More stuff

I went to Santa Fe recently to see M’s cousin. And I was reading the newspaper while I waited for her to get ready to go to dinner, when I saw a notice in the paper about an interesting looking estate sale. I looked up the addy on my phone and thought I knew where this was (as it turns out, I didn’t) so the next day we were off, looking to score some treasures.

The sale was at an impressive house up in the foothills. The guy selling the stuff said that it was mostly from his uncle, although some of it was his. The uncle liked to collect things so much that when he filled up one condo with things, he had to buy another one to live in. And here it all was, and although there were no bargains to be had, it was fun as usual to be able to snoop through someone’s life.

It was an interesting collection of bits and bobs from various cultures Native (Red Indian) and foreign (Thai artifacts are quite popular). M’s cousin bought the basket visible in the upper left corner and it fits in nicely with her decor.

There were two rooms of this stuff. Here we have a bronze lady lamp and an African thing in the back, then a Native storyteller figurine (very popular in the 80’s), a bodhisattva from India, an antique Hispanic Santo, modern Santos, a bust (could this be of the uncle?) and a bit of hand painted pottery all mixed together on this one shelf.

This grouping was interesting to me because of the dolphin vase and Aegean candlestick figurine. I guess he must have touristed Greece (they don’t sell this stuff in the local tourist shops).

The seller had so much stuff to get rid of that he had hired a person to come in, price everything and display things, and he still had this collection of figurines and artifacts shoved into a box. One could purchase similar items in the smarter sort of tourist shops today. But one has to remember (I’m talking to you, self) that this is the ultimate fate of our personal talismans.

Stuff

I think that we all start out with a fairly minimalist home at first. As a young person one can hardly go out and acquire everything at one fell swoop. And our style changes over time as one has leisure and money to pursue objects that mean something to us. And then there comes the time when we are gone but the stuff remains. What’s left is the estate sale.

I went to a nearby estate sale after a friend mentioned that it was full of interesting stuff. And it was packed to the gills with items, so I took a few pictures in lieu of buying things and adding to my personal hoard.

These are empty commemorative whiskey bottles. Shortly after I took this picture the coal miner was sold and was off to a new home. Perhaps it will be sold again someday from it’s new estate (or perhaps it will end up in a charity shop).

The woman of the house was a doll collector and these represent a few of the many trips she must have taken. They are the sort of thing sold to tourists, they aren’t really made to be played with.

When I first moved here (many years ago) I worked in a toy store. The doll department (Mrs. O) had a list of collectors that she called whenever a new shipment came in, I’m pretty sure that this woman must have been one of those customers. And now her entire room devoted to dolls was being sold off, bit by bit.

There were these unattractive figurines representing medical conditions, so I assume that her husband must have been a doctor (why else would one have these?). It was her estate sale, so he must have predeceased her.

These are not exactly dolls, but are Kachinas, which are spirit beings in Pueblo religions. They are carved from Cottonwood and represent both the spirit and the dancer. These were originally made as an act of devotion for family members, but now are made for sale to tourists. These are a popular decorative item for Southwestern decor, and she obviously loved the Southwest and Native (Red Indian) culture.

It is a somewhat melancholy experience to be going through the detritus of someone’s life, but on the other hand, she had lots of pretty things and obviously enjoyed them. A minimalist like Marie Kondo would be appalled at the quantity of stuff I’m sure, but we each live to please ourselves. I would much rather be surrounded by beautiful things, like the late Mrs. X, and I suspect that I shall go the same way. 😉

Cooking

My friend D called me last night to say that something had come up, would I like to take her place in a Thai cooking class? Well of course I said yes! I love Thai food. So this morning I got up early and hauled myself over to the class. Me and seven other women were there to learn how to prepare these delicious Thai dishes. A pair of us were assigned to each of the recipes and this is what I made.

Yes I know that this does not look like much, but, it is red chili paste, the basis for many different recipes. The hard bit is having all these weird ingredients on hand (galangal, lemon grass, shallots, chilis, etc.). I chopped thing up and then whizzed it into a paste with a hand blender (my partner had toasted and ground the spices).

This was being made by another group, and was for a pork and noodle salad (much tastier than it sounds).

This was shrimp and pineapple fried rice, served in a pineapple bowl. It’s a lovely presentation, but I am not the sort of cook who fusses much with the appearance. If food is good it quickly vanishes.

Here’s our tasting plates: shrimp and pineapple fried rice, laab woonsen (pork and noodle salad), tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup). And all of these were quite delicious.

This was the one I worked on, beef Massaman curry. It has thinly sliced beef, white sweet potato and onion, cooked in coconut and beef broth with the delicious red chili paste and other spices. It’s served with toasted peanuts, cilantro and chopped up hot chili. Although I had carefully chopped up the chili per the recipe, neither me nor any of the other diners added this to their curry.

There really wasn’t anything difficult about these recipes, other than they were multi-stage preparations with weird ingredients. So I think that I could make this again, after a trip across town to the local Asian market. I probably shall do this, someday, perhaps.

Set dressing

Before me and Miss dog were movie extras I had no idea what actually went into making a movie. The movie we were in (we were sort of in, our scene was cut) was set in present day, so we just dressed in a tidier form of normal wear. But the movie that M’s uncle was in was a period piece, dust bowl 1930’s so the town had to get a few additions to make it look the part. It did not need much to make the town appear old and decrepit.

This is actually the window of the old post office, they built a new one about 15 years ago. Perhaps there was once a barber shop in town, but not in living memory.

An elderly resident remembered when this was a general store, but of course the window sign is new. I don’t ever remember this being open for business in the past 43 years.

The set designers stuck up a few posters to give some atmosphere, I guess this sort of thing might have played in small towns. Maybe?

A faded circus poster for an imaginary circus. I suppose that elephants could have got here on the train (back when it stopped in town).

And here’s another poster for a competing circus, they were certainly popular, I guess. The other addition to the town, a dirt street, was removed after filming. Only these signs and posters show that they were ever here.

All of this flotsam of moviemaking has piqued my curiosity about this movie. I did check and it has only been released at a film festival and in Russia (?). But I expect that one day, sooner or later the movie will be released on Netflix or Amazon Prime and I will be able to satisfy my curiosity (or the scene will have been cut). 🙂

Art Day

Every so often I simply must take an art day to get some creative inspiration or just to take time to bunk off from doing nothing. And as there was an artist talk at the local museum, I decided that this was just the thing.

So there she was, going on to her fans about how she uses her inspiration to make work. I had been listening, but the chairs were uncomfortable after a while, so I decided that I was as inspired as I was going to get from this.

This artwork is by another Native American (Red Indian to you Brits) artist. I like it both as a piece of art, and as something that casts a lovely shadow. You know how obsessed I am with shadows and the play of light.

Today I was captivated by this shadow, from a well-known piece of Pop Art. I have previously featured another part of the shadow, the horse he rode in on.

But it wasn’t this horse! This horse is part of a fashion exhibit and definitely an inspiration. After all who doesn’t want to go about looking like a horse? So with all this new inspiration floating about in my brain, I galloped off (actually, I got in my car and went home. Perhaps I shall create some art another day).

Fair

Since people first started doing agriculture, there have probably been harvest festivals. Here we have a similar event, the State Fair (without all the pagan stuff of the original harvest festivals).

Yes it features all of the essentials of a good fair, with plenty of free attractions, as well as the sort that cost money. Last November when I was taking the shuttle from the airport there were a number of folks travelling to Pueblo to pitch their acts. So I did hear quite a bit on the trip about the business of being a professional stage hypnotist. Apparently only one of the guys was hired.

This was a troupe of incredibly cheesy cowboy actors, who staged a little shootout between evil do-ers and the good guys. I was quite surprised to see that they had fans of their little melodrama, who knew? (Or imagined this was possible).

Also in the cheesy entertainment category are the racing pigs. Now the pigs themselves are adorable as they run around their racetrack, all for the prize of a cookie (surely it’s not good for pigs to be eating cookies). But the cheesy part of the show is the announcer. He gives the pigs ridiculous names that are puns on the names of various celebrities, while giving out a line of patter. To engage the crowd, he appointed one person from each section as cheerleader. If one’s pig won, the cheerleader was given a plastic pig’s nose to wear while doing a silly dance. It was a prize most coveted by the under 5’s.

What would a fair be without rides? It’s all part of the tradition.

And then there is the food; various foods that are fried or served on a stick, but are an essential part of the fair experience. This stand was serving up all-American Mexican treats, fried sticks of dough covered in sugar. Things that one might never eat if not for the fair, it’s all part of celebrating the bounty of the harvest (and perhaps an echo of the pagan celebration after all).

Cat friends

Although I am acquainted with many, many dogs (I do love them so), I also have a number of cat friends.

This is Freya, who came from the Humane Society as a kitten (not actually in that box). That thing on her neck is a cat locator. Should she by chance escape into the great outdoors, it helps to find her. One just points this radar gun sort of thing in different directions until one hears a beep. Then one follows the beeps until one sees the cat. It’s really quite handy.

This is her brother Thor, a purebred Maine Coon cat. He was still a kitten when I took this photo, now he weighs almost 15 pounds (he’s a big boy).

This is Cupcake (and she is no sweet treat), who is a bit of a devil-girl. She enjoys being petted until that fateful moment when she has had enough. Then she whips her head around and bites you (or me). But she is pretty and her owner loves her, so she does her job.

This is Nico, a sort of Siamese-ish cat. He’s quite friendly with beautiful blue eyes. He normally wears a collar to prevent him from leaving his yard, but he had broken this and was waiting on a replacement (he is a bit of a naughty boy).

This time around I didn’t get to actually see this cat, but I have seen him before. It’s Tuna, the amazing acro-cat. He has been trained to use his paw to bong away on a cowbell, among other things (Yeah, I know if he was a dog it would be no big deal, even rather mundane. But training a cat to do anything on command is truly amazing).

More Fate

Combining patriotism and strength, this machine is more about divining one’s personality rather than telling the future. But I suppose that one’s personality type leads to a certain sort of implied future (after all, no one wants to be a weakling!).

One of the oldest forms of fortune telling is the horoscope, that somehow one is subjected to astrological influences based on the date of one’s birth. Of course, just like going to an expert a palm reader, for a really special prediction, one must consult an astrologer and have a chart drawn up. Based on the minute of one’s birth, as well as the date this is said to be much more accurate. But how can we trust the factual basis of this prediction (plus it costs more than a quarter).

Then there is the Magic 8 Ball, allegedly a child’s toy, that will give one an answer to any question. Was this the right question?

One can also get a prediction for the future from a fortune cookie. The cookie one gets is a truly random choice, as this fate is hidden inside a cookie. Perhaps the universe is telling us something? I guess I am looking for a sign.

And here it was, displayed on an official street department signboard. Well with a sign like that, the answer is clear. Turn around and go back to bed, it’s the safest prediction, at least for the immediate future. 😉

Fate

I think that most people wish that they knew what Fate has in store for them. And there are different ways to try and find this out.

When I was a young woman I did go with a friend to see a palm reader once. We were driving around aimlessly with a guy when we passed the fortune teller’s house, and my friend suddenly needed to know her fate. So she got the guy to pay the five dollars, and was told the usual sort of vague promises, while me and the guy giggled in the corner. I can’t remember if any of the predictions came true, but surely after all these years at least one of them must have. (You will meet a stranger, you will come into money, you will marry a guy, etc. etc.)

For a much more impersonal reading than from a live person, this machine would give your fate based on one’s astrological sign. And for only a penny! Surely the machine would know one’s fate.

Then there was this palm reader, which will work for only a quarter. The image shown is wearing a turban, so one can count on this reading being accurate.

Or would a yak be a more trustworthy fortune teller?

This guy has the crystal ball, tarot cards and the turban, so I assume this machine would be the most reliable predictor of one’s future. But I don’t know for sure because I put my quarters in the horse racing machine (I lost).

So I leave you, dear reader, with a few quotes about fate saved in my commonplace book: “there’s fate at the end of every story” and “knowing too much of your future is never a good thing”. Both are possibly true.

Or maybe this is the machine with the answers? (Your actual mileage may vary).

Cowtown

To be called a “cowtown” implies one of two things: either the town is located in a cattle raising area, or the town is small, isolated or unsophisticated. I choose to think that this city is a cowtown because we have the annual strolling of the cows through the downtown area (what could be more sophisticated?).

The event starts with a small herd of longhorn cattle, including the adorable babies.

The TV news babe was there to cover the event (this is the sort of assignment that they delegate to the interns) along with her cameraman. How was she to know that the news part of the story would be at the other end of the stroll?

Police were ready to escort the herd and stop traffic (the sirens were on low to avoid startling the cattle).

And they’re off! Strolling along a busy street (well it’s a busy street a few blocks from here).

At the end of the trail, near the final destination of cattle pens were these ancient activists, with their handmade bedsheet signs (how quaint, this reminds me of the 60’s).

Here the herd is approaching the end and are quite tightly bunched up. Because…

This cow had had enough, so she ran into the crowd (people can move quite quickly when they need to) and then she ran into the open door of a bank, closely pursued by a couple of cowboys on horseback. They got a lasso on her and she was led back to the trailers. Meanwhile, the person who took the video on her cellphone capturing this cow’s adventure made the news, both local and national (too bad for you, TV newsgirl). All in all it was excellent publicity for a amateur rodeo and the cows went home until next year.