In print

So it was “Stationary Store Day”, a holiday which I had read about in M’s blog “Paperblogging.com”. I looked at the link, saw that there was a place in town that was participating, and decided I must go check it out to celebrate this holiday (I do love celebrating).

And here it is, located in what passes for a downtown locally. As I recall, this space was home to a seller of sheet music (and possibly instruments) for years. At some point demand for such items disappeared, and these nice ladies moved in a year or so ago. And are they a simple stationary store? No of course not, they run a full service printing operation.

What do they use for printing? Why they have a number of large vintage machines that use ink and brute force to print up whatever one desires. This clanking behemoth can print up to 5000 pages an hour (really this should be sufficient for most needs).

The machine pictured in the back is from the 1880’s and does weigh a ton. It is not tremendously useful, so it is currently a speaker stand, but it is in working order.

In the foreground is the machine I got to use on this special day. It’s relatively modern, being from 1948. So to use it one steps on the foot pedal to release the clamps at the very top to be able insert the item to be printed. Then one turns the giant crank and the piece rolls over a freshly inked plate to print the item and then releases the item with a thunk at the end of the track.

And here is what I ended up with. The cardstock had previously been run through the machine to print the red hearts, then they set up the machine to print the blue (all in all it’s pretty labor intensive compared to using some sort of digital printing). But each card has a quality that can’t be replicated with mere digital technology. Each card is the product of human hands, these lovingly maintained machines and the women who love keeping this art alive.

Street Art

It was time for my participation in the annual juried art show, so I found myself in the town to the south. After delivering the piece I was driving around and admiring the ambience of the city. It’s a much more working class sort of place, and this reminds me of the place I grew up in.

I love the outside of this local bar, but I wonder, what sort of beer might they serve? My friend who lived in town assures me that they make a fabulous green chile covered hamburgers, and perhaps someday I shall stop and try this.

This brick wall is dedicated to the delights of chile (yes spellcheck, this is in fact how it is spelled!). I must admit this is my favorite vegetable, and I can eat it in all three meals a day.

There are a lot of untouched and shabby old buildings in town, so it’s perfect to spiff the walls up with murals, art one doesn’t have to get out of the car to appreciate.

I always pop ’round to a fabric shop while I’m there, and this has just been added on one side of the block. This courtyard is for the overflow from a bar for young persons (not the kind of people that drink Coors).

Hidden (sort of, it is newly painted in bright colors) in an alley nearby is this mural that celebrates the logos of various schools in town.

Here’s more of the same theme, your school rules (or not). And why is it important that this art can be admired from the air-conditioned comfort of ones car? This town is at a lower elevation and is always much hotter than my town (great in Winter, not so much in the Summer).

Plein Air

It was time for the annual plein air art demos at the fancy hotel across town that is sponsored by the gallery at the hotel. I am nothing if not a lemming, so there I was yet again. I drove up to the entrance and the valet parked my car, because at a place like this I am certainly not going to do this myself and walk. Then I popped through the hotel, up to the lake where most of the artists were hanging out amidst the tourists.

What was interesting to note was that although this is very picturesque, nobody was painting what they saw, they were all using reference material. (Probably because they want paintings that sell, in their respective styles).

One lady had a photo of a peacock which she was painting on a plain wooden panel, and the other was using her phone to paint a lovely sunset from somewhere.

No waterfalls here, but if he went up the mountain he could see a real one (although he would have to pay an admission fee to the hotel).

It wasn’t all painters, there were also persons working in clay making models for bronze castings. It was a very hot day, and the clay was starting to get quite soft, but The persistence of memory sort of thing is not what they are aiming for.

This was one of the people working in metal, so he was just talking about it. He makes a visual representation of a topographic map by cutting out and arranging layers of stainless steel. Why? Because his dad owned a construction materials firm and he learned to weld at an early age (also people pay big money for his art).

This artist was not just wearing the hat for shade, he wanted to indicate that he was a real cowboy. He said that he used to be a professional bull rider (which involves sitting, quite briefly, on the back of an angry bull that has a tight cinch around his testicles). Painting is a much less physical activity, and you get a win every time you sell a painting. He was painting a swan, and noticed that there was only a single swan in the lake, so I told him that the other one had been killed in a summer hailstorm.

I did pop in to the gallery afterwards, and I saw some tourists pick out and buy $$$$ a couple of paintings for their home. It’s nice work if you can get it, so hurrah for anyone making a living at art.

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).

random bits of life