Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cool Times in a Hot Town

Sonja Staying Cool

It's been hot in Truth or Consequences, in the high 90s or low 100s most days lately.  I try to get out on my bike and spend time socializing with friends over coffee fairly early in the day, then run whatever errands I need to, before I close myself up in the apartment with the air conditioning running in the afternoon.  That's when I do my eBay work and art work.  In the evening, we can open up the windows again, the time depending on whether there's any breeze.  

Some new things (cool things!) have been happening here for me lately.  So many I think I'll make a list:

1.  I'm back working at La Paloma Hot Springs and Spa one day a week, plus a few hours here and there, subbing for co-workers when they take a lunch break or go to the dentist or whatever.  

La Paloma was beautiful last year when I worked there and became even more beautiful while I was gone for the winter.  There are more gardens, some bird feeders, and lucky bamboo plants in every room.  All of the bath house rooms have been replastered and repainted, and a well-known New Mexico artist, Tracy Turner Sheppard, is painting mimbres and mandalas on the walls of each tub room.  Tracy is in town working on this project this week, and I'm delighting in getting to know her.

Another improvement, for employees, is that we now get to use the spa's laundry for just $1 per load, which is a great time and money saver.  Yesterday I did my laundry early in the morning before the housekeepers needed to start doing bedding, towels and robes used by the spa guests.

   Watercolor mandala embellished with metallic thread

2.  I'm volunteering at the Community Health Foundation (CHF) Thrift Store that is practically next-door to my apartment.  I spend a few hours each week inside the store, usually rolling up pieces of sewing fabric and pricing them.  

I also watch the loading dock at the back of the store during the hours they're closed.  I try to make sure that the donations make it into the store when they're open again, rather than being stolen by passers-by, which happens a lot.  So I stuff bags and boxes and pieces of furniture that have just been left out on the dock into the big donation drop-box, where things are harder to steal.  Sometimes I bring stuff to my house over the weekend and then take them back to the store on Monday morning.   

Of course, this means I sometimes get first pick of stuff that's donated, so I've been able to buy some pretty cool things for resale on eBay or at January's Gallery, an art and antiques store that is right across the street from my apartment.

CHF volunteers get a small discount on purchases ($1) for each hour of work.   It's a great little thrift store, and I always find something to buy for my own use or for resale.  So I always end up leaving my shift owing more hours than when I arrived!  

 Oil pastel mandala on heavy cardstock

3.  I'm trying different art media.  For the past few years, my emphasis has been on mosaics.  A few months ago, I started drawing mandalas with markers, colored pencils, and crayons.  Now I'm starting to do mandalas with watercolors and oil pastels, and I'm doing some collage and papier-mache.   It's like being a kid again, where you try all sorts of things in elementary school art.

I've also started attending a monthly art salon, where local artists get together and talk about what they're working on, what inspires them, what issues they run into, etc.  

I've made some mandala notecards, each one an original piece of art, that are on sale at January's and at La Paloma.  I also crafted some Scrabble tile refrigerator magnets that are available at January's.

4.  I've increased my coolness factor a whole lot technologically lately.  My old laptop was being kept on life support by Dave the Computer Guy, but once it got to where nothing would help anymore (not even mouse-to-mouse resuscitation), I needed to replace it.  So I got another Lenovo Thinkpad, at about half what the first one cost me about five years ago.  It's taken me a few weeks to get savvy with a newer version of Windows.  I also had to find a new way of editing my photos for eBay because I no longer had PhotoShop, which a friend had put on my old machine.  But I've grown to love PicMonkey, and now I am back up to speed with my eBay selling.

I decided that since I was on such a high learning curve with technology, anyway, I might as well go ahead and upgrade to a Smartphone, too.  My two-year contract with Verizon was near its end, so they gave me a free Droid Pro.  

Now I'm beginning to understand why so many people constantly have their phones in their hands.  I'm using my phone as a mini-computer throughout the day.  I can check on my eBay sales without having to be at home with my computer booted up, and I'm looking forward to using my eBay app while I'm out shopping the thrift stores in Las Cruces next week, to decide whether things are worth buying before I spend the money on them.  

    So true...but at my house, I'm the one tethered to the phone.  Steve will probably never need or want a Smartphone.

5.  There's a new coffee shop in TorC!  Passion Pie is a cafe owned by several local women who turn out fabulous baked goods every day of the week.  I understand they also offer actual meals, but so far I've never been able to get past the pastry case to look at the menu.  I am still a Black Cat Books & Coffee devotee and I go to the Black Cat every day it's open.  But there are days it's not!

So that's my story of domesticity in TorC.  I'm happy and productive.  I always find plenty of interesting things to do, and the heat isn't getting me down.  I am, however, going to see about trading a few workdays with a coworker in July so Steve and I can spend a week or two in some cooler weather up in Santa Fe and Taos.  We'll need to restock the Guppy with a few things, since we moved the mattress and other items into our apartment.  

All is well with me, and I hope it is with you, too.  I'm off to the Black Cat to read the Sunday New York Times and soak up the local gossip.