Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in New Mexico

The photo above comes from a bulk email I got from Robert Mirabal's website. I thought this illustrates this time of year in New Mexico perfectly.

If you aren't familiar with Robert Mirabal, he is a contemporary Native American recording artist who is doing unbelievably wonderful music. Check out his websites as well as YouTube videos of his performances.

I first discovered him when I ran across a PBS telethon where they were showing his "Songs From A Painted Cave" performance. I wished then as I still do that I had a copy of this video...some day I will. At that time all my budget would allow was for me to purchase the CD which I almost wore out.

When we were in New Mexico in the fall of 2007 we visited the Taos Pueblo where I met his brother (I think) and member of his group. Dana bought be a flute and a copy of the newest CD called "In The Blood". I am listening to that CD even as I write.

After my heart attack I was given a plastic meter to blow in several times a day to help my lungs heal. After a few days of that I put it away and picked up the flute Dana had bought me. I hadn't had time to learn to use it and now during my recovery I had nothing but time. I wouldn't dare say that I can play it but with lots of practice I eventually learned to stop making it sound like a animal caught in a trap. I even learned to play "Amazing Grace"on it. I spent so much time in bed and the flute became a good companion as I spent many hours each day playing it.

And I will tell you in all honesty that I credit it with its part in my recovery. Unlike the sterile plastic meter that shouted "illness" my flute was made from a rich wood (the kinds escapes me now) with a beautiful glow to it. I learned to position the beautiful carved horse fetish on top for just the right sound and was surprised at what it took to train my fingers to cover the holes to get the right notes. My flute and my use of it is a living creative thing...like me.

I love my flute and am looking forward to purchasing another one on our next trip to the Pueblo.

As long as I'm talking about the Taos Pueblo I'll share a wish from my wish list with you. It is my wish that one day before I leave this good earth that I am able to be at the Taos Pueblo on Christmas Day as the sun sets to witness the Matachines Dance or Deer Dance. I have read about this for years, especially when reading biographies of other artist or writers who have seen this performance and I long to join their ranks.

Below is a beautiful oil painting by Valerie Graves of her interpetation of the

Monday, December 8, 2008

Something really cool - literally!

On our trip to Red River we were riding behind my brother-in-law Harold Sexton and my sister Vicki. The road we traveled in that mountainous area was full of twists and turns. We rounded a curve and Dana throttled up the bike for the straight way which lay ahead when all of a sudden my brother-in -law made a very sudden stop followed my a u-turn and headed back passing us in the process. After a few chosen cuss words Dana followed suit. By the time we got turned around Harold and Vicki had pulled over to the side of the road and had hopped off their bike.

My sister Vicki was excited as she told us why we had made such a sudden stop. You will remember from my last post that although my father leased a small cafe in Red River for many summers I had not officially visited there until this trip. Prior to my birth my entire family spent many wonderful summers in Red River and all of my life I would sit and listen to them tell stories about those same summers. One of Vicki's memories was making the car trip from our home in Clayton, New Mexico up to Red River. She said that just before reaching Red River our father would always stop the car and let her and my big sister, La Vonne, get out of the car and get a drink of water from this trough made from a tall tree that had fallen and the mountain stream ran in such a way that the water came running down the length of the tree before dropping back into a stream. Whether natural or man made I can't say but Vicki told us that Daddy always stopped there for as far back as she could remember.

Now suddenly, going down the road Vicki spotted this old "rest stop" that she had not visited in 51 years.

We all bent down and drank from this ice cold fountain and marveled that it was still here after all this time. It was bittersweet - the occasion not the water - to think of our father and mother and our grandparents who had been such a large part of our association with Red River and to be here now without them. So much time has passed and so much has changed but the water, the water is still flowing...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something kind of fun...

My father was in the restaurant business all of his life. His father owned The Nuway Cafe in Clayton NM where my father worked. Then when he joined the Airforce he was a mess hall sergeant. After WW2 he returned home to the cafe again. He eventually bought Red's Cafe in Clayton and then in 1959 he moved the family to Santa Rosa where he bought and ran Medley's Cafe in the middle of town right on good ole' Route 66. He eventually built two more restaurants - Sun and Sands and Tiffins. He also took a turn running (probably a lease deal) three other eateries in town. Yep my dad was in the food service business.

Back before I came along my family lived in Clayton and had Red's Cafe but each summer my dad would lease a little Cafe in Red River, NM called Tillie's. He and various relatives would run it through the summer and then return to Clayton after Labor Day. (Think "Vacationing Tourist/ Dirty Dancing like...sort of) you get the idea, a summer gig.
Now from what I have always been told, I despite the fact that I had never visited Red River until fall of 2007 (At the age of 50 years old), I was conceived in Red River...at the end of summer ...my dad had been there all summer and my mother had remained in Clayton to run Red's...get the picture?

When Dana and I went home on vacation in 2007 we (Dana, me , my big sister Vicki and her husband Harold) went on a long two day ride through Northern New Mexico and I got to go to Red River for the first time in my life (post conception of course). And I was on a mission.

I wanted to see all the places I had heard about all of my life, especially "Tillie's". Both of my sisters have wonderful memories of Tillie's and Red River and I always felt very left out of that part of our family history.

I have several old photo's, which I'll share with you another time, but this one is really cool. It's of my grandfather standing on the steps of Tillie's Cafe. I knew from the beginning I wanted my picture taken in the exact same spot.

How cool is that? And the Jack Daniel's Banner was just a bonus -
Unfortunately the place was closed so we couldn't go inside but still I was thrill that the place hadn't been torn down or remodeled (in fifty years).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Esteban by Leroy V. Quintana

para Esteban de Bernalillo N.M.

Esteban is sixty-five, on Social Security
Two weeks ago he bought a motorcycle.
su caballo, a Suzuki GS550L.
"I don't know what all those numbers mean,"
he says, "but its got lots of soup."
He wears tennis shoes and carries a slingshot
in his back pocket. "Pa los perros."

When he glued a jar lid on top of his helmet
everybody said he looked like a spaceman.
Nobody could figure out why he had done that
until he walked into the bar, removed his helmet
placing the end with the jar lid on the counter;
now he didn't have to worry about it
rolling around and crashing to the floor.

Every 5 or 10 minutes Esteban gets off the bar stool
walks to the door to see if his bike is O.K.
It's parked across the street
and Tony has parked his pick-up next to it.
Tony has only one good eye and a lot of traffic tickets.
This bothers Esteban.

When he returns, Esteban talks about the time
he was a young kid working in the bakery and
The owner sent him to deliver bread
to the nuns at the Catholic school.
Esteban didn't know how to ride a bike
and he fell, scattering the loaves all over the street;
an incident he'll never forget, he says,
then goes to the door and checks his bike again.

Another time he was riding his bike, heading home
from the grocery store with a package of meat
and a large dog attacked him.
Not knowing what to do, Esteban threw the package
at the dog in self defense, miss him
but the dog smelled the meat and ran away with it.

He gets off the bar stool again, this time goes outside
and cranks up his caballo, getting it as far away
from Tony's pick-up as possible.
While he's gone everybody at the bar wonders out loud
how long Esteban is going to last on his Suzuki
when he couldn't even ride a bike
"Se va a matar," everybody agrees.

This has to be one of my favorite poems. Written by Leroy V. Quintana is embodies the essence of life in a small New Mexico town. You can immediately feel the slow pace that allows Esteban to ride his motorcycle to the bar and sit around swapping old stories with the other men who are more than likely there every afternoon. Mr. Quintana is a Master at endearing Esteban to us from the very beginning. You can see yourself at the grocery store, laughing with the cashier about the jar lid glued to the top of his helmet. You can image the children playing in the street and teasing the old man as he passes. I love this poem.

I first read this poem in 1985 in a book called Ceremony of Brotherhood co-edited by Rudolfo A. Anaya and Simon J. Ortiz. It's a wonderful collection of works by writers from the southwest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Questa, New Mexico

This is a photo of the window in the bathroom of the motel room we stayed in in Questa. The room was marginally scary but I loved this window.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sunset on The PdL road

Totally unaltered photo. Taken one year ago on the road between Puerto de Luna and Santa Rosa.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Taos Pueblo - Taos Mountain

In my last post you heard Robert Mirabal mention the Taos Mountain. This is a photo I took when I was last at Taos Pueblo. It gives you a sense of the spirit of the place, but only a sense. Every one should go to Taos and expreience this for yourselves. There is a fabled story of "The Taos Hum". Many say they can hear it - I never have. But its easy for me to imagine that "THE HUM" is the result of a collective "Ahhh..." as in "ah, I get it..."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Medicine Man - Robert Mirabal

When your heart is homesick this is the balm...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hornos at Taos Pueblo

These ovens are made of adobe and are used to bake the most wonderful bread you have ever tasted.
It takes a special gift to bake in a horno. First you have to collect firewood and build a fire inside the oven. Small twigs of Juniper are traditional and the scent of the Juniper add to the magic of this process. Allow the fire to burn boldly and then die down to coals. Ashes are then swept out of the front of the oven. A towel is secured to the end of a pole and dipped in water to swab down the oven floor. A rough wood or metal "door" leaning against the opening helps regulate the heat.
Now here's the real trick; toss a crumpled piece of newspaper into the oven. If the paper burns up the oven is too hot and needs to be swabbed out again with cold water. But when the paper burns slowly and turns a light brown the oven is the right temperature to bake your bread.
The dough is shaped into a round loaf and slid inside the oven with a large wooden paddle. It's common for several dozen loaves to be baked at once.
I have been told that once the bread is done the oven will have cooled to the right temperature to bake cakes and cookies. Then a brisket, pork roast or maybe a turkey can go in next and left in over night for slow roasting
If I close my eyes I can almost smell the bread...
If you enlarge the photo you can see the straw mixed into the mud (and the cemetery in the back ground). You can buy Indian Bread anytime of year but for reasons I can't explain I tend to identify them with fall.
Ah, fall in New Mexico. Golden leaves, cool days, turquoise skies, the smell of green chile roasting, bread baking and juniper smoke....these are the things of home.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Madrid, New Mexico

"My Madrid" by Dee Sanchez This beautiful painting is by Dee Sanchez. She is a wonderfully talented New Mexico artist represented by Weem Gallery. She has totally captured the feel of Madrid, New Mexico. Click on Dee's name to view her blog and enjoy her wonderful work.
This picture of Dana and I was taken in Madrid when we were there on vacation in 2004.
This one was taken last fall (2007). Those of you who might have seen the movie "Wild Hogs" will recognise "Maggie's Diner" in the background.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Santuario de Chimayo

This tinted photo of the church in Chimayo was made from one of the pictures I took last fall while touring New Mexico. I love the vintage look of this picture.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I love this photo. While passing through Ribera, NM we stopped to visit the Catholic Church (posted earlier). Across the road from the church was a dusty old lane running along side this building. I was intrigued by the partial rock wall that although looking worn and as though it could topple out any second was still supporting the skeleton of the building. This wood window frame was wonderful but what really struck me were the vegas still tieing everything together.

I don't know who built this structure or whether it was a home or for commerce but whoever built it intended for it to last. I'll bet I'm safe in saying that the building outlived the builder...

We need to be mindful of the structures we build, they will testify of us long after we are gone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Conoco Station

Inspired by my niece's recent B/W post I decided to play around with some of the photos from my vacation. What do you think? I like the black and white.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ribera, New Mexico

This was a great ride! Left to right is our compadre, Kurt Dishman and his daughter Cara (nice name huh?) My sister Vicki and her husband Harold and that good looking rider on the right is my Dana.
This beautiful whitewashed church is located in a tiny little hillside village by the name of Ribera. We left Santa Rosa on I40 and turned north at the Villenueva exit headed for Santa Fe. This is one of the little jewels we passed through on that trip.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ft. Union, New Mexico with a Missouri Connection

This is really cool - check out this website for the whole story about the connection between Ft. Union and Missouri. http://www.kansasheritage.org/research/sft/ft-union.htm
Made of adobe only the brick fireplaces remain for the most part.
STOCKADE...no adobe here - all stone!
This is what remains of the hospital.

One day we left Santa Rosa and headed up to Cimmaron, Angel Fire, Eagles Nest, Red River and called it quits in Questa before heading into Taos and Santa Fe. It was a fantastic trip. We had just past Las Vegas and somewhere between there and Cimmaron I saw a sign that said we were going to be passing Ft. Union. I instantly remembered my dad taking me there when I was seven years old. Back then it was abandoned and there was no visitors center...and no one to tell you to stay on the paths. We decided to stop and visit.

Its a really neat thing to see if your in the area.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's been a rough week!

Please hop over to The Capricious Painter for an update on my absence.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A New Mexico connection....really....

Stay with me, this really is about New Mexico...
I have a job, something I do 40 hours a week to fiance my real life, and I love it.
I'm a Senior Advisor for Columbia Builds Youth which is a YouthBuild USA affiliate. YouthBuild is a fantastic program with transformation as its core principle. Transforming the lives of at risk youth and transforming neighborhoods -
What does all of this have to do with my beloved New Mexico? Well, my director sent me to a wonderful YouthBuild Conference in Redondo Beach California this week. (I just got home at 4am my time - just in time for our little earthquake!)
Some of you may be saying "Lucky Girl" but before you do, this girl doesn't fly. I was slightly traumatized by this "lucky break" but everything went fine. But here's the interesting connection.
When I got to the registration table I immediately asked if there were any YouthBuild members from New Mexico. It just so happened that there was one standing right at the table and in addition there were at least five more. The training was quick and I tried to visit with each of them and hope I didn't miss anyone.
I burrowed in like a tick. Soaking up all of the New Mexico energy that I could. Wonderful group of people and I enjoyed them very much. I made a pest out of myself making sure I got my business card out to each of them.
While I was busy passing out my card another conference attendee quipped "Looking for a job are we?" That comment caught my attention. She couldn't have been anymore off base if she tried. The cards I was passing out weren't my business card, okay I did give one of them my business card, but mostly I was handing out my cards with my blog addresses and telling them how homesick I was and that I was coming home...asking several of them to "dream me home".
It was about seeking out familiar spirits and joking around about familiar neighborhoods and landmarks. It was about being with people I love and miss..even when they are strangers. Thank you guys for making a New Mexico girl feel connected.
It was also about making a universal statement by declaring "I'm coming home." The mouth speaks the heart. I like to believe that by saying out loud to total strangers that I'm coming home it will start a cosmic domino effect that will result in me reaching my goal. so let me say it again...
"I'm coming home - New Mexico, I'm coming home"

Monday, April 14, 2008

El Santuario de Chimayo

This photograph of the adobe wall and gate that surronds the coutyard of the Santuario de Chimayo is the very essence of New Mexico.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008


One person told me it was mesquite and the Internet referred to the bloom as Mexican Bird of Paradise. I don't know the name but I love the flower. It was a cloudy day when I took the picture so the colors don't read well. The flower is a beautiful yellow with an exotic red "something or other" (real technical jargon) shooting out of the center. Very delicate and thread like - reminds me of a Mimosa flower. No matter what its called I love it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Patched Roof

I love everything about this picture. Its totally New Mexico. Adobes, cactus, and tin roof.
I'm 99.9% sure I snapped this in Villanueva, NM - if I'm wrong, let me know!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Prickly Pear Cactus

I'm sure these have a "real name" but growing up we always called them Prickly Pear Cactus. My sister makes a wonderful sugar free jelly from the fruit. My hat's off to her, I have never liked these because your hands end up covered with tiny stickers that are almost too small to remove.
I used a photo manipulation effect to alter this photograph.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nuestra Senora de Refugio Church in Puerto de Luna

This beautiful church was built in Puerta De Luna, ten miles south of Santa Rosa, around 1880. Mass is still held there.