Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter's Discontent

Enough already

Cold and windy day
Unpleasant in the extreme
Even if the sun is shining
But bringing no
Upon the cold
Snow clad earth

I sat
Morosely at my window
Watching the drifts of snow
Clouds of white ice
Slithering over the banks
Chilling the day
The joy

Go Away
Awful weather
Let winter abate a day or two or three
But no
Says the weatherman
More of the same

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell

Friday, December 28, 2007

What is in a new year?

I was thumbing through my new calendar - The Old Farmer's Almanac 2008 Engagement Calendar. It has a lot of neat facts in it and I was reading it rather like I do my dictionary from time to time. I like to be on top of things like forthcoming holidays that float; Mardi Gras, Easter, Chinese New Year.

We are supposedly approaching our New Year in just a couple short days but the Chinese do not celebrate their New Year until February the 7th. Must be confusing there. Just what date do you put on a document? Do they follow our convention on business correspondence? Or is February the eighth the 2nd day of the Year of Rat?

Happy New Year?

Who sets?
This arbitrary Demarcation of Time
This Day
This minute
One year
The next minute
The Next

And there is not I see
Total agreement
of just where that line is to be set.
The Chinese
A vast sea of people
Pick another date
For the pagans
The new year has already begun
With a solar event of great magnitude
Makes sense

But these demarcations
Hard to build calendars around
The Mayans tried
They are still hailed for their accuracy
They adjusted with these free float days
Sometimes 10
Sometimes 11

We have leap years
Every now and then
One year out of four
This year is it
All to keep us from getting ahead of ourselves
Or is it behind?
Like the Romans did
So next year
The New Year after this
Will be one day
By my reckoning

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mother always said I was stubborn

If I were a four legged, finned or feathered beast of some sort it would not be any one of the numerous ones that herd, school or flock. Mother always said I was too stubborn to go along with the crowd. I always thought I wanted to make absolutely sure they were not heading over a cliff before I joined in.

A college room mate maintained that if someone rushed into our room to say Russian missiles were heading our direction I would want to consider the advisability of surviving in the bomb shelter under the dorm. (It was the cold war era and my father the pilot argued that you did not want to live through a nuclear attack even if it were possible.)

On Y!360 there is another wave of collective thinking taking place. Those that have sat it out waiting to see what Yahoo!'s new blog platform will be like are now thinking maybe those that left for Multiply months ago might just be the right thinkers in this mix. And nobody gets that. . . "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I would not go to Multiply again if they paid me to go. It is frankly not my cup of tea.

Blog platforms seem to run the full range from mindless personality contests like FaceBook to more logical and reasoned places like Blogger. Y!360 seems to be about in the middle, Multiply a bit over the edge toward social network. After the first panic I looked into several alternatives. I found I liked Blogger (which I found before the panic) because it was a great place to blog and an impressive place to send non-bloggers to introduce myself. It has a very professional air that I am not ashamed to be associated with. I had decided to place most of my poetry and serious blogs here.

But Y!360 remains a great place to play. I am sincerely hoping that what Yahoo transition it into in the next couple of months maintains the same flavor. If not than I will continue to search for some place to play. But I am not a herd animal. Nor a Starling. Or a Tuna. I don't mind mixing with others but I am not following them blindly into the bomb shelter even if it means I may be nuked.

In my opinion Multiply is a poor place to just survive. It has mega privacy issues which I confronted when I was there before. I choose to not do it again. Besides I have Blogger from which to watch the suicides of the masses. It is quiet here and conducive to weighty thinking. Like being a Zen Lama on a mountain top.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Of writing poety


Four months
Of words upon these white pages
Not yet half through
This book
Of bound pages

And yet today
I purchased a new journal
For jotting the random thought
For my poems
To give me no excuse
To cease
This penning of Poetry

And yet
On this eve of a new year
I am reminded
There are no sure
No bound pages
Of as yet empty days
We are sure to fill
Just hopefully
We look ahead
At the space
To be written upon
And hope
It is all poetry

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

Wishing everyone a year full of poetry and pages to be filled with memorable activities.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Yesterday was so full of gifts. There was the Bald Eagle sitting atop the telephone pole by the lake, and the herd of 200 elk grazing the banks, and the deer crossing the road near Bobcat Pass. It is strange how we pass through live often not noticing anything and then there are those times, those moments when an image is seared into our mind forever. Never it seems to be erased. If I could say which of the images I saw yesterday I would remember for a lifetime I would say it was that eagle. Seeing Bald Eagles here is a rare and new experience. But I would never have guessed that telephone booth 36 years ago that inspired this poem.


Out of the depths
of memory
It is there again
This image
Christmas season
On a crosstown bus
Idling before the White House
With all its illuminated marble
Wet from the rain

But what I remember
What I see still so clearly
From out of the window
Of the capital city bus
Is the telephone booth
Lit by the single dome light
And the woman in the so red coat

How long had the bus idled there
Before moving on its route
How long had she laughed
At something said on the phone
How long had I watched
Raindrops obscuring my view
Tears blurring the image
How long had it been
I laughed
Like that

How long has it been
That bus ride
That epiphany of my depression
My unhappiness
And why do I still remember
That happy woman in red
In a telephone booth
At 1600 Pennsylvania

The flag was flying at the White House
Richard Nixon was in residence
Wandering the halls drunk
I was going home from pottery class
To a loveless row house
On Capital Hill
Boys my age
Were dying
In Vietnam
And she was laughing
She is still
In my memory

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell

Friday, December 14, 2007

So Mysterious

Was cleaning up my living room yesterday. Rearranging things to better suit my current needs. And I discovered a journal from my distant past. I had begun it in 1978 when I was taking a raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. And I was passing though a rather unsettled part of my life at the same time. Then abruptly those pages ended and it picked up again in 1986 with the dying of my father.

The journal pages are never filled completely but that they contain these two pivotal parts of my life is interesting. I have journaled a great deal of my life but between 1978 and 1986 evidently not at all. Thinking upon that and the poems I wrote at both times led to the poem below.

So Mysterious

Thirty years ago
I was passing through
The Grand Canyon
On crests of rapids
and emotions
Writing poems
About my confusion
Such a mystery
So mysterious

Twenty plus years ago
I was riding the crests of despair
The passing of a parent
Seeing the world through newfound sobriety
And again writing poems
About my confusion
Such a mystery
So mysterious

Ten years ago
My life was all prose
I had it all figured out
From marriage
To divorce decrees
So simple

I am again writing poetry
a mystery
Its passage
So mysterious

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Of Snow and Cats

Of snow and cats

Strange stuff
Who would have thought it up
Rain I understand
Even sleet
Oh, so logical sleet
But snow?
Such fluff

Like cats
Strange beasts
They purr
What other animal purrs
And meow in cat
Is actually two words
Dogs are logical
So surreal

Cat on lap
In front of the ire
Huge goose feather
Flakes of snow
Falling outside the window
I find myself studying
The snowy white fur upon my cats face
Most complex
So intricately patterned
Like a flake
of snow

Just for show?
The snow
Each flake unique
or with a purpose unknown
Strange whorls of hair
each part of the cat's puss
With its own unique pattern
Little recessed cone
surround a whisker
Each a different length

I get Adam and Eve
The chicken and the egg
But snow
A cat's purr
It's fur
These are mysteries
to contemplate
Before the fire
On a quiet snowy night

Two words
Of course

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stirring up a storm

While I was venting my anger at the shoddy treatment at the hands of my contractor, who I once considered a friend, I noticed the wind picked up and sparks started to fly from my fireplace flue. One of my blogland friends asked if I was calling up all the bad weather she was having down wind. Ergo the following poem.

The storm within

I raged today
My sunny mood grew stormy
The wind howled against the walls
The windows of my house
and mind

The storm clouds
Gathered in my stomach
Thundered through my chest
Outside the sky grew dark
The clouds built
My lazy fire danced
I spit
It snapped
The tree limbs scrapped against the wall
Sparks flew from the flue
I was in a very dark mood
As night closed in
The coals smoldered
I banked the fires of my anger
An idle breeze
A simple word
Made the coals glow red

I felt battered
The air smelt of smoke
My skin tight
As if scorched
The storm is past
My anger spent
The very air seems devoid of energy

(c)Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Day at the Fair

This Art Sunday post is really about Friday and Saturday. Friday was setup for the Holiday Market Fair which opened today in Angel Fire. Normally we are all in a very holiday spirit for this event. It is not unlike a party we pay to participate in. And for most of us artists it is a chance to not only make money before the dismal months of January, February and March but a chance to do our own Christmas shopping from the other exhibitors.

This whole event this year got off on the wrong foot. First they changed the weekend. And the lied about why they changed it quoting a survey they had taken among last year's vendors and we can't find one that got that survey. Then the weather has been dismal. Not rain or snow but a chilling mix of both keeping crowds home in droves.

Then it was someone's great idea to make it more of a party and have entertainment. I am all for mixing arts but this is a small venue which means the three piece band is right in your lap. Makes it difficult to chat up the customers when you can't hear yourself think.

About four the level of rebellion was rising. One of the surveys we all remember filling in was that 5 should be the end of the day. Nobody comes out after dark in the winter. But that they chose to ignore and wanted us all to stay to 6. So from 4:30 to about 5:30 when we all walked out in mass all we talked about was the winter of our discontent.

I fully expect some vendors to not be there tomorrow. And everyone is saying they do not plan to do the fair next year unless they go back to the original weekend and our schedule preferences. Some change is good. But none of this was. I would feel sorry for the new director of this fair if she had not lied or it was not hurting me in the pocket book.

Artists are at the whim of gallery owners, fair producers and customers. It is why we like our own company.

Friday, November 30, 2007

All the Paintings

All the Paintings
Once inside my head
Prettily conceived
And refined
Posed around
The studio with care

All the unfinished paintings
Final touches added
Signatures affixed
Photos taken
Frames assigned
Names given
Prices determined

All the paintings
Adorning the walls
Which to take
Which am I too attached to
Not that sure I want to show

All the boxes stacked up
Awaiting my choices
The colorful array
So soon hidden away
Bare walls
And empty hooks
To all the pretty paintings
Once there.

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 2007

The above painting in In Memorial and depicts the New Mexico Vietnam Memorial looking over the Moreno Valley. It is just one of the many paintings I will be displaying at a local fair this weekend. All in hopes that few return home with me to go back on those bare walls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Art Sunday - Me for a change

I have another fair the first weekend in December. It is a local fair and I have plenty of paintings to display. And even lots the locals have not seen. I took six paintings down to the gallery to expand my exhibit there and still had plenty of paintings to show at this little fair.

But I was in the mood to paint. I have been mulling over a couple new concepts since the fair in October. I like the question I get frequently (probably based on price/hour economy) which is, "How long does it take you to do a painting?" Where do I start with that accounting? If you start at the moment of inspiration then the following painting took about 40 days. Me and Noah and the rain.

Back stairs

Back Stairs 16 x 20 Mixed Media on Canvas

It was inspired by a photograph of blue stairs against a white wall in a Greek village. Art should always make us see what we might otherwise have missed. I kept going back to those stairs on a Greek Island I have never been to and wondering why it was so familiar. Even after the fair could not get the image out of my mind. I love playing with perspective and so I tried to duplicate the image in a sketch put found myself guided to stairs I have seen in Taos and other little villages in Northern New Mexico. I have no idea where these are beyond inside my mind. And now on a canvas.

Another image that has been in the back of my mind for a couple years is based on a series of photographs I took of the AT&S train station in Raton, NM. It is an interesting Southwest structure which has all sorts of angles in it. Each layer alters 45 degrees and therefor creates a real challenge for perspectives. Lots of time spent on the sketches for this one.

Raton Train Station

Raton Station 11 x 14 Mixed Media on Canvas

The following is one of those silly little thing artists play with from time to time. The first painting I did of this Pelican is in my permanent collection and hangs in the downstairs bathroom. Several people have wanted to buy it but for really strange reasons I am reluctant to part with it. So while playing around with this new canvas that is 1 1/2 deep and does not require being framed if you paint around the edge (that was done on the two above) I decided to re-do my Pelican (never throw away a sketch). It did not end up like the first. I seem unable to copy even my own work. This one is more colorful.


Pelican 9 x 12 Mixed Media on Canvas

A funny bird the pelican. But here again it is the angles I was drawn too. I guess I am just going through an exploration of angles and perspectives if. Currently working on another in the same vein.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007



Messages from my mother
No matter when delivered
seem forever
etched in my mind
Keep your skirts down
Pants up
Shoes on
Feet on the floor
Little ladies don’t sit like that

I was Daddy’s little girl
Seldom lady like
Forever barefoot
Often up a tree
Willful brat
Mom would say
Stubbornness will get you nowhere
Don’t talk back
Little pictures should be seen
not heard

Doesn’t use time wisely
Runs with scissors
Sit up straight
pay attention
I am talking to you
Why can’t you just be
More of a young lady
Go brush your hair
You shouldn’t read in the dark

Too independent to submit
Legs always curled up on the couch
Not crossed daintily at the ankle
Dad’s helper in his wood shop
Hair never curled
Always standing pigeon-toed
Suck your stomach in
Back straight
Your butt is too big
Escaping from the house
Her ever watchful gaze
In jeans and a sweatshirt
with no bra
Often no shoes.

Off to college
to snare the right mate
I had such different goals
Maybe to end the war
March for free speech
Get educated
Not my MRS
But a BA
You could get a date if you weren’t so smart
Can’t you just play dumb
Study in the law library

You are so like your Mother
Dad said one day
I was on vacation from college
Sprawled on the floor
With books all around
Going to ruin your eyes, kiddo
He switched on the light
Illuminating my shoes
under the coffee table
not far from Mom’s
She stood barefoot in the kitchen

I love you
Her phone message said
We were a family of I love you’s
But I always said them first
I love you too
She had said that Thanksgiving morning
I had called as prescribed
The dutiful daughter at last
I would call her back tomorrow
To say I love you too
Tomorrow would be too late

(c) J. Binford-Bell 2007

My mother, Mary LaVerne Hilderbrand Binford, died on Thanksgiving day almost two decades ago an hour before she left the phone message. This is my way of saying, despite our many differences (and those overlooked similarities), I loved you too.

For more Poetry Wednesday posts see our hostess Sans Souci

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Let there be light

The Light

Where it was once
It is now
I can by simply throwing
a switch
Illuminate the night

How wonderful it would be
With just one
We could chase darkness
From the soul
Bring hope
To the hopeless
A solution
to our woes

Fill the dark
with stars

(c) Jacqui Binford-Bell 11/2007

Progress continues, though somewhat slowly, on the studio. The exterior, except for the future deck, is done. Now I am ready to work on finishing the interior when I am closed in because of the weather.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Vivid Imagination

As a child I was given to flights of fancy. Mother's term was vivid imagination. I used to have very lucid dreams which had this scary tendency to come true. Like the time my father's mother and his step-father died in the Ruskin Heights Tornado. But for those inclined to stop reading at this point let me mention the lens flares in the photograph on this blog are not ghosts.

I have always liked to bend the rules (Mom's term was willful) just to see what I will get. I know you should never shoot into the sun. on this occasion I just liked the composition, the placement of the trees, the sense of light and shadow. I took the photo so I could go back to the studio and use it as a basis for a painting. Artistic license.

And sometimes by going where you should not go, or doing what you should not do you find something out about yourself or your medium. And sometimes your vivid imagination connects things in your mind which for others would remain separate. Sometimes that just leads to worry and fret over things which never happen. The question is how to know the difference. I call them collective days. StarWars termed them "disturbances in the Force."

Yesterday began simply enough: hang lights on the exterior of my newly sided studio now one step closer to completion. No problem. Except yesterday I worried all day about an accident. I'm an electrician. I work with electricity and ladders all the time and usually without thinking about it. But yesterday there was a constant fear of falling off the ladder, having the ladder collapse or fall under me, dropping a light fixture, dropping the ladder through one of my studio windows; all of which led to me being hyper careful. A couple times I even considered not doing my designated task for the day. After all the phone lines were down.

Due to some glitch at Qwest nobody in several rural towns nearby could call out of their own little town. And as we all share an emergency dispatcher that meant no 911 capability.And cell phones were stretched to the limit. Calls could not be completed because everyone was using them in hopes of communication. So carrying the cell phone in case of emergency was not making any sense.

I told myself my fears were groundless but kept repeating my mantra: It is not necessary to have an accident to give yourself an excuse to blow off your to-do list for the day. But I trudged on determined. But some six hours later when Qwest finally solved their "facilities issue" the first call I got was from my ex-husband (friend and co-worker) to say he was in the hospital. He has been rather more sick than he should be of late. I have worried about his immune system. Perhaps the hospital blood tests will get to the bottom of his series of "flus and colds."

So I should be totally at ease. Worry on the ladder might have just been linked to vibes from Marc. But rather than settle me down the news puts me more on edge. It is with some relief that bedtime arrives and I take two Advil PM and head to sleep perchance to dream. Not the night I wanted the dogs to start barking at midnight. Not their must-be-some-strange-kitty-in-our-yard bark, or even the what-was-that-noise bark, but the I'm-not-going-out-there-bark. But if whatever creature is far too close makes it to the bedroom I am willing to give me life.

The do sporadic barks for about an hour. I note the time. And I take inventory of the fact that while I installed the lights I did not energize them. The 300 watts of flood lights would be very nice at this moment. I was going to get the breakers from Marc. But he is in the hospital. It all seems so very collective in my mind; of a set, a disturbance in the force. Or hopefully just my vivid imagination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Take me away

Take me away

Talk to me of islands
Never, never lands
Far away
In impossibly calm seas

Talk to me of islands
Transport me away
At least for these few moments
Take me there
Take me away from the realities
That consume my joy

Draw for me pictures
Of untold wonderlands
Spin for me fantastic tales
Of adventures yet to be take
Make my heart light
Point me toward a future
Far from the mire of my today

Talk to me of sailing ships
And isolated sandy beaches
Read to me of mythical triumphs
Help me to believe
For at least this moment
This can be escaped.

Let me float
Above the toils of the world
To islands I wish to see
Help me feel the waves
Gently rock the boat

Talk to me of islands
And free me from the land
In which I am locked.

Jacqui Binford-Bell November 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Art Sunday - Architecture for the Soul

Memorial to the Vietnam Dead

Friday was one of those wonderful Indian Summer days that just calls for one to go play. So I grabbed my camera and set off to capture some images of the day.

I was drawn to the newly renovated Vietnam Memorial Chapel here in Angel Fire, New Mexico. It occurred to me that featuring this wonderful architectural design would be appropriate for not must Veteran's Day but for Art Sunday. Art should always elevate us. I think this memorial does that.

Dr. Victor Westfall and his family built the chapel in 1971 to honor his son David, who lost his life in Vietnam May 22, 1968. A 6,000-square-foot Visitors Center has been added, along with many artifacts and photos. As of November 11, 2005, it was the Nation’s First Vietnam Veterans State Park.

At that time it was conceived memorials to Vietnam Veterans was not popular, but within two decades, a chastened and belatedly grateful nation would build a National memorial to the Vietnam dead.

Ted Luna, a young Santa Fe architect at the time, was chosen to design the Memorial Chapel. His concept, all soft gentle curves, can aptly be described as more sculpture than conventional building. He said of his creation: "I nestled the Chapel into the brow of a knoll, overlooking a mountain valley. The Chapel evolved into a timeless statement, void of all traditional connotations of materials and their use and because of this I have achieved simplicity without sterility."

The vast gull-like structure rises above the brow of the knoll to a height of nearly 50 feet and has graceful, inward curving walls sweeping down to each side of twin center pinnacles. The west wall is slightly higher and longer, and is a quarter-circle arc of a 99 foot radius. Both walls flow majestically down from their commanding height so that the tip of each disappears as it is buried in the ground. A third inward curving wall completes the structure.

The roof line follows the downward curve of the two main walls to normal room height at their juncture with the third wall. The interior of the Chapel conforms to the shape of the three curved walls and the roof line, and is relatively small compared to the massive exterior. The Chapel is a place of peace and tranquility. Where the two curved side walls meet, there is a tall, narrow window through which visitors can look across the tranquil valley. Mounted on the curved rear wall are photographs of Vietnam War dead.

The formal dedication was on May 22, 1971, the third anniversary of Victor David Westphall III’s death. Senator John Kerry was the principal speaker.

The Memorial is used to honor the dead of Vietnam several times a year but definitely at Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The recent renovations had a seating area and flying awing in keeping with the spirit of the initial design.

The women's gardening club works every year to keep the grounds beautiful for the thousands of visitors. Autumn is not the time to appreciate the work but I was moved by the new patio with flags that is beside the memorial and allows seating for people to sit and contemplate and reflect on the horrors of war and the loss of loved ones.

May you find some place today to feel at peace.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A day at the baths

A day at the baths

Quiet zone
Do not Disturb
the rocks
the Water
the others there
to soak

quietly of joys
and sorrows
to the breeze in the cottonwoods
the cascade of water
rising through rocks
from the springs
absorb the healing minerals
the gentle autumn sun

the trees
the water
the bubbles rising
from the pebbles in the bottom
Quiet conversations
while soaking
in the iron
And lithium
Everyone blissed
and blessed
and bathed
after a day at the baths

J. Binford-Bell, November 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Paul Klee for Art Sunday Inspiration

I had a college room mate that was a direct descendent of Paul Klee. We actually had a signed and numbered print of his in our dorm room. It was my first introduction to this whimsical Swiss born painter.

Cat and Bird
Cat and Bird

Klee was started out on the path to be a musician and began playing the violin at eight. At that time he was also given a box of chalk by his grandmother and encouraged to draw. I think there is something musical about his compositions, maybe because of this. Especially I can see the influence of the string instruments in his work.


Klee worked with many different types of media—oil paint, watercolor, ink, and more. He often combined them into one work becoming the father of mixed media. The above painting is done on fabric pasted to a board. He has been associated with expressionism, cubism and surrealism, but does not fit into one school of art.

His works, like the Cat and Bird one, often have a fragile child-like quality to them and are usually on a small scale. They frequently allude to poetry, music and dreams and can include words or musical notation. His later works, which are my personal favorites, are distinguished by spidery hieroglyph-like symbols which he famously described as "taking a line for a walk".

As illustrated in this work entitled Contemplating.


Or this work called The Twittering Machine.

The Twittering Machine

Yellow Birds and is my favorite.

Yellow Birds

For more information on Paul Klee see Wiki.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Some of the little aspects of the Colorado Plateau

I decided to focus on some of the small aspects of the Colorado Plateau. Everything seems so vast and huge here that often the small points of beauty are ignored. My sister and I are photographers and artists and so we can sometimes ignore the big picture in favor of the little details. This can frankly get just a bit obsessive. We were photographing the intricate little holes and cavities in the wall of sandstone pictured below when two tourists walked past. She was oohing and aahing about the view pictured in the opening photo.

Her husband obviously wanted to hurry her up. He was trying to take the three mile scenic trail at Canyonlands as if it was the Boston marathon.

“Look at that cliff,” she said pointing toward where Deb and I were busy recording our miniture world.

“Come on. It is just more red rocks.”

“Red rocks?” my sister and I mouthed silently to each other. “How blind.”


Other people had used this wall to place little stones in the cubby holes. It is the I-care- about-nature way of saying, “I was here.” As is the photo below. This was taken at a conjunction of several trails in Arches National Park. But obviously it was a meeting place. The gathering of stacks of stones was like a congregation at a church.

I was here

Survival in the Utah wastelands takes a lot of hard work. Yo don’t just set off on what is going to be an hour hike without all the essentials to survive a lot longer if necessary. Water is especially precious. And as the photo below indicates for plants so is dirt. There really isn’t any except in the canyon bottoms but plants, even trees get a foothold here. Their roots seek out every single crevice in the sandstone. This tree did not survive but it is still hanging on.

Holding tight to the rock

The shrub below is called Mormon’s Tea. It is credited for the survival of the early settlers in this wilderness. My sister and I came to really love this plant. To chew on the hollow reeds that comprise what would in other plants be leaves is to receive a new burst of energy and decreased hunger. It obviously was invaluable in getting the family through the next portion of the forced march toward a valley that had water, shade and shelter from the winds.

Morman's Tea

And they profess to not believe in stimulants like coffee. This stuff was like a quadruple espresso.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Feeling Less Than Free

My word for today on another blog site was Force. I picked it to define because quite frankly I am feeling a bit forced these days.

First there is the force that the approaching winter is applying. After enduring six feet of snow in three days last year the mere thought of snow seems to bring on post traumatic stress syndrome. I had been lulled into a sense of safety by two or three very mild winters and then to be hit by the 100 year storm . . . well, I was woefully unprepared except for the larder full of canned goods in case of bird flu.

Second, I am feeling forced by a need to finish the studio project begun this summer. I have at last found a carpenter to apply the outside siding. Let me note that while I am very grateful to be getting this done it has all cost more than anticipated or budgeted and way more than the national norms. According to one home improvement site I should be able to get my entire house sided for about $6,900 US but I had one estimate for $25,000. Doing just the new addition for $3,000.

So, the third force would have to be money. Obviously something a lot of people are feeling because the rich that buy my art seem reluctant to let go of a dime these days. Which puts us artists back to poverty level. Mind you we are always skirting close to that edge at the best of times.

Fourth, we seem to have started the political campaigning entirely too early. Is it possible that we could elect our next president in 2008 just to allow him or her a platform from which to run for re-election for four years?

I like the increased debates. I thought it would make me feel as if I had more control over my choice but no. The talking heads want to tell me what I should have thought as the candidates answered the questions, and the pollsters seem to have already elected who it is that is going to run. So I am divided as to whether we should just let the polls elect the president and thereby skip all those soon to come nasty television spots, or launch a write in campaign for some really dark horse (like an honest person not tied to big money), or quietly move offshore like all the jobs, factories, and money.

And Fifth is of course the war in Iran. He wants one. He probably will get one. Hell, even Hilary voted to call them terrorists. What choice did we have about Iraq. You assume we will have a choice about Iran? Which in order to man three wars there will have to be a draft and once again we are being forced to participate in something we cannot (and should not morally) condone.

I wonder if the French middle class felt like this just before the revolution?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poem without title

Awoke last night with the words for this poem running though my head. Had to turn on the lamp and write it down.

I am or am I
What I think I am

We now
Just our thoughts
Running idly here and there
Busy being something we are not

Are We
Of more substance
Made of flesh and bones
Which when we cease to be thought of
Is left to rot in some soon to be forgotten grave

Jacqui Binford-Bell on All Souls Day

Winter's Coming

Wee Willow and The Darkness watch progress -->

We have been enjoying wonderful Indian Summer weather here in the high mountain west with temperatures much higher than seasonal norms. I love this time of year and have been trying to use it to my advantage to get so many things done. I have this list. And for everything I click off of it it seems I add another one or two.

I have also at last found a reliable carpenter to put siding on the exterior of my new studio addition. This is one huge to do off the list. But many remain.

This week seems to have been a family bonding experience with the dogs and cats participating in the gorgeous weather. Unfortunately I have not been able to teach any of them to help in stacking firewood, cleaning the yard of demolished stuffed toys or scoured sour cream containers before the snow covers them, wrapping up garden hoses, placing stepping stones through areas that will no doubt be muddy, etc.

The list does seem to be endless. I was picking up chunks of wood from the summer construction project when I looked back to see my cats watching me. Lazy beasts spending their day basking in the sun on the temporary stoop I made.

Winter's Coming

Winter's coming
I'm loathe to think
Of snow
November, December
February, March
How very far away
Seems spring
And warmth

Like the industrious ant
I prepare
Stacking wood
Hording food
Pushing back
The grasshopper inside
That just wants
To play
On this gorgeous
Indian Summer Day

Winter's coming
I'm loathe to think
Of snow upon the deck
Where I now sit
Basking in the Autumn Sun

Jacqui Binford-Bell, October 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


There is a lot of drama going on over in Y!360. It all has to do they say about friendships formed on there and supposed fear of losing that as they move away. I grew up as a US Air Force officer's brat and learned early about friends that come and go. The following is the poem I was inspired to write about friendshifts.


It was El Paso and her name
Was Janet Bender
My first forever and ever girlfriend
But at eight
Forever is a very, very,
Very long time

Her father got a job in Lancaster
My family moved to Albuquerque
For ages we wrote
By post
Requiring stationery and stamps
Through her family's divorce
My mother's cancer
She got married
I went to college
I wrote papers and not letters
She bought diapers and not stamps

In college there were two Barbaras
A Dorothy, a Julie and a Penny
Roommates and friends to study with
Walk to classes and talk of boys
Then President Kennedy was assassinated
They continued to talk of boys
I shifted to talk of war
They got married
I moved to DC to march
Against Vietnam

We wrote and called infrequently
They talked of crabgrass and diaper rash
I ranted about the Chicago Eight
The Kent State Ten
Bragged about having my telephone
I think they bugged out
Maybe me
We suddenly had nothing in common
They were registered Republicans
I wanted Nixon Impeached

There are a whole list of others
Friends I identify with an age
We met
We bonded
At sit-ins on the Washington Monument
In consciousness raising groups
Protests against the death of the mini-skirt
In favor of the Equal Rights Movement
Make war for peace
Then later in T-groups and est

We were all moving so fast
One cause to the next
At the time it seemed
They chose to stop
I did not want to be
Held back

Then as if our paths
Were elliptical
We re-met
Here and there an old almost forgotten friend
Stopping in the middle of the mall
After a 12-Step group
To talk of old times
Compare notes
Friends come
Friends go
Some go only to return
When we are least expecting them

Wave goodbye it is time to go
Like musical chairs
Friends shift
Until again
We hug hello
If it is meant
To be

Jacqui Binford-Bell, October 30, 2007

The Internet has freed us up to make and break friendships so much faster. Are they less intense? More a sign of the times in our lives or less.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Colorado Plateau - Arches National Park

Arches National Park, Utah, USA is at the northern edge of the Colorado Plateau and may be one of the best known features of this huge sandstone tableland. Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches.

This park is a red desert, punctuated with eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. The 73,000-acre region has over 2,000 of these "miracles of nature."

And the park brochure my sister and I picked up the first evening we entered the park said it could be seen in 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Five days later we were still making twice daily trips to photograph this arch or that arch or that pinnacle per a guide we found on line detailing whether morning or evening light was best. One of the most known arches is Delicate Arch shown above (photograph by the Utah Visitor's Center). But one of the most stunning views is Park Avenue, the first Kodak photo opportunity upon cresting the top of the mesa on a road that takes your breath away.

There is a 2 1/2 mile trail that passes through these fins and pinnacles. We didn't take it because it was 2 1/2 miles back and we were aware the morning that we photographed this wonderful view that we were not going to have enough time to photograph everything of beauty. We did go part of the way down the trail which gave us this view. I think it looks like a Pharaoh and his Visor parading toward the rising sun.

Trails are on sandstone or slick rock and so paths are difficult to see unless they are marked by stones something the National Park Service does very well. You very quickly learn to follow the carrions or stone stacks and to set them up yourself when crossing open territory. And it rapidly becomes a good luck action to add another stone on top. Being very careful, of course to not knock it over.

Below is a massive stone fin which can be seen for miles in all directions. Mother Nature is the mistress of stone piling though this is mostly one rock, one huge rock.

Fins (stone formations longer than they are wide) often erode into arches like the one below. I was trying to wait for everyone to move out of the picture when it dawned on me that this grouping within the window of the arch give the viewer a fell of the size of these formations.

The lines along its base indicate that the pushing up of this once sedimentary sea floor was not universally even. The vegetation is typical of high mesa land in the southwest.

For more information on Arches National Park I refer you to the Utah website and for a Map of the area.

Next Colorado Plateau post will have more photos of Arches and continue into nearby Canyonlands.

Art Sunday - Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas is often identified as an Impressionist, which is an understandable but insufficient description. Impressionism originated in the 1860s and 1870s and grew from the realism of such painters as Courbet and Corot. The Impressionists painted the realities of the world around them using bright, "dazzling" colors, concentrating primarily on the effects of light, and hoping to infuse their scenes with immediacy. Degas differs in that he does not use, as art historian Frederick Hartt says, the Impressionist color fleck", and he continually belittled their practice of painting en plein air. Degas is described more accurately as an Impressionist than as a member of any other movement, however.

His scenes of Parisian life, his off-center compositions, his experiments with color and form, and his friendship with several key Impressionist artists, most notably Mary Cassatt and Edouard Manet, all relate him intimately to the Impressionist movement which defied the classical compositions and rules.

Degas defied the convention in the the painting above, The Ballet. To show he back of people's heads was previously unthinkable in art. Even in a more conventional subject like ballet dancers he takes the different view. The Ballet Class shows the backs of several dancers. And places the master of the dance as a diminutive figure off center.

He liked complex compositions of mundane subjects like the following painting of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. And like the painting above he shows his mastery of perspective.

But one of my favorite paintings of his is the Absinthe Drinker. It was a stirring commentary of the times and the simplicity of the composition with the plain angles of the tables makes it all that much more stunning. Absinthe was a beverage with a narcotic effect and had much the same effect on French society that Meth has had on ours.

For more about the life of Edgar Degas see Wikipedia. And enjoy the Art Sunday tour.

For Y!360 participants see this tour link.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Colorado Plateau

I considered for awhile being very academic and and organized about this tour of this mystical land that I love. But that is not working for me and blogging is really about me. It is suppose to be an online journal that we share with friends. My friend list has gotten bigger than I even figured I wanted and judging from the jumps in visitor numbers with no comments placed bigger than even I imagine.

Given that the temptation is to write for the reader. There is tons out there about the Colorado Plateau that is written for the reader. Wikipedia does a fairly good job on the geology of the Colorado Plateau for those that wish to read in greater depth about the subject. The novice version is this: There was this huge inland sea that filled with sediment, dried up and formed sandstone, became a huge sea again, filled with sediment, dried up and formed sandstone, etc. Then when plate tectonics forced the Rocky Mountains up into the air the sandstone sea rose into the air as much as 7000 feet above sea level. Then wind and rain worked their magic.

Okay, the water seeps down through cracks, freeze and thaw action in the winter increases the cracks, springs work slowly through the summer. But when you look at the shapes it is almost as if some design was behind it all. I think it is magic. How do you get Double Arch at Arches National park just with random winds ad freezes and cracks. The green area on the right of the picture is an area of moss where water and shade have combined to create a mini Oasis for some insects and lizards. Erosion continues. Shapes shift but oh so slowly in the natural turn of events.

The Colorado Plateau is a high desert. It gets less than eight inches of rain a year. And because of the density of the sandstone, which is called slick rock, most of that runs of very quickly and forms the Colorado River. This mighty river by western standards cuts its way down through the sandstone layers as it winds south and west. It forms Glen Canyon now filled with the water of Lake Powell, then the Grand Canyon (which they tried to fill but only got part with Lake Mead). Phoenix, Arizona kills this river by taking all of it that is left in huge canals to turn the desert (Phoenix only gets 3 inches of rain a year) into green landscaping and 150 golf courses.

The plateau or table land (mesa in local lingo) to the left is part of Canyonlands National Park. So is Corona Arch below.

My sister, seen at the base of this arch, pushed me along the trail that clung to the edge of the canyon behind her. She charges on in life. I constantly look behind for escape routes. Getting down is often not as easy as getting up. And this arch and Bowtie below are in an undeveloped area of Canyonlands. Slip and fall and you could be here for weeks before someone notices the car down at the roadside pull off. But the views and the arches were well worth the risk and the hike in 90F degree heat.

The view of Mesa Arch below is included because it shows in the background the endless plateaus that stretch across this area of the Colorado Plateau.

All these photos are of locations in the Northern part of the Colorado Plateau near Moab, Utah. In fact we camped in a Moab RV park and toured from there for more than a week. A guide book had said we could see Arches in three hours and Canyonlands in two days. We left it without having seen it all.

The pictures cannot tell you of the magic you feel standing in the silence and beauty of this area. I, like the ancient peoples lived here and the Navajo, believe it is inhabited by spirits. Very friendly spirits but not fond of carelessness.

Several of these scenes you will recognize from paintings I have done and posted. They enchant me.

For those that might want to visit and get your own photos and experiences I suggest National Geographic's site.