Category Archives: Doings

Festival

After a two year delay because of Covid, it was on again, the 112th Annual Festival. It was smaller than the past, but I was frankly just glad that it was happening again. Some things never change in this tiny corner of the state, except to get worse. Unlike in the fashionable parts of the state, there are lots of adobe houses here that are melting back into the earth.

And the decay is not limited to houses. Years ago, at a bend in the road, an old, rusted Model T sat half buried in the dust, returning to the elements. And at some point, some years ago, it finally disappeared altogether. But this one continues to uphold the tradition of abandoned cars, really it’s a lot of work to tow them away, and to where? (Also, I love to photograph this scene and hope it never changes).

At my Uncle’s place this water wagon has been sitting there for a long time. And it will probably be unmoved for a considerable time more.

And you may have wondered, where do I derive my surprising knowledge of tractors? Why this is because of my uncle. He just about always has a story or two about tractor engineering to amaze me with. This tractor is something he bought as a toy, and it had often been in the parade for the festival. It’s currently working at becoming part of the landscape.

And what is a festival without the venerable tradition of a parade? This year I drove my uncle in his 1979 Lincoln Town car, which is another one of his toys. I had previously ridden in the parade as stoker on his steam thresher when I was a young woman (and I was pretty quick study on the job of stoker, so it didn’t blow up.)

So I don’t have any pictures of this year’s parade, but we were sitting here waiting for the start time, with the other folks.

Anyone who wants to can be in the parade. There is no charge to participate unless one is a politician. They used to charge $100 per car, but now they have upped it to $150 for them. The same political party has been in charge of the county since 1930, but a couple of people showed up to try and sway the voters to change. Perhaps. Every politician threw out candy for the kids, and then there was the annual free feast in the park to close the festival. This may have been the last time I shall go, but as long as there are a few people left in the village, the celebration will continue. I hope.

Farm

A big river flows through the city to the south, so it is possible to grow things there (unlike here where people only grow lawns). Visiting the farm stands is the other destination when going to the fair. And as it is harvest time, it’s the perfect time to visit.

And there is the best part of this time of year, sacks and sacks of freshly picked green chili. One can take home a sack of these to be roasted at home, or, one can enjoy the delicious aroma as they are roasted on the spot (as a lazy person, I think it is better for them to do the work).

They do grow lots of other things as well, so here is field of pumpkins, stretching out as far as the eye can see (without my glasses). I think these are mainly fated to be carved up as Halloween decorations, but the deer do enjoy coming by for a bit of a nibble as they sit on one’s porch.

I’m sure that this vehicle was somehow involved in the fair even though it does not look like a tractor (and I am fairly positive about this).

Besides purchasing freshly picked produce, they also sell jams, jellies and items like this. I was bitterly disappointed that this jar does not actually contain homegrown spicy dinosaur teeth. 🙁

This particular farm stand is decorated with a lot of chili related memorabilia which shows the devotion people have for this delicious veggie.

I grew up in the Midwest and really did not know anything about green chili, but once I got accustomed to it, I fell in love. And I guess that now I too am a collector of chili related items. 😉

Fair

Probably ever since there was agriculture, there have been agricultural fairs. The State Fair is many things, but at it’s core it’s a celebration of agriculture and the harvest. It only lasts for ten days, so me and my friend rushed off to see this year’s version.

I think I have mentioned that I know way too much about tractors for a city person. So I was able to give my friend a short introduction to the finer points of engine technology (which I’m sure was fascinating). And we made the old farmer manning the booth happy by being interested and asking questions.

One of my favorite things about the fair is the sand sculpture, held together with just compaction and a spray of water. After not being here for the past 8 years, these artists returned with this whimsical piece. The amazing part is that they start with a rough idea and create it on the fly!

This is the newest fashion in showing sheep, they look so adorable with their little furry legs. I did not include the owner, who had won the mullet contest the day before.

Every year there is some sort of free event, the past has had a tiger show, pig racing (not at the same time), etc. So this year it was some trained rescue dogs. For this trick the dog had leapt over a 7′ bar, using the young girl as a stepping stone. It was the best moment.

So why did we really go to the fair? (hint: it wasn’t to see the tractors). Why we were there to see the Fine Art exhibit. Because even though I did not get a ribbon this year, I was juried in, and that was good enough for me.

This show had a controversy that actually made the New York Times. Someone submitted a painting that was entirely done with AI (those darn robots want to take all of our jobs). It was so spectacular that I don’t remember seeing it, and I certainly didn’t take a picture of it. Oh well, I’m sure robots won’t be able to enter next year, and no robot can perfectly shear a sheep, so we are all safe for now (except from Skynet).

Opa!

I do love to attend church festivals, it’s a left-over tradition from my youth (which was a very long time ago). So on this rare rainy cool Saturday I was off. First, a stop at my sometimes church to pick up a box of tree-ripened peaches from the western part of the state. Imagine if you will, peaches that smell like peaches, and are soft and yielding to the touch. And they taste like a peach should, rather than what passes for a peach at the local market. I might give a few to my friends and then eat peaches until I tire of them (if that’s possible).

So the nearby Greek Orthodox church was having their annual fund-raiser festival that day as well. Who can resist such an event? Well certainly not me.

Any church festival is greatly improved by the selling of booze, so “step up ” was a good invitation. They featured Ouzo, local beer and regular Greek wines (no Retsina, that stuff is vile).

They always have these tents set up to eat in, usually it’s to protect one from too much heat and sun. Today it was protecting against a light sprinkling of rain. I was enjoying a freshly made gyros (quite delicious!).

There is typically folk dancing going on, but there was that bit of rain which discouraged this for now. The other necessity for a festival is something to buy, (I did mention that this is a fund-raiser for the tiny church). There were t-shirts, souvenirs, icons, belly dancing scarves (the scarves don’t dance, they are to wear while one belly dances) and Greek food items for sale. So I picked up an expensive jar of olives and called it a day. And next year I shall do it again exactly the same (ain’t tradition wonderful?).

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.

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.

Speak

At the flats I stay at, there is this place. I kept walking past the door, but one day it was open….

Well, as it turned out, it was a semi-secret pub, and was very popular with a sort of trendy young person. It was a facsimile of a speak-easy, those American drinking establishments of prohibition (January 1920 to December 1933). Of course my only knowledge of these sorts of places comes from old gangster movies. (Although my great-aunt Julia was married to a bootlegger and died of the drink).

True to the historicity of such places, one rings the buzzer and a face appears in the little window asking one for the secret code to enter. I said “Howdy” and the Russian at the door said “what is this howdy?” So I said “it’s American for Hello”, which was good enough to get in (I had not booked a table). And inside a small, dimly lit room, lots of young persons were sucking down drinks in this theme boozer.

Note that even the bear is wearing a blindfold, everything that happens in here is a secret.

I was reminded of a time, probably close to fifty years ago, when I had gone to a similar place. Me and my friends were home for Christmas, there were the obligatory family things, and then there was adventure. I was the youngest person in our group, but I had a fake ID so I could tag along. My friend L was older than me, and I thought she was very glamorous. She had grown up in a mansion, gone to private schools, then university and she was living a bohemian life as a street vendor. She wanted to go out and about and I was fool enough to follow her anywhere. She had a privately printed pamphlet listing gay clubs in the area. So, off we went, driving in her parents’ big sedan.

We were looking for this place across the river, in an almost abandoned urban area (it had made the list for most dangerous cities in America, and it’s still on this). Once upon a time it had been a prosperous place, with businesses, stores and jobs, but that time had long passed. And there we were in a cold, dark street, looking for a place without a sign to announce it’s presence, hoping to not be murdered (it was famous for this, after all). Then we found a door, with the requisite little door for the bouncer to scope out potential customers. I can’t imagine what we looked like, but we must have somehow passed muster, or maybe we had to pay money to enter and there we were, at a drag club, possibly the only females in the place.

To say that I was out of my depth is an understatement, but we went in, sat down and ordered drinks. It was a dive, probably last redecorated in the 30’s when it opened. Many of the patrons looked to be military from the nearby Air Force Base. There was a tiny raised area that served as a stage, and that was where the ladies lip synced to popular tunes. We were sitting on the left side and could see into the dressing area, which was just a flimsy curtain covering a small boxy area. It was fascinating watching a rather ordinary looking soldier turn into a prom queen with big hair and a massive sparkly dress. We on the other hand, looked like the young hippies that we were, we always used lots of eye makeup, and I’m sure that we had on jeans and pullovers of some sort. After a performance, she invited the artist to come over for a drink, and of course I don’t remember any of the conversation, I probably said nothing beyond “howdy”. Then it was time to go, and we made it out of this decaying town and back to our own side of the river.

Altogether it was a much more exciting experience than the modern speakeasy, located as it is in a good part of it’s town (possibly this is also the good side of the river there).

A day in the country

I love a drive in the country, it’s something that we sometimes did when I was a child, just to escape the city. And on this day me and my girlfriends were on a mission, and of course this mission involved shopping.

It’s really not that far to go, just drive south to the next city, then follow the river, and there you are among the fields. This was a giant field of pumpkins, across the road from a popular farm store. It’s not really an old-time farm stand, it’s more of big business, so it’s an interesting place to shop.

They had added quite a bit of stuff, since my last visit, like the imported Italian pasta (there were lots of Italians who came to the area to work in the steel mill, and their descendants are still here). There were plenty of baked goods and even tourist souvenirs to be had. And they were roasting green chile in front, so the place smelled great.

As this antique tractor has steel wheels, it is probably from the mid 1920’s or possibly early 1930’s. I’m leaning towards the earlier date, because it has a starter crank instead of an electric starter, and the overall primitiveness of design. (I know way more about tractors than I should).

Here’s another farm store, this one also had a cafe, which was quite good. (sorry, I don’t take pictures of my food anymore).

Quaint old stuff sets the stage for selling locally made products. It’s a guarantee that we’re out of the city.

And why had we gone south? (aside from the obvious need to shop at the farm stands). Oh yeah, I had won a red ribbon (2nd place) at the state fair, so well done me. After a quick ride on a Ferris Wheel, it was back to town.

Out and About

It was supposed to be a hot and sunny day, perhaps the sort of day for one to stay in near an air conditioner, but it was also the start of a shop hop. (One goes to each of the shops on the list to collect a stamp, and possibly win a prize packet, but mostly it is an excuse to go shopping.) So me and my friends decided that it was a good day to head up to the shops in the north.

And the first shop on the list was in this town, which is named for the large rock formation that looms over the town like the ruins of an ancient fortress.

Later, after we had gone to three shops in the big city (spent money) and had lunch, it was time to turn around and head back home. And there on the horizon, appearing as a small blue bump is the mountain.

There is still areas of open space with farms and ranches between the cities, and now the mountain is more fully in view. (Those are fake storm clouds in the sky, it never did rain).

We’re almost home, and there is the mountain, in all it’s familiar glory.

And what exactly were we shopping for? Why quilting fabric of course, because one can never have too much fabric. These are just small bits because I plan on turning these into more face masks, some for my friends, but mostly for me. Because after all, one can’t wear the same thing day after day.

More Landscapes

It was a bit hard to select landscapes, I don’t typically photograph landscapes, although I could easily post 10 pictures of the mountain in all its glory. But, I rooted around in the various photos on my phone and came up with another batch that shows some of the places that I’ve been to, more or less recently.

This spot is along the Savannah River in a city park, I was visiting for a great-niece’s high school graduation. I was drawn to the Spanish moss hanging from the trees. It reminded me of when I lived in the south.

There is a high spot near Dallas, and this is it. (I see why Texans like to come to Colorado and New Mexico to look at mountains, they could really use one here.) Another niece was graduating from college.

I went to college in this town in New Mexico, and this is the oldest church there (started 1706, this building was put up in 1793 after the first one fell down.) It occupies a prime bit of tourist real estate now.

I was at M’s cousin’s house, standing on the front porch when I took this. It looks like it might be Mordor. Is it? Not really, but it is the original village site, they moved over to this side of the road when the railroad came through.

This is my favorite place to visit. That is the dome of St. Paul’s, being gradually hemmed in by all the new construction. 🙁

As a bonus I included this landscape painting (possibly from the Tate) taken because I like both cows and dogs. And it closes out the series with perhaps how a landscape was traditionally viewed (but it still might benefit from a pterodactyl or two). 😉