Saturday, December 22, 2007

soul stitch pups

Well, it seemed time to indulge in a few pup pics.

Elmo is turning into a fine young dog. He's about nine months old now I believe.

look into those eyes... you WILL give me a cookie!
Emma's eyes are a little harder to find, but she doesn't miss a thing.

Watching for Cats!

the pair of them are constantly vigilant.

Happy Solstice Season to one and all. Don't forget the birds!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Parade of Presents

Immaculate Confections just finished its first paid job!

A local business asked me to make nine little cakes as party favors for their office Christmas party. Hence a parade of cakes!

A couple close ups Mr. DeMille:

Alex was a huge help as I was freaking out several times trying to meet the deadline for these cakes. My gratitude for a patient and imaginative pal is unending.

Happy Solstice Season!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2nd Snow

Maybe a second snow is a bit like a second wind, I hope so. I've been lame for the past week with a mysterious pain in my left foot. Today is the first day I could put on a shoe in days. The snow is so beautiful though, I thought I would visit some of the household gods with the camera.
Here's Francis:
and Hummingbird:
and Mickey (with Al):
Al has been hard at work making storm windows, the blue trim are the new windows:

And then I had to take some pictures of the snowflake gate covered in all her sisters:

Here's a detail from the top of the gate:

I'm loving this place!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Immaculate Confections

Well, we attended the Big Gayla last night - a potluck of course. So I decided to try my hand at another fancy cake (and do a little advertising while I was at it. This is the cake:

Its a Red Velvet cake with a yummy Marscarpone and Cream Cheese filling. The cake was delicious, but I had some trouble with how I decided to decorate it. It seems kinda blah to me. The fondant interacted with the icing in such a way as to melt the sugar, so the cake kinda weeps sugar around the seams. It all seems a bit too "home made" to my eye. I ran out of time to do everything I had designed, the cake broke when I was torting it, the bow looks like it has a hard-on, my Pal didn't like the color scheme - so I changed it, but never really bought into it, and on and on.

The real lesson here is to follow my own instincts and have fun.

Anyway, folks at the party seemed to like it. And someone hired me to make a cake for them!
So - Immaculate Confections has its big start. I need to design a business card!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone is safe and well for this lovely Holiday!

Look at this!

My very first cake!

Mrs. P.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lots of work

Wow, it has been a long haul to get to this post! I kept thinking - oh now I can take a picture and post - but then another thing would come up and I would again be delayed.

We've been working steadily for about a month now on designing and building a gate, a trellis, and landscaping (involving relocating a stone wall).

So, here's the pictures finally:

The first picture is the "Grand View" of the new (partially finished) fence line, the relocated wall (dry stacked), the "snowflake" gate, and the trellis.

The second picture is intended to give you a view of the wall and fence.

The third picture is of the new landscaping sans wall. Digging up the wall that was there was quite a chore - at least three feet down and mortered together.

The rest of the pictures are of the gate and trellis construction between the two houses.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

As Robert Frost said....

I'm grateful for the wacky and weird. So much better than scary, so much more lively than bland.

So, last evening, Al happened to be looking out the window when the little girl made a dash for freedom. By his account, she was fashionably dressed in a fur hat that Laura from Dr. Zhivago would envy, hot pants, and cowboy boots. She was glimpsed running out the back gate of her house. Shortly afterward we were startled by someone shrieking in our driveway. I looked out and beheld the vision of an old woman in a bright pink house-dress shuffling along and periodically yelling over her shoulder, "Hyacinth!" At first I thought it was our neighbor Joy trying to corral her two Pomeranians and I went out to give her a hand. But as I got closer, I realized it was the little girl's grandmother, and then realized the little girl's name must be Hyacinth, and that Hyacinth was in big trouble. The old woman was just beside herself, shrieking for Hyacinth and then shuffling along muttering and grumbling and apparently trying to get a hold of something on the ground. The puppy! Sure enough the pup was blissfully rooting around the cat poo and making sure to keep away from the old lady's reach. I introduced myself to Phylis and volunteered to catch the wiggly mass of puppy bliss. As we walked back across the street, Phylis complained that Hyacinth had run out the back after being denied at the front door and the puppy had run out after her. Phylis was not happy, and as soon as the pup was safely in the yard, all but slammed the gate in my face. What is it with these people? The end result is that I am now officially a fan of Hyacinth, and an ally in her secret war against the oppressive dictatorship of Phylis.

Later in the evening, by now it is pitch dark, I heard a suspicious rustling and breaking of branches in the back yard. At first I thought it was Al, but no, he was inside the house with the dogs. So I wandered in back slightly worried that I was going to interrupt a break-in, when I discovered two collage girls pulling branches out of our trees. When I asked them what they were doing I was told that they were collecting wood for a fire they wanted to roast corn on since they didn't have any briquettes, and that's alright isn't it, I mean its just dead branches ya know, and we remembered seeing these trees earlier in the day, right? I was dumbfounded, and asked how much wood did they think they needed. They looked down and decided that the several branches they had collected was probably enough. By now I had gathered my wits and started asking them a little about college life (collecting data for a project I have in mind). After a little while we parted on friendly terms - them with the wood, me with food for thought. A fair exchange. And that was that, or so I thought.

But no, about an hour later I was alarmed to hear more branch breaking in the darkness. Could it be the girls back for more? Nah, they couldn't be that oblivious could they? Yes they very well could! Sure enough, they were back for more. Interestingly, when I asked them if they would be comfortable with me coming over to their house and pulling branches out their trees in the middle of the night, they actually paused and had to think about it. Fortunately the light somehow went on in their heads, and they said no and that they understood why I didn't think what they were doing was "cool." No more tree breaking for the rest of the night.

I am so designing fences.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Minty Fresh

So there's this little girl, about 8 years old I'd guess (based on way too many years in elementary education), who lives somewhere in our neighborhood. I suspect she is the daughter of the guy with the big scary dog and even scarier attitude: "Hi, I'm your new neighbor," smile and shuffle. "uh, yah," look me up and down and spit. She's the granddaughter of the scary man's mom who I couldn't help but overhear screaming at the little girl one evening for playing with her friends too long.

Anyway, this little girl comes by our house periodically. She came by one evening about two months ago to ask us if we wanted the puppy in her arms (a sweet little pit-bull). "No thanks, but where'd you get it?" "Oh just got it the other day, but its not working out. Ya sure you don't want it?" She came back a few weeks later to show us her new puppy, a pug. I guess that one worked out better.

She also comes by to play with the kids who don't live here anymore. I guess she gets lonely.

Well, tonight just as it was getting dark, I noticed her standing at the edge of the street holding a basket with both hands. "oh no," I thought, "not another puppy." But no. After we put Emma in the house, she walked up and asked, "Would you like some tea? I made it myself, from leaves in my yard, Minty Fresh!"

I looked over into her basket in the ugly orange glow of our too bright (that's another story) street light. She had rows of dixie cups (you know, the swirl and spit type from the dentist's) half-filled with what looked like overcooked spinach, snails included, barely covered in murky water. I immediately recoiled from the whole scene and gratefully redirected her to my "tea drinking pal." Clever no? Not only did I not have to look at the disgusting soup, but I didn't even need to lie about not having any money to buy it with. That's right, this gross concoction, which didn't even smell of mint, was for sale. Clever girl.

Poor Al. He doesn't even like tea. I watched with great curiosity. Would the girl prevail on my soft hearted pal? Would he actually pay her for her potion? Would he even go so far as to taste the yucky brew? Ah, but this is where Al is infinitely smarter than me. He asked, "How much is your tea?" And the little girl in a very sweet voice says, "Its just three dollars." At that point I noticed the substantial roll of bills clutched in her hand - she'd been making the rounds all evening. I suspect this was her second or third batch for the night!

Suffice it to say that little girl had met her match in Al. He smiled and dug around in his pockets (I was wearing PJ's, obviously no cash) and said, "I'm sorry, all I have is a penny." The little girl paused for a moment, and then asked, "Do you think your next-door neighbors would like some tea." We both smiled and assured her that indeed they loved tea, and ran inside.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Deflection redux

This is the renewed deflector shield standing tall on our front path. I particularly like the glass of water sitting in the crotch of the two stumps. Light moves through it. Eventually something a little more permanent will be constructed for this spot, or not. Who knows the mythic motion of this land's mind?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

gates and fences

And of course with a new puppy, there is the compelling need for containment. We have been very busy building fences and gates. This is the south side of the dog run:

I designed the gate, and Al designed the fence to go with it. It's particularly fun with light coming through it at night. Kinda like pumpkin carving at Halloween.

Al as Zeus:

And inside the dog run:
The dogs don't like it nearly as much as we do - just another place to poo and chew. Al created a little acequia to channel water from the downspout in back out to the the street. Fortunately, there's lots of rocks to work with.

The front yard needed some fencing, so we used the limbs trimmed out of the Elms to start a coyote fence along the south wall. This is just the beginning. The fence will drop down to about four feet high for the middle span.

Al created the gate for the archway. Inspired by the New Mexican Zia, it also has a bit of a catholic feel to it, very appropriate for a parsonage, though Al insists it's just a zia. Elmo's trying out his escape route.

This gate is also taking on some of the deflector shield's function. Here's the inside view:

I gotta say, it is so much nicer having some barrier from the street in front. These houses are so wacky they generate a lot of looky-loos driving by in their diesel powered gigantor trucks and trailers.
Although, Al's gate is so spectacular, I think we get even more traffic.

Well, I hope the picture show today catches folks up. This is pretty much all we've been doing for weeks and weeks. I do have some more stories to post, hopefully I will be able to organize my time a little better now that things are slowing down.

My best to one and all, may the dog days of summer be biteless and blissful.

More Elmo Pictures

Wonderfully, and somewhat surprisingly, Emma loves her new little brother. They wrestle nightly.

Introducing: Senor Elmo Esposito de Las Vegas Grandes

Oh My! Need I say more?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Two Words, no, Three Words

I realized recently that I haven't lived in a town for about 17 years, and I'm here to tell ya, I hate streetlights! I have an idea to make tin shades for them with star shapes cut out directing the light down into the street instead of into my eyes as I try to find the moon somewhere behind their glare. I also hate middle aged men, or really anyone, on a Harley-Davidson.

But I love the twenty something gangsta wanna be named "Chevy" who lives up the street from me. The other evening I was walking out to the street to finish pruning some branches on the road there. As I turned the corner, there was Chevy with a small kite trying to get it to fly. There was plenty of wind, but for some reason the kite just wouldn't take off. We both shrugged and smiled at the same time at the kite's obstinate refusal to go up. It was a moment full of unspoken good will and cheer. I loved it. But wait, it gets better.

Now you have to know that where Chevy was trying to fly his kite is a small parking lot behind a four story building and near a side alleyway. Pretty tight quarters and very tricky wind wise. Also, surrounded by tall trees. When I rounded the corner and saw this man wearing a bandana and low riding baggy jeans, overweight and running up the alley with a little kite on a string that was spooling out on the ground - I was instantly in love with Chevy. All my resentment for his previous weekend's performance - ala Marlin Brando and Stella, you know the one, where he's drunk and yelling outside her window from the street - evaporated with our mutual shrugs and smiles at the sweet absurdity of this dang kite's insistence on being earth bound.

So I turned to my pruning and Chevy sort of hung his kite up in a bush next to his door, kinda like tying your horse to the hitching post, and went inside. Pretty soon he was back out in the street talking on his cell phone. He was telling a friend about flying his kite "bro, like a thousand feet up in the air, mon!"

This went on for about another ten minutes or so. Me pruning, Chevy on the phone wandering in and out of his house, the kite fluttering on it's shrub in the wind. I sort of lost track of Chevy and his story, I was pruning bro, like a thousand little twigs, mon! Anyway, I was interrupted by Chevy, cell phone to his ear, saying "excuse me sir, did you see my kite? It's gone! It must have blown away! Did you see which way it went?" And sure enough, there was the string broken in Chevy's hand. We both looked around astonished that the kite could have made a break for it while both our backs were turned. Also, the wind which had been blowing at a good pace up till now, was suddenly still. Again, shrugs and smiles, and on my part at least, wonderful cheerful love for a troublesome neighbor. No sign of the kite.

I have a postscript to this story, it goes like this: about a week later, around 3 in the morning, I was woken from a sound sleep. Chevy was locked outside his apartment again, yelling at Maria. What woke me was Chevy bellowing, "I have just two words for you: F***ING B*TCH! No, wait, thats THREE Words!"

I could just see him in the dark - fuming, frustrated, and counting fingers.....

I fell out of bed laughing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

water, wood, rock, and light

Finally! We are finally home. It is difficult to fully express the thorough satisfaction, the deep comfort, the frission of excitement - the flash of lightning the rumbling of thunder and the smell of distant rain over the desert - that the word home holds for me when coupled with this place, the Mesas and Mountains of Northern New Mexico. And to be home with my Pal and my Dog - to close up the house at night, feeling the cool breeze of this high altitude shivering through the leaves of the elms, hearing the quiet of this sleepy town on the edge of the great meadow, sensing the wilderness opening extravagantly to the west and the wide desert to the east- oh how lovely my dreams have become.

Our emissary of place has revealed itself in the person of the Mourning Cloak Butterfly. This lovely being loves the sap from the Elm trees which surround us. They are one of the longest lived butterflies, close to a year. This one is probably a teenager. She/he has been following Al around the yard, landing on his shoulder and ultimately keeping track of him as he hung the clothes on the line:

We had a similar experience with the Luna Moth in Indiana, and so have come to recognize these beings when they appear.

Our response to this place, this particular place and her welcoming of us so beautifully home, is to create a shelter for the spirits in thanksgiving for our place here with them. Very much like the Thai do in their homeland, we understand that we are the tenants here, borrowing this little patch of ground, playacting at setting up house, pretending we have some endurance - when in fact we are just brief interlopers. Beauty attracts beauty, so we created our first intentional space in this new garden in honor of the real residents here.

Another first response, the other side of the coin so to speak, is our "deflector shield." From our front door one can look up the front path, through the front gate, and all the way directly up the street that "T's" at our front door. Very bothersome energetically. So, we quickly gathered the materials at hand from the garden and invoking the elemental powers of water, wood, rock, and light, created the first of what I am sure will be many manifestations of deflecting guardians for this space. The lost toys from the yard are happy to have a new job to do, and they are doing it very well.

Emma is happy to be home too!

I'll try to post more regularly now that we are getting a little more settled. Las Vegas has so many stories to tell - like the very fat man with spurs on his boots eating bad Chinese food, or the Chevy and Maria drama that lasted from 1AM until 11AM, or the lady with the white moo moo, the big hair, and giant fuzzy slippers who just walked by.....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eighth Dolor in Las Vegas

OK, the first thing you need to know is that Dolor means sorrow. Traditionally there are seven sorrows which Mary suffers as the mother of Jesus. Hence her name: Our Lady of the Sorrows, or Dolores, or in Spanish, Nuestra Senora de los Dolores.

Now, when my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary there was a big party out at the Hoban's lake house in Coeur d' Alene Idaho. My parents and two other couples all got married around the same time that year, so the three couples and their children got together for a big shindig at the lake. I must have been around 15 years old. Well, as you might imagine with these large Catholic families, the kids lost no time finding ways to celebrate too. The result being captured on film by my god-father Austin.

Here I am passed out from my first exposure to alcohol. Austin very sympathetically (to my mother) captioned the picture, "Eighth Dolor." And so I am.

That's my mother sitting next to me, not pleased. You had to have a sense of humor to survive raising six kids through adolescence, through the 70's no less. Austin's quip certainly helped this particular episode.

This picture and its tawdry tale drifted into blessed memory for thirty years until my pal and I decided that New Mexico was to be our next home. Specifically, the former parsonage of a church in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Here is a picture of our new home where we should be living come June.

Established by Spanish land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of Sorrows of the Great Meadows)

And naturally her church is Nuestra Senora de los Dolores Catholic Church, its foundation was laid in 1862.

You are probably connecting the dots (or should I say "dolors," Dolores) quite effectively on your own. But each story beseeches its narrator to carry it to its own Golgotha, and so I continue the travail.

Of course, the church to which our new home was once parsonage, is indeed dedicated to "Our Lady of the Sorrows," aka Dolores.

You need to know that this move is something of a miracle: that we qualified for the loan to buy this place, that we survived a challenging year in Indiana intact, that we found a place that provides two studios a residence and rental income, that the world hasn't quite made that proverbial hand-basket trip to hell.... would all point to the miraculous.

I can't help thinking that Our Lady enjoyed Austin's joke some thirty years ago, and with laughter amid her Dolors, granted her "Eighth Dolor" a bit of grace, and called him to her beautiful home on the edge of the great meadows in New Mexico.

You can bet I'll be building shrines come summer!

Chantal Cordey Guitar Strap

Chantal Cordey is a gifted artist living in Australia. Currently she is lending her vast talents to the making of custom guitar straps. This is the strap she just finished for my R Taylor and me. I feel very fortunate to have this guitar to play, and doubly fortunate to have this lovely strap to support the playing.

The design took us several months to develop. Mainly because she is so talented and I love her work so much, I couldn't settle on just one idea. With patience, Chantal helped me hone my ideas down to this beautiful and powerful motif. I love how the Apple Blossoms cascade down the strap. The color tones and texture are evocative of the old west, and the Medicine Wheel is substantial yet soft. Just Perfect.

Check out her link in the "links of beauty" section. She has a wonderful web page which shows the breadth and depth of her work. She recently won an award for a design using the deadly "ghost nets" floating off the Gulf of Carpentaria in Arnhem land.

I'm here to tell you this strap helps me play better. And it looks so good too.