Yesterday we went to Santa Fe for some shopping. This week our company is having all employees come back to the World Headquarters here in Taos. Since I control the money, I guess, I’m involved in a lot of the planning for this week.

Side story, we were looking for a place to house the cases of beer, wine, gin and margaritas for the week, so I suggested to use my office. I mean, what better place to store it? No ones going to steal from the CFO’s office, right? I stored it all in front of my desk so it looked like I had built a beer fort. Which was fun until the Sheriff arrived. Isn’t that always the case?

Back to the main story. We needed some last minute stuff and I needed to replenish some of my fort. (Come to find out, the title wasn’t enough to keep people out.) Being from Colorado, Trader Joe’s is still a novelty to us. We went there expecting to find everything on our list. We didn’t, but not the point of this story.

What I did notice while trying to dart in between the Santa Feans, is that they all walked in front of me with a sense of optimism, hope and excitement. That they didn’t notice me and thought they were the only ones in the store was irritating to me, but I’m sure they felt justified in their actions.

As I pulled my cart over to the side to count to ten to find some kind of zen response to all of this, I compared these folks to the ones I see in Taos.

I’ve heard it described that there are those in Taos who the mountain has embraced and they have embraced the mountain. Then there are those that the mountain has spit out like a piñon shell. I think I see more of the piñon shell club than the others.

The Trader Joe patrons must be embraced by whatever Santa Fe’s versions of the mountain is. The rest of us will just keep looking for our mountain.

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Went to another PechaKucha Night. Long time followers, and I know who you are thanks to Echelon, will remember when I went to a Pecha Kucha night last fall. It was a good learning experience to part of Taos.

It looks like they do one every four months, and what a better experience for the rest of the family, now that she’s here, then to go to her first Pecha Kucha. It took little convincing, I think she went for the same reasons I did last fall: to do the full Taos experience.

Unfortunately, she has been fighting a cold, so that was going to slow us down. (Foreshadowing)

Last time was held at the TCA auditorium, a great venue. Unfortunately, I have not been back to see any other events. I was hoping that they would show the Super Bowl this Sunday there, but I guess the only live events they show are operas from the Met.

This time it was held at the local solar Radio Station/Bar/Concert Venue, KTAOS. KTAOS is located very close to our current house on the north side of Taos, approx a half mile, which probably also helped with the decision to go. From the outside, it really doesn’t look like a radio station. Of course, what does a radio station look like? I guess an office building with a big-ass antenna next to it?

Anyway, the day of the show I was talking to folks at work trying to recruit more attendees, and so I wouldn’t be there alone (safety in numbers, mind you), I heard some background on the venue. Just like most things in Taos, it had been several things before it was a solar Radio Station/Bar/Concert Venue. It sits on the intersection of the main drag and the road to the ski resort (the intersection is called “the old blinking light” which is probably a good story for another day). But it also right next to Pueblo land (another good story for another day) so it has a great view of the mountain. At one point, the eastern side of the building was a porch so you could sit there in the summer, have a drink of choice and watch the sunset reflected off the mountain.

Sunsets here are amazing. That’s the big reason for the artists that flocked here, and it isn’t just a cliche. Seriously, you have to see them. The sunsets, not the artists. Well, you should see the artists and their art. See both, or all three. Just come on down, we have room for you. Well, not necessarily we as in me, but more we as in the hotels of Taos. They have room for you. We don’t, right now, we’re moving. Once we get settled, then we might be able to house you, but check with the hotels, that would work better. For everyone involved.
Back to the porch. The porch is now built into the rest of the building. Which is good for this time of year, winter and all. And the porch is now the bar. It looks like they have a nice outdoor areas where they can set up tables and such when it isn’t winter.

But the story goes that they used to have concerts outside on the eastern facing area with the mountain in the background. Sounds wonderful. Except, a neighbor complained about the noise and now they can’t do any more outdoor concerts. They still wanted to do concerts so they came up with another solution: a tent. They used that fabric you see used at obnoxious tennis clubs so The Housewives of (insert fancy area name here) can show off their jewelery all year around. But instead of a dome, it is shaped like your Boy Scouts tent.And inside that tent is where they held Pecha Kucha.

We had a quick early dinner at Taos Diner south because the Taos Diner north is not open for dinner. But you knew that. Fortified, we headed to the show. We walked into building, underneath the big OPEN sign, and entered what looked like your typical business lobby. With no one there, we continued further into the building, past pictures of musicians and towards the rumble of people. We got to the point where I started to think we were in the wrong place, when we finally saw a table with two people selling tickets. $14 later we had our tickets and the list of the presenters and we passed into the porch/bar. We quickly found a table and I headed up to the bar to get us drinks.

That took a little longer but I got a margarita del sol and a beer, both at happy hour prices. The margarita ended up not tasting very good and my regional micro brew was not wonderful either. But we talked about the ex-porch and how it would be fun in the summer with the windows open and the sun setting.

“Aren’t you ready to go sit down?”

“Not really, I could sit here awhile – hey that woman at the table next to us is breast feeding – I’m going to find some seats in the tent.”

While we waited for the show to get started (about 20 minutes late, right on Taos Time), we got to people watch. Comments we shared:

  • Lots of women in hats
  • I think you have to be a lesbian to be in this town
  • Dreadlocks on white folks do not look good
  • Dreadlocks on anyone do not look good
  • I’m not sure that outfit was ever in style
  • Why does that kid have massive headphones over his Jamaican knit beanie?
  • Lots of natural fabrics

Eventually the show did start.

First up were the writers from Petroglyphs. Their quick readings tied to the pictures on the screen, an almost perfect match for the Pecha Kucha format.

But let’s talk about the screen, there was a light shining down on the presenter which bled onto the screen where the images were being projected. It really washed out whatever was on the screen. Last time at the TCA, they didn’t have this issue.

Next up was a printer/artist who showed images of his artwork and told the stories behind it and his craft. But it was hard to see the detail of the images.

I think the next person was described as a ‘spontaneous performance artist’ who seemed to be combination of a failed melodramatic actor, beatnik poet, and they guy who made stuff up to be cooler than everyone else. I’m not really sure what he was getting at.

There was the another guy who showed his pictures of a rafting trip to South America. And some time lapse movies of around Taos.

The last person before intermission was the owner of a new distillery in the area. He showed pictures of the area around his facility, inside the facility and the equipment. It was interesting, but once again, the washed out pictures did not help the presentation.

At intermission, we decided to go home since one of us was still fighting the cold and our energy levels were low.

On the way to the car, she remarked, “You know, if you went on a trip and didn’t have anyone to show your pictures to, you could bring them here.”

I guess I’ll bring my pictures from my Chama trip to the fall Pecha Kucha.

As part of my continuing effort to see more of the town, we went to an after work happy hour at El Camino Cantina. It was certainly a fine evening, even if it was a Thursday night. (Yes, my age is showing.)

The best way to describe the El Camino is that it is a bar. They serve food, when they weren’t slammed the night before, at the very least they have chips. And cold beer. And cocktails. And one bathroom.

And not one bathroom for the ladies and one for the gents. One bathroom for everyone. This seems to be a trend in Taos.

We have been looking for a new place to live as our lease is up next month. We tried to stick around longer but the house had already been rented out for the months of March and April. Our landlord said we could move back in May, but that really didn’t work for us.

But in our search for a new place, it almost became an option. Because we were looking for a house with two bedrooms and TWO bathrooms. I’d say 75% of the houses in Taos, at least the ones for rent, are two bedrooms one bathroom. There’s that one bathroom thing again.

And speaking of one bathroom, there’s a great breakfast and lunch place (some day I’ll talk about how there are a bunch of great breakfast and lunch places, that are not open for dinner), and they have one bathroom. GUTIZ! has amazing food – I’d recommend the French Toast for breakfast and the Ham & Brie sandwich for lunch. And bring your sheet music when you go to the bathroom. That’s right, the have only one bathroom and that bathroom has a piano keyboard that you can roll over to you when you’re using that bathroom.

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The rest of the family has descended from Denver to join me in Taos. It’s been over a week and still we have boxes everywhere. It was easy when it was just me, the house was furnished and all I had to unpack was my suitcase. Now all the closets are full of clothes, we are still looking for the spices, and we have an extra couch in the family room.
The dogs have probably have had the most trouble during this process. I was in Denver only a couple days a week, boxes were appearing everywhere, and furniture was disappearing (donations or sales). On the day we were driving down, I took them to Petsmart for day camp, one of their favorite things. The movers packed the truck and a trailer that day while we crammed most of the remainder into our cars. We picked up the dogs in the afternoon but split them, one in each car. That was confusing, but they were too tired to fight it.
A very long drive later (through blizzards, ice and whiteouts),we arrived at the Taos homestead. Wait, the “Taos Casa”. Everyone was happy to get out of the cars and everyone checked out the new smells.
Over the next several days we tried to unpack boxes and figure out where to put our stuff into an already furnished house. We had left some pictures and other last things in Denver, so Saturday morning we all piled into the SUV (dogs and all) and drove to Denver. At the old house, we let the dogs run around the backyard one last time,while we threw the last stuff in the back of the SUV. Gathering the dogs we drove back to Taos. A long ass day.
We arrived back at the Taos Casa, and I let the dogs in the back yard. They quickly peed, then started barking. Thats when I smelled skunk.
I requested that the dogs stop barking and come back in the house, which they did, surprising enough. Riley, the oldest, got what I would call a contact spray, not directly on her but she got some. I put her in the tub to give her a bath, but where was the dog shampoo? Fortunately, it had been unpacked. I got her cleaned up, but the back yard now reeked of skunk.
The next day I relayed the story to my sister who remarked, welcome to country living. Her dog had scared up a rattlesnake from under the porch that her husband promptly shot.
I guess I’ll take the skunk. Or Manhattan.

One of the things I told myself when making the decision to move to Taos was, I’m going to do the artsy things. A gallery evening with music? I like music, I can go. Visiting professor giving a lecture on the power of coconut and bamboo? I like to make things, I can go.

Several Thursdays ago, I was invited to go to Pecha Kucha Night which was being held that night at the TCA.

Okay, a couple of questions: what is Pecha Kucha and what is TCA?

Oh, Pecha Kucha is this thing started in Japan where artists have show what they’ve been working on, but they only have twenty seconds to show each item. So if something is really bad, it doesn’t last long. And there is a speed and energy that makes it fun.

Okay, I’ll go.

I found out later TCA is the Taos Center for the Arts, a very nice space in the Kit Carson Park.

We arrived just as it was starting. I grabbed the program, a 4″x11″ sheet of paper listing the order of the presenters and the sponsors. I took a quick glance but realized, it was not going to help me. I wouldn’t recognize the names and their descriptions weren’t very descriptive (Visions of Taos, ISEA 2012, A Decade in the Making), at least for me. I stuffed the program in my jacket and hurried down to an empty seat.

Someone was making the opening announcements, thanking sponsors, and talking about upcoming events at the TCA. And now it was time for the first presenter.

Which was the long range city planner for the Town of Taos. This confused me. I know that everyone in Taos has two or three jobs, along with being an artist. Maybe this guy was showing his art, but letting everyone know what his day job was? Actually no, Matt Foster was showing some of the issues of growth in Taos and the desire not to ‘become another Espanola’ through long term planning. It was in this first presentation I realized this was a interactive event. When he showed the old plans for the Super Wal-Mart, there was loud booing and hissing. When showing proposed streets with trees next to the Albertson’s, there were cheers. For an outsider, this was a very interesting presentation. I wanted more from this guy. But he only had 20 seconds per slide and 20 slides. And he didn’t control the slides, they were on a timer. A rather interesting method to move things along. If I was still at my old company, that would be a rule I would introduce.

The next presenter, Nancy Zastudil sporting some cool yellow framed glasses, explained the upcoming ISEA2012 Albuquerque. Another event I had never heard of, the International Symposium on Electronic Art has been going for 17 years and next year would be held in Albuquerque. She had slides from previous events, and the events tied around next year. Interesting, but I was thinking I wanted to see more from the last presenter.

Then, things went weird.

The next presenter showed us how she handled a very bad breakup by journaling all over her body with a Sharpie. And I mean all over her body, which she showed us via black and white pictures. She says she is all better now, and good for her.

The next presenter explained how he made a children’s cartoon series, Planet W. The idea came to him while meditating. This was amazing. He had a vision of what he wanted to do, taught himself how to make a cartoon on his computer and actually did it. Very impressive and more power to him.

The next artist showed paintings that she had done, mainly landscapes. Some with watercolors, some with charcoal. There were some interesting pieces on dune grass, river grass. She said many of her pieces were in the lobby. I didn’t remember seeing any artwork like this in the lobby, but would look during the intermission.

And the intermission was next. I joined a very interesting crowd hanging out in the lobby. I walked around listening to different snippets of conversation. A saw the woman who had the Sharpie fetish; her skin looked clean and she seemed happy. I was also introduced to several folks. Another thing I have realized that living in a small town, once you are here for a while, you start to meet people you know often. I brought this up to the people I was with and was told not really, you are just with them at this time. That didn’t explain how they ran into people they knew going to Occupy Taos.

I also noticed these post card sized paintings on a shelf that surrounded the lobby. Taking a closer look, I recognized them from the painter at the last intermission. Now I have a new appreciation for her work.

The presenters that followed the intermission ranged from a sculptor, a painter, a Photoshop expert with a knack for electronic sounds, and a musician/artist in a suit and fedora.

I look forward to the next one of these. I certainly don’t think I’ll ever present.

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Some snow up on the Mountain

I noticed a very annoying thing this week: I’ve developed a blister (or something along those lines) on my left elbow. I noticed it first sitting at my desk puzzling over the numbers on my computer screen. I would move my arm without really thinking about it trying to find a more comfortable position. Eventually I rolled up my sleeve to take a look.

The question became how did I get this. Is it because I’m spending more time in a chair, working hard? True, I walked around more in my last job, and Moses knows I was in a lot more meetings and less time in my office. That must have been it. Until…

…I drove home. When my arm went to its normal spot on the door armrest, it became acutely clear: the ten hours each weekend I spend in the car driving back and forth were actually having an impact. At least on my elbow. Tomorrow I head back to Denver. Hopefully I can come up with some new position or solution. If only the trains still ran…

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Being a Thursday, it was a good day to drop off shirts at the laundry so they could be ready when I get back in town. Driving across town (ha!), I passed two signs that requested that I ‘Occupy Taos’ today at noon in the Plaza. I wasn’t going to miss this. I’ve seen the pictures from NYC and other cities and it’s been a while since I’ve been to a good protest.

I found a couple more anarchists at the office and a little after noon (I was told nothing starts on time in Taos), we headed to the plaza. We found two groups. One group had signs and natural clothing. The other group had a woman animating directions or some other important ideals. I looked quickly for the press and the police. In case I got arrested, I wanted to know which way to face. No press and only a sleepy parking enforcement officer to watch over the next great riot.

While the group with the signs formed a circle to facilitate their concerns on The Man (which I might have been representing with my new job), the group the woman was leading broke up. They paired up and headed in different directions each holding a piece of paper. My guess they were on a cruel scavenger hunt.

The circle of protesters where now practicing the repeating the of phrases made popular in the Wall Street protest. In NYC, the repeating was because they are not allowed to have a megaphone so it is a mechanism to ensure everyone hears. I think the Taos 35 could hear each other just fine. But at least they were out there, speaking their mind, wanting change, and thumbing their nose at The Man. It became cold and we moved on for free trade coffee or chocolate then back to our desks.

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I know the local police blotter has been fodder for jokes since Urk was found trapped in tree by his ex, but that’s not going to stop me from going to that well again.

The local paper, The Taos News, is actually a pretty good paper. They print every Thursday, so are a weekly. But their website is kept up to date with local news. And they just received an award Taos News named top weekly in nation – The Taos News: News for the second year in a row.

I enjoy buying the paper from the man in front of my office and hearing how his day is doing (so far, not a bad day). I enjoy the articles on visiting professors talking about native American astronomy or the power of meditation. But the blotter is a guilty pleasure. One of my teammates at the office (from England) also admitted the joy she gets in reading it.

Here’s some favorites for this week:

7:02 a.m., Harassment, Civic Plaza Drive — Caller reported that a man was following her all over town.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 15-16 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
Um, the town is not that big, and look at the time, have you been driving all night?

8:53 a.m., Miscellaneous, State Road 240 — Caller reported that he just needed a boost back into his wheelchair.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 15-16 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
Politeness helps.

12:28 p.m., Stray animal, Orchard Lane — Caller reported that a small dog showed up at her door.

1:15 p.m., Stray animal, Calle Conejo — Caller reported that some stray dogs keep “hanging out” on his property.

2:03 p.m., Stray animal, Paseo del Cañón East — Caller reported that a dog was playing in traffic.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 15-16 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
These three were in order.

7:27 p.m., Miscellaneous, Paseo del Pueblo Sur — Caller reported that a woman came into the store saying she was from corporate headquarters and that she needed to check the cash drawer. Caller said she let the woman behind the counter and the woman fled the area.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 15-16 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
I’ve got to try this.

9:42 p.m., Welfare check, Río Lucero Road — Caller reported that a woman was sitting on the curb crying and a man was just standing next to her, not doing anything about it.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 15-16 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
Insert marriage joke here.

12:55 p.m., Miscellaneous, Paseo del Cañón West — Caller reported that a group of students were heading to the park when they were supposed to be in school.

1:46 p.m., Miscellaneous, Cervantes Street — Caller reported that his daughter did not show up at school.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 19-20 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
Connected? You make the call.

5:06 p.m., Trespassing, Bent Street — Caller reported that there were a bunch of teenagers on the roof smoking pot and she was worried the roof would not hold.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 19-20 – The Taos News: Police Reports)
It’s the roof I’m worried about, not the teenagers. They probably skipped school earlier today anyway.

There were many about difficulties with exes, but here’s my favorite:

10:30 a.m., Burglary, no address — Caller reported that his ex-girlfriend took his current girlfriend’s belongings out of his vehicle.

(via Taos Police: Sept. 19-20 – The Taos News: Police Reports)

There were four reports of bears in the week ranging from walking down the road, in the tree, pounding on the door and going through the trash.

Here’s hoping I’m never in there.