Category Archives: Town

Year of the Rabbit

I love any excuse for a celebration, and this was the one for today. In years past I would prepare a feast for the day, but this seems too much like work, so I opted instead to see what was going on in town.

The first decision was, what to wear? I had purchased this good luck charm the last time I went to the big city, and I thought golden toads were the perfect choice for a necklace. This went well with the red tassel on my mask of the day (there were hoards of people tightly packed together for the celebratory event).

The official celebration was held at the vintage city auditorium, and there were vendors and demonstrations of Chinese culture, like martial arts and acrobatics. One could buy tee shirts and various tchotchkes, which I was able to resist (it is hard though). But, there was some young man who had made a bunch of dragons of various sizes on his 3D printer and I had to have one. (Yes, it’s not a rabbit, but I like dragons too.) I thought it made a nice zipper pull on my jacket. They also had food, which smelled delicious, and as there was a long, long line, I decided against this (even though I still had 18 minutes left on my parking meter.)

I popped over to the city museum, and I noticed this vintage wind-up toy in their collection. If I had to guess (and of course I’m guessing, I didn’t bother to read the label) I would estimate that this toy was from the 1920’s. There was certainly a different attitude towards Chinese culture at that time.

I still wanted some food, so I stopped in a nearby Chinese restaurant. The building looks like it was originally built as a diner, it’s on old highway 85, but it was tarted up as an American version of what a Chinese restaurant should look like, probably in the 1970’s. It has a precarious future because the entire area is getting gentrified, but it’s still there for now. So I enjoyed one of the daily specials for the holiday, then it was off home for dumplings at my house.

Just a reminder: the next holiday this month is Burn’s night (January 25th), a celebration of the Scottish poet Robert (Rabby) Burns. This can involve reading a poem about haggis, possibly eating a haggis (this is always very optional in my humble opinion) and of course a wee dram of Scotch whiskey (mandatory). Perhaps this year’s toast will include a salute to rabbits.

Go Fish

At the local sporting goods store, which features a full-size Ferris Wheel inside the store, there are also giant salt-water fish tanks at the entry. I do enjoy looking at fish, swimming and going about their fishy business as shoppers pass them by without a second glance. (Unless they have small children, then they say “Look, fish”). Well I must also admit that I was not there to see them, I was shopping as part of this crazy before Christmas frenzy. But I did stop for a moment to enjoy their finny antics.

The fish live in three pillars of water that are connected by shallow bridges, so they can choose a favorite place to hang out. I was interested in this one, it sort of looked like a Plecostomus (suckermouth catfish) from the bottom (but really, no Plecostomus would be up that high). In the reflection one can see that this is a much taller fish, so I have no idea what sort of fish this is.

Here another species is hanging about, no doubt waiting for some store employee to come by with the food. (I was pretty hungry myself at this point, but I was on a mission).

And why was I there in the store? Well I had to be in that part of town and I had heard through the girlfriend grapevine that they had some interesting shoes for standing about. The recommended brand was too sincerely ugly to buy, so I ended up with another sort. And it shall join the other many pairs in the closet as I search for the ultimate shoe. So see you again sometime, fishes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fee Fi Faux

I do love to wander about taking random photos of whatever catches my eye. This area is famous for it’s natural beauty, but there is also the charm of it’s fakeness (not sure if this is a word).

For example, if one gets a permit and has technical rock climbing experience, one may climb the sheer cliff faces at Garden of the Gods. In lieu of that, anyone may try their hand at climbing this artificial rock slab. No permit is needed and there are no warning signs of impending doom. (Plus it’s both easier and quicker than technical climbing).

This could be a tree (after the developers have had at it), or perhaps it is a new way of stacking firewood. But no, it’s neither. This claims to be art, and is part of the arts in the street program (who knew?). And it’s for tourists and locals alike

These faux rock formations are being installed at a new play area. It recreates the feel of rock formations, without the pesky realism and danger of actual rocks. Oh imagine all the fun that children will have playing on these (or not).

It’s not just civic organizations that go for the unnatural look. These homeowners decided against a lawn (really not a terrible idea) and instead populated their yard with these rather attractive plants. It breaks up the monotony of a rock yard, and gives it a bit of style, so this is the only spot of faux nature that does something useful. It’s an improvement, unlike the art on the street tree (try again city).