Thursday, November 11, 2021

Going Home

 Rambling thoughts today.

Cleaning up the Casita is the big chore of living there. Strange beasties and such think there is NO REASON for us to be there, and perhaps they are right.  The cat and I have successfully repelled things on all our trips.  Perhaps his chasing across the floor as I TRY to sleep and talking to himself is what scares them off. 

I pass on some wisdom to the next tenant in the book by the bed they call the Guest Log:

  • My words of wisdom include refrigerating your trash.  It is semi-primative.  By today's standards, VERY.  Mostly no internet unless your data plan works up there. But there is electricity and fridge, stove, microwave.   Oh, and the cleanest tap water... sigh.... here in Mesa/Scottsdale/Phoenix, I have not sipped from a tap since I moved here in the 80s.  Just smells like gas, and tastes like fish.
  • The Baby Navajo Taco is so perfect!  I like Pow Wows because there are so many fry bread booths.  BUT tacos are just huge.  This Baby is so just right.  Freshly made and a bit more merchandise than mama's handiwork, but it is the real thing.
  • There are sundried goodies in our pantry, including plenty of spare sheets and beddings, but you have to wash when done. I just bring my own.  Since they traded queen bed for twins, I found I had a bit more than I needed:
    Not a problem.  I suggest a cat.
  • DO NOT FORGET YOUR COFFEE, as they have a brewer and liners but if you need that cup, bring your grinds.
I really committed to the nothing of the experience.  I dawdled cleaning and made my third rearrangement of the furniture something I just feel compelled to do.  The cat in my car is smooth as clockwork these days.  Bigger car, and older cat.  He slept all the way up and was only mildly interested in a little walk on the leash before we left.  He is borderline boring.

I spent time in the visitor center in the Puerco Ruins.  There is a semi-stupendous slideshow (a good 15 min) that has all the archaeological discoveries.  I was mesmerized.  Normally there is so much to do.  I never actually DO anything.
On the way out, I made another pilgrimage to Newspaper Rock... not for the petroglyphs but for the omnipresent ravens.  They literally were feet away this time, hanging around, grabbing bugs off our grills.



I will say, this is sort of wondrous.  It is the first time I had people actually seem as excited to have me back as I was to think about my next return!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


 I was up plenty early due to the cat deciding to drag race through the house. I am hoping that means he's chasing vermin! It still doesn't mean he hasn't found every single thing to knock off every single table but so far only one really scary centipede.

I made my coffee packed for chili weather, which means I overdressed and lo and behold they're in the Painted Desert Visitor Center  parking lot was a gigantic truck filled with Christmas tree.

I arrived plenty early as the festivities weren't scheduled until 9:00 but luckily I got there just as the organizers said they wanted the ornament that was given to the truck driver (mine) last night to hang on the tree... that red space there at the very very back has clear windows and you can see a lot of the ornaments that have been given as special treats. I do believe the bulk of the ornaments beat the trailer to Washington DC. Because I goofed and left my phone in the car all I had was my camera which I can't upload from when I'm on the road but I did get a picture of me handing it to the representative.


 (Seriously forgive me as I had to take the photograph from the screen of the camera which was what I handed to the gentleman who is their official photographer. See I told you I overdressed and I'm sorry you can't really see the ornament that well 😯. I have other pictures that I can post later. This is just what I can do with my cell phone.)

Aside from the free hot chocolate (which I vigorously enjoyed, having just escaped the hundreds and now into the high 90°s in Phoenix) there was a presentation which included an honor guard. And a nice little walk-through display from six Rivers National Forest including this gigantic slab from the bottom of the tree in the Box showing how old it was. Apparently it's one year older than I am.




I had plans to come and get fry bread on my way back in the evening but that was before I realized that I had slightly low tire pressure. From 100° to 39°. I believe that would account for it but it might be a better idea to check in Holbrook on my way out.

I spent the rest of the day doing the sort of things you would hope to do on a single solitary day in a single solitary place. I made myself drive out to the teepees and sit. Half an hour to 45 minutes in one spot just watching the clouds play on the badlands. And then I walked up to Puerto Pueblo and actually spent some time looking at it. I had already gotten some petroglyph pictures on a previous joint but this time I was more careful I didn't devour them hungrily I took photographs put down my camera and then watch them with my own eyes. As usual Ravens were doing their thing everywhere! And I think when Ravens show the rest of the animals are a little bit more shy.

I will tell you right now that one of the good things about this trip was I specifically tried to not take as many photographs I tried my best to experience so y'all are out the massive quantity of photo references I usually have, but I will say there are a few that are the memory evokers ...basically, casita experiences. Cats in the windows and sunsets....


Of course it's early on Wednesday and I'm going to have to clean up the Casita and pack stop in Holbrook and check my tires drop off my keys and mystery items provided to me so I could be identified as one of us in the park. A raven just flew past my window and I did not check for spelling errors... But so I can begin my day I'm going to just publish it and edit it when I get home I hope you all enjoyed this little adventure of mine. I do so love the Petrified Forest.

Dusk at the Casita in Petrified Forest.
...A Post Script:  I just found if you still have Facebook... 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

To See The Tree

 I negotiated myself a two-night stay in the l-shaped Casita in order to watch the US Capitol Christmas tree come through, which they asked me to design the ornament for:

The parks requirements were that it be no larger than 12 in and waterproof. The theme was "Seven Rivers (the forest from whence the tree came), Many People, One tree." So I decided that the rivers of stone or sand or bentonite that make up the teepees where the many colorful Rivers, the petroglyphs of the people that live here were the many People, and the centerpiece with our cougar petroglyph logo is One (petrified) Tree! 
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 


 From my understanding even the supervisor was pretty excited about it but they did have a few requests. They did specify it be sparkly. I used reflective beads that you put on roadways so that when the light hit it it was going to jump off the tree when people took photographs.



 But there was a request for glittery so I brought down with me extra glitter paint in a violet and green tone and outlined all of the petroglyphs which are hard to see in photographs so they're not worth taking more.

As usual my colleague and I made the trip very safely and arrived around 11:00. I know I'm a very weird girl and I have strange things that make me happy but staying here is one. And getting a magnet that I can wear around and look like I'm part of the park is the other.

I had a very sad revelation. I am old. 4 years ago when I lived here I was in better shape had not sat on my butt during a 2-year pandemic and even then I was not the world's greatest hiker. After a 3-hour car trip with no stops, (I had a really great audiobook that let me drive straight through. I finally figured out how to download from my library so I listen to Desert Solitaire about a guy staying in arches National monument be moaning his knowledge that it would soon be developed in the 1960s 😥) when I picked up the ornament to do some touch-up I realized my hand was somewhat shaky, my knees were not working properly and my back hurt. Sleeping on memory foam is not good for me. I have a big butt. I admit it right now I need something that supports the arch in my back and memory foam, as the commercial says remembers things and seems grumpier than it should!

There have been many changes on the inside here. Number 77 used to be the spillover Casita I believe. The last time I was here they were working on my old AIR cabin, so I believe now the Artist in Residence were housed over here. Wisely they split the queen size bed into two twins. Instead of having a massively bizarre fold-out bed you just had extra sleeping space in case you had a guest. I checked all the screens, as the last time I stayed here my cat decided it wanted to escape through one. The three screens that were ugly that I took out of the windows because the frames were falling apart are now no longer even available to me. But the ones that were in the windows were in excellent shape. First thing I did when I got in here was open up the window and Thingy jumped right up.

We are here typing on the morning of my second day - well, after my first night - and as I'm looking out just after the sunrise, over my cute little car I noticed a solitary jogger. There are brave people here! She was lean and young looking and obviously worked in the Painted Desert area and was taking advantage of the amazing opportunity she had living here in the park. I will update you all as the day progresses but I just wanted you to know how happy I was to be home again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Brief Return

 Hello again.

I did a really swift trip up this year as it began to warm up and I raced through a day. I missed my sunsets and tried to linger in Blue Mesa as long as I could but it was not the same as staying INSIDE the park.

I saw new stuff.  Well some the same, but new perspectives.  This last one was a great new display in PDI of the room where a Harvey Girl stayed when she worked here!My pal Hallie was doing demos on the edge of the Crystal Forest describing the "rocks"... fossils, petrified wood and even pottery that are everywhere!.

I stayed in Holbrook for two nights and ALMOST found myself in the park a bit later than I expected. 

My new (well very used but pretty and two year old) Kia had a fuel indicator saying I had precisely enough gas to get me to Holbrook IF I were not inside the park.  I shiver at the though of running out of gas on the freeway!!! BUT the pumps on the north side were self serve and still open.  This was one of the most exciting things about the return visit.  I am not as thrilled that civilization is so easy to find, and my cell service was till highly problematic but that gas station saved my night!

Thingy came. He stayed in the room: 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Back again!

In October every year I head to Denver to help my brother out, babysitting his aged pets while they have an anniversary trip to Mexico.  (Due to a simple but tragic mis-reading of my schedule, I was ORIGINALLY assigned this month for my AIR, so I wondered if there were any gaps in the schedule that I might come back and do a little token residing) This year it snowed his first day out and I forgot about what I will return to ...Phoenix HEAT!
The trip down was via Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado and last time I went up that route a couple of years ago I was crying on the way down.  The beetle kill was so awful.  This time I left early in the long shadows of morning, to the west, so the sun did not blind me and NO TRUCKS stressed me out!  I really enjoyed it!  Then back through the mountains and on to the familiar flat Rez land on the way back to Arizona.
Kip did arrange a three night recovery for me, from the 12 hour trip.  I feel it a lot more coming home than driving up. Probably the depression of coming back to boring old home....
In to the Park, I was eyeball burned and aware that it was no longer Spring.  The deep autumn in the park brings rusts and gold to the rolling flat grasslands.  And the air was softer, whiter.  I found there was a lot of "controlled" burning going on in the area.  It was seriously changing the nature of the place.
Once I located my key and was settled in to cabin 77, the L-shaped one, I met my neighbors, a water colorist and her husband from Tubac.  They had arrived the night before and I gave them my brief park rundown. They also made me feel guilty that I was not up to the task of this place.... Relived that an artist was in the park to contribute to the experience, but again, not sure where I fit..
I had been turned down for another residency (and I should have held off for next year, as I an already hoarding the days I can talk someone in to giving me precious hours here) but I had thought I might work on a sample of my project if I can apply it to another park... I have my eyes set on Mesa Verde as I had a short email chat with someone there and they MAY allow the cat! 
I wanted to do what I do best - humans.  The project, which really was an offshoot of the ill-fated model release I never ended up using, was to meet and immortalize at least one visitor a day, probably from another country, with a brief interview and a lot of photos.  To show how really valuable the park is to US.  The humans who revitalize ourselves, who often only get to experience actual nature in these parks. 
Now with the impending doubling of fees, I think it is even more necessary to show that access by EVERYONE is necessary!  We own these places and we need them to STAY human.

I packed for Denver and found myself lacking some necessities for the Park.  I have all (oh, I am nearing another good 500 if not more photos from the Denver Zoo and Rocky Mountain Arsenal wildlife snapshots) my photos in the camera, but forgot to bring the card reader for to put them into the computer to use when I am connected by wifi in the few areas of the park that I can connect!
I did learn that my phone can transfer a few photos, so we are lacking the beautiful shots and back to being a tourist!!!
Here is the Thing, settling in at his home away from home:
I left for about an hour and came home to tail-less corpse of a three inch lizard that he had already murdered.  
I understand there is a small chewing creature next door, and as this is our third stay, I am grateful that my traveling companion has earned his keep... of course the lizards are NOT an issue, but he is always on patrol!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Outreaching and updating.... and adventures ahead!

I realized a lot of drafts were sitting in my program here, waiting for better photos and I forgot to upload them!!!
So this is just an update on my recent adventures.

I have learned PowerPoint and just finished my third presentation as my outreach for the Artist in Residence obligation...well gratification would be better named.....

In July, I spoke at the Scottsdale Artist League.  August was Tempe Artist Guild and just Wednesday, gave a presentation to a great group of quilters called the Mavericks!   I bring my borrowed projector (GREAT thanks to the amazing Arizona Art Alliance and Mike Brady) and did this one in the daytime!  Still was able to show the drop in the bucket of my over 3000 photos from that month living in the Petrified Forest. When I return, November is Peoria Artist League and January will be the Mesa Art League.   Hopefully I will carry a little less of the original art with me for show and tell as it will be moving into galleries or permanent homes... or donation to the PARK!

Summer is always fighting the cabin fever I get in so many days over 100° weather in the Phoenix area, so I am coming out of my despair and starting to plan my annual car trip to Denver in October.

I have offered to be present for my original month of October (because of the annual jaunt, I nearly declined, but Kip was able to double up artists in I was out of sync) during the last week of the month as I drive back.  So I hope to put on my badge and set up - for a couple of days at least - in the PDI to work on a small secondary project of portraying the visitors!
My first concept was supposed to center around the ravens, and where they would lead.... but they basically HID from me most of the month!  This time I want to interview people stopping in and see if they will let me borrow their visages for a project emphasizing the HUMAN aspect of the park!

I am loading materials and getting them ready for the road as I go up to enjoy the trees turning in Centennial and come back to see another season in my beloved PEFO.

Just throw in a visual aid...
...from a previous trip..... I KNOW they will mob me this time!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Spider Woman's Hands

I am a portrait painter.  Because of that I am rather meticulous in trying to get model releases from anyone who could be recognized from my work.  Everyone who is demonstrating or helping in the park, from Rangers to Volunteers, all have to sign off on copyright issues.  They become part of the public benefit, just like the scenery (so I was public domain while I was there!!!)
When I was lucky enough to witness this presentation, I asked for a release and was greeted with "let me think about it"
There is a very good reason to think it over.
The Native Americans in the Southwest have been iconic and functioned at money-making props for many artists and tourism promotions and have not benefitted from their "personhood".  You are your face and features.  Stealing the one thing you ARE is a very tricky issue.
So, even as I left, she was still thinking.....
I have tweaked a bit the experience and this is the image I have of the presentation!   No face, just the amazing experience of watching hands on a traditional loom....

 I began with a way too detailed drawing.  The skin on these ancient hands is so full of character, much like the weathered mounds in the badlands of the park..
This is a toned canvas and I drew in pastel pencil and chalk to start the image.
I began trying to paint the amazing arms and silver

This was always the fun stuff! I love exploring flesh and although this model did not have my requisite "eyeballs" I say I paint, the humanity is what I hoped to capture.  I am always in love with work that shows it is not a photo, but the work of a human being, so I always like to stop before it is done, but this needs a better environment...

So I had to move on to the boring stuff... fibers and background:

 The piece on the right was about done, but it looked too empty....
I wanted to reflect the spirit of the weaver.  Spiderwoman, not in a place but just the weaver, and her spindle.... and........ what?

 I added the products of her hands and softened the light from the window.  

I have a high quality photo of the drawing above and will upload it to my Fine Art America store soon.  I will have a full area of my work from the Petrified Forest and continue to update.