Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Floating Away

I have a reputation among my family and friends for being able to solve problems and come up with creative ideas. Frequently someone will call me for advice or help with something that has stumped them. Sometimes I deserve this show of confidence, but often as not I am stumped as to why they would call me. Regardless of the reason, I find myself complimented by the show of confidence, and I all too often over-commit myself out of some sense of responsibilty.

The most recent example of this happened last month when my Unlce Fritz gave me a call.

Fritz has lived in Albuquerque since I was a small child, but he grew up in a small village called Wagon Mound.

Named Wagon Mound because the top of the butte
resembles the very top of a covered wagon as seen here:

Every year on Labor Day Wagon Mound residents celebrate Bean Day, when many of those who grew up in this diminishing village and moved away come home to enjoy comraderie, a free fare of beans and barbeque, and a small parade which is delightful in the way it is reminicent of times which otherwise seem long gone. Last year Fritz invited me to attend Bean Day with him, and I was caught up in the smiles, home town friendliness, buildings which reminded me of western towns from some old movie, and - of course - the parade. That was the best part.

So, when Uncle Fritz called me up and asked if I could help him build a float for Bean Day, more specifically, a float in the shape of the Wagon Mound itself, how could I say no?

My friend Crystal and I packed our bags Friday morning of last week and drove up to Wagon Mound the back way from my house (through the beautiful area which runs through Gallisteo) we pulled into Wagon Mound and arrived at the beautiful home of Clinton Ballard and his wife Betty Medina. Betty is a gracious hostess and was so sweet to open her home to us. We made ourselves at home in the rooms she provided, changed our clothes and had a bite to eat, and proceeded to the garage where the frame I had designed for the float waited for us.
The garage belongs to Felipe Garcia, and he opened it up for us.

Clinton had built the frame before we arrived, and had plenty of stucco wire available. Fritz had purchased the paint, the plaster, and there was a ton of paper in piles nearby. In the following five hours or so we wrapped the frame in wire, stuffed it with crumpled paper and pushed and manipulated it it into it's basic shape, and then began the process of covering it with a plaster papier mâchè. We covered it about one sixth of the way before retiring for the evening.

Back at Betty and Clinton's home we enjoyed a traditional New Mexican meal of pasole, beans, papitas and tortillas before ending our evening exhausted.

The next morning Crystal and I popped up at 6 am and went out on a photography spree (more of that later .. those pics deserve an entry of thier own) and returned by 8:45 in time for a quick breakfast and then it was back to work.

This time the group from the day before was joined by Adonilia Menzor, Edna Mae and Amadeo Gallegos, and Raquel Encinias. The extra hands upped the pace and the float began to take on the shape and form of the Wagon Mound. By 3:30 we were worn out, but had pretty much finished the papier mâchè part and were applying the last coat of plaster. Betty and some of the others agreed to work on the final plastering and perhaps some of the basic paint coating before I return in about two weeks to do the actual detail paintwork which will finish the float.

It was a long two days, but rewarding. :)

Crystal and I went home by way of a long drive up into Mora and down through Las Vegas (the NM version) and back home the way we had come. It took me two days to get over the aches and pains of the weekend, but the satisfaction is palpable.

So, one more trip to finish the float, and then it's back for Bean Day to see our creation waddle down the streets of Wagon Mound. :)

Floating Away :)

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