooms of her former classmates—both rivals and friends. On the whole, we could see it as the dichotomy of Sara Crewe—a stoic little heart, an immense amount of patience and intelligence, grace, temperance, and logic—an exemplum for any young girl. And 'though she smiles though heartache, she finally breaks down from her malnutrician and maltreatment. Just in time, however, a new benefactor emerges to rescue her, saves her from the evil Minchin, and deposits her in his rooms next door. He reveals it was she whom he had been looking for all along and notes the irony that while seeking her in other locales, she only “on the other side of the wall.”

Many a modern YA reader today probably scoffs at such neat and tidy endings because there are no grey areas with Sara—she is not cranky or ornery like Mary of Secret Garden fame. Sara, no worse for the ware it seems, is still good and knowing. Although, The Little Princess is a true Victorian sentimentality, Curtie and I cherish the story for its metaphor of childhood imagination and story invention. In it, I believe we acknowledge Sara’s strength through improvisation—she is a Scheherazade for us and for Becky, her scullery-maid cohort.

We suspend belief that a Sara could have ever existed and while we try to forget that the world is over populated with too many Beckys. For us, it is the writing; the storytelling that helps us evolve; this I believe, allows us to accept the book and its sentimental look at children and their parents and lead us to more tales of a wider world, opening doors to worlds we never dreamed existed.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

curtie in the flowers

curtie in the flowers
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
and now, for something completely different.

curtie is 30! here is a true fact:

on the friday, may 21, 1976, my ob-gyn, dr. charles gunter, told me to go straight to bed and stay there because he didn't want any deliveries that weekend. i did what i was told, went home, and stayed in bed. on monday, i went back to his office and he told me to check myself into sierra medical center on tuesday morning.

i did what i was told, and curtie was born late in the afternoon on may 25.

but if i hadn't, if mj and i had gone out and partied or something over the weekend, curtie would have been born on like, may 22 or 23. therefore, she would already have turned thirty, and all the stuff i sent would have been late!

happy birthday, michaela!
hugs and love...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Final Dance Recital :: Something for Cat

Note: First of all, a big thanks to Curtie for the shout-out on her blog. What are we coming to when we greet and read about one another via our blogs? Well, I don't care what others may think, in fact, I think it's fun.

Parting is such sweet sorrow...And so it goes, the final recital and a short but sweet visit from Curtie—all a memory. Whirlwinds (literally and figuratively) may blow into and through your yard, your home, your dreams, but they always tend to dissipate just as fast as they materialized. Soon, all that's left is a pile of sandy dreamlike images and sounds.

Yet, it is in the memory of those few crazy-busy days where events can rest to reside and last longer than the actual events themselves: the judge's recitals with her marvelous tap choreography and Pointe technique, my graduation with its strobe lights and last hurrahs, talks as Curtie sorted through LP's at the Headstand...and now it is midnight, and I watch as she puts the finishing touches on a knitted baby sweater for a friend.

Quick...lights out because now it is already 1:30 in the morning. Transitions from one life to another.

Today, I drive a daisy to the doctor and hear good news this time. It sounds like the pneumonia crackles have dissolved and so too the need for doctor visits...for the moment.

It rained the other night and we all took a turn on the patio, sitting, smelling the air, feeling the humid shift of the wind’s caress from dry to moist...chains of light torch the sky as we sat and watched the rain, and in the darkness, saw the birth of a new memory.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Graduation May 2006 :: Pomp And Circumstance

Graduation May 2006
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
A big shoutout to Dr. Johnson. He stepped out from the darkness that was the long line of professors, so he could shake my hand during the recessional. Did he say this is what he wanted me to know...this ceremony, with all its lights, theatrics, applause, cheers, and tears? Yes indeed, I was very happy and surprised.

Now graduation was an amazing thing. Not so much the anticipation of walking across the stage, although I watched how people took the diploma, shook hands with Dr. Natalicio, then walked a little further to shake hands with Dr. D., and off again. But at then end of the thing itself--the lights, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance* playing, the excitement that it was over (and something new about to begin.)

As my fellow graduates and I sat, wondering when and how we would file out, I soon spied the professors that just as they walked down the aisle, they turned and stood like guards at the end of our rows. Then we, ahead of those with their new advanced degrees, exited from the opposite end and walked between where the professors stood. Awesome.

I lost count of the professors who stepped out to shake my hand and those to whom I said thank you. Beautiful. But Dr. J's was indeed a happy surprise.

Cynics who forgo these ceremonies do not know what they have missed.

*Pomp And Circumstance Marches, Op.39: No. 1 In D Major - Allegro con molto fuoco

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dad's picture taken by his mom.

The following came up in conversation recently. A friend must consider whether to continue her education and one of her options is counseling students in high school. I told her I thought another good field is caring for those elderly people who are depressed. Yes, Tom — sometimes, ya just need ta take a pill that helps—not a panacea, but a died-in-the-wool medication to combat depression. Whether for post-partum or meds for Alzheimer or cancer patients, chemical therapy is sometimes called for.

My parents turned 80 in December and I’ve seen a mild version of this condition in my father. This is a new growth industry—keep everyone strong, keep heads and hearts positive (as can be expected), and healthy.

For him, it is the knowledge that time is running out. You know, like sands in a huge hourglass. The stream of sand appears to slide so much faster as it becomes more and emptier than when it first was full.

Between classes this week and last, I essentially drove Mr. and Mrs. Daisy around town. It is a new phase of my life. Over 10 years ago, Michael went through the same passage with his own parents.

I drove dad to my doctor for the cold he let slip into pneumonia. He talks as I drive him to the radiologist for chest X-rays. You know, he said, the British editor of the Glenn Miller Society's newsletter died last year...I haven't received one since then; I wonder what will they will do now?

I know what he's thinking as he says this. The brain trust of the music and culture of his youth is turning to dust. I make a mental note about this. We drive further and he says he must get rid of his record collection. I told him not to purge too soon and that I would like to see again what he tucked away. I also say I could help him donate his Benny Goodman quartet Bluebird 78's to KTEP if he wanted. Or the Sinatras, the Peggy Lees, the Doris Days, the Dorseys (both brothers). However, never the Glenn Miller Air Force broadcasts in their beautiful padded cover with sky father clouds and the floating officer’s hat. He appreciates that i put the XMRadio on the 40's decade music channel. He recalls every single singer, every single band that plays...that's Sentimental Journey--Doris Day and Less Brown, that's I've heard that song before Harry James, Now is the Hour by Bing Crosby... every song, every mile from Kerby Street to the Upper Valley in Vinton we drive. Every mile is another song he remembers. He tells me what grade he was in at the time and who were his friends.

Later, after the X-rays we stop for lunch. I take more notes about his family while we eat. He tells me more about his father's failed attempts to inspire his n'er-do-well cousins to make something of themselves. How he tried to set them up in businesses around town. Nothing ever worked and all eventually faded away into oblivion, which is worst than dust.

Later and just before Aesthetics with Dr. Robinson, I walk into the Cotton Memorial Building to talk to Dennis Woo. Would they be interested in a sizable record donation? He says the radio station is land-locked. We would love to take everything, we have the needles, but we have very little space. He shows me his cabinets. There is very little room for 78's...33 1/3's...45's...

It’s all disappearing--like a reel-to-reel tape that wraps its long snake of brown film onto the opposite take-up reel. Soon one will be full and the other will be empty. It’s life. The preparation of dying begins with your first breath.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Approaching St. George's

Approaching St. George's
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
The former St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 915 N. Florence, was placed on Preservation Texas' list of historic properties in 2005.

Formerly known as St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, the 915 N. Florence property faces what the Austin-based organization Preservation Texas calls serious danger. According to an El Paso Times article dated March 28, 2005, its owners (St. Clement's Episcopal Church) want to turn the property into a parking lot. But for now, this mission revival building, constructed in 1910 by renowned El Paso architect Henry Trost, is currently being rented out to a Maronite Catholic Church congregation.

I post this now because the local historical society has applied for endangered status for another building, which is about a mile away. The group and the city met last week to discuss the condition of The Albert B. Hall mansion. All agree the mansion is suffering "demolition by neglect."

Across the street, a house is under renovation; probably conversion into a law office.

Scout and Interestingness

Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Prediction :: A feature on Flickr will prove to be very addicting to me.

Scout, on the photo community's sidebar site called Flagrantdisregard, is a kind of barometric visual instrument that tracks how "interesting" any given photo on Flickr can turn out to be. Interestingness is the balance between several factors: how many views, how many comments, how many favorites. It is a popularity contest of the beautiful, the ironic, the surreal. Photoshopped or Picasa-manipulated images, such as this pix of Inky, are judged along side Holga shot prints, Nikon-shot scenics and models, and even camera-cell phones. All are equal under the law of numbers, comments, and eyeballs.

Friday, March 31, 2006

White on white over grey

White on white over grey
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Wednesday proved to be rather strange. First, I arrived at school early to finish my Latin translation. Currently, we are on Chapter 37 of the Oxford Latin course, which is Volume III of the series. All seemed to be going well, although a few too many ran into class late. It seems their cigarettes took a little longer to smoke than usual. As our professor called on us, one by one, no one seemed to be prepared. Most were trying to translate on the fly. One after one he called on them, and this was making his mood even worse. I could see this was going nowhere fast. Then, he called on one last girl and alas, she too was not prepared.

Like an ancient Greek philosophy master, he threw up his hands in disgust, said he didn't need to take this, that we weren't working hard enough, and that those who needed to do the work obviously didn't care. He said what the assignment was for Monday, walked out, and left us sitting there. Actually, it better that he did; I'm sure we can all use a break from each other. Thank goodness for Caesar Chavez's birthday because we have the day off. Now, we are past the point of dropping, and as many of us are cleared to graduate; in essence, we have no choice but to tough it out with him.

Of course, almost everyone left immediately, cheering as they went. A few of us stayed in the class to chat and look over our work. Actually, we looked over the work for about 2 minutes and talked for about 40. Afterwards, I went to the Academic Services Center and submitted my paperwork for the graduate program I'll be starting in the fall. Then I thought I would take a walk to MJ's office. Along the way, I was able to capture some interesting architectural details in this old neighborhood near El Paso High School.

Plaza Theatre :: Celebration

On March 16, we went to the grand re-opening of the Plaza Theatre. After the initial hoopla by the officials, they lit the marquee, launched small fireworks, and opened the doors to the public. Although, we stood outside for about 20 minutes past the time and even had to wait because too many people had entered before us once the doors were opened. But in the end, it was worth the wait.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that you can photograph on spec, although many professional photographers would tell you not to do it. I was able to help the Community Foundation by supplying several photographs for a couple of projects for the theatre.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Plaza Theatre-beginning of Renovation

About four years ago, I took this photo; while I later saw the Plaza Theatre several times before the renovation began, one visit stood out above the rest.

Cynthia Farah-Haines was giving a presentation to the Historical Society about El Paso's theatres, which I had arranged. The last possible date was May because any time after that was much too hot—the Plaza had no functioning air conditioners. A reproduction Wurlitzer was delivered the day before and someone was going to play it for us.

Now, the society’s average member age must be around 70, and I was a bit worried they might have difficulties entering the building. However, any fears vanished as soon as I saw their reaction to the organ music. It was as if they were the children of Hamlin and the organist was the Pied Piper.

These children of The Great Depression slowly walked inside through a plywood door, which covered the original entrance. With canes, or arm-in-arm with their partners they cautiously walked along the long, open foyer with its red Spanish tile floor. They climbed a few stairs, and continued to an old concession stand. There, popcorn and red berry punch was set out for them. They chatted a bit about their youth and then they began walking into bowels of that ratty and dusty old theatre. Down the dimly lit aisle, and up to the front near the stage, they went. Looking around the near empty and cavernous palace, they saw their memories were safely stored away for them to retrieve that day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Disappearing Ink

Disappearing Ink
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
Finally, I uploaded my most recent photos to flickr, which allowed me time to think about what Mr. Gioia (head of the NEA) said about the downward turn in reading levels for all Americans.

At first, I disagreed, but of course, it's because I'm in school where it write and read for course, write this blog, read the blogs Curtie writes, and read Capote, Didion, and Zola. Well, doesn't everyone? Now that's all just bougie, self-serving rubbish.

Recalling various snippets of words between classes with student peers, I realized many pride themselves on how little they read. They smile, saying they "get away" with reading as little as possible.

One friend boasted she passed her Humanities and Literature courses by only using online synopsis she found. Or, she bought $5 blue or yellow-striped books when necessary; she also lamented she had to really read for a genre (Detective Fiction) class we took together. This was because the reading list was so specific and rather obscure that she had to read the books for the class.

Another friend told me he would start reading once he entered graduate school. Of course, he'd said that also thought the exact same thing when he was in high school: "I'll read when I get to college."

Well, ungraduate work is now over for him, though there is no doubt he'll attempt to do the same for his graduate courses; he'll scrape the internets or buy those yellow-striped or bright blue synopsis cheater books. Don't even ask me about conversations with current schoolteachers, taking graduate classes at night, who beam that they've found the holy grail of laminated literature, more plastic cheats at the UTEP bookstore. You know the rest.

Yes, Mr. Gioia, this is a nation of readers-by-proxy. We confine our reading to flat laminated sheets in order to pass our classes. For all our sakes, I hope this city runs with open arms to embrace your program, The Big Read.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Judge & Typewriter

The Judge & Typewriter
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
...Poet Dana Gioia, on the other hand, uses his typewriter continuously, pecking out poems and correspondence. (The poems he writes out first in longhand.) "I've proven to people that I can write a letter quicker on a typewriter than they can on a computer," said Gioia, who is chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "I also like the physical feel of a typewriter. I like the noise it makes, I like to be able to physically put paper in it. It's as quick and efficient as a computer and much more sensuous, in a way."

Read the entire article here.*

Today, I missed Aesthetics (although I told my professor I would be absent) so I could sit and listen to a talk given by Dana Gioia, current head of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of Mr. Gioia because my camera went dead. But he did sign my copy of his book Disappearing Ink.

I soon left afterwards and returned to MJ's office, where I dug around on the internet for more information about this man of letters and public service. That's when I found the above quote from an Atlanta Journal Constitution article about the demise of typewriters. I don't know why, but I kind of thought it a counterpoint to Mr. Gioia's 1991 book-length essay, "Can Poetry Matter?" Back then, the book raised this art's ghostly specter as if it no longer seemed to have any raison d'etre in today's world. At the time, poetry seemed to be at death's door, retreating into either the world of street, cowboy, or the academian towers--where coded reams of creative writing programs and peer-reviewed journals dwelt.

Of course he had to write that essay, he was then living the life as undercover artist--seller of jello by day and poet by night. But I digress, because I'm happy to say that poetry has kind of recovered, brought back to the hands of everyman/woman. It is this very recovery which he writes about in his book, which he signed for me saying Best wishes, signed in permanent ink.

Aside from being asked to come speak, I believe he was also here on a promotional road trip for a new community NEA reading program called, "The Big Read," which is being rolled out in May. As he signed my book, I asked if he had contacted Dave Eggers about his 826 Valencia Street writing project for children. He said he would be meeting with him in conjunction with the Big Read program. I think there can be great synergy created by these two ideas coming together and hope all the bilingual kinks get worked out so that it is a success.

It is funny that this should even be needed. On XM's BBC Radio, we've been listening to readings of the short list for the BBC's World Service Short Story Competition. These are wonderful, exotic stories that are read by excellent actors/readers. I hope they publish the stories with a CD because there are a few I would like to listen to again, especially "One Night in Bangkok" by Tracey Martin (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), which was a runner-up in the competition.

*get a bugmenot login here if you can't read the entire article:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Break on through to the other side

Recently I've been going through my images and found this one. I shot it last summer while wandering around the Union Depot Entertainment District. It is a detail of what I call the Ghost Wall.

After seeing images of the Shiite masque that was destroyed today, I realized that this sad event took place in Baghdad. It was at that point that I thought I better find out how Salam Pax is doing these days. Originally, I (as did what seemed the entire world) used to read his blog, where is raed?, when I first started back to school.

I checked (thanks wikipedia) and found he is writing a newish blog here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

1985 or so and a lyric that does not apply but says a lot

Curtie Bored
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
somehow, i always new this song would never apply to me, curie, or her sister, the judge:

1985, ~ Bowling For Soup

Debbie just hit the wall
She never had it all
One Prozac a day
Husband's a CPA
Her dreams went out the door
When she turned twenty-four
Only been with one man
What happened to her plan

She was gonna be an actress
She was gonna be a star
She was gonna shake her ass
On the hood of Whitesnake's car
Her yellow SUV is now the enemy
Looks at her average life
And nothing has been alright since

Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985

She's seen all the classics
She knows every line
Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink
Even Saint Elmo's Fire
She rocked out to Wham
Not a big Limp Bizkit fan
Thought she'd get a hand
On a member of Duran Duran

Where's the mini-skirt made of snake skin
And who's the other guy that's singing in Van Halen
When did reality become T.V.
What ever happen to sitcoms, game shows


She hates time make it stop
When did Motley Crew become classic rock
And when did Ozzy become an actor
Please make this stop
And bring back...

Remains of the daycare...

Along the way on my walk to the Plaza, I passed the day care where we used to take The Judge and her sister, Curtie. Curtie only went during her middle school years after school, but originally, she attended original Esprit Day Care located on Atlas Street in northeast El Paso. The Judge started out as Esprit Day Care from 6 months.

For the owners of the daycare, the clientele of the daycare changed little-by-little over the years, especially after the big purge at EPNG. It was then that they felt it was time to “retire” and get out of the daycare business altogether while the getting was good.

As I passed the building, I was surprised to see the space was now an "indoor parking garage." In the entranceway, where the children used to play in a sandbox area with climbing equipment with enough room to ride a tricycle or two, there was now a garage door and an arm restricting entrance. Yet a person on foot can walk right in and see it all free.

The oddest bits left over were the ones I immediately remembered—a street scene on a wall looked out from where children used to drive their tricycle “cars” upon streets once paved with street and alleyway carpeting. Now there are concrete yellow stops for real cars, which for some reason were nowhere to be found.

Upon painted brick walls, remnants of classroom decorations remained: little pictures of animals pasted upon one wall, with a yellow arrow pointing the way back outside, another wall held cartoon lions and tigers and more yellow arrows. Other murals still perched upon the bright blue beams that had been originally salvaged by the day care's owners—a souvenir of a museum exhibit that had run its course over 15 years ago. The murals still looked as good as they did when they were first installed. In all, the combination made for a very surreal exhibit of a place where there are no children, parents, or teachers—no people, cars, or sounds.

Where once were children crying, yelling, laughing, playing, there is nothing but the sound of an aging building, turning into something else all over again.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Walk Down Oregon to the Plaza

Wednesday was cabin fever day. Yes, I could sit at Jamocha's or the student union cafe, cramming for Latin after the class ended at 10:30. That meant I would then have until 4:30 to wait for my Aesthetics class with Dr. R. Now I know I should study, but if I did that, I would certainly crash during R’s lecture.

Instead, I decided I would walk to the Plaza, go to Jack's for lunch, and take the trolley (all of 25 cents) back up the hill to school. So I did and took several pictures of apartment buildings along Oregon Street on my way into downtown. It was a beautiful day and productive for I discovered what became of the daycare where my daughter’s went while I worked.

After lunch I waited for the no. 10 trolley and I spoke with an older woman who had dropped her cane at my feet. I handed the cane back to her and she began talking to me. She was short, round, white-haired and very cheerful. She wore a navy sweat suit and told how she got to El Paso.

She told me she had driven semi-trucks hauling volatile fuels for 33 years and after 3 heart attacks, the state of california revolked her trucker's driver license. Because of this (and other things, I'm sure,) her abusive husband pulled a gun on her one night.

After she calmed him down, she told him she was going to take a walk and get a cup of coffee. She did, but she also didn't return; she just kept going. She hitchhiked to El Paso and has been here since, which to me sounded like it had been at least 3 years. She doesn't drive now and either hitches or takes the bus. She said that she has taken about five or six computer classes at EPCC. When she said this to me she beamed with pride. She also said that on Sundays she hitches to one of the big truck terminals at the edge of town so she can attend the "trucker's service."

I don't care about whether or not she goes to church, but I do know that i'm glad I decided to take a walk downtown yesterday. Although I'm sure Dr. L would rather i stayed on campus and studied my Latin.

Later that day, I posted my pictures from the walk in a set on Flickr and I want to take more of the trolley ride; the no. 10 which goes all the way to the bridge, back to the plaza, then heads up the hill, through Sunset Heights, and finally enters campus at the Southern entrance. Not bad for 25 cents; 50 if i took the trolley both ways.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Poetry Secret

Here is an irreverent tidbit for today. Last night, friends en route from San Francisco, made it here to El Paso. Both are very creative and witty and both worked at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) for many years. Indeed, if I could pick their brains from beginning to end I would end up with an Auntie Mame-like memoir about all the stories surrounding the decoding and organizing of ephemeral bits and pieces of many great and not so great writers.

After a great supper at the L & J, I told them I was in an editing course given by Dr. Brunk. I said we had to decipher one of Emily Dickinson's poems from an archived online facsimile and that we worked in groups and alone to do this.

One of our friends immediately brightened up and said what she was about to tell me would make me the hit of the class. Well, I can't make there today as The Judge is sick with an ear and sinus infection. In fact, we just got back from the doctor's office. So, I'll tell you the secret of Emily Dickinson's poetry:

Every poem can be sung to the tune from both Gilligan's Island and The Yellow Rose of Texas.

Believe it or not, it is true. I sang the first line of the following and cracked up while they all gleefully giggled at me. She then added that she used to tell HRC grad student worker bees about this phenomenon and then leave the room. A while later she would return to see the Dickinson Archive up on their screens.

The bee is not afraid of me.
I know the Butterfly.
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The Brooks laugh louder when I come
The Breezes madder play
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists
Wherefore, O summer's day?

Try it, it will make you laugh.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Domesticity 1.0

Sometimes, I think I need to hire someone to clean my house. I need someone with no emotional attachments to the objects I squirrel away. This is because I am the Queen of Ephemera. Last weekend, I tried a little trash hauling and room cleaning because we were getting a new mattress/box springs set. When done we had basically flipped the bedroom, moving the bed from one side of the room to the other. I like moving the furniture around; I think that's really the only way to clean. After the bed was updated and dressed, I filled the new bookcase the Judge and MJ assembled for me.

London Theatre Poster from the mid-70'sSpeaking of cleaning, sometimes cleaning can go too far, especially when you have no control over what gets tossed. One of the those too soon tossed things I wish I had now is my uncle's olive drab shirt from the army. I used to wear it like a jacket on the weekends when I was in high school.

While not as embellished as this poster from Joseph, it was original nonetheless. Emblazoned over the patch pocket of the shirt was my uncle's last name--Gonzalez. My uncle was smart because he enlisted, was promptly sent to Germany, and never went to Vietnam. He spent his time traveling the continent and worked as a Paymaster.

I sewed all kinds of patches on the thing: a purple and yellow twin angel logo from Jesus Christ Superstar, a peace sign, and I placed a huge embroidered sun on the backside. It also had many Juarez technical school mascot pins, plus a pin that said, “Bull.”

solution to the case of the missing musicSometimes general purging is not what is warranted and I found that out about a year and one child later after I married. One day, I looked for the shirt and discovered, to my sadness, that everything, not just the shirt that I left behind had disappeared—all were victims of my mother’s over-zealous house cleaning. While I still have the patches, but the shirt completely disappeared.

Still, one good thing about cleaning things yourself, apart from "owning the purging process," is that you recover items squirreled away, things segregated from other things for some good reason at the time but now, you cannot remember why they were put away in the first place. Thus is the solution to what was in a box under my nightstand, evidence of a minidisc project long forgotten. Oh well, at least now I know where that other Dave Brubeck went, not to mention the Nick Drake box set...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Reviews of "Glory Road" and an interesting one among the pile

First off, thanks to the El Paso Times for reprinting and publishing online several vintage articles, including one by sportswriter, Roger McKown, who covered the winning game. UTEP :: Don Haskins and Ray SanchezIronically--or not, there is no mention of the racial makeup of either team, although McKown compares their height. In addition several other 1966 articles are published at the Times website, both here and here.

What interests me though, is this review from Lexington, Kentuck's Herald-Leader. It is very generous in its even-handedness, because hey, if anyone should distainfully look at the film, it's a Kentucky paper. But Mr. Clay did not, and in fact sees virtue in the film and encourages his readers to see it. As a side notation, it is also not coincidentally that the film opens the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and Monday holiday.

Now, it's certainly no secret we've been on pins and needles for years about this project, with its David v. Goliath accomplishment, especially after forty (40!) years. At first, we wondered why don't they, then maybe they will, and finally, yes! they approved the project. Next we wondered who could play Coach Don "The Bear" Haskins. First it was Ben, then not Ben, then finally Josh.

And now, finally the day has come, but without Bobby (BJ) Hill, who died in 2002. At the time my former co-workers and I attended his beautiful service, with its marvelous choirs and accolaides. Never had I seen such sadness and rejoicing all at the same time--all for a man with so many friends from all walks of life.

Man, he would have loved all this fuss, all the interviewing and the articles. Of course, he would have said he was just "survivin.'"

BJ's gone, but many remain, especially Haskins, who last night sat the city on his knee and gave an "intimate" one-on-one storytime at the Chavez Theatre. And while he can't gripe about the various departures from reality in the Disney sports flick, "Glory Road," others already can and have in their reviews. But I certainly don't have to give them links from this blog.

(Note: the image was shot at the UTEP bookstore this past fall when Coach Haskins and Ray Sanchez, former sportswriter and author of the book, Glory Road, gave about a 45 minute Q & A, followed by a booksigning.)

Here's to the so-called "demise" of film and film cameras

re: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/12/technology/12nikon.html

This is just a quick note to vent about a "most e-mailed" article from the New York Times. In Fackler's article entitled, "Nikon Plans to Stop Making Most Cameras That Use Film," I read something that is quite one-sided. a dream of photographic history

By my way of thinking, all it would take is some major catastrophe, like Sprint being out for 4 days instead of 4 hours, for Nikon, et al., to reverse this trend to digital only. Something like, all digital files were lost because of a brown-out or major power surge, etc. The only thing needed is an understanding that there exists a new generation of film camera lovers, the gen-x, and y's, not to mention us old skool photo bugs. All of us continue embracing film, self-development and-printing, aka low tech. Even the judge, who at 17 prefers her "ancient" Advantax camera to our 5 Mega Pixel point-and-shoot.

She's smart enough to know any affordable digital out there now cannot match the speed of a basic point-and-shoot film camera. She tried (like me) to take candids, actions, and group shots of school life, but all she found was that film is still the most economical and fastest way to shoot pictures, especially when it comes to "recovery time."

Finally, the penultimate line in this article about film cameras disappearing is a blatant misstatement. Here, at Target, Best Buy, etc., film cameras go one for one, model to model against digital--to conclude, the writer does not know what he's talking about.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ah, 2 C the world again

New glasses for 2006
Fantastical views! I just picked up my brilliant pair of Rx Ray Bans, and while I need to readjust my driving in order to checkles nouvelles lunettes sur les livres my blindside, everything else looks brighter and more in focus than before. Even my distance vision revived itself a bit, as noted by the optometrist.

Listing to the Left
Everyone these days seems focused (ahem) on getting out their wrap-ups and their best lists for 2005. While I don't indulge in compiling such things, I have seen some which are very interesting. Mainly music lists, these are quite esoteric and always point me to new tunes. I especially like Michaela's (yeah, so sue me for blatant nepotism) list at DEPRAVEDfangirls, and NPR's Best CDs You Didn't Hear This Year aka Most Overlooked for 2005. The thoroughness of the NPR list helps because they nail down several categories, including classical. In addition, is the immense list compiled (in reverse order) by WXPN-FM.

Not all were for music though, as I did receive a notice in my email that grabbed my attention: the Best Fonts of 2005 by MyFonts. What a world we live in where a commercial website codifies such detail in their commodities--and a digital one at that. Thanks, MyFonts.

Wish there was a fountain pen list out there. Anyone? ...anyone?

Chato Band
Best Grunge Font for 2005--Chato Band by Columbian designer Germán Olaya

Friday, January 06, 2006

Classics to listen to: Coltrane and Montgomery

We bought two new cds last night. One is John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and the other is Verve’s Jazz Master 14 collection by Wes Montgomery. Montgomery caught a lot of flack because he interpreted pop favorites of the 60's, but today they are appreciated for what they are--great guitar playing. Whatever. The guy could play and it's sad he died too soon.

Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” is a jazz suite written in seclusion. The liner notes say he wrote for days in a little place, away from the house, his wife, and his children. It was where he could compose and work with other artists. He recorded the tracks almost in the first take and on the first track; Coltrane foregoes the saxophone and quietly chants off mike. It reminds me of Glenn Gould's original recording of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” On that album, you can hear him hum as he plays the piano.

Coltrane's suite praises his god outright and he wrote a long poem for the album. Because he “wore his faith on his sleeve” long before it was fashionable, he too caught grief from his peers. This effort is a sincere love poem that crosses over genres and found new and appreciative listeners. Miles Davis noted “hippies and the like” favored the album. The notes also quote the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh who said he could walk down the Haight and, at various times, hear on the same block: Bob Dylan's “Bringing it All Back Home,” Miles Davis' “Sketches of Spain,” and Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Flickr.com Top 20 Mosaic

Top 20 Favorited MosaicI like Flickr.com as a lot of people know. But here is a good reason why: it allows me to look into the past. With this website, my contacts and I see what happened 2 minutes ago or 20 years ago, and I can self-assess my photographic progress over the course of a whole year. This is what I see by using The Top 20 Mosaic. But it was difficult for me to compile my set. In fact, the original contained 75 pictures. Finally, I saw the benefit of selecting only 20. So, I winnowed and cut and said goodbye to the other 55 not included in this mosaic. Still, each of those original 75 contain the key word "2005 Favorite." I think 2005 was a success.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

the judge did all the driving

Texas certified birth certificates are now just digitized versions of the original. At least that's whatCounty Building Stained Glass I found out today. They are but ugly pixels of a scan, printed on fancy paper that tries to emulate the crisp engraved weightiness of a new dollar bill. It looks very strange. All this elaborate paper just for a crummy copy of something originally typed in Courier on an IBM Selectric. And then, the new copy wasn't even embossed by hand. I wish I had the original back, but it's now on its way to Washington or whereever they process passport applications. Also, these new certified copies cost $24.00 each. I think I purchased about 3 or 4 copies of the ones for the same price when I requested some from the county, just before The Judge started kindergarten. Ahhh, progress.

I found this out because yesterday, I let the judge do all the driving. Originally, we were going to the Remcon post office to submit her passport application, but we went to the one on Boeing by the airport instead. I think the bigger, newer post office was a good choice—lot of workers, a special person for the applications, and lots of parking.

But after turning over the application, my checks, and her birth certificate, I realized that was the only copy I had. We needed a replacement. So, after lunch, we drove to town and into the county building's parking garage. She drove to the top level, which was outsideCounty Building Murals :: Blind Justice, and there I took pictures of the downtown area. Afterwards, we went to the 3rd floor to look at the murals, then we went down to the first floor. Before I opened the door to the County Clerk's office, I told her, “Watch out, we are about to enter Beaurocracyland...home of the worker who never gets laid-off.” Actually, it was a slow day, the workers were courteous and efficient. The only thing exciting to see was the older (mid-40's) Hispanic couple getting their marriage license. I swear both the man and woman were over six feet tall. But she did look pretty in an ivory two-piece outfit and he in a nice dark suit.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mailbox Tipping

I think eggs smashed into and rocks crashed through vehicle windows should be enough activity for the bored, listless, and out-of-school slackers of 79912-land. Yet now I hear that marauding mailbox tippers are out and about in the darkness. Today, I arrived home and saw troops of neighbors sauntering down the street, inspecting the bases of their postal recepticles. I know we live in Texas (just barely) and all, so I suppose the little darlings went looking for a cow or two. Finding none, they decided to try and tip concrete and stucco mailboxes with their everready Fix Or Repair Dailies. Yee haw. So far though, ours looks ok. Although...we do have a bit of egg remaining on MJ's vehicle, a souvenir from All Hallows Eve.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...