Saturday, July 23, 2011

Becoming New Mexican

La Paloma Hot Springs & Spa

Yesterday I started my job as a part-time spa attendant at La Paloma, which offers hot springs baths, massage, lodging and a conference center for retreats. It's a very nice facility, and one of the perks is that I get all the free soaks I want.

The job itself is pretty easy--two days a week, I will take whatever reservations come in, check in people as they arrive for a stay, and do some light housekeeping in the bath house between bathers. Job duties include such things as making sure the New Age music from Pandora is always streaming into the bath house and doing a sage ritual at shift change.

The downside of the job is that everyone that works there is seriously nucking futs. Housekeepers come into the office to complain about everything and everybody. So I'll be learning to have good boundaries on this job. The only question is whether to be really positive or just tell these crazy people I will hurt them if they spew their negativity at me. I'll probably try the nice approach first.

I did talk to a few people that I consider to be sane about the bitchy backbiters at work, and they said, "Welcome to TorC." I could get a job somewhere else, but it will be the same anywhere. This is a town where you are a superstar at work if you show up, do the job, and don't say anything really crazy (such as attributing missing cleaning supplies to ghosts...seriously!), and that's what I intend to do.

Turtleback Mountain just before a monsoon

In my last entry, I wrote about selling both antiques and my artwork at January's Gallery With a Card Shop here in Truth or Consequences. A few days ago, I stopped by with more vintage stuff for January to sell in her shop, and she kindly included me in a "ladies night out" at the new ice cream shop in town that evening. It was really fun getting to know a few more people here, especially since they share my interest in reselling old crap.

I took the picture of Turtleback just as I left the house. Normally the mountain is a dark brown against a light blue sky, but with a rainstorm about to begin and the sun on its way down, the mountain was illuminated against a dark cloudy background. For those of you who know Brian, that's his house on the right with the big swamp cooler on the roof. Brian lives so close to me that I sometimes back the Guppy into his fence, trying to get out of my parking space and into the alley. Not on purpose, of course.

Sonja's kibble in a moat

I didn't know about the monsoon season before I moved here. Coming from the Pacific Northwest where it rains all fall, winter and spring, it seems funny to be someplace where the majority of the rain falls in the summer. But it's also nice, because the storms usually occur in the afternoon or early evening, and they bring cool relief from the hot days. When I was at the ice cream event the other night, the rain came down pretty hard for a while, so we just stayed longer and chatted more until it cleared up.

Another thing I didn't know about before moving here was the ants! Lots and lots of little ants, different colors and different kinds. The locals know their names. I don't. They're all just pests to me. I was feeling frustrated about ants coming into my house and swarming in Sonja's cat food dish, until I talked to my neighbor Janice, who does a lot of pet-sitting. She told me to put Sonja's dish inside a larger dish full of soapy water. This completely alleviated the problem.

Candlesticks painted in New Mexico colors, then distressed

This week I took a major shopping trip down to Las Cruses with my friends Gretchen and Tom. Man, do they know how to shop! I thought I was a shopper, but they wore me out. Gretchen shopped 'til I dropped. It was good, though. We hit some thrift stores that have a 30% senior discount on Wednesdays, and I found lots of good stuff for resale and also to incorporate into artwork. Then we went to deep discount department stores, such as Big Lots and Factory 2U, and I got a bunch of things I needed for my apartment. We topped it off with lunch at Golden Corral, which also has a senior discount, but I wasn't old enough for that one. I don't think I can afford to go with Gretchen and Tom every week (money-, time-, or energy-wise), but it was fun and I will definitely do it again.

Overall this past week has been another social butterfly week for me. This just amazes me, given that I used to be such a loner. I find myself dropping whatever I'm doing to have coffee with Dhultky or iced tea with Brian or a chat with Janice, plus I need to fit in the phone calls to friends and family elsewhere. I've also begun writing a weekly snail mail letter to my son Sly, because sometimes it's difficult to find times that we're both available to talk on the phone. I am changing longer isolating, and becoming a person who values companionship, kindness, and mutual interests when they come my way.

Mosaic birdhouse completed this morning

I do, however, need to grab those times that I have to myself and get things accomplished! I actually do that, but not to the extent of my capabilities. I gather things up to take to January and I do artwork and I eat pretty well and ride my bike here and there to run errands, but I tend to put off the less fun stuff. So today I'm having a Garbage Day to take care of the garbage I'd rather not do, such as pay bills, do paperwork, and clean house. And I'm going to get it all done before my siesta, so I gotta run. I know I'm not completely a New Mexican yet, because if i was, I'd take my siesta first. One day at a time, I guess.

Monday, July 18, 2011

At Long Last--Back in the Mosaic & Antiques Biz

Mosaic Tray Completed Last Night

Being able to do mosaic artwork again is like breathing clearly after the allergy season finally ends. It's taken me a while to accumulate supplies since I settled here in Truth or Consequences a little over a month ago, but now I'm back in business. I have a few plates and tiles to break, a few items ("forms") to cover with tiles, some grout, sponges, etc. And I have a place to sell my work.

While I'd like to eventually do some solo gallery shows, and I will, for now I'm going to sell some pieces at January's Gallery With a Card Shop on Broadway in TorC.

January is a very nice woman who runs a combination art gallery/antiques store. On Saturday, I brought her some retro stuff that hadn't sold on eBay, and she liked everything and will sell it on consignment.

Consignment is a great way to go! I used to have my own rented antique spaces up in the Pacific Northwest and it was a lot of work to price every item, stage everything in my space, and keep it neat and clean. At January's, all I have to do is bring her the stuff, and she'll do the pricing and display. Of course, she takes a larger percentage, but, hey, I know how to buy low and sell high, so that's not a problem. Now I can have the pure pleasure of "picking"--going out and buying stuff that I can turn around for a profit--which is the most fun part of the antique biz for me, anyway.

Two Trivets

I'll also be bringing January some mosaic pieces when she reopens this week (like many TorC businesses, she mostly operates on the weekend, when the touristas are in town). She really likes mosaic work and already has one mosaic artist in the shop, but my work is very different from what is already there, so that should work out fine.

"Sue Central"--My Kitchen Table, Where It All Happens

I continue to make friends and enjoy new activities here in New Mexico. This week I got to meet John Rogers, whom I've known from the VanDwellers for some time. John is staying in his 1970 VW van at nearby Caballo Lake State Park. He came into town to take care of some business one day last week, and we had a fine time, drinking sodas at Little Sprout Juice Bar, meeting up with our mutual VanDweller friend Brian at my house, and then having a burger at Groovy Gritz. John is a kind, mellow guy who I know is going to be a wonderful friend. We've got some more plans in the works--a camp dinner at Caballo this week and maybe some gold panning up in Silver City! I wish I'd remembered to take a photo of John while he was in town. Whenever I'm having a really good time, I forget to get out the camera.

Organic Heirloom Tomatoes from Artists Habitat (My Apartment Building) Communal Garden

In addition to John's visit, I had coffee with several friends this week and went on a hike at Elephant Butte State Park with Kelly and her dogs. I also worked a lot at getting some business taken care of, such as applying for my New Mexico drivers license, switching over some life insurance from my ex's name to mine, stuff like that. I went to the movie theater on Saturday night to see the very silly but well-animated Cars 2, then had my friend Steve over to drink iced tea while we sat on my patio, looking at the full moon. The past week has been quiet, but satisfying and productive.

With that, I'm off to mail stuff that's sold on eBay and to see what new wonders have appeared at the thrift store. G'day!

Monday, July 11, 2011


4-Wheelin' in Style in Des's Geo Trekker

When I last posted here, I was getting a little concerned about my slothfulness. The initial novelty of living in Truth or Consequences seemed to be wearing off, since I'd seen most of the town, and I was getting into the habit of taking a daily siesta and not getting much accomplished. But that is so last week!

My Zephyr

A day or two after my last post, I ran into my friend Phil at the thrift shop. He's the guy I used to live next door to at the RV park and he's a great bicycle mechanic whenever he doesn't have any beer money. He showed me a nice old 1980s Zephyr Boardwalk cruiser that had just been donated and said he could fix it up for me. Better yet, he would teach me how to fix it myself. It's my favorite color of green and now that it has newer tires and new tubes, it zooms along great in one speed--mine.

Later in the week, I met a new friend, Sam Ace, who is a poet. Friday night, I got to go out to eat at Groovy Grits, a new restaurant in town, with Sam and his wife Amrit, and my friends Des and Kelly, who have a sort of grandpa-granddaughter friendship that is very sweet. I had wanted to check out this cafe, but had been told it was pricey. Not so! I had a terrific Sante Fe Red Chili Cheeseburger with outstanding sweet potato fries and a bottomless tumbler of iced tea for about 10 bucks. The conversation was great, and we were well entertained by a singer-guitarist who looked familiar, and when we chatted I found out it was because he works at the local grocery store. I've forgotten his name, but the next time I shop I will reintroduce myself.

Saturday night was the monthly Art Hop here in TorC, and now that I've lived here a month, I actually knew some of the people involved in the events. James Gosowski had a great exhibit by local artists called "So Gay" and I really enjoyed hanging out there with his friends for a while. Then I had to hightail it over to Rio Bravo Art Gallery to hear Sam's reading from his latest book of poetry, "Stealth." Unfortunately I have no photos from that evening or from Friday night, because I was just having too darned much fun to stop and take any snaps.

Wild desert gourds that look like baby watermelons

Sunday, however, was a big picture-taking day. Kelly picked me up and we rendezvoused with Des and his neighbor Chris, my friends Roz and Dick, and Des's friends Barb and Gabe, and all drove out to Box Canyon near Monticello, New Mexico, for a wild day of four-wheeling. We had two vehicles, which was good, because the folks in the second one were all rockhounds and stopped more often than we trailblazers in Des's Trekker. It was an amazing day unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

Driving down the middle of the stream

The road through the canyon area is crossed at least 50 times by a shallow but quick-moving stream, and there were many times when we drove right down the stream bed itself. We went through a wide variety of environments--desert, oases, open range, homesteads, gentle hills, rocky little mountains--and we saw all sorts of vegetation, birds, deer, elk and even scimitar oryxes, a specialized breed of North African antelope that was introduced into New Mexico game ranches and that has since gone wild here, which is pretty cool considering they are now extinct in Africa.

Kelly kissing a horse, even though she just met him and doesn't even know his name

The conversations in the Trekker and the lunch break were also fun. Everybody shared great stories, and we pondered what it would be like to live way out there where some of the ranches are. This area is also where Geronimo is said to have hidden out prior to his capture in Arizona in 1886. We also wondered about what that stream must be like during the monsoons that hit New Mexico around this time of year. We did see a 10-foot water gauge one place along the creek.

Roz, scanning the rocks for the petroglyphs that we never did find

I also got to learn a little bit about photography from Chris, who is a very accomplished photographer. He suggests that I get a polarizing lens for my camera to help me get better desert colors, which seem to all blend together in my pics.

Chris, looking happy and relaxed at the end of our drive

We had a very full day and all went home exhausted in the late afternoon. I really missed my siesta! I'm so used to taking a midday break that I'm wondering how I'll cope once I start my job at the spa next week. I guess I'll have to bring iced coffee with me on my work days.

Today's eBay and Mosaic Fodder

I missed my siesta again today. I drove the Guppy 70 miles down to Las Cruces to apply for a replacement Social Security card so I can get my New Mexico drivers license. It is a joy to drive my eBay RV now that it no longer contains everything I own! With the art supplies, vintage fabrics, sewing machine, sheet music, etc., all removed, the Guppy drives much more easily. While I was in Cruces, I visited a couple of thrift stores (of course!) and got some great eBay inventory, including cowboy boots, cowboy shirts, African fabrics, and a bunch of Vera scarves. I also stopped at Lowes and bought grout and some great clearance-priced glass tiles for my mosaic work. I came home feeling very inspired, just as a monsoon started, which was a very refreshing break from our 100 degree temps. It's cool tonight and it should be very good sleeping. The thunder and lightening scares Sonja, who prefers to nap in the shade on a hot day, but there will be plenty more of those.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day 2011

Godzilla guarding the garden in Old Glory garb

I was remembering today that when I was a child, my mother would sometimes say I was "independent" with a tone suggesting that this was not a compliment. I think she meant independent as in strong-willed, obstinate, or arrogant.

I am still these things today, but I am working to have more of the positive characteristics of independence, of which there are many: self-confidence, self-sufficiency, dignity, worthiness, composure, self-discipline, etc.

However, I seem to be falling into the habit of slow-moving indolence that is characteristic of many folks in Truth or Consequences. Between having morning coffee, doing some journaling, taking a midday siesta, watching the cats and hummingbirds in the garden, and maybe fitting in an evening soak at one of the local hot springs spas, it is easy to have an entire day go by with little to show for it. I've had "list stuff on eBay" on my to-do list all week and nothing has gotten listed.

Sunflower with climbing morning glory, just outside my window

But today is another day, and I have been consciously building some new habits for myself. I'm working some art-making into every day. Since I moved to my apartment, I've enjoyed relaxing in my own digs and it's sometimes difficult to push myself out the door to take a walk. So recently I packed my sketchbook and drawing pencils into a tote bag, and every morning I go to the Rio Grande and do a page of sketches. Mostly I've been finding lots of big carp feeding close to the riverbank, so I've been getting familiar with their characteristics, and eventually I will probably do some mosaic images of fish. I have also started doing some simple mosaics, mostly household items for my new apartment such as trivets and candle stands. And I'm tearing lots of images out of the free magazines I find up at the library to use in making collage, altered books, shrines, etc.

The bedroom end of one of my two rooms

There is lots to do to get my house in order. I still have to unpack and find places for all of my art supplies. I will probably continue to keep some eBay inventory and my vintage fabrics in Rubbermaid totes, but I think I'll switch them out to a smaller size that will fit under my platform bed. I have some original artwork by friends and family stored in Oregon that I'd like to get sent down here now that I have some wall space again. And, while I don't want to go overboard, I do have room for more stuff here than I did in the Guppy, so I will probably eventually get some sort of stereo and other creature comforts that I've done without for a while. I need lots of other smaller things, such as baskets for organizing art supplies, cleaning supplies, electronic chargers, etc. Eventually it will come together.

The kitchen end of my other room

Now that I'm in one place all the time, I'm much more interested in cooking again. I never used the oven in the Guppy, but this week I've baked cornbread and cookies for social events, and I roasted a whole chicken last night. This morning I went onto Amazon and ordered a handheld Cuisinart blender and an old-fashioned stainless steel malt cup so I can make healthy smoothies for breakfast. I also want a waffle maker and a compact microwave oven, but I'm going to hold off on those until I find a really good deal. (I'm getting my blender for 87 cents--with free shipping!-- by using the bonus points from my Amazon credit card.)

I had a great time going to the fireworks out at Elephant Butte State Park on Saturday night with several women friends. We escaped the crowds by not going into the park itself and just parking in an empty lot in the town of Elephant Butte. My homemade peanut butter cookies were a hit with the gals!

Sonja and her frenemy clone Abigail--Can you tell which is which?

I don't think I'll be doing much to celebrate the 4th, except maybe to grill some turkey hot dogs here at home. From what I've heard, it's a good day to stay off the road due to drunk drivers. So I am determined that today I will get "list stuff on eBay" checked off of my list, right after siesta time...