Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Full hearts and stomachs

I spent Thanksgiving at Rob and Gary's and spent the night there. In the photo from the left is Gary, their friend Jack, Rob, and Janet. Rob, Janet and I have known each other since junior high school. That would be something like close to 50 years, although there was a 25 year period that we weren't in touch. But still. That's a long time. It's wonderful hanging around with them, for a lot of reasons, and Rob and Gary's house is over-the-top wonderful. Rob is an architect and designer and loves to shop and travel, so he renovated the house, which is in Nob Hill in Albuquerque, a lovely area atop a hill (duh) near UNM. The house is a deco design, wouldn't be out of place in Miami Beach, and is filled with beautiful objects and art. Gary has worked on the terraced garden and patios outside, and it is gorgeous, plus it faces a view of the mountains. A huge kitchen with tasteful gray cabinets and variegated light green 1" tile backsplash arranged in interesting geometric patterns. So much stuff, everything you can imagine you'd want to cook and to entertain.

There's a beautiful guest room with its own bathroom, and I was snuggled under about 4 down comforters, because it was cold last night. I didn't want to get up but of course I had to, and I decided I wanted to empty the dishwasher before Rob and Gary got up. Faced with the array of cabinets, I puzzled over where things went. Would the little frying pan go in the third drawer down in the fourth bank of drawers, where there were other pots, or would it go under the oven? How about the spatula, and the turkey baster? Utensils drawer # 3 or 4, or in the container on the counter with the wooden spoons and whisks? I did the best I could.

We went for a long walk around the neighborhood, discussing house styles, etc. Then ate a very rich breakfast of leftover stuffing and eggs. Then Rob and I went to his office to hang my work. I had three pieces framed to put up in his office during a gala party he's having Friday night, and because he had used one of my pieces on his holiday card, printed in gold and black duotone. They looked pretty great and I hope they get noticed or even bought. That would be nice.

The next thing I did was go to the Apple store. There is no Apple store in Santa Fe, oddly enough. My bluetooth speakerphone for the car has never worked with my iphone. What a nice experience actually making an appointment with a genius for the same day, getting there and being helped immediately. The store was crowded of course, this being Black Friday and after Apple had sent numerous emails announcing a one day sale event. I lusted over a new 24" iMac. But anyway, the genius fixed the problem fairly quickly (some different way the Jabra thing has to be configured for the iPhone) and was on my way to my next errand, which was 30 miles south.

I make my drawings with a pen type of thing that is attached to a burner apparatus. A woman in Belen, NM is the source of all this stuff and I had spoken to her on the phone several times but I thought, well, I'm within shouting distance, why not go over there and discuss the different points and so forth. As an important aside here, I really need to create an interesting story for how I do the drawings. I've always been honest when people ask: wood burning tool. Oh, they say, slightly let down. I know an artist who claims he makes millions of little burned dots with a stick of incense. Maybe true, who knows. But I need a better story, so I'm asking for suggestions that sound interesting and mysterious but plausible- no journeys to the rain forest to find the proper burning stick, for instance. If I tell people, it's a secret, they get in a huff. You can't win sometimes.

So this woman and her husband live in a development in the middle of nowhere, except it's really not the middle of nowhere, it's in Belen, which she told me is a "blue-collar railroad town," and it developed long ago because the railroads have a switching area there. It's so odd to see these scrunched together residential developments surrounded by vast landscapes, strung along the interstate. They had beautiful views of mountains and their neighbors' back yards. They were lovely people and she and I talked for an hour about dogs (she had two) burning, growing gourds (she uses the tools to burn designs on gourds, grows many of them herself in pots outdoors, but due to the vagaries of growing real flora, the shapes she intends don't always show up) and the lack of town planning. I bought another burning pen with a different point on it and something to clean the shmutz off the points that develops as they burn stuff. They seem to have a nice life there. Ten miles away, in Las Lunas, there's a super-Walmart, a Lowes AND a Home Depot, along with a bunch of other stuff- you know, one of those mega-outdoor-shopping centers. I didn't see a movie theater there, though. That's always my measure of civilization.

Friday, November 13, 2009

another Friday night

So here's an example of Santa Fe weather. Forecast was cloudy and rain. Around 2 PM it rained for about 10 minutes. Then the sun came out, but the sky was still full of clouds. That's when the best skies happen. I went to an opening at the art institute tonight and on the way in, took this photo:

It's hard to capture what happens when the sun and clouds are out together. It's so magical. Not many people were at the opening. I left to stop at Trader Joe's, mostly to get cash without having to pay a fee, but as usual, buying more stuff than I intended. Actually the only thing I bought that I didn't need was a box of an oreo type cookie mint ice cream sandwich kind of thing. Since I've been here I've gained weight- I don't know exactly how much, maybe 5 pounds. That's a tremendous amount of weight for me. I saw it on myself in the mirror at yoga, or maybe I was just surrounded by very slim people. I don't have a scale here. One thing I always have in the house is an assortment of dessert items.

After TJ's, I stopped in at a Canyon Road gallery where Roz Chast was signing copies of her new books. One was a collection of her cartoons from about a 25 year period and it was a big book. The other was a children's book, slim enough to carry out without backbreaking effort, but that one was completely sold out by the time I got there. I didn't want to be too obvious in taking Ms. Chast's photo, and a sizable line of people waiting for her to sign their books deterred me from leaning in and asking her if she minded, so this photo is taken from a discreet distance. You can see that some people loaded up on books. My own feeling about Roz Chast is that she is close to genius. She should get one of those grants, but she probably makes enough money that she doesn't need to, so I'm glad they award it to other oddball types who are doing more oddball pursuits.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Takin' the train

Today Tina and I took the train down to Albuquerque. I've been wanting to take the train, especially since I live near the depot, and it looked like fun. The train is relatively new and they don't quite have it worked out. Right now it only goes in the morning and evening, nothing in the middle, nothing late at night- just for commuters, and students, as we found out. So we had to plan our afternoon based on the schedule. It cost $8 round trip to Albuquerque, $6 if you're over 65, but we got charged the regular price because we didn't understand what the ticket person was saying. But we could have bought the tickets on the train for the same price anyway.

The train is called the Railrunner, and has a big cartoony roadrunner painted on it, which I find funny. Tina has seen a roadrunner (the state bird) but I've never seen one. The train comes so close to the traffic when it comes through town, it's a little scary. One time a truck was in front of me and had stopped in the no parking area, and then the gate came down right on top of him, but he couldn't move at that point or he'd cause severe damage.

 So as you can see, the train is double decker, and it's very nice and clean and comfortable. Not many people were riding on the way down, but it was maybe half to three-quarters full on the way home. It goes through some really nice scenery, but also goes past some funky housing, mobile homes, vehicles in various stages of rust and disrepair, industrial areas. It takes an hour and a half, almost twice as long as by car, but then it is saving energy. I wonder if it will ever be widely used. When questioned how fast the train was going, a very nice and enthusiastic ticket taker said, "79 mph," with no sense of irony. Mabe it was going that fast for 15 minutes, but more often it was crawling along, and since there's only one track, when the train comes the other day, it has to pull onto a side track for a little bit.

Once we got to Albuquerque we had to take a bus, because we were having lunch with Marge at Tamarind, which is at the UNM campus. Not far from downtown, but definitely not walkable- so the bus was free when you had a train ticket, we hopped on and were there in 10 minutes. But like most buses in cities where people don't use public transportation, there was a pretty down and out group of folks on the bus. One young guy asked us for 35 cents. We said no, but the guy sitting across the aisle gave him his train ticket, which would allow him to ride the bus all day for free. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Life in a bubble

Yesterday I went up to Dixon with my friends Rob and Gary. Dixon is a small town north of Santa Fe, just off the road up to Taos. It's quite pretty there, and like almost every small town in northern New Mexico, there are a number of artists there, and every year they have an open studio event the first weekend in November.

Rob and Gary know a lot of people up there, so we did a lot of visiting and socializing, and that was fun. We saw some arts and crafts. It was a beautiful day.

There was one artist, a landscape painter, who was wildly popular. We didn't go to his studio, because we ran out of time, but we saw about six of his paintings, three of which had been bought by people who were visiting at the house where R and G's good friend lives. The paintings were framed with gold frames from Mexico. Supposedly the guy produces at least one painting a day and orders the frames by the hundreds. The whole idea of art and who is an artist in New Mexico is testing my judgmental side in a big way. But these paintings were lovely.

Dixon seemed like a throwback to my early hippie days. It felt very much to me like what life was like when I was in my twenties in Tallahassee. I knew people over the years who lived that way, in Cornwall, CT, for instance. It's pleasant, but it's not for me. Even though Santa Fe is hardly a city like New York, it feels urban enough.

Anyway, we visited a family that has a self-supporting household, with a big geodesic dome that is a functioning greenhouse, full of amazing things growing, including a fig tree that produces fruit, melons, all kinds of greens and root vegetables. It was beautiful and lush inside there. They also have chickens and turkeys- one of them a beautiful male turkey who refused to pose for a photo.
Well, since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I worried that this guy's days were numbered. But no, the husband said they've already killed this year's bird. This guy is NEXT year's meal. Oy.