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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Views of the Colorado Plateau

Mystic Passage

I love the Colorado Plateau and it often serves as my muse for my paintings. The following paintings were all created from pictures I took in my travels around various sections of this high mesa area lapping over the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

My subsequent post will feature some of the photographs of landmarks that were used as inspiration for these paintings.

To the left is Mystic Passage which was inspired by Double Arch at Arches National Park in Utah, USA. and one of the most noteworthy and known areas of the Colorado Plateau.

Trail to Arsenic Springs

It is 24 x 18 mixed media on canvas depiction of the Wild Rivers Park on the Rio Grande Gorge in Northern New Mexico; the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau. And I was practicing stormy skies and a slightly more subdued palate to indicate less than full sunshine. I needed to practice that for the following painting: Escalante After the Rain, which is inspired by my sister's and my house boat trip on Lake Powell. After heavy rains waterfalls formed on the canyon walls and transformed the canyons.

This is the 24 x 36 inch canvas I was so afraid to attempt. I don't think the photograph of this work does it merit because I have put in metallic silver and gold into the waterfalls and a luminescent paint on the slick rock walls of the canyon in the distance.

While I was doing these two paintings I decided to revisit a painting I had done two years ago of Bowtie Arch at Canyonlands Utah. It was taken from a less than successful photograph that I decided to play with on my computer in Photoshop and then print on watercolor paper and add paint to. It sold at its first public viewing and I have sold numerous prints. It is a somber piece. And I was just curious to see if it could be brightened up in keeping with my new style. This is the result.

I call it Coyote Portal II and it is a 14 x 11 mixed media on canvas board.

The Navajos believe that Coyote came up through a hole in the earth and led the people or Dinah to the earth they now inhabit. Looking at this arch in a side area of Canyonlands, Utah I was reminded of this story.

The lands of the Colorado Plateau are indeed magical and inspire a lot of photographers and artists and writers.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the Front Lines of a Fire

The big news these days is the fires in Southern California. By some it is considered just the latest in a cycle of western fires that began eleven to 12 years ago because of the combined influence of prolonged drought and overgrowth caused by the National Forest Services' policy of stopping all forest fires. The fuel for the fires this overgrowth created made the fires extremely intense. Some believe that because of the intensity of these fires it is sterilizing the earth, leaving it bear for erosion and ultimately will destroy some 50% of our National Forests.

The above photo is of Questa, New Mexico where I lived. May 5, 1996 I was in the direct path of the Hondo Fire one of the first of the "super fires" the west would come to know intimately. Within an hour after the Hondo Fire started near San Cristobal the neighboring town of Lama was burned through. Some structures remained, but many were destroyed. The fire set a ground speed record of nine miles in an hour without crowning. I stood on my front lawn and watched in horror as it topped the mountain and began its decent down into our valley.

Families up the valley in Red River and portions of the town of Questa, where I lived, were evacuated. Before this incident was over, about 2,000 individuals were displaced or evacuated from their homes for some as much as three weeks, some 10,000 acres burned, and portions of some highways were closed to all but local residents and fire traffic. The summer tourist season, a major source of income for the area was destroyed. For 22 days we stood ready to evacuate at any moment. Our route would have to be up through our fields and over the irrigation ditch because the roads out would be blocked by the fire. We stayed because of our animals and livestock. There was at the time no plans for their evacuation

The fire line was a half mile from my house. Every time the wind shifted at night I or my husband was instantly awake. For that 22 days we got little sleep. All it took was breeze to ignite the smoldering Ponderosas and set the hills on fire again. It has been almost 12 years and the forest has not recovered. All the snow covered area used to be lush forest. Even the Aspens have not reclaimed the land. If it were not for the drought the hillside would wash into the Red River which runs at it foot.

We had national news coverage until they used the word contained. My friends thought we were then safe. I moved the next year to a wider valley and the wet slope of the mountains. I was very specific with my real estate agent: No trees. Listening to the coverage of the Southern California fires I know what lies ahead for them even if their houses survive. Your sense of safety is gone and so is all the attention you got during the emergency. You are left to deal with your post traumatic stress syndrome on your own. It broke up my marriage and it scattered friends far and wide. Just when you need community the most it, like the forest, is devastated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Special Place

Whether you Multiply, BlogSpot, 360 or Xanga you understand what it means to have a safe space to unburden yourself, express yourself, vent, whine, crow, or just post silly stuff.

We are all very different people and we are not likely to find everything we want at the same spot in Blog land. Yes we all met on Y!360. Some just stumbled into there, some deliberately came, some got forced there by family and friends. We have all been more or less happy, sought our own comfort level. And now change is being forced upon us or at least it seems as if it has been forced upon us.

I wrote the following poem before all this hubbub. I wrote it after I opened my Blogger site. I wrote it after I realized that Mash was about as far from what I wanted as FaceBook.

Blogging in view of others is a bit foreign for me even after a year.I used to fill hand bound journals year after year. I have boxes of them. Want to know what my thoughts were in 1965. Give me a moment and I can find that for you.

My Special Place

A new blog
Built on lessons
From before

And yet
Seemingly empty
Like the pages
Of a journal
But somehow

After working
So hard
To fill friends
Blogs to visit

Then knowing
It wasn't
My aim
I wanted
This emptiness

Of blogs
Without comment
It is for me
I blog

Empty place
A depository
For my

September 2007

And on a lighter note this little poem written from my cubicle at the fair.

The Borg

Don't look now
The Borg have arrived
People everywhere
With Bionic
Ear implants

Battery chargers
On their waists
BlackBerry command center
Permanently attached
To their hands
Coming and Going
Communicating to
The hive
Tuned out
Dialed in
Not here

Outer space
Ether nerds
Who wants to be
So connected
To the mother ship
Beam me up

October 2007

Hope you are all where you want to be. And remember to always give yourself permission to change your mind. But don't let anyone change it for you. I just bought the most beautiful, totally empty journal to write poetry in.

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

With Halloween approaching a friend posted a ghost story challenge I began delving into my resource of strange happenings in my life. I am not sure I would openly declare that I believe in ghosts like seen in movies like Ghost Busters. Or even like those represented in Amityville Horror or Poltergeist I or II. But then how to you represent on the screen the chill that run down your spin when you encounter something eerie but unexplained and unexplainable.

And that is the difficulty with writing a ghost story; how to depict the feeling without making everyone break out laughing.

I think we have all, if we are tuned into our feelings at all, walked into a house we feel immediately uncomfortable in. For me that was first the McCann house on the hill. Ann, the daughter, was a friend of mine and I was invited into the noteworthy house behind the mountain. It had been built by a man for his opera singer wife. One room was especially for her practice. It was huge with balcony and a whole wall of glass looking out over the valley. When first I tried to walk in this room I was stopped literally at the door.

No hands holding me back, but a definite feeling of not being wanted. I had to make a conscious choice to lift first one foot than the other over the threshold. Ann, sitting at her easel across the room, was laughing. Evidently about one of ten people had that response upon first entering the room where the soprano had died after a long battle with cancer.

I have became very aware of houses that have a friendly feel and those that do not. But the McCann house was not my first experience with sensitivity to the dead or the dying. Early on, my mother told me, I had an uncanny knack of telling people they were going to die. I saw something dark behind their eyes. I soon learned adults did that welcome those pronouncements. I think it is a family trait because Mother never told me I was wrong just that it was not polite to blurt it out.

My niece at three claimed to have had several bedside chats with her grandfather in the weeks after his death. Mother called me on the night of the day she died and left me a message saying that she loved me. It was Thanksgiving and I had been out to dinner and played the phone message with its time signature when I came back home. I looked at the clock and decided it was too late to call her back. And it was literally to late. Hours later my sister would call to say Mom was dead. It was only later when my sister and I compared times that I realized Mom was dead when she left the message.

I have lived in several occupied houses. Mostly those have been inviting spirits. And by spirits I mean a sense of warmth or hostility or just a presence. The house I live in now is very clean but the ghost story that follows in the next post is about the house on Orchard Road. It was definitely a house with a bad aura. And the scariest of all my experiences with the other side. It was not an easy story to write.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The House on Orchard Street

The dream began with waking up. There had been a sound. Not a loud sound but one of those you cannot identify. But you one you are positive you should not have heard. One that makes you sit bolt upright in bed and strain to hear it again.

I placed a hand on the body beside me to wake him. Strange noises require verification. But the surface under my hand was not warm or comforting. The skin was cool and damp and sticky. I pivoted and rose to my knees to get a better look in the moonlight washed room. Instead of Dwight there was a woman in my bed.

Her chest oozed a dark liquid from countless darker slits. And the air tasted of copper and smelled like the horse barn after the mare had foaled. Slowly on hands and knees I began backing off the bed. Straightened a leg out when I reached the edge and eased my body erect. The second foot met with something soft and yielding. Squishy.

I looked down and saw a younger version of the body in bed. This one clad in a pink flannel nightgown pushed up above her hips. The pale exposed legs and hips were a sharp contrast to the crimson rug beneath her. I bent to touch her hair matted with blood. It was then I began to scream. I was getting better. The first time I had started screaming when I touched the blood soaked shoulder.

“Hey, baby,” Dwight said, hugging me tight to him. “Wake up now.”

By the time I had totally come awake we were in the brightly lit kitchen. Vicki, the owner of the house stood at the archway to the living room. Her face full of terror.

“It was just a nightmare,” my boyfriend explained to both her and me. I pulled away from him and looked at my hands, then my bare feet. No blood. But something inside of me expect to find it. I was not entirely sure Dwight was right in his assessment.

“Hey, four in the morning is not too early for breakfast,” Vicki pronounced with artificial cheerfulness. As she walked to the refrigerator she looked nervously over her shoulder toward the bedroom Dwight and I occupied.

“Hell, breakfast is late,” he said.

We were the night crew of Grand Junction, Colorado. Dwight played drums in a country western band, Vicki was a cocktail waitress in the same lounge where Dwight’s band played from time to time and I tended bar. Four in the morning commonly saw us at the all night dinner finishing up breakfast before heading home. But Sunday had been our collective day off. The band was leaving for an extended road tour and the farewell party had begun early and ended early when we ran out of booze

It was 1979. Not the best of years. I was running from repressed memories, myself, and my parents’ opinions about what I should be doing with my life. Junction was a perfect place to get lost. It was in the middle of an oil shale boom and money, booze, speed and cocaine were all too easy to come by. None of that has anything to do with my recurring dream unless you subscribe to the theory that people on the edge are more available to the other side.

The next time I had the dream Vicki and I were alone in the house on Orchard Street. Dwight was in Cheyenne or Casper or Laramie. I kept losing track. If this was Tuesday it had to be Casper. But I was not sure it was Tuesday. Another band was playing at The Crossroads. Vicki and I got home early for night people.

Once again it was the sound that woke me up. I was getting closer to identifying it. A thwack then a sucking sound. Repeated. The body beside me was no less bloody, but it was warmer as if I was getting closer to the actual event.

I had mastered the technique of stepping around the body on the floor. No screams. At least not until I tripped over the dead dog in the hall. That was the night I knew one thing for sure; Vicki was terrified of her house. She would not enter the kitchen even though I knelt on the floor screaming. No one to hold me and wake me up. I got used to that. Every time I had the dream there were more details, more bodies it seemed. I had begun keeping notes when my hand would stop shaking enough to allow me to hold a pen. Even stopped mentioning the dream to Dwight when he would call from Fargo, or Minot, or Boise.

There was no question, from before I moved in, the house was haunted. Only my term then was occupied. Vicki had invited me over in the day time for a tour of her haunted house on Orchard Street. There was this old couple whose voices rose from the basement when the house was quiet. And a cold dark corner where the old cistern was. She thought there was a body there. Vicki talked of Indian burial grounds out behind the horse barn and the old hand dug well.

“You should fill that in.”

There were a lot of things she should do with the house and her life. She was getting a messy divorce, fighting for custody of her pyromaniac son, and drunk too much in my humble opinion. But I agreed with her on the voices in the basement. I would hear them just before I fell asleep on those nights when I did not have the dream. I decided they were guardians and would listen for their voices after the lights went out.

The old couple was silent that last night in the house. I was alone. Vicki had gone to the hotel with the bass player in the current band playing at the club. Dwight was in Sioux City or Omaha.

I walked through what I had begun to call my role in this macabre play until I reached the kitchen and the two dead boys with their throats cut. I thought I felt someone staring at me. I looked up to see this man with a large butcher knife in his hand. The blood dripped off the tip.

I turned and ran back to the bedroom, swept my car keys off the chair, and climbed out the bedroom window. The was cold on my bare feet hurt. Fortunately, I had been sleeping in my clothes. I tried to orient myself in the total dark before heading across the pasture toward the horse barn. Somewhere between me and my car was the old hand dug well with the rotting wooden cover. But where? Suddenly the moon peaked out behind a cloud and I saw the wooden planks just steps before me. I took a leap and gasped with relief when my feet hit solid ground. I sprinted toward the car as a splintering noise rose behind me followed by a primal scream.

"Get me out of here you bitch."

I pulled open the Pinto’s door and looked behind to see a figure drenched in the white moonlight stomping on something at the edge of the well. I fell into the seat and prayed the car would start without a problem. It did. I drove to the all night dinner and ignored the no shirt, no shoes, no service sign. The waitress wordlessly brought coffee and vanished in the empty spaces.

A quick look at my reflection in the dark window glass affirmed I was not looking my best. I had that faraway stare of an addict or alcoholic or . . .

“Someone has just seen a ghost?” Roger said as he sat down in the booth, across from me. He was a deputy sheriff. Bartenders always know the law on a first name basis.

“No, just this horrid dream I cannot seem to stop having.” I attempted to lift the coffee mug without shaking. “Anyone every killed at Vicki’s house?”

“Why do you ask?”

I am a visual person and at that moment I didn’t really know if I could explain myself without breaking down into tears. I felt as if I had just escaped with my life but was not sure from what. It all seemed so much more real than any dream I had ever had. Including the one of the rattlesnakes when I was seven. So I opened up a napkin and got out my pen and began sketching the layout of Vicki’s house and putting in crime scene type outlines of the positions of all the bodies. Roger grew oppressively quiet as I sketched. Finished I turned it around and slid it across the table to him.

“Don’t go home,” he said as he folded it up without further examination and stood.

“Where’s Vicki?”

“Out for the night. Probably the Best Western.” It was where all the bands passing though town stayed. No further explanation required. It was the 70's.

A couple hours later dawn was coming up and turning the Gunnison River red. The shakes had been replaced by a profound fatigue but I didn’t know if I ever wanted to sleep again. To that end I had scored some speed from one of the Interstate truckers that always stopped in at the diner. I had just pocketed my stash when Roger re-entered. I got up and followed him to his squad car.

“I took the liberty of packing your stuff. Open your trunk”

I obeyed and he transferred the few suitcases and a couple boxes to the Pinto. The air was cold. I extracted one of the jackets in the boxes and a pair of shoes.

“FYI about 15 years ago we found the body of a woman and three of her kids. We never found the oldest girl or who had brutally murdered them.

“It was her boyfriend. He fell into the old well back by the barn.”

“Where can we reach you?” he asked, accepting my information as if I were a witness to the crime. And on some level I was.

“Don’t know, but when I get there I will call and let you know.” I closed the trunk and walked to the driver side door and got in. The speed and all the coffee was doing its trick. My skin itched. It was time to move. Roger closed my door.

“Oh, and Rog. Check the old cistern in the basement. I think you will find more bodies there. Not connected to this I think. The previous owners maybe. Vicki said the disappeared before the hippies moved in and made it a commune.”

I started the car and began driving away from Grand Junction. I drove all that day. Over the continental divide, through the sprawling city of Denver and into the plains of Kansas where I could see for hundreds of miles in all directions. I stopped at a Motel 6 and slept the sleep of the dead. No dreams. The next day I headed into Kansas City and called my folks.

I finally heard from Vicki a couple months after my departure. Her son had burnt down the house and she was fighting for a settlement from the insurance company. Roger contacted me to say they had found the murderer’s body in the well and the two skeletons in the cistern in the basement

Dwight continued for a while to call from Des Moines or Provo or Colby. I met him once in Minot for a weekend. A couple weeks later, Bobby, the lead singer in the band, called to tell me Dwight had died of a drug overdose. I never got the name of the town. Wherever it was he died, it was too close to the edge, and I had decided to stay as far away from the edges of life as possible.

Note: The above story is largely true. I have taken a couple liberties with names and condensed the time line just a bit to make the story march. I lived in the house on Orchard Street for about six months. The dream was my reason for moving out in the middle of the night.

Back to the Colorado Plateau

Rather than focus on one of the National and State Parks that abound in the Colorado Plateau area I figured I would just highlight some of the natural land features. For those of us familiar with this area of the country there really is no such thing as a bad view. And the effect of wind, rain and time have created some fantastic formations.

The one to the right is of Navajo Sandstone - it's the white stuff. Usually when people think of sandstone they are apt to think of the red stuff like found in the Grand Canyon. The following rather typical "wedding cake" formation is of the red sandstone.

The hints of sage green in the middle ground are vegetation very much like that in the foreground; rabbit bush, snake weed, gamma grass. Livestock has to walk a long way to get a meal and even further for water.

This photo was taken working up and over one of those wedding cake formation ridges. It was 11 miles of this sort of switchbacks. No guard rails. You can see the switch from the Navajo sandstone to the red and the vast emptiness of the land beyond. Those lines are roads. It is not unusual to be able to see 100 miles or more on a clear day. And the days are seldom not clear.

The View from the top. I really had to stop for air. I don't think I took any deep breaths on the way up and I had a feeling the way down was not going to be any easier.

Looking off toward Monument Valley in the far distance. The fence is to keep sheep and cattle off the road. This is part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Some formations are up like the ones we have just seen and some are down. This is one of the many natural bridges at Natural Bridges Park in the southern corner of Utah. It is carved out of the Navajo Sandstone laid down by ancient seas. The hallows in the rock catch not only rain but condensation and seeps from springs. The vegetation grows where it can get roots into the cracks that capture moisture. The black vertical streaks on the rocks are called desert lacquer.

What about drought didn't you understand?

This picture was taken on Lake Powell in October of last year. The lake was at that time 120 feet low.

The Colorado River watershed has been suffering an extended drought. This effects the water levels on Lake Powell and Lake Mead but not as much as the electrical and water use of San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Despite warnings for the last five years from the four states involved in the Colorado River drainage basin there has been no conservation of electricity or water downstream from the four corners area. When Glen Canyon Dam which impounds the water of Lake Powell was built there were promises of sharing water with the Navajo and Ute reservations. Promises that have not come to fruition. Nor has the Navajo Reservation been able to benefit from the power generated by water release.

vast majority of the power generated. Lake Mead and Hoover Dam feeds the power needs of Water is released from Glen Canyon Dam per the needs of Los Angeles which currently gets theLas Vegas. Could some one please turn a light off?

One is reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah when shown night time images of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Nothing to do with the sin and sex but just with the waste. Las Vegas boasts of recycled water in its fountains but I would hazard a guess that with the heat and single digit humidity that the evaporation rate nears 50%. It is currently paying its residents to take up grass and put down gravel but would not consider turning off a fountain.

The only people to benefit from the massive release of water due to gluttonous use of electricity is Phoenix, once a desert it has built a canal system to take water from the Colorado to water over 150 golf courses, fill swimming pools, and landscape its yards.

I listen to the news about the severe situation in Georgia and wonder how long they ignored the lowering of their main water supply before this crisis. We need a conservation plan not just for water but for electricity. And beyond just replacing light bulbs. Just because we can light the night does not mean we should.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Color me Intense

Mother used to pick my clothes. She sewed lots of them. In grade school she would wake me up and while I was in the bathroom she would pick the dress I was to wear for the day. Set it out on the bed she had just made up for me for me. She did the same for all of us. Maybe even my father. Picking the tie to go with the dark suit and the white shirt.

Being old enough to go to the fabric store and pick the color of material for a dress seemed such a freedom. I could have an opinion about how I wanted to look. The mood I wanted to present to the world. I could at last choose colors other than pink. My closets are now riots of color. Packing recently to go to a fair for four days I found myself thinking a lot upon color and what it means to me.

Color me

Always hated the color pink
Girls in pink
Boys in blue
Who gets to wear green?
Just trees and grass?

Such a lovely color green
cool, and crisp, rich like emeralds
Or red
Fiery, bright, hot
Just a bit naughty
Or orange
burnt orange
Spicy color
One you can taste
Tingles upon the tongue

Or Purple?
Old ladies in lilac
Smelling of lavender
Girls in pastels
Lovely dotted Swiss in lemon yellow
Ashes of roses satin gown for junior prom
Boys in blues
Men and greys and navy
Carnations in pink

Black for mourning, mystery and loss
White for brides and sacrifice
Prom formal in strapless pink tulle
White orchid corsage
Borrowed taffeta gown for winter ball
Green miniature orchid wrist corsage
The queen wore black

Pink is for babies
And cotton candy
Color me green
Or red or orange
But color me vivid and bright
Color my memories intense

J.Binford-Bell October 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Passing the Ball

Mind all a flutter I sprawled on the couch with a cat and a dog and my knitting. I am rapidly approaching realization of a year long project (abandoned over the summer).

I no longer knit exactly per pattern but start with one (this a sort of sweater/poncho) and modify. I am adding all these wonderful designer yarns as accents to the basic mohair. The basic skills are ones taught to me by my mother. The enhancements are. The marriage of the two is highly satisfying and very meditative.

Before I completed four rows of 184 stitches each I had this poem to write down. And a memory to add to those recalled and treasured a new. It is interesting as we age what we have stored away to be recalled in the quiet of an evening alone.

Passing the Ball

Balls of knitting wool
Needles, hooks
Twined into textures

Mother taught me to knit
Crochet, sew, embroider
Sat beside me
Upon the couch
Retrieved my dropped stitches
My patterns
With Warmth

Arts shared
Skills taught
Treasures created
Handed down
From Mother to daughter
Intricate patterns
Of Life

I sit now
On the couch
Knitting memories
To keep me warm
A sweater
To show
I learned

See what
My mother taught me
To do
I knit, Crochet
Cross stitch, crewel
And Sew

Of lives
Knitted together
keeping me warm

October 2007

The Furture of On-line Journals

Never has on-line journals or blogging been so popular. Nor is there a time it has been more in jeopardy.

The obvious villain is Homeland Security which denies monitoring all the on-line activities of the citizens of the United States unless they are in communication internationally. And what blogger isn't. My friends list on Y!360 includes other bloggers from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and even Egypt.

Hope the staff of Homeland Security enjoys the recipes I frequently post on that blog. The poetry probably occupies their time even more. Having to decide if somewhere in there is a hidden code about a future terrorist attack staged to divert attention from George W's latest falling poll numbers. But all of that is expected. Regardless of the subject of my blog for months I avoided the Bush name in tags to stay under the radar.

No the greatest threat for blogging is the corporate sponsorship. Be it Google, Yahoo, or Fox they all want to find a way to make money with advertising or fees. And quite unfortunately the most avid bloggers are those most likely to be irritated by advertising and less likely to afford a monthly charge for use of the platform.

I frankly would not mind a use fee if it incorporated all that I wish to use on the Internet: website, e-mail accounts, news, blog platform, calendar, and social networking. But it would have to be entirely without annoying advertisements like the current roll-over and down Sprint ads. They have only confirmed my opinion to never use them.

Course there are other ways to gleam a profit out of bloggers. They are great padders of the search criteria. Provided they use tags and want to be found. And a lot of marketing information can be filtered from their pages. What for instance interests people capable of putting three sentences together in a cohesive whole with or without staying on subject.

The recently announced changes in Yahoo!360 has sent a lot of the "Sky is Falling" types running to Multiply or Blogger or MySpace or FaceBook. What they fail to realize is whatever has motivated Yahoo! to take a long and hard look at its total package of services is just around the corner for any other blogger platform. Like drug dealers they have all provided these services for free to get us addicted and now they are ready to start raising the price.

The whole panic in 360 land has made me realize that I am not that crazy about the social networking aspect. I started there to blog. I have started my blog here to also blog. I particularly like the ability to e-mail this to people I know that are non-bloggers and that it is open to allow me to refer them to this site with my URL address. The first I can do by journaling on my hard-drive.

All of which brought me back to the photo above: Hand Bound Journals. I found these at a website. I like hand bound journals. I still use them as sketchbooks and for my poetry and lists of creative ideas. I would not mind going back.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm Serious even if he isn't

Stephen Colbert announced he is running as favorite son candidate for President from South Carolina. The major news programs were denouncing it as making fun of the presidential election process. I really doubt anyone needs to make fun of it. Politics has become a joke. Used car salesmen now rate higher on honesty.

And he will not be the first comedian to make a bid for the office. Yes, there have been a lot of clowns like the one there now. But Pat Paulson of Laugh-in ran once. So did Snoopy - you know the dog in the Peanuts comic strip. I think I actually voted for him. In all my life I have only voted for the winning candidate for president once. So I guess my seriously considering voting for Stephen Colbert dooms him.

I get tired of voting for the least bad of two. I really think we need a "none of the above" or "just say no" option. If a candidate cannot get a large enough percentage of the voting public (never mind the electoral college) he has to run again. And I think we need an amendment to the constitution that allows for a no confidence vote. So when you get a situation like we have now - where everyone agrees he is the worst president we have ever had - he can be removed easily from office.

And it ought to be done with only debates. No prime time television commercials. We have to start making it cheaper to get in office. I recently wrote my congressional delegation about the proposed North American Union. And got back only double talk - you know like calling torture enhanced interrogation. They don't care about how I feel on issues. They only care about the major power brokers that support their campaign. So the only way to get our democracy back is to make it cheap to become a public servant.

Meanwhile I am serious about Colbert. He is essentially my way of saying "none of the above." And I am changing my registration to independent. Another way of saying no.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You Would Think Men Could Learn

Talk of going to war with Iran. If the war with Iraq was any example we could say that George W is on a roll up to invade Iran without provocation. Or that provocation he mentions being manufactured like the WMD excuse in Iraq.

I cannot figure out what he is thinking. Every single military leader has talked about how totally stressed the military is, how much longer this level of troops (it has gone up even after the surge) can be maintained, the lack of available quality recruits (now the army is taking high school drop outs and felons), and the need to let the National Guard go back home before they are all bankrupt because of the lower wages of the military.

We are so extended in Iraq that the war in Afghanistan is suffering and we cannot send aid to places in this world suffering from ethnic cleansing. The United States was once the force to be counted upon to right the wrongs of the world. Now we are the wrong. We invaded a country on trumped up evidence by a mega-maniacal idiot and have occupied it even though the majority of the population has asked us to leave.

What about war have we not learned? Men have been doing it since before the beginning of recorded history. And all that seems to changed is the weapons and styles in armor. Hell, we are still mounting crusades to the holy land. All these years of civilization and we have not learned tolerance, diplomacy, tact, and the ability to talk to each other (not at each other which is the Bush style) and come to compromises.

I thought that a woman president might give us hope of ending this vicious cycle and yet it would seem that Hilary is going to be as much a sword rattler as the men she is running against. She even voted for a bill that would give the president tacit approval to invade Iran.

This silliness has got to stop. It kills people, causes shortages of materials (including people), and poisons the plant we live on.

The Illustration used is from Drawing Swords.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Talking about old friends

I just returned from an out of town art fair where I meet up with old friends I have not seen for as much as a year and sometimes more. It can be a joyous time or one laden with heavy emotions.

I am of that age where there is seldom a meeting of old friends where the ones who are not there are not talked about. And unfortunately it has gone from juicy gossip to recounting of medical woes. Last weekend there was one of missing. The artist known as Rabbit had a stroke. And Chris was back after an absence. We were all happy to have her back and participating, and just a bit curious about how she was doing.

It occurred to me while we were all drinking coffee and catching up on various medical diagnoses that we seldom talk about everything directly but dance around it hence this poem.

Talking around

Let's talk all around it
She's doing good
What we mean
She's not dead

Let us not say she had cancer
We are thrilled to have her back
She went away?
We were afraid she would

He's not with us anymore
Gave up his membership?
Took the long trip
With no return booked

Why don't we say that?
Would we be hexed
Don't speak out loud
But no mention of Cancer

Oh you know
The signs were always there

She's always been
Had Issues
Magazines have issues
People have problems

Cerebral event
Parties are events
Now departed
Trains depart
People die
Can't we just say
Or might it stick to us?

October 2007

All work on blog is the property of J. Binford-Bell dba as Lunacy Limited LLC and subject to copyright protection.

The Artistic Journal

If this blog is going to replace my Y360 blog it needs to do the things I have learned how to do there over a period of 10 months. I realized how very much I had developed as a blogger especially photo blogger when trying to copy out all my blogs (some 250).

I have come to really enjoy blogging about my art, the mountain where I live and artistic techniques as well as my political points of view. A journal of my life is in part pictorial because I am an artists, a photographer and a great lover of the land I live in.

My daily life is about images and I communicate to a large extent visually. I also dearly love words ergo blogging and freelance writing. My ideal job would be as a photo journalist. Maybe in my next life time.

This image is called Mystic Passage and it is just one of my many interpretations of the fantastic sandstone formations to be found on the Colorado Plateau. Every artist probably has a painting they would rather not sell. This is my current favorite. But they say if you hod on to a painting then you do not advance beyond it. But I want to hold on to it for just a little. Maybe until my next favorite painting. Usually just have one at a time.

This painting is as much a marker of where I am in my life as my words are. So this blog will feature visual milestones as well as verbal opinions.

All work on blog is the property of J. Binford-Bell dba as Lunacy Limited LLC and subject to copyright protection.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It is suppose to be all about me

I just posted blog 250 on my Yahoo!360 blog. It seemed like a good time to go back and begin to copy and save my blogs to my hard drive. And a funny thing happened as I worked my way through my beginning blogs. I noticed there were no comments. For almost all of the first fifty blogs I was writing in a vacuum. I was writing for just me. It was what a blog is suppose to be -- an on-line journal that is read in reverse order.

There is a lot of panic currently about all the hard work going down the drain if Yahoo!360 is abandoned (maybe by the bloggers first) or self-destructs because of some inherent flaw in the programming. But as I was setting up word files and saving some of my early entries it occurred to me just how far I had come as a blogger. I got the spacing right finally (most of the time). I learned to add photos and use FlickR, I learned my way around research sites on the net, and began posting my own art and my own poetry. Learned how to use spell check without losing my blog.

And I began getting comments on my blogs. First just one or two per blog, sometimes none. I imagine I was adding friends too though in the beginning I was really afraid of friends.

So now I have 72 friends which were once a real joy. (Opps 71 - the blog today upset one). Now I am not so sure. They seem to be raising my anxiety level by threatening to abandon 360 before it abandons them. I think that was a game I used to run a lot of my life when younger. I eventually abandoned it as not productive. One it required a lot of moving, packing, unpacking, making new friends, etc. Anyway now I get to face all my abandonment issues.

But this is about blog 250. And what that Yahoo blog platform has given me in the way of growth and knowledge and experience. And if it were to crash this very minute before I had copied all my blogs to word files on my hard drive could I say all my hard work was wasted? No. Because I learned and grew. I met people and made friends finally. Several of those are now connected with me through IM's or e-mail. And as I discovered as a military brat moving from base to base, if you are going to stay friends that will happen regardless of where you are transferred, and if you aren't, living next door won't help. I don't always deal well with the drama queens. Blogging in a vacuum has its pluses.

Ergo this site with no friendship issues. I do know that I am not going to MASH except to keep in contact with some of the friends I made here. I am letting my FaceBook account die (there seems to be no way to unsubscribe). I have set up this blog on BlogSpot to do what I originally wanted to do - just keep an online journal and express my views right or wrong. For the moment I am staying on 360 because I like it. When it is no longer fun I am gone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What we need is a new political party

And why do they call them parties? They aren't any fun. Political parties that is. I have been a registered Democrat since returning to the state of New Mexico. I did that because frankly that is the only way to have a choice during the primaries.

But I once worked for a Republican Senator. Senator Charles Goodall of New York. He and Senator Jacob Javits had sponsored the amendment to end the war in Vietnam. And the last election I voted for Democrats in hopes that it would get us closer to getting out of Iraq. So I was wrong. This election we are moving toward I rather like the Republican stance on illegal immigration (less the President's desires).

I am for the rule of law, against the illegal invasion of another country, for the environment, against "free" trade because it costs us too much, against the North American Union unless it is just Canada and the USA, against teaching for the test, for universal health care . . .

I could go on but basically I find myself split between two parties and not happy with either. I am considering changing my voter registration to independent but that opts me out of voting in the primary in this state. And besides there is no viable third party in this country.

I occurs to me that perhaps we have grown out of the need for parties. They only increase the graft and corruption. And maybe there ought to be a third option on every slate of candidates: None of the above. If someone does not get enough votes than obviously the public does not want them at all. And maybe the things congress does not pass within a set limit of time ought to be remanded to a public referendum. About the only way we will get campaign reform done and reduce the power of big lobbies. And I frankly like the parliamentary option of being able to call an election when the public has lost confidence in their leader. Bush would have been gone years ago.

Maybe it is not time for a new party but time for no parties. Let's get down to serious business and reform our democracy before it is completely stolen from us