Billboards

When I was a young person, billboards were ubiquitous along the highways. As one went along the road, the way was jammed with billboards extolling the beauty of various tourist traps that were just a few more miles further ahead. When the president’s missus got legislation to abolish these eyesores, there was an outcry against the very idea. But since then this has proved to be a brilliant move. So now billboards exist mainly in town (apparently they are impossible to eradicate). And I admit that I do notice them while driving about.

This billboard is quite near the freeway, and I took this photo because of the content. Because there are numerous tourists here, one now needs to make a reservation to pay and drive up the mountain. (Of course it requires a certain bit of insanity to wish to pay to drive up a narrow mountain road, but that’s tourists for you). So now this requires planning too.

The original Smokey the bear would be 72 years old by now, and he originally looked rather more like a bear. This bear looks like he both works out, and drinks lots of beer.

CDOT has put up this enigmatic billboard. I am not sure if this refers to the speed of flying saucers (no greater than 186,000 miles/second) or the posted road signs. If one were to drive the actual speed limit one would be holding up traffic, so the moral is “no excuses?”.

This billboard addresses a major fear of mine, what to do if pursued by a Kaiju. As this looks like it is taking place in a tourist area, it’s probably impossible to speed, there would be tourists jamming up everything. But I’m glad that CDOT found the money and time to warn everyone about the possibility.

Spring

It’s really hard to say when it’s actually spring in this area. It might seem like summer in January when the temperature gets to 70 F. Here you can’t depend on knowing what season it is by the calendar, you have to look for other signs. First, the deer that have been laying about the yard since last Fall, suddenly disappear. I think that they have gone off to the secret deer maternity ward, or perhaps they are just looking for those wayward stags for a little help with the babies. If one lives at a lower altitude with plenty of rain, early flowers are a reliable sign that Spring is coming. Here the flowering things are just starting out, at least until the predicted snow later this week.

Lilacs have a short season, but they do grow here, and have a wonderful scent.

Flowering crab apples are a popular decorative tree, although I am sure that the deer would prefer actual apple trees ( no one asks their opinions on such).

And these trees come in a lovely pink as well.

These blossoms reminded me of roses, (they will not be blooming until it is Summer).

In Korean movies, if people are walking along under a shower of falling petals, it means they are falling in love. I was just walking with dogs, so I guess that’s not going to happen for this writer. Perhaps the deer should try walking under these trees with the stags (maybe then they would help with the babies!).

Easter Parade

It was once a custom of people to get especially dressed up for holidays such as Easter. Easter is both a religious holiday and a celebration of Spring after a long Winter. When I was a tiny tot, Easter involved getting a new dress to wear to church, a new hat (courtesy of my grandmother, who was hat mad), and white gloves. Then there would be a feast that took forever to be ready. Later the new clothes would be packed away if I hadn’t ruined them playing with my brothers (while we waited for the food).

But on this Easter weekend, I enjoyed a different sort of parading about in finery, as on this weekend there was a local pow wow. (Confession: my friend M had guilted me into going even though I was busy).

First up were the Aztec dancers, a dance troupe which was celebrating the indigenous styles of Mexico.

There was a strong, freezing wind blowing, so the dancing was moved to a nearby tent. Every pow wow starts off with a grand entry of all the dancers in attendance. First to enter are the veterans carrying flags, then people in order of importance. These were the head dancers and tribal representatives. (Miss Gallup can butcher a sheep in three minutes, so don’t mess with her.)

So there is a lot of expected outfits, buckskins and beads, etc. but there is also room for updating things. So the dress is in a traditional style, but she chose to go with a manga style print which looked fabulous.

Your expected sort of Easter hat (like my white grandmother loved) often was garnished with ribbons and feathers to make a statement. But I have to say that this dancer out-does any typical Easter outfit, and it was eye-catching to watch the ribbons rippling in the breeze.

Then for my feast I stood in line for some fry bread, then I scurried home, as I said, it was freezing cold out there and I had expected Spring.

On Record

A friend had recently been gifted with a new bit of antique technology, so we were off to the place that sells both new and antique items, a record shop.

When I was a very young person I had a portable record player. It was in a square case (maybe 15″ x 15″) that folded open to reveal the mechanism for playing a single 45 (one song per side, with a large hole in the middle). One of my brothers used this to drive me mad by playing “The little white duck” a bazillion times in a row.

So there we were at a record shop, which also sold the antique technologies of cassette tapes, compact discs and DVDs. We were searching the bins to replace old favorite music that had somehow fallen by the wayside. And I also found these treasures.

I was talking about this record with one of my friends. She had been clearing out her mother’s house, and had found a similar album. We laughed about it a bit, and she said she made the audiophile who picked up the stereo system take this too (serves him right!).

I had recently met a blogger who writes about, and appreciates World Music, and I was thinking of her when I snapped this photo. What was most interesting to me was the sticker that labeled this as once being part of an Air Force base collection. I imagine the record is in pristine condition (but I didn’t actually look) and I wondered how on earth it had ended up here.

I have a copy of this music on compact disc, but not with this conductor. I took this picture because I loved the album cover.

Here’s another one that had a gorgeous cover, done in a style between Aubrey Beardsley and Margaret Keane. I have been to the opera, and can’t really say that I enjoyed it (although it was fun to get dressed up and spend lots of money for the ticket [maybe not that part]). But I was almost tempted just by the cover art.

But I succumbed to temptation with this record. What is it? I have no idea because I have never listened to it, I bought it solely based on the cover ($3 at my local thrift shop). Cover art on these old albums was an important part of getting one to pick it up and buy it. With the advent of compact discs, a picture was included, but it was so small as to be irrelevant, and with downloads there is no picture, or a very tiny one. But interestingly enough this shop also carried brand new vinyl of new music, and reprints of some classic rock albums for the hippest of the hipsters to carry off and listen to on their new/antique turntables. Maybe there will always be a place for vinyl (until the next new thing comes along).

March

So after a two year hiatus, the big event was on again. And I once again braved the murderous traffic to drive up north, and attend. It quite often snows on this weekend, but this time it was warm and sunny, so there were lots of people with the same idea.

This was the 46th annual event, and it is quite a show with dancers and vendors coming from far away to participate. And it has lots of things to buy that one can’t get anywhere else, like bits of curly-haired goat skins, sage, beads and bling. Plus t-shirts with characters like Pikachu and Yoda in tribal dress and assorted pop culture mash-ups. If one wants to stand in a very long line there is traditional food to be had (okay, it’s just fry bread).

The event is held at a sports arena that is most famous locally for the annual stock show in January (a stock show is where one brings prize cattle and horses, it’s a beauty pageant for animals, and winning means money and a chance to reproduce). It’s located in the shrinking industrial part of town (yes, even this part of town is becoming gentrified).

Just like the livestock show, this event is also judged. There are points for participation, decorativeness of the dance outfits, and dance style. (Not sure which is the most important, but there is prize money involved as well as prestige).

The more bling, the better.

I saw this sticker on a car in the parking lot (and you know how I love stickers). I thought it was funny, and I think the crowd on hand agreed with the sentiment. And that’s why I like to go, despite the traffic, the crowds, etc.

A Face in the Window

I don’t really spend a lot of time in my car, but, driving is generally boring, and I find my attention wandering at times (okay, I am usually looking for hawks). Stopping one’s car most often involves parking in a lot (I can parallel park, but why bother?). And you know how much I love looking for the ways that people personalize their vehicles. So the newest thing seems to be pictures in the window, like someone or something is riding around with you enjoying the scenery.

I had popped down to the new location of the art supply store, when I noticed that I had parked right next to this sloth. Said sloth seems to be friendly, and happy to be in the car.

I had been to the gym when I noticed this active person, perhaps the driver was at the gym as well, punching or kicking something (must have been upstairs).

Okay, so it’s a not a realistic window sticker, but it was super adorable, so I couldn’t resist the face. It brings to mind a phrase that I was fond of when I was a young person (perhaps it’s from Alice in Wonderland?) ” a cat can look at a queen”.

And there she is looking a little weather-beaten, but it is undeniably the Queen of England, so perhaps this is parked here for cats (and random passers-by) to admire on this beautiful spring day. Or this car could belong to a lost royalist, waiting for the return to kingdom. And I must remember to keep my eyes on the road in spite of the hawks.

Blow Me Down

In the old Popeye the Sailor cartoons, he was given to exclaim “Well blow me down” (is this some sort of mysterious sailor talk for the unexpected? Maybe?)

Although this is a generally great place to live, there are a few extreme events that happen every now and again that might give one pause. Sometimes the wind blows quite hard, following along the mountains (which run north to south), and there is nothing to buffer it (like a mountain going in the other direction). So further north in the state this wind took a small grassfire and turned it into a conflagration that burned down a thousand homes. But here the only victims were trees (thankfully).

This was the first one I came across. I had been to the gym and when I was coming home, this tree had fallen across most of the road. The city showed up and cut it back to the sidewalk, then homeowner paid to have the branches removed, but the trunk is still here, waiting.

This is at my neighbors’ house, and the tree broke when no one was home (what is that saying about a tree falling in the forest when no one is listening?).

This is one of the city’s trees, and as it is not blocking traffic, it has not been removed yet.

There is a lot of this sort of thing to be seen still around town, just the half removed stumps of what were rather large beautiful trees. You can see the bit of damage on the roof of one house, caused when the tree toppled over.

High winds, drought and the occasional massive snowstorm are not mentioned in the tourist brochures for some reason, but it’s still a great place to live (just don’t tell anyone else).

Why here?

One of the perils of being named as a great place to live in various magazines (are they even still a thing?) and in some sort of poll, is that people wish to move here. As a long-term resident I am somewhat dismayed by the attention (and the increase in housing prices, cars on the road, people, etc.). But of course I do understand it. So how did I come to be here? It wasn’t my first choice. We drove through town after a visit to Grandma, and I couldn’t believe how much the town had grown (way back then). I said in my out loud voice “Look at all the new housing, what a horrible place. I would never want to live there”. So within six months we had packed up and moved here for M’s job. So the job was the reason to come, and I really did not pay enough attention to the other selling point, there is great scenery here.

The mountain is the current selling point, and and it’s why the town has grown I think. (There was originally a gold rush on the mountain that caused white people to move here, plus there is a bit of water and that equals civilization).

The mountain is beautiful, mysterious and ever changing according to the light.

This city park is amazingly popular with tourists, there are even a few hiking about in this picture.

This is the view for people who can’t afford to live in a house. The largest homeless shelter is nearby, and lots of people camp out along the creek (although this is technically illegal). Even at it’s least desirable, it’s still a great place to live. Even the pigeons on the wire are looking to the mountain.

Reflections

Fast away the old year passes

Well it’s that time of year again, when one is inundated with recaps of the past year (in case one has forgotten being there). And today I am also giving in to the impulse, but, being literal-minded I am including some of the reflections of things that I photographed over the past year (you do remember how much I like reflections and shadows?).

January, 2021. I was at the local market and I was inspired by how lovely the clouds looked. It must have been quite cold, as I just took the picture by my car. That is the car’s roof reflecting the tree and clouds.

This was in June, when the local art on the street program kicked off. I seem to remember that one could visit each bit of art, and perhaps get a prize (this assumes that one could find a parking place near each of the new pieces). I had decided that this was the only new thing worth seeing (price $80K to buy), and here it is also reflecting the new courthouse addition and jail.

August, and this reflection was taken in my car window. I had gone over to a friend’s to drop off some delicious, perfectly ripe peaches, and there was this lovely peach sky.

October. I adore the reflections in this spot and have photographed it several times over the years. The contrast between the 60’s modernism of this annex and the Victorian splendor of the other is always worth a picture or two.

More October. The real trick of photographing reflections is to avoid having the photographer appear as well. So I was considering this as I lined up the shot of this temporary exhibit of elephant statues.

November. For some reason I was parked on the street. It was a mostly overcast day, but there was this break in the clouds that illuminated a distant quarry on the side of the mountain, and I thought it beautiful. Tis the season for reflections, and this is how I remember it.

Another day in the country

I had asked a friend to come with me on my annual pilgrimage to acquire the essential item for a Christmas eve supper, and for that we had headed south. Because there had been a tremendous windstorm the day before, it was slow going as the highway department was blocking traffic to retrieve lost signs. My friend likes to visit these shops to the east of town, so there we were. They do grow all sorts of things, but this one is the crowd-pleasing favorite.

I do know way more than any city person should about tractors, like this 1950’s one. It’s no longer of any use, except as a decorative item (you just can’t get parts).

And what does one do when an ancient tree is no more? Why you just carve an image of the favorite vegetable that’s grown in the area. (Note: most chilis do not wear sunglasses, this is artistic license).

Someone thought that this vintage sewing machine was obsolete (it’s not, I have one, it’s nearly as old as me and it still sews fine), so they turned it into a tractor (obviously too much time on their hands). Or perhaps they couldn’t get parts and couldn’t bear to throw it away, so they turned it into this, another non-functional tractor.

Then it was onward to the Italian market, and the tamale place, and we were both set for the impending holiday.

random bits of life